Links 2/18/2022

James Webb Space Telescope has locked onto guide star in crucial milestone

SpaceX and our space junk problem Vox


Global industry groups push back on climate disclosure rules FT

Accusations of ‘greenwashing’ by big oil companies are well-founded, a new study finds NPR

Ikea’s Race for the Last of Europe’s Old-Growth Forest The New Republic

Let’s Fight Climate Change Without Eating Bugs New York Magazine


As BA.2 subvariant of Omicron rises, lab studies point to signs of severity CNN. Nobody could have predicted…. See Yves here.

* * *

CDC wants to “give people a break” from masks, says new guidance coming Ars Technica. About time:

(A parody account. I think.)

After lifting mask mandate, California unveils plan to ease into next stage of life with COVID San Francisco Chronicle. The plan is called –wait for it — SMARTER. Don’t ever change, liberal Democrats. To be fair, the plan does call for “creating a task force to improve indoor air quality statewide.”

The Mask Debacle The Tablet. Word of the day: plerophory. I’m more than a little surprised, however, not to see the author cite to the work of Trisha Greenhalgh on masks. Greenhalgh does not suffer from plerophory. I think this post is interesting on the politics, but dangerously close to tendentiousness on the science.

* * *

Coronaviruses are ‘clever’: Evolutionary scenarios for the future of SARS-CoV-2 STAT. Not very impressive. More impressive–

Covid-19 Medium-Term Scenarios – February 2022 SAGE. Handy chart:

Which scenario are you?

* * *

Estimated 73% of US now immune to omicron: Is that enough? AP. Throwing a flag on the Betteridge’s Law violation.

Aerosol generation in public restrooms Physics of Fluids. From the Abstract: “Flushing biomatter can lead to the aerosolization of micro-organisms; thus, there is a likelihood that bioaerosols generated in public restrooms may pose a concern for the transmission of COVID-19, especially since these areas are relatively confined, experience heavy foot traffic, and may suffer from inadequate ventilation…. Covering the toilet reduced aerosol levels but did not eliminate them completely, suggesting that aerosolized droplets escaped through small gaps between the cover and the seat. In addition to consistent increases in aerosol levels immediately after flushing, there was a notable rise in ambient aerosol levels due to the accumulation of droplets from multiple flushes conducted during the tests. This highlights the need for incorporating adequate ventilation in the design and operation of public spaces, which can help prevent aerosol accumulation in high occupancy areas and mitigate the risk of airborne disease transmission.” Don’t linger!

About transmission between deer:

* * *

Was a 19th Century Global Pandemic a Case of COVID 1.0? MedPage Today


China’s zero-Covid policy under review as economic pressure mounts, chief epidemiologist says South China Morning Post. Read all the way to the end: “The US is also playing a big role in driving the global spread of Omicron, [Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist with the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention] said, adding that about one-third of China’s imported coronavirus cases have come from the US.” Oopsie. However, I don’t know the absolute number, and I don’t know how much is due to the Olympics.

Metaverse’s NFT- and cryptocurrency-fuelled boom a gold mine for banking and finance sector South China Morning Post. Money laundering generally is.

Hong Kong earmarks 20,000 hotel rooms for quarantine as COVID cases surge Reuters

‘Blood slave’ kidnapped by Chinese crime gang in Cambodia drained for months and threatened with organ harvesting South China Morning Post Shades of Mad Max: Fury Road. And will Peter Thiel please pick up the white courtesy phone?


Evergreen halts ship calls at junta-controlled terminal in Myanmar Container News

ASEAN envoy seeks Myanmar junta blessing to meet its opponents Reuters. Let me know how that works out.

Another U.S.-Trained Soldier Stages a Coup in West Africa The Intercept

France announces military withdrawal from Mali France24

New Cold War

No Invasion Wouldn’t Mean an End to the Ukraine Crisis Foreign Policy. Commentary:

Dispatch From Ukraine The Flashpoint. Full podcast. Sending a message, but to whom:

(Moldova is a southern neighbor of Ukraine.)

People Are Looking For Designated Bomb Shelters In Kyiv, But Some Have Become Cocktail Bars, Restaurants, And Even A Strip Club Buzzfeed

Russia announces nuclear exercises as fresh Ukraine talks planned FT. The shape of the negotiating table?

Senate passes symbolic Russia rebuke as Ukraine threat looms Politico

“Worse than Skabeeva and Solovyov.” Arakhamia accused CNN, Bloomberg and WSJ of publishing fakes about the Russian invasion (Google Translate) New Times (HB). Davyd Arakhamia.


Who supports the ‘freedom’ protesters and why Toronto Star. The deck: “Alarmingly, 65 per cent of Canadians believe that if the concentration of wealth at the top continues, Canadians may see ‘violent class conflict.'”

Liberals cite CBC ‘analysis’ to justify freezing bank accounts Toronto Sun

While constitutional law experts and civil liberties groups have said the threshold has not been met for the government to invoke the Act, the 14-page document the Liberals offered up presents their own more formal argument to back them up…. [T]his conclusion wasn’t arrived at after detailed study by anyone in the Ministry of Finance or Public Safety Canada. Instead, the only evidence they offer is ‘the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s February 14, 2022 analysis of the data’ of the fundraisers list that was hacked and released publicly.

Seems a little circular. Couldn’t they are least quote some anonymous intelligence officials?

The Battle of Billings Bridge Breach Media (marym).

Reality Honks Back The Upheaval

Biden Administration

Covid Funding Is Drying Up, White House Warns U.S. Lawmakers Bloomberg

Federal court must reconsider religious exception to United employees’ vaccine mandate Houston Chronicle. Amusing thread on the opinion:

As I understand the opinion, the ruling says the religious, contra Smith’s dissent, would suffer “irreparable harm” if forced by the State to act against their beliefs, which has broad implications when you think about it. However, “irreparable” seem at odds with the notion of a forgiving God (see e.g.). In any case, the case brought by the employees has already been settled, and by the putatively highest of authorities: See Matt 22:17-22.

Protecting the U.S. Postal Service from Amazon’s Anticompetitive Assaul (PDF) Hal Singer and Ted Tatos, Econ One

Health Care

Nonprofit Hospital CEO Compensation: How Much Is Enough? Health Affairs

Supply Chain

A burning cargo ship with thousands of Porsches, Lamborghinis and VWs is adrift in the Atlantic Bloomberg

Competition authorities in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ team up to investigate cartel conduct in global supply chains Splash 247

Global production linkages and stock market co-movement (PDF) Bank of International Settlements

The Bezzle

Bored Apes, BuzzFeed and the Battle for the Future of the Internet Vice

Hypocrisy and The Consequences of Monkey Laundering Ed Zitron, Where’s Your Ed At

Oh great, there’s DRM in printer PAPER now Cory Doctorow

Realignment and Legitimacy

Revisiting the Resilience of Chestnut Forests in Corsica: from Social-Ecological Systems Theory to Political Ecology (PDF) Ecology and Society. From 2011, still germane.

“When all you have is a hammer…”: why Agamben’s ideas were bound to lead to this Monthly Review. Interesting thoughts on “states of exception.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

New scientific review punctures myth of missile defense Responsible Statecraft

Searching for The Pigeon Lady Chicago Reader

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:


Double bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Nameful

    (Moldova is a southern neighbor of Ukraine, also on the Black Sea.)

    Um, no. More like West-South-Western neighbor, with no Black Sea shore. It does, however have its own “Donbass-lite” region (Transnistria) with the attendant Russian Army camped within.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks, fixed. I did check a map, but misread it!

      Adding: Reconstructing: I searched Google Maps on Ribnita (top right on the Tweet map) and then zoomed out until I saw the country Ribnita was in: Moldova. Using that process, all the borders are black, and I misread the borders. Had I searched on “Moldova,” the borders would have been red, preventing the misreading. So it goes!

      1. Dave in Austin

        Actually Moldova has an access to the sea down the river. I’m not sure of all the details but it looks like Russia controlled the river because of the Czarist era and when it lost it then regained it at the end of WW II it gobbled up the Romanian side of the river, drove out the local from the east side of the river and used it as a garrison. Nice garrison if you’r a Russin soldier from Omsk so they all retired there, thus the “breakaway republic” Transdenistia. Now the funny think is both the Moldovians and the Transies use the river which was Russian Czarist territory for transit. The Moldovans even built a little container port.

