Links 1/13/2022

Rat who detected land mines in Cambodia dies in retirement AP

In Assam, artificial nests for barn owls are helping farmers befriend the natural rodent killer Scroll

Birdwatch: the stately waterbird that’s the tallest species in Europe Guardian

The End of the Empress Guernica

Nowa Huta: The city that went from communism to capitalism BBC

What was the effect of LEGO losing its patent? Quora

Lessons From a Flawed Genius Persuasion

GET WISE TO GET SMART Crime Reads

A Personal Catalogue of the World’s Most Storied Bookstores Literary Hub

‘Dancing through the water’: rare sighting of blanket octopus in Great Barrier Reef Guardian

What obscure words should we bring back into daily use? Literary Hub

We Shot a Moose, Class. There Will Be a Quiz. New York Times

The U.S. Federal Government Deregulates French Dressing WSJ

Libor, Long the Most Important Number in Finance, Dies at 52 NYT

#COVID-19

WHO says omicron cases are ‘off the charts’ as global infections set new records CNBC

FDA head: Omicron is a “natural disaster… most people are gonna get COVID” Ars Technica

Fauci: Omicron will infect ‘just about everybody’ The Hill

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Omicron disrupts transit, emergency services as workers call out sick: ‘Most people are going to get Covid’ CNBC

As hospitals reel, California tells coronavirus-positive medical workers to stay on the job Yahoo

California Health Workers Sound Alarm Over ‘Ridiculous’ New COVID Guidance Capital & Main

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CDC to update advice on best masks—but just wants you to wear one, any of them Ars Technia

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UK virus hunting labs seek to bolster global variant network AP

Indonesia works on vaccine to support booster drive Deutsche Welle

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French teachers and school personnel stage historic strike over confusing Covid-19 rules France 24

How the Concerns of Teachers Have Been Misrepresented in Omicron Reporting Counterpunch

Students Walk Out Over Covid in New York, Michigan, Oakland, Boston. Teen Vogue

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India’s Covid-19 Third Wave Widespread In Less Than Three Weeks India Spend

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Latest COVID updates: US blasts China over cancelled flights Al Jazeera

China’s ‘closed-loop’ aims to avoid an Omicron Olympics Asia Times

Scientists believed Covid leaked from Wuhan lab – but feared debate could hurt ‘international harmony’ Yahoo

Health Care

Why Biogen’s Medicare mess is bad for the pharmaceutical industry Stat

l’affaire Jeffrey Epstein

Sex abuse lawsuit against Prince Andrew can go forward: judge New York Post

Prince Andrew WILL face sex assault lawsuit in US: Royal to be called for dramatic court showdown in New York as judge refuses his attempt to throw out Virginia Roberts’s case accusing him of having sex with her when she was 17 Daily Mail

Climate Change

Tarea Vida: Inside the Cuban Way To Confront Climate Change The Wire

Johnson’s political weakness leaves climate agenda at risk, say campaigners Guardian

Class Warfare

A major failure’: Fed under fire for handling of trading scandal FT

Why global leaders are terrified about ‘social cohesion erosion’  Fast Company

Bernie Wants Democrats to Fight for the Working Class. They Won’t. Jacobin

The Real Estate Industry and New York Progressives Are Headed for a Showdown Jacobin

New Report Reveals Kroger Grocery Workers Struggle to Afford Healthy Food Capital & Main

More Than 8,000 Kroger Grocery Workers Strike in Colorado Common Dreams

Pitt’s spending on ‘union avoidance’ law firm nears $3M The Pitt News


Syraqistan

German court finds Syrian ex-colonel guilty of crimes against humanity Deutsche Welle

Turkey

Erdogan vows to tame Turkish inflation as scepticism grows Reuters

California’s overflowing coffers hand Newsom ‘every politician’s dream’ Yahoo

Biden Administration

Biden imposes first sanctions over N. Korea weapons program after missile tests Reuters

White House departures send tremors through environmental community Politico

Out with the old, in with the new: Kamala Harris’ team works to improve public image McClatchy

Trump Transition

Lindsey Graham says he won’t back Mitch McConnell for Senate GOP leader if he doesn’t have a ‘working relationship’ with Trump Business Insider

Why the GOP is suddenly running scared from Trump’s Big Lie AlterNet

Supply Chain

The latest item in short supply on the shelves? Baby formula Marketwatch

New Cold War

NATO open to more talks with Russia amid Ukraine tensions Deutsche Welle

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan becomes toxic graveyard for US diplomacy Asia Times

Kazakhstan And The Limit Of American Power American Conservative

US Must Stay Out of Kazakhstan’s Troubles Consortium News

India

Britain and India to formally launch trade talks Reuters

US Discourages India From Acquiring Russian S-400 Missile Defence Systems NDTV

Pakistan

Pakistan’s New Security Policy Seeks ‘Peace’ With India: Report The Wire

Pakistan’s odd sugar policy is a symbol of the contradictions in its economic direction Scroll

China?

Congress Is More Important Than Ever in US China Policy The Diplomat

How the Chinese Language Got Modernized New Yorker

US-China tech war: Beijing unveils grand plan to grow digital economy as US moves forward with competition bill South China Morning Post

How China Is Getting Drug Companies to Slash Prices Bloomberg

Old Blighty

Boris Johnson: Senior Tories urge PM to quit after party apology BBC

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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185 comments

  1. bwilli123

    Re Omicron is a “natural disaster.”
    It’s only ‘natural’ in the sense that it is an unavoidable consequence of the US relying on leaky borders as an integral part of its strategy to keep its economy functioning.
    Were there to be a properly regulated and enforced border with dedicated quarantine, viruses would not have gained traction.
    See China for example, or Australia and NZ before they threw in the towel.

    Reply
    1. Larry Carlson

      Lengthy land borders are a bit more difficult to seal, particularly with deer and other species able to carry COVID across them. Perhaps we did need a giant wall?

      In addition, even without thousands of trucks to worry about, Australia and China have shown that even brief contact with airplanes’ or ships’ crews is fraught with risk.

      Reply
      1. jsn

        None the less, they have dealt with it.

        Containment, demonstrably, is a problem that can be solved. There is a now measurable expense associated with the solution.

        The devastation to the economy from non-containment is now the problem we have to demonstrate can be solved. So far, efforts are not promising and we’re only beginning to see the expenses.

        Reply
      2. Yan

        China shares international land borders with 14 sovereign states. In addition, there is a 30-kilometre (19 mi) internal border with the special administrative region of Hong Kong, which was a British dependency before 1997, and a 3-kilometre (1.9 mi) internal border with Macau, a Portuguese territory until 1999. With land borders of 22,117 kilometres (13,743 mi) in total, China has the longest aggregate land borders of any country.

        Reply
        1. Larry Carlson

          True, although the topography of China is such that most of this border consists of mountain ranges that act as natural barriers. And they have had COVID outbreaks in cities like Manzhouli, where commercial traffic is heavy.

          Reply
          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Except for a few key places, the US borders are disgusting too, so it’s not an excuse. They aren’t mountains, but they aren’t airports. The viral transmission isn’t taking off at a border crossing with a sleepy mounty. Northern Mexico is a waste land, and Canadians and Americans live in laces that could be controlled. The rest is just rugged, country, undeveloped for and reason.

            Reply
            1. truly

              Isn’t the important border at the airport? Omicron didnt cross the border at some lonely place in North Dakota or down by the Rio Grande.
              I don’t know how we address that. But if we want containment it has to start with international air travel doesn’t it?

              Reply
              1. cnchal

                > But if we want containment it has to start with international air travel doesn’t it?

                Still Flying = Total Fail

                Let it rip = moar dying

                How soon will Pirate Equity spot the next hot economic sector and buy up all the funeral homes and cemmetaries, funded by public servant pensions aiming for the investment stars?

