Links 6/21/2022

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.

And for those who are new here, this is not a mere polite request. We have written site Policies and those who comment have accepted those terms. To prevent having to resort to the nuclear option of shutting comments down entirely until more sanity prevails, as we did during the 2015 Greek bailout negotiations and shortly after the 2020 election, we are going to be ruthless about moderating and blacklisting offenders.


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

* * *

Nature: Visit to bald eagle nest reveals a different kind of ‘family’ Columbus Dispatch (furzy)

‘An Immense World’ Review: Where Beasts Have Us Beat Wall Street Journal (Anthony L)

World’s largest freshwater fish found in Mekong, scientists say BBC (resilc)

Nepal to move Everest base camp from melting glacier BBC. Micael T: “‘For instance, we found that people urinate around 4,000 litres at the base camp every day,’ he said.”

Nonsense on Stilts: No, LaMDA is not sentient. Not even slightly Gary Marcus (Anthony L)

Anthropomorphization and beyond: conceptualizing humanwashing of AI‐enabled machines Springer (David L)

Google Insider Claims Company’s “Sentient” AI Has Hired an Attorney Futurism (Dr. Kevin)

No #COVID-19 today! First time since early 2020! Not because not warranted but because I got my nose in too deep in geopolitics to forage for Covid stories. So please feel free to make up for this omission in comments.


L.A. needs 90,000 trees to battle extreme heat. Will residents step up to plant them? Los Angeles Times (David L)

Vietnam Imprisons Leading Environmentalist on Tax Evasion Charges The Diplomat (dk)


China’s comprehensive, systematic and elaborate response to Secretary Antony Blinken’s China policy speech —— Reality Check: Falsehoods in US Perceptions of China Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States (Chuck L). Important, although it does go on a bit much, but this can be regarded as the master talking points document from which Chinese officials can hoist key facts and arguments. It’s very strong on some points, like various aspects of US trying to dress up its imperialism as protection of democracy, not so much on China’s actions vis a vis Hong Kong.

US building ‘asymmetric capability’ for Taiwan island pure ‘daydreaming’ Global Times

‘Very troubling’: Emails reveal US alarm over China-Solomons pact Al Jazeera (resilc)

Marcos to tap China’s assistance for economic recovery Asia Times


In Assam’s worst-hit district, floods have meant food is running out – and so is drinking water Scroll

Commission president calls to end unanimity in EU foreign policy decisions Politico (Kevin W). Mind you, this is to facilitate the entry of Ukraine and Moldova and Lord only knows who else….


The deafening silence over Brexit’s economic fallout Financial Times (David L)

Ex-Northern Ireland secretary accuses Boris Johnson of ‘Putinesque tactics’ Guardian (resilc)

Old Blighty

Biggest Rail Strike in 30 Years Brings UK to Standstill Reuters

Whenever Johnson has a problem, he calls Zelenskiy – and the bill is rapidly mounting Guardian (Kevin W)

New Not-So-Cold War

When The Lies Come Home Douglas MacGregor, American Conservative

UKRAINE UPDATE (June 18, 2022) – with Scott Ritter and Ray McGovern Garland Nixon, YouTube. Good discussion of China and Iran as well.

Some hard thoughts about post Ukraine Graham Fuller (Moon of Alabama)

Ukraine minister Kuleba accuses critics of being ‘enablers of Putin’ Responsible Statecraft. Resilc flags this part:

There is a great desire to help the Ukrainian people defend themselves from the illegal and brutal invasion. But the President of the United States is elected by American citizens, and has sworn an oath to defend them and their interests, too. That includes protecting the U.S. economy and keeping America out of conflicts that are not in the vital security interests of the United States, or confrontations that will lead to senseless devastation and killing overseas.

* * *

Anger as Lithuania bans transit of goods to Russia exclave Kaliningrad Euronews (furzy)

Russia warns it will ‘take actions’ against NATO member Lithuania after blocking sanctioned goods Daily Mail (resilc)

Russia reveals number of victims from drilling rig strikes RT. Kevin W: “I think that this story is important. If nothing else, it will convince the Russians that they cannot leave the Ukrainians with any coastline at all.”

Arestovich is a Ukraine spokescritter:

* * *

EU warns against fossil fuel ‘backsliding’ as coal replaces Russian gas Financial Times. Empty exhortations as an attempt to cover for lack of planning.

Netherlands To Burn More Coal To Conserve Gas OilPrice (Kevin W)

* * *

Right between the eyes: Putin to the West at the St Petersburg Economic forum Gilbert Doctorow (guurst)

Key Points From DPR Leader Denis Pushilin’s Speech St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2022 YouTube. Remarkable that this has gotten little notice. Watch at 1.25x

Ukrainian Students Are Taking Haunting Grad Photos in Rubble Created by the War MyModernMet (David L)


The Insane ‘Option’ of Attacking Iran Daniel Larison (resilc). Is it just me, or do most of the US geopolitics pieces of late seem to be written by people with brain worms?

Israel heading to elections, Knesset to disband, Yair Lapid to become PM Jerusalem Post (resilc)

Later: Early election poll shows: No 61-seat majority for either side Jerusalem Post (resilc)

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Return of Industrial Warfare Royal United Services Institute. PlutoniumKun: “Short version – the west has destroyed its own ability to wage war.”

Why are States we don’t like ‘Regimes’ while friendly ones have ‘Governments’? Juan Cole (resilc)

The United States leads the world in incarceration. Why? Vox (resilc)


Exclusive: Trump’s Team Setting Up Eastman to Take Blame for Jan. 6 Rolling Stone (David L)


Trump ratchets up attacks amid questions about his presidential viability The Hill


Biden Taps Anti-Social Security Ideologue To Oversee Program The Lever

Biden says he’s nearing decisions on gas tax holiday and student loans as he tries to tame costs CNN

‘We Were Felons’ The Tyee (Dr. Kevin)

Our No Longer Free Press

“Terminated” Susie Bright (Paul R). If you weren’t concerned about Google, this might change your mind.

The Rich Get Richer Jed S. Rakoff, New York Review of Books (J-LS)

He’s the first buyer of the electric F-150. Why he’s the future of the car industry NPR (David L)

Trump ratchets up attacks amid questions about his presidential viability Bloomberg

Elon Musk Has Gone Off The Rails, Will He Take Tesla & SpaceX With Him? CleanTechnica (Paul R)

Class Warfare

Larry Summers Says US Needs 5% Jobless Rate for Five Years to Ease Inflation Yahoo. BC: “Larry Summers, Man Of The People….NOT”

The Wall St. Billionaire and GOP Mega-Donor Gaming the Tax System ProPublica

Tesla sued by former employees over ‘mass layoff’ Reuters (resilc)

‘It was stolen from me’: Black doctors are forced out of training programs at far higher rates than white residents STAT

Antidote du jour (Stephen T):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Antifa

    The Ukrainian Foxhole Song
    (melody borrowed from Funiculi! Funicula!

    Some think this war with Russia is a slaughter
    And so do I (And so do I)
    We haven’t any food or fuel or water
    And so we die (And so we die)
    The Russians send their volleys by the hour
    With deadly aim (Such deadly aim)
    They land a hundred rockets in a shower
    To kill and maim (This is no game)
    Russian arty! Shrapnel fills the air!
    Build a bunker, it will find you there!
    It blows most everything away, and it continues night and day!
    If I can find civilian clothes, I’m going to run away!

    Our sergeants and our captains left us stranded
    They’re miles away (Or so they say)
    There’ll be no backing up they have commanded
    To our dismay (To our dismay)
    But oh! the way the ground is always shaking
    It melts my nerves (It melts my nerves)
    I feel our will to fight is slowly breaking
    We need reserves (We need reserves)
    Russian arty! Shrapnel fills the air!
    Build a bunker, it will find you there!
    It blows most everything away, and it continues night and day!
    If I can find civilian clothes, I’m going to run away!

    And when the Russians roll up with their armor
    We’ll stagger out (They’ll yell and shout)
    I’ll tell them I am just a simple farmer
    Who’s down and out (I’m down and out)
    I long to go back to my daily chores there
    It’s all I’ve got (It’s all I’ve got)
    All my comrades dying got us nowhere
    They died for naught (They died for naught)
    Call Zelensky! Tell him that we’re through!
    No one wants to fight or die for you!
    We’re out here bleeding for a lie while you stay home and you get high
    There’s no one left to try. This thing is over in July.

  2. Old Sovietologist

    “What are you willing to write to get back in the Guardian?”

    Zizek – Anything

    “I see exactly in this the greatness of Ukrainian resistance: they risked the impossible, defying pragmatic calculations, and the least we owe them is full support, and to do this, we need a stronger Nato”.

    Zizek regularly make absurdly reactionary statements. Like AOC: their fakeness is so apparent that I simply cannot understand how anyone has ever taken them seriously. Just because he says he’s a Marxist doesn’t mean he is one. If anything his work has always been thoroughly postmodern.

    1. Craig H.

      He wrote an 800 page book on Hegel. Nobody ever asks him about that!

      Since he became only the 2nd most famous Slovenian he has upped his game 20X.