        I used the invaluable map room at the Perry Casteneda Library at U Texas and found the navigation maps. Since both the Moldovans and Transdiestans spend more time smuggling than working, it works out well for both sides.

    2. Kouros

      Use to be on the Black Sea as well, but that area (Bugeac) was awarded to Ukraine same time as Crimea, in 1954…

    1. ambrit

      “Still no mention of Long Covid.” That’s what worries me. Someone, somewhere in the ‘guts’ of the Public Health apparat knows all about Long Covid and is either being silent or is being silenced. This is not happening in a vacuum. There is an agenda. Who such an ‘agenda’ would favour is fairly obvious. So far, it, the ‘agenda,’ is well hidden.
      I always point to the fact that a large percentage of what were once demonized as “Conspiracy Theories” have later turned out to be roughly true. In this regard, “Conspiracy Theories” are a Leading Indicator of later news cycles.

      1. Juneau

        As I hear post Covid clinics are closing, spoke to someone yesterday who got discharged from a Covid cognitive rehab program with the advice to “call your insurance” because they lost their funding. On Covid blogs the patients in outside of US report their clinics have been shutting down (here the only clinic in Sweden shut down last year).
        Most conspiracies are out in the open aren’t they?

        1. mistah charley, ph.d.

          Speaking of Covid and the brain, BrainHQ/PositScience is holding a zoom webinar next Wednesday on the topic. Presenter is Dr. Henry Mahncke, their CEO who has some brain training publications – no doubt he will express his belief that the BrainHQ game suite is likely to be helpful. Here is a link to register – I am a customer of theirs but I think anyone can sign up:

        2. jsn

          Long Covid is a growth and profit opportunity for Med Industrial Complex.

          Our wealth and liquidity will be strip mined until the vein is dry.

          Then, neoliberalism rule two.

          Really, they’re not trying to kill us, they’re just trying to make money. If we die, well, it’s just business.

          1. Pate

            Just business as usual. The cost of doing business. All hail the Corporatocracy! All hail GDP. Dad – who served in the ww2 pacific – said we are expendable. I miss you, dad!

          2. Larry Carlson

            That’s a big concern, since with a similar condition, chronic Lyme disease, doctors are selling minimally-supported cures with seemingly little interest in finding out what actually works. If chronic Lyme disease is a good indicator of how things will progress, expect to hear few facts, much pointless debate, and many sales pitches regarding long COVID treatments.

        3. lordkoos

          I had reported last week that our local hospital COVID clinic had closed. I had assumed because of the “it’s over” propaganda, but it turns out it was because they were unable to source the tests. A little over a week later they are open again, apparently having resolved their supply issues. When a hospital can’t find tests that is not an encouraging thing.

      2. jr

        It’s too much for people to bear. I’m not justifying the lying at all but I don’t think anyone wants to be the guy to try to impress upon people that Mom is -never- going to fully recover. In fact, she may be permanently disabled. I’m sure there is some kind of scheme afoot, there always is, but at least in part it’s just the fact that it’s too dire. Like an asteroid impact or super-volcano in a way.

      3. CloverBee

        Trump put CDC workers under a gag order, and that remains in effect under Biden. If they break the gag order, it will be treated as if someone from DoD leaker highly classified information. And given how those have gone, no one will care what they say anyway. So, assume they are being silenced.

      4. JBird4049

        First off, IIRC, the term “conspiracy theory” was created by the either the FBI or CIA back in the 1960s to sideline people onto things like COINTPRO or the various assassinations in the United States.

        Secondly, we I read bizarre, even gonzo, statements like today’s Twitter quote:

        “But at a certain point, we have to say it’s over. And that time is now, no matter what the “numbers say But at a certain point, we have to say it’s over. And that time is now, no matter what the “numbers say”

        I have to ask why? What has changed between then and now, aside from nothing? Since it is possible that a new variant akin in mortality to any of the past endemic diseases like smallpox. Even if it is just stays around as is while coming back in waves, just what would happen to the precious economy then? It is obvious what is going to happen and I do not accept that members of my family will likely die or be crippled just because some want to ignore the science, ignore the general welfare, just because they want to get on with it, whatever that happens to be. What would a member of the Credential Class say if some Deplorables said this?

        It’s like reading of Gollum’s shouting about getting his Precious back just before he falls into the lava at Mount Doom.

        1. Basil Pesto

          not especially relevant aside to a post I otherwise agree with, but I do tire of seeing this myth being uncritically repeated here on a semi-regular basis:

          First off, IIRC, the term “conspiracy theory” was created by the either the FBI or CIA back in the 1960s to sideline people onto things like COINTPRO or the various assassinations in the United States.

          It’s bullshit. Usage history of the word ‘conspiracy theory’ precedes the existence of the FBI and CIA (Webster dates it to 1863).

            1. JBird4049

              Hmm. Another appropriate, but inaccurate, fact that I need to discard? Fudge.

              I believe that CIA used the term, but I also said that they created it, and if they did not, that factoid must go. Using truthiness instead of facts is one of the reasons why we are in this blasted mess.

              I mean it’s hard hard to understand things without having to dodge these convenient “facts,” but they stay around because they can be used to create comfortable, false history, stories, or beliefs and it is often not a conscious process. Racism, Social Darwinism, and the very conscious 1619 Project are examples.

              I think that I need to be sure that the CIA actually used the term the way I said that they did before I say it again. Otherwise, fudge.

              1. gepay

                Conspiracy Theory in America By Lance deHaven-Smith (Professor in the Reubin O’D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University.) tells definitively how the CIA changed the popular conception of the words “conspiracy theory” after 1967. The CIA was alarmed by how many Americans disbelieved the conclusions of the Warren Report and did believe there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK. The CIA then changed how people thought of the words “conspiracy theory”. It used its power to influence major media (can you say Operation Mockingbird) to make the words “conspiracy theory” into a “nonny nonny poo poo” anytime someone implies that there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK. They were so successful that it still works today about anyone looking into the many false flags the powers that be have enacted. So, of course, they didn’t invent the words “conspiracy theory” they just changed how people thought when they heard the words.

      1. ambrit

        I checked several maps and indeed, that tongue of Moldovan land to the south does come very, very, close to the shore of the Black Sea. I “shot too soon.” Sorry to have nit picked.

    1. lance ringquist

      they have about a 1600 acre access to the danube, which is considered a international waterway.

      the access is close to the black sea.

  2. Amfortas the hippie

    re: flush toilet=aerosolised foecal material.
    when i determined that we wouldn’t be able to afford the creative septic design(and digging) that would be required for a normal septic tank for this house(due to the narrowness of this part of the property, and the frelling county road that bisects it)…i cast about for alternatives.
    i wanted some kind of methane digestor system…to harvest the sewer gas for fuel…but i deemed my gashandling skills subpar, and the propane people hereabouts were…ahem…not interested(crazy hippie guy).
    so i landed on a dry composting system, with a pee-diverter into a built wetland(cattails, frogs…shower drains there, too…no mosquito or odor problems resulted, so i suppose i did something right)
    to sell the idea to wife and boys, i cited what turned out to be abundant scientific research on the aerosolisation of shit.
    took me 4 and a half years to build this house enough to move in to…and for 3 and a half of those years—before i ever mentioned my toilet plan– i made a big damned deal out of not keeping toothbrushes in the bathroom…closing the lid when flushing, etc.
    so when it came time to reveal my plan for the composting toilet, the case was much easier to make than had i not engaged in such patient manipulation.
    now that we’re on the road so much for wife’s cancer stuff, i think about the fine mist of crap a lot,lol.
    and so does wife.
    we generally stop at the Love’s truckstop in Comfort, Texas on our way to san antone…because they have almost immaculate bathrooms(i know where all the good bathrooms are along our route, as well as in and around the south texas medical center)
    …but it still crosses the mind every time.
    i’d much rather pee on a roadside tree.

    (interestingly…and unexpectedly…all 3 of my bunch have repeatedly offered up that they don’t like using flush toilets…the “plop” that hits one’s bunghole…and with the boys, the “high water table”, as it were, where yer johnson gets wet(ugh), etc…and the idea of the poopfog from all those flushing toilets, of course…my work here is done,lol)

    it is likely prudent to doublemask…and to not linger…when using a public restroom.