                Rule two writ large. Go die. The economy depends on it.

                Reply
                1. Anthony G Stegman

                  The corollary to that is to have lots of babies to replace all those dead consumers. Out with the old (literally) and in with the new(born).

                  Reply
              2. NotTimothyGeithner

                It is which is why its easy to control. There won’t be significant viral movement over the border because they are awful. Its why its the border.

                Reply
      3. Lupana

        I believe the virus flew in from Europe initially…It didn’t walk across the border so a wall to keep out an airborne (in more ways than one) virus, seems a pointless approach. The main problem to me seems our messed up priorities, our inability to see long term projects through with any kind of focus and our inability to sacrifice anything even mildly short term in order to reach a goal and actually – What is our goal? Do we even have one? At any rate, we are in a bit of a jam now and with the current crew in charge I don’t see this going in a good direction.

        Reply
        1. Pelham

          Given the severe early outbreak in New York, you’re probably right about international flights bringing in Covid. But even if we’d done the right thing and shut down international air travel, the virus would no doubt have walked across the open southern border — along with the unchecked supplies of fentanyl that China is also trying to kill us with.

          Reply
          1. Lupana

            Based on our response to both the opioid crisis and covid, it seems more like we’re trying to kill ourselves sadly.

            Reply
        2. Michael Fiorillo

          NYC has been full of European tourists for months. They likely brought it in, and post-vaccination loosening of caution by locals (since tightened up considerably, as far as I can tell) led to its rapid spread.

          Reply
      4. Yves Smith

        Deer do not transmit Covid to humans.

        Try crossing the Canadian border into the US and see how that goes.

        The Mexican border is more porous but not terribly. And I have yet to read of a case of what used to be called a wetback infecting an American resident.

        Reply
    2. Tom Bradford

      Object- again – to accusations that NZ has ‘thrown in the towel’. We still have a closed border and dedicated quarantine which has actually done bloody well given that we’re now getting new cases in double figures every day in quarantine. There was ONE escape believed to have been from quarantine last August which led to Auckland being locked down again and restrictions elsewhere that have seen cases in the public domain brought down from a high of 222 in December to 28 yesterday. Only ONE person presently infected in the community caught it from an unknown source, with 5 under investigation.

      Yes, unless the rest of the world gets its act together and makes the kind of effort we have we will eventually get it, but for what its worth as at yesterday we were 93% double vaccinated, 95.4% single and boosters are now being rolled out. If that’s ‘throwing in towel’ tell us what we should be doing!

      Reply
      1. bwilli123

        My apologies to all Kiwis.
        Apart from the notable exception of Western Australia, which has 117 active cases (all in quarantine) the rest of the country is now regretting the wisdom of opening up for Christmas.

        Reply
  2. Roger Blakely

    As hospitals reel, California tells coronavirus-positive medical workers to stay on the job Yahoo

    For the connoisseurs of FUBAR I offer the All Facilities Letter 21-08.7 from the California Department of Public Health. This post from the CDPH is supposed to communicate that for the rest of January acute care staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 are allowed to stay on the job as long as they are asymptomatic.

    https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CHCQ/LCP/Pages/AFL-21-08.aspx

    Talk about ineffective communication. What the? Who? What are they trying to say? I have to read the listed Yahoo News article to try to understand what the CDPH is trying to accomplish.

    Reply
    1. Tom Stone

      The key phrase in that CDPH memo is that Hospitals that do not require sick nurses to work will lose their federal Covid funding..
      The rest can be summarized as “Because Markets,go die”.

      Reply
      1. Lee

        It makes some degree of good sense to allow asymptomatic but positive testing medical staff to work with Covid infected patients but allowing them to work with the uninfected is criminal. From the All Facilities Letter:

        “These HCPs should preferably be assigned to work with COVID-19 positive patients. However, this may not always be possible in settings such as the emergency department in which you may not know which patients are COVID-19 positive or in areas where you may be experiencing extreme staffing shortages.”

        Reply
      2. Soredemos

        Am I crazy, or was it just a few months ago that nurses who refused to get vaccinated were being fired? We’ve gone from that to just letting people who are sick stay on the job. I think I need ER for this whiplash.

        Reply
  3. The Rev Kev

    “Johnson’s political weakness leaves climate agenda at risk, say campaigners”

    So is the Guardian actually saying that the only way to save the UK’s climate agenda is to save Boris’s career as PM by having campaigners backing him and giving him their full support? If so, that is like when Noam Chomsky was telling Americans last year that the only way to save the US climate agenda was to vote for Joe Biden because he was soooo progressive.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      To be fair, if Johnson can be said to have any values or beliefs at all, he is at least some sort of Tory Green (there is a strain of Conservative Greens, mostly concerned with tossing oiks off protected landscapes so they can be enjoyed by the cultured). Allegedly its down to his most recent wife. At the very least, he isn’t actively hostile to green measures, unlike some of the sociopaths that pass for senior Tories these days.

      Reply
      1. Michaelmas

        I’m in the UK currently. One interesting thing not readily apparent from outside the country is that the MSM outlet hammering Boris Johnson the hardest and most continually — it’s quite unremitting, in fact — is Murdoch’s Sky News.

        I’d noticed last year that the only investigative reporting on erstwhile Health Secretary Matt Hancock had been Sky. But now I’m here it’s something else. Murdoch really, really does not like Johnson.

        Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, of course.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          As has been pointed out by a few sources, the media must have been aware of the party as soon as it happens – there are plenty of rumours that the BBC political correspondent may well have been present. So there is nothing ‘new’ in it. That the story coming out now basically means that lots of influential Tory supporters have decided that its time to put the knife into Johnson – and presumably that includes Murdoch and his little clique. One wonders who they want to replace Johnson.

          Reply
      2. Henry Moon Pie

        Boris’s idea of “green” is “guilt free flying” and electric cars. I was personally disappointed because what I was really hoping for were guilt free flying electric cars.

        Reply
  4. griffen

    Article about Graham and McConnell. Summation. Graham hearts Trump. Graham and Mitch are not BFFs anymore.

    McConnell, for his ills, puts a visible face to the Republican leaders and elite (no not the Bush or Cheney crowd) that won’t kow-to to whatever crap is flying is the Donald’s loud mouth.

    Reply
      1. griffen

        Lindsay is a microcosm of a southern state Republican serving in the US Senate. He’ll stand against Trump until a later date…trusting that memories are indeed short and supporters have mush for brains.

        Politicians as presented in Hunt for Red October. “I’m a politician, Dr Ryan, which means I’m a cheat and a liar.”

        Reply
        1. lyman alpha blob

          Lindsay Graham was adamantly opposed to the Donald before becoming a yuge fanboi after losing the Republican presidential nomination to him. Jon Stewart did a memorable and hilarious interview with Graham about this just before leaving The Daily Show IIRC.

          Lindsay Graham is very confused about a lot of things…

          Reply
          1. Bart Hansen

            This reminds me of something Pat Lang said some years ago about Gina Haspel, CIA director and lesbian.

            When she joined it was against house rules to be gay. But he said at that point perhaps she was still confused.

            Reply
    1. jackiebass63

      I believe the reason Graham is supporting Trump is personal. He wants to be appointed to the supreme court. If Trump again becomes president Graham hopes there will be a Supreme Court vacancy and Trump will nominate him.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Err…I don’t think this is it. Trump repeating a rumor is Graham’s number one concern. Evangelicals love their flamboyance, just not all “lifestyle choices.” Jokes from “libruls” are one thing, but the head of the GOP and target of worship for virgin truck drivers saying it brings clarity.

        Reply
            1. lordkoos

              I thought that was well known at this point. At least one male prostitute in D.C. outed him on twitter a couple of years ago.

