Links 12/3/2021

A Baby Elephant Tries to Make Friends With a Dog Laughing Squid

The Other Side of a Mania Compound Advisors

ETFs shine as high taxes loom on US mutual fund capital gains FT

US Shale Patch’s Lackluster Recovery is a Problem for the Post-COVID Oil Market Commodity Context


John Kerry says private sector can win climate change battle CNBC

Collapse of the Liangzhu and other Neolithic cultures in the lower Yangtze region in response to climate change Science. “The Liangzhu culture in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) was among the world’s most advanced Neolithic cultures. Archeological evidence suggests that the Liangzhu ancient city was abandoned, and the culture collapsed at ~4300 years ago. Here, we present speleothem records from southeastern China in conjunction with other paleoclimatic and archeological data to show that the Liangzhu culture collapsed within a short and anomalously wet period between 4345 ± 32 and 4324 ± 30 years ago, supporting the hypothesis that the city was abandoned after large-scale flooding and inundation.” Speleothems. We’re on loam.


Rethinking Multilateralism for a Pandemic Era Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and Lawrence H. Summers International Monetary Fund.

To plug these key gaps in global public goods, we must invest collectively on a scale much larger than we have been willing to in the past. Using the best cost estimates by the WHO, McKinsey & Co., and other sources, the G20 HLIP estimated that the world needs, at an absolute minimum, additional international investments of $15 billion a year in these global public goods to avoid future pandemics.”

But this is Larry talking. So, make that $30 billion minimum?

How HIV and COVID-19 Variants Are Connected Foreign Policy

If humanity wanted to give a coronavirus a golden opportunity to circulate, adapt, and evolve inside the bodies of human beings, eventually taking on a form that threatens all—rich and poor alike—it couldn’t do better than to ignore the estimated 38.7 million people living with HIV, especially the roughly 10 million who remain untreated, most of them residing in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection associated with emergence of the Omicron variant in South Africa (preprint) medRxiv. From the Conclusion: “Population-level evidence suggests that the Omicron variant is associated with substantial ability to evade immunity from prior infection. In contrast, there is no population-wide epidemiological evidence of immune escape associated with the Beta or Delta variants. This finding has important implications for public health planning, particularly in countries like South Africa with high rates of immunity from prior infection. Urgent questions remain regarding whether Omicron is also able to evade vaccine-induced immunity and the potential implications of reduced immunity to infection on protection against severe disease and death.”

Implications of the further emergence and spread of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 variant of concern (Omicron) for the EU/EEA – first update (PDF) European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. From the Executive Summary: “The presence of multiple mutations in the spike protein of the Omicron VOC indicates a high likelihood of reduction of neutralising activity by antibodies induced by infection or vaccination. Preliminary data suggest that the Omicron VOC may be associated with increased risk of reinfection in South Africa. However, the full extent to which the Omicron VOC evades or erodes existing vaccine- or infection-derived immunity remains uncertain in the absence of in vitro neutralisation data, vaccine effectiveness data, and further data on reinfection in populations exposed to different SARS-CoV-2 variants during previous pandemic waves.”

Some experts suggest Omicron variant may have evolved in an animal host STAT

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COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Among Persons Experiencing Homelessness — Six U.S. Jurisdictions, December 2020–August 2021 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC. Only a matter of time before we evolve our own variants.

Myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination: guidance for healthcare professionals UK Health Security Agency. “[T]he long-term consequences of this condition secondary to vaccination are yet unknown.”

UK’s ‘mix and match’ booster jab strategy backed by new study FT

Lyophilized, thermostable Spike or RBD immunogenic liposomes induce protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 in mice Science. “Freeze-dried” vaccines (Furzy Mouse).

* * *

Analysis of overdispersion in airborne transmission of Covid-19 (preprint) medRxiv. From September, still germane. From the Conclusions: “Overdispersion leading to superspreading events is a major driving force of the Covid-19 pandemic. Understanding the factors that lead to overdispersion in individual infectivity are also considered long standing scientific problems. Coupling an aerosol mixing model with real-world inputs: exhaled aerosol size distribution for speech and breath, measured viral load distribution, occupancy information from SafeGraph for full-service restaurants in major US cities, realistic ventilation rate distributions, we explore the overdispersion in the number of secondary infections per infector. The simulated results demonstrate that aerosol transmission route is consistent with the overdispersed individual infectivity with viral load variability being a dominant factor that controls secondary attack rates alongside ventilation rate, exposure time, and speaking time.” Overdispersion (concealed by averages) is a statistical effect created by the epidemiological reality of superspreaders.

Heterologous infection and vaccination shapes immunity against SARS-CoV-2 variants Science. From the Conclusions: “[T]he inference from this cohort is that populations infected during waves of different variants carry distinct immune memory, with implications for differential protection against future VOCs.” Hysteresis?

South Africa plans massive vaccination push ahead of December holidays – including cash prizes Business Tech


Citigroup Applies for China Securities License WSJ

The impact of the US-China tariff war on China’s economy: New evidence from night-time lights VoxEU

China’s property tax causing sleepless nights for homeowners as Beijing walks the ‘tightrope’ South China Morning Post

China issues directive to bring Boeing 737 Max back to the skies after more than 2 years CNBC. Olive branch?

Laos opens Chinese-built railway line Bangkok Post (Furzy Mouse).


U.N. committee decides Taliban, Myanmar junta not allowed into U.N. for now Reuters. Myanmar’s current civilian UN ambassador stays.

Myanmar Companies Linked to Regime Leaders Bid to Acquire Telenor The Irrawaddy. Meanwhile:

Myanmar junta cancels passports of high-profile opponents and shadow government figures, documents show ABC Australia

Climate danger grows in ‘vulnerable’ Myanmar after military coup Al Jazeera


Hastings RNLI lifeboat crew ‘blocked from going out to sea’ by people angry at them rescuing refugees Hastings & St Leonard Observer

HSBC chief warns post-Brexit fragmentation could raise costs FT

New Cold War

Putin offers to start negotiations on a non-expansion of Nato to the east security deal Intellinews

Russia issues threat to GPS satellites GPS World

Russia has ‘no right’ to establish a sphere of influence, NATO chief says Euractiv. Because Eastern Europe is an American lake?