    (and an aside: not doing a septic system…and all the permits, etc…(no permit needed for what i did, per state law)…saved us around $8k on the cost of this house. would have needed special dispensation for the mods required due to shape of this part of the place–this was also a selling point for wife)

    1. Samuel Conner

      Thank you, Amfortas; you are an inspiration.

      I’ve been intrigued by the Humanure Handbook since I first encountered it more than a decade ago. Interested readers can find information on slow thermal composting here and there, for example

      This line in the SOIL handbook, at page 21, caught my eye

      “According to World Health Organization standards, fecal pathogens
      are killed after one week at a sustained temperature of 122 degrees
      Fahrenheit. When collected and composted properly, human faeces
      contain no harmful organisms and is indeed an excellent way, as it
      replicates nature, to return plant nutrients to the soil”

      The ‘cycle time’ could be shortened with increased temperature.

      The thought occurs that one might be able to do this cheaply (compared with the pro-rata ‘per dump’ cost of replacing municipal ‘water-carried’ waste collection systems) with sawdust toilets using programmable home pressure cookers (the commode bucket would be the pressure cooker cooking vessel) to accelerate the composting. My 6-quart instant pot uses about 0.9 kwH, a cost of pennies, to heat 4 pounds of liquid to above 212F. The ‘hold steady’ power consumption is less than one Watt. One would have to operate at low-pressure with a modified lid to introduce air flow, which would increase the cooling and the power consumption.

      There are kitchen appliances on the market for thermally accelerated composting of food waste. I wonder if something like this might ‘catch on’ for sanitation.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i’ve got around 15 acres of pasture…so i can “afford” to tote a half full barrel of dried oak leaves and humanure out somewhere where i expect to eventually plant a tree, cover it, and leave it for a year(costs nothing but my labor).
        this is dry composting, at ambient temperatures.
        i’ve experimented with painting the barrels black, but no paint i’ve tried sticks to the plastic for very long.
        (these are 50 gallon heavy plastic barrels that used to contain a sort of industrial dish detergent)
        regardless, at the end of a year, when i tip the thing over, no humanure can be discerned in the compost.
        even when the lid(a bit of roofing tin and a tire) gets knocked askance by the wind and rain gets in.
        if you’re going to the trouble to heat the composting chamber somehow, you may as well build in a harvesting mechanism for the methane(“Natural Gas” is a marketing term)
        i should also note that our family of 4…the barrel gets half to 3/4 full after about a month, and must be changed out at that time.
        so i have 13 such barrels in constant rotation…the extra is for after excessive rain events where rain finds its way in, and i must change it out sooner.(also if a gut bug…or covid…comes through…out goes that barrel, with me in full hazmat gear)

        i should also note that i am paying attention, looking for any effects of wife’s chemo drugs…i know where i dumped which barrel

        1. Rainlover

          Good thinking, Amfortas. My chemo drugs all warn that if one is using a septic system, special procedures must be undertaken when it is time to clean it out. Yikes! Well, it is poison.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            hopefully, our inherent and endemic microbiota can deal.
            i didn’t even think about this problem until it was a done deal.
            chaos of the time, and all.
            to make up for this oversight, i pay especial attention to those little piles of dirt.
            various grasses are growing there, now, with no anomalies.
            trees come when i’m satisfied.
            likely post oaks, live oaks and quercus macrocarpa, grown in pots, from acorns

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        democrats take note.
        its better if they don’t know that they’re being manipulated.
        (too bad they no longer take my calls)

      1. anon y'mouse

        and your hairbrush.
        and your towels.
        and the shower curtain…..

        whyever did we not be truly civilized in this country and put the poo-closet in its own separate roomlet?

        1. CanCyn

          Toilet closets were a thing for while in ew houses built in the 90s. I have a friend with one. On the one hand, it is a sad little place. On the other, makes a lot of sense. In rural parts of Ontario, one often sees laundry/bathroom combined in one room. Also gross. I guess it saves on plumbing costs.

          1. anon y'mouse

            they don’t have to be sad places.

            i read that in traditional japanese architecture, the poo-room was somewhat like a mini-meditation room. often with a viewing window at just such a height as to maintain privacy but allow one to gaze into the garden.

            1. mary jensen

              The water closet or “WC” is unfortunately an endangered species here in Europe. I’ve encountered the “WC” in appartments all over the UK and Continental Europe. Just think about it: morning, toilet. Who wants to be bathing or showering or brushing one’s teeth during or after someone has ‘done their duty’ after coffee? No one. Every reason to separate the toilet from the room where one performs the ablutions. It’s a tragedy the small room is disappearing. Most were equipped with a small sink and a small window. Life being what it is. Vive the WC!!!

    2. lordkoos

      Nice work. My wife and her former husband co-owned a small cabin in the woods in the San Juan islands (where fresh water is scarce) and that was my first experience with a compost toilet. This one worked extremely well, with no odor. From what I could tell, the only thing unsustainable about it was that coco fiber (from coconuts) was used as the compost material, a local substitute would have been much better.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i collect and store as many oakleaves as i have metal trashcans with lids for.(variable)
        otherwise, it’s pine shavings.
        the oakleaves work more better…although we’ve each grabbed the odd scorpion with that feedstock.(bark scorpions= little fuckers live forever no matter how much sun the shiny cans get)
        pine shavings take a lot longer to turn to dirt.(perhaps from lack of scorpions?)
        i’m also supectful of their provenance.

        also, when you plant a tree…at least in an arid place like out here used to be…put a diaper or 5 under it. that high tech gell shit will hold water, and allow the tree to get a rootzone no matter how steady you are with the waterin.

    3. Olivier

      I guess the aerosolization occurs because of the force of the water rushing in from the tank in all directions. But flushing works purely by gravity and thus “bucket flushing”, i.e., quickly pouring the content of a large bucket into the bowl, likely creates much less aerosol. Not possible in public toilets of course but you can do this at home.

  3. Samuel Conner

    Bathroom aerosols, mucus virion coatings …

    One would think that as people realize that they’re inhaling other people’s snot and sh!t, effective face coverings would begin to look more attractive. But then I remember, … this is America, land of the free.

    The news isn’t entirely dismal. A local community development nonprofit (a good one, I think; those do still exist) is starting to distribute N95s to public school teachers and, if supplies permit, will distribute them to participants in its ‘groceries to families’ program.

    Top down isn’t working. The elites are the ‘top’, and they’re doing what tops do. But perhaps bottom up can still succeed here and there.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Someone is working really hard for theirs

          You’ve got to admire the level of commitment. I certainly don’t recall the #Resistance doing anything similar with The Orange Satan. Or maybe I missed it?

      1. Sailor Bud

        Hilariously, buying your way out of freedom is more expensive than buying your way out of any unfree tyranny that allows it. Freedom is not only not free, but giving it up isn’t either.

        Cost of citizenship renunciation for an American is a whopping $2350, naturally the most expensively priced in the world. You quite literally have to buy in to buy out.

        1. Irrational

          And they have suspended the exit interview, which you must do, because COVID! Will be interesting to see if they reinstate it. Otherwise you technically cannot renounce.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          “Cost of citizenship renunciation for an American is a whopping $235”

          frak that.
          i just seceded…and no longer consider myself a “citizen”(ha!) of texas.
          placeholder name for our 20 acre miconation is “Monsalvache”
          we’ll likely have a meeting about it some day.

          1. Sailor Bud

            Invite, please? I can bring a 1996 Steinway M and demon hands to play and teach it, will bring my own tent and bicycle, I am totally housebroken, and I don’t stink.

            I want to live in The Republic of Amfortastan, AKA Monsalvache, where I can jam the Spanish piano tunes of Montsalvatge.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Was a 19th Century Global Pandemic a Case of COVID 1.0?”

    This is the second time in the past week that I have read an article about the pandemic spreading out from Russia in the 1890s which is suspected of being a Coronavirus. IM Doc has mentioned this pandemic too a coupla times already so I assume he has read up on the subject. So here is the thing. Why were articles like this not coming out back in 2020 when they might have provided people guidance on what to expect? Did articles like this have a D Notice slapped on them or something? Sure there were articles about the great flu pandemic but not the Russian coronavirus one. Is it because the flu pandemic went for about three years – kinda – and so people might be prepared to deal with that. But that they would not be able to tolerate a Russian type one that went on for well over a decade? A repeat of the 1919 type you can ‘muddle through’ but the 1890s one you are talking about restructuring your entire society so maybe that is why.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I was under the impression that gene sequencing had provided very strong evidence that the Russian Flu was a cow coronavirus. So far as I’m aware, nobody has managed to get a live sample from any bodies from the period, as they did with Spanish Flu.

