Links 2/5/2022

Ocean Researchers Capture Footage of Rare ‘Walking’ Pink Handfish in Deep Sea Coral off Coast of Tasmania EpochTimes (furzy)

Huge bank of dead fish spotted off French Atlantic coast BBC (resilc)

California subsidies for dairy cows’ biogas are a lose-lose, campaigners say Guardian (resilc). This reads like an obvious joke except it’s not…

A Lonely Universe Inference (Anthony L)

Webb Space Telescope Successfully Sees Its First Glimmer of Light Gizmodo (Kevin W)

NASA Details Its Plan for the End of the International Space Station in 2031 Universe Today. Furzy: “More privatization.”

A highly virulent variant of HIV-1 circulating in the Netherlands Science (martha r) and New HIV strain found in the Netherlands: Highly infectious variant makes people ill twice as quick Daily Mail (Kevin W). GM, based on the Science paper:

You will see that it [the variant] increased in frequency in the 1990s — the plot is weirdly done, but it looks like it was the dominant strain for a while, then went down in the 2010s

Of course after the 1990s you had much more powerful ART combinations, so everything has been suppressed and thus a bit distorted in terms of relative frequencies

The paper is notable because it is an example of a highly lethal virus (doesn’t get worse than 100%) becoming even worse.

Also, notice that this strain had 300 amino acid mutations. The whole genome is <10 kbp, so that's almost 10% of it mutated. And it's still HIV and very fit too. Now HIV is particularly notorious for its plasticity, but that shows you how much space for things to evolve there actually is when it comes to viruses. Especially if the mutation rate is really high, as it is in HIV. So throwing something like Molnupiravir at SARS-CoV-2 while allowing astronomical numbers of replication events to occur in the human population is a really really bad idea. Who knows what previously hard to reach sections of the fitness landscape we are going to unlock by making many mutations at a time with that drug? Omicron shows something like that too -- those mutations at S371, S373, and S375 baffled everyone. That region is very highly conserved in sarbecoviruses, you would have never guessed from the phylogenetic analysis that you will get a cluster of mutations there (and there is one more in BA.2). So this wasn't even a case of it exploring the usual plasticity in the largely unconstrained areas of RBD, it went into a completely unexpected direction.

Thomas Nagel · What is rude? Midgley, Murdoch, Anscombe, Foot London Review of Books (Anthony L)

Does Quantum Mechanics Reveal That Life Is But a Dream? Scientific American (Anthony L). My dreams are way better than reality so I hope so.



Um, and ~50% of total population boosted….but Israel started boosting early, and GM estimates that boosting efficacy v. Omicron is pretty kaput after 10 weeks.

I don’t understand why Leonardi is so cautious. Scientist GM said early on (as part of a cadre of scientists who talk among themselves about Covid studies and data) that Covid was expected to cause T-cell derangement and exhaustion for some, perhaps many, and I’ve been regularly giving readers the Cliff Notes version of that line of thought. But if nothing else (recall Leonardi is a T-cell expert), this confirms that we are not crazy. And our big concern is not “depleted T-cells = less robust Covid defenses,” it’s “depleted T-cells = weaker defenses against cancer” (you are growing cancers all the time but T-cells run around and normally stomp on them before they go too far):

mRNA-1273 or mRNA-Omicron boost in vaccinated macaques elicits comparable B cell expansion, neutralizing antibodies and protection against Omicron BioRxIv. GM’s assessment:

Short summary — we are not getting a Omicron-specific booster, but another WT.

“Here, nonhuman primates that received mRNA-1273 at weeks 0 and 4 were boosted at week 41 with mRNA-1273 or mRNA-Omicron. Neutralizing antibody titers against D614G were 4760 and 270 reciprocal ID50 at week 6 (peak) and week 41 (pre-boost), respectively, and 320 and 110 for Omicron. Two weeks after boost, titers against D614G and Omicron increased to 5360 and 2980, respectively, for mRNA-1273 and 2670 and 1930 for mRNA-Omicron.”

So another WT boosters gives you higher titers than an Omicron booster, including against Omicron itself.

Expect this to be spun as good news (“WT vaccines still work, no need for an update”) but it’s actually really terrible.

I wrote about this quite a few times previously regarding B.1.351/Beta — when they immunized naive mice with WT or Beta spikes, or a mixture of the two, they got much higher titers for WT in the 50-50 mix, and 20-30% higher titers against WT even with the Beta booster.

So it was not an OAS [original antigenic sin] effect, but something about the spike itself.

And with Omicron we saw from several studies now how those infected develop low antibody titers against Omicron.

So it increasingly looks like the Omicron spike is just not very immunogenic.

Which is not good news at all — the WT booster wanes in 6-9 months as it was, titers against Omicron will wane even faster, and we are back to another wave even if Omicron remains the dominant variant.

Meanwhile it could accumulate backbone mutations that will make it no longer “mild.”

P.S. This will lock in mass infection for the foreseeable future (until we get intranasal vaccines, if we ever get that).

We know that even three doses of WT Moderna don’t do all that much to stop infection, and based on these results, three doses of WT Moderna will be what we are left with (with perhaps additional doses further down the line, and hopefully Novavax does indeed achieve better somewhat better results, but it will not be a game changer).

And we see the situation in Israel now.

The virus has decisively won the first round of the fight with the vaccines, the white flag on our side has been raised…

Australia/New Zealand

‘Yelling out for help’: the atrocious conditions inside Australia’s aged care homes Guardian (Kevin W)


CDC turns to poop surveillance for future COVID monitoring ars technica. Kevin W:”Not a repost of a 2020 article.”

N95, KN95 masks provide best protection against covid, CDC study shows Washington Post (furzy). Will the CDC next study whether water is wet? And why report this now and not in 2020?


China’s Challenges Project Syndicate (David L)

US temporizing trade terms with China Asia Times (Kevin W)


‘Go down in history as one of the all time worst led political parties….’ Slugger O’Toole (PlutoniumKun)

New Cold War

Look at the map! Where are the Ukrainian military forces concentrated and where are they absent? Gilbert Doctorow. Another recent vid I found randomly that looks germane too:

Chomsky: US Approach to Ukraine and Russia Has “Left the Domain of Rational Discourse” TruthOut

A war with Russia would be unlike anything the US and NATO have ever experienced Scott Ritter, RT (guurst)

US believes in indivisible security, wants to discuss it with Russia — US diplomat TASS (guurst)

Putin arrives in Beijing for Winter Olympics with gas supply deal for China Reuters

The Year of the Tiger Starts with a Sino-Russian Bang Pepe Escobar, The Saker (Chuck L)

The Reason Putin Would Risk War Anne Applebaum, Atlantic (Kevin C). The projection, it burns, since at least the time the US (wellie along with the UK) arranged for the installation of the dictator the Shah of Iran. More recently, it was the US that sponsored the successful coup against Yanukovich….a mere six weeks before elections where his poll numbers were so low that he was assured to be defeated and there was no indication he intended to scupper the election. And before you object to the word “coup” the incoming bunch tore up the current Constitution and implemented a different one…with no democratic process.


ADL changes definition of racism RT (Kevin W)

The death of an inconvenient Palestinian Al Jazeera (resilc)

‘We’re Outraged’: Liberal U.S. Jews Feel Betrayed by New Israeli Government Haaretz. This story comes from the early 2000s, so things can only have gotten worse since then. A friend is Reform and very pro-Israel. Has >30 cousins in Israel and visits pretty regularly, like at least every other year. She and her Jewish husband adopt a boy from Thailand (and yes, bring him up in the faith; I went to his bar mitzvah). On his first trip to Israel, when they are leaving Tel Aviv (you have to go through elaborate security checks), the guard starts raking them over the coals about their then six year old, who has a perfectly proper US passport. It is immediately evident that this interrogation has nothing to do with security but with the guard’s disapproval of the adoption.

The mother explodes (she’s a negotiator and has control over her register, so she intended to make the point to everyone there, not just the dickhead). She tells him she has cousins in the Knesset (true) and if he does not stop this immediately she will get him fired. Husband is embarrassed but they are resentfully waved through.

Israel, Bahrain sign security cooperation agreement in Manama Al Jazeera Resilc: “Sad day.”


How the Establishment Functions Craig Murray (guurst)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Defiant Pentagon hides poor testing results behind phony firewall Responsible Statecraft (resilc)

Richelieu’s ghost almost solves America’s problems Asia Times (resilc). Ouch:

“Why do you think the Germans have all but dismantled their military?” continued Richelieu. “Because you Americans turned NATO into a bloated, indefensible swamp. You are as stupid as the Austrian Hapsburgs, who acquired Spain, Flanders, Naples and Sicily with clever dynastic marriages. They had twice the population of France during the Thirty Years War, and all the silver of the Indies, but France bled them dry and erased Spain for all time from the list of great powers.”

Lack of Coast Guard Icebreakers Disrupts Shipping on Great Lakes, Says Task Force qCaptain (guurst). Hhhm. When I was a kid, icebreakers didn’t get to Escanaba (the biggest iron ore shipping port on Lake Michigan) till March.


Biden Withdrawing Student Debt Appeal After Outcry Daily Poster. Sirota can take credit for this!

Why Are Biden’s Spokespeople Being All Authoritarian? Mother Jones

Biden pushes for police funding, more social workers with New York City mayor Adams Reuters


New Emails Suggest Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Was Communicating With Ron DeSantis — For Some Strange Reason Rolling Stone

North Carolina Supreme Court strikes down redistricting maps CNN (Kevin W)

Oklahoma bill would fine teachers $10k for teaching anything that contradicts religion Independent (resilc)

Democrats en déshabillé

Arkoosh drops out of Pa. Dem Senate primary Politico

GOP Clown Car

Liz Cheney Is About to Find Out How Little Clout There Is in the Greenrooms of the Republic Esquire (resilc)

National Butterfly Center closes indefinitely following threats from right-wing conspiracy theorists Texas Public Radio

Saudi Arabia Raises Asia Oil Prices as Crude Surges Bloomberg

Forget reading Thomas Piketty. Try a bit of Terry Pratchett Financial Times

Federal Job Fakery Hits Peak Balderdash The Great Recession Blog. You need to read past some hyperventiliating to get to the data and the abnormally large adjustments.

The Bezzle

A handful of NFT users are making big money off of a stealth scam. Here’s how ‘wash trading’ works Fortune (Kevin W)

Google wants schools to teach Chromebook repair classes ars technica (resilc). Ahem, how about making less breakable Chromebooks?

Social Media Backlash as WWF Uses NFTs to Raise Funds for Endangered Species EcoWatch (furzy)

Can You Own a Color? A New NFT Marketplace Is Trying To Find Out Vice (furzy)

Guillotine Watch

Gigantic Semi-Submersible Ship Transformed into Superyacht Core77 (resilc)

Class Warfare

Amazon workers in Alabama say they’re torn over historic union vote Washington Post. Um, the Bezos fish-wrapper, so discount. But the vote did fail before by a hefty margin and that alone creates an aura of defeat.

Kevin W adds: “Related article: Starbucks Is Desperately Trying To Slow A Union Campaign That’s Caught Fire HuffPost

Congressional Staffers Unionize After Viral Instagram Account Exposes Poor Working Conditions Forbes (resilc)

I confess to not having read yet. But headline suggests this is a borderline or actual hit piece on Adolph Reed, for starters by conflating liberals with “the left”. The Marxist Who Antagonizes Liberals and the Left New Yorker (furzy)

National Treasure Harpers (Anthony L). On Nicholas Cage. Have to say, he’s not a favorite of mine.

Antidote du jour. Tracie H:

Gold Koi: “She’s staring at us, do you think she’s going to feed us?”
White, Poorly-Applied-Lipsticked Koi: “No, I saw her look at the don’t-feed-‘em sign, we should move on to that little kid.”
White spotted Koi: “You go ahead, I’m sneaking up on something here.”
Gold Koi: “That’s a LEAF Spotty. Come on, let’s go.”

And a second bonus. I’ve seen several versions of this account but this one seems more comprehensive than the others…and in a very compact presentation.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Mikel

      From the thread in that tweet:

      “The “mistake” they made is just how the deaths are divided into days. The huge number of *average* deaths (averaged over a week) – now at 50 a day – is not a mistake, sadly…”

    2. Bill Carson

      I went to the ourworldindata website, where the weekly deaths in Israel are shown to be skyrocketing, and at first I couldn’t recreate the chart, but then I figured out how to show a shorter, more recent time period. Yeah, those numbers are concerning.

  1. bwilli123

    Re the atrocious conditions inside Australia’s aged care homes.
    This is a direct failing of the federal LNP government, as they fund and regulate these largely private for-profit operators. The LNP have refused to learn from the massive number of aged cares deaths in the earlier covid wave, or have implemented none of the royal commission recommendations.
    The Minister responsible for failing to act in both waves is still in the job as PM Morrison cannot afford to lose his one seat majority if he was sacked and the Minister resigned.
    The Government blunders on regardless. More reading at the following

    More deaths in aged care in one month than the whole of last year

    1. The Rev Kev

      As mentioned in that article, one of his Minsters suggested calling in the Army to provide the manpower needed to help the people in those aged care homes but Scotty from Marketing has already ruled that out. Here in Oz, aged care homes are a Federal responsibility and with an election not far away, he was probably worried that it would not be a good look for him having to use the Army to bail him out. Better just to say, like with the hospitals, that there is no problem and everybody is coping just fine.

