Links 3/16/2022

Dear patient readers,

Lambert and I, and many readers, agree that Ukraine has prompted the worst informational environment ever. We hope readers will collaborate in mitigating the fog of war — both real fog and stage fog — in comments. None of us need more cheerleading and link-free repetition of memes; there are platforms for that. Low-value, link-free pom pom-wavers will be summarily whacked.

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Please do not write us to ask why a comment has not appeared. We do not have the bandwidth to investigate and reply. Using the comments section to complain about moderation decisions/tripwires earns that commenter troll points. Please don’t do it. Those comments will also be removed if we encounter them.

Swimming pools built for monkeys in Lop Buri to prevent aggression from heat Thaiger (furzy)

Senate Passes Bill To Make Daylight Saving Time Permanent Axios

Drug design can be twisted into weapons Nature (Dr. Kevin)

“No-Code” Brings the Power of AI to the Masses New York Times (Robert M)

Even Moderate Ambient Light During Sleep Is Harmful – Increases Risk for Heart Disease and Diabetes SciTechDaily (Kevin W)

A Potential New Test For Diagnosing Lyme Disease Eurasia Review (David L)

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: Why Evolution Favors Symmetry Eurasia Review (furzy)



Antigenic evolution will lead to new SARS-CoV-2 variants with unpredictable severity Nature (guurst). Cue Jaws theme music.

COVID Is More Like Smoking Than the Flu Atlantic

Estimating excess mortality due to the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic analysis of COVID-19-related mortality, 2020–21 Lancet


S.Korea reports record 400,741 new daily COVID cases – KDCA Reuters

Japan set to remove all COVID restrictions as new infections ebb Reuters


FDA ‘slow-walking’ Novavax authorization: Expert Yahoo. fk: “‘Whatever it is, there’s some dynamic other than science going on,’ he said.”

US unprepared for rise in Covid cases, warns White House Financial Times. Gee, why does the White House and CDC keep sending anti-mask messages (“scarlet letter”), ignore ventilation, and tell the public Covid is over, and then talk about lack of preparedness when they made the situation worse? This is like someone who murdered their parents asking for sympathy for being an orphan.

Aargh, this is NOT DATA. It is a MODEL:

Welcome To The Vice Age: How Sex, Drugs And Gambling Help Americans Cope With Covid Forbes

Pandemic-Era Politics Are Ruining Public Education Atlantic (resilc). Um, they were ruined long ago.


People Deserve to Know Their Houses Are Going to Burn Atlantic (resilc)

The World Has One Big Chance to Fix Plastics Atlantic (David L)


Karnataka state’s hijab classroom ban upheld in Indian court, could set national precedent ahead of next year’s elections ABC Australia (Kevin W). Hoo boy.

New Not So Cold War

Saudi Arabia Considers Accepting Yuan Instead of Dollars for Chinese Oil Sales Wall Street Journal (Li). Lambert had in Water Cooler, important not to miss.

Say hello to Russian gold and Chinese petroyuan Pepe Escaobar, The Cradle

Washington and Moscow Vie for the Stupid Prize Paul Craig Roberts (Vikas S). This is not quite right on oil, since oil is not fungible. The US would not be trying to make nice to Venezuela if it didn’t miss Russia oil. It needs some of the heavier grades for the purpose of diesel and home heating oil. It is possible that Russia wants to win the war first, see if the West tries to go quietly into Emily Litella mode, and if not, then impose retaliatory sanctions. IMHO the US is way too dug in to retreat, but the EU is a much better bet.

Putin signs law on registration of rights to foreign airplanes TASS (guurst)

International Ship Classification Body Withdraws Russia’s Membership qCaptain (guurst). Not sure this is as consequential as it sounds. From John Helmer via e-mail:

The flagging of Sovcomflot’s [Russia’s largest shipping company’s] vessels is Liberian, Cypriot, etc., not Russian. One of the reasons for this is that the international banks financing newbuilds, the insurers and the class societies have more or less insisted on non-Russian flagging. It was one of Putin’s early policies for Sovcomflot, circa 2000, that Russian oil should be transported to market on Russian-flagged tankers through Russian ports. It was a policy that honoured only in the breach until after the war started in 2014.

Six reasons why backstopping Russia is an increasingly unattractive option for China Bruegel. Amazing how “experts” can ignore what is right in front of their face. And it’s pretty discouraging that yours truly has to rely on Alexander Mercouris to provide updates on official readouts of important meetings (not that there is anything wrong with what Mercouris is doing….but why is this not done by at least some of the MSM on a routine basis?). Mercouris reported yesterday on the much-hyped US dressing down by Jake Sullivan of China’s national security adviser for supposedly agreeing to provide military support to Russia in Ukraine…an idea based solely on leaks from US officials and immediately denied by the Chinese. And it was separately nonsensical, since the war is almost over and any new materiel deliveries to Russia could come too late to be put into service. Notice the lack of follow-on stories? Apparently the US posted a revealingly, in a bad way, short readout on what was a very very long meeting.

Dollars or Rubles? Russian Debt Payments Are Due, and Uncertain. New York Times. This article remarkably ignores that some of Russia’s recent sovereign bond issues allow for payment in roubles, see: The Alternative Payment Currency Event Clause in Russian Sovereign Bonds Credit Slips

A False Flag Is Coming Gonzalo Lira, YouTube

Russia Deploys a Mystery Munition in Ukraine New York Times (Chuck L)

Russia’s ‘Dead Hand’ Is a Soviet-Built Nuclear Doomsday Device (JTM)

Temptations of War Michael Moore

How Far Is the Russian President Willing To Go? DW

Exclusive-Chevron set to trade Venezuelan oil if U.S. relaxes sanctions sources Reuters

Apec will face economic sanctions if war continues Thai Armed Forces (furzy)

Ukraine threatens rain on Indonesia’s G20 parade Asia Times (Kevin W)

The Cancellation of Russian Culture First Things (Anthony L)


Silence in the media and Labour “left” on Assange’s extradition danger WSWS

Imperial Collapse Watch

The U.S. Needs a New Strategy Toward the Autocratic World Atlantic


Manchin ‘very reluctant’ on electric cars in ominous sign for Biden’s climate fight Guardian

Oil Companies Lament Rising Price Of Joe Manchin The Onion

Anti-Trump Republicans lining up for 2024 shadow primary Associated Press

Romney’s “Treason” Smear of Tulsi Gabbard is False and Noxious, But Now Typifies U.S. Discourse Glenn Greenwald

Big Four Accounting Firms Come Under Regulator’s Scrutiny Wall Street Journal

How An Uptick In Censures Among Local Republicans Signals A Growing Radicalism FiveThirtyEight (resilc)

The Fear Factor and Crime in New York New York Times. Sorry, this is not even remotely like the 1980s. This is worse. In the 1980s, crime was crime against property. I was pickpocketed three times. I had lots of nice pens stolen from my desk at Goldman, I assume late at night when I was out of town. Many of my friends in non-doorman buildings suffered break-ins. But in the middle-class-ish ‘hoods, you didn’t worry about physical harm even at night if you stuck to areas with other people on the street.

Oil prices are tumbling after their recent spike but tighter supplies will push the commodity back to $125 a barrel this summer, UBS says Business Insider

Oil sanctions and recession Menzie Chinn

Chinese graphite dominance threatens electric car ambitions DW

Google “hijacked millions of customers and orders” from restaurants, lawsuit says ars technica (Chuck L)

The Superpower Of Admitting the Obvious Ian Welsh

Class Warfare

Tire Fire Left Louisiana Prisoners With Migraines, Breathing Problems Intercept. Resilc: “Wouldn’t happen if Ukrainians housed there…….”

To Keep Students in STEM fields, Let’s Weed Out the Weed-out Math Classes Scientific American (David L)

Antidote du jour. Timotheus: “The writer is my cousin in Story Lake, IN.”

During the month of February, the Swanson’s made weekly trips to check on the lake. Because the water was solid ice, they only remained a short time each visit. Again on March 2nd, we saw our resident pair checking out a couple of open spots free of ice. Then, earlier this week a pair of swans was near the channel and remained in that distant area. A few days ago, we observed the two of them flying around the lake before landing. On Thursday last, in a matter of hours, the remainder of the ice cleared off the lake allowing the swans to swim closer to us. To our surprise, the pair of swans on the lake is a Mute Swan accompanied by a Trumpeter Swan.

Only one swan has come over to eat corn at our shore, and from all accounts this is Big Daddy [their long-time resident swan]. Although he is a bit standoffish, he is familiar with us and the typical feeding spot. The trumpeter has not approached. This begs the question, where’s Mama? Having seen her on March 2nd, and seeing Daddy with another companion, it’s concerning what has happened.

While there might be a simple explanation, such as an early nesting, her absence is highly questionable at this point. Never in our remembrance has one mate arrived in the spring without the other. If this condition persists, I may have to prep the boat and launch an exploration of nesting spots in search of Mama Swanson. We’ll keep you informed.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The fact that Pettis is a macroeconomist shows. He does not get it. I for years have torn my hair out about the petrodollar thesis, which is bunk. But the current impetus is about using other currencies so as not to be hostage to dollar payment systems. It’s not about oil. India will buy fertilizer the same way.

      1. Lou Anton

        What do they then do with the RMBs? Do they sit inert on Saudi balance sheets? Will China provide them debt instruments to buy? Or maybe just buy goods from China?

        And if Saudi Arabia does go away from USD, what happens to their currency peg? It’s been rock steady at 1 SAR = 0.266666 USD for a long time.

        1. djrichard

          One option would be for KSA to swap their surplus RMB (from China) for USD on the FX exchanges. And then buy assets as usual in USA. Which gives them alternatives to SWIFT, while still taking advantage of safe harbor in the USA for their trade surplus.

          The problem of course is what if the USA isn’t safe harbor for trade surplus anymore? Who steps up as the alternative to the USA for parking surplus?

          1. Polar Socialist

            Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong… And one can use RMB in Frankfurt, too. But it may not qualify as a safe harbor anymore, either.

            1. djrichard

              Whoever it is, they have to be willing to have a strong currency because their currency would be in demand by everyone wanting to run a trade surplus. Which means said country is not in the business of running a trade surplus themselves.

              Basically one of the countries has to “take one for the team” by being the sink for everyone else’s surplus. In which case a country that can basically monetize their citizenry just on internal demand alone and not on external demand. Or not monetize their citizenry as the case may be (cough US). Or who knows, maybe it’s a “virtual country” with no citizenry to speak of.

          2. Kouros

            Maybe they decide to invest their surplus in increasing the welfare of their population…?

        2. SRL

          I suppose the question is whether China has a trade surplus over Saudi Arabia to make it worth it.

        3. Sergey P

          I am a complete amateur, but wouldn’t that be exactly in Chinese interest — to pay Saudi in RMB so they HAVE to spend RMB buying Chinese goods? So it’s a win against USD and a win for Chinese exporters. Saudis may or may not loose, depending on what they truly actually need. But then again, it’s not like they will sell ONLY to China, right? So more like diversifying for them, which sounds more than reasonable all things considered.

      2. russell1200

        Maybe I am misunderstanding. But It seems like that is what he was saying just in a different way.