      Those questioning it in the article though reveal a very common form of implicit bias among scientists. They say that the symptoms are not specific to coronavirus, but then imply that this means it was a flu. Yet they offer no evidence whatever for the implied default assumption that somehow it had to be a flu, and its up to others to disprove this. Why not the reverse? It shows how deep the ‘if its respiratory, it must be the flu’ assumption is within the scientific community.

    2. CanCyn

      Agree that IM doc has mentioned the idea that the Russian flu was a corona virus. Here are 3 articles, 2 from 2021 and one from 2020 that seem to agree.
      It is indeed true that we are unwilling to learn from history, whether recent, near past or far past.

  5. Wukchumni

    The Battle of Billings Bridge Breach Media
    Very interesting, that!

    I’ve been hesitant to open my yap being a yank, even though my mom is a lapsed Canadian… for the culture mores are nuanced beyond my ability to relate. That said, during the ‘ssshrubery years when travelling overseas, wearing a University of Guelph t-shirt worked wonders in public relations…

    Who can take an American (who can take an American)
    Sprinkle luggage with a maple leaf or two (sprinkle it with a few)
    Cover up with subterfuge and have a toque on too?

    The Canada Man (the Canada Man)
    Oh, the Canada Man can (the Canada Man can)
    The Canada Man can ’cause he messes with their minds
    And makes the world feel good (makes the world feel good)

    Who can take a sentence (who can take a sentence?)
    And end it in an eh (end it in an eh?)
    Speak softly and carry a big schtick?

    The Canada Man (the Canada Man)
    The Canada Man can (the Canada Man can)
    The Canada Man can ’cause he messes with their minds
    And makes the world feel good (makes the world feel good)

    The Canada Man fakes everyone he takes
    Its satisfying and delicious
    Now you talk about your identity wishes
    You can hook a lot of fishes

    Oh who can take an American (who can take an American)
    Depict him differently as seen (depict him differently as seen)
    Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream?

    The Canada Man (the Canada Man)
    Oh the Canada Man can (the Canada Man can)
    The Canada Man can ’cause he messes with their minds
    And makes the world feel good (makes the world feel good)

    The Candy Man, by Sammy Davis, Jr.

  6. griffen

    Blood slave was a prolific source for these ill-advised gang types to sell onward that product. Really now, it is though someone watched the human centipede and developed a plan and business model to follow.

    Red Cross recommendation is donation every 55 or so days. I can’t imagine doing so more than 2 to 3 times a year but I’m a selfish person.

    1. Wukchumni

      There are ‘blood diamonds’ would this be ‘blood blood’?

      I got disqualified from giving blood a few years ago because I was in the UK for over a cumulative time of 6 weeks in 1980-1996 when Mad Cow disease was happening, although I visited no abattoirs-I did partake in a Wimpy burger or 6.

      1. griffen

        Honestly, stories such as this one just remind that the world still turns and the crazy still burns. Weirdness is turned up.

      2. The Questioner

        In South Florida a major hospital will not accept blood if you are vaxxed, but the Red Cross will. Anyone know why?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > In South Florida a major hospital will not accept blood if you are vaxxed, but the Red Cross will

          Link, please. At least name the hospital instead of “just asking questions.”

    2. Dave in Austin

      He was lucky. When I was in Istambul in 1967 as a bummer living on the roof of the Hotel Gulhani (sic?) for $2/ night, selling platelets was a way to get by for some (not me). But you always brought a friend. Some of the operations instead of taking the blood out, spinning down for the platelets and putting it back, would, if you blacked out, just keep on pumping. Eight pints of nice, red blood were worth a lot. Another pale body in the Golden Horn.

      Moslems in Turkey refused to give blood but bent the rules if they needed a transfusion.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “CDC wants to “give people a break” from masks, says new guidance coming”

    Inspired by the CDC’s mask guidance, Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation has announced that every Friday will now be known as a “No Seat Belt Friday” to ‘give people a break’ from having to continuously doing up their seat belt every time they climb into a car. Pete Buttigieg is quoted as saying that he expects Fridays to have an immediate impact on some car drivers and their passengers and he hopes that as people go roaring down a highway with nothing to restrain their Freedom, that people will think about him. Especially come election time.

    1. Mildred Montana

      I will never understand the problem with masks that so many people seem to have, including those in charge of public health. All one has to do is look at what has happened with the influenza virus.

      From the CDC itself:

      “September 28, 2020–May 22, 2021 in the United States, 1,675 (0.2%) of 818,939 respiratory specimens tested by U.S. clinical laboratories were positive for an influenza virus. The low level of flu activity during this past season contributed to dramatically fewer flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths compared with previous flu seasons. For comparison, during the last three seasons before the pandemic, the proportion of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza peaked between 26.2% and 30.3%….”

      From ~30% to almost zero! A total victory! In fact so total that where I live it seems the pharmaceutical companies have abandoned their annual flu vaccine campaigns. No advertisements, no pharmacies flogging it. No more money there apparently.

      Again from the CDC: “COVID-19 mitigation measures such as wearing face masks, staying home, hand washing, school closures, reduced travel, increased ventilation of indoor spaces, and physical distancing, likely contributed to the decline in 2020-2021 flu incidence, hospitalizations and deaths.”

      So why do officials and the media rarely if ever mention this important evidence that masking and other measures are effective (and cheap) ways of combatting a virus? This fact should be all over radio, television, and websites but it isn’t.

      1. juanholio

        Because in the aMEreica, all that matters is ME. If I feel I don’t need the mask, that’s the end of it.

        If admitted that by working together, we can get better results than standing alone, that would contradict generations of intense individual vs. collective propaganda that they have subjected the population to.

      2. whatmeworry

        are you presuming that the flu’s disappearance is due to mask wearing?
        of course that is one of many hypothesis to be tested but far far from certain.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Well, perhaps there will be an expensive and time-consuming RCT someday (or there has been, but I’m too lazy to do an implicit research assignment).

          In the mean time, it seems a reasonable proposition that an airborne disease can be checked by — follow me closely here — filtering the air, as with a good mask. Since the cost of wearing a mask is so low, and the potential benefits to others an one’s self so high, masking is a no-brainer, as it has been since the beginning of the pandemic.

  8. Michael Ismoe

    While the rest of you are worrying about life in the present day, our stellar legislators here in Arizona are fighting for us like it’s 1953. Taking time off from their avowed goal of making it so difficult to vote that no will be able to, Arizonans are now at the forefront of fighting the “Chinese Communists” here so you don’t have to. No siree Bob, they are determined to take us back to a simpler time, when Commies couldn’t buy land, minorities couldn’t vote and no one paid any attention to the antics of the state legislature. The real problem here is if the Chinese can’t buy land in Arizona, the who are the Saudis going to sell it to?

    1. Wukchumni

      Just as there are only tales in regards to a Florida Man and never an Ohio Man or Vermont Man story, Arizona is the country’s designated political crass-test-dummy, an odd outlier of flyover snowbirds who couldn’t afford Cali and Californian equity refugees in a blast furnace half of the year.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        The proposed law says that you cannot own land if you are a “member of the Chinese Communist Party.”

        By 2027, they will add “or the Democratic Party” because we are starting to make Idaho look normal.

  9. jimmy cc

    interesting read on the trucker convoy.

    i am reminded of a quote of Will Durants ‘ the men who control men, control the men who control machines, while the men who control money control all.’

    seems the machine men are having their say regarding the matter.

    1. clarky90

      In Canada;

      “The Virtual class can’t move the trucks. Smears alone can’t move trucks. All the towing companies in Ottawa have refused to move the trucks.”

      Also in Wellington NZ;

      “Police also appealed to tow truck operators to help, earlier saying safety concerns (!) had prevented them from taking up the task.

      However RNZ reports the real reason (finally, after much prodding) many tow truck companies did not want to get involved, was because they sympathised with the protesters.

      “There’s all different reasons being put forward, but the reason that the majority of my colleagues don’t want to put their tow trucks out there is because they are sympathetic to what’s going on in Parliament,” said Greg Cox, who owns Wellington’s Cox Heavy Salvage.”

