Links 5/19/2022

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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Meet the territorial females and matriarchs in Australia’s backyard The Conversation

SPACs Are Sputtering. Desperate New Terms Could Send Them Into a Death Spiral. Institutional Investor

There’s a Whiff of Fearful Symmetry in the Air John Authers, Bloomberg

Researchers Use Algae to Power a Computer for Months Smithsonian


Winter ticks wiped out nearly 90% of the moose calves scientists tracked in part of Maine last year Maine Public Radio


Everything’s going according to plan:

(The “new guidance” being CDC’s infamous “community levels” metric.)

As US daily COVID-19 cases surpass 100,000, White House makes clear that it will take no serious action WSWS. “Notably, the briefing was held remotely, with each of the three speakers and all reporters safely participating in separate locations. After telling the American population that large, in-person, maskless gatherings are safe, the White House COVID Response Team evidently prescribes a very different set of guidelines for themselves.” Beggars belief.

How Public Health Failed America The Atlantic

* * *

Patients Diagnosed with Post-COVID Conditions (PDF), FAIR Health, Inc.

Post-COVID conditions, also known by such terms as long COVID and post-acute sequelae of COVID-19, have become an issue of growing national concern. Until recently, researchers were limited by the lack of a specific ICD-10 diagnosis code for post-COVID conditions. Effective October 1, 2021, ICD-10 code U09.9 was introduced for “post COVID-19 condition, unspecified.” This report is among the first to use the U09.9 code for research purposes. Drawing on longitudinal data from FAIR Health’s repository of billions of private healthcare claims, this report studies the population of 78,252 patients in the repository who were diagnosed with the U09.9 code from October 1, 2021, to January 31, 2022. That population is analyzed by COVID-19 hospitalizations, age, gender, number of days from initial COVID-19 diagnosis to last post-COVID diagnosis during the study period, preexisting chronic comorbidities, co-occurring diagnoses and risk scores. Among the key findings: The majority (75.8 percent) of patients diagnosed with a U09.9 post-COVID condition had not been hospitalized for COVID-19.

So, cases is a better metric than hospitaliztion? Or would be, if we were tracking them anymore?

Venous or arterial thrombosis and deaths among COVID-19 cases: a European network cohort study The Lancet. n = 909, 473. From the Findings: “Cumulative 90-day incidence of venous thromboembolism ranged from 0·2% to 0·8% among COVID-19 cases, and up to 4·5% for those hospitalised. For arterial thromboembolism, estimates ranged from 0·1% to 0·8% among COVID-19 cases, increasing to 3·1% among those hospitalised. Case fatality ranged from 1·1% to 2·0% among patients with COVID-19, rising to 14·6% for hospitalised patients.”

How Often Can You Be Infected With the Coronavirus? NYT

* * *

UK mum Sarah Paxman given trial date for stand against COVID-19 infected schools WSWS. I’d like to see cases like this in the US.

Guest column: Don’t be fooled by the myths about kids and COVID flourishing on social media The Advocate

The COVID Testing Company That Missed 96% of Cases ProPublica

Spain, Portugal Detect Over 40 Suspected Cases Of Rare Monkeypox Disease NDTV. I can’t even.

Massachusetts reports first confirmed U.S. case of monkeypox this year The Hill. Not clear whether Monkeypox is transmitted by touch (prairie dog study) or aerosols (drum study) or possibly both. It would be nice if we didn’t replicate the droplet fiasco (which included ignoring the precautionary principle).


Some in Shanghai allowed out to shop as city moves to ease COVID-19 lockdown Channel News Asia

Students Protest Covid Lockdowns at Elite Beijing University NYT and Defiant Chinese netizens skirt lockdown censorship using blockchain FT. Oh, come on.

China’s zero-Covid policy questioned as expert says ‘stabilising the economy will protect lives’ South China Morning Post (Re Silc).

Beijing Probes Central Banker for Passing Tips to Bond Traders WSJ

The details of the loss of the “Lun Nickel Short Squeeze Incident” emerge! The original controller of Huayou Cobalt cashed out 17.8 billion and left the market What China Reads

ASEAN-India naval exercise planned to promote solidarity Phnom Penh Post


Can the Arakan Army achieve its confederacy dream? Frontier Myanmar and Myanmar’s shadow government holds talks with powerful Arakan Army Radio Free Asia (sorry).

Myanmar resistance urges West to provide arms for fight against junta Reuters. No. We’d screw it up. We have form.

Children on Tonle Sap face a hazy future Globe_. For more on Tonle Sap, see NC here.


Leaked emails expose UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s connection to MI6-style ‘research and influence operation The Grayzone

EU ready to turn measures targeting fears over N Ireland protocol into draft law FT

New Not-So-Cold Cold War

More Ukraine fighters surrender in Mariupol, Russia says Reuters. “Top commanders of Ukrainian fighters who had made their last stand at the Azovstal steelworks in the port city were still inside the plant, according to the leader of pro-Russian separatists in control of the area, Denis Pushilin was quoted by local news agency DNA as saying on Wednesday.” My fuhrer, Steiner….

How Turkey spoiled NATO’s historic moment with Finland, Sweden Reuters

Germany’s Scholz downplays fast-tracking EU membership for Ukraine FT

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Ukraine wins Eurovision Song Contest with performance by Kalush Orchestra as Zelenskyy vows to host show next year Sky News

Ukraine’s army of activist investigators documents Russian war crimes Politico. No chain of custody issues here!

Google’s Russian subsidiary to file for bankruptcy after bank account seized Reuters (Re Silc).

* * *

Kinsley gaffe, except not:

People are dunking on Bush for this, but in fact the decision for war in Iraq was supported by virtually the entire political class, including the press. “One man” did not make the decision.

SUR: Lula Proposes Lat Am Currency To “End US Dollar Dependency” Brasilwire

Cosco To Invest US$3 Billion In Peru’s Chancay Port Silk Road Briefing

Biden Administration

Biden invokes Defense Production Act to increase infant formula supply Reuters

Column: Here’s why the arguments against canceling student debt make no sense Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times


Noble Gases Are Suffering from Putin’s War in Ukraine Izabella Kaminska, Bloomberg

Health Care

I just caused a long line at the pharmacy counter. And still paid $141 for an inhaler. Wendell Potter (marym). Wendell Potter is a “smart shopper”!

‘Bane of My Existence:’ The Burden of Medicare Advantage Denials MedScape

Big Brother Is Watching You

Liberals Drive State Censorship Black Agenda Report

ShotSpotter’s deafening impact Chicago Reader


Julian Assange should not be extradited to US to face espionage charges, Council of Europe tells Priti Patel The Telegraph

The Bezzle

Cautionary Tales from Cryptoland (interview) Molly White, Harvard Business Review. White runs the entertaining website Web3 Is Going Just Great.

The Decade of Cheap Rides Is Over Slate

Class Warfare

All of Those Quitters? They’re at Work. NYT

How the Brain ‘Constructs’ the Outside World Scientific American

Is an unknown, extraordinarily ancient civilisation buried under eastern Turkey? The Spectator

Antidote du jour (via):

Meep meep!

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. fresno dan

      and the audience chuckled (or twittered…I mean tittered). It shows that the people who show up at a Bush speech cannot fathom, comprehend, or acknowledge ANY similarity between Bush and Putin or the USA and Russia.
      And try a little replacement game – replacing Russia with USA in Bush’s speech – I think it would strike close to home.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Funny you should say that about replacement games. Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov was saying a coupla days ago that America was losing a lot of sleep over the Ukraine so suggested that they use some sleep strategies to make this go away. He suggested that pretend that this was not the Ukraine but Africa…or the Middle east. He then said imagine that the Ukrainians were Palestinians and Russia was the US. He always was a bit of a smart a*** with a razor sharp wit to boot.