Obituary for Russiagate Patrick Lawrence, Consortium News

Biden Administration

Supreme Court indicates it could eliminate a core element of Roe v. Wade The 19th. Fetal viability. For comparison, here is European law on this topic.

The Justices Are Having An Open Fight About The Legitimacy Of The Supreme Court Buzzfeed. IMNSHO, Supreme Court hasn’t been legitimate since Bush v. Gore in election 2000, when Justice Scalia selected Bush, I presume because of the type of justice that Bush was most likely to nominate would be congenial to his jurisprudence, especially prospectively. And here we are!

* * *

New U.S. COVID-19 international travel testing rules take effect Monday Reuters

Biden outlines winter COVID-19 focus on vaccination, testing Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

Biden asks businesses to proceed with vaccine mandate after omicron variant arrives in U.S. CNBC. Administration flips; flops; now flips again. Note that OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard (the “get vaccinated or tested” mandate), if it were in force, would have a December 5 deadline for employers to determine their employees vaccination status, nicely timed for omicron. Looks like the businesses that just went ahead are better off. Weird to think of a “mandate” as a form of jawboning, but (again) here we are.

Buried In Biden’s Infrastructure Bill Is A Mandatory Backdoor Kill Switch For Your Car Hot Hardware (PR).

Supply Chain

Top 10 container shipping lines on track for $115-120 billion 2021 profit: Alphaliner Hellenic Shipping News

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

The Rules at Epstein’s Mansion: ‘Be Blind’ and ‘Say Nothing’ Bloomberg


Three Stories That Further Illustrate Why US Government Can’t Be Trusted In Assange Case The Dissenter

US seeks to block Spanish investigation into CIA operation against Assange as British ruling on extradition appeal is “imminent” WSWS

Our Famously Free Press

It’s only a matter of time with Twitter:

(ASPI sponsor list). The timing does make me wonder if @jack was defenestrated.

Those Cute Cats Online? They Help Spread Misinformation. NYT. Cats? Wait ’til the Times finds out about children.

Groves of Academe

Another ‘Sokal’ Hoax? The Latest Imitation Calls an Academic Journal’s Integrity Into Question Chronicle of Higher Education (TF).

Playing the Bullshit Game: How Empty and Misleading Communication Takes Over Organizations Organization Theory. From 2020, still germane. From the Abstract: “Why is bullshit so common in some organizations? Existing explanations focus on the characteristics of bullshitters, the nature of the audience, and social structural factors which encourage bullshitting. In this paper, I offer an alternative explanation: bullshitting is a social practice that organizational members engage with to become part of a speech community, to get things done in that community, and to reinforce their identity. When the practice of bullshitting works, it can gradually expand from a small group to take over an entire organization and industry. When bullshitting backfires, previously sacred concepts can become seen as empty and misleading talk.”

Give Me Slack Cory Doctorow, Medium. “My parental worries, ca. 2021.” This is very good.

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Basil Pesto

    Mystery Omicron case detected in western Sydney

    Health Minister Brad Hazzard said they had “no idea” how the student caught the disease.

    Can I have his job? How do these people not understand how viruses work at a fundamental level yet?

    Like, dark matter is mysterious. The spread of a respiratory pathogen in an uncontrolled global environment is not mysterious.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Don’t suppose that all those planes bringing in people from all over the world has got anything to do with it?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Don’t be silly. Everyone knows the virus has wings and so can travel all around the world by itself. If you have a problem people flying all over the world whenever they feel like it you must be racist. Or something. >sarc

        1. newcatty

          Heard that the virus now has birdhood. An evil magician ,adept at ritual but with bad intent, turned it into a black bird of prey.

      2. vlade

        Nah, it just blew over the Antartica, where it first got caught by the Yautja (aka Predator), who used it to modify an alien xenomorf which just happened to drop by.

          1. Pate

            “Chin diapers”. Lol gotta love it. I’m guessing the single unvaxed South Parkian was the deceased. Wouldn’t it be interesting for the authorities to report not just whether a Covid victim was fully vaccinated and boostered but also whether they regularly masked. Oh forgot. We don’t do data in merica.

            1. BlueMoose

              That is why I like my Weekly RKI update on Thursday from Germany. Covers the whole country with state by state data. Unfortunately, it seems like nobody from the government is looking at the data. Even if you don’t understand German, you will appreciate what real data looks like and how it should be done.

          2. griffen

            Now I’ll need to find the full episode! Just enough of a teaser clip to make it a worthwhile endeavor. I hate homework on a Friday no less(!)

            Rabbi Cartman… in either a present or future tense must be something.

    1. Laughingsong

      Putin: “nice planet you have there…it would be a shame if something happened to it…..oh,wait, that’s where I keep all my stuff…never mind!”

      H/T The Tick

  2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    Regarding the Foreign Policy HIV / Covid article, this pre-print case study involving one 30 year old HIV positive South African woman is I think a good example of the problem.

    ” While most people effectively clear SARS-CoV-2, there are several reports of prolonged infection in immunosuppressed individuals. Here we present a case of prolonged infection of greater than 6 months with shedding of high titter SARS-CoV-2 in an individual with advanced HIV and antiretroviral treatment failure. Through whole genome sequencing at multiple time-points, we demonstrate the early emergence of the E484K substitution associated with escape from neutralizing antibodies, followed by other escape mutations and the N501Y substitution found in most variants of concern. This provides support to the hypothesis of intra-host evolution as one mechanism for the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants with immune evasion properties ”

    1. Lee

      There is another preprint paper referenced on the most recent This Week in Virology video (Minute 29) in which mutations observed in a lab experiments were similar to those later identified in Omicron. These mutations occurred spontaneously, absent selective pressure from immune agents that were then subsequently tested and found effective against an array of mutations. No potentially harmful viruses were used or created in these experiments.
      High genetic barrier to escape from human polyclonal SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies

      A theme of this TWIV episode is that different labs are producing different results. This they attribute this to the extreme technical difficulties in conducting these types of experiments, such as determining what viral traits account for the relative fitness of different variants, one of a considerable number of important questions that have yet to be definitively answered.