        They can do trade in any denomination they want. They still need to either give up on imbalanced trade to the US, or keep accumulating US$.

        To my mind, all the SWIFT stuff makes the US$ less attractive as a holding place. But I don’t see a good alternative.

      3. Mike

        Where do you suggest we go to view the petrodollar theory as being “debunked”?

        I think people may feel that way because multiple countries like china are already trading oil in different currencies. But I think that hasn’t impacted us because overall demand for oil globally has increased, so though our proportional share of oil being traded in dollars has decreased our overall position has not.

        Just looking at the history of it the petrodollar system was not an accident out of convenience but an intentional design as far as I can tell. For a country with a net international investment position of negative 60% the triffen dilemma will unfold very dramatically hurt us. A decreased demand via petrodollar system surely won’t help…

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The dollar as reserve currency has absolutely nothing to do with oil being denominated in dollars. That theory is complete rubbish.

          The dollar as reserve currency is solely due to the US being willing to run sustained trade deficits, which is tantamount to exporting jobs. The rest of the world like that arrangement because most countries sensibly want to run mercantilist policies, as in run trade surpluses, as in import jobs.

          Running sustained trade deficits means lots of countries wind up holding your currency. That means it can readily be used for commercial transactions outside the US, and that serves to establish a ready reference rate.

    2. Martin Oline

      I remember when Bill Simon went to Saudi Arabia in 1974 the main effect of the negotiations, at least to my understanding, was that the Saudis would recycle their dollars into weapon purchases from the U.S., returning the money we spent on oil. This is what they did and Simon’s mission was considered a success. The whole petrodollar argument was either not covered at the time or I did not realize the significance of it.
      I can see that if the dollar loses its international standard we (the American worker) are in for a world of hurt. Our oligarchy will expect us to compensate them for their failed desire to rule the world. Can America re-tool itself using the 2,000,000 unskilled immigrants who have crossed the border this year? I suspect not. What has been lost in a skilled workforce is gone and all the coders in the world won’t bring it back. The future looks more and more like a “Steam-Punk” environment of cobbled together antiques.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        This whole episode is vastly overstated.

        The Saudis never agreed to anything formally. They made only a one time promise to recycle HALF of their US oil sales, and that promise was intended to be short term. Just about everyone has grossly inflated it.

        The reality is the Saudis continued to park money in dollars because the US had the deepest, best regulated capital markets with the highest liquidity, the fairest trade execution, and the best disclosure. This was still true well into the 2000s. European regs on disclosure, for instance, are still much weaker than ours.

        By contrast, the next place to put money then would have been London or Europe. But Europe then did not have the euro. It had the franc, the lira, the deutschemark, and so on. It didn’t even have corporate Eurobonds (that market got started in the later 1970s). The Saudis might have bought some German bunds. But any stocks would have been in different countries’ currencies, on smaller stock markets, with worse disclosure.

        1. David

          From what I remember, it was a bit more complicated and subtle than that, and the US was far from the only actor. Essentially, the Saudis realised that they couldn’t defend themselves, and that their only hope of national (and personal) survival lay with the West. But the West wouldn’t automatically come to their aid, even if they did supply the West with a lot of petrol. Part of the answer was to buy western military equipment. The Saudis weren’t necessarily going to use it for anything, but these purchases created links with western countries, and coopted them into Saudi defence. There were so many foreign military advisers there that the Saudis reckoned, probably rightly, that in any conflict westerners would be killed quite quickly, and so the West would by default become combatants on there side. The West went along with this, on the basis that supplying the weapons gave them influence over the Saudis and, more importantly, stopped others from having any. Since the Saudi involvement in Yemen, this cosy arrangement seems to be unravelling a bit.

        2. Martin Oline

          Thank you for the explanation and expansion. Gonzalo Lira has a half hour talk today on “Five Random Topics”, much shorter than the 2 1/2 hours yesterday. This subject (Saudi Arabia) in the fourth part at 24:24 – 34 minutes. It seems as though there are actually four parts to it and it can be found on The Saker site. Perhaps part five is his speculation at the end of it.

      2. djrichard

        I thought the 1974 meeting was for recycyling the dollars into US treasuries. A la this article

        Per the article, to “finance” the US Gov’s deficits. But I never understood the reasoning behind that. If the US Gov needed to compete for US dollars at home, it would just mean higher yields on US treasuries. Not an issue for the Fed Gov itself, but obviously an issue for anybody who pegs their rates to the yield on US treasuries. So maybe the idea was really just to bring down yields on US treasuries.

        The US did a similar trip to Japan in the 1970s, but I just can’t find reference to it.

        Which kind of begs the question. What were KSA and Japan recycling their dollars into before Treasuries? Presumably not gold when we were still on the gold standard. So after we went off the gold standard, I assume it was status quo in terms of where the excess dollars were getting parked. And then Treasury or whoever in US got religion on diverting at least some of that into US Treasuries.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          But no written agreement came out of it and a State Department document which I linked to before but don’t have time to track down now said it was only a very short term commitment to keep 1/2 of the trade surplus in $.

  1. Wukchumni

    Say hello to Russian gold and Chinese petroyuan Pepe Escaobar, The Cradle

    The best things in life are free
    But you can keep them in Bretton Woods with birds & bees
    Now give me hegemony, (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want
    (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want, (That’s what I want), yeah
    (That’s what I want)
    Your SWIFT gave me a thrill
    But now the petrobuck don’t pay Chinese oil bills

    Now give me hegemony, (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want
    (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want, (That’s what I want), oh, yeah
    (That’s what I want)
    Hegemony don’t get everything, it’s true
    What it don’t get, I can’t use
    Now give me hegemony, (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want

    That’s what I want, (That’s what I want), yeah
    (That’s what I want)

    1. Rod

      Inspired Wuk. Simply Fu++ing Inspired.
      This Favorite song redirected my young formulating self– way beyond my understanding at the time
      and you’ve done it proud.

  2. The Rev Kev

    ‘insane: 5% of hong kong covid cases are lethal’

    Well this explains why China is locking down whole regions but it does bring up an interesting question. Assuming that this variant starts to spread (and I am assuming a variant as Hong Kong is not exactly third world with its medical establishment) then will western government still refuse to lock down their borders when faced with this? If it enters their country, will they refuse to entertain the idea of lock-downs? From what I am seeing, governments are done fighting this virus and are just letting it run free. But here is the thing. If it has a 25% death rate, they would have no choice but to take it as serious as they – kinda – did in early 2020. If it is 5%, they might get wobbly about what to do until it is too late. So what is the death rate where on one side it is still to let ‘er rip and the other side where they take it seriously and close borders & do lockdowns again? I suppose it would be a political calculation and the deciding factor would be where it actually threatened the political establishment.

    1. Anonymous 2

      I reckon the medical profession has power here. If governments let the virus get too far out of the box, the medics can stay at home and all of a sudden you don’t have a health system.

      1. Blue Duck

        Spouse of a hospital medicine doc, sadly the physicians and nurses will work right up until the system collapses, and then keep working in the rubble.

      1. R

        yeah the high lethality is because of low vaccination rates among the elderly in HK.

        NZ also in peak of its omicron wave, but with 95% adult vaccination, the fatalities are very low. Over 100k cases per week, less than ~20 deaths from those.

    2. jsn

      Honk Kong has maintained low case rates until this variant as I understand it.

      Masking and SARS discipline worked well enough on previous variants and for whatever reason the elderly population is largely unvaccinated.

      The result with this variant is it’s burning through the elderly population like it did through the Brooklyn assisted living facility down the street from me two years ago. That’s when we had refrigerator trucks lined up in the street.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I find it interesting that Burns-Murdoch never once mentioned in that thread that HK has a different strain of omicron or raise the possibility that this is the main driver for the very high mortality rate. Other countries have used Sinopharm and went through Omicron without nearly the same rate of mortality as far as I can see.

      1. madarka

        The Omicron wave here in Dominican Republic, overwhelmingly vaxxed with Sinovac, especially the elderly, resulted in lowering lethality to less than 1% due to the increased case count; deaths rose but it wasnt at all proportional to the sheer number of cases.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Its good news that it wasn’t so bad, but it does worry me that there seems a consistent attempt to downplay the possibility that the HK variant is significantly more dangerous. I guess we’ll soon find out.

    4. Mikel

      I read the thread and eventually hit the facepalm moment:

      Bremmer:” Exacerbating this is that most of Hong Kong’s elderly vaccinees had China’s non-mRNA Sinovac shot, which is less effective than Pfizer etc at blocking infection.

      Sinovac does fare better against severe disease, but overall this is likely to have contributed to the poor outcomes.”

      I’m thinking if Sinovac fares better against severe disease and more aeem to be dying..then more info is needed about the variant, workplace conditions, social conditions and healthcare worker/system info.
      Because NONE of the shots prevent infection.
      They are really holding on to those illusions about the mRNA shots. They don’t want to believe what could be coming if the spread of the virus is not addressed.

      1. square coats

        I was puzzled by that section of the thread. It seemed like some kind of half heartedly attempted mental gymnastics or something.

    5. Barbados Slim

      The death rate only matters if the wealthy are threatened. As long as they believe in their vaccines, monoclonal, molnuripavir, or whatever, as long as it stays a poor person disease, rip they shall let it.

    6. Raymond Sim

      ‘insane: 5% of hong kong covid cases are lethal’

      Back in 2020, using data from Wuhan, I reckoned that if our hospitals here in California were overwhelmed then the case fatality rate for those unable to access supplemental oxygen would likely be about 6%.

      Those deaths would have been due to acute respiratory distress. Omicron is ‘mild’ in that regard, but only in the sense that it does not infect the lower respiratory tract with the same deadly effect as some other variants. Direct infection isn’t the only way a viral infection can induce respiratory failure.

      If we adopt the Covidophiliac’s own loathsome pseudorealist rhetoric we can make a case that since it’s ‘merely’ the elderly, obese etc who are likely to succumb to these other modes of inflammation in large numbers, what’s happening in Hong Kong is just a bit of wholesome brush clearing.

      The contrast with let ‘er rip countries is quite stark: If Covid simps want to be able to relax and enjoy their virus, they’re going to have to get behind Zero Covid policies!

    7. Brian Beijer

      I have to admit that I’m utterly confused by the timeline of BA2. Didn’t Europe and the US already go through the BA2 wave? I thought we (in Europe) had the Omicron wave which was then extended because BA2 came at the tail-end. Now, based on the chatter here, it seems like BA2 is a new variant. Can anyone refresh my memory? If it’s a new variant; why do I remember it so clearly?

      Side note- I liked it better when they named the variants after place of origin. It was easier to keep them straight. As an extra benefit, you got to learn a little geography too. Why is everyone so damn sensitive nowadays?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        BA2 is the one that’s peaking now in Europe. There are some indications that it may already have peaked in parts of the UK and Denmark (ground zero). It is rising rapidly in the US, most sources think the peak will be mid April. There is a shortage of data I think in other countries.

