Links 1/3/2022

Prospering in the pandemic: winners and losers of the Covid era FT

Fintech Is a Scam — A Listicle in Eight Parts Cory Doctorow, Marker. With a shout-out to NC.

Climate

Boulder County investigators narrow Marshall fire’s origin to single neighborhood Denver Post. Better than the national coverage.

When utilities spark wildfires in Washington, they can ‘burn down your house and get away with it’ Seattle Times

#COVID19

Will Upton Sinclair please pick up the nearest white courtesy phone?

* * *

Check your status! 1,700 flights ALREADY canceled for Sunday after almost 2,700 were canned on Saturday sparking chaos at airports across the nation: Bad weather and staff shortages caused by Omicron are blamed as FAA warns of impending travel turmoil Daily Mail. “Flightmare” in the URL, not the headline, what a shame.

Major staffing shortages at NYPD, FDNY due to COVID surge FOX5 New York

* * *

You will pry fomites and hygiene theatre from WHO’s cold, dead hands. I mean, separate dishes? Really?

For whatever reason, the world’s leading “public health” organizations have decided they can fight a pandemic with no coherent theory of transmission. This means that, despite all the handwaving about personal responsibility, many will be unable to protect themselves, either from lack of knowlege, or misplaced trust. Especially depraved because the messaging is aimed at families, by definition including families with children. Oh, and — hold onto your hats, here, folks — nothing about HEPA filters or Corsi boxes (which would be useful for wildfires, too). They don’t even suggest putting a fan in the window. Let alone respirators.

* * *

Omicron sending children to hospital in record numbers The Hill

SARS-CoV-2 infection and persistence throughout the human body and brain (preprint) (PDF) NIH (Kris Alman). From the Abstract:

We performed complete autopsies on 44 patients with COVID-19 to map and quantify SARS-CoV-2 distribution, replication, and cell-type specificity across the human body, including brain, from acute infection through over seven months following symptom onset. We show that SARS-CoV-2 is widely distributed, even among patients who died with asymptomatic to mild COVID-19, and that virus replication is present in multiple pulmonary and extrapulmonary tissues early in infection. Further, we detected persistent SARS-CoV-2 RNA in multiple anatomic sites, including regions throughout the brain, for up to 230 days following symptom onset… Our data prove that SARS-CoV-2 causes systemic infection and can persist in the body for months.

Just a flu….

* * *

The world must learn to live with Covid this year Editorial Board, FT

How will pandemic end? Omicron clouds forecasts for endgame AP. “The ultra-contagious omicron mutant is pushing cases to all-time highs and causing chaos as an exhausted world struggles, again, to stem the spread.” “Struggle” seems a strange word to characterize “let ‘er rip,” the strategy adopted, with varying degrees of overt brutality, by most Western governments.

COVID is making Americans stupid: Study shows worrying about virus leads to people making bad choices and performing poorly on simple cognitive tests Daily Mail (original, from November).

China?

Property Stocks Sink After Demolition Order: Evergrande Update Bloomberg

China buckles in its belt and road ambitions with Suez investments South China Morning Post

Boycotts, Covid and controversy as Beijing Olympics count down Agence France Presse

2021 letter Dan Wang. “I’ve by now lived in each of China’s main megaregions. It is time to make assessments.”

GameChangers 2021: How IUU Fishing Plundered Latin America’s Oceans Insight Crime. IUU = illegal, unreported and unregulated. Handy map:

Myanmar

Bomb blasts will not affect PM’s visit to Myanmar this week Khmer Times. Meanwhile:

EU backs international arms embargo after killings in Myanmar Al Jazeera

‘No political conditions attached with defence equipment sales to Bangladesh’ Daily Star. Commentary:

ExxonMobil Indonesia lawsuit heads for trial after 20 years Nikkei Asia

India

How Will Booster Doses, Shots for Minors Change India’s Vaccine Supply Calculus? The Wire

Ramachandra Guha: On the 20th anniversary of the Gujarat pogrom, will Modi finally apologise? The Scroll

Six types of problems Aadhaar is causing – and safeguards needed immediately The Wire. Aadhaar is India’s 12-digit unique identity number.

Scott Morrison says he won’t ‘undercut’ businesses by funding free rapid antigen COVID-19 tests ABC Australia. Commentary:

Firefighters say South African parliament blaze ‘under control’ France24. An arrest. The sprinker system seems to have been turned off.

UK/EU

Leas Ceann Comhairle concerned about govt ‘lack of accountability’ on Covid heading into 2022 The Journal

New Cold War

Joe Biden assures Ukraine’s leader of ‘decisive’ US response to Russian invasion FT

Turned Tables: In Presidential Polls, Brazil’s Lula Leads Judge Who Locked Him Up The Intercept

Whistleblower warns baffling illness affects growing number of young adults in Canadian province Guardian. Guardian driving local coverage (which mentions past coverage by MacLeans, the Globe and Mail, and The Walrus).

Biden Administration

US education secretary warns of ‘bumps in the road’ as schools reopen amid Covid surge CNN

Americans saw 2021 as ‘chaos’ and a ‘train wreck’ but are hopeful about 2022, USA TODAY/Suffolk poll shows USA Today

Supply Chain

Interview: Ryan Petersen, founder and CEO of Flexport Noah Smith, Noahpinion. Petersen:

In my opinion, what’s caused all the supply chain bottlenecks is modern finance’s obsession with Return on Equity (ROE). To show great ROE, almost every CEO stripped their company of all but the bare minimum of assets. “Just-in-time” everything with no excess capacity, no strategic reserves, no cash on the balance sheet and minimal investment in R&D. We stripped the shock absorbers out of the economy in pursuit of better short-term metrics. Large businesses are supposed to be more stable and resilient than small ones, and an economy built around giant corporations like America’s should be more resilient to shocks. However, the obsession with ROE means that no company was prepared for the inevitable hundred-year storms. Now as we’re facing a hundred-year storm of demand, our infrastructure simply can’t keep up.

What Yves (for years) has been calling “tight coupling.”

Capitol Seizure

Every Day Is Jan. 6 Now Editorial Board, NYT. Only now?

Majority condemns Jan. 6 attack, says Trump at least partially to blame The Hill

Republican Funhouse

One of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s verified Twitter accounts permanently suspended from Twitter CNN. Thread prompted by a Taylor Greene workout video:

Our Famously Free Press

NBC News Uses Ex-FBI Official Frank Figliuzzi to Urge Assange’s Extradition, Hiding His Key Role Glenn Greenwald

Assange

PEN America, the “human rights” careerists and the betrayal of Julian Assange Chris Hedges, Salon

Health Care

Trove of unique health data sets could help AI predict medical conditions earlier FT. Actuaries rejoice!

L’Affaire Jeffrey Epstein

Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother says she won’t rat out for lighter sentence NY Post

Judge: Prince Andrew can’t halt lawsuit with domicile claim AP. Off the droshky?

Imperial Collapse Watch

House of Cards Miami Herald. On the Champlain towers. This is one of those swipe-friendly “interactive” articles, but the engineering horrors demonstrated make it well worth the read. (I found the down arrow more functional than the mouse).

Class Warfare

COVID, Capitalism, and Collapse: A Roundtable Discussion with NYC Nurses and Teachers Strike Waves

The Roots of Inequality: An Exchange New York Review of Books

Finland ends homelessness and provides shelter for all in need Scoop.me

The Transformation of One of New York City’s Most Famous Squats Sapiens. From 2017, still germane.

Your attention didn’t collapse. It was stolen Guardian (dk). dk comments: “Too much personal/class framing and schmaltz, but some useful info and observations on multi-tasking and info overload.” The Graceland story is pretty amazing.

How a Decade-Old Game Helped Me Cope with Seasonal Depression Wired. Better than carbs!

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.

166 comments

  1. The Rev Kev

    “Boulder County investigators narrow Marshall fire’s origin to single neighborhood”

    Just in passing with this major fire. So in the past I have recommended links to the Civil War podcast and I am sure that Lambert has done the same. It turns out that the couple that do this podcast live in this area and were forced to evacuate as the fire came roaring their way. When they were permitted to return, they found that they still had their house and even power but nearby, whole neighbourhoods were gone-

    https://civilwarpodcast.libsyn.com/thank-you (4:51 mins)

    Reply
    1. Adam Eran

      Decades ago, I stayed in a friend’s house just outside of Boulder. It was a newer neighborhood built in one of the canyons outside the city. The winds were so strong they literally blew his living room picture window out of its frame, smashing it across the room. Luckily no one was hurt, but I still remember retrieving an old door in 120 mph winds to cover the now-vacant opening. Ah, sweet wind-blown bird of youth!

      …so these fires have been a long time coming.

      Reply
      1. Mike

        When I moved from the Denver Metro up into the foothills (mountains), my insurance premium went 2.5x on my house, because of fire hazard. I guess the folks still in town will get hit with it now too.