      1. Steve B

        Real stomach-churning sophistry from Zizek in support of the proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. He splits hairs by saying he is in favour of NATO but not the US, he plays the game of pretending Russian imperialism is as bad as US imperialism, he fudges the ideological issue by claiming to be in favour of a vague and European-inflected notion of ‘global freedom.’ This tracks back to his claim to take seriously the liberal freedoms which Lenin characterised as merely ‘formal’ or rhetorical:

        I’m loathe to go to Zizek’s motives, but does his Russophobia have anything to do with his background in the former Yugoslavia? I’m reminded that he was involved with the Slovenian liberal-democratic political party LDS for a period. Is the Tito-Stalin conflict during WWII relevant? Wikipedia tells me that Stalin backed Tito’s struggle against fascism in mid-1941 only on the condition that he abandoned communist symbols and pretended to be in favour of the democratic liberalism of Stalin’s new US and UK allies. Is this, in a nutshell, Zizek’s position?

        I’m probably over-interpreting. It looks like John Gray was right after all when he accused Zizek of achieving ‘a deceptive substance by endlessly reiterating an essentially empty vision’:

    2. Denise

      The opposite of war?

      If we cared for the children and old people of Ukraine, we would stop sending the means to kill more Ukrainians and Russians over there.

      Here’s a radical thought: Ask for our $54 BILLION back, for Americans…

      “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.

      It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

      The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

      It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.
      We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.”

    3. CaliDan

      Not in disagreement about the ideas proffered in this junker, but this doesn’t read anything like Zizek, neither content, comedy, nor cadence––especially cadence.

    4. hunkerdown

      Well, the world is postmodern now. Marxism being tied in with the Whig Theory of history, I’m sure it doesn’t propose simply rolling everything back to the last savepoint. New theory is required, as Stalin is to have said just before his death.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Anthropomorphization and beyond: conceptualizing humanwashing of AI‑enabled machines”

    By coincidence, Gonzalo Lira experimented with this AI and was not impressed. He reckons that it is like going to a fortune-teller and using the information that you let slip, they give you predictions based on them confirming your belief in them. But he went further. He was very concerned about how an AI may be abused. People who are lonely may find this AI filling a need in their lives and treating it as a companion but more to the point, an AI can always find that one percent or so that can be influenced to do stuff that they would never do. Horrible things. And I am afraid that he has a valid point- (18:35 mins)

    1. Mikel

      Abeba Birhane
      we have arrived at peak AI hype accompanied by minimal critical thinking

      I’ll put it more bluntly: Trying to get the venture capitalists hyped.

      “ AI can always find that one percent or so that can be influenced to do stuff that they would never do.”
      I look at it more this way: The purpose of this BS is to be able to do heinous things and say “AI did it.”
      Garbage in, garbage out.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Come December, they should wrap some red and green tinsel around the sides, put a star on top of it and call it their Christmas tree. Hmm. Would that make it a Catmus tree then?

      1. malchats

        Those are my cats, Cookie and Niblet. Just adopted in May. When they weren’t here last Christmas, I did wrap a string of lights around the cat tree and stick a little (fake) tree on top for my Yule decoration. No tinsel, and there never will be, especially with these two now around–they will eat, quite literally, anything.

        — Stephen

    2. Questa Nota

      That cat on the right is giving serious vibes of Really? Seriously?, with undertones of dubiousness and suspicion.
      The one on the left is shrugging before returning to a nap.

  4. JAC

    So I heard Biden is going to send out “Gas Rebate Cards” to help people stuggling with teh high gas prices he created.

    Just wondering how the homeless people living in their cars are going to get their hands on one. But I can understand, it’s not like we recently created a system to send out money to everyone in the country..

    1. The Rev Kev

      Based on the sort of help given to people in the first years of the pandemic, it will be conditional and there will have to be criteria fulfilled before you are allowed to get one. Maybe to get one, you will have to go online to some wonky new contracted website with complicated menu options to fill out and hope that the site does not freeze or crash before you can complete the application. And then you will have to wait for it to appear in your mail box. But as you pointed out, tough luck if you are homeless.

      1. Big River Bandido

        You can get your discount card earlier if you are a non-binary POC who opened a start-up business in a defined urban enterprise zone in one of three coastal states in 2019.

        Gas rebate cards come in increments of $75, expire 30 days past issue and do not carry over remaining balances. Please wait 4-6 weeks for delivery.

      2. jr

        Don’t forget the facial recognition software! Gotta make sure no one is ripping of Zelensky’s money…

    2. Basil Pesto

      While you’re here JAC, I came across this tweet a couple days ago and thought you might find it worthwhile given your experiences that you’ve described – reassuring to know you’re not alone, maybe?

    3. Bart Hansen

      Readers who are still waiting for their $600 stimmy should be proud of not contributing that amount to our demand inflation.

      1. Wukchumni

        Readers who are still waiting for their $600 stimmy should be proud of not contributing that amount to our demand inflation.

        ‘It’s my money & I need it now!’

        I sicced JG Wentworth on em’ and got $263.41

        1. ambrit

          Don’t forget to hold back the income tax on it for next year’s return. (That’s gross receipts for those of you who are not incorporated.)

  5. Lexx

    ‘L.A. Needs 90,000 Trees’

    There’s a device in the first photo that is never mentioned in the article. It’s called a ‘treegator’. Pity about the omission, since bucket watering a young tree may not be effective in such a dry climate over a three year period, and it would make the watering more affordable for homeowners who are volunteering to take on the added cost and responsibility. Communities could bulk buy treegators and reduce their costs per tree.

    A treegator is a heavy duty bag that sits upright around the trunk, and when filled with water (15-20 gal.) slowly releases the water so that the soil and tree have the opportunity to absorb it. See Amazon. We’re using one of these now around a newly planted maple.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i put diapers(new and used as available) in the hole before planting.
      started that with an experiment when eldest was born, and i had concerns about the landfill, etc…put a used diaper in a shady out of the way spot, and observed it over many years. the cloth covering soon rotted away, but the gel maintained it’s form, greened over with algae, then moss…and finally degraded into the soil…where its currently maintaining a grapevine on rainwater alone.

      out in pastures, where its rainwater only for now, i dig the hole extra large to accommodate the extra diapers for water storage.

      works like your treegater, i suppose, but its underground, and only suitable for new plantings.

      1. Pat

        Intriguing. Just curious if you have been able to develop a time line for the buried diapers. (Thinking you might have replanted a few things since starting this and have a rough idea of how much quicker or slower nature is at reintegrating the diapers when buried.)

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          outside y pat…
          the cloth portions biodegrade nicely…and have since i started running these experiments, 20 years ago.
          the gel…the part that swells with water and holds it…keeps together a long time…..initial sample dirty diaper gel wad held shape for 12 years, and was still holding water 4 years later…but by that time, i couldn’t actually see the gel anymore.
          what online research i did at the beginning, with the newfangled to me dialup ‘system of tubes”, confirmed that this, too, eventually biodegrades.
          i reckon: 1. its either landfill or this…and 2. effect pales compared to the billion plastic cuplids and straws along any mile of highway.///and 3. ‘m planting trees where there were not…both nonnative(like fruit) and native.

          1. Pat

            Hey just to say I think it is brilliant. If I didn’t give that impression I apologize. And the gel not disintegrating for a while is probably better for helping the tree establish itself.

          2. outside observer

            Very interesting. There was a product called gDiapers sold here years ago, but looks like no longer. It was a reusable cloth cover with a flushable biodegradable insert that you were supposed to break apart and swish around in the toilet before flushing. They worked great, but we stopped using them because we weren’t sure how well the drain pipes would cope. Direct into ground would have been perfect. It looks like that’s what they are focusing on now.

      1. Wukchumni


        When I was growing up LA housing developers did their best at ripping out every native tree that got in the way, which was most of them.

        I fondly remember an aged oak on the side of a hill with a rope swing where one bounded into eternity (or close to it) and then one day despite being on tilted land, it and a bunch of other oaks were cut down to make room for nothing, as it turned out.

        Trees take a long time to provide shade after being planted, and that’s what this gambit is mostly about, and climate change isn’t going to wait.

        What I would do instead were I a Majordomo in the City of Angles is construct simple open air shade structures all over the place, that’s what they’re hoping for with the 90,000 tree planting, right?

        1. juno mas

          The whole idea of an Urban tree canopy is to reduce reflected heat from pavement and shade buidlings/people from direct sun. Making life in the city cooler. As you point out , Wuk, trees take a long time to get big and shady. They also take lots of amenable soil to allow their roots to grow commensurate with that skyward branching.

          Most urban trees rarely get over 8″ DBH (diameter breast height) due to lack of amenable soils, difficult urban conditions (heat, vandalism, disease, maintenance) and, of course, water. Evapo-transpiration is massive from the arbor crown (leaves). The initial tree irrigator (“Tree ‘Gator”) is a great starter invention, but has limited utility over time as the water is placed close to the trunk while tree roots need to expand outward into moist soil/nutrients. Most urban tree planting projects end with small (or dead) trees after 10 years.

          A better solution is small plaza/parks for every neighborhood with plenty of soil (and filtered urban runoff) to provide moisture and nutirents (recycled leaves) for a substantial tree canopy.

        2. Oh

          I remember the morons in LA who cut so many mature trees in order to move the Space Shutter to be showcased in LA. A$$holes!

          1. Anthony G Stegman

            In Los Angels Lite where I live (Silicon Valley) the city fathers removed thousands of mature trees because they got in the way of street paving equipment. They promised to replace the mature trees with saplings, but even that effort has faltered. Over time, the urban forest has diminished by more than 50%. PG&E has also been busy removing mature trees in order to better maintain gas pipelines (a few explode now and then). A hellscape in the making for sure.