              Reply
      1. Michael Ismoe

        Why would Mitch want to give up all that power just to give the first eulogy at Brandon’s funeral in the National Cathedral?

        Reply
        1. griffen

          Joe Biden was my friend. We disagreed on many political stances, but could always meet when America needed action. Like the crime bill..and the updated bankruptcy act…or the patriot act…

          Hypothetical… Maybe a Derek Zoolander eulogy is in order.

          Reply
      2. Michael

        How about Newsome / AOC?
        Camelot redux.
        Pelosi can retire knowing she has the Prez on speed dial.
        CA can save the USA, all you gotta do is ask!

        Reply
        1. Jane

          Except for the disastrous shutdowns of 25% of California small businesses under his watch. Something like 41% of them owned by African Americans. Then there’s the CALPERS scandal:

          https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2021/05/dan-walters-dean-of-sacramento-columnists-blasts-calpers-corruption-friendly-secret-lending-bill.html

          When examining the California political mafia it is important to keep in mind that there are two powerful factions, the Newsom faction is old money( Getty’s, [Why no oil extraction tax in California.] Guggenheims and Pritzker’s., the “Aristocrats” of California politics. The other faction is the Willie Brown, who appointed Harris and Newsom to their first hustles) Kamala Harris/London Breed upstart faction raised and nourished in the cradle of San Francisco public works contracts.

          Pelosi and Feinstein (What’s left of her, not held together by formaldehyde) are definitely among the Aristocrats.

          It’s not a perfect split but you can see the results of some of the infighting in the tasks Harris has been assigned because that split is mirrored across the rotting expanse of the Dem party.

          Reply
    1. Anonymous 2

      I am not Danish but note that the FT excess death figures show Denmark at +2% (US is +19%) which is pretty darn good. Perhaps the secret is having a public which keeps a beady eye on its Government and media and does not let them get away with things?

      For anyone who is not familiar with the term, ‘excess deaths’ are those calculated to be above the average for a period compared with other, more normal periods.

      The only countries the FT gives figures for which have lower excess deaths are South Korea (+1%) and Norway (0%!). We should be asking these countries how they managed it.

      Reply
    2. Irrational

      Gist of story is: Media should have been less fixated on the daily ups and downs of figures and queried government on what these figures really mean. Cannot comment on whether there is an agenda in the country to define numbers up or down, since I don’t live there anymore and don’t follow the news. Sounds like the article implies that numbers are overstated. Maybe fajensen has insights.

      Reply
  5. Mikerw0

    I’ve posted this comment before, but it bears recapping.

    What has happened to supermarket workers is a perfect microcosm for what the last 40-years economic regime has wrought. My honorary uncle’s family owned a decent sized regional market chain in NY/New England (Finests). I worked their one summer while in high school in about 1974/5. The staff were permanent employees. They made enough money to own a home in Long Island, send their kids to college and take an annual vacation.

    It was a job. A real job. And, you could live a middle class life. Today, not a chance. Working in a market is purgatory.

    As an aside, he is the person responsible for bar coding throughout industry. His obit ran on the front page of The NY Times, below the fold.

    Reply
    1. Lupana

      My husband and I remember those times too. His neighbor growing up supported a family of 6 while working as a salesman at a shoe store. They owned a house and all the other trappings of middle class. I grew up in California. My own father had a small television, radio and anything else that came in the door repair business which he ran out of a garage with electricity but no plumbing. We owned a house, a tiny second house in the desert, cars and were able to take a 2-6 week vacation every year either driving up the coast or visiting family in Mexico. That’s out of the question now. As you say, the mass number of lower level jobs do not cover even basic needs in many cases and that’s with two people working. This needs to change but I don’t see either of the major parties ever doing anything but continue to serve their corporate donors and the wealthy. I’m not sure if they are evil or just blissfully out of touch with what is daily reality for so many people.
      I also see this attitude of contempt for workers bleeding into how white collar professions are treated – people working longer and longer hours with little time off or security and healthcare professionals who were previously hailed as heroes now not even given the time to care for themselves when they fall ill. They are the sacrificial bodies needed to support the economy first policy. As I said, something needs to change.

      Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie

        “They are the sacrificial bodies needed to support the economy first policy.”

        Very true, but to me that way that word “economy” is used by neoliberals is like one of Lambert’s “lack of agency” passive verbs. Both attempt to normalize, TINA-ize something.

        If we stand back from “economy,” what or who is it that unfailingly demands return on capital. Shall we fall back to another abstraction–capitalism–or can we just admit out loud that the real beneficiaries and commanders of “the economy” are a few hundred billionaires?

        It’s them and their insatiable need for MORE that requires the sacrificial bodies. Just like the Pharoahs, and working in our “new Normal,” Covid-infested world is making bricks without straw.

        IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM CENTRAL HQ: GET BACK TO YOUR JAWB!

        Reply
          1. Mantid

            I should be working too. But…… NAFTA, neoliberalism, Amassin, endless corporate mergers, Ronald Reagan, rise of China’s slave labor, WEF, school funding cuts (wood/metal shop, mechanical drawing…). “Where have all the good jobs gone … Long time passing”

            Reply
            1. lance ringquist

              under FDR’s new deal and trumans Gatt trading system, over 90% of GDP was internal consumption, we traded very little. no wonder the standards of living were so high.

              never ever let a free trader get away with free trade is for the poor nonsense. its the opposite, its the worlds premier driver of mass poverty and inequality.

              Reply
      2. Janie

        My childhood home and my children’s were in similar mixed neighborhoods. The houses, all owner-occupied, were not that different. Fathers were professionals, plumbers and electricians, small business owners or employees, policemen, etc. Mothers stayed home. Big advantage: schoolmates of all backgrounds and equal tax support for all the schools.

        Reply
    2. Louis Fyne

      That was also the era where Long Island had real manufacturing jobs (eg, Grumman), and was not just Manhattan’s hinterland.

      Apollo lunar module was made/assembled in Long Island.

      Reply
    3. c_heale

      This completely answers the Fast Company article on social cohesion. They destroyed society, and now they are worried about the consequences??? Idiots.

      Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “German court finds Syrian ex-colonel guilty of crimes against humanity’

    Yeah, this is just the first signs of a future lawfare campaign against Syria. The west lost their fight to overthrow the Syrian government using Jihadists so now they want to launch a long-term lawfare campaign to try and go after Assad, his wife and anybody else in that administration for war crimes, crimes against humanity, jay-walking and anything else that they can think of. The writing has been on the wall for this the past few years. And it is not like a lot of terrorists didn’t came into Germany to escape their fate amongst the million people that Merkel let in that were totally unvetted who could have been put on trial too.

    But that 58 year-old Colonel that was on trial would have received the same treatment as Ghislaine Maxwell did in her trial. By that, I mean that Maxwell went through trial but not in a way that would expose anything that she could tell about the big names that she came in contact with. In this Colonel’s case, it may have been that he took part in the torture of prisoners that was sent by George Bush’s America for ‘enhanced interrogation’ since it was – mostly – still illegal to do that in the US but I bet that it was never permitted to come up in court as being ‘irrelevant’.

    Reply
    1. lance ringquist

      nafta billy clinton had milosovic bumped off, err, i mean he died mysteriously one night in jail, that was before he was found to be innocent. and if he lived, he could spill the beans on the war criminal nafta billy clinton.

      Reply
    2. David Mills

      Excellent point on lawfare. I wonder why the German Court has ignored prima facie evidence of War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and Torture by the US, the UK and their NATO allies as exposed by Wikileaks. Or the unlawful sanctions regimes instigated by the US and abetted by Europe.

      It’s easy to accuse an enemy of things.

      Reply
  7. griffen

    Fun with obscure words, interesting. Plus gain an edge over your inferior Scrabble competitors for 2022!