      1. Lee

        Caveat: TWIV regular panelists tend to stick closely to the dominant narrative and do on occasion make untrue statements consistent with that narrative as regards, in particular, public health measures. For example, in the episode cited above, one of the more insufferably smug members of the panel assured a concerned young mother who had written in that since her family was all vaccinated that her unvaccinated infant was probably safe from exposure to the virus (at hour 1:33). This is patently untrue. I assume he is, consistent with dominant narrative, loathe to utter a truth that might contribute to vaccine hesitancy or anti-vax sentiment.


        Community transmission and viral load kinetics of the SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in the UK: a prospective, longitudinal, cohort study (The Lancet)

        1. Mantid

          I suppose that smug member of the panel wants to keep their job. Got to play by the master’s rules. Good link.

  3. svay

    Buried In Biden’s Infrastructure Bill Is A Mandatory Backdoor Kill Switch For Your Car

    ‘Let us spell it out for you: by 2026, vehicles sold in the US will be required to automatically and silently record various metrics of driver performance, and then make a decision, absent any human oversight, whether the owner will be allowed to use their own vehicle. Even worse, the measure goes on to require that the system be “open” to remote access by “authorized” third parties at any time.’ …
    ‘Including an automatic kill switch of this sort in a machine with internet access presents the obvious scenario that a malicious agent could disable your vehicle remotely with no warning. Outside that possible-but-admittedly-unlikely idea …’

    It seems wildly optimistic to call that idea unlikely. I’d say it’s a near certainty, as are disablings due to software glitches.

    1. Jackiebass63

      What you say is already present in many new vehicles. Presently you can opt out of these so called “features”. I believe it will only be a matter of time when the opt out disappears. Right now my Toyota Hybrid give you a rating on you driving after each trip. That means a computer is keeping track of how you drive.

        1. Pate

          My insurance agent offered a discount conditional on installing just such a device. This several years ago.

        1. Wukchumni

          Took a ride the other day in my friend’s 1966 fastback Mustang, and you immediately are aware that there are really no safety precautions other than a lap belt, nor any computer anything, it was both a bit scary and wonderful @ the same time.

          1. farragut

            Ditto. My mother-in-law allowed me to use her 1965 Mustang convertible w/ manual transmission for the summer while she went on a lengthy vacation. Driving it with the top down was exhilarating, as you really do feel you’re actively driving; the road feel and feedback from the car demands your attention, unlike most of today’s cars.

            1. chuck roast

              I had a ’65 Mustang back in the day. Best car I ever had. Unfortunately the floor was rusting out. However, it did not give way before I drove the thing into the back of a Mercedes.

              Anyway, the bus only costs a buck.

              1. Carolinian

                Wasn’t the Mustang a Ford Falcon with a body restyle? We had a Comet (Mercury version of the Falcon) and it was the worst car we ever had. Think we had the engine replaced at least once.

                One shouldn’t get too carried away re the glories of old Detroit.

              2. polar donkey

                I had a 1970 Ford Fairlane in high school in early 90’s. Four wheel drum brakes. 302 V8. It was fast, couldn’t stop worth a sh-t, and in the hands of a maniac 17 year old who drove 20 miles each way to school. I have no idea what possessed my parents to let me have that car, but damn it was fun.

            2. lance ringquist

              i had a 1965 mustang convertible. 289 c.i. with a 3/4 racing cam with trick lifters, holly 4 barrel double pumper, and headers coupled to a 4 speed transmission.

              it was really really fast:)

            1. jonboinAR

              I have an early memory busting my lip on a steel dashboard when my dad drove into a culvert. “Seatbelt? You mean that sticky thing wedged underneath the (bench) seat?”

          1. BeliTsari

            Thing is: you’d survive a pretty nasty crash, unscathed AND any number of neat old Daimler, BMW, Volvo, Toyota, Honda & Nissan cars wouldn’t get you into an “accident,” and are easily and cheaply maintained; cast iron rotors, incredibly sticky tires, rugged steel suspension upgrades? Try a Hyundai Veloster R (kinda like a Lotus Europa… that starts every day).

            BMW 2.8/ 3.0 Csi, Celica GT or Mercedes 300sl all available.

      1. Carolinian

        We’ve already had this discussion re “telematics” with some of us pointing out that third party access to driving data in the Massachusetts right to repair bill is not necessarily a good thing. Which is to say that lots of newish cars at the moment are already sending out driving data routinely. There are even some hack instructions on the web claiming to enable you to disable the car’s cell radio.

        Also some used car dealers install a “kill switch” that allows them to remotely disable your car if you miss payments–a robot repo man. I’m not sure of the current status of this but needless to say it has been controversial.

        And in Norway cars are already remotely monitored by the government to track mileage of EVs so they can be charged the same road use taxes that gasoline cars pay through gas taxes. The has also been advocated here.

      2. TimH

        I’ve not seen any indication that US market customers can opt out. EU with GDPR, sure (in theory).

        Model Year 2020 Privacy Statement applies to all Model Year 2020 Volkswagen vehicles:
        ….Vehicle data transmitted from your vehicle….; driver behavior data (e.g. vehicle speed, seat belt use, and information about braking habits); and GPS location data.

    2. Huey Long

      Looks like I better go buy a Toyota hi-lux and park it somewhere safe. Go long on technicals folks!

      1. Louis Fyne

        it is conceivable that the EU will ban all existing petrol cars at some point in the future.

        if some White House ever proposed the same in the US, the Democrats would lose the very next election and not return to power for a while

    3. CostcoPizza

      Be optimistic!

      That backdoor will only be used to prevent drunk drivers and also inform you of a 3/$6 McChicken special 3 exits ahead of your current route.