  2. Steve H.

    > A Lonely Universe

    Imagine a far future where expansion has progressed so far that even light from other galaxies cannot be seen. Life that looks up at skies would only see stars within their own galaxy. The universe, based on all the existing evidence they had, would point toward the center of that galaxy being the center of everything in their perception of the universe.”

    1. fresno dan

      Steve H.
      February 5, 2022 at 7:30 am
      Owing to an astonishing, unique event that is even today only partially explained, about 1,800 million years ago the first eukaryote originated, a creature with a well organized nucleus and the other characteristics of “higher” organisms. From the rich world of the protists (consisting of only a single cell) there eventually originated three groups of multicellular organisms: fungi, plants and animals. But none of the millions of species of fungi and plants was able to produce intelligence.

      The animals (Metazoa) branched out in the Precambrian and Cambrian time periods to about 60 to 80 lineages (phyla). Only a single one of them, that of the chordates, led eventually to genuine intelligence. The chordates are an old and well diversified group, but only one of its numerous lineages, that of the vertebrates, eventually produced intelligence. Among the vertebrates, a whole series of groups evolved—types of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
      Again only a single lineage, that of the mammals, led to high intelligence. The mammals had a long evolutionary history which began in the Triassic Period, more than 200 million years ago, but only in the latter part of the Tertiary Period—that is, some 15 to 20 million years ago—did higher intelligence originate in one of the circa 24 orders of mammals.
      The elaboration of the brain of the hominids began less than 3 million years ago, and that of the cortex of Homo sapiens occurred only about 300,000 years ago.
      Nothing demonstrates the improbability of the origin of high intelligence better than the millions of phyletic lineages that failed to achieve it.
      I used to believe that with enough time and enough planets, there must be plenty of sentinent beings out there. Now I don’t. And even if there were, they are so far away that in the time we have left, we will never hear from them… (and EVEN if we did hear from them, they are probably more than 100 Million light years away….imagine a conversation where someone says “hello” and it takes 100 million years to say hello back…)

      1. Melba

        With the number of cell phone cameras, dash cams, surveillance cameras and satellite images out there, it’s definitive: There are no aliens, because if there were, images would have been captured.

        If aliens can make themselves invisible to light, and radar and lidar while you’re at it, then that’s why they have been able to hide?

          1. Robert Hahl

            Not so. It is evidence, if you have been looking for some and not found any. It’s just not proof of absence. Evidence is a fact that makes some proposition more or less likely. Ask any lawyer. This is how you can know that Rumsfeld was lying intentionally, and relying on the media not to point out his obvious but common error in logic.

            1. MarqueJaune

              Well, about Rumsfeld I do not know…
              but after a few years of looking for signs of ETI, few years which at the cosmic scale is not even a blink of an eye, to have the pretense that somehow we’ve found evidence (meaning facts) that there isn’t anybody or anything out there it’s a bit of stretch…
              It just reminds me of the whole idea of heliocentrism…
              If you like, I find those hasten (in my view) conclusions a bit too much antropocentric for my taste
              But, hey, what do I know?…

      2. Steve H.

        I had read the work of the year for 2020 was Unprecedented, and for 2022 I’m going with Incomprehensible. We can’t comprehend the size and age of the universe, and we couldn’t comprehend the latest Covid explosion. Richard below goes to the practical uses of imagination, and the loneliness of the long-distance relationship.

        But I find something glorifying in the likelihood of those others, and that we can speculate beyond the event horizon. If we make it, perhaps we can send messages to those who will exist when our sun is no more, for them to find when their sphere of light cannot extend beyond their perception. Rock their world, that would.

        I also learned that Comprehension comes from the same root as Prehensile, as in a monkeys tail. Working my way around that one.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        What if plants and plant communities have developed a kind of intelligence which animals cannot/will not recognize or see?

        ” It’s intelligence, Jim. But not as we know it!”

    2. Richard

      Steve H.

      Ahh, but life is but a dream as linked here before. It is but a subjective perception.

      Scientists rely on what they term the empirical, we plebs rely on what we term the existential.

      I can imagine a future, or anything, but if I cannot perceive it, and touch it with my senses, then it is only empirical – a scientists fancy, rather than existential.

      That’s what makes us human – the ability to converse ideas!

      A cold vanilla iced cream on a sunny day is far more real to me than “the unknown unknowns” of Donald Rumsfeld, or the state of the creature in Schumacher’s thought box, before he opened it.

      Anyway, I imagine that the Universe is infinite, whatever the scientists say, and that it is a foolish whim to spend substantial resources trying to to disprove that, just because someone can, when there are so many other good works to attend to, right about next door to here.

      Moreso, I wouldn’t, personaly, feel any less lonely if we discovered there were more like us in the universe, so far away that it would take light years to engage with them – with any and all respect.

      Imagination is a wonderful thing. Yet it is most useful in getting things done – like fixing the world, the only one we are sure of, and unable to escape. Our home.

      Sorry Steve, not meant for you particularly, just thought I wanted to get it out somewhere, so thanks.

        1. Richard

          Ahh, The Yellow M, and Edgar Allen Poe –

          “Thus the death of Septimus should be seen as a warning to others that science is there to help mankind in general, and not serve the tyrannical ambitions of a single individual”.

            1. MarqueJaune

              Thanks for the tune!
              Although to be honest Dark Side of the Moon it’s not my favorite Pink Floyd record…

              Anyway listening to the lyrics reminded me of a whole different tune from a lovely anarchist
              Avec le temps

              1. MarqueJaune

                Sorry for the late reply, but in my mind I had never connected Jacobs masterpiece with Allen Poe!

                Now I do!

                May you live a long and prosperous life, my friend

                1. Richard

                  MarqueJaune (Is that yellow vest?)

                  ‘Arthur’ Dent, the numpty in the TV excursion of ‘The Restaurant at The End of The Universe’ – authored by Douglas Adams.

                  Thanks so much for your best wishes, I may need them.

      1. korual

        We could say that human subjectivity is just a dream, but the universe doesn’t need humans in order to objectively exist.

        QBism and Schroedinger can’t get round the fact that all the objects in the universe were intra-acting long before we showed up. Nor could human consciousness simply pop into existence just for our convenience. The universe must contain the essential building block of consciousness that has evolved to the point at which the entities known as humans have become conscious of consciousness: human dreaming is a higher dimension of basic universal intra-action.

      2. skk

        I confess, when it comes to quantum mechanics, I belong to the “just shut up and calculate school”. Or rather first try and give a physical reality to the imaginary component ( a x square root of -1 ) of a complex number then we’ll make some headway.

        Admittedly I was taught that you can get to the quantum mechanics model using just real numbers but solving that was so cumbersome – when the elegance of complex numbers makes it all so linear and solvable. As they taught me – a simple model has a more intrinsic truth that a complex one. As in : sun as the center of the solar system is a far far simpler math model to calculate and predict with than messing around with epicycles to do so.
        As to which is “true” – well I’ll just “shut up and calculate”

      3. Soredemos

        This article reads like gibberish to me. Unless I’m missing something, some scientists are taking the fact that things are weird at the quantum level, and projecting that up to the scale at which humans actually live.

        “According to QBism, each of us constructs a set of beliefs about the world, based on our interactions with it. We constantly, implicitly, update our beliefs when we interact with relatives who refuse to get vaccinated or sensors tracking the swerve of an electron. The big reality in which we all live emerges from the collisions of all our subjective mini-realities.”

        I’m going to assume this is just a case of awkward analogy, because if I take it literally this is arguing about sociology, not science.

        Just because things are ambiguous and weird at the quantum level doesn’t really matter because things average out as you move up the size scale. I really feel there isn’t actually any existential mystery here. Obsessing over it seems like some sort of reductionist fallacy, similar to how some people are always trying to find ‘the’ secret to consciousness, apparently unable to accept the possibility that it’s the result of one or more *systems*, or how economists imagine they can explain the macroeconomy by just adding up all the microeconomic interactions.

        1. No it was not, apparently

          It is utter gibberish.

          The guy who wrote it seems to be a philosophy “expert” and doesn’t seem to be able to grasp the nature of reality at the quantum level (i.e. the “fuzziness” due to particle/wave duality and its consequence – that you can only get a probability field, not an exact location), and yes, he projects it upwards to the normal “every day” dimensions where particle level effects no longer play any role.

          He also thinks “the observer” is a (human) sentient; when in reality, it is any particle/energy wave that comes by and interacts.

          Idiots in social sciences have been doing this spiel of claiming that quantum mechanics proves/validates modernism and deconstructionism (everything is made up! / all positions are equally valid and invalid at the same time! / nothing can really be proven true!) for a while now (my earliest recollection of seeing this type of behavior is now more than 20 years old); it merely shows that they do not understand a word about it, not even at amateur level.

          And frankly, it probably shows they don’t understand a word about social sciences either – which (in as much as I’m right on this issue) is a real problem because the Alphabet agencies and Corporate do have quite a bit of actual scientific knowledge to use against the rest of us, and the university morons aren’t helping us with their banal nonsense (such as this article).

  3. cnchal

    GMA = Good Morning America

    What’s up? Killings, shootings, kidnapping and for good measure a police snuff film.

    What a country.

    1. Stillfeelinthebern

      On Trayvon Martin’s birthday, it’s hard to think about, much less watch that film.

      This “sick and tired” mom socked it to them.

      She calls them out on so many levels. Here is an outstanding local organizer.

      1. cnchal

        Integrity. “Sick and tired” mom has it. The two others in that video, presumably the mayor of Minneapolis and a high level functionary from the Minneapolis police have no clue what integrity means. Perhaps the rest of the room as well.

        GMA lacks it too. What they showed in the final second of the police snuff film was a highlighted circle with rest of the frame darkened was that the man sleeping on the couch was holding a gun, the implication being he deserved to be shot.

        Mom is right. There is going to be a coverup and whitewash. It is systemic. Policing is a shitty jawb. I wouldn’t want to do it, ruining people day in and day out, but it attracts the bullies and power trippers for the most part. The bigger the bully, the higher they go in the department. It’s the same old story. The climb up the greasy pole of status and money is won by those that stab the right back and kiss the right ass in the correct order. Psychopaths. Ruining people is fun for them.

  4. Steve H.

    Trying to follow a deer path through the thickets here…

    Do both the viruses and (some?) vaccines induce T-cell response and therefore depletion?

    Is there a test for remaining T-cell stores?

    1. Samuel Conner

      I’m wondering if there are any pluripotent autologous cells that could be stimulated to differentiate into T-cells.

      But I think that the Thymus doesn’t destroy self-reactive cells after a certain age, so maybe that’s a bad idea.

      They’re going to be writing about the CV public health fails for centuries.

      Folks, we are living through an historically significant time, if that is any comfort.

      1. ambrit

        Some of us are not going to be “living through” much of anything shortly.
        I feel like one of the troops listening to an “uplifting” spech by the “Fearless Leader.”
        “History will be made here today. You will be making it. And when you look back on this day, you will bask in the righteous glow of honour and pride.” (Sotto voice: “Alas, half of you will not live to see the Sun rise tomorrow. But, that’s how History is made.”)
        It will be a golrious victory. Feel pride in the statue someone erects in your honour. After all, they were well paid to design and build that statue. The GDP will benefit. The Economy will thrive. All will be well.
        The Jackpot is here.

        1. Wukchumni

          Was it over when the Germans bombed as Trump’s loan harbor? Hell no!

          We’re at a pitchfork in the road once upon a tine, i’ll give you that.

          i’ll also admit to a bit of despondency reading through your latest missive while simultaneously trying to throw a noose laden rope over the rafters on account of, when thankfully you ran out of words.

          1. ambrit

            “Noose laden rope;” and therein hangs a tale.
            Don’t despair. The ‘Evil Russkies’ are in the market for rope for some arcane reason. Let’s sell them some and enjoy our profits while we may.
            Plus, doubleplusgood it is that you live in a defensible position!
            Continue remaining safety adjacent!

            1. Wukchumni

              Not taking any chances, I 3D printed an old German 88, and you gotta love the flat trajectory and precise targeting capabilities.

              Now i’m only waiting on some 3D printed ammunition for it.

              1. ambrit

                From what I’ve seen in the “ammoverse,” you’ll have to ‘shell out’ some serious cash for those. I’m also told that it takes ‘brass’ to use them.
                My favourite ‘take’ on this subject: See:
                The film is about as silly as you can get, but fun in a ‘lost cause’ sense. Even back then, some people recognized how helpless people in America were feeling. Today, who knows.
                For where you are, I’d recommend perusing the tactics used in the Battle of the Kasserine Pass in 1943. Draw your conclusions and site the tube accordingly.

                  1. ambrit

                    I like the calibre of your comments.
                    This opens up the field to comment of an ‘explosive’ nature.
                    Oh, “I see you have put a new twist on that,” and, “what spin are we looking for,” etc.
                    Puns are easy, humour is hard, wit now….
                    You can start your own political party for the Heights; the ‘Breech Bloc.’ When you tell someone that “you are in our sights,” you really mean it!

                  2. The Rev Kev

                    I can see it now. Be the only person in your town with a German 88. Then, in no time at all, be the only person in your town.