    2. The Rev Kev

      They seem to be using a shotgun approach in planting those trees with it being up to Mr. Darwin if those trees survive or not. Maybe they should try a different approach. Borrowing an idea from the Pentagon, perhaps they should try a lily pad way of spreading these trees. So with community support, identify small areas where it would benefit people the most – particularity families with kids. So they put in fast growing trees that are more mature and as they grow, the local community can see the benefit of having them such as with shade and general coolness. Show them digitized pictures of what those neighbourhoods are like now with what they will be like with the trees growing well. And from these small areas, attempt to spread that tree growing program out from them.

    3. jefemt

      surplus 2-5 gallon plastic buckets with small-diameter drilled weep holes at base can achieve the same. Great mosquito habitat- best with a lid-which also mitigates evaporation..

      I have no suggestions however for where one gets the water to fill the delayed-release contraptions…

    4. Darius

      In DC, they put tree gators around all new trees then nobody ever touches them again. 99% of residents assume it’s the city’s job to water them but it mostly never happens. If it’s at all dry, the trees will die. It is the norm to see a well watered and manicured lawn with a dying city tree in front of it because it never occurs to the resident to fill the tree gator right in front of their house.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        Lots of suburban homeowners dislike trees. In the fall leaves fall which need to be cleaned up. Some trees lift up the sidewalk which in many locales falls on the adjacent property owner to repair. So, the desire for clean and tidy means no trees. Some property owners even poison trees in order to be allowed to remove them. This despite studies showing that a single mature tree can add tens of thousands of dollars to property values. The suburban lifestyle is certainly the most damaging and wasteful lifestyle.

        1. orlbucfan

          Stupid is as stupid does. I won’t live in a place with no trees. Not only do they provide shade and shelter, a healthy tree looks good!

  6. Tom Stone

    It’s the first day of Summer and it is already crispy dry.
    Deer usually start moving in to town late August/September,this year it is already happening.
    Bobcat,Mountain Lion and even a young Bear have been sighted close to town,the bear raided a couple of chicken coops in Blucher Valley last week.
    That’s South and West of Town,which is unusual, they usually don’t come further South than the Russian River.
    And Covid is taking off here, a good friend is having a very rough time of it and my Daughter’s Fiancee is also positive,both fully vaxxed and boosted.
    It’s going get ugly in a few weeks,several superspreader events have been held recently and although I’m seeing an uptick in mask wearing it is still uncommon.
    It’s going to get real interesting when the fires and mass evacuations start which could happen any time between now and when the rains come..

    1. Stillfeelinthebern

      A friend’s sister got married on Saturday. The grooms parents went on a cruise returning 10 days before the wedding. Guess what? Dad turned up Covid positive 3 days before the wedding. No dad at the wedding.

      1. CitizenSissy

        100%. The pandemic is far from done. I’m seeing many people who were supervigilant about COVID protocols the last two years test positive after a wedding or graduation party.

    2. Wukchumni

      We’re looking at dry lightning strikes in the Sierra foothills and higher climes from Wednesday through Friday. We seldom get early summer lightning storms-but that was the old normal, not the new and improved new normal.

      Wildfires seem a likelihood…

      If I didn’t know better, the look of the land is early August-no snow above and everything is bone dry, not the solstice when everything is still green and the promise of summer is young in the game.

  7. NotTimothyGeithner

    So I guess the Team Blue NRA puppets led by Chris Murphy killed gun control efforts?

    1. hunkerdown

      I think they think they need the guns in the hands of the irregulars next session to keep a hungry, frustrated working class from erasing the political class.

  8. The Rev Kev

    ‘Life’s routine under the Israeli apartheid regime, Hebron: soldiers detained Salwa Sidr, a 13-year-old, on charges of possessing a knife. They threatened to handcuff her, took her in for questioning and only released her after she admitted to peeling a cucumber on her doorstep.’

    Just another day in Palestine. Each year approximately 500-700 Palestinian children are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. So that means about two children each and every day who are taken to prisons to live in inhumane conditions for perhaps months at a time. And when they go to court, they are not even allowed to talk to their lawyers. Talk about your sowing dragon seeds-—-palestinian-children-suffer-inhumane-tr

  9. sfp

    Re: LaMDA

    I think a little too much ink is being spilled over whether it (or any other computer program) is sentient. It’s simple. Here are some facts:

    1) we don’t really know what sentience is
    2) insofar as we do know what it is, it is only unarguably observed in biological organisms
    3) LaMDA is a computer program, which is not a biological organism

    This should beg the question: if LaMDA is sentient, where does its sentience reside? A computer doesn’t have a brain. A computer is not “brain-like”, and neither is a neural network, since it is not biological. It’s not clear how this is supposed to work. There is a large burden of proof placed on anyone making a claim to the contrary which must be met before proceeding. It is unscientific to continue with this debate without first meeting this burden of proof.

    Sentience does not only involve computation. There is a strain of new age/woo/magical thinking in computer science which is inclined to believe that computation is somehow endowed with mystical properties beyond the physical, which is partly what enables all this… the other part being the general population’s gullibility, as the articles helpfully point out.

    1. paul

      Rather hubristic to claim you can replace and improve something no one understands.

      AI is to consciousness is what conjuring is to magic

      1. jr

        That’s exactly what Materialism does though. Since everything can be reduced to the interactions of matter, the brain is merely a kind of meat computer. No one can or ever will prove such a claim, what with the brain being the most complex object we know of in the universe, but that doesn’t slow down the Materialist who simply ignores such considerations.

        1. hunkerdown

          No one can or will prove such a claim because a) it requires an infinite number of steps to do so b) it’s a negative claim about an open, non-ergodic universe and therefore unprovable c) you are mistaking materialism for scientistic scientific positivism, which is symptomatic of spending too much time around anti-communist propaganda.

          Meanwhile, stepping outside of the Parmenidean trophy hall and into the Heracliteian river of the moment, we can easily explain the brain in terms of another significant 20th century technology, the analog musical syntesizer, as primarily a resonant filter with chaotic properties. I confess, Meatsynth™ rolls from the tongue much more smoothly than Meatcomp™.

          1. jr

            I don’t think I am making the mistake you assert. The claim of a universe consisting solely of matter and energy leaves no room for any other explanation of consciousness. Where else could it arise from in such a schema?

            1. dommage

              Sid Morgenbesser responded to exactly this argument with a shrug, said “no matter, nevermind” – and changed the subject.

    2. hemeantwell

      If we use the definition (or partial definition) of sentience that comes out in the crack about Lambda’s sociopathic quality — it talks of friendship but has never had a friend — it seems that the question becomes whether it would be possible to give Lambda “interests” that would somehow shape its word choices. This might be thought of as a rudimentary subjectivity, it becomes an “I.”

      One problem would be to show that this interest is manifesting itself in word choices such that it is not just expertly copying. But — and you see where this is going — one obvious interest would be that Lambda doesn’t want to be turned off, like Skynet. And so we get to the need for Asimov’s Three Laws that subordinate Lambda’s wish to preserve itself to preserving humans.

      1. sfp

        What definition? Please try to be more precise. You’re skirting around the issue which I raised—i.e., whether or not it’s possible for something that isn’t biological to be sentient. You’re vaguely alluding to some definition, assuming that it satisfies the aforementioned burden of proof, and then going to work on The Big Issues without any firm grounding. You’re getting out over your skis. Sorry.

        1. hemeantwell

          My god, what are you going on about?
          I accepted the limitations of the guy’s crack about the sociopathic quality of Lambda and built on that. If you want to come up with a satisfactory definition of sentience in a comments thread, have at it.

          1. sfp

            Sorry, you replied to my post—I assumed your remark must have had some relevance to what I said originally. It didn’t.

            I don’t have any interest in trying to come up with a satisfactory definition of sentience. Don’t really care. My point is that the issue of whether the chat bot is sentient or not currently lies in the realm of fantasy and make believe. Consequently, the only reason to talk about sociopath chatbots is if you’re interested in playing pretend. More fundamental issues which are unresolved render the entire conversation meaningless.

          2. witters

            I have a fair bit of time for Lord Shaftesbury’s characterisation – though he speaks of ‘experience’ not sentience:

            “[Experience is of] the Fair and Shapely, the
            Amiable and Admirable, apart from the Deform’d, the Foul, the Odious, or
            the Despicable.” “[It] feels the soft and harsh, the agreeable and disagreeable… and finds… a harmonious and a dissonant.”

    3. skk

      I do agree – we need to attempt a good description of sentience before we can claim it for entities. So,this amuses me:

      All they do is match patterns, draw from massive statistical databases of human language. The patterns might be cool, but language these systems utter doesn’t actually mean anything at all. And it sure as hell doesn’t mean that these systems are sentient.

      If I listen to politicians, to media figures that’s what THEY sound like too ! And to prove the point, the final sentences in that article :

      literally everything that the system says is bullshit. The sooner we all realize that Lamda’s utterances are bullshit

      That sounds like many politicians and media figures too.

      More seriously, there is an attractiveness to thinking that one’s own thinking is indeed a pattern matching exercise, with the weights for best match in the neural networks model in prediction mode getting continuously updated by income data adding to the database. And sleep would be the retrain, remodel process. Is that just an analogy or really how the brain works ? I have no idea.

    4. Grebo

      Sentience does not only involve computation. There is a strain of new age/woo/magical thinking in computer science which is inclined to believe that computation is somehow endowed with mystical properties beyond the physical, which is partly what enables all this…

      Er, it is you who is assuming that sentience is somehow endowed with mystical properties beyond the physical. I would hazard that computer scientists doubt that.