      I am struck with an intense, and an unusually, sudden wonder! Tow truck drivers, perhaps the least admired, most despised, low-caste group of workers in NZ…….

      ….are bringing the NZ government to it’s knees…….

    2. Maritimer

      I heard an interview with a well-qualified CDN Doctor today who said that none of the Professions in Canada would stand up to the Governments, Federal and Provincial. It took independent Truckers to do what those favored, well off, privileged professions failed to do. For instance, there is not one jurist, current or retired who has spoken out about the Governments’ criminal associations.

      The Canadian Government and its Chief Injector Trudeau now call out the police to do the dirty work of criminal organizations, Pfizer, AZ and JJ. Threats, intimidation, confiscation, cangaroo courts rule the Public Health day.

      1. flora

        The professions and professional classes depend on govt licenses to make their livings. The govt may well have gone off the rails here. Me-thinks many in the professional classes are glad, and even very glad that members of the working class have stood up into the breach.

        When this is all over, I won’t condemn anyone for bad faith. I don’t know. We’re all neighbors.

        1. flora

          adding adding: the truckers galvanized this issue, imo, and I’m grateful for their action. Pols in democratic countries are very good at seeing the way the voter winds are blowing, as they say.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Chinese writers on development were always aware that open trade with more advanced economies benefited foreign capitalists but disadvantaged foreign workers. The reverse applies for the less developed partner (this is something of course that neoclassically trained trade economists would never admit).

      The other side of this of course is that ‘standing up to China’ would be good for ordinary Chinese people. China’s economy is based on ‘others’ providing the demand, while they focus on supply side measures. In other words, they suppress the ability of their own people to consume so that they can spend endlessly on infrastructure. Without the outlet of endless US demand, Beijing would have no choice but to boost domestic demand by allowing wages to rise and providing better social protections to dissuade overseeing. This would be good for everyone, except Chinese cement and steel manufacturers.

    2. lance ringquist

      thanks for the link, kuttner dares naming names, and his sorta compliments on trump will surely earn him a place on the nafta democrats radar.

      1. marku52

        I noted the other day that Mexican car assemblers got rid of their useless government union and replaced it with a real one courtesy of the Great Orange Satan renegotiating NAFTA. Something the Hollow Man Obama lied about doing.

  10. chris

    Thanks for the “reality honks back” article. That gives me some things to consider. It also makes sense in the context of other issues that have been discussed on NC. Like the inability of the elite to consider that working class people can’t choose their own level of COVID exposure risk. Or how insulated our political class is from the misery their action or inaction cause others.

    If all of reality really can be put into a post-Modernist box, then why would inconveniences like having deep ties to a neighborhood or wanting to keep a job you were good at matter? Or, for that matter, why wouldn’t you be able to change your gender based on your own self-identified choice? We’re all temporarily embarrassed self-made people who can be whatever we want to be, right? Fascinating and scary point of view to consider. Because if it’s an accurate representation of how our elites think then they have no choice but to go scorched earth against anyone who threatens their way of life. It’s an all or nothing kind of thing.

    1. Late Introvert

      This quote from the Reality Honks Back article

      “Self-driving truck startups are about to have an excellent next funding round.”

      As Lambert would say this is [yesterday’s] must read IMO.

  11. Sutter Cane

    Estimated 73% of US now immune to omicron: Is that enough?

    How can they still talk about being “immune” when we know that you can get reinfected? Multiple times!

    Enjoy those few weeks of “immunity” in between catching covid six times a year…

    1. The Rev Kev

      73% of US now immune to omicron? That would imply that about 244 million Americans have gotten Omicron. But you are right about this so-called immunity. How many of those people will still have immunity after a month or two? Obviously this type of “immunity” will be very much a moving target.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Easter is April 17th. Kaboom. More Americans will die from that then will die in Biden’s Millerite war predictions.

        1. Samuel Conner

          Give N95s for Easter.

          I have been pleasantly surprised at how receptive people in my town (it’s DJT country) have been to offers of N95s. I try to keep a few (3M 9210+, individually wrapped) with me at all times.

          But then, the people to whom I’ve been offering them are already wearing a less effective face covering. Haven’t yet tried to offer any to the people who are brazenly inhaling the 5% of the snot that gets through the N95 I’m wearing.

      2. Mikel

        Someone would have to be a complete idiot or a lying propagandist to keep throwing the word “immunity”around.

        Omnicron is just the latest most talked about variant. And people keep catching them. It should be be obvious – in addition to what research has already shown – that coronavirus antibodies are limited. A handful will be lucky to get a year’s protection from a strain but it’s been taking less than a year for a new dominant strain to be widely recognized across the globe.
        And note I said “widely recognized”.

    2. Tom Stone

      “Herd Immunity” is explicitly the plan in California.
      The Pandemic is over, and “WE” need to learn to live with it.
      Because markets.
      Go die.

      1. chris

        I know you’re being sarcastic but I think that theory and the “Reality Honks Back” article are going to collide soon. What happens when a power plant shuts down because there’s no one to run it safely? Or there’s some other large scale industrial accident that occurs because of lack of staffing due to COVID? It’s bizarre that the people who are most insulated from the effects of the restrictions are most vocal about removing them. I wonder what happens when you tell a PMC/Karen type of character that not only do they have to bag their own groceries but they have to pump their own water, clean their own house, take their own trash to the dump, and fix their own plumbing because there’s no one left who is willing or able to do it?

        1. ambrit

          The ‘problem’ goes much higher than that. The PMCs work for the Ubers. The Ubers use the PMCs as buffers between them and reality. There seems to be a nearly limitless supply of PMCs proper or PMC trainees (the Aspirational Class.) So, those making the decisions are always “by the banks of {their} own lagoon” for the most part.
          The pain must be ‘exported’ upwards.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > those making the decisions are always “by the banks of {their} own lagoon”

            So a search on Google for “by the banks” “own lagoon” yields a page-filling three links to nearby ATMs, with maps, then this, and lastly — a bit of a self-own, here — a link to the lyrics for “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” which is the first hit on DDG. Full quote:

            She came in through the bathroom window
            Protected by a silver spoon
            But now she sucks her thumb and wanders
            By the banks of her own lagoon

            Now I have to go listen. Maybe that new Beatles movie is a thing to see…

  12. Morgan Everett

    The Battle of Billings Bridge article is close to the epitome of everything that disillusioned me about left-wing politics.

    1. Geo

      Curious what you mean by this? I’ve been in a bit of a news blackout for a few weeks now so don’t know the intricacies of the convoy protest, but as a counter-protest this piece seems pretty tame. Whatever the politics, nothing about it stood out as upsetting. Is your issue that it was a mostly symbolic victory or their framing of the convoy protest as right-wing?

      Trying to catch up on the new outrages of the day so forgive my ignorance on this subject.

      1. Morgan Everett

        Ok, I will admit that my priors upfront, which are that I’m deeply hostile to a vaccine mandate, and so am more inclined to be sympathetic to the truckers than some. That said, I don’t think that is most of my problem with that protest. It’s mainly that, as someone who has historically identified with the left, it just reminds me of how useless the left is. The author is keen to state that most of the truckers are not far-right by any means, and that they have valid grievances, but with the implication that they are in danger of being pulled to the right. So in a skillful effort to win hearts and minds, this protest proceeds to attempt to blockade the truckers. Then the author goes on about how the truckers aren’t a threat to the power structure (even though Trudeau is invoking emergency powers to use against them that have never been used before as far as I’m aware), but that the left somehow is a threat, even though most of what the left seems to do at this point is protest against the latest group that establishment figures are calling fascists or racists, and then dutifully go home. Sorry for such a spiel, that article just triggered my general disillusionment.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > in a skillful effort to win hearts and minds, this protest proceeds to attempt to blockade the truckers

          It’s hard to quarrel with that analysis. Meanwhile, Big Labor remains… Big. Or at least large. Or at large. It’s dispiriting.

  13. PlutoniumKun

    Revisiting the Resilience of Chestnut Forests in Corsica: from Social-Ecological Systems Theory to Political Ecology (PDF) Ecology and Society.