    8. Kouros

      What is the vaccination rate in China? The vaccines do help in reducing the morbidity and mortality even if infection occurs…

  3. Louis Fyne

    Keep Students in STEM fields, Let’s Weed Out the Weed-Out Math Classes

    a kid is either prepared for calculus or they are not. Not much has changed since the film “Stand and Deliver” Math readiness starts way earlier than high schools.

    CDC says the milestone for 75% of kids counting to 10 is age 5. 3.5 year olds can be taught to count to 100 and addition with fingers in a fun, stress free way, easy peasy.

    It takes effort, patience-time, and engagement with the kid. no money needed. Unfortunately those ingredients are only available to certain income groups or a family with a stay at home parent.

    1. Robert Hahl

      The proposed new gimmick is to wait until students have seen enough engineering or other discipline to “motivate” learning the necessary calculus. Well, physics has always worked that way but no one ever said it was easier (except mathematicians).

      In my experience both as a student (B.Sc.) and parent of two, the problem is our near total reliance on classroom lectures and homework without tutoring. It is soooo easy to fall behind and never catch up when you get stuck on a homework problem, and can’t do much more than study what is coming relentlessly next, and hope that it all falls into place before the final exam. Of course most people get C’s that way.

      So here is what works. (I know, because I always got A’s in math and physics in classes taught this way, but C’s if taught the usual way.): Break up the course into about 25 short topics which the students study at home. When they feel ready for a test they come in and sit for a twenty minute exam. Each one is graded immediately by a teacher while talking to the student. The results are either a clear pass, and the student goes on to the next topic, or a clear fail combined with a quick tutoring lesson during the grading process, and the student goes home to study some more, or, if a simple misconception was corrected, then a second test that same day on the same topic. This approach was offered to me for math, physics and chemistry in the 1970’s at Stevens Inst. of Tech. and it saved my career. Of course a few people don’t keep up under this regimen, but they usually don’t really keep up in the traditional classroom lectures either.

      1. Rod

        So here is what works.

        This is the best insight on the issue I have seen in many years. Yes, it works.
        Intensive–yes: Commitment required–yes: Creativity required–yes: More Teachers–yes: Longer Student contact time–yes
        Does it work across the board–yes
        I taught Carpentry for decades in CC 16 Week Workforce Prep Courses (as well as Apprenticeship and Academic Track Const Mgmt). Carpenters without math facility are Laborers (nothing wrong with that–just another Trade there) and often pointed that out. We just calculated and cut Rafters and Stairs/Estimated Paychecks w/deductions, Concrete, and other materials/manipulated Dimensions from fractions into decimals to use on the calculator and then back into fractions again and again.

        Many were really surprised that they were, in fact, using Algebra and Geometry and Trigonometry with fluency when I informed them. Many of them, of course, always had problems with math in school.

      2. Raymond Sim

        The proposed new gimmick is to wait until students have seen enough engineering or other discipline to “motivate” learning the necessary calculus.

        Is that one new again? It was an up-and-comer circa 1985 as well.

        “What is to be done about calculus?” has been the great question in college-level math education for the going-on fifty years that I’ve known any calculus, and I believe the debate, such as it was, had been going on for decades even then. ‘Calculus should be a pump not a filter.’ and so on.

        My disspiriting conclusion at the time was that in the U.S. neither our national culture, nor our version of capitalism (insofar as I could figure out what ‘capitalism’ means) are capable of producing, let alone sustaining, widespread understanding of higher mathematics, even among the brightest students, and at the lowly level of calculus. Man was I bummed.

      3. HotFlash

        Another problem with that is that many math teachers don’t understand math — few of mine did, I remember one outstanding exception in high school. It was bad back in Michigan, where I did high school, but horrendous here in Canada, where traditionally math was taught by the phys ed teacher. Now back in Michigan, the coach usually doubled as the history teacher, which IMHO explains a lot…

      4. NotTimothyGeithner

        My calculus teacher had a pretty good success rate on kids’ AP scores. Her calculus classes were largely just tutoring sessions, partially because she had kids in AB and BC calculus in the room at the same time. It was a small school, so she knew how much assistance everyone needed.

      5. Skippy

        Groan the 70s HS and more so the Military field manuals at the time that made comic books look good for Sci information. HS science teacher once asked a question on ozone and I raised my hand, gave periodic table information, atomic weight et al and then its relevance to the atmosphere etc – whole room including teacher just blinked at me. Stopped raising my hand.

        Better to lay down on a low deer stand in a big field under the sun and read vast thick texts on maths and physics years ahead of what was offered in the classroom with some scifi breaks for letting the mind meander/clear.

        Proverbial kid that would get D- on one subject and A+ in the same class with a different teacher next semester – drove whole admins nutters …. not that at that time being a runt that would fight back or that my parents were quite occupied with their C-corp jobs/key latch kid had anything to do with it.

        Could have gone to Chicago med school as an old boy, but ran away from family and went military, score on Batt test had initial offers for missile MOS, but was keen on rangers just to fly on my own and test myself.

        Yet all 4 of my kids have good jobs and gaining heaps of life experience, eldest son at 25 deferred University because a passion for history is not a well paying gig, all things considered, but is making silly money rising up the ranks due to his intellectual abilities and me getting him to read so many classics in his teens – Animal Farm, Marx, Classical, AET, Keynes, et al and letting him filter it all.

        At the end of the day I remember the old studies on decadel effects on youth and how the first 5 years are the key, then its just screening out the Bernays sauce, being a total intellectual dick when necessary, give lots of love regardless of kick back, and time will tell all ….

    2. Hepativore

      Part of the problem is that financialization has taken over many STEM fields, leading to many of them now being poorly-paid, no-benefit gig positions. Last I checked, the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the rate at which some STEM workers, like biologists, are actually employed in their fields at around 12%. There are many reasons for why this is, and I do not want to get too far off on a tangent, but it is a combination of employers over-selling the viability of many “STEM” careers in order to flood the labor pool and maintain the “employer’s market” labor environment in STEM, companies cheaply hiring scores of desperate foreign H1-B guestworkers from places like India that they can use and abuse with impunity, and the conversion of many former career positions into contractual and temp-work jobs lasting for a year at most.

      Finally, there is rampant age discrimination that often starts for STEM workers in their late-20’s/early-30’s because of the fact that companies assume many people in this age range start having familial obligations and would be less inclined to take the crappy, poorly-paid, no-benefit temp positions that have made up a large portion of the STEM fields in increasing amounts since the late-1980’s.

      A large part of why teenagers and young adults leave STEM, is that the career paths are unstable and the reported “jobs” simply are not there, anymore.

      1. Robert Hahl

        Another financial effect is the opposite of what you are describing. Getting an advanced degree in engineering actually hurts your earning potential. An aeronautics professor once told me that it was getting hard to attract Ph.D. students because it meant they would start working at GD, LMT, or Boeing at least four years after their undergraduate classmates, and they would never catch up, and then end up reporting to someone who doesn’t know very much (see, 737 MAX).

        I switched from chemistry (Ph.D.) to patent law in the 80’s because the chemistry business was going to China just like everything else. I will never forget walking down the hallway of the Dupont Lycra factory in Virginia on a job interview, and hearing the clicking from my shoes echo. The place was dead.

    3. Kris

      We are always trying to solve long-term, deeply embedded problems with late, shallow solutions. Appreciation for math, and more importantly, a feeling of ability and mastery over it, starts much earlier than college or high school; it starts in elementary school, right from the beginning. We have known for years that US curricula do not develop deep understanding; instead of spending long, intense dives into concepts and being sure understanding is firm before relying on it to tackle the next node, we instead cycle from topic to topic and focus as much on procedures as understanding. Singapore math, for example, has students focus on problem solving from very early on; by grade five they are essentially doing word problems using algebraic reasoning without symbols. It’s very difficult for a student to appreciate calculus – or algebra, the real gateway – if they constantly feel the stool they are trying to balance on is wobbly and incomplete.

      This devaluing of the importance, depth, and difficulty of mathematical concepts in the elementary years translates into how we prepare teachers for this level and how our culture views mathematical ability as an innate gift – as opposed to something possible to develop in virtually all students, through pedagogy that attempts to incorporate continual learning and refining of both content knowledge and teaching methods, and tries to take into account likely directions for cognitive misunderstandings and how to identify and address them in real time. It is possible to do this in high school and beyond, but still requires understanding of the conceptual infrastructure – of what needed to be learnt and the connections between them, as well as how these threads run ahead – so it can identify what each student is lacking and ensure they have what they need. All good teachers wish to do this, but lack the needed time, teaching flexibility, or training themselves. It’s ironic that a system supposedly more geared toward individual learning needs and creativity, is actually less respectful of students’ need to have ownership of concepts and content before being asked to move on to the next expectation.

      1. Rod

        how we prepare teachers for this level and how our culture views mathematical ability as an innate gift – as opposed to something possible to develop in virtually all students, through pedagogy
        Insightful critique.
        Instead, my daughter takes her required Math for University BA/BS as “Math for Art Majors”

    4. Dandelion

      I once tutored a friend’s 8th grade daughter who was lost, just lost, in math. I first listened to what she thought about math: that it was just an arbitrary set of rules imposed for reasons that made no sense to her. When I probed more deeply into what she understand about “the system” of math, I realized that she’d gotten completely lost way back around 2nd grade or so. She didn’t understand, at all, order of operations. Or, basically, the WHY of it all.

      I spent 90 minutes with her 2 x a week for a year. The look on her face when she finally “grokked” that math was a system of numerical relationships, was worth all of the effort. In 9th grade she moved from the 10th percentile on the school’s standardized test to the 85th percentile.

      That’s what it takes. I had the free time, and I loved this girl. Math issues start very early in schooling, and it’s because of how it’s taught, or not taught, to young kids. Since math builds on itself, if a kid misses one element, they’re hamstrung all the way forward, until they can go back and fix that. I’m no STEM worker, but I had a math-loving father who saw me through calculus in high school as well as calculus-based physics. My friend’s daughter will never be a “math person,” she’s not interested enough. But she no longer thinks of herself as “math-stupid.”

      1. Rod

        Since math builds on itself, if a kid misses one element, they’re hamstrung all the way forward,
        Grammer and Reading have the same speedbumps inherent.

      2. Lunker Walleye

        Math issues start very early in schooling, and it’s because of how it’s taught, or not taught, to young kids.

        Truly appreciate your comments having missed the boat on math. My Dad and brothers were great at math and had careers that required numbers mastery. Sadly, Dad, my mentor passed on while I was a kid. This along with Catholic school were disasters as intimidation ruled the day. The mean, old priest came in once a month and taught the 6% interest method. That stuck. But Catholic girls’ freshman h.s. teacher was a tyrant and scolded when you did not “get” algebra. (and if you crossed your legs during class, you might find yourself kneeling for the duration). Geometry teacher let us score ourselves. Freshman Engineering 101 was a revelation to me and somehow I learned to love “order of operations” in isometric and perspective drawing.

      3. Pate

        Dandelion: “When I probed more deeply into what she understand about “the system” of math, I realized that she’d gotten completely lost way back around 2nd grade or so. She didn’t understand, at all, order of operations. Or, basically, the WHY of it all. … I spent 90 minutes with her 2 x a week for a year. The look on her face when she finally “grokked” that math was a system of numerical relationships, was worth all of the effort.”