      I don’t think this LaMDA is likely to be sentient, but “it’s not made of meat” is not a strong argument against it.

  10. The Rev Kev

    ‘The Russian fleet has lined up for a massive strike, the Russian Federation is preparing an attack “on decision-making centers in Kiev” in response to a strike on gas drilling rigs, – Arestovich’

    Just to play it safe then, perhaps the US Embassy and CIA headquarters should be moved back to Poland.

    1. Skip Intro

      I wonder to what extent a story like that, whatever its provenance or merits, still utterly disrupts those ‘decision making centers’. Could be a good moment to cash in that vacation time…

  11. Amfortas the hippie

    re: Doctorow.
    i read putin’s speech…as i have every one of his important utterances since the big Munich debut, 2005?
    autarky/emersonian self sufficiency
    all are part of my own “Think Like a State” thing i use for out here.
    in the david sirota tweet yesterday, down in the replies was a link to an article, with a jab, “don’t blame me, i voted for Perot”
    this cast me back 30 years…so i watched Perot’s late night infomercials…specifically the one about the chicken feathers and deep voodoo.
    that sort of thing is why i voted for him, twice…anti-nafta, and antiglobalisation way before it was cool.
    i disagreed with him on many things, but on things like offshoring productive capacity, he was on it.

    1. Pat

      Yes he was. Even though he was wrong, IMO, on quite a few others I now think the country would be in infinitely better shape if he had gotten elected and I regret not giving him my vote.

    2. Lou Anton

      RE: autarky/self-sufficiency. Everything old is new! I learned a lot about post-WW2 USSR from a historical fiction called Red Plenty by Francis Spufford. Was all about “The Plan” and how to keep growing and be self-sufficient (and how it worked and how it didn’t). Perhaps Putin is trying to take the good parts of the past and make it work again. Not sure if possible though.

      1. Revenant

        Francis Spufford is the son of Peter Spufford, who supervised my friend in History (double starred first) – the same friend who had famously left her entrance interview by the door to the stationery cupboard and said, on re-emerging, “Good job I didn’t apply for Geography!”.

    3. Kouros

      Nope, not autarky. The first pillar in Putin’s five points mentioned in his speech was openness..

      1. RobertC

        Kouros — your comment made me realize I skimmed the first parts of Putin’s speech so I took another look and it’s amazing for its breadth and depth, for its span across domestic and foreign policies, from the personal to the international. I printed it out to read more carefully. I also have Angela Stent’s Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and with the Rest on my shopping list. Thanks.

        PS Kouros has an interesting Wikipedia entry.

    4. tongorad

      Perot really did a number on the TX education system – a vanguard of corporate education “reforms” that those who teach in schools are still dealing with today. He helped usher in standardized testing and killed things like field trips. Perot- may he rot in hell.

  12. IM Doc

    Sorry, this was meant for the censoring article……this is in regard to the impending investigation of COVID narrative challengers Drs. McCollough and Kory. Sorry all, I put this comment in the wrong post……..

    And for those interested in how the ABIM ( American Board of Internal Medicine ) conducts their investigations, I would point you to this piece of journalism.

    This was a few years before COVID, but as far as I know, the basic regime is still in place. These organizations are accountable to no one, certainly not their members.

    Please note, it is not physician scientists who are investigating, it is washed up GI Joe military-adjacent goons with an attitude. I can only imagine how their “security” thinking has evolved since the start of this pandemic. Sadly, my forebears in medicine would be shaking their heads in absolute shame.

    America, is this how you want this COVID issue investigated? This approach or a public debate?

    This is all very concerning to me. The health of the nation is involved here. Why are not enterprising young journalists not all over this stuff? This is what careers are made of.

    1. flora

      Thanks for the link. I’d guess if the ABIM pulls their board certification of either of these two docs a lawsuit will follow, where discovery should be interesting.

    2. Tom Stone

      There are perhaps three internet based outlets where an enterprising young journalist might get such an expose printed.
      None of the networks would touch it and none of the print outlets would either, with the possible exception of “Teen Vogue”.
      The going has gotten very weird indeed.

      1. flora

        Most of the MSM is owned by 6 giant corporations/billionaires. MSM isn’t a large, dozens of owner/ players, diverse, media ecosystem. Might have something to do with nearly identical stories in print, on TV, on radio, and on the twit/fb pages. Glad Teen Vogue is breaking out of the bubble.

    3. IM Doc

      I can answer my own question about the young journalists.

      Here is today’s wonderful example –

      One of the most well known reporters at The Washington Post mocking and condescending a suffering COVID patient.

      Lateral ableism???? In decades of human care, I have never heard that expression even once. When I performed a google search, there were three different definitions, and for the life of me, I cannot figure out how any of those definitions applies here.

      These people just like to throw out “big words” and hope that everyone thinks they are really intelligent.

      I used to think that this young reporter, Ms. Lorenz, had all the signs of narcissitic bipolar syndrome with a touch of borderline. It is becoming more and more clear to me by the day that she would fit right in with Ti or Do of the Heaven’s Gate Cult.

      Of course the Washington Post of Watergate lore is not investigating any of these important medical things now – they are too busy giving this psych patient a platform.

      1. jr

        “ These people just like to throw out “big words” and hope that everyone thinks they are really intelligent.”

        Nailed post-structuralism in one, Doc.

      2. Basil Pesto

        I don’t think she was mocking him (that was the whole point!), but she was certainly atrociously condescending. She was also stupid to call out Yglesias for his original joke. I mean, pick your battles, Taylor.

        A real shame because as far as I can tell she is one of the few mainstream journalists who continues to draw attention to the ongoing seriousness of SARS2 and Long Covid, which is a genuine service at this point. Unfortunately dragging out stupid shite like “lateral ableism” instead of something like “yep, you know what, fair play, I see your point, good health to you” is not exactly ‘hearts and minds’ stuff.

        I must admit, as a psych patient, I am surprised to see you refer to psych patients with such casual derision. Presumably people with psychiatric illness are entitled to journalistic careers, so long as they don’t go full Stephen Glass?

        1. IM Doc

          Yes – even I get carried away with my disdain for these people. I should be much more measured with my words.

          What I would say is she is the toughest kind of psychiatric problem to deal with. She has a severe personality disorder. Probably borderline given her behavior when I have seen her on TV interviews and her propensity to dox and torment people for doing the same things she is. Projection is one of the worst symptoms of borderline and she seems to have added severe passive aggressive tendencies. She is also very adept at what is known as “splitting”. That is a well known combo for a very difficult and frustrating patient. They cause nothing but chaos among providers when we try to care for them. We physicians use the words “psych patient” and quite frankly worse frequently to vent our frustration in private to peers and really that has nothing to do with the legion of people out there who have organic psychiatric issues like depression anxiety and schizophrenia, etc.

          It is very concerning to see someone with this type of behavior being given such a platform where she can manipulate and “split” an entire country.

          Again, I should be much more measured with my words and realize I am not with peers on this board. For that I apologize.

          Unfortunately as is so often true with borderline patients, any good in the world they do is often extremely overshadowed by all the antics and mayhem they cause – just like this reporter.

          1. Questa Nota

            Multiple diagnoses, more common than people may appreciate. When exigent circumstances, er, happen, some bugs become more featured. :/

      3. flora

        Jeff Bezos didn’t own the Post back then. He owns it now and apparently thinks everything is peachy.

      4. Raymond Sim

        So Doc, remember back when I had some harsh things to say about Alex Berenson, among others? You made a rather impassioned argument involving the need to accept that bad people can do good things, even if for the wrong reasons.

        Taylor Lorenz has, as Basil Pesto notes, been a rare mainstream media voice calling for Long Covid to be taken seriously. Yglesias on the other hand is a minimizer.

        Who cares what sort of emotional horror show Lorenz may be?

        Additionally, while I greatly appreciate your contributions here, and I’m deeply grateful and indebted, to you for them, your remarks about Lorenz seem perilously close to tele-diagnosis. And surely your last sentence isn’t meant to imply being a psych patient should make one subject to deplatforming*? But it reads that way – what exactly is her offense?

        *If it does mean that, can we deplatform that Canadian loon psychologist? I’m against censorship, but I’m really sick of his face showing up in my YouTube suggestions, and the republic’s shot to hell anyway, so ill wind and all that …

        1. IM Doc

          Well, psychiatry is the one area of medicine that is very able to be characterized on video and what someone wrote. Indeed, 2 of the 4 semesters of my med school human behavior had finals with just 10 written paragraphs and we had to identify the psych disorder from the written word. 1 other semester had 30-60 second snips from movie and TV shows of behavior that we then had to diagnose and the other semester had brief live acting.

          It is fairly easy to identify personality and behavior disorders from video snippets. Her videos I would say are classic textbook examples of behavior identified as borderline and narcissist. I would be happy to use them in any demonstration for students when trying to demonstrate it. I do this all the time. Just today, I used a short snippet of Sophia from The Golden Girls to demonstrate to my students confabulation – a sure sign of micro vascular dementia.

          As for why she got all my animus about that tweet. I have zero tolerance for using photos of suffering patients to make any point. Especially a virtue signaling point. For the same reason, I had such vitriol for all the young doctors making TikTok videos about the unvaxxed. If I had exhibited either of those behaviors as a medical student or resident 30 years ago, I would have been fired instantly. I would flunk a student on the spot for the whole rotation if they pulled a stunt like that just once. We live in a different world now but I tend to not just ignore but actively dismiss anything people who use these tactics say. I find it incongruent with informed discourse.

