Links 4/10/2022

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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Humans bred dogs to have puppy-dog eyes CNN

Okay, Caesar, Let’s Go Home Werk-In-Progress

The hidden world of octopus cities and culture shows why it’s wrong to farm them The Conversation


As Climate Fears Mount, Some Are Relocating Within the US Wired

Green investing: the global system for rating companies’ ethical credentials is meaningless The Conversation


A paradigm shift to combat indoor respiratory infection (PDF) University of Leeds. From the Abstract:

“the rapid growth in our understanding of the mechanisms behind respiratory infection transmission should drive a paradigm shift in how we view and address the transmission of respiratory infections to protect against unnecessary suffering and economic losses. It starts with a recognition that preventing respiratory infection, like reducing waterborne or foodborne disease, is a tractable problem

Multi-scale modelling reveals that early super-spreader events are a likely contributor to novel variant predominance Journal of the Royal Society. From the Abstract: “We find stochasticity remains a powerful determinant of predominance. Variants that predominate are more likely to be associated with higher infectiousness, an [Super-spreading event] SSE early after variant emergence and ongoing decline of the current dominant variant. Additionally, our simulations reveal that most new highly infectious variants that infect one or a few individuals do not achieve permanence in the population. Consequently, interventions that reduce super-spreading may delay or mitigate emergence of VOCs.” And importantly: “From a public health perspective, our results provide yet another reason to intensely focus NPIs on preventing large SSEs. This policy prescription includes the prohibition of large indoor gatherings among unvaccinated people, a focus on adequate ventilation in indoor work environments and schools, and enforcement of highest quality masks (K95 or N95) in circumstances where high-risk group exposures cannot be avoided. Prevention of SSEs will limit number of infections, lower the introduction of new variants and decrease the probability that a single large SSE will initiate a more rapid local epidemic as has already been documented in Boston, South Korea and multiple other locations during the pandemic ”

COVID-19 cases rise rapidly in New York City, DC The Hill and My Burnank. Is this a movie we have seen before?

In the Rush to Return to ‘Normal,’ What Happens to the Vulnerable? NYT


Covid-19 in China: Shanghai wasn’t prepared for Omicron, Zhong Nanshan says SCMP

3 Shanghai officials sacked over COVID-19 response AP

Shanghai (1):

Shanghai (2):

Problems at the municipal level then?

Shanghai (3):

Revising Down the Rise of China Lowy Institute

Pakistan’s Imran Khan removed as prime minister after no-confidence vote Axios

US asked Pakistan not to proceed with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Russia: Qureshi The Print

Pakistan’s prime minister accuses US diplomat of ‘conspiracy’ to overthrow his elected government Multipolarista

Thousands in Sri Lanka insist Rajapaksa family quit politics Al Jazeera


In Punjab, Caste Discrimination In Key Employment Guarantee Programme Denies Minimum Wage To Dalits, Women Article14

In Africa, U.S.-Trained Militaries Are Ousting Civilian Governments in Coups WSJ

South African court halts Amazon HQ project Times of Africa


French polling:

New Not-So-Cold War

Read all about it: Final days of the battle for Mariupol Gilbert Doctorow. Interesting:

The Azov fighters, other irregulars and Ukrainian army forces numbered about 4,000 at the start and now have been reduced due to casualties. They include among them “foreign mercenaries” as the Russians have said for some time. Now from intercepted phone conversations of these belligerents, it appears that among the foreigners are NATO instructors. This means that the proxy war between Russia and the USA/NATO begins to approximate a direct confrontation, contradicting the public pronouncements coming from the Biden administration. Should the Russians succeed in taking/ these NATO instructors alive, which is one of their priority tasks, the next sessions of the UN Security Council could be very tense.

Sitrep: Operation Z Veteran’s Today. Interesting on Russian artillery.

Of Roadside Bombs And Drones: Putin’s Looming Insurgency Problem War on the Rocks. Big if true.

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The Observer view on the west’s response to war in Ukraine Guardian. No-Fly Zones, but on the ground. What could go wrong?

The Threat to the West Is Inside the House Foreign Policy. Hungary and Serbia.

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Half A Dozen Chinese Y-20 Cargo Jets Popped Up Over Europe Last Night The Drive (RobertC). “Reports later emerged that the planes delivered HQ-22 surface-to-air missile systems to the Serbian military.” It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood….

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Kyiv Independent Deep Dive: The West’s In-Kind Answer to Putin’s Propaganda Mint Press. Just another NGO….

Photos show Kramatorsk missiles had Urkainian serial numbers:

Normalizing fascism:

“Stepan” as in Stepan Bandera, fascist.

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U.S. quietly paying millions to send Starlink terminals to Ukraine, contrary to SpaceX claims WaPo

Antonov An-225 Mriya: World’s largest plane wrecked in Kyiv fight Al Jazeera. Not clear by whom, interestingly.

Intel: Putin may cite Ukraine war to meddle in US politics AP. The RussiaGate Doom Loop. For those who came in late, the Times solemnly presented this meme as one of the “Russian” memes that stole the election:

The Caribbean

Navigating Alternate Realities Venezuelanalysis

American Think Tanks Are Fueling the Mexican Right Jacobin

Biden Administration

Remarks by President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on the Senate’s Historic, Bipartisan Confirmation of Judge Jackson to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court The White House

And, folks — (applause) — let me close with what I’ve long said: America is a nation that can be defined in a single word. I was in the foothi- — foot- — excuse me, in the foothills of the Himalayas with Xi Jinping, traveling with him. (Inaudible) traveled 17,000 miles when I was Vice President at the time. I don’t know that for a fact.

And we were sitting alone. I had an interpreter and he had an interpreter. And he looked at me. In all seriousness, he said, “Can you define America for me?” And I said what many of you heard me say for a long time. I said, “Yes, I can, in one word: possibilities.” (Applause.) “Possibilities.” That, in America, everyone should be able to go as far as their hard work and God-given talent will take them. And possibilities. We’re the only ones. That’s why we’re viewed as the “ugly Americans”: We think anything is possible. (Laughter.)

“17,000 miles” appears not to be correct. As for “the Himalayas,” I can’t find a date when Biden met with Xi in India.

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DC gala was COVID super-spreader event, Biden delays correspondents’ dinner RSVP NY Post

The FDA’s Food Failure Politco

Averting the looming purge of people from Medicaid STAT

Hunter Biden frequently covered family expenses, texts reveal NY Post

Supply Chain

Trade Data Shows the Negative Impact of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Maritime Executive

History Nook

April 9, 1865:

Zeitgeist Watch

Supersize me (1):

Supersize me (2):

Class Warfare

The Secret Plot To Unleash Corporate Power Matt Stoller, BIG

21 States Raised The Minimum Wage in 2022, But Living Costs Are Rising Faster Teen Vogue

Union files objections to Alabama Amazon election The Hill

Amazon seeks to overturn union win, says vote was tainted The HIll

Body Parts Aren’t Gendered. So Why Are Sex Toys? Wired

The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is: A History, A Philosophy, A Warning LA Review of Books

Antidote du Jour (via):

Bonus Antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. SocalJimObjects

    My Chinese teacher lives in Shanghai. She’s lucky enough to live in an apartment complex that hasn’t had any problems getting food delivered to it. The government had apparently promised to deliver 爱心菜 (this is a bit hard to translate, but the best I can do is perhaps, Food Made with Love?) to everyone under lockdown and so far my teacher has had two deliveries. She however acknowledges that not everyone is as lucky as her and some people especially in the more remote areas of Shanghai have had to stretch their ingenuity and make best with what they have/had. For example: she said one of her friends had to make “funny” meals with cereals.

    This article from Tencent talks about 爱心菜 has been pouring in from all over the country to Shanghai. Distribution seems to be a major problem, not supply.

    1. Kouros

      Thinking is Lent and the fasting before Easter might help.

      This is not supposed to last forever.

      Fasting is good for health.

      1. anon y'mouse

        if China still has a traditional food culture, they don’t have much food on hand and go regularly to purchase fresh materials, instead of cabinets stocked with canned and dried goods as many do here.

        so the panic over their situation is understandable.

  2. Sardonia

    I wouldn’t count on those NATO instructors being identified. Holed up underground with the Azovs, once the food runs out, you KNOW who is going to be eaten first.

    1. Louis Fyne

      There should be no surprise if there are EU-US ex-military mercenaries-contractors.

      I will be surprised if there are actual uniformed NATO advisor. Makes no sense to have a NATO military employee embedded in Mariupol.

      But of course the entire war could have been avoided if the leadership class had some basic rationality.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thing is, all those frantic efforts to evacuate them by helicopter would never be done for just mercs. They would be on their own. Two French spooks were supposedly identified in one of those helicopter crash sites and you wonder if there are perhaps spooks from other countries there as well. There are also rumours of just which foreigners may be trapped there and “neutral” Sweden has been mentioned. Imagine if the Russians piped up next week and said ‘Hey, Sweden. We have one of your military officers here that was helping to organize the defenses. You want him back? Or should we just go ahead and put him on trial for war crimes? Feel free to send a military legal advisor to defend him.’

        1. Polar Socialist

          There was yesterday several reports about an attempt by an cargo ship Apache, Turkish under a Maltese flag, part of convoy from Taganrog to Kertch, broke off and tried to rush into Mariupol harbor but was stopped by Russian coast guards ships after a chase (and shooting at the ships stern).

      2. ex-PFC Chuck

        A few days ago there were a few tweets about a US Army general being there but there was no hard evidence and I’ve seen nothing on the matter since.

        1. Yves Smith

          The conspiracy minded on Twitter note that he still hasn’t been seen anywhere (as in no new photos, vids, reports of him at official meetings). Not dispositive, obviously….

          As I said before, the big reason to doubt the story is it would have been massively dumb for him to have been there in the first place.

          1. ambrit

            “…it would have been massively dumb for him to have been there in the first place.”
            Assumes ‘facts,’ (rational thinking in the Western ‘decision making’ class,) not in evidence. /s
            A few garden variety “ex-military” trainers would not be too much of a stretch. Catching a few higher level Western ‘officers’ and ‘agents’ would be a coup for the Russians. Why the West didn’t declare any ‘officers’ and ‘agents’ in country as “Observers” is a good question.

            1. Skip Intro

              Massive Dumbness is not the counterargument it once was. If it were true, that US officer would have a lot more value to the Azov gang dead than captured. I hope he or she is surrounded by very loyal insomniacs.

          2. JTMcPhee

            Since when has the US military been free of the problem of massive dumbness? It’s in their DNA, apparently, along with rather massive corruption, and “bad behavior.”

            Given the article on US-trained African national armies overthrowing governments, training based on rendering the armies fully “interoperable” with the US forces deployed all over planet Earth, and the claimed interoperability of the Ukrainian military with “NATO” (read, “US-led”) forces, I don’t think it is remotely unlikely that some US generals and colonels, along with “disavowable” irregulars and special ops types, would have lined up to help lead the “valiant opposition” to Russian onslaught. If they have and if they survive, they have great opportunities to sell their stories at the least.

            Tough noogies for any destabilizing spreaders of mayhem and Empire if they get cooked in a cauldron of their own initiation, as in 2014 coup and eight years of NATO-izing the Nazi-infected forces of Ukraine, coupled with running the Truman Doctrine of “encirclement” and not allowing any aspirational revolutions,

            Too bad that us humans can’t seem to do anything other than run a perpetual state of war, with only variations in apparent intensity over time. All fully “justified” by appeals to history and “rights” of one sort or another.

            Stupid effing humans.

            1. lyman alpha blob

              Regarding your 2nd paragraph, if you can believe the US propaganda, they were openly bragging about sending in the spooks, both before and during the current conflict.

              From Jan 13 –

              And again from the same source and author on March 16 –

              The US brags about sending in paramilitaries, but of course Putin still invaded “unprovoked”.

          3. lance ringquist

            our free tradin elite have always looked down on russians as sub humans, you could see it in nafta billy clinton eyes, his speech, his actions.

            nafta billy almost pulled off the the big one, and that was splitting russia into many pieces.

            it looks like the serbs are beefing up early, even though nafta albright is dead, there are more slav haters that are taking her place.

          4. Dave in Austin

            Massive dumbness hasn’t always stopped us before. Sometimes you just draw the short straw.

            A three-star would be a first; poor General Wainwright who was left holding the bag on Bataan and Corregidor was only a two-star.

            1. lance ringquist

              Macaurthur was another that thought of other human beings as sub human.

              japan thought otherwise.

      3. Mel

        “Makes no sense to have a NATO military employee embedded in Mariupol.”

        Why would it make no sense? Sending observers to the militaries of sympathetic countries is part of the military business. And I think that having observers with major units about to see action is how you get real combat intelligence and experience. If this goes wrong for the observers, the uniforms will be the only protection they’ve got.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Especially so if the said military of sympathetic country is about to launch a war of (re)conquest against unsympathetic military.

    2. super extra

      complete fluff of a reply, but: the Azovstal facility is going to be a hell of a recurring game sandbox in the games of the next decade (like the exclusion zone was in the prior maybe). But infinitely creepier and optimized for game development. The underground sounds like the stuff of nightmares already imagine how it will be after the war crimes tribunals. Or if they find another lab down there like so many of the russian rumors say.

    3. David

      I think it’s fairly clear that there were a large number of trainers from foreign countries, mainly NATO, in Ukraine, and there have been for many years. But they would normally be withdrawn in the event of fighting, and in any event they wouldn’t be expected to deploy into an operational area. You don’t carry out training while units are involved in combat operations. For any government, the risks and publicity associated with having any of its people killed, outweigh any possible benefit. It’s likely also that some nations, at least, had people visiting the Ukrainian forces in the Donbas to find out what was going on, but this would probably have been at HQ level. It’s not impossible that some of these people were with the Ukrainian forces when the fighting started, but again they would have been told to get out quickly. The Russians would have let them go, because they don’t want needless trouble with western nations.