        1. Alyosha

          He’s my favorite modern statesman. And that statement was a top notch, it seems like he’s been let off the chain since the SMO began.

      2. CanCyn

        Similar thought to my response to Hilary’s nonsense in her recent interview, a clip of which was featured here – last week? Substitute USA for Russia and pretty much any president’s name you choose for Putin and voila, the truth!

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Nah. Shrub just learned about Ukraine and likely tried to explain it’s what he did in Iraq to his handlers. The man has no sense of remorse.

    3. Wukchumni

      That was a beaut, but my favorite ‘ssshrubery moment came in 2006 when he was giving a speech on immigration, and the teleprompter feed goes down and he has no idea what to do, his eyes darting back and forth with perhaps a silent plea for Mommy to show up and save him.

      1. Mildred Montana

        Not necessarily my favorite (so many to choose from!) but here’s Bush speaking extemporaneously at a town hall:

        “You work three jobs? Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that.” To a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005

        Bush Jr. was uniquely…well, Bush.

        1. Wukchumni

          I liked him better in his struggling painter persona, after his stage act of being a teetotalitarian leader.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          It wasn’t a gaffe, but my favorite moment was they were in front of the neighbor’s barn in Crawford (yeah, that wasn’t Shrub’s pad) and he kept saying, “the EU 3, that’s Great Britain (takes a second), Germany, and … a France (punctuated on the last syllable”. He was so proud. Condi was beaming every time he got it right.

    4. YankeeFrank

      If you listen closely, W mutters “Iraq too” under his breath after his correction. And yet, I do not miss him.

      As to whether one man launched either invasion, let’s just say that W could’ve said no, being commander in chief, and he didn’t. So sure, one man didn’t prepare and launch the invasion of Iraq, but one man could’ve stopped it (or not permitted his govt, and by extension, the servile media, from pushing for the Iraq war in the first place. After all W did stop Cheney’s final mad plan to go to war with Iran). I imagine the same can be said of Ukraine and Putin, though I find it hard to imagine Mexico not getting far worse treatment if it behaved even a bit like Ukraine has for the past 8 years. And let’s agree that Putin is not the most hawkish man with power in his govt. Most of what I’ve seen so far from Putin is military and political restraint. The last war the US fought with as much justification as Putin had in Ukraine was…

    5. Rosscarrock

      A Freudian slip for the ages.

      And yeah, he was joined by a diverse gang of gutless opportunists who shall not be named because we know who they are.

    6. Glen

      Probably one of the most consequential utterings of truth from one of the worst ever Presidents. Right up there with the other big moment of truth where he made fun of lying about invading Iraq:

      George W. Bush – Jokes about weapons of mass destruction

      All of the news versions of this speech have been removed from Utube, so the above was all I could find.

      But, if Biden gets us stuck in a war with Russia in Ukraine, he will have exceeded W’s stupidest ever foreign policy blunder in my lifetime.

      I have a hard time figuring out W, he seems to be something like an idiot savant sociopath. He’s not dumb, he’s just been rich and pampered his whole life and he never had to give a $hit. The bummer part is that he’s a very accurate archetype of the people that now run our country, run our major corporations, have positions of power in government and in the MSM.

      But will we listen, learn, and act when W drops his pearls of wisdom? Or just nervously laugh, and dismiss it all as a mistake?

  1. mistah charley, ph.d.

    As far as I can tell – using my aging brain – this FT article seems not to be paywalled.

    And I’m reminded of a 20th century joke – 70 is the new 50, and 73 is the new 68.

    How can Covid-19 affect the human brain?

    Scientists are trying to understand the cause of neurological effects and whether symptoms will be long-lasting

    The cognitive impairment caused by severe Covid-19 is comparable with the decline that takes place between the ages of 50 and 70, according to a recent study by Cambridge university and Imperial College London.

    1. JAC

      As I mentioned, I recently suffered(ing) psychosis from SARS2 so this is now my favorite topic. During my isolation I began reading more on inflammation and mood disorders. It seems clear in that article that inflammation which cannot turn off is the problem. There are several feed back mechanisms that are supposed to occur that shuts down or slows inflammation once it gets started so this might come back to someones genes.(?)

      I have started reading this paper on the topic. It is slow going but there are some clues:
      Chronic inflammation: a failure of resolution?

      They wrote at the end:

      These studies on resolvin metabolism are uncovering surprising new avenues in anti-inflammation research, putting fatty acid metabolites right at the forefront of potential drug therapy.

      What is clear that for both COVID and Mood Disorders, there needs to be more tests developed that measure inflammatory markers and omega 3/6 ratio. What I am taking from this is that I need to change my diet dramatically.

      My fourth morning after testing positive, temp finally under 99 (98.4), feeling like I am turning the corner. Throat is much better, slept better. By the way, someone pointed me towards Manuka Honey for my throat and I have to say it is the only thing that made a difference. Incredible.

      1. djrichard

        Thanks for the post. I began looking deeper into inflammatory issues after my self diagnosis of long term effects from mercury toxicity from amalgams. Basically heavy metals increase an inflammatory response both in the organs, but particularly in the brain/nervous system. My smoking gun was when I had a very bad nervous system reaction to taking a combination supplement which contained glutathione. Glutathione is basically a weak chelator (a monothiol) which “lifts” the mercury from cells (which has a pleasant effect) and then promptly drops it back down again on a different batch of cells (which has a very negative effect). But I think this is something I’ve been suffering from my whole life, steadily getting worse with age until I tripped myself over the edge inadvertantly with the weak chelator. And when I tripped myself over the edge, that’s when my mental health took a bad turn as well, developing degrees of psychosis.

        What I’m not sure about is whether this was aggravated by Covid-19; I got a head cold back in Feb 2020 (had pink eye afterwards which was one symptom for Covid back then). This would have been early days for Covid-19 so not sure if I even had it. But whatever it was, this precipitated my developing psychosis as well, so not sure what dots to connect.

        Unfortunately chelation with a true chelator (a dithiol, using the Andy Cutler half-life dosing mechanism) is the only real solution for heavy metals. But I had trouble tolerating that even at the smallest dosage of the dithiol chelators. So just waiting it out for a couple of years from when I got my amalgams out before diving back in.

        Other dots I connected was that my mineral uptake for magnesium, vit D and vit B12 was pretty bad. In spite of having a good diet. Low mineral uptake is a hallmark of mercury toxicity as well.

        But bottom line, doctors don’t want anything to do with me. Not even specialists. I’m on my own trying to figure this out.

        In the mean time, quetiapine (an anti-psychotic) has saved my bacon. Just on a low-dose regime. I figure I’m like the canary in the coal mind when it comes to this stuff – just uber sensitive in general.

      2. playon

        I’m on my fifth week of recovery. Try eating/drinking a ton of probiotics everyday, it made a difference for me. The cough stayed with me a long time, about three weeks before it got better. I will try the Manuka honey.

        At 5 weeks the thing that has stayed with me is shortness of breath when I exercise. I took a short bike ride up a nearby hill (not that steep) a couple of days ago and couldn’t believe how winded I became. I had taken a couple of rides in April not long before getting sick and even though I was a little out of shape from not riding in the winter I had much more endurance than I do today. I definitely do not want to get this again, and I’m hoping that the approval of more effective vaccines is expedited, but it’s a sh*t show in this country when it comes to public health. Biden has been worse than Trump with this.

  2. GramSci

    “People are dunking on Bush for [blaming “one man”, Putin, for invading “Iraq” (sic)], but in fact the decision for war in Iraq was supported by virtually the entire political class, including the press. “One man” did not make the decision.”

    The Oval Office desk used to have a sign saying “The Buck Stops Here”. I think Ronald Reagan had it removed. It has not been found since.

    People like to talk about the “Imperial Presidency”, but Lambert is correct. It has become more of an Imperial Puppetshow.