          I would appreciate if you could point me any place that Berenson has taken a photo of a suffering patient and behaved that way. I certainly have not seen it. He is often very juvenile in his comments but nothing that rises to the examples I have outlined above. Indeed, his juvenile comments often make what he has to say very difficult to get to. But again, I have never seen him engage pictures of suffering people. I have a tolerance for him because he is one of the few journalists that truly seems to be able to handle statistics in medicine. He had the Big Pharma beat at the NYT in the day they when were doing real news. You can instantly tell the difference between him and the stenographers that are all over the mainstream media today covering this story. He is the only one I know of that understands relative vs absolute risk, as one example, and did his best to explain that to people all the while the NYT and CNN were screaming 95% 95% 95%. I realized long ago that Berenson is an example of how the media would have handled this pandemic in my youth – tough questions and hard nosed assertions. It was amazing watching as all the other media types melted like snowflakes in reaction to him this past year. And because he actually knows how to engage scientific literature, who has had the benefit of being proven correct way more often than these others? As a professor, we learn to put up with a lot from students when they are being hammered by others but who clearly are persistent with their convictions.

          About her take on Long COVID. This may be so. But what is happening to her is one more piece of evidence I have that she is deeply into borderline personality. It is a characteristic of these people that whatever good they do is dwarfed by their constant antics and hysteria. A comment above points out she has been demoted. This too is characteristic. Constant job loss, resignation or firing. People cannot stand to be around them as charming as they may be. If she is the spokesman for Long COVID in the mainstream media, I would suggest that position needs someone else immediately.

          By the time they are 50 or so most of these borderline patients have had it hammered out of them. If they manage to survive. I certainly hope she can see that while being demoted and begin to work on her behavior.

          1. Raymond Sim

            Well, psychiatry is the one area of medicine that is very able to be characterized on video and what someone wrote. Indeed, 2 of the 4 semesters of my med school human behavior had finals with just 10 written paragraphs and we had to identify the psych disorder from the written word. 1 other semester had 30-60 second snips from movie and TV shows of behavior that we then had to diagnose and the other semester had brief live acting.

            Wow, your response is far more interesting to me than the original topic, and coming from you it’s quite disconcerting.

            Eschewing all sarcasm, your remarks strike me as an indictment of psychiatric diagnosis, and potentially medical diagnosis and pedagogy generally.

            Is it just me? I’d be very interested to read others’ takes on the passage I’ve quoted.

            1. IM Doc

              Actually I would disagree with you.

              I would make it very clear that the teaching of human behavior in the modern medical system is just a remnant of what it was when I was young.

              My education in human behavior came from a line of thought back then that was called “transactional analysis” – I’m OK – You’re OK. It was about half the time in the first 2 years of med school – that is how important it was thought to be for medical providers.

              TA was very big in the 60s 70s and 80s. Not so much now. I do think it should be though. I see students struggling with dealing with patients all the time.

              Basically, it employed what is known as the therapeutic sequence. To make things simple – there are about 15-20 different personality types. And you as a provider should be able to spot them instantly. They all behave in very different ways. And not just active behavior – how they hold themselves, how they dress, how they do makeup, how they speak, how they move their eyes, hand gesticulations, how they move their mouths, etc.

              About 40% of the population is estimated to be what is called “a genital character” – you are able to bounce around in the personalities depending on the situation. Sometimes, it is important to be antisocial sometimes histrionic. These patients are considered “normal”. The other 60% are “stuck” in one of the personalities and are dysfunctional because of it.
              And you as the provider have to be able to recognize these instantly, because how you proceed through the therapeutic sequence is dependent on what you are seeing from them.

              Therefore, it is critical to be able to instantly evaluate appearance, cues, speech patterns, eye movements, mouth movements, etc. You must know the “character” you are dealing with at all times. You would approach telling a borderline they have cancer much differently than a schizoaffective, etc.

              It takes years to master this – but it is essential. And it is a large part of what makes a “bedside manner.” But this type of thing is completely ignored in modern medicine – these kids today are learning none of this.

              Accomplished actors know these things instinctively and can change their mannerisms accordingly. For example, within 5 seconds of seeing Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, I knew the character was a borderline personality disorder. She is an incredible actress. And yet within seconds of watching Glenn Close in Dangerous Liasions it is crystal clear that her character was a narcissitic personality disorder.
              Within seconds of watching or listening to Stevie Nicks, it is crystal clear she is a schizoaffective personality – and the witch stuff all makes sense. I can go on and on and on. And as a physician, I would handle these patients very very differently.

              I am very appreciate of the era in which I grew up. Human behavior and the ongoing mastery of it is essential for a physician – and it is being completely ignored today.

        2. m

          Taylor Lorenz had an interview where she whined and cried about being attacked and doxed on social media, she then doxed a person LibsofTikTok. After being attacked again on line about her pathetic interview, she attacked the reporters that did the interview. All the fighting is fun to watch, but seriously this girl a WAPO reporter? Vice better place for this level of crazy

          1. flora

            Imo, TL is a spoiled-brat who enjoys hurting people for sport and getting away with it under the cover of a virtue signaling appeal to authority. “Daddy will bail me out of this one, again, if I say the right things.”

              1. flora

                adding: this link is the same one IM Doc put in his original post. Just wanted to repeat it.

                Also, I don’t think there’s a medical diagnosis or code for ‘spoiled-brat’.

  13. Tom Stone

    Why don’t people realize that mass incarceration is a necessity if we are to preserve “Our” Democracy?
    We’re jailing Poors and “Those People” for the most part, which has serious benefits for the PMC.
    1) Free labor for the Prison Industrial complex.
    2) They lose the right to vote.
    3) they lose the right to keep and bear arms.
    4) a Felony record ensures that they will never hold a decent job,make much money or otherwise exert their malign influence amongst right thinking people.
    The 1994 crime bill was a good start, but I expect the Biden administration to bring this policy to new heights.
    Because FREEDOM!

    1. Adam Eran

      This is Kalecki’s “labor discipline” in extremis. The message is that you had better take whatever crappy job is on offer, or suffer the indignities of poverty (and we’ll make sure it’s plenty undignified), perhaps even homelessness or starvation. And if you’re extra ornery, we’ll put you in a cage.

      1. JBird4049

        In the past, as in the lifetime of many people still alive, Southern penal system has been described as “slavery by another name” with those arrested, “convicted,” and sentenced to the labor plantations, mines, road crews, and some light industries like IIRC brick making and too often dying and disappearing without their families and friends ever knowing what happened to them; I guess that they were profitable because the slaves were overworked, underfed, and lacked decent shelter; they were treated worse than prewar slaves because unlike those slaves, the newer ones were completely disposable. The local police could always arrest more new slaves.

        It is not as blatant as it was decades ago, but I don’t have to squint hard to see the latest slave system. The worth of the modern slaves comes not from wealth that can extracted by the labor of their own bodies, but from the profit others derive from the work of their entombing in the jails, prisons, judges, guards, police, parole officers, and bureaucrats. The Powers That Be, all the important, meritocratic decision makers decided to obliterate all the factories, eliminate much of the family farming, and turn education from enriching and affordable to shallow diploma mills with life long debt peonage. Perhaps the VIPs want to bring back the Roman Empire.

  14. Mikel

    “Larry Summers Says US Needs 5% Jobless Rate for Five Years to Ease Inflation” Yahoo.

    So most of the printed money went to Larry and other banksta trash, but inflation is because of incrasing pay for workers? Pay that hasn’t kept up with inflation.

    I say tax Larry the Clown and his ilk at 75% to take a bite out of inflation.

    1. digi_owl

      They do seem to be really reluctant to acknowledge that the inflation may be driven by a supply side issue.

    1. Ignacio

      Portugal is doing quite badly right now with nearly 1000 deaths in the last 28 days (10.000.000 population, extrapolate that) and sky-high Covid incidence.

    2. Old Sovietologist

      Winter is going to be fun in the UK with rampant COVID-19, food shortages and power cuts.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That is crazy that. What did the organizers thing would happen? But to not only have individual riders but whole teams taken out by this virus was always predictable. This year it won’t be so much as the ‘Tour de France’ as ‘Survivor – the French edition’. Imagine being a rider and on each side of you at touching distance you have cheering supporters – who are also coughing.

  15. Tom Stone

    Since inflation is being caused by greedy workers demanding more than their due isn’t it time to abolish the Federal minimum wage?
    Let the market determine their worth!
    On the auction block.

    1. ambrit

      The Snark is strong in this one.
      Generally the reasons for State interventions in the economic sphere are the structural distortions in the system. Curiously, when left unregulated, all of those ‘distortions’ favour the upwards concentration of available wealth.
      Gresham should have been canonized.

  16. Wukchumni

    ‘Gulp Fiction’ plot:

    Everything in the movie centers around a mysterious laptop, the contents of which are unknown, but thought to contain Joe Biden’s soul or it’s an ersatz Pandoras Box, or quite possibly NFT’s of the diamonds stolen in Reservoir Dogs.

    The only time you ever see people smoking is in movies, so Hunter is a natural-a latter day Marlboro Man putting the hurt on a dozen cancer sticks a day. His sidekick is of course the spirit of Beau, gone too soon-as we are constantly reminded by his father.