      So if there’s any truth in these rumours, I can only imagine one of two possibilities. Either someone has sent undercover forces into the Donbas to liaise with NATO intelligence gathering assets and feed the intelligence directly to the Ukrainians, or they are simply foreign volunteers, part of the international network of extremists who have been attracted to the war. The first seems unlikely but possible: the obvious candidates would be the US, and maybe, in the fragmented US system, some part of it may have decided to do this without getting political clearance. The other possibility strikes me as more likely. The presence of foreign extremists would be bad news politically for European nations, and they would be doing their best to cover it up. This would be especially the case if they knew the names of those involved, or some of them. But, as with ISIS, I honestly think most foreign governments would be happy if they were simply killed and buried in place. By contrast, I doubt if they would actually encourage dangerous military operations to bring them back. I don’t know what the domestic arrangements of the Azov volunteers are, but they may well have been issued with false IDs anyway.

      I’m suspending judgement until there’s some hard information.

      1. XXYY

        However, there’s obviously an extreme level of desperation by Kiev and/or NATO to evacuate at least one helicopter full of people from Mariupol and not let them fall into Russian hands. Risking (and losing) four or five expensive helicopters and valuable flight crews does not make sense for low-level personnel.

        NATO personnel or high-level Azov nazi leaders are the only thing that makes sense to me.

      2. VietnamVet

        NATO in Syria reached the apogee of special operations with forward air controllers and information specialists embedded within an ethnic proxy force, the Kurds. They destroyed Raqqa without a peep.

        The privatized military/intelligence complex’s hubris tried to pull it off once again in Ukraine. Mariupol has been on the front line there since 2014. The Azov Battalion is named after the port’s adjacent sea. The West determined that Russia was intent on invading Ukraine since last December. Operators on the ground are needed to handle proxy resupply, intelligence and planning (if not close air support like Libya and Syria). They never got out.

        What will be interesting is if Russia captures and exposes them like they did with U2 pilot, Gary Powers.

  3. ArkansasAngie

    “prohibition of large indoor gatherings among unvaccinated people” … horse feathers.

    This myth needs to go away.

    1. ambrit

      Yes. Pushing the “vaccinated immunity” myth for all it’s worth.
      I’m beginning to seriously entertain the idea that someones somewheres have made a decision to ‘sacrifice’ the ‘vulnerable’ parts of the populations for Social Darwinian reasons.

      1. Stillfeelinthebern

        Follow the money. They don’t want to pay the social security or Medicare. Old people are a burden. It’s a perfect solution. You get them to die right as they retire.

        1. TimH

          Oh yes.

          From “Evaluation of science advice during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden” report:

          The Swedish people were kept in ignorance of basic facts such as the airborne SARS-CoV-2 transmission, that asymptomatic individuals can be contagious and that face masks protect both the carrier and others. … Many elderly people were administered morphine instead of oxygen despite available supplies, effectively ending their lives.

          1. Stick'em

            On the other other hand, fewer old people around to normalize voting for 75-year-old dotard presidents like Trump and Biden!

          2. lance ringquist

            i have worked with and around people who have no clue or do not care where their wealth comes from. their sole purpose in life is to plunder and pillage. their view of the world is if you die, someone will take your place, so they do not care.

            i have said what happens when we run out of money, their answer is we have money, we always have money, we just have to shake you harder.

            there is no reasoning with them, its why we need a boot on their throats hard, at all times.

        2. LifelongLib

          They don’t want to pay the costs/inconvenience of masking, lockdowns, and retrofitting buildings with good ventilation. Vaccines look like the cheapest solution even though they’re not.

        3. Sue inSoCal

          Stillfeelinthebern, I must say that thought runs through my mind constantly. I live in an area where many doctors have opted out of Medicare. Cash only. And yes, I’ve heard the counter argument that as long as the medical industrial complex can wring some bucks out of us oldsters, we shall not be left to die a “natural death”. This Medicare is definitely not my father’s Medicare of the 80s-90s. It’s very privatized. Third party administration (TPAs) is/are used for Medicare A on the coasts. Also, there’s no cap (that I’m aware of) on B policies, so those prices continue to rise. I have to comment: like him or not, old Al Gore’s “lock box on Social Security” doesn’t sound so stupid anymore. These guys will rob whatever paper thin “safety nets” we have left. What’s another billionaire?

      2. Cat Burglar

        I am not sure that they have decided to use Covid to cull those of us they regard as liabilities. But how would things be worse if they had?

        When the most powerful groups can purchase control and protection for their interests, then all the risks, by default, fall on the less powerful. Culpability can then be sidestepped, but they still get the results desired by the powerful. I can remember the Oregon Governor’s enthusiasm for Reopening! during Spring 2020, and the spike in deaths that followed it. Amid the concern trolling press conference over the deaths and increased infection, the State epidemiologist quietly stated that they all knew what would happen when they Reopened. They knew, they know.

        1. rhodium

          Yes, but most people didn’t want extended shutdowns regardless. They thought it was just until we had safe vaccines that would protect everyone and then covid was going away. Beyond that they didn’t support any extended restrictions. I can tell you that most of my liberal friends and family were stir crazy, got vaccinated, and now don’t care about masking because they still think it’s only unvaccinated people that need masks. In a world where housing is stupid expensive and cities just seem to swell ever larger a lot of young people seem to have a secret attitude that they don’t care about the elderly because the world feels overpopulated anyway.

          People almost universally find masks annoying. At the airport this weekend everyone was still supposed to have masks on and yet a large number of people had them pulled down on their chins. Officials find it exceedingly easy to go with the flow of business interests and that most of the population doesn’t want travel restrictions or masks. Basically, most people just don’t care anymore. Being born is a death warrant. Such is life on planet earth. I think the majority are either thoughtless or have a sort of philosophical nihilism about covid at this point, especially in context of all the other existential threats we face as well. Caring is exhausting and they just want to live their lives as much as they can.

          1. Cat Burglar

            That’s a good description of the popular attitude then and now. You can see how that made it easy for the political response that gave us a million dead in this country.

          2. Objective Ace

            People didnt want the extended shutdowns because the ones we had made no logical sense and there was no support systems in place for shutting down. Walmart and big box stores okay – but small family owned stores got shut down. Governors closing down restaurants and then themselves going out to eat in a neighboring district. Schools closed but malls and office buildings open.

            We never really paid people to not work. Towards the beginning there was the slightest bit of “we’re all in this together”, but that all went out the window when the stimulus ended up going to corporate interests and the “shutdowns” were paid for by the individuals and small businesses who couldnt support themselves

      3. ArvidMartensen

        Through the ages the rich and powerful have plotted to get richer and more powerful, through sabotage and looting. The British looted India. The Spanish looted the southern Americas. The US looted Africa of people to use as slaves. Ad nauseum.
        So the new and civilised version is our billionaire looters. Some of them use charitable works to loot, because they can make huge profits under the radar (eg “fighting disease” while having millions of shares in pharmaceutical companies).
        Billionaire looters don’t plot, plotting is uncouth and unseemly. No, they risk assess, scenario plan, simulate and do tabletop exercises. All with the aim of keeping their money safe and growing.

        Who knows what started Covid? I have my own theory of hidden funding, hidden trafficking in viruses, hidden experiments, hidden military involvement, hidden nationalistic defensiveness, and stuffups.
        But Covid above all has presented billionaires with the opportunity to make more money. Wheelbarrow loads. Midas-level loads. Money for jam.
        They have been risk assessing and scenario planning and desk-top simulating their little heads off for a few years over pandemics. Because god knows, any of their little side hustles could possibly cause one at any minute.
        Anyway, we are not a part of the scenario planning and risk assessing. We don’t exist for them. They see a straight road to more power and more riches. And in their insulated, armoured, disinfected vehicles, they just run over anything in the way.
        And anyone who isn’t making money for them is in the way. The retired. The sick. The disabled. Basically the weak. The fittest will survive and serve to increase their wealth. The weak are just money losers. Who invests in known losers ffs? Air filters? Waste of money. Tell them to just wash their ffing hands.
        They harbour no ill will towards the weak. They aren’t really setting out to kill anybody. They don’t even think about it once the plan is done. If people die it’s nothing to do with them. No hard feelings.

  4. DJG, Reality Czar

    Veterans Today, Duff, Sitrep.

    Duff poses this intriguing scenario and question: “Any even small incursion by the U.S. risks a massive image blowback that would destroy the credibility of American arms world wide. They cannot risk showing the world the superiority of Russian systems. Imagine the gungho U.S. sending in F-35s to help Ukraine only to see them get shot down by Russian S-400s? Do you realize the symbolic shockwaves the shootdown of American F117s over Serbia sent around the world? And do you realize that the entire F117 line was literally retired due to that ONE highly humiliating and symbolic event?”

    Yikes. So we will witness various spokespeople shooting off their mouths. And, oh, the execrable Boris Johnson, who brought you Brexit and Covid mayhem in U.K., turning up in Kiev, where there is more mischief to create.

    1. Safety First

      Yeah, I have to chime in here on the F-117 retirement. First, they only did it in 2008 (and originally had wanted to keep the thing until at least 2011, by which point it would have been close to 25 years old), which already puts into question whether the Serbia shoot-down in 1999 was viewed as anything significant. And, of course, the reason USAF retired it in 2008 was that at the time they were scrounging around every corner of the budget to buy more F-22s, which were just as good or better against ground targets but actually flew like aircraft rather than bricks with wings and so could also fight enemy air. Parenthetically, the late Bush years were especially fraught for defence contractors and programmes of all stripes, as you had multiple years of continuing resolutions instead of a fully-fledged budgets so a bunch of smaller programmes got literally stuck in limbo for a bit. Had that era of relatively tight money not been a thing, or had the F-117 had such a significant maintenance cost, who knows, maybe it would still have been flying even as its actual combat value or impact are fairly dubious.

      At least in the past 20 years or so, I have observed the Pentagon make significant weapon system or contract decisions based on a sober evaluation of how the thing actually performs quite literally only a handful of times. Stopping the wholesale replacement of M-16s with M-4s was one such, and then stopping the bleeding on the Boeing Airborne Laser – a colossally stupid idea from the very start – after the first $2 billion or so. So…yeah. Duff tries a bit too hard here.

      Not to mention the fact that Pentagon is now filled to the brim with generals who have never in their career witnessed the US taking significant casualties or materiel losses, never mind being “militarily defeated”. As in, not once. That was the Vietnam generation, and they all retired as of at least a decade ago, those of them who are still among the living. I don’t think anyone is factoring the possibility of “image blowback” in the slightest…

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        There are 500 generals and 160 admirals in the US. Many of our problems stem from this alone.

        These are political creatures who want board seats and book deals. If there is a disaster, they will pick a sacrifice before anyone asks why we have this many generals and veterans on the street if they can’t avoid disaster.

        There is a reason the Pentagon sounds sane. They like to pick fights they will easily win.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I think that I read that the US has more generals now than they had on active duty in the US Army & the US Army Air Corps in WW2 when there were 16,000,000 men & women under arms.

          1. Mikel

            How many generals does it take to program a robot or drone?

            I’m setting that up for a comedian….

    2. Brian L

      Unless Duff is “Nightvision” then it’s not his sitrep. The piece is cross-posted from The Saker, which has an understandable bias towards Russia but still seems more truthful than Western media. I visit Martyanov’s site frequently as well. There is a somewhat aligned grouping (referring to VIEWPOINTS here, nothing more) of Martyanov, Escobar, Saker, and Ritter, who just happened to get banned from Twitter again. The first one was completely bogus and I haven’t found out what he posted this time.

  5. JohnA

    Re supersize me and the jumbo jet photograph. Look how thin everyone was. Apart from far less junk food, luggage with wheels was still a thing of the future. Carrying bags also helped keep you a bit leaner and fitter.

    1. The Rev Kev

      What grabbed my attention was how well everybody was dressed when flying helped by how wide those seats were. Those seats look kinda like lounge chairs.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Umm, going to have to disagree here. When younger, I never saw the ‘beached whales’ that you see these days because back then not only were people more active (had to be) but foods were not so processed and never had so many ‘junk’ additives. And people did dress up to travel as shown by contemporary photos-

          It was a different time. I flew international several times and back about 1980, got myself invited up to the cockpit for a few minutes. Can’t happen these days.

          1. marieann

            Rev Kev,

            I also come from a time when everyone was thin. Back then our food was less processed and we ate much less junk food.
            But we also ate better food. A good book on the subject is “The Dorrito Effect” sorry I don’t remember the author.
            It gives good examples of why the food we eat today has more water and much less nutrients and the reason we eat more is our body is hunting for those nutrients we don’t get.

            1. Mildred Montana

              And what’s with the modern-day habit of a carbonated beverage with every meal? Lots of calories, no nutrients or fiber. All that pop surely contributes to obesity, diabetes, and malnourishment. Back in the day (sorry for more “old-fartism”), we had water with our meals or nothing.

              Sugar substitutes? A diabetic radio talk-show host I respected swore that they were a scam. He claimed that Aspartame sent his blood-sugar levels soaring, and that the Canadian Diabetes Association should not be endorsing it or the others as alternatives to sugar.

              1. lance ringquist

                in the early 1970’s i bought a bottle of pop, 7-up, and it tasted horrible, sticky type of syrup like. i read the label, high fructose corn syrup, whats this stuff.

                its always been sugar, and one bottle would quench your thirst on a hot summer day. that is no longer true, i quite drinking pop.

                but i found that the stuff got into just about everything, along with hydrogenated oils, malto-dextrin, and other fillers that kill.

              1. Mildred Montana

                Eeek!! Poor man only lived to be fifty. Died in 1975, two days after surgery following a second heart attack.