            2. tegnost

              Like the wolves, beavers, and pretty much everything else, life gets exponentially better the farther away from people you are. NC is like owl hoots, birdie songs and elk bugles, you don’t have to be cooped up together to get the messages. It’s a hoot and a hootenanny.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Oklahoma bill would fine teachers $10k for teaching anything that contradicts religion”

    Has Senator Rob Standridge really thought this through? He wants people to sue teachers if they offer an opposing view from the religious beliefs held by students. OK, but which religion? Does that include hard core Muslims or Israeli Ultra-orthodox as well who have their own ideas on the place of girls in a social system? Or will his bill specify a particular religion? It will also allow censorship of books in the school library and I am sure that the next step would be to censor the materials that they can access on the internet. Was nothing learnt from the Scopes Monkey trial at all? Where is a Clarence Darrow when you need one? I have read his Wikipedia entry and going by the other bills that he has pushed, he is all about bullying people without power but as he has won two re-elections, I guess that this is what his supporters want-

    1. SufferinSuccotash

      Also, which students? What does a class do, vote on whether to approve or disapprove of a religious topic? Of course, in order to make well-informed decisions they would have to find out about the topic. The word for that is learning.

    2. jefemt

      Not to mention Native American’s ‘faiths’… OK is home to an amazing array and large number of Native American tribes and individuals.

        1. CitizenSissy

          This is tailor-made for Church of Satan, who’ll likely find a way to get involved. Senator Standridge needs to be reminded of the old saying “be careful what you wish for.”

          BTW received a FSM colander for my birthday. It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

    3. ambrit

      Oh my. A clear case of ‘grandstanding.’ This politico or his ‘handlers’ must know that such a law will be struck down quickly. It is a clear violation of the principle, central to the Constitution, of the prohibition of the “establishment of Religion.”
      Any legal upholding of such a law will be an open and shut case of ‘Rule By Theocracy.’ In other words, America will become just another Israel, or Iran.
      If history is any guide, these Christian Dominionists must be stamped flat very quickly. They are the poster children for True Believers. Lest anyone mistake my point, True Believers tend to elicit the worst outcomes. Think the Spanish Inquisition. I must say in defense of the Spanish Inquisitors that this practice was common all throughout the “Christian” world some centuries ago. Protestant Divines suffered witches to be hanged and or burnt at the stake. Travelling gangs of Inquisitors spread terror throughout the countryside in the Late Middle Ages.
      See, Ye Pythons:
      Also, “Haxan” by Christainsen, 1922. Silent with Swedish title cards: Part photoplay, part documentary.

      1. marym

        As with the TX anti-abortion bill, the remedy is civil suits. A parent/guardian can sue teachers or school staff for up to $10,000 that they have to pay with their own funds if they teach something the person suing claims is a child’s “deeply held religious belief,” which can be anything, as we’ve seen recently with the issue of masks.

        I’m not a lawyer, so what do I know? but in both cases it seems that it’s not “the state” violating a right still guaranteed by Roe, or establishing a religion. It’s a civil matter among private citizens.

        The SC didn’t stay the implementation of the TX law. At least 2 conservative judges acknowledge an issue with this approach to law enforcement. However, brows having been furrowed, they allowed the law to be implemented pending further litigation.

        “Since there are no state officials involved in the enforcement of the [TX] law, it has been difficult to bring legal challenges against anyone in particular, leaving abortion providers with few avenues to argue for the enforcement of the existing constitutional protections for abortion.”

        1. ambrit

          I have seen it argued that teachers are, by definition, servants and agents of the State. Thus, all actions by teachers when acting in their official capacity fall under the definition of “actions by the State.” A clear chain of command is present. It predominates, taking precedence over individual responsibility.
          Cases where an individual working for the State is liable are usually when said person acts against the dictates of the State.
          Complicating all of this is the doctrine of State Immunity. That’s why so many cases are brought against individuals as proxies for the State. English and American laws look to have been deliberately made obscure and capricious.
          I’m waiting for the first lawsuits against school districts claiming compensation for “lost potential earnings” resultant from inferior education. The principle has been pioneered in international economics through the provisions of various International Trade Agreements. If a corporation can sue a government for “lost earnings” due to various tax and regulatory acts, why not an individual?

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, this gives individuals to sue and sue and sue on behalf of unorthodox un-establishment religions.

          Also, if some states adopt laws like this and other states don’t, perhaps the residents of the states which don’t adopt such laws can also figure out how to redesign their own states’s economies into survival lifeboat economies. If they can make such economies sustainable, they can perhaps allow modern-minded people from the states with laws like this to come to states without laws like this.

          We can begin a big long sort of the states into a United States of Modernia and a United States of Shit Headistan. And the United States of Modernia can begin a slow steady irreversible de-coupling of their economies from the economies of the United States of Shit Headistan.

    4. Mikel

      I don’t think it’s about religion as much as it is making it impossible for public schools to operate as educational institutions.
      That’s why it is created in a way to ensure chaos.

      1. Glen


        What I keep reading is that “Schools in the state can no longer teach lessons about race that may cause “discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress to students.”

        Just a bit of a reach here, but how about MATH and SCIENCE. I seem to remember more psychological distress associated with how I was doing in those subjects. Let’s outlaw teaching THAT STUFF too.

        I continue to be amazed that we have a whole movement based on Make America Great Again. To which I ask – when was that? The 50/60s? Because obviously – not everyone did great, but for some, times were better, and one of the things that made that possible was good public education. Good practically free colleges and universities. Teaching was a good middle class job with a good retirement.

        So, public schools are now underfunded, teaching is a crap profession with many teachers looking to get out, and colleges and universities have been turned into money sucks with crap educations, all while student debt cripples a generation.

        But this law will fix it?

        1. Stillfeelinthebern

          There’s lots of psychological stress for those trying to TEACH math and science as most everyone in our society hate those subjects.

          But it is all about destroying public education.

          I find it fascinating that no one is discussing the bomb coming to Wisconsin in a few short years. Right now there is a % limit on the number of students receiving state funding (vouchers) to go to private schools. I believe it’s at 7%.

          From the state website:

          Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, the enrollment limit will increase by one percentage point in each year until the enrollment limit reaches 10 percent of the district’s prior year enrollment (2025-26). Beginning in 2026-27, no student enrollment limit would apply.

          Read that again, in 2026, ALL private school students will be paid for by state tax dollars.

          It’s about destroying institutions.

    5. Librarian Guy

      Socrates was executed for teaching the youth impiety, including possible disbelief in Zeus, etc. These anti-modernists want to prove that the Enlightenment never happened, and that their weird, primitive beliefs have the same “dominion” over Nature, animals, society and ALL that the Torah said was given to Adam. As Schiller reportedly said, “Against stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in vain”.

        1. witters

          You and Nietzsche (though he doesn’t identify Socrates and Plato)

          Twilight of the Idols:

          “Socrates’ decadence is suggested not only by the admitted wantonness and anarchy of his instincts, but also by the hypertrophy of the logical faculty and that barbed malice which distinguishes him. Nor should we forget those auditory hallucinations which, as “the daimonion of Socrates,” have been interpreted religiously. Everything in him is exaggerated, buffo, a caricature; everything is at the same time concealed, ulterior, subterranean. I seek to comprehend what idiosyncrasy begot that Socratic equation of reason, virtue, and happiness: that most bizarre of all equations which, moreover, is opposed to all the instincts of the earlier Greeks.”

  6. Samuel Conner

    This pragmatist’s interpretation of the meaning of his sensory inputs is that it’s time to stop worrying about the meaning of quantum theory and get to work on indoor seed starting.

    Awoke to a chorus of birds this AM, first time this year.

    Spring is coming.

    1. .human

      Hard to think about seed-starting with the temp barely 30 this morning and freezing rain yesterday! Sunny this AM though and I have my supplies (on The Shore in Connecticut.)

  7. Arizona Slim

    Excerpt from GM’s assessment:

    The virus has decisively won the first round of the fight with the vaccines, the white flag on our side has been raised…

    To which I say:

    Methinks it’s time to start talking about how to get healthier so our bodies can fight this and other viruses. Here’s a healthy living ad from the government of El Salvador:

    And, alas, for those who do fall ill, I think it’s time to start promoting early treatment.

    1. GM

      Methinks it’s time to start talking about how to get healthier so our bodies can fight this and other viruses

      That is exactly what our psychopathic overlords want from you.

      To frame this problem as one of personal responsibility.

      By all means, get healthier, but it is a short and easily made step from there to blaming the people with “comorbidities” themselves for their bad COVID outcomes, not the uncontrolled transmission.

      1. Watt4Bob

        That is exactly what our psychopathic overlords want from you.

        And in our current environment that is actually the easiest solution to promulgate.

        We had a full company meeting yesterday where we were told that “Covid is a wintertime illness like the flu…” and that “…everyone is going to get it.”

        They also introduced a new company “wellness program” wherein we’ll be paid $2 for every visit to the gym/Taekwondo establishment located in a nearby strip mall, that has group exercise classes.

        When I got back to my desk, there was an email telling me to grant full unfettered access to our company’s data to an AI organization that is promising God knows what in return.

        Everybody’s doing it,…

        …circling the drain.

      2. HotFlash

        Definitely the psychopathic overlords’ and overladies’ preferred solution. Unfortunately, that’s what we are down to — the cavalry is not coming. Not only that, but they are blockading the shipments of serum to Nome.

        I would really like to see Dr. Fauci’s stock portfolio for the past 50 years.

        Meanwhile, you, IM Doc, and the other members of Ms Smith’s Salon for Enquiring Minds, Covid Braintrust division, are finding, analyzing, and sharing the information we need in a decidedly grass-roots manner. Perhaps we can crowd-source or citizen-science some treatments from the commentariat? If meth can be made in a trailer, perhaps other useful, out-of-patent medications could be?

        *no direct knowledge, I just saw it on TV.

      3. anon y'mouse

        i am waiting for the “get healthier” line to come with free gym membership and full health coverage, and perhaps even a SNAP card.

        alas, i’ll be waiting a long time. but less long than i have already waited in this lifespan.

          1. The Rev Kev

            If you are going to walk a regular route, then you might want to try a “challenge.” Every time you go, try and notice something different. As an example, it might be how rain water has eroded the ground around the base of a telephone pole or how some fences are working better than others. I tried it and it teaches you to really see rather than just look and you will notice something each day that you never noticed before.

            1. ambrit

              It also keeps you alert to find the cameras around your neighborhood and work out how to disable them.
              Here, one of the big camera “resources” for the coppers are the Ring front door cameras. The coppers have some sort of deal where they have access to all the Ring cameras in town.
              Welcome to Happyville!

        1. Aumua

          Right. If that’s the line they want to push then this is how you let people know you’re serious about it and how you get them excited about health. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of dismissal.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            GM has consistently said that the pandemic, like all pandemics, is a collective problem. If you object to that, you aren’t even beginning to think this through properly.

      4. Eustachedesaintpierre

        I don’t really know if this is pertinent to the rise in HIV story, but I guess GM is the man to judge.

        I was reading an article from Christian Velot who is a French PhD in biological & medical sciences who describes himself as vaccine prudent. One of his worries was the possibility of 2 different but similar viruses merging in a phenomenon called recombinant. So I wondered whether it could be possible & found an article published by NCBI from Oct / Nov 2020 titled Use of Adenovirus type-5 vectored vaccine : A Cautionary Tale – here’s a section :

        ” The conclusion of this consensus conference warned that non-HIV vaccine trials that used similar vectors in areas of high HIV prevalence could lead to an increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition in the vaccinated population. The increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition appeared to be limited to men; a similar increase in risk was not seen in women “.

        Astra-Zeneca which is Adenovirus based was used in Holland for under 60’s until May last year when it was removed due to blood clot concerns.

          1. Eustachedesaintpierre

            If only it were that easy as particularly in Europe there is a large conflict between professionals in regard to all things Covid & while we were all starved of information at the start of the pandemic researchers are now facing a flood of it. Dr. David Wiseman PhD who has a small team trawling through publications to find those relating to Covid, reported that the volume specific to the virus is now running at around 400 per day.

      5. drumlin woodchuckles

        Our psychopathic overlords want us to die.

        If “early treatment” can save some lives now, perhaps those lives can figure out how to exterminate the psychopathic overlords “sooner or later”.

        But as long as the psychopathic overlords remain in existence and therefor in power, they will not permit the application of any policies or actions designed to reverse or even slow the spread of covid.

    2. The Rev Kev

      That’s a bloody good ad that and could be broadcast in any country and I am sure that this is the same advice that IM Doc has been giving us. But I wouldn’t say that the white flag has been raised by us yet. Here in Oz during the flu pandemic a century ago, people would put up a yellow flag outside their homes if there was infection in that home which is the same practice that infected ships use to do. Not sure if people would go along with that good idea nowadays but what I am saying is that we have not raised a white flag but more a yellow one.

      1. Pat

        That may depend on where you are.

        Here in America we are experiencing freezing temperatures in a large portion of the country, but the free part tests need to be kept above freezing to be accurate. So after deciding that cleaning surfaces and vaccines were all that were needed, not providing support for remaining home if infected and then changing the standard so that you stop isolating after five days with little or actually scientific evidence to the contrary we have pretty much guaranteed that even people who wanted to be responsible and raise that yellow flag will not be able to do so. Our betters want to let it rip.

        I hope I am reading it incorrectly, yet I find no evidence that those making systemic decisions have any interest in the health, short or long term, of the American people. I wouldn’t be surprised if yellow flags were derided and mocked and if possible banned were we to adopt their use.

        1. anon y'mouse

          your last paragraph seems to be what the “covid denialists” were (probably koch money) funded to do.