      1. fresno dan

        December 3, 2021 at 8:28 am
        also inform you of a 3/$6 McChicken special 3 exits ahead of your current route.
        Can I get that now? and btw, can I get the addendum that features the nearest hospitals that do coronary bypasses?

        1. cnchal

          > . . . can I get the addendum that features the nearest hospitals that do coronary bypasses?

          Logical fail, fresno. Eating McCrap is evidence that a coronary bypass is not affordable. It is a waste of electrons to advertise that.

      1. Nikkikat

        Queens lawyer, thought the same thing when I saw this story. The vault 7 docs on Wikileaks also had significant information on this subject.

    4. Questa Nota

      Article V of the US Constitution is a type of backdoor Congressional Lunacy kill switch built in, the Convention of States. Getting more likely to have citizen demands retake the wheel.

      Visualize Mayo Pete, or any number of people in DC, or points beyond and even offshore grinning maniacally while pondering which people to target next. So-and-so going over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s? Don’t Think So, Bub.

    5. flora

      This is interesting. This control switch would never ever ever be abused. Right? / ;)

      Second order thought: Most chips an computer hardware is made in China or Taiwan. I’d bet China includes a few back doors of their own. (One reason the US was/is worried about China made G5 wireless hardware.)
      Can B think strategically beyond the next party fund raising effort and the next election?

    6. marcyincny

      Makes me feel a bit better about the $2000 we just spent on a new exhaust system for my 1999 Odyssey!

    7. griffen

      I was unaware of Bob Barr’s status among the living; for the record he is above ground. I found the cited column he wrote.

      I look forward to Skynet instructing me on best driving habits, and the most efficient path when routing my itinerary. What in the name of Sarah or John Connor are they trying to pull?

      Hey look, GPS says this dirt path is a shortcut saving precious seconds of time \sarc

    8. Aumua

      I’d kind of like to see the actual language in the bill, if anyone has a link to that. I don’t necessarily trust stories that come from Bob Barr or the Daily Caller by default.

  4. Wukchumni

    How will the other great resignation play out in regards to Omicron?

    In perhaps the worst hit area in the state here in the beating heart of the CVBB, prevention in the guise of masked men and women inside buildings is around 50%, which correlates perfectly in that only 46% in Tulare County are double vaxed (not that it will seemingly matter-omission accomplished against a new variant that doesn’t respect our efforts) meaning that they didn’t believe in preventative measures before, and why would they care now?

  5. Jeff W

    “…I presume because of the type of justice that Bush was most likely to nominate would be congenial to his jurisprudence, especially prospectively.”

    Took me a few moments to figure out why the sentence was so difficult to parse.

  6. Huey Long

    Russia has no veto. Russia has no say. And Russia has no right to establish a sphere of influence, trying to control their neighbours,” Stoltenberg told reporters, pounding his podium.

    So it’s OK when the US, NATO’s marquis member, does EXACTLY this but when Russia wants to do the same thing for far more legitimate reasons (preventing Barbarossa part II vs imperial plunder) it’s all of the sudden a problem.

    The bottom line is Vladdy doesn’t want US nukes 5 minutes or so from the Kremlin, kinda how we didn’t want a buncha Russian IRBMs in Cuba way back when.

    NATO can woof all day long, but the minute they start moving significant amounts of troops and weapons into the Ukraine they’re going to get a rude awakening from the Rooskies.

    1. svay

      I think people like Stultenborg are so convinced of the West’s moral superiority that anything they do is justified, while any measures Russia or China take to defend themselves are by definition evil. I’ve encountered this when comparing the number of US military bases with those of China: the raw numbers, 700-odd to 1 or 2 or 3, depending how one counts, mean nothing to Western fans and apologists. All they see is the Forces of Good up against the Communist Threat, and the 1 or 2 or 3 only prove the 700 aren’t enough.

      1. MonkeyBusiness

        It’s time for Russia and China to team up and take out Uncle Sam, biggest threat to world peace.

      2. NotThePilot

        I wouldn’t be surprised if the upper-ranks of NATO are every bit as delusional as you say. But honestly, I wonder if that difference in bases is ironically why NATO, AUKUS, Five Eyes, etc. are now acting like a bunch of armed, headless chickens.

        NATO is bubkes without the US (terminally overstretched) & Turkey (fight Russia in Ukraine for Poland? lol wut). And everybody knows it. Especially with Afghanistan now firmly in the Eurasian camp, regardless of the drama around the Taliban, China, Russia, and Iran can easily reinforce each other. If NATO actually commits to significant action against any 1, the other 2 are freed up to steamroll small but strategically critical NATO allies in their neighborhood, and at this point, with at least some casus belli.

        A lot of these narcissistic and brash maneuvers may actually be probing out of desperation. Maybe that’s why Stoltenberg sounds like he’s on something. NATO is literally an addict that has reached the “chasing the dragon before the habit kills me” phase.

    2. Louis Fyne

      It isn’t just nukes. The Nato frontier (Estonia) is literally 100 miles from St Petersburg, RU.

      Beltway DC doesn’t seem to understand that Russia already is in a corner and a blatant US/NATO provocations is going to make the bear open a large can of whoop arse.

      the US hasn’t fought a peer since 1945 and barely held its own against the developing world except for a few exceptions Iraq 1991, Grenada, Panama.

      1. Maxwell Johnston

        The US military is a highly capable force, but I would politely submit that the US has never fought against a true peer. By the time it entered WW1, the other powers had bled each other dry. Much the same in WW2 on the European front; the Germans’ best troops had long ago died in previous warfare, and in any case most of the Axis forces were always on the Eastern Front (fighting those who must not be named). In the Pacific, Japan in the 1940s was a second-rate industrial power which had also been bled white after fighting the Chinese for many years before the US joined the war.
        Eventually the US will fight a peer and suffer the consequences, at which point–maybe–its foreign policy will become more cautious. Until then, here we are.