                But, as Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story:

                Serling’s mother died at the relatively young age of sixty-five, his father at fifty-three. Bad genes could possibly explain his early death until one finds that his brother lived to the ripe old age of ninety-two.

                So, smoking or genes? I’m sure our best medical and scientific minds can’t answer this question.


                1. Stick'em

                  Heart disease is a multifactorial condtion. Therefore, the answer to your question “smoking or genes?” is both.

                  In general, the “nature vs nurture” question leads to a false dichotomy and isn’t nearly as meaningful as the average person assumes. Why?

                  Because there are no organisms (people with hearts and genes) who do not live in an environment (which may or may not include varying amounts of cigarette smoke). However, many laypeople – especially those writing news headlines – still frame questions this way because the controversy thus created, poking you to take a side in a “less filling/ tastes great” debate, automatically creates clicks and views.

                  BTW, I do got a degree in genetics from the fancy university down the road.

          2. Samuel Conner

            I suspect that food was more expensive, too. This was before the Nixon/Butz “get big or get out” agenda to thoroughly industrialize the food system in the interest of scale efficiencies (as I understand the history) had transformed US ag into what it has become.

            1. Paradan

              So in Victorian England, the middle class spent half their income on food. Now we spend half to two thirds of our income on housing.

          3. TomFinn

            One could also smoke on flights. Remember the arm rest ashtrays? Nervous energy burns calories.

            1. Lunker Walleye

              My parents put me on a DC-3 to St. Louis when I was eight. It was an event to fly “way back when” and people did get gussied up. I was served a hot meal with a four-pack of L&M’s. “Fat” in the early 60’s was usually just a few extra pounds, nothing like “fat” today.

            2. Mildred Montana

              “Nervous energy burns calories.”

              So does intense mental effort. The brain uses 20% of a body’s energy.

            3. Spring Texan

              The airlines gave out free cigarettes!

              Yes, people were slimmer, although not me (a fat kid). I was a freak then but now am just another really fat person, still reviled but among many others. I regret that people have overall gotten fatter cuz it’s not positive, but for me personally, it’s meant I could buy clothes and other positive stuff.

        2. skk

          I was in Vegas last weekend – I don’t work any more, so I don’t see many people, just the usual crowd in the local microbreweries a couple of times a week and I haven’t been ‘out’ in the USA for 2 years especially in crowds. The number of people I saw who are very fat, not just fat, very fat, astonished me – I’d estimate 60% plus. Many many young people at that, many women at that, and many African-American at that.
          This is on the Strip and walking thru Ballys,Cromwell, MGM Grand.

          1. skk

            O I was at the wine-club social yesterday afternoon in the Ventura, CA area. Many people, many young, several African-Americans. Very very few fat in all cohorts.

            Its class, innit ?

        1. J7915

          Sign of a staged photo. My firt flight was in 1954, Pan Am from Berlin to Hamburg on aparently a surplus survivor of the airlift I think, they had seat belts.

      1. Blue Duck

        The good news on that front is that the price of sugar is going to soar with the rest of the commodity bull market. Good news for us, bad news for dentists. We

          1. lance ringquist

            yep, its a long chain artificial molecule that our cells have a hard time absorbing, so it build up as fat.

          2. Harold

            I have heard that the obesity epidemic coincided with the rise in use of high-fructose corn syrup. But obviously cause and effect, if any, not yet fully elucidated. Other factors must play in.

      2. Robert Hahl

        People just did not like to spend money on food. I remember my reaction to the rollout of bottled water. Who would pay for something that was free everywhere? It couldn’t become a major product.

        1. marieann

          I also thought the bottled water would bomb….I mean what idiot would actually pay for water when it comes out of ones tap.
          As they say “there is one born every minute”

          And I do no some people in some countries do not have drinkable water from their tap…but that is another story

          1. Michael Ismoe

            some people in some countries

            I live in Arizona. You have to wait until the flames go out before you drink the tap water. We have become Haiti – we just don’t realize it yet.

            1. ambrit

              Here Down South we also have to factor in contamination of municipal water sources by industrial pollution. Our little half-horse town is lucky in that it’s water wells are sunk into a medium deep aquifer. However, the water mains are generally from the 1940s. So, I filter the tap water for home use. Phyl only uses distilled water for cooking and drinking.

              1. Pat

                I will add pipes. We have very good water, if over treated. But I cannot tell you how quickly I can fill up a water filter because both my building pipes and I would bet the pipes into the building are breaking down into rust and mini metallic bits. Those water mains breaking took a while to get to the point where they burst.

                My grandparents well water was foul tasting. I could never stand Evian because it brought back memories of their water. Take Evian’s mineral taste and multiply it by ten… if they hadn’t lived in an arid environment where water was precious they would lived on a goldmine.

        2. Spring Texan

          I still DO NOT UNDERSTAND THAT!! Although I’m willing to spend good money on totally delectable food. But WATER!!!????

          What a racket.

    2. Joe Well

      Wasn’t flying more of an upper middle class thing then? The least affected by obesity.

      And I think “economy” class meant something else then. In Latin America even today, it’s called tourist class and the assumption is that the passengers are middle class customers and not cattle.

  6. DJG, Reality Czar

    Wired on Body Parts Not Being Gendered / Sex Toys.

    I hesitate to wade into this. First, the author is concerned about being treated as abnormal, when vast numbers of people are abnormal. Doesn’t anyone consult Kinsey anymore?

    Second, I tend to think that it isn’t gender that is the problem. The issue is equality, which means that oppression (economic, in particular) is the problem. In this regard, many “gender theorists” come across as highly “privileged” rather than “transgressive.” They focus on gender, which they believe that they control, rather than on economic unfairness, class warfare, and systemic oppression of working people. So it’s gender as brunch.

    Here’s Tireisias.

    The ancients, who knew a thing or two about gender, wouldn’t make the argument that the body is not gendered:

    To quote:

    In Greek and Roman mythology, Tiresias is best known for being a blind prophet of great acclaim. According to Ovid, the tale of Tiresias’ blindness, and his acquisition of prophetic authority goes as follows; Tiresias was called in to settle a dispute between Jupiter and Juno, the subject of debate being which gender derives more pleasure out of sexual intercourse, both parties stating that it is the opposite one. Tradition holds that Tiresias once struck two mating snakes with his staff, mysteriously transforming him from man to woman, a state he resumed for many years until eventually shifting back into a man. Therefore, Tiresias’ experience as both genders made him the perfect adjudicator. After considering the matter at hand, Tiresias concluded that Jupiter was right, and that women experience more sexual pleasure than men. Juno, in a fit of rage, then punished Tiresias for his assertion by blinding him. Unable to undo those of his wife’s actions, Jupiter bestowed Tiresias with the gift of prophecy as indemnification1.

    And here’s the link:

    A good summary.

    And then old Tireisias shows up in Euripides’ Bakkhai, where Dionysos is making himself evident in powerful divine ambiguity. And just as the Wired article misfires, I have see more than one production of Bakkai. Yet the “transgressive” folks just never can get that explosive divine power and jouissance right–ingrained puritanism always overpowers the play and Dionysos’ epiphany.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      And if I may, there have been plenty of neutral sex toys around for years. I recall the paper Good Vibrations catalogues that once upon a time turned up in my mailbox. Something else that the WWW managed to wreck.

    2. chris

      That’s an interesting take on the article. I too hesitate to comment on much of it, but I note the first few paragraphs are full of the issues which make the trans movement such a difficult thing to support. If your point in writing the article is to show that there is no need for sex toys to be gendered, what is gained by immediately stating that women have penises and men have vulva? Whether anyone accepts that point is superfluous to the argument put forth in the article. I personally don’t understand what harm they’re trying to combat here. I don’t understand why this is a harm anymore than girls shopping for clothes in the boys section of a store is a harm. But to the extent the author cares about it, that is an odd point to make.

      And again, the only way the trans movement can see to do anything is try and blow up everything everyone else is doing. Rather than argue for Medicare for all, they argue against cis centric birthing experiences. Rather than argue for an end to discrimination at work, they argue for kink seminars in the workplace. The goal of their identity politics is to make all people with identities worse off. So rather than argue for sex toys of various configurations which have descriptions that simply explain how they work so that the customer can determine whether they would be pleasurable or not, they insist that gendering itself is harmful because there is no such thing as a defined gender in relation to sex organs.

      1. jr

        It makes sense to me if the goal is divisiveness. The eternal victim, grievously harmed by pink or blue baby bonnets or butt toys or whatever, is always fighting to make society conform to their particular flavor of narcissism. Never equality in economic terms, that’s “class reductionism”, but the right to groom children in second grade into their particular perspective on human sexuality.

        Take the comment about “braying”. Intentionally grotesque, totally unnecessary to make his point, but it makes sense if you want to alienate people. A different kind of doom-loop: I have a right to foist my bizarre notions on the rest of society and when they are rejected, “Bingo! I’m a victim!” Rinse and repeat.

        I keep thinking about that video I posted a week or so back about the transexual man who was testifying about how he doesn’t want men in women’s sports. There is real bravery: he resolutely faces his very real conundrum of not feeling right in his body instead of dismissing biological facts and pathetically exclaiming his womanhood. When this all blows up, which is the goal after all, people like him are going to suffer. Just as the street level BLM activists are suffering while the con-artists buy pricey homes and everyone throws up their hands and says “See, it’s all bull-oney!”

  7. Safety First

    1. Re: An-225 Mriya. This is old, OLD news. The aircraft was in a hangar at Gostomel’ when the Russian paras landed there on the first day of the war, and was reported to be destroyed by Ukrainian artillery fire – when they started blasting the airfield trying to shift the Russians out – within a couple of days. Naturally, there was about a week’s worth of back and forth in the press and on social media over whose fault it had been, and it took roughly two weeks for up-close (non-drone or sat) photos to become available, but still.

    2. Re: Tochka missile. Serial numbers are a good confirmation, of course, but the thing is the Russians don’t even USE Tochkas since about 15-20 years ago. Being that manufacturing stopped after the Soviet Union ended, and the “warranty” runs for about 10 years or so, so the things are literally unsafe to play with at this point. It’s like accusing the US Army of driving around in T-72s, which just does not happen.

    The real question is – did the Ukrainians miss, i.e. did the missile simply go off course (as some are wont to do, statistically speaking), or did they deliberately try to stage a “Russian atrocity” knowing that CNN/BBC won’t ask any silly questions. The former is a tragic exigency of war; the latter is ominous, given the likelihood for repeat performances…

    1. Martin Oline

      Regarding the Tochka missile strike: I have read one person who thought it could have been shot down or otherwise sabotaged by Russian air defenses. I think it’s extremely unlikely for the nosecone to separate from the engine and fall on a train station.

      1. Paradan

        The one that hit Donetsk a few weeks ago had been successfully intercepted, but one or two of the bomblets still fell out and killed a bunch of people. This one looks deliberate as it hit right over the train station where people were waiting to evacuate prior to the upcoming battle.

        1. Dave in Austin

          Wikipedia says the circular probable error for the early Tochkas is 150 meters- that means half miss the aiming point by more than 150 meters. Newer ones are down to 70 meters. The missile has a 1,000 lbs warhead. Since the missiles hit right on target and somehow didn’t even break the front windows of the railroad station, somethink is wrong.

          And while there at one point appear to have been 4,000 people at the station, it looks like the number at the time of impact was less than 200 (note the luggage and bags and count for yourself). Very little of this makes sense.

    2. Polar Socialist

      The General Procurator of Donetsk Republic has initiated a criminal investigation against the commander of 19th Missile Brigade of the Ukrainian Army for killing civilians in Krematorsk railway station. By their reckoning Krematorsk is part of Donetsk Republic and thus the crime was perpetrated against citizens of Donetsk.

      According to them the same commander is also responsible for the missile strike in the city of Donetsk.

    3. digi_owl

      the latter is ominous, given the likelihood for repeat performances…

      Except that it seems to have been going on for some time, and every time the MSM hammer the message that it is those evil ruskies doing it. And then move on to other stuff once the evidence comes in that says otherwise.

      I could understand it if they issues some mea culpa about it, but no it is just move on and never talk about it again. This is the kind of egotistical narcissism that drove me up the wall whenever i encountered it from school cliques. And seeing run rampant in western media right now is making me frustrated and nauseous.

      It is like they no longer have any fear or shame.

      It is the old saying about a lie traveling the world before the truth has gotten out of bed, playing out live on the 24/7 news cycle.

      Makes you wonder if that CNN crew was placed in Bagdad specifically to give the pentagon’s latest toys a stellar spectacle back in 91.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>It is like they no longer have any fear or shame.

        Perhaps it is somewhat like Baghdad Bob, the Iraqi government spokesman at the start of the last Iraqi invasion. The man kept saying how the Iraqi army was being victorious against the Americans all the time, even when the American army was being shown live in Baghdad International pushing back the Iraqis; the man made a fool of himself but his boss was Saddam Husein, which gave him strong incentive to do so.

        In the American media, you are not likely to be murdered for being truthful, but you are likely to be fired.

        1. digi_owl

          If said firing comes with being frozen out of the industry, it may well be a death sentence for some of them.

  8. timbers

    Read all about it: Final days of the battle for Mariupol Gilbert Doctorow.

    A day or two prior to this Doctorow piece, there was a comment posted – I think Saker – to this of NATO folks trapped inside Azov factory, but with some additional highly interesting but unconfirmed background info, which I found interesting enough to forward to my father who sometimes is fascinated by stuff like it…

    France was urgently trying to arrange amphibious departure of some folks in Azov but was not able to maybe due to the coastal water thick with Russian forces. Another nugget was that around this same time were several attempted high risk helicopter evacuations out of Azov (most/all shot down by Russian forces), a high level French intelligence officer was abruptly dismissed and replaced.