    Fascinating article. It reminds me of the theory that the reason grains became the dominant crop in early prehistory is that it was easier for local lords to tax them. Tree crops are often far more reliable and productive than grains, but the longer fruiting season makes it much harder to extract a tax on the owner. So in some respects the sweet chestnuts of Corsica are a form of resistance. It would be lovely if we could plant far more food trees on public lands and parks, just to allow people to collect and graze as they wish. My local park is full of wild garlic, always fun to collect in early summer, its delicious in a stir fry.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It would be lovely if we could plant far more food trees on public lands and parks

      NC on edible forests here, here, and here.

      A real arborist may correct me, but chestnuts grow in Zones 4-8, and Maine is Zones 3-6.

      So Northern Maine, desecrated and despoiled by the Irvings’ clearcutting, could in fact be an edible forest, an Amazonia of the North. What a project that would be!

      (I wonder if anybody knows the number of humans supported per acre of chestnut forest. )

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I can’t find the link at the moment, but I remember reading assessments that tree crops like hazelnut and chestnut can provide 2-3x the calories per acre of conventional grains, and probably higher nutrients. One key problem though is that tree lifecycles are so long its much harder to develop the best strains for planting. Using clones of the best trees are fast, but that almost inevitably results in a mass die off one day as soon as the wrong pest comes along.

        As for chestnuts, the dividing line is along the Irish Sea. In warmer parts of England they grow well. A hippy friend of mine lived in a bender in a chestnut forest – he said for breakfast he simply wandered out and collected the nuts that had fallen on his home made house overnight. But they rarely fruit properly in Ireland.

      1. Carol

        Falling to her knees no longer works, and especially with that crowd.

        Kamala Harris versus Sergey Lavrov? Like pitting a cockroach against a German shepherd.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Breathtakingly stupid, even for Biden. Isn’t the White House trying to keep the EU on board?

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Dispatch From Ukraine”

    It is a pity that there are so few reporters willing to go to the Donbass and interview ordinary soldiers there. Of course once you do that, you are liable to be arrested if you go then to visit the Ukraine. There was one British guy years ago named Graham Phillips who was actually doing this. He was an Indie documentary maker who could speak Russian and his videos showed the other side of the conflict which you never hear about. Apart from a brief interview with the occasional granny living in a ruined house that is.

    Just now checked and it looks like he still has a YouTube channel which is still reporting from the Donbass-

    Sadly, like Venessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett’s work in Syria, such reporting is to be found only on the fringes.

    1. griffen

      Related article about the bomb shelters, pretty interesting. I do recall the British using their subway tunnels during WWII as shelters, so it all makes sense. Maybe it is like for a hurricane evacuation route here in the southeastern US and Atlantic coast; you don’t plan ahead to leave your second home or beach vacation, but it is ideal to know where you are going to go.

      Speaking of shelters, this track from Talking Heads rattled about in my head. Not a super fan or super devoted to the band, but they are interesting…

      1. The Rev Kev

        I’m thinking that we may have to go check out those strips clubs, errr, bomb shelters. Just to make sure that they have enough structural integrity of course. And yes, the British did use the Underground as bomb shelters in WW2. But at first the authorities tried to stop them as it was not authorized them taking shelter there. But the Londoners said ‘sod it, try and stop us’ so the authorities opened them all up as shelters.

        1. IMOR

          re: Liberal Party report on invocation of emergency:
          Even a cursory reading of Canada’s Emergencies Act
          shows that its threshol(s) wasn’t close to being met on the one bridge and reliance on it re: the Detroit bridge was questionable; further, that once invoked, there was nothing to stop provincial officials from handling/continuing to handle it themselves, apart from or in parallel with their Feds.
          The datss of initial enactment and amendment given at the link are interesting: 1985, 2002, 2003. The original emerged three years after the promulgation o f their Charter of Rights And Freedoms and Constitution Act were adopted; were the other two 9/11- and 2nd Iraq War-related?

        2. Synoia

          That was after Churchill bombed Berlin, in a successful attempt to deflect German Bombing away from Airfields to UK Cities.

  15. Sailor Bud

    DRM in printer paper: Another sterling example of how much capitalists sooooo hate big government. They never, ever use it to entrench and penalize the public in Byzantine rules and they never simply lie about their utter worship of it, its symbols, or its strongmen in all sorts of kaleidoscopic ways. They would never use it like a cudgel. Nooooo.


    Unrelated, sort of: Homelessness is getting bad around here (Western WA). They are only allowed to camp or exist, of course, in the most dire and impoverished parts of town, which means any theft they practice is always against their fellow poors.

    Yay, United States of America!
    Not at all crazy.
    Not at all into prisons, but totally and absolutely in love with liberty.
    Totally normal.
    Always so great at admitting mistakes. Oh wait, sorry. It never does, so this doesn’t matter and goes unappreciated.

    Every single rich person ever here walked into NYC with a lump of coal in his pocket and turned it into his first million dollars after working 80 hours a week and living out of his car for two years.. And of course, all these homeless people are lazy and there’s totally a job just waiting for them. Mentally gone? Nah. They could work. They just don’t want to.

    1. Screwball

      In 2018 I visited Portland for a week. My first time to the PNW. We went all over the state and a little into WA. Of all the incredible things we were able to see, what stuck out the most to me was the homeless, tent cities, soup kitchens, people living under underpasses where you literally had to walk over them to get to a store. Incredible, and so sad.

      From what I read it is worse now than it was then, not only in Portland but everywhere. How can this be in America, the richest country in the world? Well, we all know the answer to that. And we still get to vote for the scum who tell us they are going to fix this, but never do. But we keep voting for them.

      I read they cleared out a bunch of tents on the route to the Super Bowl field so the elite didn’t have to drive by the tent camps. How fricken sick is that? Those people should have to walk though those places before they sit in their 400 dollar seat, drinking their 20 dollar drink, while unmasked in a county where 5 year old kids are required to wear them, and catered to by the serfs.

      I got mine – F you, seems to be the mantra. And yesterday I read Biden wants 770 more billion for the defense budget next year. Shakes head.

      **** America – the land of the less and less free, home of the bottomless military budget. I’m glad I’m old – this place is FUBAR.

      1. Bugs

        Hey Screwball, just to keep you up to date on the real lifestyles of the rich and infamous, $400 seats are so 1995 – the cheapest seats for this year’s Super Bowl averaged around $6600. Those VIP suite comped seats were likely 20x that price for whomever paid the piper.

        Regular season tix for a game at Lambeau Field, the people’s stadium, are around $200 for the famous aluminum bleachers. If you can get them. Since we’re at peak neoliberalism, the prices vary during the run-up to the game and resellers will jack them up sky high if a game looks to be particularly exciting. When Aaron Rodgers was out with Covid, the price dropped below $200. Such is the price of stardom.

        I keep track because I like to send my pop to a game once a year. Not the Super Bowl, unfortunately.

        1. Screwball

          Thanks Bugs, I had no idea they have gotten THAT expensive. Makes it even worse I suppose. I can’t imagine paying a price like that to watch anything. Probably doesn’t show up in the CPI print either. :-)

      2. Janie

        It was that way in San Francisco ten or twelve years ago, people enjoying a nice dinner seated by a plate glass window with homeless bedded down for the night literally ten feet away, along with some stumbling mumbling people. We couldn’t take it, literally walking around the homeless and seeing diners completely ignoring their surroundings. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else, not on China, not in Thailand, not on Greece, Turkey or Egypt.

  16. Wukchumni

    All eyes are on the figure obfuscating event in Beijing as the Olympics come to an end, and although Jerome Powell has obviously been doping the numbers, he’s the one to beat.

    The home team advantage though can’t be underestimated with the host with the most, ghost cities that is.

    1. Carolinian

      Having grown weary of the announcers and the endlessly repeated commercials I avoided the Olympics last night but see young Valieva did poorly and came in fourth. Thomas Bach wants to blame it on her coach as though the IOC had nothing to do with her distress (including, indeed, why young vulnerable women are allowed to be put under such pressure).

      IMO people take sports too seriously. Fairness can be as illusory as in real life.

  17. David

    For those interested, the DW article on Mali (wrongly attributed to AFP) doesn’t contain any real surprises. The French have basically had enough.

    After the original French intervention to prevent Bamako falling, there was the opportunity to develop a domestic and regional capability to secure the North of the country and the surrounding area. In spite of financial assistance, and the involvement of the African Union, the EU and others, this didn’t happen. It didn’t happen because leaders in the region (who historically often used the Army as a power-base themselves) were frightened that a better-trained and more capable Army might decide to take power from them. So the tradition of weak and incapable Armies in the region continued, as did the tradition of relying on outside powers (usually France) to come to their aid if attacked.