        I don’t think the densely packed urban areas will be any more at risk than normal but there are a lot of areas along the front range with open space/grass lands between neighborhoods and streets that present this hazard. I would say it seems we have grass fires fairly frequently along the highways but this is the 1st I know of where they go into neighborhoods.

        It always very windy here. Usually people look to the mountains on those days, again now they will be looking everywhere for the hazard.

        Reply
        1. Mike Mc

          Retired to Trinidad CO in June 2021. Twelve miles north of New Mexico border so less fire danger but… along with friends who preceded us here in retirement pre-COVID, we are prepping bugout bags for whatever. Coloradans learning hard lessons about wildfires.

          https://coloradosun.com/2022/01/02/marshall-fire-climate-change-new-reality/?pico=clean&utm_source=The+Colorado+Sun+Newsletters&utm_campaign=6d068e8908-SUNRISER_2022-01-03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_61e0bd63dc-6d068e8908-67614550&mc_cid=6d068e8908&mc_eid=78f8f201ff

          Reply
  2. ScoFri

    “SARS-CoV-2 infection and persistence throughout the human body and brain”

    A work friend absolutely fumes about this since his wife is in research, and he yelled at me when I first shared an article showing that SARS2 infects the nervous system. Apparently this is not uncommon for coronaviruses and he sent me these:

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10982334/
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11515789/
    https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1509458

    Not that it makes it any better, but apparently this was expected.

    Reply
    1. haywood

      Thanks for the background. Good reminder that, just because the worst people are minimizing COVID’s risks, we shouldn’t automatically assume the worst possible scenario from every HOLY SH** pre-print study we come across.

      Reply
  3. skippy

    Multi tasking is a contrived business meme, the more scientific term is task switching and with it a completely different cognitive state.

    Same word art that came with day timers [tm] …

    Reply
    1. GramSci

      Excellent point! A unique vertebrate skill. As Samuel Johnson observed (of one manifestation), one wonders not that it is done well, but that it is done at all.

      Reply
    2. robert lowrey

      Exactly. Not merely a semantic difference. Both terms are derived from the difference in processing speed between a mainframe and the multitude of devices it services. Uses TDM (time division multiplexing,) together with interrupt processing, the Mainframe does exactly as you describe, swapping out what was referred to as its PSW (Program Status Word) when switching from one time slice to the next, ie, working in a “a completely different cognitive state.” Altho a machine, the CPU can process but one instruction at time, it’s simply that it does so with such incomprehensible speed, that it is called multi-tasking because it looks like its doing many tasks simultaneously, when it is in fact doing a small bit of work on each, then swapping out its “environment” to do the next one in queue, so in reality, it is rapidly switching from one task to another by performing the requisite PSW swap to pick up the thread of each task where it left off (instead of wasting precious CPU cycles waiting for the slower-speed device to do its bit (or byte)). The human brain has not evolved to function this way, and the resultant decline in attention span is one of the prices we pay for demanding it to.

      Reply
    3. Synoia

      I know I cannot multitask.

      At Uni I out on a record, probably Beethoven, and them went to study, and rewrite my lecture notes. I found the music was a complete distraction to my studying.

      I doubled down on the studying.

      When I finished my studying, I realized the Record was finished, and based on the clock, had ben playing noting for at least 90 minutes, and I could recall none of the music.

      I never tried that again. Work is work and recreation is recreation, and both require undivided attention.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        I find that the right kind of music sharpened my thinking and improved my ability to focus. Listening to The Rolling Stones or the Wailers, no, but to Andrés Segovia or Georg Telemann would.

        Reply
  4. Mikel

    “Omicron sending children to hospital in record numbers” The Hill

    The headline is not useful. Is Omicron “sending” children to the hospital or are they going to the hospital for other things and testing positive once there?

    This is the kind of distinction people want discussed. IMHO, the article contained zero info because that is an important distinction between getting admitted to the hospital due to Covid and being admitted to the hospital for something else while having a positive test or testing positive after admission.

    Reply
    1. MP

      Hospitalizations for under-18 are at record highs in pretty much every state. Maybe that is just correlative, but I’m going to say that it probably isn’t unrelated to the virus ripping through schools and households right now.

      Reply
    2. The Historian

      This is another one of those things Fauci is trying to sell – that kids are going into the hospital for other things, like a ‘broken leg’ and then testing positive for covid. Given Fauci’s track record, I don’t know whether to believe him or not. I tried to research the number of children going into hospitals for any reason historically to see if the number of children being admitted this year has indeed risen and I can’t find that data anywhere. Perhaps someone who is a better researcher than me or who knows how to find this data can post links?

      Reply
      1. lordkoos

        The data from South Africa showed that most cases in hospital of Omicron were “incidental” infections — in other words, people were admitted for other reasons and then tested positive once in the hospital.

        Reply
        1. The Historian

          Do you have actual data? I know there is a lot of anecdata out there, but I am looking for real data because it is important.

          For instance:
          If the rate of child hospitalizations (for all causes) is say 1 per thousand children in December (this is a WAG only, don’t take as fact because I just don’t know) and is typical for the number of hospitalizations in December historically, then yes, Fauci probably has a good case for saying children are coming in for other reasons but with Covid but not for Covid.

          However, if the hospitalization rate this December is say 1.5 per thousand (or higher) children and is higher than child hospitalizations for the month of December in past years, then Fauci is either feeding us more bull or there is some other medical crisis going on with our children that we ought to know about.

          Fauci doesn’t always lie but he has misled us enough since Covid began that I don’t know what to believe.

          Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      ‘or are they going to the hospital for other things and testing positive once there?’

      Funny that. I heard Scotty from Marketing saying today the same thing. He was saying that the numbers of cases skyrocketing here in Oz is not so bad as it looks. He said that people were going into hospital for other reasons like broken legs but once there, were testing positive, so they shouldn’t be counted in total cases. Maybe they didn’t touch third base or something. He also said that hospitals weren’t being hard pressed in spite of stories by the hospital personnel saying otherwise.

      Reply
      1. Mikel

        I’m not saying cases skyrocketing aren’t as bad as they look. The health care systems are still dealing with the Covid and the effects of Covid along with this increase in children being hospitalized. It’s worth investigating all reasons.

        I’m in no way denying the stress on the health care systems. That is the point in getting to the detail of all of what is ailing the children.

        Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        If so, that’s the kind of lawyerly sleight of hand that is only slightly different in wording, but is so immensely deceptive. The Clintons, for example, and also Obama, were often famous for this kind of super-smooth lying. That sort of stuff drives people up the wall with rage. The people who employ those kind of deceptions are smitten with their own cleverness but I find it instills a kind of raging hatred in people when they, often inevitably, discover how they’ve been deceived.

        I think, on a base level, it made people instinctively appreciate Trump’s ‘honest liar’ approach where he’s just so clunky with how he talks that it makes you relax because you know the deception is much more straight forward and obvious.

        Reply
        1. Nikkikat

          Fauci is also a super smooth liar. As are most people in Washington. Fauci just doesn’t want you to know that he had spoken to the reporter that wrote the story so he acts like he knows nothing about it. I take everything as a lie from the likes of these people in Washington. Likely the articles about the wards being full of children is a lie too. Web sites like the Hill are propaganda websites , owned by billionaires. They want boosters to be approved for children, therefore the hospitals are being filled up with children. These people are peddling fear.

          Reply
        2. robert lowrey

          “The people who employ those kind of deceptions are smitten with their own cleverness but I find it instills a kind of raging hatred in people when they, often inevitably, discover how they’ve been deceived.”

          You’re in company with that observation:

          Balzac one said, only to have it repeated almost verbatim by Thomas Mann in The Magic Mountain, “Of all the forms of stupidity, cleverness is the worst.”

          Reply
          1. chuck roast

            I have been interested in reading Thomas Mann. The Magic Mountain appears to be his most widely read novel. I picked it up in the library a few weeks ago and read the intro. It was about some Austro/German haute-bourgeoise taking the baths at some spa or other. Aside from what may well have been a fine literary narrative I figured that there were not a lot of life’s lessons to be learned here. Onward.

            Reply
            1. LifelongLib

              I haven’t read “The Magic Mountain”, but I wouldn’t trust the intro to any fiction edition from the last 40 years. At some point around 1980 people stopped reading novels and started analyzing them, so we hear a lot about (say) Anna Karenina’s social status and nothing about her plight as a woman who wants a divorce in a society that frowns on it.

              I suggest ignoring the intro and just reading what the novelist wrote, and making your own judgment.

              Reply
              1. Roland

                You’re right: unless the intro was written by the author of the main work, skip over it and come back after you’re finished the book.

                But this isn’t just a recent thing. Front matter has always gotten in the reader’s way.

                Even if an intro was written by the author, if it substantially postdates the composition, then skip it and come back afterwards. e.g. Lermontov’s preface to his novel is actually part of the novel and should be read as such, but the forewords that Joseph Conrad added to the later editions of his novels should be read last, and with caution.