    Catching NATO folk is potentially damaging enough. Catching French NATO folk will put (more) egg on Marcon’s face as a two faced Westerner trying recently to “negotiate” with Putin. Not to mention his is facing re-election and this could hurt him.

    1. Polar Socialist

      (most/all shot down by Russian forces)

      Actually by DNR forces, who added with some not-really-hidden glee that the deed was done using recently acquired Stinger missiles.

      1. XXYY

        Apparently the Russians are forwarding all captured NATO weapons to the DNR. Looks like there are going to be many more of them soon.

        Glad the US taxpayer can help out.

  9. Glen

    Re RussiaGate Doom Loop “Russian” memes –

    I’m sure I saw that in a National Lampoon sometime in the 70’s.

    1. griffen

      Those messaging / memes were messing with my mental state this morning. Well if you like your rockers to produce hit songs then later a top level Tequila, there is Sammy Hagar. I know his prowess was probably built on Van Halen, but he was pretty accomplished before joining.

      There’s only one way to rock.
      “And you can analyze this situation, To me it’s all just mental masturbation”

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Of Roadside Bombs and Drones: Putin’s Looming Insurgency Problem”

    I doubt that the Russians have any desire to occupy Galicia and may be content to leave peacekeepers in Russia-speaking areas of the former Ukraine. Of course NATO might think it smart to feed in thousands of drones like those Switchblades to kill Russians but if US/NATO bases in places like Syria, Somalia and Africa suddenly found themselves under attack and suffering losses to identical drones, then I expect the Russians to throw their arms up on the air when asked about them and say ‘Drones? Drones? What drones? We have no idea what you are talking about.’

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      I wonder if this sort of guerilla approach in digital age form will remain as favorable to insurgents as it has been in the past where economy, small scale, and difficulty to anticipate has favored the underdog, especially if it takes on a proportion that requires a significant response. Why not counter drones? Warning or situational drones, analytical drones and so on. I could be completely wrong, but as far as technical prowess goes, I was under the impression that Russia is highly sophisticated in computer sciences.

    2. Darthbobber

      There are a huge number of “may”s and “may not”s throughout that article. He also appears to operate under the unstated assumption that an insurgency can be created like flipping a switch and that local populations will automatically play along.

      He also ignores the fact that “insurgents” can’t really protect the government’s territorial jurisdiction, enforce conscription, etc etc.

    3. RobertC

      Darthbobber asked the big question — [Will] local populations will automatically play along. Globalized First-World Ukraine is not tribal Third-World Iraq or Afghanistan. Culture matters.

      The other question is how long before commodity prices and shortages lead to Europe ignoring the US and negotiating a peace treaty/armistice along the lines VietnamVet described yesterday?

    4. redleg

      The problem will be temporary, as the Russians are competent at electronic warfare. Look for electronic countermeasures to be effective after a few weeks of they haven’t been implemented already.

  11. LawnDart

    “Beat it” Pt. 2?

    Office of Medellín’s Mayor launches masturbation-awareness campaign

    The Office of the Mayor of the Colombian city of Medellín has launched a most unusual campaign on social media to rid masturbation from the moral prejudices surrounding it.

    For Bedoya, this type of initiative seeks to encourage “uncomfortable conversations to society and the city.” He also stressed his Secretariat was “disruptive,” “progressive” and has a “liberal look”, while Medellín has been a conservative and traditionalist city.

    Liberal look… …bunch of wankers?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Medellín’s Mayor is supposed to be coming to grips with this problem under the tutelage of Jeffrey Toobin.

    2. Questa Nota

      Those memes do seem to settle that old dispute about whether the Times are more tossers or wankers.

    1. Donald

      Any specific offending tweet?

      Whatever one thinks of the accuracy of the competing narrratives on, well, just about everything, I hate how eager liberals are to censor. The usual excuse is that if it is a company then they have the right to do so, but liberals want everyone they consider “ bad” chased off into venues they can then demonize as platforms for hate groups.

      I should add that I am mostly far left, though these days on issues of censorship and cancelling the terms left and right don’t mean much.

      1. Brian L

        Last time, he posted the info on his telegram account. So far, nada on the latest ban. He probably just said “[family blog] it”.

        He has a piece on RT about the NBC revelations in which he skewered the intel community for going against their own rules and destroying their own credibility. They probably did not like that.

      2. JBird4049

        >>>I should add that I am mostly far left, though these days on issues of censorship and cancelling the terms left and right don’t mean much.

        I believe that almost everyone I knew from the 1970s were all in for the Free Speech Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War protests as well as being lefties generally. It was the default position of the left back then. Would any of this be acceptable to those designated as the liberals and leftists of today by the media be for any of that especially if the goal was equality and not equity?

      3. Procopius

        Why on Earth would you call the managers of Twitter “liberal?” Or the editors of any of the MSM?

        1. JBird4049

          It is not what we would call them, but what the MSM calls itself, which means what the average person calls them.

          Here, reality is perception, not fact.

    2. skk

      I wonder if this is due to the first pass at vetting being algorithmic. I’ve done data science/ text analytics for about 10 years ( but stopped 3 years ago) and its hard, very hard, especially when analyzing short pieces of text.

      Picking up sarcasm, irony, double negatives, paradox is really hard to train on ( learn from past, vast samples of data ) and full true labeling rates were around 60%. Not much better than random ( depends how you count it – sensitivity and specificity and all that).

      Setting the boundary between categorizing something as positive and negative is always a balance between labeling something true incorrectly as false and labeling something false as true incorrectly. In medicine, the balance is conservative… In insurance oddly its “pay the man”, keep the rejects low, unless its very large…

      In twitter ? who knows… I’m glad I don’t do this ‘hiding to nothing’ stuff anymore.

      1. digi_owl

        Picking up sarcasm, irony, double negatives, paradox is really hard to train on ( learn from past, vast samples of data ) and full true labeling rates were around 60%. Not much better than random ( depends how you count it – sensitivity and specificity and all that).

        From decades online, i’d say that is about on par with your avarage commentariat reader. There is a reason Poe’s Law about written sarcasm was formulated back in the Usenet days.

  12. Martin Oline

    I found many of today’s links to be informative and worth my time to read. Thank you for your continued fine work. This comment is off topic and has nothing about Ukraine or the French elections but then it is Sunday.
    I read all of the Mick Herron books a couple of years ago. He is an English author who wrote the Oxford series mysteries and the Slow Horse spy novel thrillers. The Oxford series is fairly obscure and many libraries don’t have them. I started reading him with the second Oxford book because the first was unavailable. Zoe Boehm, a wonderfully cynical character, drives the action throughout it. This series of four books alternates between two protagonists, Zoe and Sarah Tucker. Sarah, the main character of the first book of the series, is a bored and unhappy housewife who becomes involved in a missing child case. She eventually becomes her own person but her progress is rather slow.
    The Slow Horse books are more available and that popularity will only increase now that BBC has started a series based on them called Slow Horses. Apple TV is broadcasting it here in the United States starting this Spring.
    Gary Oldman portrays Jackson Lamb, the head of the group of failed MI5 agents who are banished to Slough House. Jackson Lamb shares much of the cynicism of the Zoe Boehm character perhaps because he is an old cold war veteran who was stationed in Berlin during the Cold War. He is more off-color than Zoe and very politically incorrect. Personally I love the character. This group of failed agents are derisively called the Slow Horses. The dialogue of the books is wonderful and writing the script for the series must have been a breeze.
    The cast has many veteran British actors such as Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Saskia Reeves. Jonathan Pryce, who was the star in Brazil and played Cardinal Wolsey in Wolf Hall plays David Cartwright, the grandfather of River Cartwright, a young agent unjustly banished to Slough House. David is a retired high-ranking spy and gives River much needed advise. One reviewer has mistakenly thought he is River’s father. I hope the series has a long life but for those who want to know more about this story, here is a link to the books by Mick Herron at Fantastic Fiction.
    Mick Herron

    1. JohnA

      I will happily watch anything with Kristin Scott Thomas. It remains a mystery to me and most men I have ever asked, how Hugh Grant could possibly have preferred Andie MacDowell to her in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

    2. s.n.

      thanks for this. i just discovered Jackson Lamb & co. last year and read them all in a month or so.
      Recommend them highly: funny & literate. If only there were more…

    3. Maxwell Johnston

      Glad to hear that Slough House will be on screen, that’s great news. I bought the complete series last year (7 books total, unless Herron has written another in the meantime) and read them with pleasure. Jackson Lamb is a long way from George Smiley (let alone the 007 of Connery and Moore), but BoJo’s UK is also a long way from what it was, so there we are. It will be fun to see how Oldman portrays him. I recommend all 7 books wholeheartedly, they are really quite good.

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

        I too have enjoyed the Slough House books. Perhaps not quite of le Carré standard, but then, what is? (In fact, you could say that even much of later le Carré is not up to the mark achieved by the classic works: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Karla trilogy, A Perfect Spy. Still, I read the posthumously published Silverview in December and thought it quite good – a return more or less to form after the disappointing Agent Running in the Field, which lacked nuance and was too one-dimensional for my tastes.)

        I’ll now seek out the Apple TV series, for the pleasure of watching Oldman, Pryce, and Scott Thomas chew the scenery. Thanks for the recommendation.

    4. playon

      We started watching the show (three episodes to date) and are enjoying it. Need to check out his books next.

    5. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Have been watching for about a week now! It’s a great show!!!

      The only quibble I have is how the *SPOILER ALERT* the head of OPS (Kristen Scott Thomas) stages a far right beheading on a Pakistani. Mi5 or whatever they’re called use an undercover agent to create a false flag to then get rid of the “domestic far right problem.” I’m sure the series will get more nuanced as it goes along but these storylines are normalizing treating citizens as terrorists for using their right to free speech.

      Gary Oldman is fn hilarious…especially when he let’s out a long juicy smelly fart in Kristen’s presence!

      Speaking of Apple TV: Severance and Servant are two of the best Streaming shows on rn!

      1. Martin Oline

        I’m sure the series will get more nuanced as it goes along
        Oh no, it won’t. The lady (Diana Taverner, 2nd chair of MI5) is a kiss up kick down careerist type with which we are all so familiar. She continues to conspire with aspiring politicians and directs her underlings to do dirty deeds dirt cheap or ‘off the books’.

  13. anon y'mouse

    according to my sociology class over a decade ago, the possibility of “doing better than one’s parents” only approaches 50% for recipients of the baccalaurate degree and above. below that, and it’s below 50%(shading down as one goes down, if i remember correctly) with most just barely managing to maintain their parents’ status. only a 10% chance of coming from the lowest position into the highest, and i wonder if that hasn’t gone down since or if it was the result of generous rounding up.

    since getting to that level requires tremendous hoop jumping from those of us from poor areas and was something i only managed to do at 40 y.o. lacking any parental help whatsoever, i doubt very seriously the rest of Biden’s shpiel in his speech, regardless of how many miles he didn’t travel in whichever mountain range he wasn’t in.

    don’t quibble with details; quibble with the main thrust of his message.

  14. The Rev Kev

    ‘150 years ago today at Appomattox, Robert E. Lee unveiled the Confederate flag’s final design.’

    To be fair, it started off with the “Star and Bars” but after four years in the field, it got kinda sun-faded. Bad news for the South is that they lost. Good news for them is that they got the Allman Brothers and NASCAR so there is that.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Bad news for the South is that they lost.

      Obviously, you’ve never been to Mississippi.

      1. ambrit

        Sorry to tell you, but Mississippi recently changed the State flag to eliminate the residual “Confederate Battle Flag” in the canton.
        This is really just pragmatism. The state is half black and half white in population. Why unnecessarily piss of half of your people? Even the “Olde Guarde” have finally realized that. (The switch was achieved through a ballot initiative, so, the People have spoken.)

        1. Michael Ismoe

          They may have changed the flag but the state is one big plantation. The only difference between winning and losing The Civil War is that Black people have the right to vote (they are working on this) but they put them into “ghetto districts” so that their votes mean nothing.

      2. griffen

        Not just Mississippi, but particular wooded regions nearby such as western NC and other vast areas. Northwest Georgia, I have been told by a reliable source, was and likely remains solid country for Trump. I hesitate to paint a broad brush to extend that alliance with or for Trump to “them folks” are still carrying the burden of the Lost Cause.

        I do see quite a few Confederate flags flying near me in the upstate portion of South Carolina. Usually on a rolling coal sorta vehicle.

    2. johnherbiehancock

      I’ve found the deep dive The War Nerd recently did into the sympathy many (if not most) Northern West Point-educated generals had for the South & it’s lifestyle, very illuminating as to why they fought very reluctantly early in the War, and treated the Confederates – who engaged in armed treason against the United States, a high capital crime in the Constitution – with kid gloves after it was over. McClellan and Don Carlos Buell were particularly shameful.

      1. LifelongLib

        Just started reading a biography of McClellan. Not very far in but early in the war both Lincoln and McClellan thought the South could be persuaded to return to the Union if military action was relatively restrained. As the war went on Lincoln changed his mind but McClellan didn’t.

        1. The Rev Kev

          That sounds just like the Russian war in the Ukraine. They went in softly but after the resistance, they are reverting to their classic doctrine.

          1. LifelongLib

            Wars have changed. The U.S. Civil War began with strict orders against looting and ended with Sherman’s march. Even then civilian deaths were only 2% of the total. IIRC in some recent African wars civilian deaths were 90% of the total. I expect Ukraine will be somewhere in between.

  15. GramSci

    Re: Averting the looming purge of Medicaid

    «My colleagues and I have worked with people on Medicaid for several decades, helping them through the “redetermination” process. It may be the most complex government application process in existence and, ironically, it is undertaken by a population that is the least able to see it through.»

    Another complex process: A few years back I found myself helping Haitian immigrants with the Earned Income Tax Credit. Yikes!