          *adjusts tin helmet chin straps

        2. Duke of Prunes

          My understanding is that the test tolerate the cold just fine. The requirement is that they need to be at room temperature-ish when you actually use them. At least that is what I saw on the local news last night.

      1. Screwball


        The very first line starts with; A Pennsylvania doctor accused of prescribing. Then next paragraph; The doctor, Edith Behr, who worked for Tower Health, was accused of writing prescriptions for the drugs, which are not approved for the prevention or treatment of Covid. Accused? What does that mean?

        “We investigated the matter and, as a result, Dr. Behr’s employment with Tower Health Medical Group has been terminated effective immediately,” the health system said in a statement on Friday.

        And later states;

        Tower Health said Dr. Behr had failed to meet the requirements, including consulting patients’ medical histories, for prescribing medications for “off-label” purposes.

        Alrighty then.

        It also mentions hydroxychloroquine is also not approved, and how Trump announced he was taking it as a preventive. Had to get that in there didn’t they. At least they didn’t call it horse paste I guess.

        1. tegnost

          Tower Health seems like a giant mess.


          any locals in that area care to comment?

          “Canyon Atlantic Partners was formed last year by RCM Healthcare Solutions, a Florida-based revenue cycle management firm”

          a what?
          Looks like a mud wrestling contest…

        2. BuyersClub

          The Annals of Dermatology and Venereology reported that in a French nursing home, all 69 residents—average age 90—and 52 staff survived a COVID-19 outbreak. As it turns out, they had all taken ivermectin for a scabies infestation. COVID decimated the surrounding community, but only seven elder home residents and four staff were affected, and all had mild illness. None required oxygen or hospitalization.

          C. Bernigaud et al., “Ivermectin benefit: from scabies to COVID-19, an example of serendipity,” Annals of Dermatology and Venereology (December, 2020),

      2. lordkoos

        Using ivermectin for Covid “can be highly dangerous,” according to the FDA.

        This is their stance on one of the safest medications in the world, that has been given to millions of children world-wide.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “NASA Details Its Plan for the End of the International Space Station in 2031”

    When the International Space Station smashes into the Pacific, it really will be the end of an era. There has already been a commercial module attached to the ISS but the corporation that sent it there went bankrupt so not really an auspicious start for commercial space stations. There are several projects to put up a commercial space station – all of them receiving NASA funding – but who knows if any of them get literally off the ground. Probably we will see more carnival rides for billionaires and I think that it is only a matter of time before the US Space Force protests that they are being crowded out of access to space by billionaires/corporations and so will need their own space station. I doubt that there will be much pure research as the focus will be research in space with commercial applications. In short, I think that it is going to be a dog’s breakfast and commercial intersests going to let us all down-

    1. Andrew

      I just hope it can remain aloft through 2031. They originally expected to de-orbit the ISS in 2016 and have been kicking the can down the, uh, orbit ever since. I certainly wouldn’t want to spend months on end in a rickety pressure vessel well past its expected lifespan. Remember the story a while ago about the unexplained hole they found in one module and the Russians were freaking out about sabotage?

    2. cgregory

      We would all benefit from the next International Space Station being located on one of the lunar poles. Much easier to maintain and operate.

      1. Paradan

        That’s gonna be an extra 4km/sec delta-v at least. So your gonna need about 3 times more rocket. Compare the launch vehicle for the crewed Dragon, or the Soyuz, to the Saturn used for the Apollo missions.

        I’m all for developing the moon, but it ain’t gonna be easy.

  9. Louis Fyne

    New Rule: only people from Russia or fluent Russian speakers can write about Russian politics.

    Literally the same people and institutions who got us into Iraq II purportedly can read the mind of Putin. These are the same people who their own arrogance and stupidity destroyed over the past 20 years the very goal which they crave—American hyperdominance.

    1. John

      But they have accomplished one thing: Russia and China are closer and more in tune with one another than ever before. To paraphrase the immortal Bugs Bunny, “Are they “maroons?”

    2. a fax machine

      Putin controls Europe’s gas so he has significant economic control. Calling the west’s bluff is easy for him to do and he is likely to win as Biden has, up to this point, only stated he will impose sanctions exclusively. A Russian invasion of Ukraine can be successful for the same reasons a Russian invasion of the Baltics and eastern Poland can also be successful: America won’t commit infantry, Germany will sabotage any serious war effort, and western/liberal Poles can be diverted/deported to Western Poland which is now the buffer state Russia and Germany have always wanted.

      China as well vis-a-vis Taiwan, if they invaded it what could the US even do? China could easily shut off exports for a few weeks, destroy American retail, and demand official recognition for a return to normal. It’s all a game of poker, both Russia and China probably have enough aces to pull something off.

      1. Pate

        In the long run who needs aces. China has the chips (largest economy) and Russia the vodka (nat gas). And it’s their poker table (Eurasia). The SWIFT Joker is wild but being hoisted on it’s own petard. What is it that Keynes said about “the long run”?

    3. Paradan

      Nuland speaks fluent Russian. Um, probably not the best source for insights into Russian politics.

      1. BillS

        Niccolò Macchiavelli warned against using angry expats as policy advisors or sources of reliable information. Nobody reads the classics anymore. **sigh**

        1. The Rev Kev

          I had forgotten that part in his book but you are quite correct and I remember reading it now. And proof of that idea is how they listened to those Iraqi exiles who told us that if we invaded their country, that we would be met with flowers.

          1. ambrit

            I believe that that was explained away as a “Noble Lie.”
            Obama’s Peace Prize was another sort of “Nobel Lie.”

  10. griffen

    Nicholas Cage article. Well there is a lot more to unpack from his career arc than I appreciated. Not terribly familiar with his earlier work in film prior to Leaving Las Vegas.

    I still channel his performance from the ridiculous spectacle “Con Air”…Cameron Powe is just here to be cool and save the day. I hesitate to distill one actor’s career to that and comparably ridiculous roles, let alone opposite an actor of such greatness like Malkovich. I’m sure the checks all cleared, though. I usually tune into the first of the National Treasure movies, it’s simple fun and Bean plays the bad guy well.

      1. griffen

        Got a good chuckle out of that, especially towards the end. I’d swear in prior discussions, there was a connection between Seagal and his good pal Vladmir Putin. Because, Russia !

    1. GramSci

      Couldn’t read past the paywall (had to cancel Harper’s once I started spending significant time in Spain), and never much liked Cage, but I have to give him a shout out for Lord of War, a movie I thought Follywood would never make.

    2. Bazarov

      I’ve always thought Nicolas Cage was a genius. There’s nothing like watching him, even in the schlocky movies he’s been forced to do to pay debts incurred from manic buying sprees, during which he acquired haunted mansions and castles.

      His presence alone can elevate a movie that has no business being remembered or making an impression into a kind of classic–take for example “Vampire’s Kiss,” featuring a truly virtuoso performance by the young Cage. He takes this ho-hum comic role (what if someone thought they were a vampire?) and turns it into a brilliant send up of Wall Street psychopathy.

      And that’s just one of his unforgettable performances. Often times, I forget entire movies, recalling only one moment where Cage does something incredible, turning an individual scene into an indelible “short film” experience. He’s probably the most original American actor working today.

      A national treasure, indeed.

      1. paul

        I would second that, what’s the difference between being very watchable and captivating?
        His recent one, Pig, was absolutely fine.

    3. lordkoos

      One of Cage’s earlier movies is a favorite of mine that I have watched more than once over the years – “Red Rock West” from 1993. A terrific thriller/mystery with a lot of flavor. Also features a great performance from Dennis Hopper as a hired assasin.

    4. paul

      That’s the way action flicks work and con air is a pretty good example of them working.
      You need a straight arrow amongst the showboating kooky criminals.

      While I think he’s a very effective actor, I’ve never seen greatness in J Malkovich, he always seems to be the same sarcastic, mincing character in everything I’ve seen…

      …..and he’s made a similar amount of STS screen fillers as Cage since B Maddoff made off with his boodle.

      1. paul

        Thinking back, con air was very much a sunlit noir, cameron poe navigating between the bad guys and the good ones, the tarnished knight.

    5. anon y'mouse

      Nic Cage has, throughout his career doing clunkers like those you’ve mentioned as well as what i call “historical PR” films like World Trade Center, Snowden and so forth that i purposefully miss. yet he’s always done enough quirky stuff to maintain his indie street cred and cult status–Valley Girl, Vampire’s Kiss, Bringing Out the Dead, etc. then there are the incredibly good but also popular 8mm, Frozen Ground, Snake Eyes.

      he has serious acting chops, and does great deadpannish comedy as well (any actor can do tragedy, which he does very well -see Leaving Las Vegas, but not all can carry comedy nor especially that strange mixture between the two that he personally does best, so that’s my test. you may choose another test). he has also done at least one of every genre out there that i can think of. most actors are stuck in some kind of mold that they can’t seem to break out of, either because industry won’t let them or because they make too much money staying inside of it or something. or lack of skill, maybe although i’m always waiting for people like Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise to prove that they can act a role in something, but both are already playing the roles of themselves and have been for awhile, so my wait will likely continue.

      if you’re into horror films, he’s been making a serious comeback lately with those–Mandy (love that director, but Beyond the Black Rainbow was better somehow), Colour out of Space (love that director, although a german version in 2010 of this story hit that creepy itch i have in my bones somewhere), Between Worlds, etc. his film list is about 5-7 movies a year, and he’s not too snobby to take money for schlock. schlock is in the eye of the beholder. National Treasure meets my bar for schlock, but for others its everything i’ve listed here which are the things that make me appreciate him. he is either seriously unafraid at being considered unpopular or out of his depth, or he’s paying off his past tax bills still, your choice. whatever it is, being unafraid makes him incredibly experienced and also able to just say “f__ it!” which is the true measure of the creative artist (i find).

      at his age, he needs to start exiting the action hero roles entirely and being more careful about the plastic surgery. already screwed up on that latter a bit too many times and started looking like a rubber head of himself for awhile.

      he’s a working man’s actor all the way. he’s “our generation’s” Jack Nicholson, and some of us really like that. also, he doesn’t do too much PR boooo$heeet and that makes me give him the final salute.

      and i don’t salute nobody.

      1. griffen

        the working man’s actor had a last name and a famous uncle. That never seems to hurt anyone here in America, America, of course.

        I really, really must differ with the opinion of “our Jack Nicholson”. I am not panning Cage and his roles, mind you, but there are much more serious minded actors to compare with Nicholson.

        I saw a piece on Jeff Daniels acting career once, on a Sunday morning show. Made me appreciate the approach that Daniels brings to his craft. Others Mileage May Vary

        1. anon y'mouse

          by “working man’s actor” i mean he treats acting is as his job. it is his job.

          he’s not sitting around waiting to give some kind of seminal, and inscrutable, performance in a too-much talked about film that will be an Oscar-mentioned “landmark” a la Daniel Day Lewis.

          he gets on with things.

          i much like Jeff Daniels as well. and Daniels can do -real- comedy, and even outright villainy (which is something i don’t think Cage has actually tried for—examples, anyone?). But Daniels is a lot more selective. he won’t be in a Con Air or a National Treasure or a Ghost Rider. so, by my own marks he can’t be for the “working man”. Daniels is not schlocky in the least.

          Nicholson also had penchant for schlock, at times. he got on with it. and we enjoyed him getting on with it. although underneath it was a lot of work, apparently.

          we all have our opinions and yours appears to be given to merely crap on mine. differing is one thing, and basically saying “you’re wrong” is another. perhaps learn the distinction, and then conversations can happen rather than attempted put-downs.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            It’s always fun when you see an action movie actor give a performance way outside their normal macho character and nail it.

            Vin Diesel is fantastic in “Find Me Guilty” which is a fine and highly entertaining movie based on a real story. They show images of the some of the real guys v. the actors who played them in closing credits.

      2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        The ending of 8mm scared the bajeezus out of me when I was a young teen. Love the scene where Phoenixs Porn Store Clerk is reading classical literature and they refer to the B.O.V.

        Con Air: “You done made friends with Cyrus the Dam Virus!!”

        The Rock with Sean Connery is one of the best action movies of all time.

        National Treasure is that generations Raiders of the Lost Ark.

        A truly great and funny and exciting actor, I say.

        Shame that he spent so much money he had to turn out all that schlock. But for every 2 bad ones, Cage puts out a decent film with a great personal performance.

        1. anon y'mouse

          i will have to watch that.

          Cruise has good selection, or his agents do. I’ve seen many of his films over the years, even without really wanting to.

          and Brad Pitt can occasionally do character work. but they always want him to play the lead.

          everyone has their strong suits.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            It’s a great movie. Ensemble cast, so Cruise is one of many actors. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly give strong performances. Film generates an amazing amount of tension without ever having any violence. I’m not keen about the deus ex machina ending but the rest of it is so good I hope you’ll forgive it.

    6. curlydan

      I might need to read the Cage book to find out more about the two films of his I enjoyed the most: Raising Arizona and Adaptation. The first by the Coen brothers and the second by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman.

      Despite those great films, I too often think of him in films like Con Air–one of the early action flicks that led to the great sea of dumba$$ action/fight movies (paging Michael Bay) that my wife likes so much :)

    1. Samuel Conner

      It’s like the Cheney/Bush era neocons … creating new realities for the rest of us to study.

      1. ambrit

        Actually, we had to read the smoke signals going up from the burning oil wells in Q8.
        What would we call that? Petromancy?