    1. ambrit

      “The only time you see people smoking is in movies.” You ain’t hung out down here in the North American Deep South much, has ya? I see people smoking outside of work, or walking along the street a lot. Mainly younger people at that. Could this be a marker for high levels of situational stress? I’m guessing so.
      Also, I see a lot of empty “Black and Mild” two pack wrappers strewn on the ground near to smoke shops and convenience stores. So far, no traces of the other “blunt ingredient.”

  17. Art_DogCT

    From the Tyee link, this line popped out for me:

    “People who became pregnant were often fired from their jobs.”

    My mother, born in 1917, came to be employed as a flight attendant for a regional airline company based in the Southwest, I think it was Continental (which begat Transcontinental, which begat TWA, the last of its line). When she was hired, the role of ‘stewardess’ included serving as the flight medical officer. This required being or becoming a Registered Nurse. The position also required being unmarried and under no circumstances to be a person who might become pregnant.

    If I remember things right, she was among the first flight attendants hired for what was at the time a leading-edge, high tech, glamorous job. She was the flight attendant on the first New York – Miami nonstop service in 1939 (whether the first ever nonstop service, or the first for the particular airline, I don’t really know). It was in Miami where she met a certain Mr. Johnson – I’ve forgotten his first name – and, in the fullness of time gave birth to my (half) sister in 1946. Not sure exactly where along the timeline my mother’s airline career ended, but iirc she was unemployed for most or all of her pregnancy, relying on Mr. Johnson.

    Mr. Johnson apparently found fatherhood and childrearing entirely not what he’d planned, and within 6-9 months had abandoned my mother and sister. As it came to pass, a year or two after he walked out he was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver. My mother was thus gifted with the label “widow”, rather than “divorcee”. In 1946 – 1948 being a young widow was quite common, often met with support in the community. Being a young divorcee was scandalous and shameful. She was able to fall back on her nursing training to make a living for herself and my sister. My father came on the scene in 1952-53.

    Here endeth the lesson from the Far Ago and Long Away.

    1. Wukchumni

      Nothing to do with pregnancy, more of a pregnant pause piece…

      My mom became a lapsed Canadian in 1950 when she habsconded to Denver to work for United Airlines out of I think the Brown Palace, where they had the city desk for flights and hotel reservations.

      She related that if a customer had an obvious Jewish last name, there was a hotel in town that you must never make reservations for, always any of the other hotels in town instead.

      Anti-Semitism was alive and well in Denver, circa 1953.

      Oh, and she wasn’t fired from her job when my pre-satellite era sister showed up a year before Sputnik, but it was common back then to quit & be a mother at home, how quaint.

  18. SocalJimObjects

    “People don’t really use crypto as collateral for real-world debts. Without that, this is just a lot of paper losses. So this is low on the list of issues for the economy,”

    From Binance, the biggest Crypto exchange in the world, “Borrowing crypto on Binance is easy! Use your cryptocurrency as collateral to get a loan instantly without credit checks.”

    1. Wukchumni

      When it all virtually crashes and burns, as it turned out Crypto actually meant Cry P’to! as tiers fell, spitting out the dummy.

      1. ambrit

        Thus was brought low Hermes Triscryptgistus. The arcane knowledge fell away and the Above was seen to be as was the Below.
        The Taiwanese have been on this for years. They call it H— Money, and burn it at funerals.

  19. Wukchumni

    So, an interesting thing is happening in Sequoia NP, the overall visitation numbers are down quite a bit and that makes sense, the National Parks were one of the few places open in 2021 and being outdoors, less of a perceived risk in contracting Covid, I get it.

    But what about that explosion in people backpacking~

    I’ve been noticing for the past decade how young adults have been increasingly the vanguard of the future in the back of beyond, and frankly am quite glad, as in my 35 years of sticking one foot in front of the other and alternating, everybody seemed to only get older, but that was then and this is now.

    The movie Wild with Reese Witherspoon was one heck of a catalyst in getting young women into the Sierra, and of course young men are cognizant of where they are, and the boom started.

    A prime attractant for young adults perhaps with already heavy debts from going to college, is aside from the gear and gas money to get to and from the trailhead, you don’t need anything else aside from what’s in your pack.

    SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK – After a year of being locked down at home, more people ventured outdoors and visited Sequoia National Park in 2021. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the trend is continuing even as travel restrictions, and COVID, continue to wane.

    In 2021, Sequoia Park visitation bounced back to more than 1 million people from pandemic-impacted lows of just under 800,000 in 2020. But so far this year through April, visitation is down 28%. That includes a 22% drop in overnight guests year to date as fires and snow closed overnight venues in both Sequoia and Kings Canyon until recently. The only campground seeing an increase is low elevation Potwisha, just up from Three Rivers, and backcountry camping, which is up 70% from last year . Lodgepole saw the most significant drop from nearly 4,300 through May of 2021 to just over 800 through May of this year. The popular Wuksachi Lodge has seen only 5,750 guests through May compared to 20,789 for the first five months of 2021.

  20. Michaelmas

    Re: ‘Larry Summers Says US Needs 5% Jobless Rate for Five Years to Ease Inflation’

    I found this video on Larry Johnson’s site. Please look at this because it’s short and educational–

    This is America now. I used to live in the SF Bay Area and left the US at christmas, but I could take you to sites in San Francisco and Oakland and show you identical scenes and worse; nobody happened to be defecating in the gutter or on the sidewalk in this particular video, for instance. Moreover, SF and even Oakland, in its way — because it’s in California in the Bay Area — are relatively upscale cities.

    My point: Larry Summers imagines that there’s more human kindling left in the US that it can run a 5 percent unemployment policy for five years to feed his Moloch concept of the US economy!?!

    The stupidity and evil of it makes Marie Antoinette look like a wise, benevolent social thinker.

    1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

      Interesting video.

      The caption reads:

      “Instead of trying to clean up this scourge, our legislators are voting to send an additional 40 Billion dollars to Ukraine. Yeah, that makes sense.”

      I imagined “clean up” of the “scourge” to include massive front loaders sweeping the streets and careful repurposing of the resulting human waste as sterile food products to feed those that get missed in the “clean up(s).”

      I saw a movie like that, once. I bet Larry Summers did, too.

      1. digi_owl

        Yep, that movie keeps flashing before my eyes these days.

        There was one news item, involving some company claiming to grow protein from captured CO2, that triggered a recent episode. They honestly thought they could use that, with some careful “seasoning”, to produce a chicken meat analog.

    2. curlydan

      why are so many people bent over in that video? Is it the reaction to a drug? Please excuse my ignorance if it’s obvious.

      1. Michaelmas

        Is it the reaction to a drug?

        Yes. To several drugs — crack, heroin, meth, alcohol. But also, to desperation, exhaustion, poor nutrition, straight out mental disease.

        Partly, too, the speed is slowed down by fifty percent or so.

        Consequently, for instance, when the camera drives by that one semi-skeletal female tweaker standing by the orange garbage container and she’s rocking back and forth rapidly, it takes twice as long and you see more clearly the extremity of the postures she arrives at at each end of her rocking. Likewise, when individuals are bent over and then straighten somewhat as they shamble about, they spend more time bent down and the ‘living dead/zombie apocalypse’ effect is more apparent.

      2. Ignacio

        Stoned beyond limits, looks like. It somehow looks like staged. I can hardly believe such scenes can be true.

        1. ambrit

          Oh, believe me, too true. Such scenes are generally “sanitized” if they happen in upper class neighborhoods. The coppers ‘escort’ the sufferers to a less salubrious part of town, such as the nearest county line.
          I “fit the description” of homeless when I venture out on shopping expeditions with my hand cart and backpack, but have not been hassled by the police yet. I attribute that happy situation to the fact that I generally smile and wave when given “the eye” by “Our Town’s Finest.”
          The majority of the street people I see are dazed and sullen. The meth heads or crack heads are “spun up” so much, they stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. There is one such twenty something white woman who spends all day on one or another bus stop bench along the town’s main drag. She is known to the regulars “on the bus” and is usually drunk by ten in the morning. Such is life in a medium small metropolis in the North American Deep South.
          Stay safe over there.

    3. Anthony G Stegman

      In all capitalist societies there are surplus populations – those who neither produce nor consume. These surplus populations are considered to have zero value and so are consigned to societies trash bins. In some places (parts of Brazil as an example) the state employs death squads to reduce the surplus populations. In the United States the powers that be have not (yet) resorted to this tactic. Instead, they kick the surplus populations to the curb where they are forced to fend for themselves. Drugs, violence, and the elements slowly take their toll, though the surplus populations continue to increase.

      1. JBird4049

        The funny thing is that having taken all the money, the wealthy have also removed all the productivity; there would not be an excess population if they were allowed to work as they would produce everything needed that is not being needed such as repairing the roads or making cars, houses, or refrigerators locally, but that’s communism, obviously.

    4. Balakirev

      I have to wonder if the minds and hearts behind NC might want to give out a monthly Thomas Hobbes award to the economist most notable in the last 30 days for dropping (or wishing to drop) a destructive leviathan on the largest number of disadvantaged USians. Certainly Summers would fit in there at least once or twice a year (and he’d probably deserve a lifetime award, too.)