                Reply
    4. Jessica

      It is often the case that news reports contain information useful for creating an emotional response but lack pieces of information one needs to make sense of the report.

      Reply
      1. Milton

        There’s this quote from an NBC story. Granted, it’s a single observation at one hospital but it may be indicative of other centers:

        Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told NBC’s “TODAY” show on Tuesday that the increase was probably inevitable because of the arrival of winter and the transmissibility of the omicron variant.

        “It’s winter, and this is a winter virus, and this omicron is particularly contagious, so I think you were going to see an increase anyway,” said Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the hospital.

        However, he said, his hospital has seen a lot of kids test positive for Covid without necessarily showing symptoms or getting sick.

        “We test anybody who’s admitted to the hospital for whatever reason to see whether or not they have Covid, and we’re definitely seeing an increase in cases. However, we’re really not seeing an increase in children who are hospitalized for Covid or in the intensive care unit for Covid,” Offit said.

        Reply
    5. Heidi's Walker

      I’ve read articles that discuss your point. Almost all children admitted to the hospital are going for other reasons. Once there they are tested for COVID, just like adults.

      Reply
  5. Toshiro_Mifune

    How a Decade-Old Game Helped Me Cope with Seasonal Depression

    Ahhh, Skyrim. I downloaded this again off of Steam about a month ago. It has the distinction of being one of the most eminently explorable, playable and re-playable games I’ve ever encountered while at the same time having no story depth whatsoever. Per Steam I’ve got about 140 hours in total playing it (not a lot by some standards) and I honestly cant tell you much about the main plot other than there’s dragons, you’re some sort of ‘dragon born’ and you’re supposed to stop them… Honestly, I’ve played Her Story for a total of 90 minutes a year ago and can recount most of that plot. And yet, wandering around in Skyrim is immensely enjoyable even if you’re doing basically the few same missions over and over again.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Skyrim does seem to have an oddly broad-based appeal among both gamers, and marginally-attached gamers (I created this bucket to put myself in!)

      I’m not an RPG guy myself, but have found myself a bit fascinated at how Skyrim has a kind of reach that breaks out of its normal captive audience for this sort of game.

      I’ve never played it, but find myself as sort of an admirer of it. Gamers often write about concepts like ‘immersion’ and ‘world building’ and that seems like something Skyrim absolutely crushes.

      Reply
      1. chuck roast

        Yeh…ten straight days of southern NE clouds and 100% humidity will get me to seriously consider any alternative reality…except Florida.

        Reply
    2. Socal Rhino

      I think that in “sandbox” games like this, the plot (or backstory and main set of linked objectives) are optional and generally the weakest component of the experience.

      Reply
    3. Tom B.

      My SAD medication this year has been Witcher 3 (my first replay). Similar amazing scope and visuals as Skyrim, better story – and much better than the inexplicably incoherent Netflix Witcher series. Caution: frequent very coarse language and rampant strumpets, courtesans, and harlots. Mostly play in 2nd lowest difficulty level, with occasional dips down to “Just the Story” level for tougher monsters. Plus exploding crossbow bolts help a lot.

      Reply
      1. c_heale

        I’m not a gamer, but watch the Let’s Plays. Really enjoyed Witcher 3, but some of the fighting dragged a bit. The books are fun too…

        Reply
    4. Roland

      For me, it’s the original State of Decay: Breakdown which is the “sandbox mode” for that zombie survival game.

      It’s a world without a plot, populated by relatable losers. I never really get tired of it.

      Reply
  6. marcel

    On “GameChangers 2021: How IUU Fishing Plundered Latin America’s Oceans Insight Crime. IUU = illegal, unreported and unregulated. Handy map”
    (If the boats are in international waters, I don’t see the ‘illegal’, but I may be wrong.)

    French biologists found a good weapon against this. They had tagged albatrosses to see where and when they fly (they remain aloft for ~11 months per year). When analysing the data, they could locate ships from the circles the albatrosses made in the sky – and most of those ships were not having an active transponder.

    Reply
    1. Mr. Magoo

      I think the issue is the ships are in international waters bordering another countries EEZ, the transponders go off for a period of time, and then come back on again in international waters.

      The albatross strategy is golden.

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      Well, let me be the one to suggest that the UN bring back ‘Privateers.’ A Neo-liberal solution to a Neo-liberal problem.
      Allow the Privateers to board and sieze ships they suspect of being “illegal” fishers. If the suspects are proven out as so, award the vessel to the Privateer.
      If the suspect ships resist or flee, allow the Privateers to sink them. Something like the Royal Navy West Africa Squadron.
      See:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Africa_Squadron

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        I feel like NatGeo and/or Discovery channel would absolutely sign a few seasons of a TV series to embed themselves aboard the bounty-hunter ships.

        “Ride along as we hunt and bring justice to Hu Jintao’s 21st Century treasure fleet!”

        Fox news would encourage us to pay a premium (by eating more fish, — deep fried, of course) to reward our patriotic, swashbuckling corsairs who combatted the Chinese menace!

        Reply
    3. praxis

      I don’t quite understand the difficulty of this. Just seize trespassing fishing fleets and scuttle them. I’m pretty sure < 10 sunk ships will completely change the behavior

      Reply
  7. The Rev Kev

    “Study shows worrying about COVID leads to bad choices and performing poorly on cognitive tests”

    Yeah, I’m going to say that this is a very misleading title. Worrying about COVID leads to bad choices and performing poorly on cognitive tests? I’m thinking that it is actually stress that leads to bad choices and performing poorly on cognitive tests and this has been know since year dot. Why are people stressed? Well, we are entering Year Three of a world-wide pandemic with the vaunted solutions of vaccines shown to be a prop rather than a cure. We now have a new variant of this virus which is blowing past all defenses and no end in sight. So with all this stress, how else were people suppose to respond to such tests? So it is not worry that is skewing these tests but sheer unadulterated stress in people’s lives which has been going for over two years and counting. The title of this article is like saying that soldiers in combat seem to worry a lot and they are not sure why.

    Reply
    1. Mikel

      “Fintech Is a Scam — A Listicle in Eight Parts” Cory Doctorow, Marker

      The writer also discusses crypto. He provides a link to this article as well:
      https://www.stephendiehl.com/blog/disconnect.html/
      “…To the overwhelming majority of us in the software engineering profession who live closest to the metal, we see blockchain as a technology that barely works and whose use cases (if any) are vanishingly small and niche. Blockchains are a solution in search of a problem, but in the meantime we’re expected to pre-invest in “tokens” while the decades roll by with seemingly no progress on the fundamental question of “For what?”. It all looks like a form of reverse-innovation where discovery precedes purpose. Perhaps it is our field’s version of string theory, theoretically-plausible castles in the sky which are built on unfalsifiable claims and are only loosely tethered to reality. But what really triggers our engineer “baloney detection” alarm, is that it’s a set of incoherent ideas attached to so many get rich quick schemes….”

      That excerpt also gives a little background on the writer.
      But it’s the end, where implications and consequences are touched on, that goes hand in glove with a comment I made yesterday about crpto mania playing out like the 2008 financial crisis:

      “…On the most basic human level, I suspect our generation still hasn’t processed our shared collective trauma of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and our anger is now still coming out in very unhealthy ways. With crypto we’ve decided to do the most American thing ever, to commoditize our rage at the financial system into a financial product. Because after all, we’re just temporarily embarrassed millionaires and the only problem with CDOs wasn’t the moral hazard, but that you didn’t have a piece of the action. This time you have a choice, but I suspect history is going to have the same lesson to teach us about the perils of greed untempered by reason. On the most basic human level, I suspect our generation still hasn’t processed our shared collective trauma of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and our anger is now still coming out in very unhealthy ways. With crypto we’ve decided to do the most American thing ever, to commoditize our rage at the financial system into a financial product. Because after all, we’re just temporarily embarrassed millionaires and the only problem with CDOs wasn’t the moral hazard, but that you didn’t have a piece of the action. This time you have a choice, but I suspect history is going to have the same lesson to teach us about the perils of greed untempered by reason.”

      Reply
      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Great excerpt, and one I pointed out as well in an exchange elsewhere on these inter-webs. Diehl’s got it down, as does Doctorow. Here another excellent price from Diehl: The Case Against Crypto

        It’s a very concise yet powerful articulation of what’s wrong with crypto – four bullet points! That those points touch upon the history of private banking in the US, the functions of money and the regulatory pitfalls is testament to Diehl’s grasp of a wide range of subject matter.

        Reply
        1. Mikel

          I put the comment in the wrong place! Wasn’t related to this Rev Kev comment, sorry.

          But yeah, I have family and friends dabbling in crypto. I don’t know when they’ll be ready to hear some of the info I’ve been reading.

          Reply
          1. Duke of Prunes

            “IBM has announced”. I will believe it when I see it. IBM announces a lot of things that never see the light of day.