    2. Dan

      You do realize that 3 million Americans watched this the other night on Tucker Carlson’s show or on Youtube? He eviscerated Psaki.

      She’s a punchline to “What happens when you combine a Greek and a Pole”?

  11. timbers

    New Cold War (look at the map)

    “…a substantial part of the added value I seek to bring to reporting and analysis is derived from my following the Russian-language electronic and print media closely, whereas the vast majority of commentators who populate Western television news and op-ed pages only offer up synthetic, rearranged factoids and unsubstantiated claims from the reports and analysis of their peers. Investigative reporting does not exist among mainstream. Reprinting handouts from anonymous sources in high places of the Pentagon and State Department is the closest they come to daily fresh “news.”

    This is exactly what I experienced when for several months I followed South Front, beginning around the time Russia entered Syria to attack U.S/UK/Saudi/Turkish terrorists and mercenaries and such.

    South Front consistently gave a “just the facts, ma’am” account of daily combat between Syrian forces vs the “Western” funded terrorists typically going into what streets, neighborhoods, districts, hills, valleys, etc changed hands between the terrorists (“moderate rebels”) and Syria.

    Nothing in mainstream media offered such detail and with the MSM headlines and predetermined narrative, it was clear it should be ignored except to ponder what the Empire’s next moves might be.

    Citizens of U.S. and it’s entire “Western” empire would benefit greatly if Russian broadcasts were widely available not just to inform but to add perspective which would greatly lessen conflicts.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I followed a Russian military blog during the Donbass wars that at the time was translating their articles into English and it certainly was an eye-opener when you compared it with what you saw in our own media. However right now they do not want you to see any Russian sources at all. A coupla days ago Germany banned the 24-hour German-language RT DE channel which may nor have even been legal. So the Russians said ‘Hey, two can play that game’ and have just now banned the Moscow bureau of German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) so of course Berlin are screaming now like stuck pigs-

  12. griffen

    Routine repairing for chromebook classes. What isn’t to like…\sarc The chromebook I own is not particularly great nor terrible. I could not rely on this “el cheapo” option for full time or gig work. Wasn’t there a movie about 8 to 10 years ago, pairing Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson up for internships as perhaps more aged participants than their intern class counterparts?

    This is analogous to the recent link(s) about the Amazon effort to encourage / sponsor class room efforts that, pardon my sarcasm, may entrench their future workforce for the logistics and distribution network operations.

    1. Carolinian

      I have a Samsung Chromebook that is seemingly indestructible although I have had to replace the battery in that I’ve owned it for a few years. I use it for Linux, not Chrome. But they are widely used in schools because simple and inexpensive and perhaps more appropriate than expensive Macbooks.

      You do have to sign into Google to use a Chromebook in anything other than bare bones guest mode. I’m not sure how that works with students or if they are being spybotted.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        I was recently trying to get either of the two 20-somethings kids in my household to connect up to my local media server upon which is content of all kinds, hoarded over the last several decades, in order to save a few GB of internet bandwidth and maybe slip in under the monthly Comcast data cap. If they could surf locally instead of Netflix a bit more on average….no overage fees.

        So one uses a Chromebook, the other an Amazon firestick for media watching. They both have decent Win10 desktops, but those are only for gaming. So we connected them in just fine, and despite me pointing out folder after folder of local high-quality vids I had squirrelled away – matching exactly shows, series, or movies I had seen them watching in past weeks – neither really has any interest in consuming locally. ‘Meh’.

        Definitely an age-divide in this. I mean, I wander around Netflix to get my fix of K-dramas or brand new stuff….but I have a certain sense of confidence that I have years of content in a device I own and fully control. In the event of the zombie apocalypse, I’m set for shows.

        They have to login to their devices via google and/or amazon controlled auth, coprorate controlled apps, corporate controlled storage, yadayada and even still….these are Leftist-aware kids, they should know better!!!

        I backup all my content 1:1 both locally, and offsite up at the cabin, and the other night had one of my little el cheapo 5TB external drives fail. The kids assumed it was all lost, but I said not to worry – I gots all of this backed in so many places you would be surprised…..and when I asked whether they had any data they wanted to throw into my super safe backup dirs to insure was saved for posterity…..again, meh.

        “…Its all in the cloud, Uncle JacobiteInTraining, theres no need to back it up…”

        Sigh. Maybe not. I guess its time I go shake my old man fist at the Internet…. :)

        1. lordkoos

          I can’t understand why anyone uses google products, hardware or software. They seemingly track the entire internet, at least in the English-speaking world.

          I never realized how pervasive their tracking is until I installed a script blocking add-on to my browser. 95% of the sites I visit, the blocking tool shows one or more of these:

          (from this website and many others, but I keep it blocked)

          For hardware I like buying Lenovo laptops that are a few years old – rugged and dependable. Have dragged them through many travels and they don’t fail.

          1. Stillfeelinthebern

            If you sell stuff on the internet, you use Google analytics so you can know how people found you, what they view and how long they stay on your site.

            If you run a non-profit public interest website, you use Google analytics for the same reasons.

            You are not paying anyone to get this information and the information is really useful.

            As far as I know, it’s the only game in town.

            1. lordkoos

              I fully understand the uses of it, and if they are the only game in town, that is not a good thing.

              The flip side is that google knows and remembers every site you visit, what you click on, etc etc.

            2. debug

              There is an open source alternative if you run your own site. It allows you to keep your own site analytics data private. It is mature and sophisticated, in my opinion. Formerly known as Piwik, it is now Matomo, at

        2. Carolinian

          I’m very big on offline versus “the cloud.” Just look at Yves’ other post today.

          Portable USB hard drives are dirt cheap compared to the old days and in my experience very reliable.

          And having to sign in was a big reason I converted my Chromebook to Linux using :”GalliumOS” (for older Chromebooks–further development seems to be defunct). There are ways of installing Linux inside Chrome but that requires signing in and limits the kinds of USB hardware in the same way Chrome does. At any rate under Linux it’s a great notebook computer.

          1. lordkoos

            Yes indeed – “the cloud” is simply someone else’s computer. I run Linux Mint on my laptop as well.

      2. ambrit

        I always assume “spybotting.” (Love that word. Gets to the heart of the process.)
        Think of the useful data available from several million school age children’s use of the tablets. Then think of the malign uses such data can be put to in the “influence” sphere online. Control what the young are exposed to for hours each day and you begin to see an “organic” authoritarian system. It’s like the opening sequence to the old television show, “The Outer Limits.”
        See, the show intro:

        1. newcatty

          Control their minds and you control their perceptions of everything. This includes “Leftist-aware” kids. It includes gaming. Another outcome of the internet is that for many kids, starting in middle school, through high school any subject that requires research is often reguritated from surfing. This means that research is funneled through what is on the net. It also discourages the learning experience of actually going to the out of date repository of information, a library. I am not going to say this observation applies to all kids. I am looking at this from the lense of the state of public education, as it is and its direction for the immediate future. There is no escape. Unless, people wake up ( be woke, sorry couldn’t resist). A neat explanation for the invention of the internet comes from a native American woman, who wrote it to an acquaintance in their email chats. “The internet was created by Spider Woman. It was created to bring knowledge to the peoples of the world. Like anything created by humans, it can be used for good or evil. “. I will join you in shaking my old woman fist.

          1. ambrit

            I’m there with you. Just make sure that your “old woman fist” is holding a scalp knife.
            That would be wizzard. A guillotine in the town square festooned with scalps.

            1. newcatty

              My scalping days are long gone. I hold my humble pen in my hand, now. Uh, my fingers dance across my keyboard. How about a guillotine in town courthouse plaza festooned with pens, captured computers, tablets and smart phones?

  13. Safety First

    More recently, it was the US that sponsored the successful coup against Yanukovich….a mere six weeks before elections where his poll numbers were so low that he was assured to be defeated and there was no indication he intended to scupper the election.

    Minor correction. Yanukovich, the country’s democratically elected president, had agreed to step down before the end of his term, which would then trigger new elections that he was sure to lose. This agreement was in writing, with Germany, Russia and the US in the room, though I think only Germany “co-signed”. The next day after the agreement was signed and announced, the US decided “**** the EU” (hashtag VickieNulandIsAPrat) and backed the coup, which in turn triggered the chain of events that led to the present predicament.

    I find it endlessly fascinating that for the entire period of the Trump presidency Russia, we are told, had absolutely no inclination of invading Ukraine, yet when the same guy that chaired the coup and the aftermath back in 2014 made it back into the White House, those evil Russians immediately began to escalate the situation. Trump really must have been a Russian agent, it looks like.

    As well, note that the Russian invasion has been “imminent” for at least two months running now. Anyone know the record for longest imminent-but-not-actually-happening invasions in history?

    Oh – and someone please do track down the story about Bloomberg putting up a headline “Russia Invades Ukraine”, then scrubbing it. I wonder if it were just a headline or they had an actual story attached.

    1. Watt4Bob

      About that Bloomberg headline;

      You really should be careful about the instructions you give to interns.

    2. Samuel Conner

      I wonder how much maskirovka is going on. USgovtians should know that ‘what we see the Rs preparing for may be a distraction from what is actually being prepared.’

      I recall reading old (pre ’90s, before Soviet archives became more accessible to Western historians) histories of “The War in the East” that German signals intelligence people were continually spooked by the sheer number of Soviet formations they were identifying based on radio intercepts. It was hard to determine where the actual next moves would take place.

    3. Louis Fyne

      Much like “Mad Libs”, Media has pre-written stories about various items (notably obituaries of famous people) with fill-in blanks.

      Apparently inadvertently Bloomberg marked as “live” a boilerplate article about Russian invasion.

      “Dewey Beats Truman” on steroids.

  14. Michael Ismoe

    Another way to get the covid rate down is to mail out a bunch of tests that don’t work. The gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Thank God it doesn’t get cold in January in the Northern Hemispere.

    At-home Covid tests sent out by Biden administration might not work because they could FREEZE after delivery and need to be stored in over-35-degree temperature

    1. Lemmy Caution

      I ordered my 4 free tests 2 weeks ago.

      The good news: They arrived in less than the advertised 7-10 days.

      The bad news: They sat in the mailbox for several hours in 18 degree temperatures.

    2. aletheia33

      but they won’t freeze during shipment?
      …asking for myself and my 89yo beloved, clinging to each other for warmth up here in the north.

    3. Screwball

      I ordered mine on Jan 18th. Nothing yet. Curious to see if they are, as some have reported, made in China.

    4. Duke of Prunes

      I don’t know… as I wrote above, the local news last night said the tests aren’t damaging by the cold, but only must be room temperature-ish upon using. Who to believe?

  15. Carolinian

    re New Cold War or perhaps Imperial Collapse Watch–interesting opening ceremony on TV last night with the festivities preaching Peace and the NBC announcers at pains to let us know what we should really feel about China and their alleged (my word not theirs) genocide. The music during the parade of athletes was so loud you had to suspect it was intended to drown out the commentator yammer.

    At least now the coverage will settle down and drop the Battle Between Nations. Oh wait…..

    1. Wukchumni

      In lieu of events nobody really does (were any of you on high school skeleton or luge teams?) where mostly it’s about sticking the landing on frozen water…

      Why not the War Olympics… 2 weeks of pageantry and kicking ass, not necessarily in that order.

      Each country fields an army of exactly the same compliment of soldiers as there were athletes in other Olympic games, with corporate sponsors (‘Raytheon is proud to support the War Olympics’. etc.) and daily death counts, in ’round’ robin competition. Plans are underway to resurrect Jim McKay to provide commentary, and some progress has been made.

      1. John

        Hunger Games kinda did this at much smaller scale. Large armies might be kinda fun. I’m certain Amazon Prime or Disney could work something up.

      2. Swamp Yankee

        The soldiers in ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT propose something like this. I think it’s a boxing ring, though, with various Kings, Ministers, Presidents, Generals, Admirals, etc., representing the different countries.

        1. The Rev Kev

          If you get a chance, you might want to read the sequel to “All Quiet on the Western Front” which is called “The Way Back” and deals with the soldiers of the same company in the first novel as they return to a Germany that they no longer fit in.

          1. ambrit

            I’ll add his book, “The Three Comrades” about post WW-1 Germany. It is beginning to look prophetic.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      Plentiful CIA talking points on display last night. There was even a segment explaining how China was “good” when hosting the summer games, but now they’re “bad”. I wasn’t paying close attention as I didn’t want to risk brainwashing, but somehow the summer games were about “the people”, but these games are about the dirty, lowdown commie goberment.

  16. dftbs

    Good to see his Red Eminence has an honest grasp of the global situation. Particularly the not often mentioned insight regarding US inflation and Chinese control thereof. Alas there are no corporeal Mazarins in the West to follow this advice. I fear in the future we’ll see the US armed forces deal with more internal matters like La Rochelle, than Rocroi-like adventures in Crimea or Taiwan.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Lack of Coast Guard Icebreakers Disrupts Shipping on Great Lakes, Says Task Force”

    I can’t help but think that the US Coast Guard is being abused as an organizational by being sent to other coasts to patrol like in the East China Seas and the Arabian Gulf. They should be concentrating on the US coastline and having less Cutters and more ice-breakers which the US has very few of. Really only one at the moment. I know that they are designated as one of the six armed forces but I think that with climate change already here, their services will really be needed in their home waters and maybe with flood rescue as well along flooded rivers. They would be the ideal organization to undertake such missions. And certainly with the polar cap retreating, their services will be needed there.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Don’t forget that Mayo Pete runs the Coast Guard. I’m surprised – based on his performance during the Iowa caucus – that he’s not an admiral by now. Would it be too snarky to ask that Pete dress up like every one of the Village People before he runs for president again? Trudeau would do it once he got out of Biden’s basement in Delaware.