    Now, the military junta which overthrew the previous military junta, which overthrew the civilian government that was in power at the time of the original intervention, has decided to play the last, venerable, card of African governments in difficulty: blame the former colonial power. This is always good for a bit of cheap applause, especially in the paranoid political culture of francophone West Africa, but it doesn’t stop the same political leaders buying plush apartments in Paris, sending their children to France to be educated and rushing there for medical treatment. The junta, and especially its head Colonel Maiga, a former Chief of the Special Forces, presumably judges that the situation in the North, if it’s not getting better, is at least not getting worse. The two main groups, one an Al Qaeda clone and the other a branch of the Islamic State, are fighting each other at the moment, so the threat to Bamako is probably less than it was. But the Wagner Group is not going to be able to hold the line if things go wrong again, and it’s doubtful if the UN Mission can be very effective without the logistic support the French are providing.

    This is one operation in Africa where other European countries are at least vaguely interested, because the IS in particular has been itching to carry out more attacks in Europe. Its supply and deployment capability was badly hurt by the loss of territory in Iraq and Syria, but they are trying to rebuild it out of the Sahel.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think it was a couple of years ago, but War Nerd made the point that the reflective western left wing assumptions that all intervention in Africa is unwelcome and neo-colonialist shouldn’t apply in Mali, where French intervention has been absolutely vital in keeping the Islamacists who spilled over from Libya at bay. Its very much a forgotten war (outside of Mali and France presumably), but I guess its inevitable that the French would not be able to keep on intervening indefinitely. But given the mess Libya is in (thanks Obama!), the prospects of Mali following it doesn’t bode well for the region.

      1. Soredemos

        France gleefully took part in the destruction of Libya. Frankly I would consider them obligated to help clean up the consequences.

        1. IMOR

          Wasn’t Mali in the currency union with Libya using the French-imposed dinar the abandonment of which was Quaddafi’s final, trigger crime against the West and esp. France?
          And European interventions in former colonies may be locally welcome, but they’re nonetheless not to be encouraged. Any more than our U.S. interventions in our current ones.

  18. Wukchumni

    I like a Covid worst case scenario as much as the next doomeratti, but we’d buckle way before it got to that stage, hopefully.

    I’ve been reading accounts of my fellow Americans driving quite erratically en route to their destination in the midst of the pandemic, and inquired of the dartful codgers who all hail from San Diego as to whether this was happening there, and they all affirmed seeing odd behavior behind the wheel.

    What are you seeing in your neck of the woods?

    1. Geo

      I live in LA so erratic driving isn’t too unusual here. I’ve said for years that one in ten LA drivers are clearly malignant narcissists who only see other vehicles as obstructions in their lives rather than vessels containing other humans.

      With that said, this pandemic seems to have exponentially accelerated the trajectory of our mass societal narcissism that Erich Fromm predicted decades ago and I wouldn’t be surprised if the rest of the country is now dealing with the same type of drivers that litter LA roads who never learned what a turn signal is, think stop signs are suggestions, leaving clearance between vehicles is an invitation to cut you off, and center turn lanes and shoulders are made to get around traffic jams.

      But, as much as I detest LA drivers, they are light years better than Dallas drivers. In Dallas it seems half the drivers are on a lazy Sunday drive and the other half are re-enacting Fast & Furious scenes.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      Checking in from suburban Chicago. Lots of poor driving to report. For example, the other day I went out at mid-day. Driving slowly (luckily) on a 2 lane street, a guy turned left directly in front of me – WHILE MAKING EYE CONTACT. I slammed the brakes and hoped the guy behind me was paying attention – he was… whew! At the very next stoplight, it seemed a driver got tired of waiting on the red and pulled a left turn against the red light – again, luckily others were paying attention and collisions were avoided.

      Don’t get me started about the freeways… Everyone seems to be either driving 20 mph over or 20 mph under the speed limit… On the other hand, driving in Chicago proper seems no different – still crazy, but I guess the rest of the area has normalized to its level of craziness.

  19. Wukchumni

    Gold in them thar hills…

    A friend called me at 7:30 this morning with an urgent plea to go take a drive on Dry Creek Drive (just off of Hwy 198 in Lemon Cove) to witness what he thinks is the best display of Golden Poppies he’s ever seen there in his 50 or so years on this good orb.

    You never know what makes flowers tick, we had 2 substantial storms in October and December, but hardly a drop since and it seems to have been what was needed for maximum over thrive.

    I’ll take photos~

  20. Wukchumni

    Book Tip: Westering Man, by Bil Gilbert.

    Drove home over Walker Pass yesterday, named for the king of the mountain men: Joseph Rutherford Walker, who discovered the only pass in the Sierra Nevada that can be utilized year round, and the road goes through cuts in the hills often, but you can easily see where he and his party of hearty souls went almost 200 years earlier, as chronicled by Zenas Leonard in 1839.—r,_and_His_Squaw_-_Walters_37194078.jpg

    Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard

  21. Mikel

    “Estimated 73% of US now immune to omicron: Is that enough?”

    Then way down in the article they admit researchers don’t know how long the protection will last.

    And it is already known that catching coronaviruses don’t provide “immunity”.
    It’s temporary antibodies. And it will be different for everyone within a range of 3-6 months. For a minority…maybe a year? That science has been done!!

    What makes a variant go away is a more dominant variant and the most that can be hoped for is that these variants continue to get weaker…and stay that way.
    But if they are now finally realizing that a late 18th Century pandemic was a coronavirus…then…
    Now that they can be looked at through the lens of improving technological tools and data collection, how many other pandemics have been misidentified?

    Throwing the word “immunity” around like it’s like the chicken pox virus needs to stop.
    The science is already in that the coronaviruses are not like catching the chicken pox. FOOLS!!!!

    And it’s about to become a not funny at all joke:
    Q: How do you you know there’s a new deadly strain of coronavirus on the rise?
    A: People are encouraged to take off masks.

  22. Bazarov

    “The Upheaval” reads like “American Conservative,’ Rod D. style hand-wringing.

    For as much as these people lionize those who live in the “material world” and work with their hands or whatever, they’re oddly reticent about analysis rooted in who actually controls the means of production. “The Upheaval” article in links today mentions “capital” only once, and in this one instance, it’s used to emphasize cultural difference. This betrays old bourgeois habits: rooting the problem in some cultural distinction–nationalist, racial, consumer, etc. as opposed to an objective class distinction vis-a-vis private property.

    For a certain faction of right wing intellectual, typified by the “American Conservative,” there’s an attempt to dress up their views in a material garb, to flirt with a Marxist analysis, but only as window dressing. In today’s “Upheaval” essay, the distinction is those who live in day-to-day physical reality vs those who live “virtually” (a distinction very familiar to NC readers in the “symbol manipulating” professional managerial class).

    However, I find the distinction inadequate without the additional–in fact, the decisive–Marxist frame. The “Upheaval” idealizes the culture of “physical” workers in the same way I see the bourgeois literature of 19th Russia idealizing the traditional peasant.

    Take, for example, my sister. She’s working class. Her job is to maintain and keep track of surgical equipment (a worker on the “assembly line” of surgery, if you will), though she is not a nurse. They refer to her as a “tech.” Anyway, very physical, on your feet, handling tools. But I know few people who live as virtual a life as she does: constantly on social and streaming media, posting and replying, intimately engaged with a social world (including the social world of the workplace!) mediated by symbol manipulation. She quite adept at it, though the symbolic content is not that preferred by the elite–here we have a difference akin to consumer taste.

    What I’m saying is this: just because one’s work is “physical” does not mean one’s life is not decidedly “virtual.” I’m reminded of the George Floyd protests–I attended several. They were full of working class people, but they were also extraordinarily self-conscious. Everyone was filming. Everyone was posting selfies on social media. Everyone was liking and re-tweeting, with one foot in the “physical reality” and another always in the virtual. Some protestors really had both feet in the virtual, oblivious to what was going on. Many ran directly into me because they were “seeing” the event literally through their phone’s screen.

    Only by aligning work type in a socially and economically integrated analytic frame does this distinction begin to bear fruit. Who is objectively serving the interests of the ownership class–those who’s “assets” accumulate capital for them? Who is objectively serving the interests of those who must work for a wage because they do not own assets that can “work” for them?