    I found a use for one I had not heard or read before. Admittedly poor eating habits in mid to late 2021 had left me with the collywobbles. Convenient access to a near restroom was most expedient.

    Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      I nominate pusillanimous, meaning cowardly, a very apt word for the vast majority of our political class. More literally, it means to have the spirit of a small boy and it always makes me think of a huddled child peeking around a parent’s knee when I hear it. I do have a penchant for the sesquipedalian when it comes to obscure words.

      Reply
      1. griffen

        That is a good one. I am going to use it in a sentence. Faced with the likely odds of reaching the playoffs against the 2-win Jacksonville Jaguars, the Indianapolis Colts played a pusillanimous brand of professional football. The result was not even close.

        Even worse…these Colts wasted a career year from their MVP-caliber running back.

        Reply
    1. Mildred Montana

      From all my reading of Victorian novels, I nominate the 19th century word 𝘵𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘦. It derives from the word “tidy” I believe and it means to comb one’s hair, put on make-up, shave, brush one’s teeth, etc. In other words, to do all the things most of us do in front of a mirror every morning. A very useful word because it says so many words in one. I suppose “spruce up” is an acceptable synonym but “titivate” qualifies in the category as pleasingly obscure.

      I remember many years ago my three-year-old nephew asking through the closed bathroom door, “What you doing?” and I would reply, “Titivation”. He would giggle and repeat the word, mispronouncing it and saying instead, “Tibation!”. And giggle again. But he knew exactly what I was doing.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        My parents used to refer to ‘titivating’ the roses in the garden, meaning they’d prune and weed them. I suspect it may have come from my mother, possibly her mishearing it in other contexts (or maybe it was more widely known, I’m not so sure).

        Reply
      2. JEHR

        Hey, you guys and gals, I don’t have time to look up all these words you are using. I make up words from other words for my passwords, e.g., Babaghanoush, Execrationgym, Eleemosynary, poodlefake, etc. PS: don’t look them up :-)

        Reply
    2. Mantid

      If one slightly uses a french accent to say cacoethes, it can sound like “cacahuète”, français for peanut. It feels good on the tongue and makes a great paté (peanut butter :-) ….. first ya take the peanuts and ya crush em, ya crush em, ya crush em, ya crush em ….. peanut, peanut butter (jelly)

      Reply
  8. PlutoniumKun

    Nowa Huta: The city that went from communism to capitalism Nowa Huta

    One of the sad losses of the fall of the Soviet Union was that for all the barrenness of the cities, most eastern European countries did a pretty good job in creating attractive neighbourhoods for regular people. At its worst, it was nothing but monotonous blocks with low grade open spaces, but as with Nowa Huta, there were examples that were both beautiful and good places to live. One key aspect was that local governments at the time had teams of full time architects and designers who really understood their local areas. They may not have had huge budgets, but they generally didn’t waste what they had. Its striking how well designed many parks are in eastern Europe, in contrast to much of the west where the designs are more about the ego of the architect than the real needs of local people.

    In the UK in particular, the knack of designing open spaces has almost entirely been lost as all the design and layout has been contracted out and generally crapified. And don’t get me started at the chronic ineptness of my own local authority when it comes to public spaces.

    Reply
    1. griffen

      Pretty interesting article. I am no architect by any stretch, but that would be an interesting location to visit. I read an interesting book several years back, The devil in the White City. Which made for a remarkable, crazy reading. It features a prominently known landscape architect, Olmsted I think, involved in the design for the grounds for the Chicago World Fair.

      Poland’s history is one of a people and a land being laid to waste in WW2.

      Reply
      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        The post-modernist dream of the machine in which all of us little cogs are supposed to function. If I had a wish for architecture it would be that the dream of Friedensreich Hunderswatter had become the accepted method. A largely forgotten Austrian eccentric & Expressionist painter who became an architect, while all of the time warning of climate disaster.

        “In 1953 I realized that the straight line leads to the downfall of mankind. But the straight line has become an absolute tyranny. The straight line is something cowardly drawn with a rule, without thought or feeling; it is a line which does not exist in nature. And that the line is the rotten foundation of our doomed civilization. Even if there are certain places where it is recognized that this line is rapidly leading to perdition, its course continues to be plotted. The straight line is godless and immoral.
        The straight line is the only uncreative line, the only line which does not suit man as the image of God. The straight line is the forbidden fruit. The straight line is the curse of our civilization. Any design undertaken with the straight line will be stillborn.
        Today we are witnessing the triumph of rationalist knowhow and yet, at the same time, we find ourselves confronted with emptiness. An aesthetic void, desert of uniformity, criminal sterility, loss of creative power. Even creativity is prefabricated. We have become impotent. We are no longer able to create. That is our real illiteracy.”

        I never got to visit the Hundertwasserhaus & dance with her in Vienna, but IMO the world would be a much better place if his influence had been much greater.

        https://cfileonline.org/architecture-the-fantastical-buildings-of-friedensreich-hundertwasser/

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thanks for that link, I’ve read quite a bit on Austrian architecture in the past but I must admit to having never heard of Hudertwasser before – his buildings look amazing! Vienna is full of some amazing early modernist work. I love the American Bar, which was by Adolf Loos, another of the only marginally sane visionaries that flocked there in the pre-war years.

          Its one of the ironies of architecture that modernism was supposed to be socialist in leaning, but the Communist countries preferred a mix of quasi classicism and local forms, while it was capitalists that embraced Mies and his comrades.

          Reply
          1. Eustachedesaintpierre

            The fact that Brutalism is a term used for a style of buildings that people are supposed to live & work in is I think a bit of a tell. A movement that I believe first developed real momentum under Mussolini through that group of shysters the Fascist Italian futurist movement who incidentally also gave us the Artists statement or manifesto & I guess that either extreme of the political pendulum has it’s own version of brutal in all things.

            Reply
      2. lordkoos

        I second that book, The Devil In The White City is a great read, and a true story about an early American serial killer. I realized after reading it that much of the typical “haunted house” lore that you see in movies and television comes from that same story.

        Reply
      3. juno mas

        The book is about the 1983 Chicago World Fair and the architect/urban designer Daniel Burnham and a serial killer who was roaming Chicago at the time.

        The Chicago World Fair was part of the City Beautiful movement that began around 1890 until early 1900’s. Architects, including F.L. Olmsted, were attempting to make city life more pleasant through design. Grand facades with a nod to Classic architecture were intended to uplift/inspire the working man (most of whom still worked in agriculture). Jane Jacobs would later refer to the movement as a cult. You can’t satisfy everyone!

        After 40 years designing stuff I believe public space should inspire but meet the practical needs of users. Local houses for local workers and local public places (parks, promenades, fora) for local needs. Those spaces should adapt over time (every 20 years or so) sooner if needed to meet the needs of the users.

        Reply
      1. griffen

        The above video clip, South Park for the unknowing, just never gets old. Has an odd familiarity too, like when everything was heading just downward into an abyss during September to, well sometime in 2009 according to markets.

        Happy times, happy times. Not so much!

        Reply
        1. Robert Hahl

          This actually happened to my young teenage son. He put $100 into the Sun Trust bank down the block, and it gradually disappeared due to monthly fees. After that they sent letters saying he owed them money. I am happy to say that that branch has been shuttered for some years now.

          Reply
          1. curlydan

            The other thing teenagers must contend with now is a cashless society (amusement parks, sporting events) where their “cash is trash”. So they’re forced to get debit cards that have $5.95 monthly fees.

            At least they’re learning early about how they will be screwed as adults.

            Reply
          2. griffen

            Before the fateful ending of the bank called Wachovia in 2008, and their “acquired status” by Wells Fargo, friends from North Carolina had an endearing name for Wachovia.

            Walk Over Ya. Others mileage may vary.