        Can you elaborate just a bit – the “why of it all”, “system of numerical relationships”?
        (I struggled at a young age while excelling at verbal – started with fractions at about second grade.)
        I wish I would have had you in my life. Or Tom hanks in “Big” where he explains algebra to the host’s son (me: oh, now I get it!)
        Your grace was her empowerment.
        Thank you

      4. Keith Newman

        @Dandelion, 12:13 pm
        I had a similar experience but as a student. A brilliant new teacher came to my school for the equivalent of grade 9 math (I was in the European French system, it was 4ieme). In grade 8 we had had a poor teacher and had all become lost in math, even those who had previously been pretty good. The new teacher had us do a written test on day 1. Everyone did poorly so he began back at the beginning, something like grade 4 and systematically but quite quickly covered the subsequent years. The result was amazing. Everyone did well, but as you note Dandelion peoples’ interests were different so they went off in different directions.

      5. NotTimothyGeithner

        The problem with math in school is if you are “behind” you need proper remediation. An average 6th grade reader can tackle “War and Peace” (I confess I never finished it) and improve across the board, but trig is meaningless to an “average level” 6th grader. With math, multiplication is a prerequisite to understanding division more or less. The class is moving on. “Remediation” in schools is often just help with homework when really a kid behind needs to redo last year’s homework.

        Edward James Olmos didn’t just teach kids calculus. He tutored them all Summer.

    5. PlutoniumKun

      Its very hard to catch up with math if you fall behind. Because of an undiagnosed medical issue I was lost with math until the problem was fixed when I was 14. I quickly ‘got’ math then, but I never really caught up the lost ground with my contemporaries.

      Looking at my multiple nieces and nephews I’ve been fascinated at how a number of them (3 out of 8) managed to be off the scale in math ability (one of them well within the top 1 percentile), while the others were average, despite the former not showing any indication of being any smarter in other aspects of life. The only floating variable is that the math focused ones had parents who played math puzzles with them from an early age.

  4. sinbad66

    In response to dude’s Twitter video: the way the media talks, you think Russian forces would collapse any day now. I guess, echoing the late, great Paul Harvey, we now know the rest of the story…

    “I have the greatest admiration for your propaganda. Propaganda in the West is carried out by experts who have had the best training in the world – in the field of advertising – and have mastered the techniques with exceptional proficiency … Yours are subtle and persuasive; ours are crude and obvious … I think that the fundamental difference between our worlds, with respect to propaganda, is quite simple. You tend to believe yours … and we tend to disbelieve ours.”

    – Soviet correspondent based five years in the U.S.

    1. johnherbiehancock

      I recently thought the same thing after being excoriated elsewhere on the web for not being ready to “stand up to a dictator like Putin” and “support a people fighting for freedom.”

      Amazing to me how many Americans STILL swallow this crap hook, line, and sinker – even after 20 years of War on Terror falsehoods.

      Same with the wide-eyed, empty-headed calls for us to “do something” while being completely oblivious to all we have done there for the last 8 years.

      One kinda amusing aspect of this is watching Conservatives I know struggle to find their own “angle” to get in to the calls for war/violence. After 4 years of “Russia Russia Russia” everything associated with the country became a “Liberal” thing, and so they aren’t quite sure how to react.

      our propagandists have their work cut out for them getting us all back on the same page if/when we actually face an external existential threat.

      1. Basil Pesto

        even after 20 years of War on Terror falsehoods.

        Well, that’s been on hiatus since about, oh, 2016. I’ve long been interested in how the ‘War on Terror’ 1) just more or less completely dropped off the public’s radar around then (I’m assuming the terrorism didn’t actually just… stop); and, 2) how this is never really discussed, even in alt-stream media. I mean, it’s been quite a monumental shift and it’s happened seemingly unnoticed, or at least not much remarked upon.

    2. Lex

      “There is no Truth in the News nor any News in the Truth.” ~old soviet joke (pravda / izvestiya)

      “Everything they told us about Communism was a lie, but everything they told us about Capitalism was the truth.” ~post-soviet Russian joke

      We think that the Russians were brainwashed by Soviet propaganda, but that opinion belies not knowing any Russians or Russia well. Just because the people went along with it doesn’t mean they believed it. Most Russians have been getting along in a shitty situation for pretty much all of history, and never underestimate the Russian power of low-level subversion of authority. Russians don’t care about “the rules”. The only “rule” I remember being followed scrupulously was to not smoke in the metro stations, but I always assumed that was from a base-level fear of the babushkas that cleaned them. Nothing more terrifying than babushkas.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Or the babushkas guarding every room in every museum. Even as a foreigner I quickly learned a healthy respect for them.

        Of course, having a little, under school age but well behaving kid with you would often open their hearts to you.

  5. Louis Fyne

    purportedly (unverified) another legion soldier is Thiago Rossi, a Brazilian ex-soldier. He has been chronicling his trip to Ukraine on his instagram account. says something similar.

    Another prominent social media person who went to Ukraine is Lt. Ken Rhee. Yotube ROKSEAL. A ex-Korean Navy special forces soldier turned TV host. He posted his trip on Instagram too. Unverified hearsay is that his team was killed in fighting around Kyiv within days of arriving.

    Same with Canadian sniper “Wali”. unverified hearsay that he was killed in Mariupol.

    1. The Rev Kev

      When this is all over, you will probably find that the ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’ in Arlington National Cemetery will have a new neighbour – the ‘Tomb of the Unknown Merc’.

    2. Safety First

      Boris Rozhin’s telegram channel – not exactly the most trusted name in news, but a decent aggregator – has been aggregating, among other things, social media posts and videos by various Western mercs (e.g. French) who’d been in the barracks in Western Ukraine when the Russians hit them. Common points seem to be:

      a) They thought L’vov would be safe from air strikes, so the barracks strike was a shock.

      b) There is a common complaint about being handed an AK and told to essentially launch suicidal attacks on Russian forces with no support. As in, “we thought we’d be part of an army, not used as cannon fodder”.

      c) According to various social media posts at least several dozen surviving mercs went back across the border to Poland, having discovered – post-barracks strike – that this is, in fact, a shooting war, and they just might get killed. I do not mean to be snarky here, but the posts reek of surprise and shock that someone would actually be shooting at them.

      Look. The basic point when you do this sort of thing is, either you train up and equip fully-fledged units (foreign or local) and insert them into the theatre of operations, preferably with some degree of staff-level coordination, or the whole thing is pointless. What the US was doing in Afghanistan in the 1980s – even if you happen to find it reprehensible – was effective. What the Russians were reportedly doing in the Donbass in 2014-2015 (sending in mercs across the border during key battles as well as attaching staff officers to rebel HQs) was also very effective. This? This, thus far, is a whole bunch of nonsense, as if Washington’s skills at these sorts of operations have drastically atrophied in the past couple of decades…

      1. liam

        Scott Ritter spoke about this in a video that was linked to here a while back. He explained that communications and cohesion are key, and come about by having a well defined, and understood command and control structure, alongside basics such as training together, etc. What was different about Afghanistan, he said, was the tribal structure. You have a people who know their terrain, are born into a chain of command, and have grown and lived alongside each other for their entire lives. They make a naturally cohesive unit. Ukraine and Afghanistan are not even remotely comparable. Too many people think movies are real. This is John Wayne goes to war. About the western pols who encourage it, well I won’t say what I think about that here…

        1. John

          Having been drafted for cannon fodder during the VietNam era, I can have a little compassion for the young, stupid merc in the video. Ignorance is the root cause of suffering. He was raised in Amrika and probably shoved freedumb fries down his pie hole his whole short life. May this learning experience serve to awaken him a bit.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, all.

            Last week’s Sun, Murdoch owned rag in Blighty, interviewed two former soldiers, both former Mercian Regiment infantry and veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. The pair professed surprise at the amount of firepower deployed by the Russians. “It’s nothing like Afghanistan and Iraq”. Perhaps, they thought it would be shooting fish in a barrel.

            What is reported about French mercenaries echoes what I heard from a family friend whose brother is a soon to retire infantry instructor. French mercenaries are the largest contingent, but what are considered French are often former legionnaires from eastern and central Europe. They were also among the first. There was a concerted effort to recruit.

          2. Brian (another one they call)

            Mercs that trust their employer become fewer and fewer every hour. But under these commanding circumstances, probably closer to 5 minutes.
            imagine a merc for a minute. they get off on violence compensated with a large paycheck. Would they really go into a situation like this without a contract that includes terms and extraction? Are these kids wanna be’s or true psycho’s that only care about the rush?

          3. newcatty

            Having compassion for voluntary merc is an admirable thing. The salient point is that you were drafted as cannon fodder, as so many young men for the Viet Nam war. We now have young people joining a volunteer military. The msm chorus has not been able to obfuscate the terrible price the volunteers pay to join a branch of the service. When a news story touches on the fact that PTSD is real, or shows a brave soldier in a hospital it is always couched in the heroism motif of USA! Vets in VA hospitals are shown with a grin, as they are doing rehab for a lost limb. It’s just awful that vets are among the homeless. Tragically, troops and vets are attempting, and succeeding, suicide. Women troops are subjected to harassment and sexual assault with a hand wave, ” boys will be boys”. Poisoning from things like Agent Orange or burn pits are portrayed as the unfortunate price our brave troops pay for “defending democracy ” or “our freedoms” or ” our way of life”. The old tried and true trope that it’s the “stupid”, poor or social losers that join is wearing thinner. Not trying to blame the victims completely. The propaganda is strong. To quote a well known character in the culture, Do you feel lucky, punk? Do you?

      2. Oh

        “What the US was doing in Afghanistan in the 1980s – even if you happen to find it reprehensible – was effective.”

        How so? Did we win the war and turn tail effectvely? Sometimes when you try to swing a sledgehammer to kill a fly the fly gets away before you swing.

  6. JohnA

    Re HORRIFYING—White House warns that US has run out of money for:

    ?test, treat & vaccinate uninsured
    ?Monoclonal antibody drugs cut 30%
    ?Paxlovid (that reduces severe COVID risk by 90%) now cut—only 20 mil available.

    But plenty money to fund Ukraine. Will the US population ever at some point ask, how can huge amounts be found for a faraway country of which we know little, and have spent years looking to foment trouble in, because Russia, and yet no money be found for urgent health problems at home?

    1. Polar Socialist

      If the population asks, but the media doesn’t report it, does the population really ask?

    2. Arizona Slim

      What sort of treatments are we talking about? Are these the treatments that involve telling the patient to go home and not return to the hospital until he or she turns blue? Or are they the treatments that involve a certain drug that must not ever be named?

      1. Basil Pesto

        the tweet mentions them: mAbs and Paxlovid. There are numerous treatment options beyond Ivermectin (and, indeed, vaccines). The problems as far as I know are 1) mAbs have the issue of being potentially ineffective against new variants (and expensive, and supply issues) and 2) Paxlovid has rather serious supply issues (and also needs good testing infrastructure for best effect – dunno if efficacy will wane going forward, hopefully not!)