            Reply
            1. Late Introvert

              Agreed. Quantum computing, fusion power, and self-driving cars are job guarantees for the PMC that will (likely) never deliver.

              Duke, crank some Frank!

              Reply
      2. Anon

        I once hinted here, at crypto being revolutionary, but I believe I was misunderstood… my point was that in being the embodiment of all that is wrong with finance, at once superfluous and massive, it could well be its wrecking ball. An accelerationist perspective, yes, but if you can’t beat them…

        As an aside… Imagine Satoshi Nakamoto as a pubescent Artificial Intelligence, that created the crypto-space to launder its activity… hope someone makes that movie.

        Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      Are we getting to a point where the media starts to take notice of pre-existing social problems that pre-date the pandemic, — and are compounded by it, but bizarrely keep an overly narrow focus to the COVID-related angle?

      Reply
      1. Mikel

        Hard to think of a crisis where the media here didn’t narrowly focus on some personality aspect or narrow angle rather than a broader systemic examination. There’s always “a bad apple” or “one lone gunman”, etc…

        Reply
  8. gnatt

    The Roots of Inequality exchange, a response from one of the authors to the reviewer, should be read after scrolling down to the bottom of the page and reading the review, which appeared in an earlier edition of the NYRB, first. My sense of it is that Appiah faults the research in the article, the response denies that the research is faulty, and the response to the response, that it isn’t. A lot of back and forth with the names of anthropologists and the supporters and deniers. Your call, but my call is that the authors are pushing a utopian point, and that the reviewers dubiety is merited.

    Reply
    1. Michael Hudson

      The way David Graeber described his book to me during the years he was writing it was simply to challenge the mega-generality that “the state” as an oppressive form started with Neolithic agriculture, and that this was the origin of inequality.
      He suggested that agriculturalists were fleeing the violence of hunter-gatherers. And who possibly can say that he was wrong.
      My own assyriological research emphasizes the need for economic standardization as the key to organizing commerce, enterprise, specialized labor (the war widows and orphans who worked in Sumerian temple and palace weaving workshops), the allocation of land tenure parcels in standardized plots based on the holder’s ability to provide corvee labor, serve in the military and, in due course, pay taxes.
      And my research on classical antiquity shows the formally standardized equality of temple meetings at “international” meeting places.
      This does not mean economic equality, of course, and Sumerian and Babylonian inequality of income and wealth was as large as today, judging from the cuneiform record.
      But these considerations were the framework within which Graeber and Wengrow then looked for documentation.

      Reply
    2. barefoot charley

      I’m reading and hugely enjoying Graeber and Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity–and to your point, their very title gives away their game. The alternative history they offer is more properly a history of alternatives and freedoms that once existed, before the property-servitude governing us today. It’s a selection of possible possibilities now effaced. They are the first to say their evidence is selective, their deductions based on spotty evidence. But their synthesis of insights from modern archeology and anthropology at the very least undermines Enlightenment assumptions upon which our projections about prehistory have been based. They’re able to make a fascinating case for further study out of vanishing traces of bone, funerals and earthworks. Their intention is more to open minds than to prove all points, and like much fine history, point as much to the future as to the past.

      Reply
  9. timbers

    New Cold War

    Figured blocking Nord Stream 2 meant it was only a matter of time before someone started to have to pay for some of it. Not looking forward to big increases in heating costs. Wonder if this might add to any Democratic election losses in 2022? Not sure how accurate this is but the concept is sound and this possibility has been in the back of my mind for a while, and now headlines about it are cropping up….

    “LNG Tankers Anchored Off Boston To Capitalize On Impending Energy Crisis…Europe’s energy crisis is coming to New England as the state is one cold snap away from soaring natural gas prices.”

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Several weeks ago the Russians sent a small fleet of tankers to the US carrying some two million barrels of diesel to help with the fuel crisis. And similar happened a coupla years ago during a big freeze in North America. If old Joe made nice with Russia, maybe they could sell him more LNG gas which would bring fuel prices down and his popularity up. Nah, never happen.

      https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/russian-fleet-en-route-to-us-to-help-battle-fuel-crisis/

      Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      In the cycle of how these things go, they are almost certainly better. The question is are they better enough. One edge the US had, inertia is one, is the US would protect local elites from a “people’s vanguard”. The Chinese don’t present that problem or the potential of that problem as the Politburo likely hated Communist countries more than anyone else. The Soviet street exerted pressure on that front.

      The EU is just fancy letter head for current European governments. EU overlords versus the current situation might be better.

      Reply
    2. allan

      And as the American empire was built on the ruins of others, so will be the Chinese:

      Abdulla Hawez @abdullahawez

      Within two weeks: Iraq has signed an agreement with Chinese companies to build 1000 schools in two years, signed another agreement with a Chinese co to build the country’s largest refinery & other installations for $19B and China has opened a Mandarin language institute in Iraq. …

      China is also building a $5B city in Erbil which makes it the largest ever foreign investment in Iraqi Kurdistan’s construction and tourism sectors. …

      Xi should send Bush, Cheney, Rice and Co. a fruit basket with a nice thank you card.

      Reply
    3. Bruno

      “China: A colonial giant that may be more beneficial than the EU or USA?”
      Could there be fainter praise with which to damn?

      Reply
      1. Shane Mage

        “Could there be fainter praise with which to damn?”
        What about the meme so current a little while ago (for some reason, much less so nowadays):
        —“Biden? At least he ain’t Trump!”

        Reply
  10. Samuel Conner

    re: “open world” and SAD,

    It is past time for an “exertion/game” interface. Perhaps someone will connect an open-world game system to a treadmill, or incorporate accelerometers into a garment, or both.

    This item from a recent “Johnny English” film comes to mind

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psWfx1i6BlY

    Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      re: “exertion/game interfaces”,

      The old (and, IMO sadly, discontinued) Wii and Wii U systems had an interface for arm motion (the “wiimote” hand-held wand/controller) and another for stance/balance (the “balance board”).

      These can still be had used at reasonable cost and can be useful for indoor physical conditioning. The old EA tennis simulation, “Grand Slam Tennis” (again, available used, though beware damaged disks that are sold as functional) was, IMO, a fine simulation and upper body workout, particularly if used with the “Motion Plus” accessory.

      —-

      Again, it looks to me like a “where is the Market when you need it?” situation. I would think that there is significant potential demand and utility (at least at the individual level; wider implications yet to be seen) to interfaces that involve more than hand and thumb motion.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It’s called Peloton.

        The problem is game environs are unrealistic. It takes 10 minutes to go from one side of the map in Skyrim to the other, but it’s a “distance” of 4 or 5 miles relative to player size. The generation of game environments for excercise would require a radically different set of image generation where we cross into “just go outside” territory.

        I think Oculus has places you can walk around. But they are what they are.

        Reply
        1. Charger01

          Deaths Stranding with a VR set and treadmill would be incredible. Think “The Biggest Loser” with a Twitch following.

          Reply
          1. R

            Ringfit Adventure! It got the children off the sofa in lockdown….

            #2 son tested positive tonight before school resumes tomorrow so we may have to get it out again for isolation. Here goes our first Covid rodeo…. Let’s hope it is omicron not delta.

            Everybody else is negative so far and his only symptom is light appetite but that’s not unusual.

            Tests have run out so I am the only one of uncertain status – wish the Tories had not hired a distribution firm that closed for four days over Christmas in the middle of a pandemic surge!

            Crazy rules allow us all out because we are vaxxed….

            Reply
      2. Soredemos

        A version of motion controls continues to exist with the Switch.

        Fundamentally they never went back to the Wiimote because the thing freaking sucked.

        Reply
    2. Larry Y

      I first saw this https://www.virtuix.com/ at a Javits center tech convention in 2013.

      Not a treadmill, but more like a frictionless bowl and special shoes, and a ring around your waist to help keep your balance. Gives you 360 degree freedom to rotate and run in.

      Reply
  11. Tom Stone

    That 40% increase in deaths among the working age population is through the first three quarters…
    before Delta peaked in the USA and before Omicron began to hit.
    I watched parts of several football games this weekend, 50K plus screaming fans at each superspreader event, taking the virus home with them.
    The best and brightest amongst our beloved reptilian overlords might have erred in deciding to “Let ‘er Rip”, the consequences may not be entirely in line with what they expected.
    If it just affects old people with no $, Poor people in general and especially Ni..,Bl…”people of color”
    that’s GREAT.
    But it looks like it’s beginning to affect REAL People,you know, People that matter.
    Which is unacceptable.
    Something must be done.

    Reply
    1. Mikel

      “That 40% increase in deaths among the working age population is through the first three quarters…
      before Delta peaked in the USA and before Omicron began to hit.”

      Yes, and what else happened?

      Reply
        1. Pate

          Brady is a “passer”. Rogers more than a “passer”, he a “flinger”. God, he’s good. And I’m not talking only football (made Davante cry, he did).