  3. digi_owl

    That algea computer was a computer in the most minimal sense.

    But apparently even such a minimal computer had the ability to do calculations and transfer results wirelessly to a larger system.

    So it may well be that such a power source could allow for say a distributed sensor grid.

  4. Cocomaan

    I started reading (sort of, audiobook) Pattern Recognition by William Gibson, based on Yves and Lambert recommendations. Loving it, I had only ever read Neuromancer. I think it’s aged well considering it’s rooted in the 2000s. I’m ready to apply for a job at Blue Ant.

    The audiobook from audible had a fantastic voice actress if you’re into audiobooks.

      1. CanCyn

        Paint me very sad that the Kids in Hall re-boot is on Amazon Prime. Love them but enough to go there.

        1. BittorrentBob

          FYI, most of the world’s video archive is available with a VPN and a bittorrent client, including all the latest offerings from the streaming services. Aren’t we long past the “piracy is bad” stage of capitalist collapse?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I now have more sartorial choices thanks to that book. I’ve always been loathe to purchase clothing with prominently displayed logos, since I refuse to advertise for a company for free, much less pay for the privilege. My mother had always warned me that if I removed stitched on-logos, the clothing would fall apart, so I’ve always purchased clothing without logos. After reading that book, I decided to try removing the logo and the clothing did not immediately turn to a heap of threads. When I let my mother know she bought me a stitch remover! Now I can purchase clothing I otherwise would never have worn, and I’m able to finally wear some of the gifts people have bought me too.

      1. cocomaan

        That’s interesting, I’ve always eschewed logos since I was in middle school or so. Never had a reason for it. My wife calls me an iconoclast.

        I haven’t ever thought of removal, going to try that now!

      2. C.O.

        Wow, I’ve never heard a claim that removing clothing logos would cause garment self-destruction before. That sounds like something that should be in a spy thriller. :)

        Once I considered trying to de-logo a pair of running shoes from a fairly big brand, just because it looked like the biggest logos were primarily stitched on and easy to remove. Well, it turned out they were both stitched and glued, which was fascinating in a grim sort of way. Then I ended up counting all the ways the company logo had been added to the shoes, including to the laces and the way a cast of the logo is often added to the soles. The logo had been obsessively embossed, stamped, sewn, or glued on at least ten times on each shoe. Weirdest thing I ever saw, and it did put me off of buying shoes from that brand or similar ones for the future.

        In comparison, my old gym shoes had the company name or logo on twice. They were pretty ordinary shoes with excellent arch support, but if you knew the brands of shoes at the time, their shape was distinctive, so adding garish logos would arguably have been gilding the lily.

      3. The Rev Kev

        Same here. I refuse to wear any clothing that has a logo on it so I just don’t buy them. Fortunately this means that I am always out of fashion, no matter the era.

  5. Revenant

    The Lun Nickel Short Squeeze link was intriguing but the article is machine translated gibberish, doubtless caused by a high level of metaphor, aphorism and polysemy demanded in the unreal world of finance and symbol manipulation.

    One paragraph expounds on nickel condoms! (Presumably protection / hedges).

        1. Stick'em

          I went to grad school with this woman who was ostensibly an Irish Catholic. We got to talking about it one day and she said her family is still faithful but she’s no longer a “real” Catholic because the Pope (not the current one, the previous one) came out with a proclamation saying it is now OK for the flock to use condoms to prevent AIDS, provided they poke a bunch of holes in the end before using so as not to prevent conception. Apparently this decree made her head hurt too badly to continue listening to anything the man said.

    1. Alice X

      A “gaffe” is when a politician accidentally tells the truth…

      That exact Twitter brief is in the links above, best to pay attention. But your friend in Barcelona illustrates that this dark ironic gaffe has gone around the world many times. This gaffe will live in infamy.

  6. The Rev Kev

    ‘Slavitt: “Look, I don’t think they [elected officials] want to say that but I do think that implicit in this is an acceptance that there are going to be, at least in the US, 200 to 250,000 deaths a year at baseline.”

    Not sure how they get this figure. There has been a million Americans killed by this virus in what, about twenty-eight months now? And we seem to be averaging a major variant a year (or less) arising. Also, this figure seems to be assuming that there will never be a more lethal variant arising in the next coupla years which seems to be a big ask. And I am not even going to take account of all the people that will be dying to what we call Long-Covid. Nah, I’m calling bs on that estimate.

    1. Pat

      Considering their accuracy in both models and previous prognostications, I believe you have their number.

    2. Objective Ace

      There has been a million Americans killed by this virus in what, about twenty-eight months now

      And thats when were actually implementing mitigation measures. Slavitt is guilty of what he’s accusing officials of: downplaying the consequences. 200k would be a super optimistic number at this point

  7. GramSci

    Re: How the Brain Constructs the Outside World

    I haven’t read György Buzsáki for years. His emphasis upon electroencephalography was superseded when fMRI and PET scans produced prettier pictures (and more expensive pictures–the usual measure of scientific value).

    His critique of Artificial Neural Networks, “While constantly adjusting the connections in its networks when learning, the AI system, at an unpredictable point, can erase all stored memories—a bug known as catastrophic interference, an event a real brain never experiences”, was predicted in the late 1970s by Stephen Grossberg as “catastrophic forgetting”. It did considerable damage to Grossberg’s career that he pointed this shortcoming out as soon as back-propagation networks became fashionable in the 1980s, but the Military and Science wanted robots, not people.

    Buzsáki’s explanation seems unnecessarily convoluted.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    China’s zero-Covid policy questioned as expert says ‘stabilising the economy will protect lives’ South China Morning Post

    Just a quick comment on this – Michael Pettis has pointed out on Twitter that this statement came from a usually cautious and well respected academic, not someone on the fringes looking for a headline. Its pretty clear that there is a lot of disquiet in China at multiple levels about the zero covid strategy – there are plenty of what seem genuine clips of locals raging against health workers circulating, as well as various public statements like this from semi-insiders. So its not a slam dunk that China will maintain this policy indefinitely. It seems that at some level at least Beijing is keeping its options open for a reversal if it looks inevitable that they lose control. But the latest reports I’ve seen indicate that its working, infections are reducing rapidly in Shanghai and in a couple of weeks they may be covid free again.

    If China does succeed in beating back Omicron again and opening up fully, it would be a gigantic punch in the eye for the collective wisdom of western economic and public health ‘experts’ (not to mention those in ROK and Taiwan who have reluctantly allowed it to spread). But it would be good news for inflation.

    1. Basil Pesto

      I have seen the point made that public education/knowledge about SARS2 in China among the population is not very good, so they might not understand why the gov’t is doing what they’re doing (and that is the gov’t’s fault – ‘do what we tell you without explaining the negative consequences if you don’t’ strikes me as dumb, and Chinese authorities are hardly immune to doing dumb things however well they’re managing the pandemic thus far).

      It’s worth noting the source of some of the more aggressive protests. One was an Apple factory in Shanghai which remained open despite the lockdown, presumably making phones for westerners. I believe in the rest of Shanghai people are being paid not to work during the lockdown (which as you point out should be over by the end of June). In Beijing there was a protest by university students. One might expect them to be a bit more tuned in to the west that your average Chinese citizen, so they might be rhetorically asking “why are we doing this?” when the west is enjoying unrestricted freedumbs (and preventable mass death and illness). One might imagine China surrendering to the virus, the predictable endless streams of Bad Shit happening, and then the people asking “why is this happening??” (that might also be bad for Xi, but if the western example is anything to go by, nobody really cares and it can all be dismissed as an unavoidable force of nature. On the other hand, nobody will understand better than the people of China – who are also apparently less susceptible to ‘vaccines as the opiate of the masses’ – that all of this *gestures* is avoidable and unnecessary, because that has been their experience to date, so letting er rip might backfire in that sense)

      But I am very far from being a China maven so would welcome any further thoughts you might have

      1. bonks

        I believe the central government is buying time until an actual covid cure is available in the market, as well as an Omicron-specific vaccine (non-mRNA type), judging by all the research being reported on state media. They are also considering home quarantines rather than centralised quarantines in the future.