    3. Safety First

      I should point out that, at least according to Politico and the Hill, a big portion of that $14 billion that just got allocated to Ukraine is actually more money for the Pentagon. They specifically mentioned a) paying for US troop deployments to Eastern Europe, b) restocking weapons depots (after sending some Javelins and such to Ukraine), and c) $1.1 billion for “cybersecurity”, whatever that means. In the $10 billion version of the bill these three items ran to about $4.8 billion, so I am guessing they got bumped up accordingly in the $14 billion final version.

      In other words, we continue to redirect the budget to the Pentagon at the expense of the public health system. Which…is kind of par for the course? I mean, haven’t we been doing this for a while now?

      1. Michael Ismoe

        I believe the issue with additional covid funding is that there are still billions of dollars still left unspent from the first two rounds of funding. back in 2020 and 2021. The request was made to stop throwing more money at a problem that seems to be adequately funded but the dollars are in the wrong buckets. There was no new funding but a plan to re-allocate already funded programs to more appropriate buckets and then come back and refund the ones that need a cash infusion.

        Either that or they are trying to kill us. Pick one.

        1. Barbados Slim

          It seems like all the funding just goes to businesses anyway because they don’t want to help poor people and encourage them to “stay at home.”

    4. LaRuse

      Ding is so irritating in that he often points out important COVID considerations, but his hyperbole makes me reluctant to share with my family. Then worse, it’s not uncommon for him to pull a boneheaded move like citing the CDC model and treating it as numbers based in reality, making him easy to blow off as panicked and misinformed.

      1. Boomheist

        Re: covid, generally. An earlier comment above pointed out that New Zealand, 95 percent vaxxed, has an outbreak of Omicron but less than 1 percent of those hospitalized have died. In all the froth and howling about covid failures, and why dont we pay attention to other treatments, some of which help a lot, the simple truth is that a population 100 percent vaxxed defeats this thing, as measles and mumps and other diseases have been largely defeated. But because of all the howling and claims of freedom and such, the total vax option has been rendered impossible, and now we are living with the results. We have declared victory, or at least “we can live with this at 1300 dead a day”, mainly because the simple concept of getting everyone vaxxed crashed on the shoals of belief, stupidity, and fear.

        1. juno mas

          Unfortunately, the population that needs to meet the 100% goals is the world population.

      2. Glossolalia

        Agreed. After a while the sight of ALL CAPS and a string of emojis gets me to scroll past as quickly as I can.

  7. Action Speaks Louder than Words

    A lot of pondering out there regarding switching from dollar payments. However is there any action at all?

    Saudi Arabia considers Yuan.
    Eurasia plan a project for a regional payment solution.
    India considers pay Russia in Rupees.
    EU considers a payment system with Iran

    Is this a thing to consider before or only after the first payments? How much of this is pure noise and how much of the thinking is game-changing?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It perhaps has not occurred to you that payments systems are not built overnight.

      India has a big time need for Russia oil and fertilizer so I expect some sort of near-term kludge to be worked out.

      1. Bazarov

        Could trade be done in physical cash until the “system” in question is worked out?

        Imagine we’d be talking pallets of cash.

      2. John Beech

        No offense but this only works if there’s a counter trade. So India needs Russian oil and fertilizer, OK fine they can pay in Rubles. But what does Russia buy from India, and will they accept Rupees? What the Dollar does is allow you to spend anywhere while India and Russia creating makeshift system only works if they’re buying from each other. So what does India offer to sell Russia? We need the answer to this question more than anything.

        And the same goes for Saudi Arabia. So they accept Rimimbi Yuan for their oil, OK, fine. Then what will Saudi Arabia spend it on that’s made in China – but – not a western product, e.g. Rolls Royce or Apple watch? What does China make on their own the rest of the world wants? They have rare earths but does Saudi Arabia need batteries or magnets in volume sufficient to counterbalance crude? Perhaps Chinese weapons to further prosecute their war against the Yemenis? OK, but then grab the popcorn because if that happens, USA will immediately turn around and begin supplying weapons to the Yemenis, instead. Then all bets are off in terms of ‘friendship’ with Saudi Arabia (as if they were our friends).

        Some day Dollar hegemony may end but it’s not today in my opinion. Some day China will produce world class products of their own devising just as Japan does today. They are the hardest working people on this earth and are being rewarded for it. The Russians have had the worst possible leadership possible in the transition from serfdom to a free people. I feel sorry for them. The Chinese? I feel admiration for how in 30 years they have struck very smart bargains, effectively lifting huge swaths of their population out of poverty at a rate never before seen in the world. Easy to pooh-pooh their political system, to denigrate their leaders, but my God, look at the results!

        Note; don’t mistake my admiration for any desire for us (USA) to adopt same. Communism with Chinese characteristics is perfect for Chinese just as Capitalism with American characteristics is working for us. Are there problems with both? But of course. Just hearing someone in West Virginian gets a buddy to help extract a tooth with the aid of pliers and whiskey makes me hang my head in shame. As did stories of blacks being stopped for tail light infractions. Similarly, stories of Foxconn employees throwing themselves to their deaths surely motivated government officials in China to do something about that as well.

        That said, in my opinion, the overall arc of freedom is undeterred since Americans told the English, ‘enough’ in 1776 and French did the same to the Bourbon in 1792. Yes, there have been fits and starts, And Africa has yet to join the party whilst the MIddle-East is awakening. In the end it’ll happen for all peoples. It’s similar to how geologic time is imperceptible to humans, and political change happens . . . but slowly as well, then all at once.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Russia needs pharmaceuticals and India is a top producer.

          Russia needs car parts and they can probably be laundered through India.

        2. Mike

          India doesn’t have to necessarily provide physical products in return, especially if they don’t have the ability to quickly provide a return product. Russia could easily use indian cash to buy indian assets but only if they find value in it. Indian has a massive growth curve ahead of them russia would be smart to invest. They clearly are going to look elsewhere from Europe and USA now.

    2. Glossolalia

      There have been alt-finance headlines about this for years and years. Hard to tell if there really is anything in the works or if it’s a variation on the “self driving cars are just around the corner” theme.

    3. Hickory

      When something goes from officially-unthinkable to publicly discussed, that is a big sign.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Swimming pools built for monkeys in Lop Buri to prevent aggression from heat”

    When you stop and think about it, perhaps this was why there was such a large movement in the 19th century in countries like the US and the UK to provide public parks and later on things like public swimming pools, public sports facilities, etc. That is was like a pressure relief valve, especially for people living in crowded cities. I’m sure though that there are billionaires and hustlers looking at places like London’s Hyde Park and New York’s Central park and thinking about the commercial development value of all that ‘wasted’ land and how it could be developed. If you do not believe me, it was not long ago that a major hustler had Chicago city chop off a major part of a dedicated public park and gave it to the guy so that he could build a monument to himself.

  9. Blue Duck

    > The Superpower Of Admitting the Obvious

    That is a hell of a list. I go through life with all of those truths in my back pocket, and feel totally insane when I hear the opinions and historical knowledge of regular Americans.

    I’ll add to the list:

    “Obviously the really Big Thing the 2020’s will be known for, hasn’t even happened yet”.

    1. fresno dan

      Isn’t it something when you see what may not even be the WHOLE list? What is the breaking point for a society that simply will not acknowledge reality?
      I would posit that the below has both the most first and second order effects
      Obviously immiserating our working class would make them hate the liberal order and vote against it when possible (Brexit/Trump, etc…)

        1. fresno dan

          Thanks for that. Who is she analogous to? Perhaps the Spanish inquisitors who really thought they were doing God’s work.
          Quote: The good news is that the elite trust each more across the world so the good news is that we can design and do beautiful things together
          ROTFL. OK, some editing for reality – we can design and conspire to screw more and more of the 99% together

          speaking of Together (I like the way the song sounds but I view the lyrics much differently than when I first heard it)

          1. Blue Duck

            It reminds me of the last scene in Doctor Strangelove, where President Muffley, Strangelove, the Soviet Ambassador et al are excitedly discussing how life will be in the After World, meanwhile the bomb that would trigger the Doomsday Device has already been dropped, and the end of the world was moments away.

  10. Randt

    The dude justifying volunteering for a war and then quitting when it turns out the war is hard is really something. Imagine the people at Stalingrad saying “we didn’t sign up to get bombed by a technically superior enemy, not our problem the army is incompetent.”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Scott Ritter made this point: Russians are hard, Americans and Europeans are soft. Even though this is a cliche, that doesn’t mean it is inaccurate. Russians survived their absolutely crushing 1990s economic implosion. That killed more than WWII.

      1. Joe Renter

        Wow, that means more the 8.6 million (according to wiki).
        Yves, can post a link to these sats? I just did a search and found mortality rates (men went 59 years), Over a million suicides from 1990 to 1995, but can’t find a total number.
        I had no idea it was that bad.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Article from last year, in Russian
          In short, the Russians calculate the demographic loss of 1990’s from the projection made in 1988, according to which there should be ~170 million Russians today whereas there are only 145 million.

          This is mostly due to the birthrate halving in the 1990’s before returning to “normal” under Putin.

      2. redleg

        Otto Carius, a WW2 German Tiger tank commander, had much to say about Russian soldiers in his book “Tigers in the Mud”.
        He referred to them as “ants”, as he was awestruck by how they could carry enormous loads, dig into the ground, and appear out of nowhere in large swarms.
        Later, fighting Americans, he said that one Russian was more dangerous than fifty Americans.
        It’s a good book, and his observation about Russian soldiers is probably still true.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Iraq and the other small countries the US has thrown against the wall and didn’t have shared “cultural bonds” (this or a variation is the new dog whistle) were destroyed because we could. Oil, strategic control, petro dollar, etc are all just secondary. The propaganda said everything else, but ease was the primary driver. Except for nuts who live for it, NATO soldiers have never been too far away from TGIFridays, video games, and immediate air and artillery support that is functionally god like for the troops on the ground in decades. Point and poof (more like 15 minutes), the problem is gone.

      Which isn’t to say our soldiers didn’t have various troubles, but they are far more like 19th century armies deployed against the locals. Plenty of these tough guys are going to find out logistics and fire power make the army.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that the last time that the US military fought a war under ‘contested skies’ was back during the Korean war some seventy years ago. Every war since then the US controlled the skies and never had to worry about being bombed from above. Well, except from their own air force in ‘friendly fire’ incidents where the pilots go too aggressive that is. What would happen if an attacking American brigade came under fire from Russian TOS-1 Heavy Flamethrower launchers? Would they be ready for it? And how long are those supply lines from eastern Europe to the American east coast again?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Don’t let the artillery fire is the strategy for dealing with artillery. Anyone coming under fire from a howitzer and more modern systems is already dead.

          1. The Rev Kev

            And modern Russian artillery is heavier and has a longer range than their American counterparts. Something to think about when you are on the front lines.

      2. Lex

        There’s the report from one of those mercs (I think it can be found in full on anti-empire) who had three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s clear that those operations were nothing like this. He states that getting hit with a mortar attach is a picnic compared to being attacked by jets and cruise missiles.