  7. fresno dan

    Obituary for Russiagate Patrick Lawrence, Consortium News
    An inquiry of this kind must begin with the damage Russiagate has done to the prevalent American consciousness. The last five years have delivered Americans into a culture of unreason of the kind they have been prone to indulging periodically throughout their history. It is made in equal parts of a native insecurity and anxiety, of paranoia and of irrationality.

    This is at once a pitiable and dangerous state. All is reduced to the Manichean distinctions characteristic of the old Westerns (not to mention most of the good guys vs. bad guys Dreck that comes out of Hollywood these days).

    No subtlety of thought survives in the culture of unreason. Public space is populated with poseurs, cutouts, and imposters. Public discourse, with some exceptions, is much of the time not worth bothering with.
    To understand this condition, we must recognize it as the work of a diabolic alliance comprised of the Democratic Party’s corrupt leadership, the F.B.I. and other law-enforcement agencies, the national security apparatus and its many appendages, and the media. It is no longer in the slightest objectionable to speak or write of a Deep State that controls this country.
    The feature of the corporate-owned press — and the “progressive,” press, as just suggested — that strikes me most now is its resort of omission.

    Think about it: Lengthy hearings on Capitol Hill, in which leading Democratic Party Russiagaters admit under oath they never had any of the evidence they long claimed, go unreported. The collapse of the Steele dossier goes unreported in The New York Times and other major dailies.

    It is but a short step to all else that is newsworthy but left out — the collapse of the case against Julian Assange (against whom the Russiagate frenzy was wielded), the collapse of the chemical weapons case in Syria, all the above-noted covert subversions.
    It is wholesale dereliction of duty now, and it was Russiagate that licensed this betrayal.
    Mainstream media are now approaching that point when they leave out more of the world we live in than they report.
    characteristic of the old Westerns
    It is bad enough that “news” spends an inordinate amount of time on the Baldwin case. Something like 106 people per day are murdered in the US. And of course, Hollywood is going to get exaggerated attention. But the modern phenomenon of social media has taken the downsides of “free market” reporting and turbocharged the lack of seriousness of public and political discourse and made it such that serious issues are all but ignored. The average person just does not have the time or inclination to go and read the inspector general’s report on what happened with the FISA court, and to be outraged that the system is set up so that when OBVIOUSLY high government officals were lying on matters of the utmost import (i.e., the impeachment of a president), there are no legal or political consequences.

    1. LawnDart

      fresno dan,

      …no legal or political consequences.

      I’d like to add to it the truism, what gets rewarded gets repeated.

          1. newcatty

            Ha! Reminds me of middle aged men who name their male dogs after favorite NFL quarterbacks. Just a coincidence perhaps, but the ones I have knowledge of have girls and no sons. Hmmm.

    1. Pat

      The Mayor elect is just continuing his misinformation flimflam so that he is on to bigger and better Donor paychecks things before he is a one term mayor. Or even a two termer.

      Not sure he can manage Senate, which I would assume is his preferred position, but moving on to a position that comes with more opportunities but with less public expectations than Mayor, even with business support, has got to be his goal. Adams is ambitious, mayor of NYC has largely been a dead end for the last half century. He has to take the fame and transition fast to his next step.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Russia has ‘no right’ to establish a sphere of influence, NATO chief says”

    Of course this was NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg saying this but even the Daily Kos would dispute this idea-

    The Ukraine and Georgia cannot join NATO at the moment due to NATO’s own charter laws and Stoltenberg knows this but rather than have a working relationship between the different countries, tensions are constantly raised and it is only a matter of time until there is a repeat of the 2001 Hainan Island incident where a PLAN jet collided with a USN intelligence aircraft but this time with Russian and NATO units. The problem is that the Atlantic alliance still seeks to rule the world. You may think that being rather out there but just the other day, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said-

    ‘And we western people, US and EU, we have been ruling the world because we were the standard setters, we were fixing the standards, we are the masters of how technology was working. And from steel-mills to trains, railways to everything warfare, we were the standard setting. If we are no longer the standard setting, we will not rule the 21st century’ (at the 29.00 min mark)

    1. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      December 3, 2021 at 8:58 am
      Thanks for that example of “saying the quiet part out loud”
      although I would note that the West ruling the world really wasn’t due to its inventiveness as much as its savageness….

  9. nechaev

    the usual suspects up to their usual shenanigans…. don’t think this one has been noted here yet …
    but it should be:

    Dark-Money Group Linked to Anti-Iran, Pro-Israel Network Targets Turkey but Has No Turks
    The Turkish Democracy Project shares leadership and personnel with the most well-funded foreign policy pressure network in Washington.

    “…Despite having no actual Turks publicly affiliated with the group, the Turkish Democracy Project boasts a roster heavy with hawkish former U.S. public officials and diplomats with close ties to Israel and the Gulf Arab states, including former Bush administration counterterrorism official Frances Townsend, former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, and former President Donald Trump’s famously aggressive national security adviser John Bolton. …”

  10. Jason Boxman

    LOLz Amazon is such garbage, a morass of junk. What Happened to Amazon’s Bookstore?

    Extraordinary prices for ordinary books have been an Amazon mystery for years, but the backdating of titles to gain a commercial edge appears to be a new phenomenon. A listing with a fake date gets a different Amazon page from a listing with the correct date. In essence, those Boland books were in another virtual aisle of the bookstore. That could power sales.

    Last month, a search on the site for paperbacks published before 1800 yielded over 100,000 results. Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign tract, “Change We Can Believe In,” was published in 1725, according to a seller charging $45 for it. Elsewhere in the bookstore it sells for as low as 25 cents.

    But it’s simple: Amazon makes money whether a seller is a scammer or not. As long as the check clears, Amazon does not care. Given if you get a refund, it doesn’t matter. The scammer probably still wins on volume and Amazon wins regardless.

    I’ve avoided 3rd party sellers since it first became a “thing” in the rare instance I can only find something on Amazon. If I wanted a 3rd party seller, I’d buy something on Ebay!