      1. urblintz

        Butti don’t need no costume to be identified as a clown. Alas, the chuckles he provides derive from the very dark humor of his peter-principled climb to the top of the trash heap.

        1. Wukchumni

          My complete collection of 5 Port Apostle Pete action figures was on display in the foyer as a place of honor and a guy who had formerly been a Fuller Brush man came along with a very lucrative offer and made an NFT of the collection and requested that I destroy them all, thus insuring the authenticity of the NFT.

          Capitalism, you can’t stop it… you can only hope to contain it.

      2. lordkoos

        It’s stunning that the Dems have promoted losers with so few qualifications to such high offices – Mayor Pete and Kamala Harris are both in posts that are above their pay grade IMO. This kind of thing is not surprising in the case of ambassadors and the like, but head of transportation, that was once a job that required some expertise in the field.

        1. witters

          but head of transportation, that was once a job that required some expertise in the field

          These days, I’m told, Leadership is a matter of “generic skills” centred on the “Big Picture”/”Bottom Line.”

  18. timbers

    Federal Job Fakery Hits Peak Balderdash The Great Recession Blog.

    The Fed is not going to tighten except briefly and very little. That’s why they are only now taking the smallest of baby steps so very far into a recovery that it’s really not a recovery anymore but probably already the beginning of a recession.

    The Fed knows QE and eternal ZIRP makes themselves richer. And they know it makes their friends and Congress and the rich, richer. Their insider trading stock portfolios and assets all inflate and so does Congress’ and their rich friends. No QE and ZIRP, no free inflated assets to make them all richer by reducing the value of work, taking the value workers make with their labor, and giving it to themselves via inflated assets.

    So, the BLS turning really bad job numbers into good looking job gains lets the Fed do a cursory “tightening” so when the BLS starts reporting “bad” job data, the Fed can say they are data dependent and thus must resume QE and eternal ZIRP once again.

    I’d be surprised if the Fed gets in more than 3 teeny tiny rate increases. And it will invent a pretext for another robust round of QE.

    1. jefemt

      There’s a vanity plate in that!


      Who is Eva, and what’s a Zirp? I wonder if, “Dancing with the Master Chef’s” has a new episode tonight?

      My neighbor had a plate that took me 20 years to groc:

      NO MSG (I way overthought it, and worried on Asian restaurants and flavor enhancements)
      Hint: imagine checking your voicemail…

    2. griffen

      I read through a few related articles, and did find a little bit of pessimism to report (quotes are shown below). I am not diving into the cesspool of those revisions, which were incredibly huge but they happen once per year. That said, it’s hardly an encouraging signal from a bureau in charge of the statistics.

      Two varying viewpoints, quoting from a CNBC summary.
      “Kathy Jones, chief fixed income strategist at Schwab: ‘it’s hard to find a weak spot…'”
      “Ian Sheperdson, chief economist at Pantheon Economics. ‘it’s very tempting to argue that with this data..all danger of Omicron has passed…We’re a bit more cautious than that…'”

  19. The Rev Kev

    “China’s Challenges”

    George Soros does not say it in this article but he recently called for – wait for it – regime change in China after calling China the “world’s most powerful authoritarian state” and “the greatest threat that open societies face today.” He said that if Xi was removed, that “This would remove the greatest threat that open societies face today and they should do everything within their power to encourage China to move in the desired direction.” I think that he is just sore that he cannot get access to the hundreds of billions of dollars that he would get by looting China and at 91, he is rapidly running out of time. Sorry but this guy is a relic of the 20th century. He divides the world into open societies a closed societies while he tries to make the world into the former. But it his freedom-loving open societies that are imposing mandatory vaccinations and are sidelining the very concept of democracy. In short , he has gone past his use by date-

    But in a bit of good news, Steven Donziger has finally had his tracking ankle bracelet saw off and now has only to wait to April 25th to be free-

    1. Carolinian

      the greatest threat

      Wait….thought that was Putin. Putin looked bored last night until the ROCs came out. Perhaps the Olympic Committee’s greatest crime was banning the Russian flag and therefore their great national anthem.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I didn’t watch, but I think looking bored is just his default look when dealing with translations. He speaks German and always looked to me different with Merkel than anyone else at least on an international level, much more upbeat and natural.

  20. Questa Nota

    Murray’s article reminds one that there is much cross-fertilization with and among cousins across the pond. Some say cousin marriage leads to inbred, or genetic problems. That Hapsburg Jaw has company, the OxIvy Brain.

  21. Tom Stone

    Here in the bright blue State of California with a Governor who campaigned on the promise of single payer healthcare (It got him the vital endorsement of the National Nurses Union) and a veto proof Dem Supermajority in the State legislature what happened when a single payer bill (AB1400) was introduced by Rep Ash?
    Talk about a slam dunk,EVERY Dem politician in California from the Governor down is officially in favor of single payer health care.
    They’ve been “Fighting for” single payer with all the energy they could spare from their struggle with the evil orange man for years.
    And here it is, right there.
    Single payer for ALL Californians and all it takes is bringing it to a vote.
    A Victory for the Party of the People that will never be forgotten as California leads the Nation to a glorious future of health and prosperity!

    Oh, wait.

      1. newcatty

        Now most times a Dem says fighting for, a concrete benefit falls. It is doublespeak. Like most of MSM. Real meaning is Fighting Against. When CA is lost, so goes the country . Didn’t it used to be CA leads the nation!

  22. ProNewerDeal

    I admit my guesstimate about the Omicron 2022-Jan wave in the USA was WRONG.

    About iirc Jan10, ICU beds in each of the IL regions were under 10% available. 1 South Suburban region had like 6 beds left. Meanwhile the 7-day average of cases was increasing 25%+ over a week prior.

    I predicted the ICU beds would be overloaded. I predicted a Billionaire, politician, or celebrity themselves or under-40 family member would die of a car accident that would’ve otherwise lived had an ICU bed been available. The local media would heavily cover this story. Then Gov Prikster would do 2020-style semi-serious lockdown for at least 14 days when only “Essential” businesses like groceries and medical offices remain open.

    I was completely incorrect. Unlike MSM & Fake-Indy pundits like TYT/Cenk Uygur, I admit that my prediction was incorrect.

    I am baffled as to how the case numbers crashed, seemingly without much change in increasing NPI measures. The only change was that Cook county required vaccination cards at bars/restaurants/gyms. Indoor masks had been required in IL in indoor retail & workplaces, but that was the status quo case from before Omnicron. Perhaps if say half the population were indeed Omicron-infected, but asymptomatic (who might still experience Longer Organ damage/T-Cell Depletion but won’t know this for years).

    1. Jen

      How many beds have been eliminated by consolidations, profit taking and P.E. takeovers of hospitals?

      Would be interesting to see a chart of “Hospital Beds Per 100,000 population 2000 to 2021,” before throwing around bed occupancy alarms.

      And on top of that, how many hospital staff have been fired/quit because of their refusal to have unproven vaccines injected into them?

  23. KD

    China’s Challenge: In an “open society” the State exists to protect the rights of individuals, particularly hyper-wealthy individuals with large ownership stakes in a set of financialized cartels. In other words, the State is a tool of the cartels, and the politicians are a set of telegenic clowns there to do the bidding of corporate lobbyists and big donors.

    The State, in its efforts to protect the rights of individuals (all individuals are equal. . .) has decided the best course of action is to maximize the return on investment for the cartels. This return has been boosted through “globalization,” essentially using offshoring and immigration to exploit global labor arbitrage, combined with financializations and “privatization” of formerly public infrastructure in to rent-seeking grifts. The effect in the U.S. has been deindustrialization, stagnant wages, loss in social cohesion, and pronounced income inequality, in addition to deaths of despair, falling life expectancies, and declining fertility (don’t stop thinking about tomorrow). This has radically undermined social stability, even largely in an aging population that is pretty soft and compliant from an international perspective.

    On the other hand, for nations like China, massive industrialization and rising living standards have increased their hard power, and for petro-rich nations like Russia, have insured economic demand for energy, so they have been able to reinvigorate their State capacity. China is authoritarian, e.g. the capitalists are the tools of the State, not vice versa, and China has used the State to increase its power–not the kind of invisible magic power you read about in the NYT or your graduate seminar–but the real power, the ability to project force. There has been a nice exchange: “individuals” in America have had massive returns on investment and become fantastically wealthy, and the only cost has been a steep decline in America’s relative power and a steep increase in China’s relative power.

    But now the Open Society faces a challenge: China is on a short path to having greater relative power than the United States, and will be able to increasingly dictate the terms of the international order. Individuals will have nothing to sell to China anymore in exchange for their high returns on investment. Further, China will seek to make them tools of the CCP, starting with the imposition censorship standards on mutlinational corporations, and that is only the first step. Will “individuals” want to sit out of a rapidly growing economy of 1.3 billion consumers, while it sucks more and more other nations into its trade system? If you think like an individual, it would clearly be a crime to miss out.

    Individuals have two problems. All they know how to do is build rent-seeking cartels, they don’t know how to build an economy based on shared prosperity anymore, and they do not understand hard power, and probably to actually improve it would require a resort to the N___ word, and the world might have to have borders once again and industrial policies. That sounds like the end of the “Open Society”.

    In addition, while the State is the tool of “individuals”, individuals remain de-centralized and there is no means for “individuals” to centralize decision-making so that the “Open Society” can respond quickly and decisively to its enemies. Even if it could, what do its decision-makers know about how the world really works, outside of setting up rent-seeking grifts? Further, the State is structured as a vetocracy to make sure that nothing gets through it and out the other end that could threaten the power of the cartels. It can’t make decisions, and it can’t implement them, and if it tries, the “individuals” who’s interests are mildly threatened will get their friends to filibuster or overturn the decision in the courts to protect their rights. Can it survive? How long can it survive?

  24. griffen

    Backlash against the WWF UK issuing NFT to raise money for endangered species. There is the delicious irony, one could surmise, of the energy usage / NFT are supported by a blockchain. However, per the UK organization they are utilizing a blockchain called Polygon that is, per the article, less energy intensive.

    Nearly every day I’ve found out something new about bitcoin, crypto, NFT, etc… So please keep these informative articles coming!

  25. juneau

    “I don’t understand why Leonardi is so cautious”. That’s a good question.
    I have followed his twitter thread closely since I saw NC post his twitter feed. He became distressed when his colleagues and other tweeters descended on him and harangued him, accusing him of being too junior, not a real PhD with his own lab, and basically out of his depth. He took it to heart despite encouragement from many and knowing he is correct.
    I suspect they got to him on an emotional level. I think it’s tough being a junior scientist and getting attacked by senior people.

    1. anon y'mouse

      sounds like how the vaunted PMC keep their own in line.

      being crapped on and “capped on” using 30dollar words.

      that and the infamous “you can only refine what your betters have been writing during the last 5 years” and the “we don’t publish a PhD which openly contradicts anyone from our school” (my mother in law had this rule spelled out to her at UCBerkeley) and of course the ever present “you’ll never work in this town again”/consigned to kooksville implications.

      someone should tell him he’s got a mini “fan club” (if NC can ever be described as such) here.

      1. Juneau

        I agree, it is like they are pointing a gun to his head to shut him up. I posted to let him know about NC’s coverage of his work. He deserves support.

  26. Mikel

    “A highly virulent variant of HIV-1 circulating in the Netherlands”

    “Had VB individuals not started treatment earlier than others, lower CD4 counts at treatment initiation would have been expected, potentially causing increased morbidity and mortality (25). This information could be relevant if VB or variants like it are found in settings with less widespread availability of HIV care…”

    Good thing the USA got its healthcare system together while dealing with Covid…

    1. Wukchumni

      European silver Talers (Dollar sized coins) of the 1500’s to 1900’s typically had the emperor, ruler or grand poobah from the shoulders or neck up on them, and a lot of times leaders took liberties to look better on money than in person, but they couldn’t do much for Emperor Leopold of the Holy Roman Empire after all that inbreeding, and he earned the title of ‘Leopold the Hogmouth’ and is still known by that sobriquet over 3 centuries later.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Geneticist Eugene McCarthy might offer an alternative interpretation of that — simply ‘reversion to type.’

  27. lyman alpha blob

    RE: The Marxist Who Antagonizes Liberals and the Left

    It’s actually a pretty good distillation of Reed’s ideas, it does let him distinguish the left from liberals, and it speaks to the need for the Democrat party to provide concrete material benefits (that phrase is used in the piece) so I wouldn’t call it a hit piece.

    A quote from Reed –

    “….But racism is less and less capable of explaining manifest inequalities between Blacks and whites.” Liberals, he said, wanted it both ways. “It’s a common refrain: ‘I know race is a social construction, but—’ ” Reed said. “Well, there’s no ‘but.’ It’s either a unicorn or it’s not a fucking unicorn.”

    The main issue I had with the article was the author’s facile understanding of current politics when he mildly tries to take Reed to task in the wrap up, while showcasing his own PMC bona fides –

    Reed did not mention that these developments—that his ideological enemies in the Administration were pushing large amounts of social spending in the domestic sphere and retreat from forever wars overseas—might count, from another perspective, as a left-wing victory.