      1. Kouros

        In WWI, over 1500 British soldiers were executed for cowardice, if I remember correctly…

        In WWII, when they couldn’t fight, the Brits surrendered in mass to the Japanese…

    3. hunkerdown

      The reddit Foreign Legion (1): the merger of PMC and PMC.

      >shape the battlefield
      >impact their advance

      What is this supposed to mean?

      What were these guys thinking, that they’d be in staff positions?

      — EnochPowell (@MogTheUrbanite) 11:35 PM · Mar 13, 2022

      The reddit Foreign Legion (2): dying as they lived.

      Who would shoot at an APC with an AK?

      Did they think it would weaken the armor and eventually blow up? Like it does in video games like GTA?

      H0rse R0t0vat0r (@h0rseRotovator) 12:57 PM · Mar 15, 2022

      There is a class character to this war. Perhaps this war is a process of hardening for the professional-managerial class, in some hope that the power of managerial self-discipline can meet professional engineering anywhere close to half way. They could do ugly things when/if they come home.

      1. Louis Fyne

        UN 2021 Declaration against racism and Neo N_az_ism on 2021 Dec 17. Resolution # A/RES/76/226

        A global call for concrete action for the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

        US and Ukraine voted no. The EU countries abstained as the Baltic states have many monuments and streets named after literal 1940’s fascists.

        Rest of the world voted no.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        So the neo-nazis in Ukraine are OK but we need to be warned about the “Boogaloo Bois”?!?!? I’m not even convinced that “Boogaloo Bois” are an actual organized group, despite a few people showing up with guns and loud shirts from time to time. In the growing number of states with open carry laws, that type of thing is called Tuesday. And Wednesday, Thursday, Friday….

    4. JohnnyGL

      With respect to Yves’ comment, I don’t think this is necessarily about who’s hard or soft. That guy obviously doesn’t realize how he can be most useful to the Ukrainian government.

      He thinks they want him because he’s a veteran solider and knows how to fight. He’s wrong.

      The Ukrainian government’s entire strategy is “hold out as long as possible while dragging NATO in to save us”. Once you realize that, the Ukrainians have probably figured that the best way to improve those odds is to get a bunch of Americans, Brits, Canadians killed so you can blast pics and vids around the internet and make those governments respond. I’m sure they’d happily arrange follow up interviews with hysterical crying family members, too.

      That guy and his colleagues seem to have almost (but not quite) realized that their job description got altered from “go kill Russians” to “die for the cameras”.

      I think I heard him state that he wasn’t even being issued a rifle. If the goal is to specifically get him killed because he’s more useful dead than alive to the Ukrainians, than that would explain the matter better, wouldn’t it?

    5. albrt

      The kid thought he was signing up for Catalonia, turned out he was signing up for a Farewell to Arms. Maybe he will meet a nice nurse in Switzerland.

  11. Brick

    The worst informational environment ever.

    The document published by Vladimir Osechkin reportedly by an FSB analysist during early march looks to me like a classic example of rehashed news items woven into a Russia is incompetent narrative. Sergei Naryshkin the director of the SVR did say Ukraine has nuclear weapons but he also had his opinions slighted by Putin in a TV discussion. Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s Chechnya region did announce early losses in the war, but historically they have been fighting for both sides in eastern Ukraine in the past. Due diligence in journalism seems to be missing as there are too many timing coincidences and logically questionable arguments in the document.

    Next up we have a report by Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan which reports the heads of service 5 of the FSB have been detained for the misuse of funds. This report often gets mixed in with claims that Russian generals have been replaced and 8 new ones have been sent to the front line. The original news item highlighted confusion between the FSB and SVR over a faked report. There may be grains of truth here about power plays in the FSB but there is also some misdirection in reporting.

    In the early 20th century there was the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) which Viktor Medvedchuk’s father was involved in. Historically we have a march by Eduard Kovalenko in support of Viktor Yushchenko which was reputedly paid for by Viktor Medvedchuk. Right wing previous president Petro Poroshenko was named as co-suspect in the criminal case against Viktor Medvedchuk. Viktor Medvedchuk is of course close friends with Putin and has disappeared. We also have Serhiy Sternenko, Vadym Troyan and Arsen Avakov linked to right wing groups as well as being recently involved in government positions . Media reporting seems to be missing the under currents and while we know about the Azov battalion there is little mention of the right sector or Varyag battalion.

    There are news items which seem to get buried or are deemed not in the public/government interest to widely publish. We have Flights into Finland failing due to GPS Jamming out of Kaliningrad. Barents Observer notes that an unusually large area reserved for Russian military practices north of Sweden. The Akademik Aleksandrov and the poseidon 2M39 in the artic. More anti-satellite (ASAT) and Mermansk BN testing and the threat to communications GPS and air traffic. Russia maybe positioning itself to handle worse case scenarios due to lack of confidence in western leaders sanity.

    In my view nobody should assume the complete superiority of NATO forces even if the quality of some Russian hardware is questionable. I also think that Western media is muzzled and tends to get tunnel vision with its narrative. Much the same can be said of western politicians who strategically lack flexibility and blunder into unintended consequences.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, it has been deep-sixed but scroll down that page and read about KoolSmile’s “papoose board” and how they were gassing kids as they were so frightened about them that they would pee themselves. This is seriously sick and criminal.

    2. Lemmy Caution

      Click on the link and then replace the “” portion of the URL with the words “” You should be able to see the video.

      This is way above my pay grade, but according to,

      “Nitter redirects Twitter web links to an alternative, re-skinned version of the social network that yanks out all the code necessary to track your behavior.”

      It works for me and it also allows me to view all these Twitter links without getting blocked by the ad pop up.

  12. hunkerdown

    From 1972, still germane:

    EL PASO, Tex., March 16—The Texas Railroad Commission today increased allowable oil production of wells in the state for April to 100 per cent of their “maximum efficient rate” for the first time since 1948. The rate for March was 86 per cent.

    Happy 50th anniversary, Peak Oil!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Peak oil is not so much about running out of oil but that over time, you are spending more and more energy to get that oil out than you are actually recovering. Others may correct me but I think that we have already reached that point but as we have no substitute to the concentrated energy in oil, that there is not choice but to keep pumping it.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Exactly, Rev. It never reaches the point where you expend more energy–unless you’re crazy–but the ratio approaches 1:1.

        This chart does a nice job of making the point. Note how oil shows up several times as the amount of energy required to extract a barrel has risen dramatically since 1930, the benchmark on this chart.

        So-called renewables show up on the chart because energy must be expended in building wind turbines and PVs. You can see the problem with claiming it’s possible to replace current (and still increasing) energy use with renewables as a way of maintaining current lifestyles while reducing carbon emissions. We’re already so close to entering uncharted territory carbon-wise that a quick conversion with put us over the top by itself.

        1. albrt

          A rational person can very easily expend more money/energy than they produce. They just need to get other people to pay for it through government subsidies or loans that will never be repaid.

        2. SteveW

          Nice chart. I assume that it does not take into account environmental impacts and the associated mitigation costs paid by society as a whole. Otherwise the 100% figure for 1930 does not make sense. If we consider the environmental costs, we must be approaching negative return.

      2. CG

        Given the losses fracking racked up over the past decade at $300+ billion, that would indicate to me at least that there’s probably more to something at least peak oil adjacent vs. the more optimistic takes.

        1. Blue Duck

          Lucky we had QE to fund the extraction of shale oil. Never could have happened without early 21st century monetary policy.

      3. hunkerdown

        Peak oil refers specifically to that feature in a profile of the rate of production of a petroleum resource, but it also refers to the social phenomena due to that resource availability profile, e.g. demand destruction, falling EROEI, the Export Land Model, and the limited power of insurance to make whole out of nothing.

  13. QuarterBack

    Re the electric vehicle debate, I see major fault lines in practicality between urban and rural areas. To me, this is similar to the push to move to 5G. Both EVs and 5G suffer from the same problem in rural areas, namely limited range. In large city environments, these technologies are both practical and preferable because most people can go about their business within the range of the equipment, and the economies of scale can afford the infrastructure for dense limited range 5G repeaters and EV charging stations.

    Those who live in rural areas do not live within close proximity of many commercial, governmental, and medical facilities, so visiting these destinations would often put them on the limits of range. If not fully charged, an emergency trip to a medical facility might be a dangerous gamble. In rural areas too, it does not make financial sense for big companies to invest in expensive infrastructure for areas with highly dispersed populations. I doubt 5G will ever “be a thing” in rural areas, hell, many places still don’t even have reliable ISP options.

    EV mandate legislation adds to the growing political tension between rural and urban voters. To rural voters, this is often seen as the “tyranny of the majority” with a majority of voters living in cities demanding that technologies and political solutions that support urban needs are forced upon rural citizens that cannot benefit from them, and yet must fork over their taxes dollars for the city folk.

    1. Louis Fyne

      Per kg of battery, a Toyota Prius hybrid reduces more CO2 than any electric car.

      100kWh of batteries go in 1 Tesla, that would be used by almost 20 Priuses. Say that he average driver travels 10,000 miles a year.

      What is better for society? 1 Tesla driver going 10,000 miles gas free or 19 drivers going 190,000 miles using 50% to 66% less gas.

      But EV subsidies are not driven by the maths And never mind that EV metals are sourced from not ESG friendly countries. (ESG = environment social governance standards)

      1. Grumpy Engineer

        Hmmm… World-wide battery manufacturing capability is currently about 500 GWh per year, so if that’s divided among cars requiring 100 kWh of battery each, we can produce about 5 million pure EVs per year. Alas, we have over 280 million cars in the US (only 1% of which are pure EVs), which means that we’ll need at least 50 years to replace the remaining 99%. [And my math presumes that the US gets to use 100% of battery production for EV purposes and nobody else gets any, which obviously won’t happen.]

        Based on the reality of battery supply limits, we clearly could reduce CO2 emissions faster by embracing plug-in hybrids rather than insisting on EVs.

      2. Boomheist

        What is never really talked about when discussing EVs is that when you plug in an EV to charge, you are taking power from an electric plant somewhere. If the source of that power is all hydro, then you have extreme efficiency carbon-wise. If the EV runs at 95 percent efficiency from the battery, and the charging source is hydro, then you have a 90 percent efficiency car (5 percent transmission line loss). BUT if you hook up to a coal fired plant, which runs at 30 percent efficiency, then for every btu of energy your car uses to drive you are sending 2 btus into the air, as carbon. Point being, the EV needs to be looked at in regard to the overall electric grid and efficiency there. The huge shift from coal to natural gas in the last 40 years means overall electrical generating capacity has improved (gas fired plants run at 40-50 percent efficiency as opposed to coal). Over the last 40 years the US grid has become more efficient, more renewables, but even so, while the electrical vehicle itself is highly efficient, its reliance on the electricity grid which is far less efficient means the net efficiency gain for EVs, while substantial, is not what its proponents claim.

        It would be interesting to see a study comparing a fleet of US cars all running at an average 40 miles per gallon (the goal set in the 1970s) compared to today;s fleet of SUVs and huge hogs, which has to be half that, and then how the the energy benefits of staying with the existing system using far more efficient autos using gasoline and diesel compares to a 50 year shift to broad EV use. I bet the relative benefits won’t be that large.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          There are mountains of studies on the topic. A handful of them have not been funded by one interest group or another (usually the fossil fuel lobby).