        Shanghai will re-open with scanners in buses, parks and shopping malls, not for vaccine passes but for covid-tests. Covid-test stations will be available within 15 min walking distance from anywhere. I have seen these stations in a small city in Hebei, northern China, where flare-ups often occur. Majority of the highly mobile-savvy population will be fine with this, but the elderly will need plenty of guidance.

        The aim is to be able to narrow any flare-ups down to specific locations within a day, so that lockdowns will be a thing of the past. The central govt certainly understands that they cannot afford to do another one of these major lockdowns (though one cannot be too sure how Beijing will pan out in the next few weeks), and they cannot keep their borders closed indefinitely.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Germany’s Scholz downplays fast-tracking EU membership for Ukraine”

    If Russia ends up with the coal regions, the entire Black Sea coastline as well as the best wheat growing areas, the rest of the Ukraine will be nothing but a black hole for western money. Scholz knows this and will slow walk any move to bring the Ukraine rump state into the EU as Germany alone would be swamped with cheap, Ukrainian workers. Meanwhile, Biden’s White House is demanding that the EU give the Ukraine yet more financial help.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yesterday out walking I was joined on my stroll by a clearly disturbed young homeless man clutching a sleeping bag who seemed desperate for conversation. He didn’t even ask for money. He said he had just returned from London and couldn’t get a place in a hostel. He asked ‘how can I get a place when all these Ukrainians are looking for a place to live?’

      When you’ve lost the homeless vote….

    2. Michaelmas

      Scholz … will slow walk any move to bring the Ukraine rump state into the EU as Germany alone would be swamped with cheap, Ukrainian workers.

      Germany will be swamped with cheap Ukrainian workers, anyway. Period.

      This on top of sanctions-driven inflation and energy crises for German businesses, which will see rising production costs. How’s that going to work for a national economy reliant on exporting items like highly over-engineered automobiles that are already priced at the barely affordable end of the market?

      While it’s carefully ignored in the world’s neoliberal media, the Hartz employment reforms turned a sizable fraction of the German working-class population into permanently disaffected enemies of the current status quo — the German equivalent of working-class Brexiters or US deplorables. As the authorities there will sedulously block any leftist options, the Far Right will be waiting with open arms.

      Interesting times are ahead for Germany and the whole EU.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    Is an unknown, extraordinarily ancient civilisation buried under eastern Turkey? The Spectator

    This is fascinating – for decades, there have been reports of finds in the Middle East millennia older than the official first civilisations, but they’ve never been accepted by mainstream archaeology (perhaps a little like it took many decades for US archaeologist to accept the existence of pre-Clovis sites). This may be proof that there were organized proto-states going back to the Ice Age at least.

    The sculptures are amazing – there are some excellent photos on the Wikipedia page. The male figures doing *ahem* are particularly fascinating. They immediately reminded me of male versions of the sheela na gig carvings common in Irish holy sites.

    1. hemeantwell

      I’m only superficially familiar with anthropology but, at least as the writer tells it, I’ve never run across so much phallic anxiety depicted in the remains of a civilization. Usually there’s phallic idealization in some form, the powerful column, etc. It’s as though that ‘cure’ for phallic anxiety hadn’t been worked out and they were left only capable of depicting it. It’s hard to imagine an unmediated sociological driver, unless there were tribes whose warmaking including genital attacks (you wonder if that might have been mutually foresworn, like chemical weapons bans in WW2). So we’re left guessing about what might have been going on in childhood to leave the anxiety so manifest..

      I’ll leave rape by leopards alone.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        You should check out the ancient Greco/Roman artifacts that don’t normally get displayed in museums. Lots of dongs on those too.

        And I recently read a fictional book called The Liar’s Dictionary which talks about a little known room in the British Museum called the Secretum. I looked it up and that part is not fictional!

        It’s no longer operative, but back in the day it housed all the artworks that interested the more prurient museum clientele, while the normies had to settle for some columns and busts.

    2. hunkerdown

      They’re still trying to fit it into their confabulated statist eschatology, so as to keep states an indispensable leg of the definition of their invidious term “civilization”, so I’m afraid they can’t answer the question yet.

    3. Charlie Sheldon

      You know, 11,000 to `13,000 years ago goes all the way back to the last great ice age. While the earth began to warm about 14,000 years ago it took several thousand years for the great ice caps in America and Europe to totally melt, meaning, when this culture was vibrant not that very far to the north were huge sheets of ice still. This was the time of the great animals, incredibly fast and rapid ice and sea level changes as temperatures rose and dropped several degrees, sometimes in less than a year.

      Kind of makes you wonder if there might have been other such civilizations further north, then buried beneath the ice, entirely ground into dust and clay, forever lost……

      1. playon

        The latest thinking says that homo sapiens has been around for close to 200,000 years. If that is true I think it’s a given that there have been civilizations that we may never know about. There always seems to be assumptions made about prehistoric peoples that they were somehow less capable and less smart – but they had the same brains and nervous systems as we do today.

  11. marym

    Re: Health Care: “long line at the pharmacy counter”

    Thanks to whoever provided the link, but it wasn’t me! :)

    1. paul

      Here’s an text interview with nicholas weaver:

      Yes. That’s the problem, and that’s why I’ve actually changed my view over the past decade. Back in 2013, I thought it was amusing and silly, and I could get cool papers out of it. In 2018, I thought it was amusing, but pretty bad. [In 2022], it’s time to really think about burning it down. Now I just want to take the entire cryptocurrency space and throw it into the sun. I know astronomers will tell you it’s easier to throw something into the void of space than to throw it into the sun. But it’s worth the extra energy to make sure some alien doesn’t find this mental virus.

      1. Geo

        Thank you. This was an amazing read. I’d share it with my crypto-hyping friends but they aren’t interested in reading heresy. They assure me the next boom cycle is around the corner and good times are coming back.

  12. Mikel

    “There are two main strains: the Congo strain, which is more severe – with up to 10 percent mortality – and the West African strain, which has a fatality rate of 1 percent of cases. The UK infections have been reported as the West African strain.”

    Just wanted to get that much established.

    With this clustering that they think is related to sexual transmission and now that it is no longer “rarely” transmitted between humans, what kind of variants or mutations are in store? How fast could it now mutate as it is more effectively spreading in the human population?

    If this is a serious country that has learned ANYTHING at all from the current pandemic, you don’t assume that what may have been working to fight one strain will continue to wirk.

    Oh, the msn article also mentioned cases transmission through contaminated bedding.
    I thiught about what the doc said about the smallpox vaccine being effective…against currently known strains.
    (I thought about because of the stories of Native American tribes being given blankets infected with smallpox in the earlier history of this country).
    So an eye has to kept out for people that catch the disease but have been vaxed against smallpox.

  13. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Biden invokes Defense Production Act to increase infant formula supply Reuters

    “The president is requiring suppliers to direct needed resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other customer who may have ordered that good,” the White House said.

    I don’t think lack of “needed resources” is the problem here. What is this idiot going to do–dump those “resources” in the parking lot of a closed plant?

    Here is an article which suggests the problem is trade restrictions courtesy of the United States‐​Mexico‐​Canada Agreement–USMCA aka nafta–witten at the behest of the u.s. dairy industry. (I posted a partial baby formula ingredient list the other day and there’s not a drop of dairy in it.)