  16. Michael Ismoe

    I know that the people here on NC mock the idea of Russian interference in our “democratic elections” but I do have some anecdotal evidence that it worked. After watching that video warning about the dangers of masturbation, I refused to vote for Joe Biden.

    1. playon

      I certainly didn’t need any help from the Russians to stop me voting for Biden (I voted Green).

      1. Arizona Slim

        The Russia! Russia! Russia! hysteria inspired me to do something really scary! It inspired me to begin studying the Russian language!

  17. Dr. John Carpenter

    I was waiting for the “Putin will use Ukraine war to meddle in US election” stories. I have a hunch the stores were written a while ago, they just took the time to add Ukraine to them. I can’t see this storyline having any impact among anyone who isn’t already a true believer but I give them credit for their consistency on this one.

    And do I even need to mention the irony of how “involved” the US has been in Ukraine politics or how the US has used Ukraine as a stick to poke Russia?

    1. Jason Boxman

      I am fairly certain that the NY Times would use the sun rising as an excuse to claim Russian interference in US elections. Propagandists gotta propaganda.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      I think you would be surprised at just how many people swallow the lies, exhaustively, and live in the constructed fantasy no matter how thin and shaky it’s projection gets. It’s a form of addiction and there is no easy scientific explanation for how it starts or how to end it. But it obeys the observation that if one experiences (or indulges in) something long enough and with enough quantity (hard enough), they become addicted – no matter who. Belief is then part of their survival strategy – maintaining a fix. Interestingly, some of these addictions are positive, like running or gym exercise.

      That people can listen to the BBC or PBS (take Amanpour for instance), and soak it up as broadly unquestionable fact testifies by its very outrageousness as to just how powerful addiction can be.

      1. newcatty

        Anything could be that an addiction, as you define it, can be harmful if over done or interferes with a healthy life. Running or gym exercise can be detrimental if over done. Know that some people, obsessed with weight and appearance can fall into that trap. Often as a part of their obsession with diet. Many people with eating disorders are addicted to extreme physical activity. The people who believe the lies, fabrications and narratives from MSM are looking for someone to tell them what in the hells going on in the country and world. It’s all conflated with the tribal ID they belong to at the moment . To calm the cognitive dissonance of what is actually happening, they turn to the authority of the news. IMO, this isn’t addiction, it’s psychological defense.

  18. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Intel: Putin may cite Ukraine war to meddle in US politics AP.

    I’ll never be able to read “reporting” like this again without thinking of the nbc / ken dilanian article from a few days ago flat out admitting that “we’re just makin’ shit up and we have our reasons.”

    Here are the article’s second and third paragraphs, completely factless and evidence free, that “support” the headline:

    Intelligence agencies have so far not found any evidence that Putin has authorized measures like the ones Russia is believed to have undertaken in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections in support of former President Donald Trump, according to several people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive findings.

    But given Putin’s antipathy toward the West and his repeated denunciations of Ukraine, officials believe he may see the U.S. backing of Ukraine’s resistance as a direct affront to him, giving him further incentive to target another U.S. election, the people said. It is not yet clear which candidates Russia might try to promote or what methods it might use.

    It’s as pathetic as it is insulting.

    1. Stick'em

      “measures like the ones Russia is believed to have undertaken”

      The statement is true when read literally. Many ‘Mericans believe in Russiagate. It doesn’t mater there is no evidence. What matters is the belief it happened. Belief is doing Atlas-level heavy lifting in this sentence.

      “‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out.”
      ~ I Believe Karl Rove

    2. GC54

      Maybe when he gets a moment to attend to this burning issue, he’ll push HRC so as to accelerate the US’ decline.

    3. Cat Burglar

      Notice, some paragraphs down, that the DCI’s flack wouldn’t say anything for attribution about “Putin’s antipathy toward the West:” DeHaay declined to comment on what intelligence officials think of Putin’s intentions. So they won’t take responsibility for it.

      You’re right to be insulted by this article, because it is saturated with duplicity.

      But I have found AP reporter Nomaan Merchant’s articles repay close attention. They often have a sensationalist blobby lede like this one did, but Nomaan usually diligently sources and qualifies the assertions.

      So what you get is a story with a How-Dumb-Are-You? presentation, like the lede and the headline, that suggest the true experts have every reason to expect a shockingly malign campaign by the ruskies to pervert our innocent and unsuspecting Democracy! Merchant collects his paycheck and our concerned and innocent citizens can be alarmed, as our propaganda handlers intend us to be. The article fulfills it’s first function: to dupe the rubes who are not careful readers.

      But the article has a second function: to keep the network of our handlers well-informed enough to do their job, and stay on message. (And maybe also to preserve Merchant’s self-respect as a journalist.) Because the lede carries a key qualification, that some anonymous individuals claimed by Merchant to be intelligence officials have “assessed” — in plain English, guessed without any evidence– that Eurasia will attack Oceania with propaganda during the next election. And paragraph 2 confirms that in the first sentence — there is no evidence, and nobody would go on the record, making them look like a fool and maybe eventually putting their job at risk if things get exposed, to say otherwise, not even the DCI! We only get some guy from the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance For Securing Democracy saying he’s “almost certain” it might happen. If we survive all this, and the whole suckering campaign is exposed, Merchant will be able to point to this article and say, “See, it says right here they had no evidence!”

      You have to love the paragraphs where Merchant rolls out the propaganda memes on foreign interference in US elections at the same time he states that they are founded only on allegations, investigations, and indictments, but not on evidence or convictions. We’re being told that advancing the foreign interference meme has to be done, but carefully, if con artists are not to trip themselves up — by god, be careful if the audience isn’t a bunch of suckers, or you’ll be caught out.

      Both the marks and the handlers are given something to work for, to give them Hope — a Foreign Malign Influence Center to get funded. Apparently, it is felt that the 17 intelligence agencies we already have are not enough, and we have to pay for some new ones. If we do, then the public can go back to sleep until the next time they are called upon to emote (remember, for the PMC, the public can only feel but not think, because they have no accreditation they receive a check for). It is unclear what the Malign Influence Center will do, but it will apparently monitor propaganda from foreign countries held to be adversaries, and perhaps issue guidance to citizens. For some reason, the FBI can’t stop foreign interference in elections, but the CIA can.

      You could say that the entire article is about Malign Influence.

  19. Screwball

    The “Intel: Putin may cite Ukraine war to meddle in US politics” article.

    I forced myself to read the entire article. I saw this yesterday and could only get through the first two paragraphs. What a great example of propaganda IMO.

      1. Dftbs

        Why would Putin want the Dems to lose? Seems Biden has worked out swimmingly for Moscow. The only thing better than an enemy doing something stupid, is a stupid enemy.

    1. CaliDan

      Apropos propaganda, obliquely, the Mrs. and I tried to casually rewatch the mid-80’s Knight Rider––having seen it and remembered liking it when we were children––as a way to declutter after a long day. To our chagrin, the extent to which the show normalizes mercenaries, NGOs, think tanks, us versus them-ism, vigilantism (not to mention the forthcoming internet of things (as well as the insufferable car-loving incuriousness of the protagonist (and also the horrific writting that obviously never crossed a woman’s eyes (and, dude, the acting is way cringe))))––well, suffice it to say we are not pleased. So on behalf of our childhoods, to whom shall we address the strongly worded letter of complaint? (Oh yeah I almost forgot, Michael Knight seems to just trip over crime; that’s how prevalent the writers want us to to think it is!)

  20. wol

    Off topic- I have been compiling a dossier of quotes from the NC commentariat that I refer to from time to time. I’ve searched for one- attributed to ‘Beatrice’? -about the wealthy being too blessed to look behind them at the less economically favored. Much obliged if someone can repost or point me to the origin. Thanks in advance!

  21. bwilli123

    Interesting (if overstated) thread on the size of Russia’s and China’s economies vs the US. & Europe’s. Argues that services sector size should be discounted in favor of industrial & commodities.

    “when you adjust for this Russia’s economy is vastly bigger than Germany’s….All in all, this means that China and Russia’s economies combined are in fact likely about 35% of the world’s economy when taking PPP into account as well as compensating for the over-valuation of the service sector.”

    1. dftbs

      The picture looks even more grim if you adjust for Central Bank balance sheets due to QE(not all central bank activity is shenanigans, but monetizing debt is!). Size of economies in PPP-QE adjusted terms puts the order as: China (its own league), followed by India, USA and Russia closely packed together, then followed by Germany and Japan.

      That the QE mechanism is breaking down in the face of surging inflation probably bodes even worse for the three nations above with very active central banks (ECB counts for Germany).

      Another note, Indias population is four times that of the US, this goes a long way to explaining its PPP-QE adjusted size as the 2nd largest economy. Russia’s population is less than half the US, yet it rivals it if you use PPP and adjust for Central Bank QE. Doesn’t say much for the productive capacity of the average John vs. the average Ivan.

    2. digi_owl

      That is perhaps a major problem of neoclassical economics. As long as some activity makes money change hands, it is all fine and dandy. I can see why Steve Keen constantly comes round to the French physiocrats as having the right idea but lacking the tools at their time.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Biden’s “possibilities” and the promise of America

    This brings to mind a poker buddy of mine who doesn’t like folding because every hand could be a winner. After the flop is dealt and you’re staring at a 3-7-J off suit on the table, he will interject with “Possibilities!”, which generally means he’s chasing a low inside straight and is about to lose.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The dumbest part is the idea Xi pitched Biden a question one might find in a DAR essay contest.

      1. Tom Doak

        Xi might well have been trying to assess old Joe’s brain power, just in case he got into a position of importance someday.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Serbia and Hungary Are the Threats to the West From Inside the House”

    Does the readership of Foreign Policy really take this garbage as the truth? I checked and found that both the authors are from the American Enterprise Institute meaning that they believe in the ‘All-stick-no-carrot’ school of diplomacy which has proven to be so popular in places like Mexico, China and India. They are saying that both Serbia and Hungary have to be severely punished for not falling in line with NATO and the EU (or do I repeat myself?) but seeing to their own national interests first. And I suspect that a regime change operation would not be out of the question either, especially for – as Madeline Albright put it – those ‘disgusting Serbs.’ And if they are going to try to cut off ALL future EU funds from Hungary, not only will this deepen the split between western and eastern Europe, but they should not be surprised if Hungary invites the Chinese in to set up shop to help with development instead. Turns out that in a multipolar world, countries once again get a choice.

    1. TimmyB

      That article was illuminating in that it also exposed US hypocrisy. It seems “Ukraine, as a sovereign nation, has the right to chose to join NATO.”

      But Serbia and Hungary don’t seem to share the same right to make foreign policy choices. Guess they aren’t as sovereign. Nor is Pakistan, who’s PM we just overthrew because he supported Russia.

  24. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    Further to the French links, keep an eye on what percentage the Socialists get as there will be an impact on their funding from government and ability to campaign in June’s National Assembly elections. Should the Socialists fail to clear 5% today, their ability to contest the June elections will be severely curtailed. They will probably have to sell their HQ, if not file for bankruptcy.

    At midday, turn out was recorded at 25%.

    French family and friends are disillusioned and, from what I pick up without asking, unlikely to vote. Abstentions could be the largest %.

    It will be interesting to hear from NC’s France based contingent.

    Speaking of France, there’s good horse racing from a sunny Longchamp this afternoon. Edouard de Rothschild’s Marquise de Sevigne looks a good long term prospect.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Unofficial polls with two hours to go put Macron and Le Pen neck and neck at 24% and Melenchon at 19%. Absentions are at 25%.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Macron, 28%, meets Le Pen, 24%, in the second round. Good result for Melenchon at 20%. Pecresse’s melt down is as bad as the more predictable Socialist disaster. Game on as Le Pen has the momentum and neither Zemmour nor Pecresse are advising supporters how to vote.

        One wonders what Marion Marechal Le Pen is thinking, having deserted the family business to ally with Zemmour, 6%, in the hope of having a shot at 2027.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Pecresse has changed her mind and is urging supporters to vote for Macron. Only Zemmour has advised a vote for Le Pen.

    2. David

      Thank you Colonel. Unless something remarkable happens, the Socialists will indeed come in at under 5%, and this will be a financial disaster for them. The last polls gave Hildago 2%: extraordinary for a party which controlled all levels of government ten years ago. They already had to sell their plush HQ in the 7th arrondissement after the hammering they received in 2012 (6% for their candidate) and at this rate they will be living in tents.

      The latest figures for turnout are a fraction under 60% at 18h00. It’s a fine day here, so there may be a late rush of voting. We expect the first exit polls in about an hour (20h00 CET) and I will try to post a quick note about them. However, all the polls up to Friday showed Macron and Le Pen qualifying for the second round, and Mélenchon coming a decent third. It will take some time to look through the entrails of the results to see who might ultimately win.

      Incidentally, I was looking through the prospectus of the Communist candidate, Fabien Roussel, who is projected to beat the Socialist. Not only does it contain a lot of good sense, it’s actually close to the Social Democratic programmes up to the 1980s, and indeed De Gaulle would probably have gone along with much of it. Shows how things have changed.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Many thanks, David.

        One looks forward to your insights as the next fortnight unfolds.

  25. digi_owl

    First of all, is that the Russian spirit animal?

    Second, more and more it seems like Florida is the infected apendix of USA. It may well be better for the national psyche to have it exorcised, with prejudice.

  26. Carolinian

    Re L.A. Review thumbsucker on the internet–roll back the clock forty or fifty years and you could read the same complaint about television and and the same fears that this new cultural force was destroying our brains. Indeed given that the average American spends five hours a day on the tube, and probably get the majority of their internet via smartphones, it’s arguable that television is still the dominant force.