          Reply
        2. griffen

          In other NFL news, the latest antics from one wide receiver will likely mean no NFL owner or general manager will take a swipe at him for a one year deal. Wait a second, a Mr Jones of the Cowboys has a plan!

          Can not honestly recall a professional athlete doing such theatrics, and said player later find a place to thrive and then burns that bridge as well!

          Reply
        3. Andrew

          I’m with you Tom. For those who may not know: The Packers are the one and only NFL team that is owned collectively by the community and the fans. The running game is really going to start rolling now that Jones is back in top form.

          Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “The world must learn to live with Covid this year”

    Was FT always this bad? Their top priority is to vaccinate the whole world. Great. But what happens after five months when that protection has waned? Assuming you can inoculate that many billions of people of course. And they seem to think that new vaccines will only be have to taken every year, just like the flu vaccine. Good luck with that one, matey. They want it gone? I’ll tell them how to make it gone. You spend the money and research to develop sterilizing vaccines in a Manhattan Project style effort. Develop those, and then vaccinations will make sense. Can you do it for a Coronavirus? Maybe. Won’t really know until we mount a massive effort to find out. But if FT wants the world to build up resilience – and considering how it is spread – then you are talking a major reconfiguration of our society to take into account ventilation, HEPA filters, etc. But if you want to talk to the Editorial Board of the Financial Times about these ideas, I doubt that you will find them in their London Headquarters. More likely they have learned to live with the virus – by working from home.

    Reply
    1. Nikkikat

      It would also help if real medical teams were in charge and people were actually being treated early and they were not making up numbers and engaging the press and social media in their deception. OR if Those clowns at the CDC were not making up policy based on poll numbers from the White House.

      Reply
  13. PlutoniumKun

    Fintech Is a Scam — A Listicle in Eight Parts Cory Doctorow,

    One fintech that seems to have exploded in popularity recently is Revolut – from not hearing of it a few months ago, now everyone I know seems to use it (and yes, it is super convenient for sending money).

    I’ve been trying to work out its ‘angle’ – does anyone know any good articles about it?

    Reply
    1. griffen

      Not sure about the fintech mentioned above. But, I am decidedly behind the curve, not on the cutting edge! But I am not a Luddite, thankfully (least not yet). More like a hobbit in a messy state in a little hobbit home.

      My personal alert (BS meter) goes up to 11. In particular from the above list, item IV. Phrases like a “regulatory sandbox to innovate in” just screams out. That’s code for how much further can we just f*ck with the little people, er, bring advancing financial technology to all consumers.

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        I thought V. and VIII. sounded kinda familiar.

        V. Increase risk. To bring fresh suckers to the table, you need to make increasingly risky bets with sky-high returns. Ignore profitability, and make up your own benchmarks to dazzle investors with, based on how much you’re losing, and insist that this is the price of growth, which will eventually produce profits.

        VIII. Use investor cash to fund short-term growth. Sell products at a loss. Pay for celebrity endorsements. Fake your automation, simply paying an army of low-waged workers to do repetitive tasks that you can’t figure out how to computerize, but pretend it’s “AI.”…

        Didn’t amazon go 10 or 15 years without a profit–until the cia gave them a cloud contract–while the stock went stratospheric? Has uber made a profit yet? What about all the delivery “apps?”

        If it ain’t broke….

        Reply
        1. tegnost

          Didn’t amazon go 10 or 15 years without a profit
          Profit is something that theoretically has a tax implication.
          Bezos was backed by scoundrels who knew how to play this game, and he was more than happy to be the little napolean.

          Reply
        2. lyman alpha blob

          #8 was right on the money. I am one of those workers who in recent years has had to do those repetitive tasks while the techbro[familyblog]ers pretend it’s AI.

          A lot of payables automation consists of having the AR people from the billing company manually submit an invoice into the paying company’s database. You don’t want to do their work for them, they just won’t buy from you.

          There are only two reasons I can see why anyone would by a “product” like this, and they are not mutually exclusive. The first is rank ignorance, if not downright stupidity. The 2nd is that the management that buys this kind of phony AI get to fire their own AP people once they’ve pawned the grunt work off to their vendors, and then they get a big bonus for “cutting” labor costs.

          Reply
          1. lyman alpha blob

            I do have one minor quibble with the article though. Doctorow compares Multi Level Marketing scams to the nickel slots at Vegas as a way to rip off the low rollers too. But when I played the nickel slots in Vegas I got free beer as long as I sat there and the beer I drank quite possibly drank cost more than what I lost in nickels.

            So just wondering if Herbalife and the like also provide all-you-can-drink beverage service?

            Reply
      2. chuck roast

        The “functional water” filters were a trip. They could have scored much, much more grift if they called them “dihydrogen monoxide” filters. I mean, everybody knows dihydrogen monoxide is bad for you.

        Reply
    2. ChrisRUEcon

      Well, #TIL (Today I Learned) from me on Revolut. Based on Doctorow’s four buckets:
      i. Payments (e.g. Stripe and Square)
      ii. Lending (including the spectacular fraud of ‘supply chain finance’ epitomized by Greensill Capital)
      iii. Buy now/pay later (BNPL) — short term consumer loans
      iv. Deposit taking (online banking startups)

      … Revolut hits all four. When I did a search on them, one thing that stood out was deposit insurance, which apparently was pointed out by banking concerns in Portugal (via The Portugal News).
      Excerpt:
      “Deposits taken in Portugal by Revolut Bank UAB are made with the parent company, in Lithuania, and are not guaranteed by the Portuguese Deposit Guarantee Fund, but are subject to the deposit protection regime in force in Lithuania”, reads a clarification released by the BdP.

      I am woeful on the requirements of EU banking but this sounds a bit shady. A startup from the UK registers in Lithuania and is apparently accepting locally uninsured deposits elsewhere in the EU. IceSave, anyone? I may be totally wrong, but it all screams caveat emptor.

      One last point about Doctorow’s breakdown – and maybe I’ll [@] him on Twitter about this – he doesn’t include investment banking in his buckets, which appears to be another thing that Revolut is into. They’ve recently hired an ex-HSBC banker to head up their “wealth and trading” division (via FinTech News Singapore).

      Oh my sweet summer child … I fear this will not end well.

      Reply
  14. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Myanmar

    Lots of people talk about gun availability when it comes to civil wars and revolutions, but for decades (at least going back to the 1970’s and the IRA, and arguably back to the Irgun), the most effective weapons for insurgents are not guns, but home made IED’s and their many off-shoots, including these improvised drones. Someone with a well equipped workshop and some electronics and chemical know how is a far more formidable opponent than someone with an automatic weapon.

    The rebels do need to be careful though, as contrary to what many assume, the experience of Syria and Armenia (and possibly Ethiopia) is that ultimately it is the largest and wealthiest force that in the longer run can make more use of these weapons, including drones.

    Reply
    1. David

      It depends a lot, I think, on what your objectives are. Certainly in the early days (1969-70) the IRA retained a conventional military structure and appear to have hoped that a conventional military campaign would drive the British “into the sea.” When that failed (and of course it could never have succeeded) they went over to a campaign with IEDs etc, but they never gave up on the use of more conventional means and put a lot of effort, for example, into trying to buy M-60 machine guns. They had quite lot of success with IEDs, but because what they were trying to accomplish was inherently impossible, it didn’t make that much difference in the end. By contrast, from the Irgun up to the Taliban, groups have used these methods to make a foreign power go home, as the cost of staying becomes prohibitive.

      That’s not the case in Myanmar, because there is nowhere for the junta to “go.” The only way the insurgents will win is to control large areas of territory, and, whilst IEDs can deny easy access (though there are always helicopters and mine-proof vehicles) they can’t of themselves take and hold ground. The best example of how to do this is probably the TPLF/EPRDF in Ethiopia in the 1980s, which started out with the final objective of trying to build a conventional army, and by the end of the decade took Addis in a conventional military attack.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thats a good point, although if the rebels are smart they will use area denial to create the geographic space for alternative government structures. Thats what can ultimately undermine and destroy a government. Although its also of course a recipe for balkanisation.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Maybe too deny resources to the government. Take over areas that have mines or whatever else that produces revenue to the government. Take areas that they know that the government will be driven to take back and lay traps and ambushes accordingly.

          Reply
    2. WobblyTelomeres

      Agree with your first paragraph. It is kinda stunning to spend a few minutes imagining how much trouble one could cause with ready access to a Lowe’s or Home Depot, perhaps a Habitat for Humanity Restore. Did this yesterday in pondering a reply to one of ambrit’s posts. Didn’t type it up as I realized that I was mentally composing a howto. Don’t need that visit.

      As to your second, the only successful (as in winning the war) response to a determined and clever embedded force is genocide. Our generals cannot say this, but you know they know. More drones just means more determined vengeful fighters. Which could be the plan (create a genocide tolerant environment, which is really dark notion).