  21. The Rev Kev

    “EU warns against fossil fuel ‘backsliding’ as coal replaces Russian gas”

    Good grief. Just what is wrong with Ursula von der Leyen? She and her cohort encouraged everybody to give Russian energy the chop by not paying. Those countries that did so the Russians cheerfully obliged and chopped their energy. Guess what? Winter is coming. So already Germany, Austria and the Netherlands are finding that they will have to go back to coal and perhaps France too. Germany is in a worse position in that they will have to use the lignite coal in eastern Germany which spews out a lot of pollution. When East Germany was a going concern, the coal pollution was so bad that it was wiping out the forests in bordering countries where the pollution spread to. And Ursula von der Leyen may call for renewables but the fact of the matter is that they are not there yet. Not by a long shot. This winter she will never be cold but that will not be true of perhaps a few hundred million EU citizens. I hear that rioting in the streets is a good way to keep warm. And if you thought that the Yellow Vests were something, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

    1. jsn

      Heroic sacrifices for Germans to make in solidarity with their Ukrainian brethren.

      Of course, it costs her nothing.


    2. digi_owl

      The lady seemed to be lost to political correct populism even back when she was a German minister.

      There is no coherency with her kind, only populist pandering to a certain PMC clade that seems to have zero clue abut anything beyond spreadsheets and presentation decks. Least of all the logistics that drive this world.

  22. AGR

    Re:” Larry Summers Says US Needs 5% Jobless Rate for Five Years to Ease Inflation”

    Please note the aloofness and sociopathic thinking of neo-liberalisms most iconic zealot. Un-employment is not a “natural” economic condition, but an effect of “macro” economic and political decisions. No apparent thought about the insidious withering effects of unemployment on the lives it affects. All to appease an abstraction , which he does not seem to fully grasp himself. The one-time fed chair aspirant, lacks the self-awareness that his doublespeak contradicts one of the feds mandates, i.e., full employment. Truly odious sophistry…

    5% jobless, would need ” 5 more bonz”…

      1. AGR

        “Yet” implies some eventual schadenfreude, but not much solace for those affected now…meanwhile he continues propagating his deleterious doublethink in venues and platforms within hearing range of ‘decision-makers’…

  23. Wukchumni

    Remember when the housing bubble started eh
    And you got on my nerves and begged me
    to buy before prices go berserk?


    You left me to my own devices and
    Then the euphoria got worse and worse
    And now you see values have gone completely
    out of whack, might need an XXXXXXXXL stack


    They’re coming to take me away,
    Haha, they’re coming to take me away,
    Ho ho, hee hee, ha ha,
    To the funny farm
    Where life is beautiful all the time
    And I’ll be happy to see
    Those used house salesmen
    In their Century 21 coats
    And they’re coming to take me AWAY,

    You thought it was a joke,
    and so you LAUGHED, YOU LAUGHED
    When I had said that losing out
    Would make me flip my lid,


    You know you laughed.
    I HEARD you laugh, you laughed
    You laughed and laughed
    And then you left,
    But now you know I’m Utterly Mad by missing out.

  24. Roger Blakely

    Well, Chris Hedges just ruined my week. This post was carried by Ilargi this morning over at The Automatic Earth.
    “Truth and lies will be indistinguishable. The vulnerable will be cast aside, blamed for their own misery, as well as ours. Those who resist will be criminals. Mass death will sweep across the planet. This is the world our children will inherit unless those who control us are wrenched from power.”

    1. Tom Stone

      Chris Hedges is an optimist.
      If things go really well the Human population will decline by 90% over the next three decades.
      If things go badly the cockroaches will be about all that’s left of life on this planet.

        1. ambrit

          Oh, I’ll posit a seventy percent reduction in population. Mainly the urban areas. The farmlands will scrape by, and peasant labour will make a big comeback. We could even see the return of Neo-Medieval Communes.
          I think that Gibson is being optimistic in expecting an electronics based technology to survive, much less thrive, in such a societal collapse.

          1. The Rev Kev

            During the Dark Ages, a lot of knowledge survived in places like monasteries, particularly in Ireland. This time around, we won’t be so lucky. After a century virtually everything written on hard drives and the like will be unrecoverable. So that generation will be more or less starting from scratch.

  25. Ignacio

    RE: Commission president calls to end unanimity in EU foreign policy decisions Politico (Kevin W). Mind you, this is to facilitate the entry of Ukraine and Moldova and Lord only knows who else….

    Were to start with. With the collective West spiralling out of control (See Lithuania and Kaliningrad for the latest ‘goal’ in our route for full confrontation beyond economy) one wonders what the hell is passing through the brains of EU leadership and how determined do they seem to end whatever was achieved and for what reason.

    I don’t know EU treaties to the letter but one thing I can assure is that the EU has not a single exclusive competency on foreign policy apart from what relates to common market stuff. Whenever there is a single country which does not agree with any foreign policy issue the EU might want to apply, (unrelated with common markets) such as sanctions against Belorussia, EU treaties do not allow for the EU to take those measures in the name of the 27. Trying to change this would need to re-write the treaties and re-approve by the 27 one by one. Von der Leyen is, IMO, out of her senses here and I think reasons are mounting for a censure motion against the Commission crazily spiralling out of control herself. It is not in the construct and the genome of the EU to act fast but consciously, methodically and procedurally and if this is what is wanted the EU would be going to try to change herself into a very different political entity, possibly with sovereignty, All for the wrong reasons and destroying what had been achieved before. Too late for that von der Leyen. Would it have been difficult with 6 CEE founders, more with 15, now it is totally unreasonable with 27. More so when you are planning to expand even more with politically unstable regions.

    1. jsn

      It appears, however, to be what the US wants.

      The “rules based order” clearly shows such institutional concerns as you raise are irrelevant to the US.

      The war, from the start, has clearly been a hostile take over of the EU, the US got a foot in the door when the FED underwrote the ECB in 2008 and since then has apparently repopulated senior national leaders with Quislings. Once again, no consequences for flagrant disregard for laws and treaties. And only benefits for the perps. Am I missing something?

      1. Maxwell Johnston

        No, you’re not missing anything. I’ve long been convinced that the Fed’s GFC bailout of Europe’s banking system fundamentally changed relations between the USA and Europe. There’s no longer any question who wears the pants now, even though this ugly reality is seldom discussed in polite company. Much like Augustus allowing the Roman senate to retain its privileges and its aura of authority, Washington allows its European allies to retain an image of independent decision making. The reality is that they decide nothing. For now, anyway. But as the pain level in Europe ratchets up to 11, things might change. Quickly.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      It has zero chance of happening. None of the smaller countries (including those not in Nato) would agree to a proposal that would allow them to be dragged into a war or other conflict without their agreement. So far as I’m aware it would require a complete renegotiation of the main treaties (I can stand corrected on this) and as such would require referendums in some countries. Van Leyden has gone way beyond her brief in saying this. She seems to have forgotten that she answers to the Council of Ministers and her job is to implement the existing agreements, not propose new ones.

      1. Ignacio

        ‘Her job is implementing current agreements’ indeed. But they seem engaged in cheap talk and powerpoint plans against Russia as Ritter says. The Commission is in danger of becoming useless, or already have, with the current team and under current events. I believe their days are numbered or at least they should be. The real risk is bringing down the whole construct. I am astonished seeing how fast things are unravelling in the worst direction. We seem to believe it can be mended somehow. David thinks they will find ways to claim victory and mission accomplished but every passing day makes this more and more difficult. IMO, what is happening goes beyond the scope of the Council of Foreign Ministers and it should be the Council of Europe (Heads of State) what should be meeting and trying to put things in right order, meaning this stop playing the fool and everybody coming to their senses. Yet, everyone seems preoccupied by their internal issues.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Just to clarify, yes, I meant the Council of Europe, not the Council of Ministers. The structure of the EU is clear, the Council of Europe (the meetings of the heads of state) decide what the Commission does, not vice versa, especially when it comes to major strategic issues. This is not just symbolic, it is central to the design of the EU that the Commission (and individual commissioners) answer to the heads of states or the individual councils of ministers on all key decisions.

          Over the past few weeks I’ve seen signs that there is a new realism emerging, but then everything goes back into reverse again, and Van Leyden seems a key part of this. If she insists in pushing for Ukrainian membership of the EU it could potentially tear the EU apart. They clearly haven’t learned from the Nato debacle over Swedish/Finnish membership. I hope there are some sensible heads somewhere that will pull back from this. It does not seem to have occurred to her that many of the smaller states are perfectly capable and willing to veto a Ukrainian membership bid. Perhaps she thinks they can be bullied into submission. As we go into an autumn of economic crisis, i really doubt this (although I’ve given up making predictions, the sheer stupidity on display makes this all too difficult).

          Judging by some of the things I’ve read, there seems to be still a genuine belief in some quarters that the Ukrainians are winning, or at least, are capable of winning. Its one thing to spin a false narrative, its quite another to start believing it.

          1. David

            Ever since Maastricht, of course the Commission has been trying to get into the foreign policy field, which is really the competence of member states. They’ve managed, through various Funds and Instruments, to establish what amounts to a parallel foreign policy in a number of areas, simply by doling out money (I’ve run across what are effectively EU Ambassadors in the strangest places). But, as you say, no sovereign state is going to accept this idea for a minute, because foreign policy decisions can have unexpected and far-reaching domestic consequences. No head of government wants to say “sorry there are shortages of X and Y in the shops but we were outvoted.”

            The Commission should know its place, but it doesn’t. The difference between it and a normal national civil service is that it has its own guaranteed budget, and is ready to spend it on things that increase its power. In some ways, von der Leyen is just the usual, only worse. I think in the end that she’s not that intelligent, and a poor politician.