    Of course back when TV really ruled our world it needed to be a lot more consensus driven–the snooty intellectuals called it “lowest common denominator”–because there were only three networks in a fierce battle for ratings. But that consensus era wasn’t necessarily more benign since it gave us the first Cold War, Vietnam, Reagan, many of the things that have really shaped our world for the worst. Whereas some of us still believe that Facebook is just a fad and Twitter an even more puzzling vanity outlet. Meanwhile the interviewed expert praises Wikipedia for its purity and seems unaware that it too is manipulated by behind the scenes actors.

    We are better off for having the web. It’s those actors who are the problem.

  27. GramSci

    The Internet is not what Justin E.H. Smith thinks it is, either.

    Smith explores the technological roots of the internet, citing “telegraphy, telephony, radio, fiber optic cables” and cinema, but never mentions television.

    For me, the internet went to hell when it went CinemaScope(tm) and peacock-colored.

  28. The Rev Kev

    ‘Stepan the #cat from #Kharkiv has been nominated for the most prestigious award in the Influencers industry – World Influencers and Bloggers Awards 2022.’

    Chaos broke out in the cat world when it was revealed that Stepan was actually born in Moscow and is therefore on the EU’s banned Russian Cats List. Therefore the ‘World Influencers and Bloggers Awards 2022’ will go instead to Adolf from Germany.

    1. Brunches with Cats

      I had that thought, too, Rev. Early on in news coverage of the invasion, Ukrainians were shown fleeing to Poland with their cats, and I swear they all looked like Russian Blues or Siberian cats.

      Stepan was a rescue cat and thus without an incriminating pedigree or birthplace. He’s further spared from international condemnation by virtue of his tabby pattern. If he had anything close to a pedigree, the likeliest breed would be a Russian Tabby, which is deemed by the snooty arbiters of feline worthiness to be a variation of the Russian Blue (as are the Russian White and the Russian Black), and these hybrid colors/pattern are unacceptable for show. I haven’t confirmed, but I believe they’re also not acceptable for registration as Russian Blues (happy to be corrected if that’s not true).

      Of course, it’s also fortunate for the unfortunately named Stepan that soppy Ukraine supporters are too ignorant of the region’s history to understand the significance of his name.

  29. Stick'em

    re: The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is: A History, A Philosophy, A Warning

    The author is a Leibniz scholar, so the Internet is approached from this starting point. He makes a case Liebniz is at the root of our current society’s obsession with techonological optimism. Basically Liebniz wanted to invent a machine that would know everything and settle all mankind’s disputes rationally, thus achieving world peace in our time. Ahem. Sounds like my brother-in-law: “Want world peace? There’s an app for that! And a YouTube video to show you how to use it!”

    We all realize the Internet isn’t ^ this. But what is it? Why it’s the opposite – duh! Today’s Upside Down Day!

    The Internet was created through the DoD/DARPA construction of ARPANET for – you guessed it – military purposes:

    As a military creation, perhaps it is no surprise today the Internet primarily functions as panopticon surveillance of civilians though private corporations, as we learned from the PRISM program leak:

    NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google, and Facebook

    Don’t get me wrong, there are things to love about the Internet. This morning, I downloaded a Hannah Arendt book on Lying in Politics from this Russian library pirate website called LibGen. The internet has wonderful resources, such as Wikipedia, and even rare trustworthy news aggregator communities like NakedCapitalism, if we know where to look.

    But the take home message of all this should be if there is no monetary cost to using an app or website, then you are the product being sold. That’s what the Internet is really for, best I can figure (and I’m no fancy mathematician like Leibniz), the surveillance and commodification of human beings.

    Granted, haven’t read Justin Smith’s book to see if he touches on these subjects, so maybe that’s part of his warning. It should be common knowledge to anyone who owns a smartphone. My guess is 9/10 ‘Mericans never heard of DARPA or PRISM because we just keep scrolling.

  30. Dftbs

    With regards to the AP story and election interference. Now that the gloves are off, I can’t imagine why Russia wouldn’t go to great lengths to influence our elections and make sure Biden or his Dem successor wins the next one. After all the current Dem regime has given Russia a bonanza of strategic victories. This crew is making Putin look like the Harlem Globetrotters, why would he want to take the Washington Generals off the court?

    1. pjay

      – “This crew is making Putin look like the Harlem Globetrotters, why would he want to take the Washington Generals off the court?”

      Thanks for this great line. I’m going to use it the next time anyone makes noises about “Russian interference” to me

  31. Tom Stone

    The blowback from supplying Ukraine with thousands of Stinger missiles is going to last a long time.
    There’s no way to keep track of them and the right wing extremists and outright NAZI’s are very well funded and have close connections with similar groups across Europe and in the United States.
    I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that some had already made a round trip and are stashed with other weapons in several US States.

      1. wilroncanada

        I’m more concerned that Alberta is. Let’s all sing together: This Land Is Freedland!

      2. newcatty

        A relative in southern CA told me that a lot of high school kids in her kid’s graduating class were going to Idaho universities for college. I remarked that a big influx of conservatives and those extreme right wingers were moving to Idaho, as to live among their “kind of people”. A lot of families have escaped decadent CA, not only to our fair AZ, but north. My not following noose relative said, Oh! That explains it.

        1. playon

          There is a certain amount of that kind of thing around here too. People are moving here who dislike “liberal” culture (and there are fewer people of color, as a bonus) who want to have their fantasy mini-ranch with a few horses etc. Easy to do if you are selling a home in CA or Seattle, you can buy a house and some land here and still have money in the bank.

    1. Paradan

      I heard a rumor that Israeli arms dealers are buying up all that stuff getting sent to Ukraine. I’m gonna go against my better judgement and assume that they are doing it to keep it out of anti-Israeli hands. Since they seem to understand how corrupt the Ukraine is, they know that many officers/etc can sell that stuff off and get enough cash to buy their way out of a losing battle.

    2. Darthbobber

      In “The Age of Extremes” Hobsbawm mentions that after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan the US launched a program to buy back the manpads we’d flooded the country with, but that there were few takers because their value on the market exceeded our price. It’s vastly easier to flood a place with lethal stuff than to undo that

  32. Eclair

    RE: You can’t hold hands with God …

    We were traveling through Utah and Wyoming in the past few days. Lots of big sky and endless vistas of gorgeous rock formations, mountains and sage brush, but dotted with enormous billboards listing the hotline to Jesus. Messages such as, “When you die, will you go to Heaven or Hell?! Call xxxxxxxxx and get Jesus!”

    But my favorite: “Plagued by Lust? Jesus can Help! Call xxxxxxxxx”

    1. jefemt

      My favorite Wyoming billboard (west of Casper on the road to Shoshone)

      “Your in-laws are not a retirement plan”

      1. Jfreon

        I dialed it today traveling across I-70 in Missouri just for kicks. The wife and I got a laugh, but they think they are serious do gooders.

        83 got faith. 8336787884

    2. griffen

      Plagued by lust. Yeah on that topic, in college used to have a good crew to hang out with. Anytime at the beach, if we happened upon a young, feminine beauty enjoying the sun and sand of Pensacola Beach, someone among us would encourage our human thoughts with the below.

      “Roseanne Barr, naked…” still makes me giggle. Early 1990s, mind you. One way to tame that lustful beast(!)

      1. jr

        In a similar vein: as a younger man I was prone to “standing at attention” at the worst of times. My solution? Picture Earnest Borgnine leering at me. Problem solved. Pronto.

    3. skippy

      Interspersed with Vasectomy ads and its reversal – ????? – seems like the “Plan” is to get hitched, have kids, get the snip for monetary reasons, divorce – see aforementioned, socially non compliant too “The Plan”, start process all over again ….

      Personally … I don’t even want to know what the field is like for the 60s +/- crowd two years post medical event driven divorce, even if some say I look 50 and fit too boot …. then some say you should just get back on the horse …. but yeah …. what if’n the horse is trying to kill or maim you I say …

      BTW did Biden really say – ***God Given Talents*** – in the divine sense … then some ponder the self righteousness[tm] of some in authority and their attitude to others in that mental mind set …

    4. anon y'mouse

      was the Plague of Lust the unspoken 8th plague of Egypt?

      the Ten Commandments was on last night, but sadly not streaming for free to me. but going by that movie, it probably was.

  33. flora

    Yesterday, there was an interesting post about shortening lifespans in the US in the last 10 years, specifically with reference to the last 2.5 years and c19. My comment is not about c19 or the last 2.5 years. It is about the last 10-15 years.

    The economic destruction of the middle and working classes going on for the past 25 years we all know about. We know about the opioid legal over prescribing and over doses. We now know more than we did about how pharma has financial hooks into the CDC and FDA, thanks to a 1992 bill granting ‘user fees’ and patent co-ownership rights to these govt regulating agencies. (The latest example of pay-to-play was the recent approval of an Alzheimer’s drug that shows no benefit to patients.)

    So, where am I going with this. From the CDC’s own website.

    Percent of persons using at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days: 48.6% (2015-2018)
    Percent of persons using three or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days: 24% (2015-2018)
    Percent of persons using five or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days: 12.8% (2015-2018)

    Source: Health, United States, 2019, table 39 pdf icon[PDF – 9.8 MB]

    When did this country start getting so sick? My question is this: are we being overpharma’ed, are we being pharma’ed to death? (Too foily? There’s lots of money to be made. Where large sums of money are involved, etc)

    adding: I’m for medicine that’s tried and true and used appropriately. But, something doesn’t add up.

    1. flora

      adding: this CDC study (end date 2017) is interesting:

      Main Findings:

      During the study period (2009–2017)

      -About 1 in 6 (17%) children aged 3–17 years were diagnosed with a developmental disability, as reported by parents;
      In the study population, some groups of children were more likely to have been diagnosed with a developmental disability than others, such as:
      Boys compared to girls;
      Non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black children compared to Hispanic children or non-Hispanic children of other races;
      Children living in rural areas compared to children living in urban areas; and
      Children with public health insurance compared to uninsured children and children with private insurance.

      -The percentage of children aged 3–17 years diagnosed with a developmental disability increased–from 16.2% in 2009–2011 to 17.8% in 2015–2017.
      Specifically, diagnoses increased for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (8.5% to 9.5%), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (1.1% to 2.5%), and intellectual disabilities (ID) (0.9% to 1.2%).*

      * The reasons for these increases were not examined in the current study,…

      It’s hard for me to believe 17% (and increasing) of our children have real developmental disabilities. Maybe they do, or manybe there is something very wrong with the US environment – changes in food, new and increasing pollution, changes in pharma, changes in medicine, etc.

      1. ambrit

        There is also, (I know you considered this,) plain greed involved.
        Given what is known about how giving amphetamines to pre-teens harms physical brain development, the continued over prescription of Adderall et. al. to school children is a criminal enterprise.
        It is hard for ‘normal’ people, with functioning consciences, to comprehend the mind sets of Psycopaths and Sociopaths. However, the evidence suggests that Modern Capitalism self selects for just such anti-social persons in positions of power and influence.
        As the estimable Mr Strether says: “We are ruled by the Harkonnens.”

      2. Lex

        From the elderly dog we have now, with his ventricular pacemaker and seven daily medications, and looking back at the four dogs before him of the same breed, where I can see how much we missed because we didn’t know what or how to look at what was right in front of us… I’m inclined to say that there’s a stronger argument for ‘not getting sicker’ (somewhat true) as much as better diagnoses and prognoses, but disappointment at how slow the pace of advancement seems to be.

        There are bigger problems obscuring our view. Veterinary and human health are too generalized, not sufficiently tailored to individual patients. The words ‘normal’ or ‘average’ still reign supreme, when they don’t really have any meaning. Lab tests means based on a small demographic (young/male) to which the rest of humanity doesn’t fit but are used to establish diagnoses and treatment. Overwhelming numbers of potential cases and not nearly enough doctors/physician’s assistants/nurse practitioners to meet the need. Beneath that calm exterior every physician you see is paddling as fast as they can, just not necessarily for the sake of all their patients.

        And then there’s those predatory corporate interests… we just lost our vet PT to Banfield and a steady paycheck in North Carolina. Grrrrrrr!

      3. antidlc

        I would recommend the following documentary:

        Generation RX

        The sale of mind and mood-altering drugs to young children has grown to a more than $69 billion-a-year industry in the United States. ‘GENERATION Rx’ poses the question: “What are the REAL effects on children when we give them antipsychotic, ADHD or ‘antidepressant’ drugs?” International award-winning director Kevin P. Miller follows families who gave their young children on these mind-bending drugs—some with devastating results. The mother of Christopher Blagbrough describes seeing her son’s behavior deteriorate from the effects of taking prescribed Prozac as “a downward spiral .. there was nothing we could do to stop” Christopher’s drug-induced death. Through interviews with science journalists as well as medical, academic, and ethics professionals, the filmmaker builds a strong case that questions the integrity and motives of some pharmaceutical companies – as well as the Food and Drug Administration – as they market and approve these drugs for use in children. ‘Generation Rx’ was originally released in November 2008.

      4. anon y'mouse

        have you considered the possibility that we are just simply measuring more, and trying to regiment what “normal” development is more?

        in other words, humans have never been to standard but now that natural variation is found “wanting”. do note that those who are found wanting are the poor on public health insurance, who are likely being watched and measured (thus inadvertently regulated) much more for signs and symptoms of neglect, thus “deficits” more likely to be noted.

        so, partially the stats could be created and not genuinely rising. this is similar to that argument that some of the increase in autism rates is due to the change in definition and criteria for autism–we “know what it is now” and are looking for signs of it. naturally, we find some.

        **note, i’m not saying that autism or disabilities have not genuinely increased.

    2. Jen

      About 15 years ago I was going through my annual visit with a new PCP. One of her first comments was “wow, no medications?” I was 40 at the time, and in perfect health. She said almost all of her patients were on some prescription drug or another.

    3. Laura in So Cal

      When I had to have my gall bladder removed about 5 years ago when I was 52 years old, I got the same question asked multiple times in a row because the nurses didn’t seem to understand my answer. The question was “what medications are you taking?” My answer was “none.” It was weird.