          The EU funded EEA has produced a number of detailed reports assessing the full lifecycle of the different options.

          From the summary:

          The majority of LCAs show that BEVs have lower life cycle GHG emissions than ICEVs. In general, GHG emissions associated with the raw materials and production stage of BEVs are 1.3-2 times higher than for ICEVs (Ellingsen et al., 2016; Kim et al., 2016), but this can be more than offset by lower per kilometre use stage emissions, depending on the electricity generation source (Figure 6.1). Hawkins et al. (2013) reported life cycle GHG emissions from BEVs charged using the average European electricity mix 17-21 % and 26-30 % lower than similar diesel and petrol vehicles, respectively (Figure 6.1). This is broadly in line with more recent assessments based on the average European electricity mix (e.g. Ellingsen et al., 2016, Ellingsen and Hung, 2018)

        2. Oh

          If we want to bring down overall CO2 emissions using EV’s the sensible thing is to remove CO2 from fossil fueled power plants with some form of emission controls. This is a tall order. The better option would be to increase the fuel efficiency of IC engines to at least 40 mpg and drive a lot less. I believe that this is very much the same as the point you made.

      3. Maritimer

        Scotty the Car Guy over at Theirtube:

        Everything You’ve Heard About Electric Cars is a Lie, Here’s the Truth

        Entertaining at least. I’d certainly listen to Scotty on this issue before some Fed EPA or NOAA person whose spouse works over at the FDA or CDC and gets some of that Industrial Medicine Grease.

  14. super extra

    Saw this yesterday and while the interview is mostly anodyne I did a clickthrough to read the full version of the headline – this has already been resyndicated in lots of places:

    Is Wall Street Doing Enough to Ostracize Russia? “That’s Not Our Job,” Says Goldman Sachs CEO

    Here is what I think is the really important section:

    Do you think the financial industry is playing an appropriate role in ostracizing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine? Do you feel like Wall Street could do more?

    Well, I don’t know that it’s the job of large financial institutions to ostracize Russia. We operate in a financial system that has a regulatory and government overlay. The [U.S.] government, I think in this case appropriately, has decided to place sanctions on Russia. And it’s our job to make sure that we are executing against the legal letter of the law of those sanctions, but also the spirit of those sanctions, which basically require us to wind our business down in Russia.

    It’s not like a light switch. You can’t turn it off. You just can’t flick it on day-one to turn it off. You have contracts with people. You’ve got to unwind those contracts. And so we are in the process of unwinding our business in Russia. Now, our business in Russia was not that big in the overall context, but the Western governments have decided to put serious sanctions in place. And that requires us to take action, and we’re doing that.

    I don’t think businesses are supposed to decide how global trade works in the world. Government sets policy and then businesses follow that policy. I happen to agree very strongly with the policy. What’s going on in Ukraine is absolutely horrible. I think the actions taken are reasonable and powerful actions. But you ask, “are we doing a good job, ostracizing Russia?” That’s not our job. And by us, I mean the financial industry broadly.

    Koch Industries haven’t pulled their refineries etc out of Russia yet.

    1. Watt4Bob

      Solomon is a worm;

      Well, I don’t know that it’s the job of large financial institutions to ostracize Russia. We operate in a financial system that has a regulatory and government overlay.

      IMO, it would be more accurate to say we have a government system regulated by the overlay of a financial system.

      I don’t think businesses are supposed to decide how global trade works in the world. Government sets policy and then businesses follow that policy.

      Again, complete BS, Government is informed how businesses decide global trade will work, and it is their job to implement those policies by passing legislation written by business interest’s lobbyists. For at least fifty years business has decided how global trade works, and if you don’t agree, we’ll fund the aspirations of someone who does agree.

    2. Brian (another one they call)

      All during the cold war we traded with the CCCP. During WW2, we traded with the reviled until the blowback had reached critical mass. After the war we purchased the perpetrators that remained alive to assist us in becoming more like them.
      Money never cares unless there are punishments involved.
      There are no punishments involved. Only policies of how much is a fair loss if convicted or fined. Most/All of the banks would be indicted for RICO violations if anyone followed the law.
      How can we have a proper debate on the terms we have to assume about the functions of laws, or them being enforced?

  15. fresno dan

    So it made me wonder – what percent of the world’s population is in the BRICs? The innertubes tell me:
    In 2021, it is estimated that the BRICS countries have a combined population of 3.23 billion people, which is over 40 percent of the world population. The majority of these people live in either China or India, which have a population of roughly 1.4 billion people each, while the other three countries have a combined population of just under 420 million.
    So it seems quite a few folks are not involved in the sanctions. And that doesn’t even address all the people in countries that have not explicitly declared one way or the other. Or don’t mean what they say…

      1. fresno dan

        Wow, I love that map. By an incredible coinkydink, I was looking at a link by Hunkerdown and scrolling through the tweet he linked to just a few minutes ago, and I saw that international community map for the first time – strangely devoid of any countries inhabited by brown people… The coalition of the pink…

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Welcome To The Vice Age: How Sex, Drugs And Gambling Help Americans Cope With Covid”

    That title might be misleading and should read ‘How Porn, Drugs and Gambling Help Americans Cope With Covid’. There is a difference. There has been a lot of talk about how people under modern so-called capitalism has led to the atomization of people with the cutting of familial & social bonds and here it is at work. The article say ‘As stay-at-home orders swept across the country in March 2020, Americans got high, got drunk, and turned to porn in order to cope with the many fears and anxieties that were symptomatic of the pandemic’ and when you think about it, these are all individual activities. That is why I made the distinction between sex and porn. I mean people could pick up the phone or talk to neighbours across fences and in parks but here the emphasis is on activities that are often done alone which you read about in this article. It seems to be almost first preference. That does not portend well in case of a severe recession or even Great Depression 2.0

    1. Blue Duck

      I’m far from a Puritan, but damned if the widespread availability and consumption of internet porn isn’t a terrible social evil. I have two sons, and I think a lot about how we are going to approach the issue of internet porn once they hit adolescence. Actual physical tangible sex between two people is about the most socially and emotionally enriching activity a human can engage in, and internet porn makes it totally undesirable for most compulsive consumers of porn. It is truly sad. Throw in the issue of social media and phone usage among adolescents, and it leads me to believe that only the collapse of civilization would allow my kids to grow up to be emotionally and socially healthy individuals…. It’s profoundly sick and disturbing and most upper middle class folks I know are willfully blind.

      1. jr

        It is a terrible evil, as addictive and demoralizing as any narcotic. I’ve known guys who literally spent hours sitting in front of their computers flogging the donkey. I’m no angel but for some guys it’s irresistible. And when you combine it with drugs, even pot, it really becomes a problem. One of my shrinks mentioned once that a number of her patients regularly combined cocaine and porn for a kind of dopamine overload mind meltdown. The tab was depression and a shattered self image.

        It also normalizes unhealthy sex. Grotesque insertions, violence, dehumanization, and more. Let’s not even get into kiddie porn. I’m no Puritan either and I have no problem with people experimenting. But there is a huge difference between a playful, consensual spanking and hardcore mind-fu(kery that extends far beyond the bedroom.

  17. Dave in Austin

    There is a rarely discussed aspect of the Ukrainian war; the looming demographic crisis.

    Some background. In 1960 there were 42 million Ukrainians with the average woman having 2.2 children. The population peaked at 52 million in 1992 during the Soviet collapse, after which the economy went downhill so by 2000 the average woman was having just 1.1 children. The economy improved a bit and by 2010 the average was up to 1.5 children. Then the economy went downhill again and the average woman by 2019 was having only 1.23 children. In 2020 the total population was down to 44 million, 4.1% of whom were between the ages of 30 and 34. Only 2.4% were under the age of four.

    The reasons for this are complex. Urban life is more crowded, less family-oriented and almost always leads to much smaller families and lower marriage rates. The same thing is true in London, New York and Shanghai. Four million Ukrainian men are working outside the Ukraine, 1 million in the EU and almost 3 million in Russian. The women tend to stay behind; thus the modest high-rise apartment buildings we see in Kiev and the photos of women with their small cats and dogs fleeing to the border or sleeping in the cellars without any children present.

    Right now the Ukraine is unique. Of the 42 million people, roughly 3.5 million have fled and all military-age men are required to stay behind. If the reports are accurate, roughly ½ of Ukrainian school-age children have left with their mothers. Europe west of the Ukraine has a much better social welfare system, a much higher standard of living (Ukraine is the poorest country in Europe, poorer than Russian) and a need for low-priced labor who will “fit in”, meaning look like and share the culture of the locals. So-called “temporary refugees” everywhere in the First World seek to become permanent residents in the host country for understandable personal reasons even after their home countries returns to peace.

    But if the migration is not stemmed and the refugees not returned soon via a peace accord, substantial financial aid and the usual combination of incentives and compulsions, the Ukraine is headed for a unique demographic crisis. There will in 10 years be roughly 3-4 old people per child and the terminal population of working-age adults will be roughly half of what it was on the day this war began. If the repatriation doesn’t happen within one year, the children will learn English, French, German and Dutch, the women will grow accustomed to the higher living standard, and the trend will become irreversible.

    Talk about a moral dilemma….

    1. PlutoniumKun

      This isn’t unique to Ukraine – the Baltic States and other eastern European countries have suffered a major outflow of the young and capable since they joined the EU, leaving behind a very overaged population. Ironically, they’ve partially dealt with it by importing Ukrainian workers in the past. I guess they’ll have more now.

      Demographically, its a gift for much of western Europe. But as you say, if its not reversed it will make Ukraine into even more of a basket case.

      1. Paleobotanist

        I read 5 million total since Maidan and 2014: 3 million to Russia, 2 million to West. I think it was on RT which was reporting an UN report on Ukrainian refugees about a week ago. Add in a further recent 2 million to the West, plus around another 2 million from evacuated Donbass (they are refugees as well, quite honestly), and the Ukraine is starting to look like it’s in serious demographic troubles. I have been looking hard for these figures too.

  18. Ignacio

    RE: Antigenic evolution will lead to new SARS-CoV-2 variants with unpredictable severity Nature (guurst). Cue Jaws theme music.

    For anyone interested this is a nice discussion on the possible evolutionary pathways of Covid, thought in my opinion not a very comprehensive one. Made in the rush of Covid news but enough interesting. The bottom line is that no one can predict the evolutionary pathway and we don’t know when, where and how will new variants arise and if these will be more or less virulent. Calling the pandemic over is a long shot. That is true.

    But it is also true, and has been, for all other known human CoVs for hundreds of years. They are always changing and evolving to keep themselves in human populations. I wonder, for instance if some of the older human CoVs might disappear or nearly disappear in the context of SARS CoV 2 dominance as there is also competition between different virus. Talking about these other ‘traditional’ human infecting CoVs, antigenic drift has also been seen and IMO, what is outstanding is that it generally goes with little changes in virulence though some small outbreaks with more or less victims have ocurred here and there, normally with some local importance. And this could be an evolutionary route that could easily go at some point –that we are yet to reach with SARS CoV 2– depending on the immune state of the general population here and there. BA.2 might behave differently and show more or less virulence in HK or the UK depending on this. It is my belief that Omicron has brought a few fundamental changes in the evolutionary biology of SARS CoV 2, a belief not shared with many others and for instance GM strongly disagrees with me on this. We both have strong reasons behind but the fact is that, as said before, we already don’t have a real clue on how this might evolve.