            Reply
  9. PlutoniumKun

    How the Chinese Language Got Modernized New Yorker

    And Ian Burumna gets to show off how smart he is (I guess that is the New Yorker house style).

    I was chatting about this recently with a language maven. China was at one stage close to a lingua franca in much of Asia, hence its huge influence on Korean and Japanese and other languages. By rights it should be becoming one again, and yet it seems to be losing ground in the face of what seems to be resurging popularity in Japanese and a new interest in Korean, not to mention the ongoing triumph of English worldwide. China has been engaged for years in a gradual throttling of its own linguistic richness in favour of simplified Beijingese while other countries (in particular Taiwan, for its own reasons) have been discovering and enhancing their own many languages. Even the Japanese seem to be increasingly valuing their more interesting dialects.

    English has most other languages in a pincer movement – other languages in the past (Frankish, Latin, French, Mandarin) have become the most widespread language of science or academia or trade or diplomacy, but English is becoming all these, in addition to being the language of popular culture. Its amazing how many young people around the world have learned English from playing video games or watching reruns of Friends or BBC serials. China is the one major exception, as the Great Firewall makes it much more difficult for young Chinese to immerse themselves. The problem is that this works both ways – Beijing would love mandarin to become the main language of Asia at least, but if anything its slipping back. Its just much more fun to watch anime or Korean soap operas than the dire output of China’s TV and film industries.

    Reply
    1. Questa Nota

      Dan Wang has a long letter about his observations on China, music and many other topics. Apologies if already linked. Would be interested in observations from Sinophiles, economists and anyone else in NC community.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        His annual newsletter is always a must read – it was discussed a little BTL in the new year. His perspective is I think coloured by his circle – the high end tech and entrepreneurial circles of the Tier 1 cities, and his seemingly quite libertarian politics, but he is still a very insightful writer. He’s quite right to highlight I think how quality of life has increased greatly over the past few years, at least if you live in the more prosperous cities (things are very different in the Chinese equivalent of flyover states).

        China is of course, vast and diverse, so its impossible for any one writer to really sum it up in one essay.

        Reply
      2. Josef K

        I find Dan Wang’s articles very informative, including the one you linked to. Really interesting observations that only someone who’s not observing at the usual arm’s length can make.

        Re: Chinese romanization. The Wade-Giles and other systems created by Euro-American scholars are revealing of, at a minimum, the purely academic approach to this language no doubt at least in part due to its “oriental exoticism.” So rather than create a system that represents Chinese (Mandarin) as spoken contemporaneously, they chose to create a scholarly pseudo-representation that would give indications of historical pronunciation–which, by no mistake, is closer to non-Mandarin pronunciations (eg Cantonese).

        This is why “Daoism” is a closer approximation to the original Chinese than “Taoism.”

        The Pinyin system requires one has to learn certain special uses of Roman letters, but that avoids a lot more confusion, from using the apostrophe and different repurposing of Roman letters. All in all, it’s a much improved, much more accurately representational system, which may just have something to do with the fact that the Chinese themselves devised it.

        As to the simplified characters: an abomination. Even in the Mao-cap ’80s, classical books were being published once again in the traditional characters. The “jiantizi” may indeed have had a role in improving literacy, but neither Taiwan nor Singapore was booming post-WWII and their literacy rates, along with that in Hong Kong and other parts of the diaspora, are amongst the highest in the world.

        Some character simplifications hardly help with reading/writing (i.e. removing one or two strokes), but degrade or interrupt the paleographic semantic origin of the character’s meaning. The simplifications mostly derive from running and grass style calligraphy, but what’s aesthetically pleasing with a brush is mostly ugly when in block/printed form

        In any case, the literacy argument is a red herring, the CCP did this to create one more break with the past.

        Uglifying one of the world’s great writing systems to the degree that Mao and his ilk did should count as a cultural crime of sorts. With modern communications in place, there’s no reason not to reinstate the full form of the Hanzi that go back 2k years. In fact, I’m all for going back to the great seal script, but that’s probably a bridge too far.

        Reply
      3. Josef K

        I find Dan Wang’s articles very informative, including the one you linked to. Really interesting observations that only someone who’s not observing at the usual arm’s length can make.

        Reply
      4. Josef K

        Re: Chinese romanization. The Wade-Giles and other systems created by Euro-American scholars are revealing of, at a minimum, the purely academic approach to this language no doubt at least in part due to its “oriental exoticism.” So rather than create a system that represents Chinese (Mandarin) as spoken contemporaneously, they chose to create a scholarly pseudo-representation that would give indications of historical pronunciation–which, by no mistake, is closer to non-Mandarin pronunciations (eg Cantonese).

        This is why “Daoism” is a closer approximation to the original Chinese than “Taoism.”

        Reply
      5. Josef K

        The Pinyin system requires one has to learn certain special uses of Roman letters, but that avoids a lot more confusion, from using the apostrophe and different repurposing of Roman letters. All in all, it’s a much improved, much more accurately representational system, which may just have something to do with the fact that the Chinese themselves devised it.

        Reply
      6. Josef K

        As to the simplified characters: an abomination. Even in the ’80s, classical books were being published once again in the traditional characters. The simplified characters may indeed have had a role in improving literacy, but the literacy rates of Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, all using traditional characters, and other parts of the diaspora are amongst the highest in the world.
        Some character simplifications hardly help with reading/writing (i.e. removing one or two strokes), but degrade or interrupt the paleographic semantic origin of the character’s meaning. The simplifications mostly derive from running and grass style calligraphy, but what’s aesthetically pleasing with a brush is mostly ugly when in block/printed form. In any case, the literacy argument is a red herring, they did this to create one more break with the past.
        Uglifying one of the world’s great writing systems to the degree that they did should count as a cultural crime of sorts. With modern communications in place, there’s no reason not to reinstate the full form of the characters that go back 2k years. In fact, I’m all for going back to the great seal script, but that’s probably a bridge too far.

        Reply
        1. Josef K

          Excuse the double posts. Disappeared in moderation, so I edited/reposted.

          Last, this remark by Buruma is conflating romanizations/transliterations (i.e. Taiwan’s Zhuyinfuhao—using pinyin—aka Bopomofo) with the characters themselves:
          “Which characters or Romanized transliterations should prevail? The ones adopted by the People’s Republic of China or by Hong Kong or Taiwan?”

          The romanizations, not the characters, were “adopted.” The mainland Chinese i.e. the CCP changed the characters, no one else did, they are using the same characters they have for 3000+ years, in the same style as they did in the Han Dynasty.

          Reply
          1. Soredemos

            The mainland Chinese i.e. the CCP changed the characters, no one else did, they are using the same characters they have for 3000+ years, in the same style as they did in the Han Dynasty.

            The look of the characters hasn’t changed, but the readings of them have, often substantially.

            Reply
  10. Robert Hahl

    Re:’Get Smart

    I still have a crush on Barbara Feldon. Come to think of it, my wife looks just like her. One secret of success on that show was similar to the Muppets. Muppets think they are people. CONTROL agents think they are spies.

    Reply
          1. Arizona Slim

            Read her autobiography, Jeannie Out of the Bottle. It’s good.

            And I can’t leave this thread without saying sorry about that, Chief!

            Reply
          2. ambrit

            Then there is “Cool Babe” English style, Emma Pel, played by Dianna Rigg.
            See: https://www.heavymetal.com/news/20-pictures-of-diana-rigg-as-the-deadly-adorable-emma-peel/
            For American “Cool Babe” style, Honey West, played by Anne Francis.
            See: https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/actress-anne-francis
            Then, there is Euro-comic “Cool Babe” Modesty Blaise, played by Monica Vitti.
            See: https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/modesty-blaise?excludenudity=true&sort=mostpopular&mediatype=photography&phrase=modesty%20blaise&family=editorial&page=&editorialproducts=archival
            As one can gather from the above, the previous century was most definitely “A Man’s World.” Thus, the rise of militant feminism is understandable. The “dirty little secret” about “Cool Babe” memes was the co-option of competent women by the ‘eye candy’ exploiters of media manipulation.
            Now we have the likes of Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris to “look up to?”