  11. fresno dan

    The Justices Are Having An Open Fight About The Legitimacy Of The Supreme Court Buzzfeed. IMNSHO, Supreme Court hasn’t been legitimate since Bush v. Gore in election 2000, when Justice Scalia selected Bush, I presume because of the type of justice that Bush was most likely to nominate would be congenial to his jurisprudence, especially prospectively. And here we are!
    C’mon man! I would say the supreme court hasn’t been legitimate since its inception.
    The thing of it is, you can search for bad supreme court rulings and find a zillion of them. I would argue that whatever good rulings the court has made has more than been offset by its bad rulings. But the very idea that the constitution is holy writ, to be adjudicated by these supposedly impartial interpretors of holy scripture law, I think, (forgive the pun) defies strict scrutiny.
    It is a bizarre idea that laws can be crafted, years can pass, and than…it is discovered the law is unconstitutional (when somebody with money can start the expensive legal process to challenge a law). Shouldn’t EVERY law be determined BEFORE passage to be constitutional (what ever that means – remember that our holy document was fine with slavery…or women not voting…or putting Japanese in interment camps…or no abortions…until abortions…until no abortion, etcetera ad infinitum).

    1. Questa Nota

      I’ll see your C’mon, man and raise you a Here’s the deal.

      Some clever clogs has probably charted the trends in District, Appellate and any other court decisions being overturned. The Ninth Circuit, for example, has been said to have many entries on that list for various reasons. It would be interesting to look across the country into the parties, issues, judges and other factors.

    2. Mildred Montana

      @fresno dan

      Nice link. Thank you.

      I was aware of the horrific Dred Scott decision and Citizens United, but the others also go far in showing that the Nine can often be nitwits, directed only by prejudice and politics. They are revealed not as wise Solomons*, soberly examining the law before rendering an impartial judgement, but as self-interested jurors making up their minds and then making up their reasons.

      *From Wiki: Solomon was the biblical king most famous for his wisdom. In 1 Kings he sacrificed to God, and God later appeared to him in a dream, asking what Solomon wanted from God. Solomon asked for wisdom. Pleased, God personally answered Solomon’s prayer, promising him great wisdom because he did not ask for self-serving rewards like long life or the death of his enemies.

      Perhaps the best known story of his wisdom is the Judgment of Solomon; two women each lay claim to being the mother of the same child. Solomon easily resolved the dispute by commanding the child to be cut in half and shared between the two. One woman promptly renounced her claim, proving that she would rather give the child up than see it killed. Solomon declared the woman who showed compassion to be the true mother, entitled to the whole child.

    3. Nikkikat

      Fresno Dan, I had also thought about the silliness of laws coming and going and all the bad law that the court had “decided” over the years. The one I always come back to is the idea that a human being could be only three fifths of a person.

    4. Bart Hansen

      In Marbury v Madison the court gave itself the power of judicial revue, sort of like Dick Cheney, who when searching for a VP, found the best candidate to be himself.

      1. Pate

        Also sort of like me believing in a god who says I just happen to be that god’s favorite creature. Very convenient – what are the odds?

  12. haywood

    Neoliberal covid testing scheme:

    The Biden administration doesn’t want people testing themselves, right? This has to be deliberate.

    I don’t think the administration’s policy makers are stupid, so they have to know this insurance rebate scheme will result in fewer people getting tested and more paperwork for insurers, no party involved benefits as far as I can tell.

    Is their intention to depress the number of positive test results to keep people w covid in school and at work? This seems ridiculous but I can’t imagine another rationale.

    1. Mantid

      This, along with kill switches in vehicles and incessant tracking is another example of their (repubs and dems) desire for complete control. More data points and the group with the largest server WINS! Jaron Lanier “Who Owns the Future?”. Plug in or drop out now.

      1. tegnost

        their (repubs and dems) desire for complete control

        We have two faces of wall st. to choose from.
        That’s who desires complete control along with zero risk to themselves…

  13. albrt

    The other day my doctor expressed a willingness to prescribe a cheap, reasonably safe medication to have on hand in case of COVID. I asked him about fluvoxamine. He had never heard of fluvoxamine (not a psychiatrist), but he suggested fenofibrate. He looked them up on his phone and said “Oh, they’re basically the same thing. I’ll prescribe either one, but the one I’ve heard good things about is fenofibrate.” I took the fenofibrate.

    I haven’t previously heard anything in here or elsewhere about fenofibrate, but it does appear to have some trials suggesting it is effective in preventing COVID replication and reducing severity. A big trial is closing at the end of December.

    I have not been able to figure out why my doctor said it’s basically the same as fluvoxamine.

    Anybody have any insight as to why we haven’t heard more about fenofibrate?

    1. expr

      the chemical structures appear to be vastly different
      fluvoxamine has on benzene ring, 3 fluorine’s at one end and an amine at another
      fenofibrate has 2 benzene rings no fluorine or amine, a chlorine at one end and aliphatic at the other (CH3)

    2. svay

      The popular scientific press ran articles about it back in August, eg.

      And there’s been an observational study since:
      Unfortunately, “there was no divergence in survival curves for 28 day all-cause mortality between the fenofibrate group and the non-fenofibrate group” and “This large primary-care based observational study is one of the first to report the effects of fenofibrate on COVID-19 infection in real-world clinical practice, but did not corroborate a treatment benefit for post-COVID-19 diagnosis 28-day mortality.”

  14. Wukchumni

    Headed to Cat Haven today for my birthday and hope they’ll gift me a Lynx. (Canadian or Eurasian is ok by me)

    It’s short notice but if Fresno Dan is up for it, i’ll be wearing a leopard print trenchcoat & matching fedora by the cheetah enclosure…

    1. fresno dan

      December 3, 2021 at 10:18 am
      Oh man, I’m sorry I missed your birthday – I’m just opening the afternoon links. I always wanted to go to Cat Haven but have never got around to it.
      You know, there is this place called Cat House on the Kings

      I remember how disappointed I was when I got there – I love cats and cat rescue, but I was all looking forward to something else…

      1. Wukchumni

        Bummer you missed out on the felineapalooza, hard to pick favorites, but the black jaguar in heat making what sounded suspiciously lifted from a Barry White song was quite something, and 4 lynx is overkill, and the cloudy leopard so cute, and did I mention lions & tigers?