    Sounds like he turned off the news after the US retreat from Afghanistan and has missed all the ensuing sabre rattling against Russia over Ukraine and the concomitant drooling by defense contractor CEOs. That, and the fact that Biden still owes everybody $600 bucks.

    1. tegnost

      pushing large amounts of social spending in the domestic sphere and retreat from forever wars overseas
      fighting for something they failed to get, and has the author ever heard of ukraine? yeesh.
      although I must say that my True Believer, blue edition friends think that russia is the one who wants the war.

      1. Harold

        Maybe editorial additions? I don’t know. I quit reading the New Yorker because of their editorial stances.

    2. Basil Pesto

      heh. Reed is a superb rhetorician and writer; had he been allowed the last word or any form of editorial control, he would run rings around arguments this specious.

  28. fresno dan

    But I don’t think he’s motivated primarily by ambition. He knows this argument is a loser with rank-and-file Republicans and that Trump will attack him for it. Typically, if you want to be president, you don’t say stuff that’s sure to antagonize your base.

    I prefer the Occam’s Razor explanation: He’s reached the end of his patience with Trump’s endless caterwauling about the election and January 6. Bad enough that a Trump-inspired mob would have come after him that day in the Capitol chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” but Trump clearly feels no remorse about it and continues to insist that he was the ultimate victim. If only Pence had found the “courage” to do the incredibly stupid, illegal, and country-destroying thing Trump wanted him to do, everything would have been fine. Pence is finally fed up.
    Yesterday NC had a post about Mcconnell disagreeing with Trump about pardoning Jan 6 rioters and I posted about Graham saying the same thing. Now, I critique the US all the time, but at some point, the repubs have to decide if they truly want to destroy the semblance of representative government that we now have.
    AND to good not to quote:
    Mitt Romney, who’s part of the effort in the Senate to overhaul the Electoral Count Act and prevent another January 6, stated the problem succinctly recently: “For Republicans, the question is: Do you want Kamala Harris feeling she can decide who the next president is?” It’s beyond idiotic.

    Of course, MAGA partisans would say ONLY repub vice presidents can decertify elections…cause…

    1. cpm

      He’s making a bet that Trump will be crippled before next election.
      It’s a bad bet as Pence will never be President, but maybe he’s been promised something else…by Mitch and the boys
      He’s a sacrificed Pawn.

    1. Carla

      No idea. But I must say, the wolves are a MOST welcome antidote to today’s Links. Many thanks to Yves for sharing the video in any case.

        1. Even keel

          Aldo Leopoldo. Thinking like a mountain. In the 1920s.

          But this video makes it so real, in a way I’d forgotten.

          Many thanks for it!

  29. lyman alpha blob

    RE: dairy cow biogas

    This would seem to be yet another problem of scaled up industrial agriculture. My family milks 60 head, soon to be fewer. They have never had a manure problem as far as I know. It’s spread on the fields as fertilizer which helps the grass grow which is later fed to the cows. Hakuna matata.

    1. Wukchumni

      Bumper sticker you see on occasion affixed to the rear echelon…

      ‘Dairying Is Not A Crime!’

      There seem to be around 759 range cattle in the CVBB and about a million Bessies all in CAFO dirt setups in tight quarters, where sometimes just 10 feet past the fence there’ll be a strip of grass-just to {family blog} with them, because they are never going to ingest a blade, not in this lifetime anyhow.

      A good deal of what they produce is turned into milk powder and trucked to San Pedro en route to China.

  30. Jason Boxman

    So with the new telescope and the end of ISS in the not too distant future, it just occurred to me that what we really need is one of those danger beacons, broadcasting on every frequency that this is a proscribed planet that must be avoided at all costs, sort of like in Star Trek IV. Because, well, seriously.

    In the Earl Dumarest SciFi series by E.C. Tubb, the protagonist is trying to get back home, but all record of Earth has been entirely erased. It had suffered some kind of catastrophe…

  31. paul

    RE: A handful of NFT users are making big money off of a stealth scam. Here’s how ‘wash trading’ works

    Funniest line has to be:

    “Because there is a lack of regulation in the NFT industry

    I thought the battle hymn of these bold(© matt damon) new industrialists was “no regulation for the nation”.

    1. newcatty

      It has come to pass, the brave new world. To the bold go the gold (whether by hooks, crooks or new captains of industry). The let er rip solution is a therefore logical strategy of PTB. Not just Covid.

  32. John Beech

    I remember . . .
    Trump stating his campaign was spied on. Everybody laughed.
    Trump stating the Russian collusion story was false. Everybody laughed.
    Trump stating the election was stolen. Everybody laughed.

    Want to know who didn’t laugh? Those who remember the campaign was actually spied on by the FBI at the behest of the prior administration. Nixon is rolling in his grave. Those who remember Hillary’s campaign actually started the rumor about Russia aren’t laughing, either. So as the PMC scoffs at claims of a stolen election, whilst Democrats mailed ballots to those who never requested them, those not laughing remember he’s been proven right, before.

    Too bad how instead of an open accounting, whilst purveyors of vandalism and burning in Portland, and elsewhere, got off Scott free, Congress has focused on January 6th, instead. Me? I remember what they say about he who laughs last.

    Anyway, it’s not too late to get to the bottom of his claims with a real investigation. One where heads roll regardless of political affiliation. Just saying.

  33. EGrise


    N95, KN95 masks provide best protection against covid, CDC study shows Washington Post (furzy). Will the CDC next study whether water is wet? And why report this now and not in 2020?

    I can’t help but read that in conjunction with the earlier post on the EARN IT bill and the news about the IRS requiring facial ID. I suspect that certain factions of our betters really, really want ubiquitous facial recognition surveillance, and masks interfere with that, so they’ve been discouraging/downplaying it officially.

    But then I remind myself of Hanlon’s Razor, and that our best and brightest don’t go into public service.

    1. paul

      But our bright and best seem to relish entering public service.

      Because they really want to make it really better for their nearest and dearest.*

      As Rod Serling would say, example given (UK only):

      Rishi Sunak
      Munira Mirza
      Sajid David
      Dominic Raab
      Priti Patel
      Michael Gove

      I could go on but I believe people should make their own fair judgement .

      I feel like I’m going to throw up just seeing them.

      You can stick sir blair starmer in the list, or anywhere else,if there’s room.

      *the most dramatic drains on what is referred to as the precious public purse

  34. diptherio

    Re: The New Yorker on Adolph Reed

    Yeah, it looks like a hit piece. Check out the cognitive dissonance on display here:

    Cornel West, at times one of Reed’s targets (Reed once denounced him as “a freelance race relations consultant and Moral Voice for whites”) and lately an ally, told me, “Brother Adolph has three deep hatreds. He hates the ugly consequences of predatory capitalist processes. And he hates the neoliberal rationalization for those predatory capitalist processes. And he hates the use of race as a construct that promotes the neoliberal rationalization of predatory capitalist processes. A trinity of hatreds—you could almost put that as the epitaph on his grave.” Among the left-of-center, this puts Reed at odds with just about everyone, which means that there are few more interesting developments in intellectual politics than the news that Adolph Reed is on the warpath. [emphasis added]

    Reed is at odds with just about everyone on the left…I mean, except for Cornell West (and everybody at Black Agenda Report, and Jacobin, and NC, etc.)

    1. Darthbobber

      You have to bear in mind that the New Yorker sees itself as in some sense “left of center”, as do most of its readers. People like Reed, Benn-Michaels, even Sanders raise the key question of “left concerning what”, which causes cognitive dissonance among culture-war liberals.

    2. anon y'mouse

      Reed sounds like my kinda guy. been described as a “you hate everything” type and i would say, if the shoe fits. it comes from a family tradition that literally everything can be better than it is (or even just WRONG), and pointing that out isn’t wrong.

      criticism that is actually apt is something our culture should learn to reckon with and respect. or you end up with whatever we have now. which i would say almost everyone except Bezos immediately after coming down in his penis rocket despises.

      We Hate Everyone, Type O Negative

      **and yes, the singer is speaking english.

  35. FluffytheObeseCat

    “National Butterfly Center closes indefinitely following threats from right-wing conspiracy theorists – Texas Public Radio”

    Thanks for posting this. It looks like the most prolific regulars at NC didn’t bother to read it. Their time being better spent on chortling over yet another right wing flogging of Psaki. I’ll recap the sweet bits:

    “The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas will extend its closure to the “immediate future,” […] This follows credible security threats targeting the center, one of which recently came from a border security rally called “We Stand America” […] a midterm election rally….

    The Center’s executive director […] made the decision […] after she and her staff were allegedly physically attacked there last week by [Virginia] congressional candidate Kimberly Lowe and an aide.”

    “….harassment at the Center has been ongoing since 2019, when [it] filed suit against the fundraising nonprofit We Build The Wall. That nonprofit’s leadership includes Brian Kolfage and Stephen Bannon among others […] The legal action has made both The National Butterfly Center and Mаriаnnа Trevino-Wright targets of far-right conspiracy theorists ever since–including those in the QAnon movement.

    Kolfage himself repeatedly tweeted that the Center was harboring an illegal sex trade and dead bodies in response to the suit in 2019.

    Since then, militia groups like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters have visited the Center in order to make threats against Trevino-Wright and her staff.”

    I’m not sure “visitors” like these really need to return from their little trips all in one piece, but the bleeding hearts who end up in their crosshairs commonly don’t know how to elucidate the appropriate reaction in this type of “visitor”. There are no legal modes of self defense that should be off the table when you’re faced with this kind of harassment campaign. And follow up is essential. Every “visitor” of this kind needs to know they’ll face around 7 years of lawsuits after these visits. Win or lose, they lose. That’s the only kind of response that works.

    1. griffen

      That is a reprehensible summary and the accounting of the bat-crazy candidate from Virginia visiting. The crazy of this story just burns. Seriously stories like this are disturbing, and I do suppose the fringe elements at play here will not cease (unfortunate for the people working at the center).

  36. Prunella

    Bidenflation means my family of four has to choose between car insurance, rent, paying selfemployment payroll taxes and food.

    Filing taxes is first to go, since we are in a California declared and undeclared national state of emergency, next will be car insurance. We will not become homeless nor stop eating decent food.

    1. griffen

      We dare not call it that. Biden just happened to be in the path of the tornado, to grab a quote from the quote worthy film, Shawshank Redemption.

      The reality of these circumstances is that Democrats controls the White House, the Senate and the House at the federal level. It lands on somebody and it’s landing on the party in charge.

      No, this isn’t to make light of the above circumstances. I have a real problem with Repubs or Dems if they want to own the monthly payrolls report but not the accompanying inflation reports. The Biden administration may not have the levers to counter the inflation, not in the short run.

      1. Dilbert

        Biden gets to choose who runs the federal reserve. Jerome Powell was reapponted by Biden. He has 3 new candidates coming up.

        “NOTHING WILL CHANGE”, buy you keep slinging those labels around to distract from that.

        Name the top 3 campaign promises that have been kept in his first year. Go ahead.

  37. Wukchumni

    A new event in Beijing this year with the inaugural Fentanyl Cross Country race, although the suppliers aren’t expected to be a factor in that thems that make it ought not to take it-so China is out of the picture, but that leaves the USA in a commanding position with so much product and death to distribute in both the intrastate and interstate categories, expect old glory to be represented on the podium.

    Don’t count out Mexico though, that fent’s gotta get to North America somehow from F.O.B. Shenzhen, and Montezuma’s Revenge is a trickier haul with a perfect peril to profit percentage.

  38. urblintz

    yes. I stopped using quote marks for the same reason. I think it happens with certain links as well and I discovered that when a comment w/ links is disappeared, if I repost the same comment w/o the link and it posts, I can then edit in the offending link which seems to trick the algo.

  39. Sub-Boreal

    A welcome corrective to the silly Leftish enthusiasm for the Canadian #TruckerTantrum in some of yesterday’s links:


    “Of course, this anti-mandate movement has been helped along the way by a right-wing media amplification machine; wall-to-wall mainstream media coverage; and a sympathetic police force that appears to be spending more time giving thumbs up to protesters on TikTok than issuing tickets for infractions.

    But despite all these enabling factors, there’s also no denying that much of what we’re witnessing is the result of effective organizing and movement-building. And while it’s easy and tempting to dismiss this movement as a “fringe minority,” as Trudeau has tried, anyone familiar with social movement theory knows that with enough determination, it only takes a ‘fringe minority’ to change the course of history.

    What we’re currently witnessing is a troubling sign that COVID-19 could become a generational-defining moment of politicization for the Right— radicalizing tens of thousands who are disaffected by the system and directing them straight into the welcoming arms of the far-right.

    If we’re to stand any chance of stemming the rise of fascism in this country, we have to take the anti-mandate movement seriously enough to recognize the many lessons it’s offering us in order to out-organize it.”

    1. Carbon

      How much of a “fringe minority” refusing to file income taxes–as long as they weren’t owed their own money back from IRS–would it take to topple the voluntary tax system?

      I postulate no more than five percent would do it, out out of the those who already do not work for cash. You too can help by always spending nothing but cash in small businesses.

      1. anon y'mouse

        the government isn’t sitting there waiting for you to pay your tax bill so they can pay Raytheon.

        but they will penalize you as though they do, so that you buy the con that they need to.

        btw, IRS can seize EVERYthing without any warrants needed, as far as i know.

        so F around and find out, indeed.

    2. juanholio

      “directing them straight into the welcoming arms of the far-right.”