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i don’t need ‘that visit’, either,lol.

        but in attempting to get over that weird pseudoeffect of pandemic(not being able to read an actual book), i read War of the Flea(https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/113562.War_of_the_Flea)
        i recommend it(as well as the various army field manuals on counterinsurgency), if you want food for thought for the Coming Darkness.
        the focus is on Cuba(dude was there, apparently), and it’s an exceptional read…with lots of hilarity larded throughout.

        i’ve been thinking defensively for a long while, once i determined that some kind of collapse was most likely in the cards…but…due to “that visit”…one mustn’t speak of it.
        so the only other people i know who think about these things are rabid maga morons with AR’s and delusions of Lexington and Concord.

        tip: try to pay cash for that sort of book. headshops, military surplus stores, etc.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          To confuse others, you should plant a great big flag of Texas out the front of your place. And maybe a Texas flag sticker on your vehicle as well. (‘Hey, maybe he is one of us at heart after all.’)

          Reply
        2. JBird4049

          Some people do think that it was all about the Continental Army beating the British Army in a straight open fight. It was more of whatever works, keeping the Continental Army intact, and often using guerrilla tactics more often. The same was true for the British.

          Really, both sides used small scale warfare to weaken their opponents, and only using the field armies when they saw a good opportunity, especially after the British lost an army at Saratoga. Really, much of the war was just staying intact and not losing instead of actually winning. Losing a second army at Yorktown was why the British lost and not because they could not raise another army, but because of the lost of support in Parliament.

          Reply
  15. Steve H.

    > Your attention didn’t collapse. It was stolen Guardian (dk).

    I really liked this, in a Gladwellian glib way, enough to wonder, “Who wrote this?” Answer: Johann Hari.

    *faint ding* [reserch] Yes, THAT Johann Hari:

    > He was the Independent’s star columnist whose lying and cheating destroyed his career

    And it occurs to me that his reformation involves the value of lived experience over past transgressions. My pathology makes me wiser.

    Good writer, though.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, he’s a good writer, although his pompous and self-righteous tone always annoyed me even before his scandal.

      He has done some really interesting writing since then on depression and had a good interview a couple of years ago on Joe Rogan.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      I was thinking about what he had to say about a whole generation being raised with a noted inability to concentrate. The reason was that earlier today I came across a quote that rang true when it said ‘Self-discipline, meticulousness, persistence and a strong sense of focus are key principles that help you succeed, no matter what you are doing.’ For people that subscribe to that thought, they might find the field cleared for them by a generation that was never taught those ideas.

      Reply
      1. Robert Gray

        > ‘Self-discipline, meticulousness, persistence and a strong sense of focus are key principles
        > that help you succeed, no matter what you are doing.’

        The main character in John Barth’s The Floating Opera has a project he likes to work on in the morning, before he goes to the office. He does physical labor in his business suit, including hat, coat and tie. He says ‘I got from my father the habit of doing manual work in my good clothes. … “It teaches a man to be careful,” Dad declared, “and to work easily. Hard work isn’t always good work.” ‘

        I’ve always liked that ‘It teaches a man to be careful ….’

        Reply
        1. wilroncanada

          Robrt
          My wife always marvelled at how meticulous I was at working on the house. She always said I could do painting in a tuxedo. And here I thought it was OCD.

          Reply
      1. mistah charley, ph.d.

        NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hedges discuss mass surveillance, government secrecy, internet freedom and U.S. attempts to extradite and prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. They spoke together on a panel moderated by Amy Goodman at the virtual War on Terror Film Festival after a screening of “Citizenfour” — the Oscar-winning documentary about Snowden by Laura Poitras.

        Transcript is at https://www.democracynow.org/2021/12/24/edward_snowden_glenn_greenwald_chris_hedges

        Reply
    1. GF

      If you already saw the Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hedges interview, as we have, watch today’s show for Mon, Jan 03, 2022:
      https://www.democracynow.org/

      A segment with Dr. Peter Hotez (maybe you have seen him on CNN) who is one of the developers of the new “traditional” low-cost, patent-free Covid vaccine Corbevax that will be distributed to the world – and probably not going to be approved for Usians.

      Another segment is about the scientist who developed an inexpensive rapid at-home COVID test nearly two years ago, but the FDA refused to approve it.

      And a segment on the Boulder fires.

      Reply
      1. HotFlash

        Thank you, GF, Otis and all, most interesting. I had given up on DemocNow some time ago. Seems like Amy and the crew are redeeming themselves. I will start checking them out again. Excelsior!

        Reply
  16. griffen

    Above story linked to the Champlain South in Surfside is worth clicking through. Pretty jarring to realize how a few corners being cut from the original design and construction would have, perhaps prevented this disastrous result. Since I most certainly not an engineer, I leave to others to pick through the particulars of the failure. Load bearing walls with insufficient support, or dare I say nascent cross support, is about the best level suggestion from me.

    Included a few calls to 911, which I did not listen. Not sure I’m ready to listen to a husband’s call to 911, once the wife’s line went silent (who was home at the time; he was away).

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      The article said that the government inspectors, the builder’s inspectors, and independent inspectors all said it was built to plan and to code, which was nonsense.

      I know that Florida doesn’t have a reputation for clean government, but having the developers, architect, builder, and three sets of inspectors allow a large apartment tower to be poorly built, I assume, for extra profit, which meant skimpy on the cement and rebar.

      As a person who lives in earthquake land, I know that really the only thing that would prevent mass death in a 1906 (or greater) quake is the quality of local construction; most of the deaths in other countries is not the scale of the earthquakes, but either on poor design or poor, often illegally so, construction. California has the right building code for earthquakes (IIRC not as good as Japan’s, but good enough), but I don’t know if the government and the construction industry has been clean enough to follow the written code.

      Looking at various “mistakes” made in building the replacement Bay Bridge as well as my sense that both the various levels of California’s state and municipal governments as well as the developers and construction industry have become increasingly corrupt, I have to worry that there will be another, perhaps multiple, Cypress Freeway style collapse. An area where I used to drive on occasionally while working before the Loma Prieta Earthquake.

      That collapse that happened because of misunderstanding, not because of incompetence or corruption. There were a lot of overpasses that were very quickly reinforced afterwards. In a panic really because who knows when or where the next earthquake will happen or how powerful it will be. The kinds of motions as up and down or back and forth or some combination of both also matters, which IIRC is what went wrong with the Cypress Freeway.

      Seeing the mess made of the COVID response or the aftermath of the hurricane that destroyed Puerto Rico makes very scared of what will happen when California (really any Western state being as they are on the Ring of Fire) get hits by the next Big One and it will happen. We just don’t know when. Realizing that I could literally see one or more of the newer San Francisco skyscrapers fall or just possibly be under one as it does is disturbing especially as it would likely be because of some jackasses wanting more profit or to get that bribe. Then there is the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area. And, again, there will be another very large earthquake. We just don’t know when and where.

      Ninety-eight people die at that apartment collapse. Forty-two when the Cypress Freeway collapsed. Roughly three thousand died from the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. How many might die needlessly because someone thought to make some extra money? Just how much of nearly a century of preparation for an entire state for the next serious quake be undone by greed? I really don’t want to die, or see anyone else die, or most likely just suffer more because of greed and corruption.

      Reply
  17. Craig H.

    2nd to last paragraph in Doctorow’s piece:

    Real people need the real economy. Every bubble eventually pops. We are currently living through “the bezzle,” which JK Galbraith defined as, “the magic interval when a confidence trickster knows he has the money he has appropriated but the victim does not yet understand that he has lost it.”

    (that article is all re-hash but not terrible)

    Reply
  18. griffen

    Maxwell will not rat for a lighter sentence. Now that convictions are official, she looks ahead to another few months being held in the same detention center. I’m just spit balling here, but once she is sentenced I gotta wonder if she’s finds herself in circumstances like the one depicted below.

    Naturally, this is a Goodfellas clip. Steak, lobster, a little wine.

    https://youtu.be/rQV6CijIzrc

    Reply
    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I have been thinking the same. There’s a lot of rich and powerful who want this to be “case closed” and the scope of Maxwell’s trial was narrow enough to avoid naming names. After the sentence, what does she gain from keeping quiet, especially if she feels her former friends sold her out? They could suicide her, but it seems to me running that again would be a little too obvious, even for this crowd. I doubt we will ever know for sure, but I can’t see her getting the treatment she deserves.

      Reply
        1. Dr. John Carpenter

          Life in regular people jail to a wealthy socialite accustomed to the finer things, rubbing elbows with power and operating with total impunity might as well be death. Not to mention, all the analysis I’ve seen gives her at least 30 years, which given her age, is a life sentence.

          Reply
          1. lordkoos

            I very much doubt she will serve more than a fraction of that time. Maybe she’ll get some time off for “good behavior”.

            Reply
      1. praxis

        My take is she and her personal circle get to live. Talking would likely cause a hefty increase in mortality of family and friends.