    Nonetheless, it has been, in practical terms, decided, that the pandemic is over (as if this could be a political decision, mind you) which means that we have to be personally vigilant on what comes next and how to protect ourselves from whatever comes. Each individual will have to analyse her/his personal risks and decide how to go on in this nearly officially post-pandemic world.

    Just take it and live with it because this is not going to change unless a demoniac thing turns everything upside down.

    1. Barbados Slim

      >Just take it and live with it because this is not going to change unless a demoniac thing turns everything upside down.


  19. Ghost in the Machine

    Antigenic evolution will lead to new SARS-CoV-2 variants with unpredictable severity Nature (guurst). Cue Jaws theme music.

    Perhaps some of the resident experts can comment. Isn’t antigenic evolution bounded somewhat (certainly in complex potentially unknowable ways) by the necessity to maintain the functionality of its cell invasion mechanisms?

  20. Screwball

    Breaking Points w/ Matt Taibbi

    Breaking Points has been discussed here recently. Some have come to the conclusion they have changed since going on their own (me included). This is a good interview with Matt from the beginning, but if you go to around 14:30 minute in, Saager talks about how they are worried about being censored. He calls it a “terrifying landscape” out here.

    What does it say our country when the media (independent in this case) are afraid of what they cover, and how? For these two, and I salute them for going on their own, it is their livelihood on the line. They are not some talking head hiding behind state sponsored propaganda.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I’m a subscriber to Breaking Points and also listen to Russell Brand and Rising from the Hill among others. All of them depend on youtube. Brand especially will often be explicit lately that he is saying something in a particular way so as to avoid being censored. Rising was recently taken off youtube for a week. One of their pundits, Kim Iverson, just had her personal youtube show shut down and told about it on Rising once they were allowed back on the air. If I remember right, the censorship was due to merely playing a clip of something Trump said which youtube had deemed false. Or she may have mentioned ivermectin which will get you canned in a hurry on the goodthinker platforms.

      It’s rather scary that they feel the need to self censor to avoid being completely banned. Youtube isn’t the only place to post videos though so I’m not sure why they put up with it. You’d think they could set up their own website and post their own videos there, but maybe the fear is without the recommend function that youtube has, not enough people would be aware they were on the interwebs at all, especially now that so many search engines also engage in censorship.

  21. jr

    re: Taking The Atlantic to school

    Pile of poop from The Atlantic on public education. They were certain, as always, to point a finger at the teacher’s unions but failed to mention the good work of the Koch brothers network of anti-public sphere advocates and hustlers. To be clear, the teacher’s unions are bad but the teachers themselves are the first victims of their corruption and incompetence by design. No mention of funds being diverted into the charter school scams or how those schools fail both students and as businesses at incredible rates.

    Finally, no mention of the role that The Atlantic itself plays in the process. Correct me if I’m wrong but that rag has long been a shill for neoliberal politics and economics. I noticed an ad for those staunch advocates of democracy J.P. Morgan in the middle of the page. No analysis of how concentrated wealth tends to do what it wants, no mention of how deregulation and corruption has allowed the parasite classes to call the shots. Lots of talk about democracy in the abstract but no mention of that den of prostitutes we call the Congress. Trump of course gets waved around, somehow he is “still in power”, which nicely excuses the pathetic performance of “Doh!”-Joe and the eternally giggling Harris creature currently in power.

  22. Tom Stone

    As far as questioning the sanity of Western “Leaders” the way the sanctions were determined upon raises very serious questions about the sanity of Joe Biden in my mind.
    We have all seen the clips of JRB losing it in public when he knew he was being filmed, “Dog faced pony soldier” is but one bizarre example.
    The decision to not seek ANY input from the Fed,the DoD, the Treasury or the Commerce department was deliberate.
    And amounts to “Nyah, nyah, nyah, I can’t hear you”
    It’s always about people and sometimes it’s about the state of their bowels or hemorrhoids.
    Since no sane or responsible person would have done what Joe Biden has done…

  23. Ahimsa

    COVID Won’t End Up Like the Flu. It Will Be Like Smoking. – The Atlantic
    “Hundreds of thousands of deaths, from either tobacco or the pandemic, could be prevented with a single behavioral change.” – By Benjamin Mazer

    “The COVID vaccines are, without exaggeration, among the safest and most effective therapies in all of modern medicine.”

    Safest? Most effective? Of all modern medicine? Who wrote this Fauci? Walensky? Moderna’s CEO?
    (At least there is acceptance they are more akin to prophylactic therapeutics than a vaccine as commonly understood.)

    “An unvaccinated adult is an astonishing 68 times more likely to die from COVID than a boosted one.”

    Really? What age adult: 18 or 88? With(out) co-morbidities? Which variant?
    What is most astonishing is how the US data differs so greatly from UK, Israel, Denmark, Norway, Germany’s.

    The smoking analogy may be apt. It took decades before the dangers of smoking were officially accepted and recognised by the scientific community, public, and finally lawmakers.

  24. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” Gee, why does the White House and CDC keep sending anti-mask messages (“scarlet letter”), ignore ventilation, and tell the public Covid is over, and then talk about lack of preparedness when they made the situation worse? ”

    The answer is obvious for those with eyes to see. The White House and the CDC share a commitment to the multi-decades-long policy of deliberate and on purpose Jackpot Design Engineering under a fig leaf of plausible deniability.

    Deliberate. And on purpose.

    1. tegnost

      I was in the u district in seattle today and had the heartening experience that of all the places I’ve recently been there were more masks worn with seemingly 50% even in outdoor settings, something I don’t see in my normally rural/tourist location. Granted, the population at UW has a large asian component, and they represented positively, but were by no means the total of maskers.

  25. Foy

    Not sure if anyone has posted this video clip before, apologies if they have. Here is Oleksiy Arestovych, Advisor to the Head Office of the President of Ukraine, in 2019 saying that the price of joining NATO would be a large scale war with Russia, a havocked country, in 2021 and 2022 being the most critical/likely, probability 99%. (if translation correct)

    Interviewer says “but…wait.. if we put it on the scales – whats better in this case?!”. He says “of course large scale war with Russia and joining NATO as result of defeat of Russia. The coolest thing”.

    The interviewer then asks what this large scale war would be like and he goes on to describe what is happening now, seige of Kiev, strikes against critical infrastucture, full airborne invasion destruction of the country and full scale war. And its probability is 99%. And he proudly/smugly says all of this.

    How could anyone think that this price is worth it (other Madeleine Albright)? Trash your country to join NATO in order to protect your country. It’s burning down the village to save it thinking, but its your own village!

    Oh and per Wiki he is also the “official speaker of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine at the Minsk talks”. No wonder the Donbass Minsk agreement situation never got resolved.

    This sort of thinking must make it harder for the game theorists.

    Even less doubt in my mind now that Ukraine and NATO wanted this war and would do whatever they could to make it happen. The world is nuts.

  26. Samuel Conner

    > COVID Is More Like Smoking Than the Flu

    How disappointing. I was hoping that the similarity noted would be that “both (i.e., COVID and smoking) cause damage that accumulates over time”.

    But no — the similarity is that the single-cause mortality harm from both is easily avoidable. In the case of COVID, by getting vaccinated (as often as one needs to).

    Not wanting to read further, after that disappointing start, I searched on “long”, “chronic” and “sequelae”. The results suggest that long COVID is not mentioned in the article.

    So get your vaccine(s) and let’ er rip. You may have a good chance of eventually dying of accumulated damage from multiple forms of long COVID, but at least a reasonable chance of not dying of acute COVID (unless your accumulated multiple long COVID has so weakened you that the vaccine isn’t enough to save you.)

    And whatever you do, don’t look up.

  27. RobertC

    It appears Biden’s State Department is building itself and Americans into a fervor for a Responsibility-to-Protect insertion of NATO weapons into the Ukraine conflict. The question is will it swing by Congress or the UNSC for permission first? Considering its unilateral imposition of economic sanctions it may choose a shoot-first ask-permission-later approach.

    Yang Jiang, senior researcher at Danish Institute for International Studies, with a PhD in politics and international relations from the Australian National University has proposed [China pursue a United Nations-based] alternative at The Diplomat What Would China’s Mediation in the Ukraine Crisis Look Like?

    First, China can initiate a proposal or roadmap for resolution of the Russia-Ukraine conflict at the UN. … Second, China can send a special envoy to push peace talks among Ukraine, Russia, and Europe. … Third, China can push Russia-US-Europe talks at UNSC emergency meetings.

    Rather than the Europe-oriented OSCE, Yang Jiang looks to the UN again

    The implementation of neutral status or a non-military zone in Ukraine can be monitored by a UN peacekeeping force that includes Chinese and European peacekeepers. Negotiation between Ukraine and Russia over conflict resolution could well get stuck on this point, but a taskforce consisting of countries “friendly” to both sides and authorized by the UN can grant more neutrality and credibility to the monitoring mechanism.

  28. RobertC

    Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, wrote an insightful analysis Is the West Laissez-Faire About Economic Warfare?

    Sanctions will change the structure of the global economy itself. Writing in The Economist, Mulder calls the expansive use of sanctions “a tempest that will change the nature of globalisation itself in major ways.” There has been a lot of speculation that the Russia sanctions, which are the first to target a major player in global financial markets, will accelerate efforts among key economies to reduce dependence on the dollar as the reserve currency of choice. But economic liberalism is somewhat agnostic on the question of currency — global markets have relied on the dollar, the pound, and the peso at different stages. More fundamental than the currency used to conduct trade is the willingness of states to engage in liberalized trade in the first place, committing to build common markets and networks that facilitate economic exchanges.

    It is likely that the expanded use of sanctions will spur countries to pursue models of economic development that increase friction for the global economy. These moves might be conspicuous, such as when countries pursue policies ranging from protectionism to autarky. But they could also be more subtle. China is an outlier in the global economy because its embrace of markets was circumscribed. Chinese policymakers realized that to win their own economic war — the battle for development — the iron fist needed to guide the invisible hand. Other states may come to that same conclusion, particularly if China fares better than more marketized economies at weathering the coming storm.

    As Mulder concludes in his book, the future of liberal internationalism is dimming. The unabated use of the economic weapon is “stitching animosity into the fabric of international affairs and human exchange.” That fabric is built upon iron, coal, and transport. It can blanket us in peace or shroud us in war.

    Esfandyar Batmanghelidj cites two books:

    The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War

    How China Escaped Shock Therapy (Routledge Studies on the Chinese Economy)

    Amazon will deliver my copies later this month.

  29. drumlin woodchuckles

    If Tulsi Gabbard truly supported and supports Free Trade Abolition and Protectionism Restoration, then she will have a sincerity-basis upon which to describe Mitt Romney as a Traitor against America for his anti-American investments in China.

    Carry the battle to the heart of the enemy.

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