    High tariffs and policies to protect the U.S. dairy industry from Canadian competitors have kept a lid on infant formula imports and made it difficult, notwithstanding the FDA’s emergency action, for distributors to substitute formula from overseas sources, according to trade experts.

    Additionally, the Trump administration, under pressure from the U.S. Export Dairy Council, then headed by current Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, included provisions in the United States‐​Mexico‐​Canada Agreement to restrict exports of formula from Canada.

    The USMCA’s agriculture annex limits Canadian exports of infant formula anywhere in the world, not just to the U.S., largely to minimize sales to China after China’s largest formula maker, Feihe International, invested $175 million to build a baby formula plant in Ontario.

    Neither article mentions the WIC kickback programs in the individual states which prohibit bringing formula from states that have enough into those that don’t that was described in a recent Link here.

    But I guess, to a wannabe tough guy too “asthmatic” to actually serve in the actual military, anything with the word “defense” in it qualifies as “doing something.”

    1. lance ringquist

      you have to remember, under the first nafta canada had a almost complete lockout on dairy exports from the u.s., to them.

      this is a perfect example why free trade does not work, nor will it ever.

      we have the dairy here, lots of it, as well as the ingredients. but no plants to make it. and of course the plants must be free of nafta billy clintons hedge funds.

      the inflation we have today, as michael hudson as said, its because we pay other peoples prices. letting in canadian formula is other peoples prices, on top of the fossil fuel costs to ship something here, we can make ourselves easily.

  14. Stick'em

    re: Antidote du jour

    I thought I saw a Puddy Tat… I did. I DID saw a Puddy Tat!

    When I worked with the large feline carnivores, there were two groups we noticeably didn’t house at the preserve. One was lions, because they aren’t an endangered species. The other was cheetahs.

    The director was an evolutionary biologist/geneticist and his view was the cheetah population had undergone two previous bottleneck events (prior to the current event), so their genepool is not really diverse enough to work with any longer. Poor ahem, sperm count in males makes it especially difficult to breed ’em successfully.

    So unlike the snow leopards, which thankfully have a rather robust gene pool and well established captive breeding program, the cheetah is, sadly, not doing well in terms of population health and we are not confident for long term survival. So if you are a big cat person, the one to really keep your fingers crossed for is the cheetah.

  15. russell1200

    “No chain of custody issues here!”

    Interesting the sarcasm. Ukraine is a poor country at war. Given the reporting by people just wandering around on the ground, it doesn’t appear that the accusations are complete fabrications.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Well the ICC has declared the entire of the Ukraine to be a crime scene and they have investigators scouring the ground for Russian war crimes. It is a pity that they could have not done the same in the Donbass over the past eight years. You think that 14,000 deaths – mostly civilian – would have not snagged their interest.

      1. Susan the other

        Neither the US nor Russia subscribe to the ICC. When the EU tries to enforce extraditions from actual countries at war it will be a farce.

        1. Anthony G Stegman

          I’m wondering does the ICC have the privilege of “selective enforcement” as do district attorneys in the United States? If they do, I can see them going after Russia and not Ukraine (or the United States for that matter). As a matter of justice, the ICC should be required to investigate all war crimes and should not be allowed to selectively enforce international laws.

  16. Mikel

    Cautionary Tales from Cryptoland (interview) Molly White, Harvard

    Nobody should be mandated or forced to use Blockchain.
    I personally am not a public company. My transactions aren’t the public’s damn “bizness” whether they know my real name or not.

    This “sharing economy” and all the “over-sharing” in general is a hoax. Not a thing is being shared with you – except the advertising and marketing constantly annoying you.
    Outside of that, it’s another data base to made for use by law enfircement and private coros and they are lying if they day differently.

  17. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: ‘Bane of My Existence:’ The Burden of Medicare Advantage Denials MedScape

    Among the payment requests that MAOs denied, almost one in five were for claims that met Medicare coverage and billing rules, which delayed or prevented payments for services already delivered. Most payment denials were caused by human error during manual claims-processing reviews and system processing errors, the OIG report found.

    Almost 90% of the physicians surveyed described the burden associated with prior authorizations as ‘high’ or ‘extremely high.’ More specifically, physicians and their staff spend nearly two days a week on prior authorizations and 40% of physicians have staff who work exclusively on prior authorizations.

    I get that Medicare Advantage is the “healthcare” scheme that people love to hate, but this problem is hardly unique to MA.

    “Health insurance” companies control so much cash, the “float,” that hanging onto it and “investing” it, even for two or three days, makes them a shitload of extra “profit.” (At least before the “market” took its latest dump.)

    What’s a responsible capitalist corporation to do? They have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders after all. Everybody says so.

  18. Pnwarrior_womyn

    Surely Mr. Potter knows how to order out-of-pocket asthma inhalers thru Canada? THREE Serevent Diskus (salmeterol xinafoate) from Canada via Mauritius scheduled to arrive including shipping: $67.99. Generic Ventolin: THREE inhalers @ $56.74 inclusive shipping right from Vancouver, BC. Thank you 🇨🇦! I’m an old hand at this now. If you’re picking up inhalers in the US you’re overpaying.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Shorter Potter: “blah, blah, blah–prescription drugs are a ripoff–blah, blah, blah.”

      But this is the real kicker:

      The good news is that just after a few months, the Lower Out of Pockets NOW coalition is being noticed by members of Congress on both sides of the political aisle. We are determined to hold our lawmakers accountable. Some members are even talking about forming a caucus within Congress to explore solutions.

      It’s been 19 years since the american public was sold down the big pharma river in the middle of the night. The only thing that’s changed is that the sellers have become more fossilized. I wonder just who it is that Potter thinks is beginning to “notice.”

      Incrementalism may be great for generating Substack content, but at some point it’s just not worth the effort it takes to click on it unless it ends with “Just throw all the bums out.”

      1. Rui

        Symbicort, highest dosage, 60 doses or lower dosage, 120 doses, costs in Portugal 40€ over the counter. With a prescription you get 69% paid by the National Health Service.
        So even if doing 2x daily of the highest dosage, the over the counter value for 3 months would be 120€, around 20% of 600USD.
        I will never understand what kind of capitalism you are supposed to be running in the US.

      1. ddt

        Ventolin or albuterol or salbutamol here in Greece, over the counter 3euro per inhaler. Maybe we can do some business? /s

        I am a recently former employee of Kaiser Permanente and if memory serves (with the caveat I didn’t work the Medicare side of things), the “formulary” or drug list that your plan covers should be online so you can easily check to see what is or isn’t covered by your plan.

        1. ddt

          And these formularies, again based on the type of plan you’re on, may change as often as every 2 months. Forgot that small detail.

  19. Mikel

    “All of Those Quitters? They’re at Work”. NYT

    Yeah, NYT, I know they have better paying jobs. And now the Fed has swooped in to fight inflation.” Inflation” is their code for “gotta stop paying workers so much and reduce their savings”- with little regard to all the other contibutors.
    The people are laser focsed on rising prices as inflation.

  20. Mikel

    One thing about monkeypox coming along now.

    People will get to see that the pox is the type of virus that once you get it and survive, there is some real lasting immunity.
    Sad that it might take something like that get it through people’s skulls that a coronavirus is different.

    Herd immunity can be a thing with a pox.

    1. anon y'mouse

      yes, but is a 10% fatality rate enough to break the wheels off our so-called civilization?

      the last couple of years make it appear likely that this would end it.

      i’m waiting for calls for mass smallpox vaccination to start in 3..2..1..

      1. Mikel

        That’s the catch-22 of trying to achieve herd immunity without a vax.

        It’s possible, but who really wants to try to catch it and go from there? For sure don’t want to risk giving it a try with the 10% mortality rate strain….

        But there’s more hope that a vax will actually achieve herd immunity if they keep it from spreading and mutating – now that it’s adapting more to humans.