      I’ve seen this happening too.

      The one thing you can count on these days, is that this timeline just gets worse and worse!

      1. whatmeworry

        it would be a good double head fake.
        and it is happening whether or not it is a headfake.

        Bernie and his calls for free college and m4a likely got folks a bit worried.

    3. Maritimer

      “…radicalizing tens of thousands who are disaffected by the system….”
      Who actually are the Radicals?

      Choice 1, those who deal with criminal organizations Pfizer, AZ and JJ. They do their bidding and threaten, intimidate, destroy the livelihoods of those who object to being injected with experimental material. They also are destroying normal childhoods and the traditional family/parent/child relationship. They ignore all the costs and damage associated with their Inject-em-all policies.

      Choice 2 are those who were peacefully going about their lives until the Injectors took over. They now object to some or all of the above.

  40. Stillfeelinthebern

    California subsidies for dairy cows’ biogas are a lose-lose, campaigners say Guardian (resilc). This reads like an obvious joke except it’s not…

    Talked just this week with a large dairy owner in my area (central Wisconsin) who is in the process of putting in a biodigester solely because of the “California” credits. He said there will be a billion dollars of investment in biodigesters in Wisconsin because of these credits. Also said it has nothing to do with generating electricity.

    This guy is conservative Republican. At one point told me the backups in California harbors were because people didn’t want to work.

    I just wonder what happens to him and all these other operators if the credits get pulled. There must be some pretty good guarantees. We also talked about the effect of interest rate changes on the financing of his project.

    Interesting times.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Is this a CAFO dairy owner? Does he feed his cattle with GMO sh*tcorn and GMO sh*tsoy?

    2. Another Scott

      That’s happening everywhere and now it’s not just on new facilities, but a lot of landfills that have had electric generation from the landfill gas are replacing the electric generation with pipeline quality gas. I read a story a few months ago that landfills in areas without natural gas actually have tanker trucks receive the gas and driven an hour to inject it into the pipeline just to get the California credits.

  41. drumlin woodchuckles

    About mother with cousins in the Knesset, hopefully she went ahead and got the customs man fired anyway, just on general prinicipals, and to make the other customs people afraid that they might get fired too if they abuse the “wrong” person. ( And you never know who the “wrong person” might be).

  42. Eudaemon

    Because my previous diatribe maligning the author of this piece on a previous posting (link to follow) was deleted probably because it did not meet the community guidelines, I will attempt to offer more thoughtful commentary and hope that it does meet the standard. Here’s the link:

    Here’s my comment:

    Humans are more alike than they are different — at the genetic level. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either ignorant or a bad actor. Yes, there’s variation, but like the author actually admits, it is almost always superficial. And where there is variation, the nature versus nurture — because we’re social animals and we have economic, social and material structures that guide us throughout our lives — nurture, if that’s the proper word for it, almost always wins out.

    How do I know this? I’ll say that I’ve read rather extensively on the topic, but feel it worthy of using a simple, personal example to illustrate what I mean. In my 23andMe analysis, I have the genetics required for “elite power lifting.” Anyone who looks at me will know that those genetics aren’t in play for how I look. I may have the genes, but how those genes are expressed is mostly determined by environmental factors. If I don’t lift weights, I don’t bulk up. Why don’t I bulk up? Because I don’t care to do so and the time and effort it would take really doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t fit with my values.

    And guess how many people share that gene … roughly 1/3 to 2/3 of the entire human population.

    The same is probably true for many other genes. You probably have all sorts of people walking around with the genes that would allow them to break records in short or long distance running who, instead of doing that, are doing other endeavors. That pot bellied guy in the mall? He might be a long-distance record holder in waiting. That barista who served you your overpriced coffee could be a genius who, in another walk of life, could imagine breakthroughs in physics or medicine.

    And guess what … for me, it was and is … a choice. I have the freedom to work out if I want to. I’m just too lazy or too disinterested to do it. Most people don’t have that freedom. Most people don’t have that choice.
    And how alike are we? We’re so alike that we severely lack genetic diversity in a macro sense. This is a serious concern for those in the agriculture industry as well, but for different reasons. Any farmer in the Midwest will tell you that because of the lack of genetic diversity in many food crops, a single blight or other form of disease can wipe out the entire crop. Suddenly. With little or no warning. Plans? What are those? Do you mean the bank to establish another loan? Do you mean some subsidies from the government to keep the farm afloat?

    Similarly, a disease can arise and it can rapidly spread throughout the entire 7 billion strong human population. Everyone is experiencing much the same risk. And where results are different, we should continue to mostly analyze differences in the social behavior as the determining factor. Yes, there may be some populations who are from a demographic perspective, vastly different. Populations that are much younger on the whole will naturally suffer less serious disease and death as a result of how this disease operates. You may even have some populations whose immune systems have already been primed somehow. But guess what? None of the variation should be presumed to be of a genetic origin.

    I will in reply to my own post add a bit of commentary on Social Darwinist thought in contemporary American life, as well, since I think there is within Alt-Right circles the desire to imagine that genetic differences do, in fact, provide some form of justification for racist or classist perspectives.

    1. ambrit

      The opposite to your Alt-Right Devils concept is feasible. The so called Left in America, (this subject is a constant source of discourse here,) is buying into the Social Darwinian Thought by positing some general disadvantage accruing to “minorities” in America. Such disadvantages are generally the result of policies put in place by dominant power blocs, thus, socio-economic in nature.
      Such disadvantages do exist, but are socio-economic in nature, at the large end of the scale. At the nano scale, differences between individuals matter as far as the capabiliries for skill acquisition and expression are concerned. Insofar as it is a coherent ideology, Meritocracy has a strong component of Social Darwinism in it. The Best and the Brightest morphes slowly from an expression of observable differences in skills between individuals on into a definition of a Class. One is based on direct observation, the other is based on inference and supposition.
      I guess that I am demonstrating my theory through my somewhat incoherent explication of the theory.
      Oh well, you can’t win them all.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I suspect that nurture has a very big say in it. A very long time ago I had the thought that if you had a time machine, you could go back to the middle ages and take a baby from a bog poor family of serfs, bring it back to present times and that baby might grow up to be a pilot or research scientist or anything else that she might be capable of. In other words, those people of earlier whose ignorance we sometimes mock and feel superior over are really just us. In light of how we are handling the present panic, I can only think how ignorant and clueless we will seem to our own descendants.

    3. urblintz

      Curious case… nature or nurture…

      Maternal twins, genetically identical. One gay the other not.

      I was singing Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors at Kennedy Center and as we were giving several performances a day we had two young singers alternating in the role of Amahl. They were identical twins – and i mean identical – but the adult cast could tell them apart quite easily and (with no malice and never in their presence) referred to the gay one and the straight one. They were both incredible singers too, same voice but very different delivery, equally compelling. And our evaluation was anything but scientific yet the differences in what we saw in their behavior and heard in their singing was hard to miss.

      About 15 years later they were featured on a 60 minutes story about a study to determine how identical genes would produce such differences in genetic twins. We were right: as adults, one was gay and the other straight. The answer seems to be one fetus being exposed to more estrogen than the other in the womb.

      The influence of pre-natal nurture on genes?

    4. KD

      I think there is within Alt-Right circles the desire to imagine that genetic differences do, in fact, provide some form of justification for racist or classist perspectives.

      Nineteenth Century European nationalism was historically not about heredity but it was about language and religion. You exclude the Germans because they aren’t French, and you exclude the French because they are not Germans. Countries excluded Jews from full citizenship or subjected them to double standards because they weren’t Christians.

      European nationalism corresponds to the development of cultural-language studies in liberal arts colleges (for example, English majors) which is about examining what is believed to be paradigmatic examples of high English culture, knowledge of which shows you are a cultivated Englishman (in that period)-and not a Frenchman. If you look at most conflict in the modern world, the fault lines remain ethnic and cultural, usually linguistic and religious. Look at the Northeast and the Southeast in the United States. Certainly, “race” is equivocal (as Whoopi Goldberg recently discovered), and lots of 19th century stuff equated race with ethnicity over physical anthropological classifications based on continental ancestry. But no one claims that English grammar or Beowulf is the result of genetics.

      Entirely nurture-based classifications such a language and religion are perfectly good reasons to create systems of exclusion. You have things like the posh accent used to exclude people in the UK. You have historic claims in the 19th century that Jews cannot be Germans unless they convert to Lutheranism. You have probably heard “do you know what they eat?” Look at “white supremacy,” it is an ideology, and yet people feel justified in excluding people because they are white supremacists. In fact, cultural markers are much better for stratifying people and excluding people than ancestry. Even if you have a basically homogenous country like Japan, you need to be able to tell the difference between business executives and custodians.

      Are these exclusions “justifiable”? They certainly seem to be in the minds of ordinary people and they are grist for the mill in ordinary politics. Even if we suppose that it turns out Mendelian genetics is incorrect, and individual outcomes are entirely the result of environment, and differences in group means are entirely environmental, you have everything you need to legitimate the next genocide. It may be easier, because genetics lets people off the hook, whereas environmental explanations can be used to assign group blame. Today, you have systematic racism by whites to explain racial disparities, but in the late 60s, you had John Moynihan claiming it was a result of the breakdown of the Black family and welfare policies. Tomorrow, it might be the Chinese or Russian disinformation.

      As far as “Social Darwinism”, it is a bit of shibboleth. Spencer is supposedly the “Social Darwinist” but people love to throw the term out to describe anything they do not like. Further, to the extent that you characterize certain types of 19th century sociology as “Social Darwinist,” it is unclear that they actually have much to do with Darwinism, in terms of genealogy, most of it was influenced by the German realpolitik tradition and Malthus. Fitness is a characteristic of an individual organism, not a group, and fitness is relative other organisms, including those who share in the same group.

  43. antidlc

    Long COVID Patients Are Waiting Months for Care, and the Problem May Only Get Worse

    So many people are suffering from Long COVID that treatment centers can’t keep up. In many ways, that’s understandable: the diagnosis did not exist before 2020. New York City’s Mount Sinai Health System was one of the first places in the country to launch a post-COVID-19 recovery center, in May 2020. By early 2021, many top U.S. hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, and Massachusetts General Hospital, had taken notice and opened their own practices. There is now at least one Long COVID treatment clinic in almost every U.S. state, according to a directory kept by Survivor Corps, a COVID-19 and Long COVID patient-support group.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Worse, these are just the unfortunate humans that have access to care. The situation is no doubt rougher for those that are not so fortunate in the US.

      America is no place for a chronic health condition.

  44. Mikel

    “On Wednesday, The Daily Poster first reported that the administration had moved to appeal a Delaware court ruling that eliminated nearly $100,000 in student loan debt for a borrower. The borrower, a 35-year-old epileptic man, had won a rare victory in a bankruptcy system that is rigged against student loan borrowers. The story — which was part of our ongoing coverage of student debt — was quickly picked up by other news outlets. ”

    Note: Delaware. Biden still trying to serve the masters that kept that mediocrity as Senator of the state with more registered corporations than voters.

  45. juno mas

    RE: Yellowstone transformation.

    The same thing would happen if you simply remove senseless humans from the environment.

    Native Americans lived in better balance with nature than most moderns can imagine.

    While there is no stasis in ecology (it’s always changing/responding to events), nature finds a precarious balance.

    1. Risteard

      These animals and plants, everything on the N. American plains, was integrated as one adaption to invade and retreat at the edges of the glacier mass to its North that came and went over vast aeons of time. The survival and invasive properties of the entire complex evolved together. It’s not at all like areas of high endemicity in the tropics where microhabitats that persisted in one place for hundreds of millions of years can support a few very localized species, with a few more a kilometer away, and others ranging in between.

      A few big animals like giant sloths and many small ones we never knew of are gone forever. There must have been proportionately more effect on shaping such a rolling, moving habitat from the most adaptive species of plants and animals able to survive then to re-colonize best, and less from any species that were more passengers, and it’s evident wolves and the ranging animals they eat were not passive in shaping the system, they were among the more non-passenger species.

      Now we see how non-static it is on the Great Plains, we can only imagine what has been going on in the seas in past few hundred years

  46. Darthbobber

    I read Applebaum’s latest screed. Putin as Snidely Whiplash. Ukraine as little Nell tied to the railroad tracks. US as Dudley Dooright. And apparently one can offer a steady diet of nothing more than this and pass as a public “intellectual” in such circles.

    So Russian policy continues to be explained as purely an extension of Putin’s personality and his hatred of all things free. (though unlike Ukraine, it takes more than just a presidential decree to shut down tv stations and confiscate assets.)

    As with all such pieces Putin’s level of personal control is massively overstated, as is Russian control of domestic press and media.

    And to portray the Ukies as exemplars of liberty a great many political events there are simply ignored.

    Even as an undergraduate, I would have had a paper that dealt with things in such a shallow and simplistic fashion handed back with many a scathing comment. And with good reason. This isn’t even good propaganda.

  47. Jack

    Thanks for “What is Rude?”. A J Ayers book “Language Truth and Logic” is still useful to those who find reams of philosophy, and especially theology, to be gibberish.

  48. Jack Parsons

    We used to have koi in our pond back in the 60s and 70s. We bought the fancy kind at $5 for one-inch fish (a lot at the time!) and they eventually grew to 2 feet long. At that point they were worth a few grand apiece.

    At some point the local predators discovered them. I hope the herons and raccoons enjoyed their expensive sushi lunches.

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