            Reply
            1. Pat

              Not familiar with Modesty Blaise, but 99, Jeannie and Honey West had it all over their male counterparts even if in Jeannie’s case it was buried under supposed servitude. Mrs. Peel was most certainly Steed’s equal and yes better in some cases, a point for the Brit males.
              Most women my age liked them because despite being major eye candy they were smart, funny and doing what they loved very well indeed.

              Reply
              1. newcatty

                Loved the “Avengers” ! Emma Peel was why I watched the show, as I look back at it. She was “smart, funny and doing what they (she) loved best”. Another actress I have always liked is Shirley McLaine. A woman, no matter what her role, always gives ( and gave) an honest portrayal of the character. Uh, she will be a guest performer on the funny “Only Murders in the Building ” show.

                Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I loved Get Smart and it definitely helped form funny for me, as I like my comedy to be slightly absurd, and most importantly the show appealed to both 10 year olds and 60 year olds and everybody in between.

      I too had a crush on Barbara Feldon… (p.s. are there any younger women named Barbara now?)

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The Simpsons had Ann Bancroft as a guest star once, and the showrunner and one of the writers went to pick her up from the holding area as the studios are in the corporate offices not the regular lot. Then they said they saw him, just sitting there. The king, himself.

        These comedy veterans of a huge show who could pull in Liz Taylor, one of Carson’s two post retirement appearances (the other being Dana Carvey’s last show or return from heart attack SNL hosting gig), Michael Jackson, all the then living Beatles, and of course, the real life Mrs. Mel Brooks couldn’t conceive of ever considering asking Brooks to appear on their little show.

        Reply
      2. Harold

        Mel Brooks creator of Get Smart, one of the world’s greatest Humanists, to my mind. My father, a misanthrope, loved that show.

        Reply
        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Yes, the great humanist – I agree with you, and worship Mel, but can’t let the opportunity go by – who said, “Tragedy is me stubbing my toe; comedy is you getting hit by a truck.”

          There’s a nice long interview with Mel on YouTube, conducted by Conan O’Brian, and over the course of it Mel’s great erudition on many subjetcs becomes apparent.

          Reply
    2. Maritimer

      Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985) by Neil Postman:

      “Television has conditioned us to tolerate visually entertaining material measured out in spoonfuls of time, to the detriment of rational public discourse and reasoned public affairs. In this eloquent, persuasive book, Neil Postman alerts us to the real and present dangers of this state of affairs, and offers compelling suggestions as to how to withstand the media onslaught. Before we hand over politics, education, religion, and journalism to the show business demands of the television age, we must recognize the ways in which the media shape our lives and the ways we can, in turn, shape them to serve out highest goals. ”

      https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/74034.Amusing_Ourselves_to_Death

      That is thirty-five years ago, we’ve come a long and downward way.

      Reply
  11. Jason Boxman

    The NY Times finally reveals what the game is about. Great Barrington Declaration signatories, take a bow.

    It would mean that a milder variant had become the dominant form of Covid but was no longer causing a surge in cases and overwhelming hospitals. It would mean that tens of millions of Americans had built up additional immunity, as a result of an Omicron infection. It would mean that the country would have taken a big step toward a future in which Covid is an endemic disease like the flu, rather than a pandemic that dominates life.

    (bold mine)

    If you erase long-COVID, and needless deaths, everything is gonna be great again! Until immunity wanes, and the next variant wave washes over everyone, or Omicron begins act two in the early winter later in the year.

    Reply
  12. Wukchumni

    The U.S. Federal Government Deregulates French Dressing WSJ
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Why did the USA never get a named salad dressing?

    And while i’m at it in terms of nom de yums, we’ve got a Denver & NY steak and that’s it as far i’m aware.

    Heck, when I was in Aussie in the 80’s, they had ‘Baltimore chicken’, but I never saw it offered by that name in the USA.

    Reply
    1. griffen

      West Virginia steak maybe ? Wait it’s called bologna in most circles. \sarc

      There is Rocky Mountain Oysters of course. Just seems unappealing to my particular opinion.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Ours is ketchup. Add mayonnaise and relish and you have Thousand Island.

      W.R. Hearst always kept bottles of ketchup on the table of his San Simeon banquet hall. When Orson Welles and Herman Mankiewicz set out to satirize him in Citizen Kane (original script title “American”) they highlighted his popular touch another way. Jed Leland says that Kane took up with tone deaf mistress Susan Alexander because he thought she was “a cross section of the American public.”

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Thousand Island salad dressing originated in the Gulag Hockeypelago…

        According to The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, the dressing’s name comes from the Thousand Islands region, located along the upper St. Lawrence River between the United States and Canada

        Reply
      2. Robert Hahl

        Ranch dressing itself, and the name, are U.S. inventions.

        Speaking of Hearst, anyone with a functioning crap detector had to know that the Rosebud gimmick wasn’t natural:

        “Before the release of Citizen Kane, MGM head Louis B. Mayer and a group of other studio moguls approached RKO with an offer to buy the film for $800,000 and destroy all of the prints, probably by dumping them in the Pacific off of Catalina Island where the butchered reels of The Magnificent Ambersons (and thousands of other films) are dissolving into toxic particles. Mayer wasn’t concerned about the film per se, but William Randolph Hearst’s reaction to it, especially when he learned that Welles had used his pet name for Marion Davies’ clitoris as the key phrase of the movie. Mayer feared that Hearst would retaliate against the entire industry by using his papers to spread some of Hollywood’s dirtiest laundry. It took a desperate speech to RKO’s shareholders from Welles to save his masterpiece from the ultimate act of cancel culture.”

        https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/07/16/roaming-charges-19/

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Mank is a recent David Fincher film about the making of Citizen Kane. It’s mostly cribbed from Pauline Kael’s Citizen Kane Book but goes further and implies that the Kane script was Mankiewicz’s kiss off to a corrupt H’wood establishment that he was once part of. Rosebud surely was pushing the envelope.

          Reply
        2. ambrit

          What is a shame is that Marion Davies was an excellent comic actress. Hearst is supposed to have tried to force her into a ‘Dramatic Leading Lady’ mold and it did not work.
          Looked at from a sociological perspective, the saga of Wm. Randolph and Marion is emblematic of “upper class” behaviours in that and pretty much any time. The rich get away with just about any transgression of the prevailing moral code. The poor pay double for being powerless.
          Stay safe. Live what’s left with gusto!

          Reply
          1. eg

            “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              I would change that Fitzgerald quote somewhat to: “They were careless people, Bill and Hillary —”

              We have been living with the fallout ever since, and no one has tried to clean up the mess.

              Reply
          1. ambrit

            I’m with you. I love fresh “Freedumb Fries” dipped in ketchup, and sometimes with a bit hot sauce mixed in.

            Reply
            1. newcatty

              Though not enamored w fries anymore, when I did like them it always required ketchup (ha, liked mixing in hot sauce, too). Now, with hardly any exceptions, the younger “folks” we know all ask for that U.S. concoction called ranch dressing. Also, a must have for pizza crusts. I only started liking ranch dressing when i made it from scratch. Well, we found this amazing organic buttermilk at a local store, so that is that.