        I made a request of mountain lion poop of them & their trio of cougars, and our guide was taken aback as shit doesn’t happen like that, and then I told of my plan for next year of spreading it around fruit trees, or as I like to put it, the buck stops here!

        It was a bad summer for hungry bucks beating down fences and badly beating up trees, got to go to plan B, doo-doo from their mortal enemy.

    2. wilroncanada

      Good lock on the missing lynx. Don’t settle for anything less; don’t be a cheetah. You’ll have to travel to Vancouver Island to find your missing lynx, making your way through the Omnicron curtain at the border.

    1. saywhat?

      Proverbs 22:3:

      The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.

      I’m thankful I had Covid before the current “vaccines” were available since I was naive enough then to get the “jab” if it were available. Now I have all sorts of doubts about the current vaccines, including how they are administered.

    2. Basil Pesto

      Thanks for this, that info will be useful as I’m due AZ #2 next week.

      That Daily Mail link is curious. It’s another example of their surprisingly science reporting but ctrl + f and ‘aspirate’ doesn’t make an appearance. In fact the article dances around the issue. But the infographic would seem to make the problem rather clear:

      2. The jab is delivered into the muscle of the arm but can sometimes enter the bloodstream

      3. In the bloodstream it can attract a protein in the blood called Protein Factor 4


      the solution according to that would seem obvious: aspirate the syringe before injection to see if any vaccine is being delivered into the bloodstream.

      But it’s not mentioned and there’s a lot of “oh me oh my what are we going to do” prevarication about how to respond to this newly articulated problem. What about aspirate the syringe, for a start? Or am I missing something?

      I do wonder if the reluctance to articulate the solution might be that if it becomes apparent, or explicit, that a number of vaccinees have died needlessly because a dependable injection technique was abandoned at some point in the relatively recent past because reasons, it might not go terribly well.

  15. kcp

    The doctorow piece resonates strongly with my experience leading recitations at a university similar to USC this semester. A lot of very bright, motivated students who are also extremely anxious at the thought of taking risks or applying concepts in new ways. It really sucks to see but I have no idea how to talk about it or address it in the really limited time I have with them.

    1. Louis Fyne

      — thought of taking risks or applying concepts in new ways.—

      IMO, by 18 y.o. it’s too late to be undone in one semester or an academic year.

      I see/saw it all the time at playgrounds….even at the toddler age there were two distinct poles of parenting: the “keep calm and carry on—even if you fall the first time” on the jungle gym versus the ‘get away from that’

      IMO, a good allegory for the next 18 years of growing up.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      The quality of being “extremely anxious at the thought of taking risks or applying concepts in new ways” is trained for — most assiduously — in our schools, by our employers, and in too many social contexts. Try voicing the sole dissenting opinion … unless you are the boss. Argue with your teacher or professor … and see how it improves your grades. Ask a question when everyone else is ready to move on. Be the odd-man-out among your friends. You might occasionally find tolerance. But tall daisies and those who question and think for themselves … suffer ‘topping’. As an employee — if you are not ‘with’ the program you had best start looking for a new job. Like Doctorow I grieve for what this portends for my children’s future, personal well-being, and ‘size’ as a person. But unfortunately, their ‘education’, has already, all too successfully killed their curiosity, their ability to question and think, and for my son, even the crucial joy of reading.

      What Doctorow bemoans, is a second Plague upon those of Humankind living in the u.s. [I do not know about conditions outside the u.s.] The insane conformity and antipathy to thought and invention characteristic of our Elites and all those who serve them in schools … or management, combined with their unquestioning devotion to Neoliberal values — provides yet another fatal flaw detrimental to the continued survival of these abhorrent specimens of Humankind. I foretell a very different end for them than William Gibson presages in “Peripheral”.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Further thoughts ….
        Of course — within the very different contexts of their times — Bertrand Russell does not contend with meritocratic and conformity constraints of quite the same unconstrained powers of conditioning — with which our children and Doctorow’s children are being shaped. The ‘best’ of our Youth are being molded into Manchurian Candidates for a most dystopian future for them and for us all.

    3. NotThePilot

      I only have very limited experience on the teaching end of things, but I noticed even in my 1st year of undergrad that this is particularly a problem in science.

      The entire education system is configured around judging people on right & wrong answers, instead of dynamic processes. And people overwhelmingly respond to those incentives, or like in Doctorow’s case, throw their hands up in disgust and walk out.

      The problem is that right & wrong answers backed by judgment are pretty much a definition for dogma. So you’re training even your scientists (via the hidden curriculum) to turn away from the basic outlook the entire, modern scientific program relies on.

      This is one more thing where I’ve become pretty pessimistic and think Spengler was probably right that modern science has peaked. It’s not that society constructs the objective facts people uncover, but it does shape interpretations and which questions get asked, and who gets the oxygen to ask them.

  16. Robert Hahl

    Next life I am going to be an otter. Every one I have seen, either in real life or video has been playing, usually with other otters. When do they work?

      1. newcatty

        For an otter, fishing is play. “Work” is a soley human construct. From many indigenous people’s pov the actions taken to sustain life are intrinsically woven into culture and life. A native american woman gathers natural materials to create a functional and beautiful basket, pottery, or symbolic adornment. She , in the past, did not see this as work, but sacred action and creation. Some still do. Some make things to survive in this society. The current world at work.

      2. jonboinAR

        Frickin’, about a year ago I was fishing on a creek in the Great Smoky Mountains. Fishin’ was bad. Then coming downstream toward me in the current were 3 otters. They were laying on their backs, like, side by side, with their heads tilted toward me, watching me intently as they approached. When they drew near as the current brought them, not swimming, but floating, they finally ducked under water. I didn’t see them any more, look up or downstream as I might. I got a really good look as they were approaching, though. Made my day.