      1. Nikkikat

        I have experienced this myself Laura. Whether it was for shingles or a colonoscopy multiple phone calls and back and forth about “ There being some kind of mistake because the computer is not showing what drugs you’re currently taking. When I reply that I take no drugs. The eye brows raise. What your don’t take anything? No, I do not take anything. I will never take anything.

        1. newcatty

          Jen, Laura and Nikkikat similar experiences. Once upon a time I was prescribed medication that had awful side effects. I stopped it immediately and my PCP was actually angry with me and immediately referred me to a specialist. When the specialist office called, I said I felt no need for an evaluation. The office person said, Well, from what we can see from your records sent from the referring physician it doesn’t seem necessary at this time. I thanked her for her time. Have not taken any medication, except a rare antibiotic ( which I only took because of necessity, imo) since. As the years have gone by, every single time I have had an operation, like eye surgery, or a dental procedure the docs or nurses say, Nothing? I repeat it and they look incredulous or one really doubled down on questions about my diet and “lifestyle “. As a funny, but kind of sad anecdote of our times, a close family member some years ago said, X shouldn’t you be on a pill? Some decades younger than me, my relative just assumed all old people were on meds of some kind.

          1. Cat Burglar

            Locker room anecdote: Two older guys nearby were getting dressed. From their talk it was clear they were both doctors at the local hospital, and they were casually taking shop together about older patients.

            It came to one of them to ask, “Hey, it seems like just about every patient I have over 65 is on some kind of medication; I don’t think I have a single one not on medication. Is that the same for you?” The other guy thought for a while, saying, “I’ve never thought about that before, but I think you’re probably right, I can’t think of a single unmedicated patient I have over 65. You know, I bet it is the Medicare intake examination that does it. Everybody gets checked up, and they might catch a lot of preexisting conditions.” They also considered that the intake checkup might also encourage patients to medicate.

    4. wilroncanada

      It adds up to less than 15 percent not consuming any prescription meds. (4 to 8 years ago).

    5. Allwaysalert

      I am from India. A few years ago a friend, a permanent resident in USA, returned for good. For the next three plus years he would freely dole out paracetamol tablets from a 500s bottle. Turns out, just before returning he was in a clinic for a complaint of cough, cold, fever. That pack was part of the prescription. No wonder your country is in the grip of pharma overdose. In India, the same complaint would beget a max of six, 6, tabs in a thrice a day regimen. Cheers

  34. Michael Ismoe

    WASHINGTON DC: April 10, 2022

    President Hillary Clinton offered her sincere congratulations to President Macron on his successful re-election campaign. “He’s just so far ahead in the polls that the election is just a formality,” she said in a statement jointly issued with her daughter, Chelsea, the current vice president.”

    “They don’t have electoral votes in France, do they?” she asked as she left the White House press office.

  35. Mikel

    Multiscale modelling/superspreader events:

    And importantly: “From a public health perspective, our results provide yet another reason to intensely focus NPIs on preventing large SSEs. This policy prescription includes the prohibition of large indoor gatherings among unvaccinated people, a focus on adequate ventilation in indoor work environments and schools, and enforcement of highest quality masks (K95 or N95) in circumstances where high-risk group exposures cannot be avoided.”

    They can’t let go of the lie that their shot therapies stop the spread of the virus.
    How many years will the wait be for admitting the non-sterilizing “vaccines” are also contributing to the hyper speed appearance of wild variants?

  36. GramSci

    That second punchline was an adept walk-back. It shows me that she’s still calculating a run in 2024.

  37. Mikel

    “Body Parts Aren’t Gendered. So Why Are Sex Toys?” Wired

    Imagine how wild this is going to get in places where the language has gendered articles for nouns – for even inanimate objects.

    1. Milton

      and all of those unattended nuke reactors that had managed to escape direct blasts will do a thorough job finishing up the remaining survivors except for a few scattered across Oceania.

  38. The Rev Kev

    “Half A Dozen Chinese Y-20 Cargo Jets Popped Up Over Europe Last Night”

    Count on the Chinese to send a subtle message to the EU. ‘We are coming.’ Maybe a few other messages as well like that they have Serbia’s back and have the military means to ship a lot of people and gear where it is needed. That Xi’an Y-20 is an interesting plane too and appears to be a sign of a maturing aircraft industry-

    1. digi_owl

      More like USA. As that thing can match the C-17 by the looks of it. Meaning that USA is far from the only nation able to send an army somewhere if need be. Perhaps South America?

      I do wonder if i should take the time to learn Chinese…

      1. playon

        Several years ago I heard a story about someone shopping at a flea market in China and finding some software that aids in designing machines that build other machines (ie manufacturing). Software that originally cost over a million dollars was for sale for around $10.

        1. Glen

          Had an acquaintance that visited family in Vietnam every year. I happen to notice that he had very expensive CAD software (Catia V5) on his personal laptop, and asked him where he got it. He told me there were shops in Saigon that had all the software you can think of for sale, 50 cents for the unlabeled disks and a buck for the fancy labeled disks. Plus every DVD and Blu ray too.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Its possibly a subtle message to the Russians too. The Russians thought a deal to sell the S-300 to the Serbs was all but settled.

    3. RobertC

      At RobertC March 13, 2022 at 9:03 pm I said the US had placed a gun on the negotiating table with China.

      The circumstances don’t matter.

      The US and China may decide What gun?

      But at some point there will a gun on a negotiating table. The US will ask China “Whatcha gonna do?” and China will provide an answer.

      At RobertC March 15, 2022 at 9:27 am I asserted Biden made his third mistake Mistake 3: threatening China to take the US side against Russia.

      Biden’s actions were the equivalent of illuminating your opponent with a fire control radar — you better duck because a warhead will be headed your way.

      As the US DoD has repeatedly said China is a “pacing threat” peer competitor.

      Yet the State Department is treating China like Iran, Ethiopia, whatever.

      China’s weapons delivery to Serbia could have waited. Could have been dribbled in one load at a time. Perhaps ever delivered by commercial air or rail transport.

      Instead it was a show of force with some aircraft coming in with chaff and flare dispensers uncovered.

      That’s wartime hot-airfield tactics.

      China’s airborne logistics demonstration is a warning to NATO and an affirmation to Russia.

    4. RobertC

      Then there is the nature of the delivered weapons: the HQ-22 Surface-to-Air Missile System

      In 2017, the HQ-22 entered service in the People’s Liberation Army and has rapidly become one of the main missiles used for air defence.

      Exactly what Russia needs if Biden allows NATO to provide air cover to Ukraine under the Responsibility-to-Protect rubric.

      Last year China and Russia conducted a large-scale exercise at all warfare levels including Strategic.

      Two items of note:

      (1) China provided top-level Command and Control
      (2) Russia soldiers used Chinese weapons as well as their own

      It is entirely plausible if not likely Russian soldiers are trained and ready to engage NATO with the HQ-22 if events required.

      1. VietnamVet

        It is astonishing the lack of planning and risk assessment by the West. Delivering the anti-aircraft missiles to Serbia, all at one, China just demonstrated that it is a global player.

        WWIII is well underway. But like WWI a century ago, today’s Western Elite are April Fools. If Russia doesn’t lose it due to loss of face and/or revenge, and practices patience, this is the time to separate Germany from the USA. Germans need Russian natural gas to avoid a depression and freezing next winter. Time for Russia and China to make an alliance with Hungary, Serbia, and other European nations. Sign the peace treaty/armistice with Ukraine right now. Create a new Iron Curtain – a DMZ manned by Eastern Europeans to separate East from West.

        Resources, expertise, wealth and leadership are now on the eastern side of the divide in a multi-polar world.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          This was essentially an expensive flash mob advertising event.

          Serbia uses mostly Russian anti-aircraft missiles with a mix of European and Russian radars and control systems. Integrating these together must be a nightmare. Adding a third, non-integratable system is idiotic in military terms, it makes no sense. Especially just delivering them immediately without support or training. It would take years for the Serbs to get the best of of those missiles, let alone work out how to integrate them with the Russian systems. The Russians won’t help, why would they help out a competitor to their lucrative systems?

          My guess is that these were surplus systems to hand and someone in China had the bright idea that offering them super cheap or free to the Serbs would be a good way to drum up publicity. The Chinese have struggled to sell any of their weaponry anywhere around the world. The Serbs probably thought ‘why not?’ It would be a good way to keep their future EU partners and the Russians on their toes and not take them for granted. My guess is that they’ll be used for show and little else.

          1. Polar Socialist

            Especially just delivering them immediately without support or training.

            I think the deal was made already in 2020. Year and a half is about on schedule.
            There’s also a possibility that Chinese equipment is relatively easy to integrated with Russian equipment, given that Chinese do operate and manufacture both.

          2. RobertC

            PK — This was essentially an expensive flash mob advertising event.


            And now the HQ-22 SAMs are pre-positioned in Eastern Europe with training opportunities for Serbians and maybe neighboring Hungarians.

            So how many Chinese “trainers” are staying behind to help with that?

            Mid-March before the US and China negotiations in Rome, Reuters reported Russia seeks military equipment from China after Ukraine invasion -reports

            The US accusation by “unidentified U.S. officials did not state the kind of weaponry that [Russia] requested or how China had responded.”

            The US put a gun on the negotiating table.

            We’re seeing the visible part of China’s response.

        2. RobertC

          Corrected my RobertC April 10, 2022 at 12:58 am link above.

          VV — this is the time to separate Germany from the USA. — consumers and industrialists look to be pushing the politicians in this direction.

          VV — Germans need Russian natural gas to avoid a depression and freezing next winter. — the politicians wishful alternatives aren’t happening. For example this morning’s FT: Eon rules out German nuclear power plant extension

          VV — Time for Russia and China to make an alliance with Hungary, Serbia, and other European nations. — per my link above, China’s 17+1 initiative is struggling but Serbia and Hungary are key members on the BRI path to Piraeus. And by “alliance”, I assume you mean little-a alliance, not big-A alliance.

          VV — Sign the peace treaty/armistice with Ukraine right now. Create a new Iron Curtain – a DMZ manned by Eastern Europeans to separate East from West. — we’re in agreement RobertC April 10, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    5. RobertC

      PK — The Russians thought a deal to sell the S-300 to the Serbs was all but settled.

      I’m fond of this map Eurasian Economic Union

      Access to Russia’s mineral resources alone is a strategic prize.

      Access to Russia’s agricultural resources alone is a strategic prize.

      But rarely recognized is access to Russia’s human resources alone is a strategic prize.

      China has won the trifecta. Along with Russia because those resources hadn’t benefited Russia and Russians to the extent they should have.

      Since 2006 China has reached out and successfully established access to those human resources.

      Which include 250K STEM graduates yearly, same as the US with 2.5 times the population.

      Russia and China together needs every single one of them for their evolving joint space, environmental, transportation, etc programs.

      So yeah I’m sure the Russians were bummed about losing the S-300 sale.

      But not as bummed as the US will be when facing shared development-production-operation Russian-Chinese weapons integrated with subsea-to-space ISR and C2.

      Dang I’m glad I’m retired.

    1. chris

      How would we even know if Biden or some other highly placed individual was incapacitated by COVID? The media never covers things that are adverse to PMC/oligarch interests. Biden is barely out and about. He could be in a medically induced coma for a month before anyone noticed anything.

  39. antidlc

    The elite D.C. social scene sees a rash of covid cases, but parties on

    To party or not to party? That is the question.

    Washington got a crash course in risk-reward ratios after a spate of boldface names tested positive for the coronavirus this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) got it. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) got it. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) all announced they got it after attending the exclusive Gridiron Club dinner on April 2.

    But none of this has slowed down the juggernaut that is the city’s elite social scene. After two years at home, the power brokers of the nation’s capital are determined to get back to the serious business of having fun. The calculation: The rewards, at least for the vaccinated and boosted, outweigh the possible risk of catching the milder variants of the disease.

    And so 450 people packed into the National Gallery of Art for Thursday’s opening of “Afro-Atlantic Histories,” a groundbreaking exhibition of Black art and artists at the city’s most prestigious art museum. Vice President Harris celebrated during the day after presiding over the landmark confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, and then at night by touring the show and addressing the crowd.

    1. Skippy

      As it has been noted the PMC crowd is a social network first and foremost and as such attending the ***right social gatherings*** is paramount to ones future, more so than say being accomplished in some material task or skill.

      Its akin to removing all the oxygen in a room and then turning off the lights.

      When viewed from this perspective these sorts of activities, contra the science on Covid [all negative externalities] or the long term ramifications for society at large, is rational in that framework. Hence the disdain for masks which cover up ones superficial identity or any policies which limit face time with others, must keep the unwashed minds from wandering away from the gala put on display in the hopes they might one day be nearer to thee …. or emulate them in some lesser fashion[tm] …

      1. Jason Boxman

        But for the dinner no negative antigen tests were even required. That is purely stupid. And has no impact on fake smiles for ride safe to attend.

  40. Carolinian

    Re the new Grapes of Wrath in reverse–we Carolinians look forward to those descendants of the Joads coming down off the Blue Ridge in their Range Rovers piled high with mattresses and old rocking chairs. Their struggle will not be so much against heartless vegetable famerss but rather crafty real estate brokers pushing granite countertops. Asheville is indeed becoming quite packed up and its main freeway–now under permanent construction–a nightmare at rush hour. So those Californians will find that much at least providing something to remind them of home.

    1. AndrewJ

      I for one am glad to see the fairweather elite run to the other coast. If wildfire smoke is what it takes to keep them out of the PNW, with it’s excellent water, useable farmland, less-nightmarish politics, ports to China, increased likelihood of secession, and unusual weather… well, good. Not that I’m a fan of the smoke. It sucks.