  21. Jason Boxman

    The press conference amounted to a mass of contradictions, lies and evasions intended to once again disarm the American population to the growing threat of COVID-19. Each of the three speakers acknowledged the presently growing wave of infections and the potential for a catastrophic surge this fall and winter but made no mention of the public health measures necessary to stop this catastrophe from unfolding.

    As I said in January, the pandemic is now “over” this year.

    Now we get to see what results from this murderous policy of wishful thinking. As people get sick again, and again, we’ll see if there is an upper limit before there’s some political price. My bet is whatever the upper limit is, we don’t reach it, and Americans as a whole remain docile.

    But you never know. I wouldn’t have predicted Occupy, either.

    The “friends” to whom Jha is appealing and is “confident” will “protect the American people” are the increasingly fascistic Republicans who orchestrated a coup to overthrow the US Constitution on January 6, 2021, whom Biden then referred to as his “colleagues.” Dominant sections of the Republican Party, led above all by Donald Trump, have propagated far-right conspiracy theories surrounding the pandemic and mobilized fascist forces to oppose masking, vaccinations and all other public health measures.

    Of course, the author is unhinged on this. Must not read world news much, if Jan 6 is what passes for a real coup these days.

    1. Basil Pesto

      I wouldn’t have predicted Occupy, either

      You know, that’s an interesting point.

      (And I risk hypocrisy here because I don’t usually have thebactivist inclination at all but stay with me)

      I despair a bit sometimes because much of anti-covid twitter are hopelessly politically naive liberals (and much of covid minimiser twitter is quite generically centrist-liberal too, so it’s a kind of intra-liberal schism maybe, which is kinda interesting? But I digress). And they seem to spend far too much time engaging in 00s-style internet flame wars and showing off their Francois Balloux block trophies than doing much of use beyond twitter coms (though I can understand why they would feel hopeless).

      something like Occupy would seem to be a step in the right direction, and done outdoors, distanced and/or masked would be quite safe. Occupy the CDC? NIAID? Could it be done? (there are reasons such a model might not go so well: Occupy’s relatively freestyle structure might not suit when protesting against what is a relatively technical problem. It could also be hijacked, given how divisive along different lines the pandemic has beneficial)

      There’a also the question of what the endgame would be. Mass TTIQ (manifesting as lockdowns) with strong gov’t support for the public isn’t going to happen nationally in the US unless there’s a huge Overton Window shift. So, what? CDC to just do *anything*? Not sure how this aspect of it would play out. Or would you just kind of stay out there as a visible reminder that this ain’t over yet?

    2. Anthony G Stegman

      It is important to note that the Occupy movement was a complete failure. Most “movements” in the US have been failures going back decades.

      1. jonboinAR

        As I said in another thread, we modern Americans have not known real privation. I connect that fact with the lack of stamina, focus and urgency to force the political movements we sometimes engage in into real change. When the going threatens to get hard, or boring for awhile, we tend to get distracted from it. I’m as bad as anyone that way.

        1. Bugs

          You’re probably too young to have talked to people who lived through the Depression and WWII. There was deprivation. My grandparents had to flee the dustbowl like a scene out of Grapes of Wrath to get to WPA jobs and eventually work for the Post Office in Calif. They lived in a rented shack until they built their own house. My other grandparents, by no choice of their own, had to live off the land in a suburban tract in the Midwest until my grandfather got a job making mortar shells. They highlight of their week was when the “county food” came and someone checked the kids for illness. And they thought they had it good. Please read the history of 20th century America.

          1. jonboinAR

            I hear you on the GD. I guess I didn’t include those folks. My mother was one. At one point she and her family lived in tents on the beach at Asilomar or somewhere (Monterey, CA area). As an example of her thriftiness, when I grew up we did not get a new jar of jam until someone ate the last half-separated, fairly gross bit of jam from the bottom of the current jar. Being able to afford a fresh jar had nothing to do with it. But my mom has passed on after living to be fairly ancient, as have all of her siblings. We, her descendants, who are now becoming elderly ourselves, have not known anything remotely like privation, nor have our kids or grandkids, so far. Without considering it at all deeply, here in this thread, I think that that may have something to do with our distractibility by small shiny objects.

      2. ArvidMartensen

        They’re failures because the armoury of dirty tricks held by the state is huge and well funded.
        Every movement that threatens the looters and saboteurs that run western countries ( is dispatched fairly easily by a combo of state controlled and private saboteurs.
        # Infiltration by police, up to and including creating romantic ties to movement members.
        # Infiltrators stirring up violent actions, or committing violence which is then reported in the media as the work of bonafide members.
        # Using identity wedges to bring down the leadership from within (Corbyn and the anti-semitic slurs for example)
        # Using the captured MSM to run anti-movement stories which are exaggerated, untrue, derisory etc but get front page coverage
        A bunch of left wing students and activists are no match for all of this. Taking candy from a baby.

        It’s why current protest movements are all right wing these days. Because the security services and police more or less leave right winger extremists alone at the very least and sometimes fund them. Unless they do something really naughty like killing a few people in broad daylight (Except for Ukraine)
        Right wingers are useful and not so threatening to right wing rulers. #Azov#

      3. Yves Smith

        This is Making Shit Up. It was not a failure. It was crushed violently. It lasted all of two months before it was subjected to a coordinated 17 city paramilitary crackdown. In NYC, the police cordoned off the public and press a full 10 blocks away to hide what they did. Journalists like Yasha Levine in LA were physically abused (put in zip ties so tight they couldn’t feel in their hands for weeks afterwards, left to sit for >eight hours, insuring they sit in the pee and even poop).

        Despite its short life, it got the 99% v. 1% meme established in dialogue around the world, with no fancy PR firm message testing or media rollout.

        Occupy the SEC has a huge impact on Dodd Frank. Occupy Sandy ran rings around the Red Cross and the city’s rescue/support efforts. Various local Occupy Homes groups saved many homeowners.

      4. Basil Pesto

        How could something like Occupy ever be defined as a success in your view? 1848ification?

  22. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Liberals Drive State Censorship Black Agenda Report

    But liberals are joined at the hip with the democratic party and that means they are the worst purveyors of misinformation and the group most interested in censorship. The Jeff Bezos owned Washington Post represents the democratic wing of the duopoly, and presented the Propaganda or Not hit list after the 2016 Donald Trump political earthquake. The fear that Trump might actually do what working people wanted was the cause of their fear and the need to label him and anyone who rejected the establishment agenda as a Russian bot, Putin puppet, or useful idiot.

    Sneer at Lauren Boebert if you like. Her reasons for opposing censorship are not those of the left but she doesn’t go along with wholesale war propaganda either. In that regard she has more to say for herself than Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. The people making fun of Boebert would be far more effective if they made demands of fake heroes in the liberal class. Of course if they did that they wouldn’t be liberals any more. They just might have become true leftists.


    It’s starting to sound like uncle joe biden is finally generating some of that bipartisanship he’s been longing for, although I’m not sure he and his friends are going to be all that happy about what it looks like.

  23. Samuel Conner

    > After telling the American population that large, in-person, maskless gatherings are safe,

    of course they are safe … for asset prices.

    The thing that must be brought under control at all costs is … inflation.

    It is a highly plausible hypothesis that ‘they really do want us to die.’

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Is an unknown, extraordinarily ancient civilisation buried under eastern Turkey?”

    This is a fascinating article this and the quality of the images of animals on that stone is amazing. It must have taken weeks of slow, patient work to have made them. The fact that it is of animals that must have been common back then but no longer are really shows how long ago that this was done. I mean, 11-13,000 years old is really pushing the boundaries of civilization. I should not be surprised too about where it was found as it was also in Turkey that they found Çatalhöyük which must have been one of the first cities on the planet-

    1. Worf's Prune Juice

      IIRC, Çatalhöyük played an important secondary role in Terence McKenna’s “Food of the Gods,” in which he expands on the so-called “Stoned Ape Theory” of the development of human consciousness. He writes of the potential links between the cultures of the African grasslands and the tomb paintings on the walls of Çatalhöyük (which apparently included animals not found in Anatolia at the time).