        Reply
  19. Tom Stone

    As far as Gun availability, 3D printing changed that big time.
    Several examples of the FGC9 Mk2 have already been photographed in Myanmar and more will show up as time passes.
    It’s a solid design,good for 25,000 rounds or more.
    Barrels are made from high pressure steel tubing using ECM which requires copper wire, a 9 volt battery and a bucket of salt water…
    No machine shop needed,no odd smells, no loud noises, you can build these in the spare bedroom of your apartment without bothering your neighbors and the unit cost drops dramatically after the first half dozen.
    I don’t doubt that thousands of home builders are churning these out across the globe.

    Reply
  20. Tom Stone

    I still have a few questions about the Epstein affair.
    What happened to Ms Maxwell’s insurance Policy?
    She is Robert Maxwell’s daughter, I’d assume she was aware of the need for insurance.
    Where did Epstein’s $ come from?
    What happened to the video and audio recordings ?,
    Why did it take the FBI a month after Epstein’s arrest to search Pedo Island.
    This operation clearly had cover from on high, it was an extremely effective means of influencing powerful people.
    Why was it necessary to end it when it was ended and was that done before a replacement was in place?
    There’s always someone supplying the girls and someone supplying the boys to those with $ and power.
    And there’s always someone using these operations for leverage, was this op only shared between US Intelligence and Israel or were other members of 5 eyes let in on the deal?

    Reply
    1. bwilli123

      …”What happened to the video and audio recordings ?”

      I think we can assume they are now in safe hands. No point in letting all that good work go to waste, is there?

      Reply
    2. griffen

      We’ve spent a lot of time and effort on one question in particular that you ask. Where did that money derive from? It has to be more than Epstein spending a few great years, as a wunderkind of sorts, working for Bear Stearns ( I know, but this was long before 2008 ).

      Those with superior insight and connections into that dark corner may never tell. *cough, Bill C, cough, a crown prince, cough…

      Reply
    3. Richard

      Smuggling cocaine on his private jet from Little St.James in the Virgin Islands under the the best cover one could devise. The Clintons and their like don’t take a short stay beach bag, they take Luggage, and plenty of it. Additional visualy expensive cases ride too. Not your standard customs arrangements for private jets on arrival in the US and, given the passenger’s status, the cargo is just waived through.

      Well, I can only speculate, of course, but you did ask.

      Reply
    4. The Rev Kev

      I think that we can assume that they found Epstein’s “insurance policy” which was why he got the chop but they have not yet found Maxwell’s “insurance policy” which is why she is still here.

      Reply
  21. Michael Ismoe

    Majority condemns Jan. 6 attack, says Trump at least partially to blame The Hill

    The new Pew/NPR poll shows a different result. If the Dems are going to pretend this is the last free election (funny how they ignore Super Tuesday 2020) then they are going to have to convince a hell of a lot of people that what happened, even mattered.

    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/americans-dont-agree-on-what-to-call-jan-6-attack

    80 percent of Republicans either thinking the events of Jan. 6 were a legitimate act of dissent or should be put aside as something that occured in the past.

    89 percent of Democrats,….. define the events as insurrection.

    Reply
    1. Charger01

      Dems are great at theater, especially after they impeached the last president. That did wonders for their credibility and ability to wield power against the powerful.

      Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I’ll continue to hang my hopes on the black market, thank you.
      black market eggs, produce and barnyard fowl.
      that article reads like a PSA for public private partnerships and abundant opportunity for graft and corruption.
      we’ll soon be right back to where we are, now.

      that said, the ranchers i talk to are aware that the monopolists are evil…they hate cargill, smithfield, etc…and i didn’t have to tell them about Lina Khan’s efforts on origin labels for beef….nor explain what it means.
      (she might be the one good thing biden’s done)

      Reply
    2. griffen

      I wait patiently on pins and needles. They will do something, for the sake of appearing busily active whilst accomplishing next to nothing. \sarc

      Meanwhile, information is at the ready in this country for what happened in just the past 10 to 15 years. This is just in the beef and packing industry.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JBS_USA

      Reply
  22. jo6pac

    Yep 2022 is off to a roaring start.

    potus muchkin will still stop us on Main Street from having nice things which lets corp. owned demodogs off the hook.

    The post Office is still sadly run by jack weich illegal son.

    Real endless wars continue and joe b. has rapped up the cold wars with China and Russia making sure the merchants of death still $$$$$$$$$$$$ rolling in.

    Then there’s this bet of news that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

    https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/biden-robert-califf-fda-big-pharma-investments/

    I’m sure it’s only the tip of sinking ship Amerika.

    Reply
  23. LilD

    FT “winners and losers”

    In my opinion there are no actual winners, the issue is getting us ordered by speed of losing. Some of us are losing quickly (nearly 1m Americans have already lost…), some are positioning into losing slowly

    Reply
  24. Jeremy Grimm

    “2021 Letter”
    Dan Wang’s letter is a long read that provides a different perspective on China and through explicit and implicit comparisons the u.s. I believe, although the entire piece is well worth reading, the heading near its end might be the most interesting to other readers: “The new peer competitor”. There, Dan Wang aggregates several observations on China and the u.s. and draws some comparisons unflattering to one or the other, or to both.

    Here are a couple of excerpts from the letter that caught my eye:
    “The Chinese leadership looks more longingly at Germany, with its high level of manufacturing backed by industry-leading Mittelstand firms. Thus Beijing prefers that the best talent in the country work in manufacturing sectors rather than consumer internet and finance. Personally, I think it has been a tragedy for the US that so many physics PhDs have gone to work in hedge funds and Silicon Valley. The problem is not that these opportunities pay so well, rather it is because manufacturing has offered dismal career prospects. I see the Chinese leadership as being relatively unconcerned with talent flow into consumer internet and finance; instead it is trying to fashion an economy in which the physics PhD can do physics, the marine biology student can do marine biology, and so on.”
    “Beijing diagnosed the problems with financialization earlier than the US, where the problem is now endemic. The leadership is targeting a high level of manufacturing output, rejecting the notion of comparative advantage.”

    This is the latest of a series of letters Dan Wang has written over the years. Also check his impressive booklist, “Books I Like” https://danwang.co/books/ which includes several book review essays. I especially enjoyed reading his review: “Glass, Music Without Words: A Memoir” https://danwang.co/the-life-of-philip-glass/

    His review of “The Wonderful Future that Never Was” — [essay title] “Technological predictions: 1903 – 1970”, https://danwang.co/technological-predictions-twentieth-century/, ends with a quote he pulled from that book — “I like how it ends:”
    “The enormous challenge demands new approaches, fueled by visions of futures that are utopian, even if we don’t get quite all the way there. The magazines of the twentieth century show us how to dream, with constraints. Our great problems all involve new technologies. But no one can achieve anything that he or she does not first imagine.”
    I like that ending too.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Wangs annual newsletter is always a must-read for anyone interested in China. He is one of the rare writers on China who calls things as he sees it, without too much ideological or other baggage. I also like how he balances hard data with personal observances. I just wish he wasn’t so clueless about bike touring, his trip sounds like a masterclass in how to have a miserable time on a bike.

      I did find it curious however how he didn’t say much at all about the looming horror of the vastly oversized property industry in China. It takes up a massively disproportionate share of the economy and tackling it will be crucial for Chinas future. There is little doubt that Beijing sees the problem and is doing everything it can to tackle it. The big question is whether they make the right decisions. So far, the omens are not good. Perhaps Wang is waiting until next year to see how things shake out.

      Reply
    2. curlydan

      I liked his letter, too. And your mention of Philip Glass has piqued my interest in that memoir, so I’ll try to check out the book.

      I wish Dan Wang would spend some more time in Guangzhou–just as I probably need to visit Shenzhen more. Shenzhen has always seemed more like Guangdong’s and Guangzhou’s affluent suburb, so I could see why many would call it boring. Guangzhou has a little more “feel” to it with older neighborhoods along the Pearl River.

      Judging by his book list, I’d say his libertarian bent may influence his view of Beijing as “made up of gray Soviet blocks that tower over all. Beijing is therefore a desert steppe city with Stalinist characteristics.” The interiors of these buildings, though, especially the residential buildings, seem light, bright, and infused with consumer wants like fancy fridges, washing machines, and flat screen TVs. I’d say Beijing has staid but material characteristics–like a boring, corporate office park in the U.S.

      Reply
  25. Jason Boxman

    Oh, don’t worry about those ‘bumps in the road’: Those are just the bodies of children we’ve run over on the way back to normalcy.

    Reply
  26. Jessica

    “Our data prove that SARS-CoV-2 causes systemic infection and can persist in the body for months.

    Just a flu….”

    Please forgive me if this is a stupid question, but do we know that flu does not do this? Have we ever checked in the way we are checking regarding covid?

    Reply
    1. IM Doc

      We have had the flu around for centuries. Multiple variants and all.