  17. Robert Hahl

    Re: Give Me Slack Cory Doctorow, Medium. “My parental worries, ca. 2021.” This is very good.

    “I want my kid to be able to goof off, fail courses, take others, switch majors, drop out, drop in, take a year off, start up again.” That was me. I even forgot to show up for my SAT one Saturday, and never signed up for another one, Praise Bob.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Cory Doctorow’s post is a temporary Northstar. It appears to have the greatest resonance — Doctorow is wise to our times.

    2. ArvidMartensen

      Cory is reminding us that he is proof that there is/was? an alternative to the feedlot model of education (get them young (preschool), herd them into pens(school), control what they do(tests etc), finish them to acceptable standards (college/university) and then send them to market (labour force)).

      I contrast this with previous generation kids. One I know left school round 12 yo and went rabbit trapping and skinning in the Depression. Another living on a share-farm lit the fuel stove at dawn then milked the cows by hand, went to school, came home, milked the cows, did homework etc. Also felled trees, split posts, built his own pigpen and started a small pig farming enterprise while at school.
      The rabbit skinner ended up being the Deputy Lord Mayor of the city, and then Deputy of the city’s water utility Board.
      The farming kid worked manual labour 18 hour days until he could buy his own farm, and then farmed successfully.

      The lack of slack and mania for control in education looks very like the same mentality that took all the slack out of goods transportation (The ‘just in time’ gospel choir). And look how well that is going when circumstances change.
      If a global warming world has the same effect on our ordered lives, as Covid and its downstream has had on transport etc, then maybe it will only be the kids who have developed resilience through their own efforts (ie having some slack) who can survive.

    1. Mantid

      Have you seen the Beatles docu “Get Back”? If you’re a musician in bands, it’s a kick. Perfect watching real pros take a scrap and evolve it into a piece of music – darned good in fact. I’ll check out your band and raise you one: good one related to BLM, “sharing is caring” and more.

      1. newcatty

        Yes! Its really is a kick, also, for us non musician fans. We enjoyed it thoroughly. On a personal note, we lived many years in Tucson, AZ. While they were working on the song, I think it was John, asked Paul if “”Tucson” was a real place in Arizona. Lol. Yeah, and in some great ways not.

    2. eg

      They already released an album of that name in 1989 (I have it).

      I wonder why they used it again?

      Edit: they didn’t — new album is named Many a Mile

  18. Mikel

    Increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection associated with emergence of the Omicron variant in South Africa (preprint) medRxiv. From the Conclusion: “Population-level evidence suggests that the Omicron variant is associated with substantial ability to evade immunity from prior infection….’

    I’d fix this part: “associated with substantial ability to evade TEMPORARY immunity from prior infection….”

    A big part of the problem is some walking around not distinguishing from long term and temporary antibodies. Hopes and dreams…

    1. saywhat?

      TEMPORARY immunity Mikel

      Not an expert by any means but my own personal bet is that declining antibody levels are, in this case, a feature, not a bug of the immune system and that attempts to keep them boosted will have bad consequences for the body. I guess we’ll see with some folks lining up for booster after booster while others remain, as long as they can, members of the control group.

      Also, there’s such a thing as B-memory cells, I’ve read.

  19. Wukchumni

    John Kerry says private sector can win climate change battle CNBC
    Clearly the best hope for humanity is for John Kerry to get into a conversation with climate change, in order to bore it to death or at the very least, exile the effects to another planet.

  20. Jen

    From Biden outlines winter COVID-19 plans:

    “Two amicus briefs signed by public health leaders and former officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and filed with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals argue that Biden’s vaccine rule for large companies is based on the latest scientific evidence and would prevent thousands of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.

    But not transmission? Are we saying that out loud now?

    1. newcatty

      They are still relying on the tried and true PR playbook of the cleaver “sins of omission” ruse. Not so much “out loud”, but look at the emphasis on preventing death and dreaded hospitalizations.

  21. Raymond Sim

    Having spent quite a bit of time over the past few days staring a scatterplots of wastewater data and reading various people attempting to make sense of Omicron, I decided that first thing this morning I would nag everybody at NC about the need to wrap one’s head around the nature of overdispersion. But once again you’re there ahead of me.

    The power of mathematics to lead one to understanding of things unknown is probably more constrained by one’s intuitive sense of meaning than by any other factor. Conversely, one’s intuitive understanding of the meaning of a mathematical expression can be radically transformed by the discovery that it applies to a given situation.

    We have over a century’s worth of intellectual conditioning by ‘close contact’ notions of disease transmission. This has led most obviously to that Cargo Cult version of public health measures: Hygiene Theater. Hygiene theater has its more intellectually sophisticated equivalents.

    The very term ‘Super Spreader’ misleads the intuition and smacks of false understanding. It’s like declaring a sturgeon who releases a million eggs Hero Mother of the Soviet Union if ten survive. Would scientists who had known from childhood that respiratory viruses are airborne have regarded this as useful terminology?

    In my opinion, those of us brought up and educated in the US are unlikely to be able to comprehend what’s happening around us in these most dangerous days since the Civil War without breaking free of a lot of deeply inculcated bad intuition about economics, class, war, peace, and even, as it turns out, biology.

    1. Basil Pesto

      It’s like declaring a sturgeon who releases a million eggs Hero Mother of the Soviet Union if ten survive.

      that is terrific

  22. juno mas

    RE: Collapse of the Liangzhu

    I GEarthed Liangzu, China. If you zoom out to a full-China scale you’ll see that a huge portion of northeastern China is a giant geological alluvial fan. Major floods can cause river flows to take radically different courses across and down the alluvial fan. It appears that was the fate of ancient Liangzhu.

    1. The Rev Kev

      In the way that you had catastrophic floods in the past whose telling made its way into the Bible (Noah & the Arc), you wonder if the survivors had their ow myths based on this civilization-ending floods that were passed down the generations.

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