      If you squint hard enough, the phallic stones being uncovered in Turkey today may resemble mushrooms.

    2. ambrit

      Off a bit “to the side,” is the fact that the Turkey buried complexes date to just about the end of the Younger Dryas climate disruption. So many “Conspiracy Theories” swirl around the Younger Dryas period that I will leave the traversal of that rabbit hole to the gentle reader. Needless to say, since the sea level rose significantly during and just after the Younger Dryas, many archaeological sites must have been swallowed up by the rising oceans. Short version; agriculture and civilization might have emerged much earlier than 12,000 years ago and the best evidence is now buried beneath the waves, like Atlantis.
      Stay safe and revere the Ancestors.

      1. super extra

        I dunno I mean they’ve now found a very advanced stone society dating to around the same time as deglaciation and it is kind of hard to get that without the pre-holocene advanced civilization. It is fascinating to me that the infill protected the ruins from normal soil shifting that long, though. And the six fingers detail!! I can’t wait to see what else they find.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        and, along those lines…i remember reading likely speculation regarding the biblical flood: black sea was once a big valley, with a dam between it and the mediterranean, until enough ice melted and sent a wall of water into that valley.
        the folks who survived that cataclysm would have talked about it, and so would their kids, and their kids kids…leaving a sort of crater in their collective memory.
        same time and general vicinity as all these penii.
        this idea has stuck with me…one of my first loves was comparative mythology…J Campbell, Eliade, etc…in fact a whole wall shelf of my Library is dedicated to it.

  25. Wukchumni

    I’m quite a fancier of enigmatic bathtubs sunk into granite on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, and have seen around 100 of the over 1,000 of them scattered all on a north-south axis @ 4,000 to 7,000 feet.

    They’re typically circular and 4 feet wide and 3-4 feet deep and usually come in sets together on the same boulder or flat granite on the ground, but not always, i’ve seen some singular tubs too. About 1/2 the sites i’ve seen have grinding holes (mortars) adjacent or nearby.

    An interesting detail comes out of this 1929 report, in that there was 5 to 6 inches of volcanic ash at the bottom of several of the excavated basins, meaning that it hadn’t been used by Native Americans since at least the last volcano near enough to have deposited that much ash, and it may have been thousands of years ago.



    “All the basins were found deeply filled with a litter of twigs,
    leaves, and fragments of bark from the neighboring trees. Excavation of several of the basins revealed underneath this litter
    some bits of charcoal and ashes, some humic earth, comminuted
    granite and, at the bottom, ;L deposit of fine-grained, cream-colored
    material five or six inches deep, which according to analyses made
    by Dr. C. S. ROSS, mineralogist of the U. S. Geological Suivey,
    consists of volcanic ash (rhyolite). Throughout the litter, except
    at the bottom, were occasional fragments of granite derived from
    the sides of the basins.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      If they had saved those bits of charcoal and ashes, they could have carbon dated when they were last in use. Unfortunately, that technique was still about twenty years away when that investigation was done.

      1. ghiggler

        Doesn’t seem likely that all the “bathtubs” were cleared to bare stone in ’29 – it should be possible to get bits of charcoal and ash even today.

        Any volunteers…?

      2. Wukchumni

        Probably wouldn’t work, as the basins fill with duff and burn off every so often in wildfires. The volcanic ash would of course be different, can that be carbon dated?

        I know a single tub that was full of duff that I left undisturbed and you could barely tell it was a tub there was so many burnables in it, and when I saw it last week after the KNP Fire had its way, it was now 2 feet deep, with ashes that probably went down another foot, and very discernible.

      3. ghiggler

        Carbon dating volcanic ash would not work – but chemical analysis of the bathtub ash would allow matching with nearby ash layers.

        These layers should be interleaved with carbon-datable organic materials – humic earth with twig or bark fragments, for example, which would allow for dating of the volcanic ash layers between them.

        Carbon dating works to about 50,000 years before the amount of carbon-14 becomes so low that you can’t get a viable ratio for measurement.

        Of course, anything over 50,000 years is a whole new world of strange….

    2. anon y'mouse

      maybe they were taking mineral/volcanic ash baths?

      one theory i have about human bathing is that we are essentially supposed to roll in dust like animals and rinse that off. it seems like most animals do some version of this, so it’s odd that we wouldn’t.

      soap was originally used almost exclusively for clothing materials.

      i’m willing to test this theory, but my old house’s plumbing couldn’t take it.

      1. amechania

        Not an expert, but early stone dug holes in the ground elsewhere were often for fermentation

        1. anon y'mouse

          that was another idea that seemed reasonable, but i’ve never even seen these “bath tubs” myself, whereas the acorn processing depressions are plentiful throughout CA.

    3. playon

      I wonder if it could have been ash from Mt. Mazama in Oregon (now known as Crater Lake), which blew its top around 8000 years ago. You can see the ash layer from that event up here in eastern Washington, I wonder if it also could have traveled south to California?

  26. MarkT

    Re Lula proposes a Latin Am currency to end US dollar dependency

    Just thinking aloud here. My memory isn’t good. But didn’t the last person who proposed a continent-wide currency to end US dollar dependency end up dead after having his country bombed?

    1. S.D., M.D.

      Even worse, his proposal was for actual money (gold- backed Dinar), not another fraudulent currency, which earned him the added bonus of being sodomized to death in public.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          sufficient collective belief…and nothing else.
          see:holy cracker in church for a fine analog.

          1. anon y'mouse

            that’s what i was getting at. it’s a mental trick.

            “real” tokens of value able to reduce all other things to themselves is like the Philosopher’s stone or something.

  27. Susan the other

    Sean Thomas’s write-up was interesting. A complete re-interpretation of the beginning of civilization c. 13,000 years ago. Instead of the accepted progression from hunter-gatherer to putting down roots and farming bringing about civilization they now think that “ritual” brought people together in big drunken ceremonies which had to be catered, as it were. So an industry of local farming arose. Makes sense. Gotta feed those lunatics so they don’t start eating each other. I’m still waiting for someone to interpret all the carvings of animals as having some connection to the story of Noah. And ties it all in together in what was surely a very long oral tradition. Calling Goebekli Tepe the “Temple of Eden” is also logical. What I think will happen, because it always does, is they will again find evidence of much earlier civilization nearby. Why stop at 13,000 years ago? It implies that hunter-gatherers were not civilized. Which is most likely nonsense. The ice age people built large shelters in southern-ish Europe. Arthur Poznansky dated the building of Tiajuanaco in Peru at 17,000 years ago. It’s nice we’ve got ground-penetrating radiation techniques. Might not be long before the entire timeline of human civilization is actually accounted for.

    1. ambrit

      As I said above, he really doesn’t go far enough in his theorizing. There is ample evidence now to doubt the “official” dating of Terran human civilization. Agriculture and ‘civilization’ could go much further back than a mere 12,000 years ago. Most of the evidence is probably covered up by the risen sea levels. The good spots for towns and cities are usually on the coasts and at the mouths of rivers. All of those spots from pre-12,000 years ago were engulfed by the rising sea levels of the Younger Dryas period.
      Strangely enough, all of the Younger Dryas hypothesis is “rehabilitating” large chunks of Velikovsky.
      Go figure, and stay safe.

    2. LifelongLib

      My impression (solely from reading) is that if people didn’t live in permanent settlements and clear large areas to grow grain or something, they were classed as “hunter/gatherers” roaming in the wilderness. But it now looks like people modified the land in a variety of ways which often weren’t recognized, and the idea of pristine wilderness in any place people lived is probably a myth.