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                Home made is definitely the best. I will occasionally peel, cut up, and fry “chips” in a little 8″ cast iron frying pan I got for five dollars in the local WalMart camping section. All of their cast iron cooking goods I found to be in the camping section. Why, I don’t know. The last thing one wants to schlepp around in a backpack all day is heavy cast iron cooking gear. Once I seasoned it, it has given sterling service ever since.
                Most of the other cast iron cookware we have was either found at the side of the road, (really, a 12 inch frying pan,) or bought at Thrift Shops.
                Stay safe! Stay hydrated! Do not stay hungry!

                Reply
    3. Andrew

      Why did the USA never get a named salad dressing?

      We have one, but because Americans don’t really acknowledge other countries exist anyway, we just call it “Ranch” dressing.

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        Would be amiss to not bring up that Reagon declared ketchup was a vegetable to be counted in the delicious, nutritious school lunch. A smidgen of actual tomatoe, a splash of white vinegar, a spoonful of sugar and a lot of water. It made the junk food go down! The junk food go down!

        Reply
  13. Lou Anton

    Trump doing his thing, trying out new approaches/material to see how they go, see which punches land, etc.

    “They don’t want to say it because they’re gutless,” Trump said. “You gotta say it, whether you had it [booster] or not. Say it. But the fact is that I think the vaccines saved tens of millions throughout the world. I’ve had absolutely no side effects.”

    Reply
    1. Michael Ismoe

      By 2024 those will be the millions of lives I’ve saved because of “the vaccines that I developed”

      Even I can write Trump ads!

      Reply
  14. Tom Stone

    I see that Kamala Harris problem is “The Messaging” and the way to solve that problem is to show people how hard she is “fighting to preserve societal norms.”
    She will be a worthy successor to Badass Joe Biden, bless her heart.

    Reply
    1. Michael Ismoe

      They have to focus on “messaging” because their donors won’t allow them to make any real changes.

      I suppose there’s a nice way to say “go die” but not really sure that’s going to make us like her any better.

      Reply
    2. lordkoos

      The modern Democratic party in general is far more concerned about messaging more than policy. The Kinte cloth incident, the recent Jan 6 commemoration, “Build Back Better” etc ad nauseum.

      Reply
  15. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Why the GOP is suddenly running scared from Trump’s Big Lie AlterNet

    Many smart Republicans understood that Trump’s insistence that the election was stolen was largely responsible for the loss of the Senate because of the way his lies played out in Georgia with the two Senate runoff races that sent Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to Washington.

    Funny, I thought the “big lie” that got the democrats run-off wins in Georgia and a “majority” in the senate was, “Vote for these guys and I’ll write you a check for $2000.”

    But then I’m just a citizen who still thinks biden owes her $600.

    Reply
  16. Pat

    Students may walk out in NYC, but the new chancellor tells the press that he has met with overwhelming support and thanks for keeping schools open at all the schools he has been at.

    So the question is whether he has actually met any parents and students, and if his visit has been announced ahead of time so that parents keeping their children home either because of infection or caution can ream him a new one or it is on the downlow. OR he is lying?

    My bet he has met maybe two parents, and the kids have no idea who he is as administration for the schools know not to bring him bad news.

    Reply
  17. Maxwell Johnston

    “Kazakhstan becomes toxic graveyard for US diplomacy”

    Bad news, this. Russia has been claiming for years that the USA is operating a network of bio-warfare labs near its frontiers. I’ve seen various Internet rumors but never any hard proof. If this turns out to be true (and given how quickly events have moved in K-stan, it’s possible that Russian spooks entered the lab before the evidence could be destroyed), it will make already bad Russia-USA relations even worse. Nunn-Lugar is generally seen as a triumph of diplomacy that made the world safer; if instead it turns out that the USA was stealthily weaponizing the program, the accusations that the USA is not agreement capable will ring truer than ever. And then why would Russia even bother trying to negotiate diplomatically with the USA anymore? Sigh.

    Reply
  18. Carolinian

    re Flawed Genius (David Hume)

    Hume’s observations about political factionalism ring equally true and wise today. In the essay “On the First Principles of Government,” he lamented: “When in a faction, [people] are apt, without shame or remorse, to neglect all the ties of honour and morality, in order to serve their party.” These words seem tailor-made for the Republicans who abandoned all principle to support the Trump presidency, and the Conservatives in the UK who elected Boris Johnson as their leader, choosing electoral appeal over competency to govern.

    Only them, eh? Might there be some other party where these words apply?

    Here’s proposing that to the extent Hume had “universal insights” the same doesn’t apply to his article celebrant.

    Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      The author was doing more than a little cherry picking there. My favorite of Hume’s tenets is that you can’t actually prove anything, not even that water is always wet or that the sun will come up tomorrow. While the author does go with the zeitgeist in proclaiming Hume a racist, I’m sure that Hume would be the first to admit that his own racist suspicions could never be confirmed.

      Reply
  19. tegnost

    Re environmental justice…
    pretty pathetic that all they seemed to be allowed to seek was a scorecard. The BBB as far as I can tell had zero dollars for wetlands, you know, those huge flat areas covered with warehouses, malls, and parking lots. Can’t have a bunch of idealists going around telling wall st what it can’t do…
    FTA…
    “What’s going on in D.C. right now is very bothersome to me. Black people — now I can’t speak for anyone else — we’re kind of feeling like we’ve been thrown under the bus,” Wright said, adding that environmental justice “priorities have not been pushed higher to the top, and I think there’s some obstruction there.”
    They want you to vote for them, yes, but they’ll do nothing other than be “not trump”

    Reply
  20. petal

    Dartmouth presses on lifting COVID restrictions as case count surges over 500

    “HANOVER — When Dartmouth College brought students back to campus earlier this month, the institution was an outlier among its Ivy League peers, many of which chose to start the semester remotely.

    Dartmouth approach has yielded 544 active cases across students, faculty and staff as of Tuesday, and as the college continues to lift restrictions on student gathering, some members of the campus community remain wary of the college’s decision.

    Interim Provost David Kotz and Executive Vice President Rick Mills emphasized that experts “observe that we are moving from pandemic to endemic status” in an email to the Dartmouth community Wednesday. They said a shift in public health guidelines makes it easier for people who are vaccinated and boosted to “resume normal activities while taking precautionary measures.”

    The return of students to campus as scheduled has been welcomed by the business community, who suffered when classes went remote, said Tracy Hutchins, executive director of the Upper Valley Business Alliance. She lauded the public health policies put in place by the town and college.”

    More at the link, including comment from the union that includes the custodians.
    Let ‘er rip.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      A whole lot of people would find out about working for below minimum wage with no perks or protections as I would be crowding the prisons with corrupt clueless pieces of excrement like Martinez, Dejoy, Blinken, Albright, Fauci, Emmanuel, Devos, Geithner, Mnuchin, etc and the people that put them in those jobs.

      I may have to find a stronger term than despise, at the rate things are going.

      Reply
    2. lordkoos

      After all that BS about how the new board members would replace DeJoy, I’m beyond disappointed. USPS privatized within a few years no doubt, and remaining a public service in name only…

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Strangely enough, unless I miss my guess, since the USPS is in the Constitution, an Amendment would be needed to effect such a change. If the ease with which a Corporate friendly Constitutional Amendment like that passes muster doesn’t spark outrage and then emulation, then I’m Honest Abe’s Uncle.

        Reply
  21. jefemt

    Libor… paywalled and sloth rules my day today.

    I originated a bunch of loans tied to Libor in the mad days of residential Real Estate bubbliciousness in the 2000’s, before T S H T F.

    I assume most have been refinanced, or the properties sold and debt paid off. A few foreclosed.

    But I wonder what happens to the few that persist in a ZIRP environment? What benchmark is referenced now? My recollection is it was the Libor as posted in the WSJ.

    Reply
  22. harrybothered

    The adjudant stork also has a champion in Assam. I heard a bird note on our local public radio station about a scientist creatively working to change their image – apparently they’re noisy and messy birds – to get locals to accept and tolerate them.