      1. playon

        I live in the PNW in eastern WA and would love to move. Our town water is not excellent, our county has the worst air quality in the state (from air pollution trapped by inversions, not smoke) and wildfires fill the valley with heavy smoke almost every summer.

        You must live on the coast if you think politics aren’t a nightmare! It’s very right wing on the east side of the Cascades.

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      Can’t wait to see the NY Times lifestyle articles about haute Californians and Jackson Holians buying property on the coast of Maine. In a move typical of the Paper of Record, a recent article about the proliferation of AirBnBs in the Joshua Tree area waited until the very end of a long-ish article to briefly mention its terrible impact on local renters. We can expect a lot more of that…

    3. Brunches with Cats

      I feel for you, Carolinian, I really do. And I want everyone to know that my sparsely populated county in rural Upstate New York is a really horrible, awful, foul place to live — maybe even dangerous, with rampant Lyme disease, swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitoes, and gangs of drunken teenagers on tortuous winding roads.

      Would-be climate refugees are further forewarned that virtually everyone who grew up here has multiple hunting rifles, and there are life-size cardboard cutouts of Trump everywhere. Meanwhile, the only coffee house in my small town doesn’t even have an espresso machine (I got glares just for asking), and the nearest Starbucks is 20 miles away. *

      No need to thank me for sparing you the expense and suffering.

      * IMO not far enough.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I recently moved to Upstate New York — my sister is there and we both are growing old. It has been freezing-ass cold [sub-zero!] and its either rained or snowed almost every single day. Most of the available housing is at least twenty years past retirement age and rents are almost as high as where I left. After some troubles I found a place to rent with sloping floors, drafty windows and doors, and propane heat. The pain in propane is its cost, but I pity anyone burning oil. It is priced just under the price of diesel and you best have close to a grand ready to fill your tank for the Winter. There was more food in New Jersey at better prices and if you miss coffee houses and expresso — try to find something more exotic than pizza on any menu. Rural Upstate New York is a really horrible, awful, foul place to live — and it holds many dangers. … Be warned! Look elsewhere! Stay in your coastal megalopolises. The oceans are not rising that quickly. Do not worry about a thing. The u.s. government and our state and local governments will take care of us.

        I also believe there is a major zoning, building codes and permits, and construction codes crisis in the offing in Upstate New York and many other rural areas … and in housing and construction across this nation. I did not move to find a McMansion in the country, or a century plus farmhouse or small-town house built within the constraints of a hundred years ago. I also do not want a prefab quasi-trailer home for other than a temporary dwelling or guest-house while I build the kind of home I want. I need a few acres for a victory garden and a house that makes full advantage of the sun’s energy, the temperature smoothing of the earth and rock, blinds to guide winds away, places to shelter from hurricanes and wild wild weather, and rooms designed to satisfy my most basic animal needs for shelter. For my human side I need separate areas where I can work making, building, and inventing things, and art. In short I want a house like no developer would want to build and every contractor would regard as extremely risky to bid on — a house that probably violates every building code and most zoning codes.

        For Humankind to adapt, much … must radically change. Unfortunately I fear our Elites, including those that control local change, are trapped in terminal stages of rigor mortis — but the mortis is delayed, and may require some ‘help’.

        1. Brunches with Cats

          Thanks for the reminder about the sloping floors. My apartment is in a 120+ year-old house with floors that are easily 6″ higher on one side, making it hard to tell if I’m having a vestibular attack (longtime inner ear dysfunction) or getting wobbly with age, possibly both. Walking down the hallway feels like being launched down a boat ramp, and if the cat is underfoot, it easily throws me against a door frame and leaves nasty bruises. At least my landlord lets me have a cat, though. Most of them around here are extremely cat unfriendly.

          As for the zoning laws, they are enforced arbitrarily by corrupt town and county boards who look the other way for their old pals. I have no knowledge of whether they are favorably disposed towards newcomers with means, if you catch my grift drift. And, BTW, “newcomer” applies to anyone whose family hasn’t been here for at least three generations.

        2. JBird4049

          >>> In short I want a house like no developer would want to build and every contractor would regard as extremely risky to bid on — a house that probably violates every building code and most zoning codes.

          Wasn’t this not that unusual even fifty or sixty years ago? It’s admittedly through a very hazy childhood memories, but even San Jose had small houses with large backyards. And not just there. You could easily have grown all the veggies you wanted and have a small shop in the corner. My family lived in a few either in or very close to the city. Not to mention the family friends who did as well.

          Of course a standard two bedroom house then would be considered the garage today. Sometimes, I think that the houses that many people have always wanted were zoned out of existence or deliberately replaced by baronial McMansions that take up the entire lot. Even Eichlers or their clones, and the Arts and Craft houses or related California Bungalows. For Profit!! of course.

          I know that there are always those people who want the McMansion, but I think most, or at least a great many, people probably prefer the smaller (and better built) homes especially if they don’t have a family to raise. Heck, even a few children is doable.

          Build more houses in the same space or make a much more livable homes and neighborhood for the same number of mansions.

      2. Skippy

        Get a moka, recommend a Brikka pot for your coffee and order beans on the inet. Basically indestructible, serves high quality coffee, not to mention in less time than waiting at the shop.

    4. Rod

      Well, better there than G’ville and Spatanburg (at least while 85/385/185 improvements are winding up)
      Oh, wait…

      1. chukjones

        The Appalachians can burn just like the sierras and rocky moumtains too. Check out the summer of 2016.

  41. Raymond Sim

    The “Drones and Bombs” article strikes me as the usual techno worshipping dumassery that passes for expertise in America.

    Something that gets glossed over in the typical romantic framing is that one of the most important reasons a guerilla must “swm among the people” is the necessity for ruthlessly intimidating and/or rooting out unsympathetic elements of the population.

    In Ukraine pro-government attempts to do this this will have the effect of bringing Russian-speakers over to the Russian side. This isn’t a hypothesis on my part, we’ve seen it happen already.

    I would be absolutely stunned if a protracted anti-Russian insurgency were to prove feasible anywhere in Ukraine the Russians are likely to linger. In my opinion this stuff is truly fantastical wish fulfillment and vengeance fantasy – the stuff of crappy turgid military fiction, which apparently is also our national policy.

  42. Ghost in the Machine

    Regarding the Pakistan vote of no confidence, Khan is claiming a foreign conspiracy. I admit to not keeping up on Pakistan. Was there one?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Khan was making a deal with the Iranians to quieten down problems along the border.

      The US has been trying to get rid of him for quite a long time now. They seem to have succeeded, and an unusual success by the US in beating the Iranians and Chinese in that region.

      1. Judith

        NATO announced plans to engage in Asia-Pacific to counter China (yesterday’s links) and China delivered surface-to-air missiles to Serbia (today’s links). The story has just begun.

    2. britzklieg

      George Galloway addresses this at the 24′ mark and then discusses it with a Pakistani journalist around the 35′ mark:

      Shabazz, who is expected to take over, is an indicted rich guy who has been avoiding court proceedings in Pakistan by hiding out in London, apparently.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Reading the item, I think that one should add to “is Autocorrelation” the qualification “combined with the reality that people at all levels of skill tend to be poor at self-assessment.” There is a real psychological datum in view– how accurately people self-assess. It appears to be “not very accurately”, which can lead to the effect as an artefact of the binning and data presentation.

      Or, to put it another way, if people were perfectly accurate in their self-assessments, there would be no D-K effect.

      (I suspect that Terry Flynn could helpfully comment. The binned data conceal the variances of the distributions of self-assessments)

    2. Stick'em

      “The Dunning-Kruger effect tells us nothing about the people it purports to measure. But it does tell us about the psychology of social scientists, who apparently struggle with statistics.”

      Thanks for the head’s up! Of course, since the D-K effect is now an internet meme, it shall live forever!

      1. albrt

        In my experience, people who are embedded in a reasonably diverse social network with people of different abilities and different roles are pretty good at assessing their own abilities.

        People who sort themselves into communities of strictly like-minded individuals have a lot less data and a lot more confirmation bias.

        Just my experience.

        1. Stick'em

          Albrt: Agreed. Siloing is a real form of motivated reasoning.

          I’m no statistical expert. I have taken a couple stat classes in college and can see some regression to the mean going on in D-K’s original paper. I can see what autocorrelation is from the blog description and that D-K could have used other axes to represent their data.

          What about studies done by different researchers in this area? Isn’t D-K effect supposed to be apparent in other studies? Robust and reproducible? There’s some controversy here and I can put on my big boy pants and say, I just don’t know enough about this area to make a definitive conclusion.

          “Think about some area in which you have a great deal of knowledge, in the expert to mastery level (or maybe just a special interest with above average knowledge). Now, think about how much the average person knows about your area of specialty. Not only do they know comparatively very little, they likely have no idea how much they don’t know, and how much specialized knowledge even exists.

          Here comes the critical part: now realize you are as ignorant as the average person is in every other area of knowledge in which you are not expert.

          This is how I got to NC. I realized how poorly I understood economics. So am immersing myself in a community where economics is discussed to gain more fluency.

  43. lance ringquist

    stoller is to kind. bill baxter was not a honest man, he was a fanatic. and that type is dangerous because they actually believe in total economic nonsense.

    that type will never ever let reality, trump ideology.

  44. Neddie

    “…antitrust law. It worked. Now enforcers are asking for help from you and me to restore the law. Let’s give it to them.”

    OK, here’s my contribution:
    Lifetime warranty on well made Hartmann luggage, zipper broke after years of use, took it back to luggage store for lifetime warranty repair:
    “Sorry, Hartmann was bought by Samsonite, they no longer honor the warranty.”

    Hartmann is now boycottable crap. Might as well buy cheap Chinese junk, it’ll last just as long and you’ll save money instead of paying for expensive advertising touting a no longer reputable brand.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Are there intermediate brands between the Hartman of memory and cheap Chinese junk? Is there budget Taiwanese semijunk? Is there Korean and/or Japanese mid-price non-junk? Is there very expensive pretty good European pretty good luggage?

      Is it necessary to fall all the way down to the bottom of the staircase with cheap Chinese junk? No possibility of stopping midway down on a landing in mid-roll?

  45. Ed Miller

    RE: The End of the European Age (link from yesterday)

    Realizing that I know little about history from a non-western education/perspective I sent the link for this article by John Michael Greer, plus the Pepe Escobar article, “Sit back and watch Europe commit suicide” to a pair of
    engineers I know, Indian by birth. In reply I received this video of Dr. Shashi Tharoor of his presentation in a debate regarding reparations due India from Britain, from 2015. I end with a quote after the link.

    “It’s no wonder the sun never set on the British empire, because even God couldn’t trust the English in the dark.”

    That’s colonial empire!

  46. Pat

    Not sure why but someone is playing Nutcracker’s Russian dance very loudly on the street. I’m going to take it as a protest about cancel Russia mania, and not nostalgia for Christmas.

  47. David

    We now have the exit polls from the first round of the French Presidential Elections. These are only polls, remember so there’s a level of uncertainty, but as expected Macron and Le Pen are in the second round.
    Headline figures are:

    Macron around 28%
    Le Pen around 23-4%
    Mélenchon around 19-20%

    The big news is the collapse of the traditional Right: Pecresse only managed about 5%. The Left is in tatters with Hidalgo, the Socialist, on 2% and the Greens possibly below the 5% barrier. Eric Zemmour, the big bad wolf of the campaign came in at around 7%, which is much less than he had hoped, but still comfortably in advance of the traditional candidates.
    In French elections, what counts is how the votes of the unsuccessful candidates are distributed between the winners. This time it’s going to be very difficult to say, because the top three candidates are in their own way “anti-system”, by being outside the parties of the traditional Right and Left. It looks as if both Macron and Mélenchon did slightly better than expected by cannibalising votes: Macron from Pecresse, and Mélenchon from Hidalgo and Jadot, the Green. But of course the more votes they have already attracted, the fewer there are to take.

    1. newcatty

      Does any French msm join in with US mania that Putin did, and will interfere with our presidential elections? The only reason that Macron did not have a wider lead over Le Pen is due to Russian interference. How else to explain it? Can’t ( ha), so it must be true.

    2. Acacia

      Apparently, Mélenchon is telling his followers to not give any votes to Le Pen. So, unless there is massive abstention or many of them ignore his requests and vote Le Pen anyway, doesn’t it rather seem like Macron will prevail on the 24th?

      1. Daryl

        Bernie told people to vote for Hillary.

        I suppose it depends on how much crossover there is.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Apparently, Mélenchon doesn’t believe in “kick the table over sideways and stomp on it.”

  48. RobertC

    New Not-So-Cold War

    War to slash Ukraine’s GDP output by over 45%, World Bank forecasts

    WASHINGTON, April 10 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s economic output will likely contract by a staggering 45.1% this year as Russia’s invasion has shuttered businesses, slashed exports and rendered economic activity impossible in large swaths of the country, the World Bank said on Sunday in a new report.

    …The bank said the 45.1% contraction estimate excludes the impact of physical infrastructure destruction, but said this would scar future economic output, along with the outflow of Ukrainian refugees to other countries.

    1. JohnA

      Ukraine has now said it will totally ban all Russian imports. Not sure if they mean also via the gas pipeline to Europe that ‘earns’ the country billions and one of the reasons Ukraine opposed Nord Stream II. If the Russians really mean business, they should simply shut down that pipeline completely and say Nord Streams i and II or nothing.

  49. RobertC


    Deputy NSA Daleep Singh didn’t have the juice so Biden will speak to Modi as U.S. warns India on imports of Russian energy

    WASHINGTON, April 10 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden will meet virtually with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, the White House said, at a time when the United States has made clear it does not want to see an uptick in Russian energy imports by India.

    …This meeting will precede the “U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial” meeting [11 April in Washington DC] between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, India External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and India Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, the White House said.

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