  28. Geo

    From “Myths about kids and Covid”:

    “Despite these compelling findings, any mention of masking to reduce risk of COVID-19 in children is harshly rejected on social media, usually by anonymous trolls who deny existing scientific evidence and cite imagined or grossly exaggerated risks associated with masking.”

    I follow a few of these accounts on social media out of curiosity. They are only getting more unhinged and most (of the ones I follow) bill themselves as former Democrats who’ve been “abandoned” by the left and are now Republicans. Unlike what this article states they aren’t anonymous though. Whether they are real people I can’t say since I don’t know them but they do have full threads about family, kids, entertainment and all that general social media fluff.

    They also all boast much larger followings than they had two years ago. The right wing grift is nothing if not lucrative. The Dems and liberals give us a lot of reason to detest them but how one turns to the GOP and modern conservative movement as a better option is beyond me. Seeing these (mostly) women brush off the Roe/Wade issue as “if you care about bodily autonomy why do you push mask mandates?” As if the two are remotely comparable is almost laughable if it wasn’t so deranged.

    And, they claim the right is more accepting of differing viewpoints than the left now. Sure, the left has gotten really extreme with their intolerance of differing perspectives but it’s still not to the level of the “moral majority” theocracy garbage or “don’t tread on me” militia revolution uprising stuff. When lefties have weeks long armed standoffs with federal authorities (and can get out of it alive), ban teaching things equivalent to historical topics like slavery and native genocide, and when idpol extremists make up a majority of the Supreme Court and rule on men’s (or they/them) reproductive rights, then maybe the two sides will be comparable in extremism.

    Anyway, long rant but all that to say, if you don’t follow some of these people (or know them in your personal life) you should to remind you that while the left is annoying, dysfunctional, and increasingly intolerant and hysterical, the mainstream conservative movement still has a lock on absolute lunacy. Stuff that was on the fringe only a few years back is center now. Reading fringe sites (which I’ve been doing a lot lately for research) is a descent into mind-melting madness. For a quick peak just sign into a Gettr account or hop onto a conservative Reddit thread and see what’s on there. They may start with a reasonable “mask mandates are tyranny” post but scroll down enough and it will be lizard people and Illuminati stuff.

    1. Procopius

      When lefties have weeks long armed standoffs with federal authorities (and can get out of it alive), ban teaching things equivalent to historical topics like slavery and native genocide, …

      I don’t get this. When and where have “lefties” had week-long armed standoffs with federal authorities? When and where have “lefties” banned teaching slavery and native genocide? You seem to be calling “liberals” “lefties” here. Or “centrists” or “Democrats.” Then you say:

      For a quick peak just sign into a Gettr account or hop onto a conservative Reddit thread and see what’s on there.


  29. Patricia Winter

    Concerning the monkeypox issue. I read somewhere transmission of monkeypox usually occurs through droplets. Yet authorities seem to insist transmission of this strain happens through sexual contact, thus giving everyone not sexually active with men a false sense of security and isolating people who are known to sleep with men. Surely, people who have intercourse with men exchange droplets beforehand, if not through kissing, then through talking to each other, at a minimum.

    1. HotFlash

      The two articles linked to in today’s Links, “Monkeypox is transmitted by touch (prairie dog study) or aerosols (drum study) or possibly both”, suggest otherwise. Oh, and the US case(s) seem to come via Canada.

    2. Mikel

      It’s mutating. I don’t think it just popped up in these clusters. I wouldn’t be surprised – not saying it is – if it was another strain.

    3. YuShan

      Fortunately, people don’t talk to each other anymore. Just text and swipe right.

    4. show_me

      As I understand it it’s transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids. You have to engage in fairly close discussions with an infected person to absorb enough infected droplets hence the emphasis on sexual activity.

      1. Patricia Winter

        Spittle is a bodily fluid. Who knows how much it takes to become infected. I prefer to err on the side of caution. The mask stays on.

    1. playon

      I think they were talking about that in the context of a nasal flu vaccine, perhaps there is some danger with older people?

      The piece is nearly a year old and they mention over a hundred vaccines being in development… make you wonder why here in the US we still only have four and I believe they are all the MNRA type.

  30. DJG, Reality Czar

    The Eurovision as propaganda story is weird enough–what with the “Iowa Primary Vote Count” technique in use to give Ukraine the victory.

    It turns out, though, that the first contestant to win, Alina Pash, was thrown out for–a trip to Crimea to sing at a wedding.

    Kalush Orchestra was slotted after Pash’s dreaded treason was noticed by democracy-loving Ukraine government.

    Glory to Eurovision!

    I read the story first in Fatto Quotidiano paper edition, but the FQ story is now blocked for non-subscribers on line.

    Here’s an Italian entertainment site with many of the same details:

    It is hard to believe that these strategists think that this sort of base propaganda–stealing a song contest–is worthwhile, but then Zelensky is on an endless Zoom tour shaking down gullible parliaments. (Too bad about that mishap in Greece.)

  31. Matthew G. Saroff

    Your “Meep Meep” with the Cheetah reminds me that a Coyote can run at 43 mph, and a Roadrunner only 20 mph.

    My childhood is a lie.

  32. RobertC

    JCPOA Breakthrough?

    More Russian Oil Heading East Squeezes Iranian Crude Sales to China

    LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) – Iran’s crude exports to China have fallen sharply since the start of the Ukraine war as Beijing favoured heavily discounted Russian barrels, leaving almost 40 million barrels of Iranian oil stored on tankers at sea in Asia and seeking buyers.

    U.S. and European sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 have pushed more Russian crude east, where China has snapped it up, cutting demand for oil from Iran and Venezuela, which are also both under Western sanctions.

    …Iran, whose oil industry has struggled for years under U.S. sanctions imposed over Tehran’s nuclear work, has long relied on Chinese oil purchases to keep the economy afloat.

    …”Nobody’s looking at Iranian crude anymore as Russian grades are of much better quality and at lower prices. Iranian oil sellers are under severe pressure,” said a trader with a Chinese refiner.

  33. RobertC


    I was reading this article for grins Massive Drone Swarm Over Strait Decisive In Taiwan Conflict Wargames Air Force and independent think tank simulations show giant drone swarms are key to defeating China’s invasion of Taiwan. and found a link to this fantasy Amateur Hour Part I: The Chinese Invasion of Taiwan

    Russia’s invasion of Ukraine set off a flurry of handwringing over Taiwan. Russia, in this interpretation, “broke the ice” by attacking Ukraine, emboldening China versus Taiwan. But any such action by China would likely run into a similar buzzsaw of resistance, while lacking Russian advantages such as access to overland transit. Ukraine is not Taiwan, and regardless of what Chinese leadership thinks they are learning about the benefits of naked aggression, the People’s Liberation Army lacks the necessary power projection and sustainment capability and capacity to execute an opposed occupation of a densely urbanized island packed with citizens who have no interest in living under Communist rule.

    …The Republic of China has been planning to resist a PRC assault for more than 70 years. Jeff Hornung writes that in the same way that the United States and NATO bolstered Ukrainian defenses before the 2022 Russian invasion, it would be possible to bolster Taiwan’s defenses with a tailored mix of hardware and training, backed with a newly-discovered economic stick that might reasonably act as an additional, non-military deterrent. The defense of Taiwan is not a burden the Republic of China need shoulder alone, and an expanded, overt, American advisory effort might well provide both an improved deterrent and a much more lethal defense, should deterrence fail.

  34. Irrational

    Late to this thread, but just wanted to say thanks for the awesome antidote.
    Once, while on safari, we had a very unconcerned cheetah cross the road between our vehicle and another one, she looked to be checking left and right if traffic was coming.
    This action picture is beautiful, though.

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