    Here is an article I found:
    https://whitleyaward.org/winners/inspiring-women-protect-assams-greater-adjutant-habitat/

    And here is the bird note I heard:
    https://www.birdnote.org/listen/shows/filming-rare-storks-their-nests

    Reply
  23. George Phillies

    Lego was preceded by American Bricks, a 1940s invention, which in the 1950s became American Plastic Bricks, same post and tube construction. The earliest bricks were wood; I have some. However, American Plastic Bricks had a huge advantage over legos–they did not stick to each other. If you wanted to build a cantilevered structure, say a bridge, you had to think about the assembly order, or the structure would fall apart, promoting thought and engineering. Supposedly Lego paid a fee, 70 years ago, to settle questions about patent rights.

    Reply
    1. chuck roast

      A great piece on the practical demonstration economic monopoly, or what the economic priesthood would call “imperfect competition.” Lack of innovation, barriers to entry, product deterioration, patent lawfare, pricing power…sound familiar?

      Reply
  24. RockHard

    The Colorado Kroger (King Soopers) is a tough one. Kroger’s the dominant chain here, Safeway is a distant second, then there’s megastores like Target and Walmart and specialty places like Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, and Trader Joe’s, but 90% of my shopping is at King Soopers. I’ll probably drive out of my way to go to Safeway, it’s an extra 10-15 minutes but I think the grocery employees have a strong point. Kroger threw an extra buck an hour their way during the early days of the pandemic but that’s long gone. The union should have a decent amount of leverage because of Kroger’s dominance… if people respect the picket lines.

    As a side note, King Soopers sent me an email today offering 300 bonus fuel points (that’s $.30/gallon off fuel) if I spend $50. Seems new, they usually offer bonus points for things like Rx or buying gift cards.

    Reply
  25. newcatty

    Good for you! Hail to the union. Hope lots of people respect the picket lines. Since it is a dominant chain, that does mean for some shoppers the extra 10-15 minutes drive could be a problem. If low income every gallon of gas counts. Also, lots of people actually do use buses to shop or ride bikes. Then there are the “old folks” who have excursions to the store weekly, or so, to shop from their “assisted living” or “nursing homes”. The owners of these “facilities” will not “honor picket lines”. Also, many of the people, who still do their own shopping, would be upset to change to a new and unfamiliar store. Right on!

    Reply
  26. newcatty

    OT, but for laughs I glanced at a “coupon mailer” we get whenever our postal carrier shows up anymore. Uh, sometimes our mail is now delivered after sunset, not at all or to a neighbor. A local “tree care” company lists its services in their ad

    *Domestic cat and drone retrieval

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        Several times, when looking up the status of packages mailed to our address, we have seen the note that said package is “out for delivery” and can be expected anytime before 9:30 PM!
        A friend mailed out Christmas checques to the Grandkids. (Let the little buggers buy what they want, within definite limits was the mantra there.) First class letter sized mail. It took ten days to arrive.

        Reply
  27. ArvidMartensen

    It has been instructive to watch the tsunami of propaganda over the past 2 years. Now I don’t have to finish that book by Jacques Ellul, which is an unspeakably hard book to read. Lived experience is a better teacher.
    Re the Wuhan lab leak theory. Yes I have held the view that the leak scenario is 70:30 probable since early 2020, due to analysis by people with medical training with a demonstrated ability to take evidence and come to a reasoned conclusion (PhDs and the like). Said view got me cancelled from blogs, but no matter.
    I imagine that the mob that bullied everyone who questioned the Wuhan market theory would only accept the evidence of a fully Randomised Controlled Trial. And I would imagine perhaps some researchers are maybe holding that trial as we speak somewhere with few rules and less publicity, perhaps funded partially by the US?
    And I wonder why circumstantial evidence is ever accepted in Trials of say murderers and thieves and other felons. You know, like the murderer was the only other person at the scene at the time, his fingerprints were all over the murder weapon left at the scene, and he told someone he was going to kill the victim.
    But nobody SAW him do it, therefore he should be acquitted, says the Defence, who is the brother-in-law of the accused. And the 12 people making the decision of guilt/innocence? Why, not one eminent scientist amongst the lot. Not one ballistics expert. Not one pathologist. Not one doctor. Disgraceful said the Defence. Disallow the verdict based on the ignorance of the 12 jurors, said the Judge.

    Reply
  28. Josef K

    The Pinyin system requires one has to learn certain special uses of Roman letters, but that avoids a lot more confusion, from using the apostrophe and different repurposing of Roman letters. All in all, it’s a much improved, much more accurately representational system, which may just have something to do with the fact that the Chinese themselves devised it.

    Reply
  29. lance ringquist

    as far as social cohesion, what did the dim wit free traders think would happen. didn’t they see that nafta billys clintons disastrous polices literally sent 2/3rds of americans and the states they live into depression, racked with hunger, drug addiction, divorce, shootings, mass poverty, shortened lives, ETC.

    as far as bernie goes, MLK said,

    “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”
    Martin Luther King Jr.

    in 2016 bernie could have kept his promise to support hillary. here is what i would have said, i am going to honor my pledge to vote for hillary, but i am running as a green party candidate for americas civil society.

    my supporters will have to vote their conscience.

    instead today he looks like a fool that has been conned.

    Reply
    1. flora

      Anger over past inequities is a good and righteous spur to action in righting those past inequities. However, focusing on the anger alone and its consequential spur alone leaves one focused in the past and unable to “ride the horse”, as they say, into a better future. My 2 cents. Focusing on the past is, I dunno, not focusing on a better future gained with effort?

      Reply
      1. lance ringquist

        but if you ignore the past, you get people like bernie that says my friend joe. leaving the people in charge that did this to us, and ignoring what they have done, then change will not happen.

        and people will get ever more radicalized, easy prey for demagogues.

        Reply
      2. lance ringquist

        here is a better version,

        If the Party’s failed leaders aren’t deposed, the revolution will have failed: Change cannot occur if the displaced ruling class is left intact after a revolution against them: you have so little time left: This is a large part of why the worst political party in 100 years — the Republican Party, if you’re wondering — holds so much power. The other resistance is against Democratic Party policies like these. Democrats will have a very hard time winning until they change.

        https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/06/some-people-would-rather-have-1st-class-seats-on-the-titanic-than-change-the-course-of-the-ship.html

        Some People “Would Rather Have 1st Class Seats on the Titanic Than Change the Course of the Ship”
        Posted on June 23, 2017 by Yves Smith

        Reply
  30. ChrisRUEcon

    #LEGO

    Wow! What a fascinating read! Stories and the power of the brand keeps Lego differentiated enough. By being the premier brand, I think Lego was also able to better exploit partnerships for cinematic tie-ins. And well, now that we have the actual Lego movies, it’s essentially game over.

    Reply
      1. ChrisRUEcon

        #StudentsWalkingOut

        Good on them. Also, 11th and 12th graders will be voting age in 2024. Something of value, in my estimation, for 3rd party efforts.

        Reply
      2. ChrisRUEcon

        #APoxUponTheHouseOfWindsor

        Got his military titles taken away too … can’t use HRH … waiting to see what memes this sordid mess will ultimately birth on the inter-tubes.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Here’s hoping he doesn’t take after his recent ancestor, the Duke of Clarence. You know him, the one bruited about as a prime contender for being Jack the Ripper.
          Being from the “cream” of society, curdled aristocrats can become a clabbering fermentation of wheystrels.

          Reply
  31. MarkT

    Re Prince Andrew

    As much as I find monarchy disgusting, I’ve always maintained that there might come a time when it might be needed in the UK.

    Three cheers for Her Majesty! She had no choice in the circumstances of her birth. And insisted that she work as a mechanic during the Second World War. And now has stripped all titles from her favourite son.

    Reply

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