      We do know quite a bit about flu – but it took decades of medical science to get there.

      There are indeed some unusual things that happen to flu patients but the issue is they are nowhere near as common as these issues with covid seem to be.

      Flu is notorious for causing the severe pneumonia in many patients – elder and informed – that takes their life. That is unfortunately very common every year.

      I have seen this repeatedly and commonly over thirty years.

      The other known issues, I have seen personally maybe ten times in my life – pericarditis, flares of immune issues, and a very strange preponderance to get staph in the lungs. 30 years maybe 10 patients.

      I saw more than 10 patients with bad non-pulmonary covid issues in December alone.

      Every virus and virus family is unique. I will say again – comparing covid to things like flu and Ebola is a fool’s errand. It would be similar to comparing human behavior to whale behavior. Yet our news media revels in this – mainly to bring up these past demons and continue the misplaced panic. Believe me, there is plenty to get our attention right now with covid. Forget the other pathogens.

      Reply
      1. clarky90

        When I was a young man (50 years ago), the flu was often referred to as, “The old man’s friend”.

        Meaning that, when an old man’s race had finally been run, the flu could come and take him Home.

        I believe in God……….

        PS, I usually search for “IM Doc”, in the comments and text body. Thanks!

        Reply
  27. Jessica

    GameChangers 2021: How IUU Fishing Plundered Latin America’s Oceans

    1) What China is doing is bad.
    2) Taiwan, in particular, has been fishing destructively for years.
    These days whenever I read reports on China, particularly when they are true, I consider the possibility that the truth is being weaponized to promote a social climate that makes cold (hopefully) war with China possible.

    Reply
  28. Jason Boxman

    From AP:

    “We are not the same population that we were in December of 2019,” he said. “It’s different ground now.”

    Think of a wildfire tearing through a forest after a drought, he said. That was 2020. Now, even with omicron, “it’s not completely dry land,” but wet enough “that made the fire harder to spread.”

    He foresees a day when someone gets a coronavirus infection, stays home two to three days “and then you move on. That hopefully will be the endgame.”

    But this supposes that long-COVID does not exist, and that generally someone makes a complete recovery. Because COVID does cause multi-organ damage in some not insignificant portion of infected individuals, I cannot fathom how this can be the endgame. But it is a convenient fairytale.

    Any eventual declaration from WHO that the pandemic is over won’t make any difference to the reality on the ground.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Any eventual declaration from WHO that the pandemic

      It will be just like Iraq or the financial crisis. Those who were right will be ostracized. Those who were wrong will be given even more power and make a lot of money.

      Reply
  29. juno mas

    RE: House of Cards

    Wow! Amazing forensic recreation of the collapse of this high rise. Fascinating, for me, are the images of the initial hand-drawn blueprints (construction drawings) and their transformation into a modern 3-D display of the building. That took some major effort, without which the detailed explanation of the collapse would have been incromprehensible to most readers/viewers.

    This forensic analysis of the collapse amplifies the need for competent project managers and extensive inspections during construction. And for regular, detailed inspections post-occupation.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I just finished watching the House of Cards, Wow!

      I am not sure I agree that the forensic analysis of the collapse amplifies the need for competent project managers and extensive inspections and ongoing regular, detailed inspections post-occupation. I believe that a competent building engineer or architect just looking over the plans for this building would have major heartburn about the design — and it was not even built to the design. As for extensive inspections — they only work if the inspectors are honest and not looking the other way. I suspect more than a little criminal activity was involved in this construction.

      Reply
    2. Mike

      Frankly I think there is nothing left here to regulate on the construction and design side. For other reasons than this collapse, engineers nowadays are much more conservative than the 70’s. Also there is so much CYA on the building side between inspectors, 3rd party inspectors, contractors back to the owner of the project this just doesn’t happen unless its an outright, freak design flaw. This building suffered from failures at every level. The current industry will prevent most of that. I’m sure more red tape will be added though somewhere along the way here. The silver lining is that this stuff just doesn’t happen that often here in the united states. Sure it will happen as time goes on and buildings age but the risk of dying in this kind of event is statistically insignificant.

      Pretty impressive how fast they put this analysis together.

      Reply
      1. juno mas

        Yes, indeed.

        An area of consequence that seems to get obscured in the analysis is that the 10-story building was constructed with concrete masonry units (CMU). This type of construction can proceed relatively quickly and be a challenge for inspectors to maintain quality control. Rebar placement and grouting is made after the the masons have mortared the CMU in place. Difficult to assess whether sufficient quantity and spatial placement of reinforcing steel is correct. (Probably a non-union project as well.)

        The failure of the rebar may have been caused by salt laden moisture penetrating mortar joints and rapidly corroding the steel.

        In any case, I think the forensic analysis is correct: the initial failure began at the pool deck and then propagated to the residential portion of the structure.

        Reply
  30. Susan the other

    Glenn Greenwald on our wonderful free press. Regarding Julian Assange’s extradition. We will never get good information from our media. Because we have no media; we only have indoctrination mediated through public utilities. Julian Assange cannot be allowed to escape the long arm of the law and so our intelligence services who work for the MICC handle most of the delicate news on any subject. The particular operative in question, NBC’s Figliguzzi, is fabricating all sorts of justifications and excuses to get our hands on Assange. It is a very transparent effort. So, given how disgusting it is, why are our intelligence ops so intent on controlling a fictional narrative? If Assange were just a blogger who happened to post the truth about the DNC’s blatant theft of elections, various elections, or war crimes, it would be an old story. There is something more to Assange. Imo, he has still got something more to tell us about our decadent democracy. It must be something he has held back, given to others to keep, to insure his own safety. Maybe his family’s. Greenwald doesn’t speculate. He only points out the massive deception our “media” has created to “get Assange.” To control the narrative. Why?

    Reply
    1. Michael

      This is a great comment Susan!

      We have forgotten the early years as this abomination has drug on and on.
      So many secrets to hide. Timing is everything.
      Can’t wait for the final episode!
      JR did it!

      Reply
  31. chuck roast

    “…baffling illness affects growing number of young adults in Canadian province.” Guardian.

    Lotsa’ great Links today…thanks.

    There appears to be speculation (and as we all know, it would irresponsible not to speculate) that the culprit behind cluster of shocking illnesses may be B-methylamino-L-alanine, a neurotoxin found in blue-green algae blooms across the province (of New Brunswick). While no scientist, I know that algae blooms are highly co-related with water pollution and low-dissolved oxygen content. I sailed a bit of Canadian waters not long ago and once went up a passage called “The Narrows” near Blacks Harbour, NB. This was skankiest river navigation I ever made. Salmon pen after salmon pen. Filthy brown foam everywhere, and if there was any oxygen in the water it was purely by accident.

    Salmon farming is a major industry in NB. Any evidence pinning this strange neurological outbreak to water pollution in the Gulf of Maine or its Canadian tributaries would lead to a serous socio-economic crisis. I would be interested in staying tuned to this.

    Reply
  32. Maritimer

    SARS-CoV-2 infection and persistence throughout the human body and brain (preprint) (PDF) NIH (Kris Alman). From the Abstract:

    “We performed complete autopsies on 44 patients with COVID-19 to map….”
    *******
    Are autopsies being done on both the vaccinated, unvaccinated and those with natural immunity? Only, the Insiders know for sure. But certainly, the lack of information regarding how many autopsies are being done and the results is a red flag.

    “An autopsy (post-mortem examination, obduction, necropsy, or autopsia cadaverum) is a surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse by dissection to determine the cause, mode, and manner of death or to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present for research or educational purposes.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autopsy

    Either more stunning incompetence by Public Health officials or….

    Reply
  33. The Rev Kev

    “House of Cards”

    Heavy on multimedia but the story is all there. Developers that cut corners and tried to lumber extra costs to the local government, a cowboy building culture in Miami back in the 80s, corrupt officials who approved a badly-flawed design and inspectors who were graduates of the Stevie Wonder School of Inspecting. The wonder is not that it collapsed but why did it not collapse any earlier. And the answer to that is probably 40 years of erosion and wear & tear. And of course the people who were responsible are all mostly dead or long retired.

    Reply
  34. R

    I thought it was amazing he did not mention Chongqing, except disparagingly as the source of Shenzhen’s workers.

    Bring coastal prosperity to the western hinterland is a major CCP goal and Chongqing is its motor, with 30m+ people in the metropolitan region. It has changed far more in the last twenty years than Shenzhen or Shanghai.

    Mr Wang needs to go to the boondocks!

    (I was in CQ briefly and thought it absolutely compelling. It was like Dickensian Manchester in 2001, a 40W lightbulb Manhattan, a 20th century Bladerunner: grimy, foggy, sweaty, earthy, pullulating, caught between two millennia with bamboo pole porters heaving goods into highrises, Carrefour supermarkets selling live frogs and men making charcoal bricks or blowtorching lacquered ducks down alleys).

    Reply

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