    In the end, those who live in a “virtual world” are not those steeped in symbol manipulation–it’s those who’s work-being has been abstracted from them and released like a demonic spirit to extract and accumulate wealth via capital circulation who have been truly virtualized!

    Who does the bidding of the human forms of that circulation, together constituting a ruling class? The driving question, I’m not saying I know the answer, is not whether the convoy protestors are physical workers or symbol manipulators (they’re both!), it’s whether or not their actions advance the interests of capital over those of the wage earner.

    1. jimmy cc

      i deleted my facebook account after jan 6.

      people stormed the capitol building and then….took selfies.

      i found that very strange and decided i had enough.

    2. wilroncanada

      Reminds me of visitors to Butchart Gardens, a many-splendored former quarry just outside Victoria BC. Two types of people one sees: the first is regulars, like my wife and daughter, many of whom buy yearly passes; they want to see it in all seasons. The other is casual visitors, a large proportion of whom walk behind their cellphones or tablets, viewing the whole experience through the mediation of their screens.

    3. marym

      “The driving question, I’m not saying I know the answer, is not whether the convoy protestors are physical workers or symbol manipulators (they’re both!), it’s whether or not their actions advance the interests of capital over those of the wage earner.”

      I agree that the question should be what interests are served.

      I don’t know much about Canada, but in the US the demand for ending all pandemic mandates (not just vaccinations/passports) along with the absence of demands for expanded benefits for workers has been the preferred direction of the conservative elite (with some variations) and is now the direction of the neoliberal elite as well. It’s pro-capital, with messaging filtered through different “virtual” channels of political and media elite depending on the target audience.

      1. anon y'mouse

        it may well be “pro capital”, but the system arranges it so that the workers have to go along and advocate for that as well, or they don’t get paid. that’s how it works–the slaves rely upon the health of their Masters to ensure their own health, so they pray for the continued health of those Masters.

        just like the eternal tax reform situation enables the Owners to co-opt the poors to the side that benefits said Owners because the poors can ill-afford taxes, which fall on them most heavily and who understandably fear change as always being “for the worse”.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > they’re oddly reticent about analysis rooted in who actually controls the means of production

      So, in general, are “the truckers.” This feels me with despair.

      Thank you for this insightful comment.

    1. Late Introvert

      All NC readers should read Anti-War. It’s like what you would expect wing nut libertarians to believe given they get (mostly) all of the same facts that we do, and so what to make of them? They are serious and well-read, if misguided. They would say the same about us, I suspect.

  23. allan

    Econ 100 Midterm Question Sparks Twitter Debate [Chicago Maroon]

    Bernie Sanders, rising price levels, and a real economist’s response—a “real-world” question on an Econ 100 midterm sparked debate on Twitter. After a fourth-year shared a picture of the question on February 9 on Twitter, the tweet went viral.

    The question reads: “An economist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Bernie’s favorite institution of ‘higher education’, wrote an op-ed column on December 30 arguing that to tackle our current 40-year-high bout with rising price levels (an Econ 102 topic for sure) ‘we have a powerful weapon to fight inflation: price controls.’ How would a real economist respond?”

    Senior Instructional Professor in Economics Allen Sanderson, who confirmed he wrote the question, had no idea how controversial it would prove. …

    If they listen, Sanderson is teaching the undergrads all they need to know about the discipline. Punch down.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > How would a real economist respond?

      “It is always the same operation; the judges are self-legitimized and forbid you to ask who has the right to designate the judges” –Bourdieu

      Summers pulled exactly the same move re: MMT just the other day.

      In a way, it’s a good thing that these feral academic hogs are becoming more open and noisy in their rooting and grunting; their maneuvers are becoming more visible to many, which rattles them, I think,

  24. antidlc

    Surgeon general tests positive for Covid-19

    By Sonnet Swire and Rachel Janfaza, CNN

    US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy announced Friday that he has tested positive for Covid-19.
    Murthy wrote in a long thread on Twitter that his wife and 5-year-old son were also positive for the virus and had mild symptoms. His 4-year-old daughter, who was the first in his family to test positive, is “doing ok” and has an improving fever days after he announced that she has the virus, he added.

    1. Late Introvert

      I read his public statement and it included some humility (gasp). So good for him.

      But he didn’t address how his 5-year-old got the virus, or the ventilation and masking and other protocols that might have prevented it. So family blog him.

  25. Kouros

    The TNR article concerning the massive deforestations being carried on in Romania, with Ikea at center.

    In the 1990s I worked as a forest management planner with the Romanian Institute of Forest Research and Management. Each engineer had to work every season between 1500 and 5000 ha of forests that had to have their management plans revised (area varied depending on geography).

    In Romania most forests (except some coppice allowed in flooded areas, poplar and black locust forests) have a life cycle of about 120 years and plus. Clearcuts are not allowed except in very specific circumstances (geography, species and very limited size). Definitely no clearcuts are allowed in broadleaf species. The picture showing the single, bedraggled beech tree in a clearcut, is a crime and is not legally permitted.

    But the corruption runs very deep. I was one of the first tasked to produce management plans for the newly private forests in easter Romania and I could see how the cutting was moving like a tide, day by day. my work one day was nullified by the chainsaws the next. the mayors would not cooperate. And the country’s parliament would place riders in any legislation allowing various quantities of logs to be exported. Regardless of the legislation.

    While there was little political freedom prior to 1989, the only freedom that was gained after 1990 was for capitalists and politicians to pillage. I hate it in my bone marrow and I had to leave. And I ended from the pan into the fire: Canada’s forests, especially in the west are one of the worst examples of despoliation carried by the western world capitalism in the western world.

    1. JEHR

      Deforestation is terrible in eastern Canada also. Our wood has made billionaires of the Irving family for about three generations. It is time to conserve our forests and our wild animals. Clear cutting is evident everywhere.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Deforestation is terrible in eastern Canada also. Our wood has made billionaires of the Irving family for about three generations.

        The same in Maine., Awful. They leave a thin tree line along the roads. When you get past that line, the land looks like the trenches of World War I after a bombardment.

        1. Kouros

          At the UBC Faculty of Forestry in Vancouver they have a fully immersive visual lab (big wall size screens) trying to model how to plan logging such that it is not visible from the roads: out of sight, out of mind. But if one goes to Google maps and takes a bird view, the map of BC is more spotted than a leopard skin…

    2. Basil Pesto

      If you haven’t seen it already, I’d recommend ‘Colectiv’, a very good documentary about the aftermath of the Bucharest nightclub fire

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > In the 1990s I worked as a forest management planner with the Romanian Institute of Forest Research and Management.

      Truly, the NC commentariat is the best commentariat.

  26. jax

    Blood slave is the principal reason I don’t watch horror movies. Who needs a pretend dead person when the morally dead walk the earth?

  27. lance ringquist

    thanks nafta billy!

    Ihsaan Fanusie
    Ihsaan Fanusie
    Mon, February 14, 2022, 3:42 PM

    Food prices drove much of the inflation rise in January, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And there’s no relief is in sight for consumers struggling with sky-high food expenses, says one strategist.

    “Part of the problem beyond the cost of raw materials is the packaging materials; 80% is made in mainland China, ” Strategic Resource Group Managing Director Burt Flickinger said in a recent Yahoo Finance Live segment. “And that applies to salt and snacks, cookies and crackers, all the way to sports beverages. So prices [are] high and going higher.”

    1. anon y'mouse

      this matches my experience–the “food” you buy is nearly worthless, but the packaging is incredibly overdesigned. a shrinkwrap around a box around a plastic bag. two bags for every bread loaf (how did we survive the 80s with only one?). every fillet in its own little airsealed pouch inside another glossily printed (so perhaps unrecyclable)box.

      sometimes the inserts to keep things stable in other products are designed better than the products, and will definitely last longer.

        1. anon y'mouse

          my preference would be that we mostly go back to local bakeries doing it fresh daily and putting it in a waxed paper bag, but whatinheck do i know, anyway?

          i always thought that the inner bag (which appears to be cellophane or cellophane-like) preserved the bread for transit and the outer bag preserved it for your cupboard, since breadboxes must be things of the antique realm much like rotary phones.

  28. Daryl

    > Covid-19 Medium-Term Scenarios – February 2022 SAGE

    Is it just me or is “reasonable worst-case” the situation we’re already in?

Comments are closed.