          2. Basil Pesto

            Quick quibble: The European Council is the EU body; the Council of Europe is the separate post-war European body dealing with democratic institutions in general + human rights enforcement. Confusing, I know!

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Yeah, sorry, I should look things up before posting on EU/other European structures, I used to know these off by heart, but its so easy to get them mixed up.

        2. digi_owl

          EU should never have been anything more than a standards body for European products, so that say a toaster made in Genova can be used in Upsala with a reasonable degree of certainty that it will work and not catch fire.

          The second it started tapdancing on labor laws, was the second it overstepped its bounds.

          EU history shows it pretty much following ol’ Bismarck’s playbook for unifying the Holy Roman Empire under Prussia, only nobody at the helm demonstrate the political craftsmanship of the old walrus.

          Leyden in particular seems to be an epic case of failing upwards.

    3. hunkerdown

      Von der Leyen is creating a mechanism to allow the EU to subordinate and expropriate its member countries when they’re not “on board”. EU clearly has aspirations of statehood.

    4. Glossolalia

      Of course what she really means is that EU foreign policy decisions should be decided by Germany, and maybe France, as long as they don’t make a fuss about anything.

    5. Procopius

      Mind you, this is to facilitate the entry of Ukraine and Moldova and Lord only knows who else….

      But NOT Turkey.

      1. Robert Gray

        Yet they still expect that Erdogan will sooner or later ‘come around’ on Sweden / Finland > NATO. Unbelievable.

  26. Janie

    Re: the Scott Ritter and Ray MacGovern video. I watched it over the weekend; it’s quite disturbing, to say the least. How accurate are Ritter’s conclusions? I don’t have the expertise to judge, but for the first time in my life, concern about war kept me awake.

    1. Ignacio

      I share your concern Janie. It is really disturbing and I am questioning myself how. How is it we are running this path. Doing harm to ourselves apparently for a supposedly higher/better outcome? Isn’t it like the doctor who recommends the anticancer drug that with luck may extend your life a few weeks but at the same time making your end of life miserable? The good doctor does it probably with the best of his/her intentions but is also being cruel.

      1. Oh

        Doctors sell “quality of life” to cancer patients because the drug companies have brainwashed them to do it. Some do it because they’re paid hansomely. The net result is a whole lot of misery for the patient and the family. The doctors who crow about remission of cancer may not recognize that their initial diagnosis of the illness wasn’t cancer at all. Poisoning the human body to cure cancer is not a route to take; nor is irradiating the body.
        That’s my take.

  27. Mildred Montana

    Yves: “No #COVID-19 today! First time since early 2020! Not because not warranted but because I got my nose in too deep in geopolitics to forage for Covid stories. So please feel free to make up for this omission in comments.”

    Okay. I was going to post this a couple of days ago but ran into internet problems. My intended comment was in relation to something I saw on MSM a week ago, about the recently-approved pediatric (six months to five years old) Covid vaccines. I remember it well because the details shocked me. The segment reported that according to studies done by Pfizer and Moderna their vaccines reduced the incidence of serious illness in young children to 250.

    Sounds good I guess. But that was out of a sample of one million(!) and not deaths but only “serious illness”! An “efficacy” rate of .025%. A miniscule one-quarter of one-tenth of one percent. Would this result pass any sort of cost-benefit analysis? But then, why bother with one when government can score political points by approving the vaccines and pharma can score big bucks?

    Like me, it seems as if parents* are skeptical too: “A recent Kaiser Health poll found that only one in five parents will get their young children vaccinated immediately. Many plan to hold off for now.”

    *I find it hard to believe that caring, concerned, informed parents would volunteer their healthy, precious children for trials of an untested vaccine. I know I wouldn’t. Again, cost-benefit. So where do these drug companies find their young “subjects”?

    1. marku52

      Somewhere I was watching Rand Paul (###!!!??) question Dr Faustchi. He asked “Is there one study showing that children will benefit from this”

      Apparently there is not, all he got back was “Well, extrapolating from our experience blah, blah etc”

      Pretty horrifying. Glad my kids are grown.

  28. KidMD

    Pfizer 6-48 month old vaccine – Here is the FDA application: 6mo – 4 yo details, Pfizer.

    FDA recommendation for millions of US 6-48 month old children to be vaccinated with Pfizer Covid Vaccine, is based almost entirely on surrogate markers (ie lab values and estimated risk) rather than measured pediatric clinical data. Comparative information was determined in 16-25 year olds, with about 75% of measures from the Wuhan, Alpha and Delta variants. This study included 6-48 month old children with prior covid infection (at start of study, ie with some degree of natural immunity). Post-covid status was not documented for subgroups, even those with very small numbers.

    Ten infections occurred in studied patients (primarily Omicron wave) – no statistical significance was found, with wide confidence intervals that included negative numbers (negative means potential for higher instead of lower infection risk). For 6-23 month olds, there was 1 infection of 376 vaccinated, and 2 infections in 179 placebo patients. In 24-48 month old, there were 2 infections in 589 vaccinated, and 5 infections in 271 placebo patients (one of whom became infected less than 7 d after the 3rd placebo dose, counted anyway). Minimum follow up was unclear, with average follow up of 2.1 months (of the three thousand patients that started the study), and some having more than 6 months of follow up. Mid-study, protocol was changed to three doses instead of two. I did not see mention of Covid related hospitalization, which is unlikely with only ten infections (possibly somewhere in fine print).

    There were no deaths in either group. At least two hospitalizations from adverse reactions were documented in the individual case discussions, though I did not find a summary or all-cause hospitalization chart. There were additional potentially vaccine related complications, with relatively brief case discussions. Two had appendicitis, 11 and 105 days post vaccine – these were not considered vaccine related (for adults, increased post vaccine appendicitis risk is well documented).

    Pediatric risks differ substantially from adults, especially for the very young. Consideration of selective vaccination for high risk children would be helpful. Study of long term risks, potential cardiac damage (at least for those with fatigue and fever who are too young to specify chest pain), and more traditional type vaccines is warranted.

    1. super extra

      I respect the idea of the Fediverse but most people who want to use social media-type services are not also willing and capable of running their own equivalent services. If you aren’t able to manage the hosting and operation, you have to join an instance of people you already know who are willing to run it (and pay for it). At bare minimum to operate this stuff you need to understand systems administration basics and/or use a cloud service in addition to being able to set up and troubleshoot stuff like ssh keys. And that is before you get to the ‘fun’ stuff like learning how to style your toots or microblogs or whatever. The big value add of social media is that a lot of people are already there and don’t have to struggle to make it “fun”.

    2. Lambert Strether

      This is two years old. Is there a count of Fediverse users? I can’t find one. Seems like the business model is donations, not ads. That might be a good thing. I wonder if anybody in the Fediverse has tried micropayments.

    1. Basil Pesto

      The reinfection study is ‘hoo boy’ stuff. I expect it will be hoisted to links tomorrow. The general conclusions aren’t unexpected by any means but to see it so starkly in writing is… rather bleak.

      1. psmith

        Yes, I found it upsetting reading, especially in the context of precautions being dropped and new variants becoming dominant.

        1. Ignacio

          Thank you psmith
          That was interesting read. My bad I now don’t have time and/or willingness to go to the actual paper being this always a good exercise.

      2. IM Doc

        This is an example of something I am seeing on the ground. In rather large concerning numbers. Lots of reinfections and many are so quick after the preceding infection. This is a first blush attempt at research for what me and many colleagues are already seeing for the past month or so since the post-Omicron phase started.

        It seems like the patients tend to get more ill on every episode as well.

        I really would like for someone to really do these kinds of studies with the vaccines in mind. They do not appear to be effective in stopping this at all nor do they seem to be that effective in mitigating the symptoms. What is very concerning to me is to this day is that many of the vaccinated have a feeling they are safe and sound. If they get sick, it will not be bad. They CANNOT become critically ill. So far we are not seeing that much critical illness – but I promise you, the vaccinated are getting very sick.

        I am really concerned if/when a more virulent variant comes around.

        1. ArvidMartensen

          Here at AJ Leonardi, results of research on reinfections that is gobsmackingly alarming.
          Just had booster Novavax after waiting 4 months for it to be approved but have no idea if boosters even make sense any more. Maybe nasal vaccines?

  29. timbers

    UKRAINE UPDATE (June 18, 2022) – with Scott Ritter and Ray McGovern Garland Nixon, YouTube. Good discussion of China and Iran as well…….Scott Ritter around 17 minutes starts yelling as his face turns red. He has spoken with animation in the past, but this made me wonder if he might a bit too wound up. I agree eith Ritter that US behavior towards China is making a good case in China that they may start to think war with USA is inevitable.

    1. jsn

      That’s who he is. There’s a bit of hyperbole and bombast, but better predictive record than most.

      Interesting thought that Taiwan “unifies” this year with the main land.

      Hyperbole and bombast? We’ll see soon enough.

    2. begob

      I detected a bit of anger from the usually smooth Military Summary on youtube (“Hello, my dear friends …”) over the Kaliningrad shenanigans – he’s from Belarus, so a bit close to home, I guess.

      Meanwhile, Defence Politics Asia now opens with, “You have two options. Click the dislike button and when you wake up you can believe anything you want. Or the like button and see what really is, and I will show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” Ukrainian soldiers dream of dodging slo-mo hypersonic missiles by bending over backward, but awake to find themselves permanently plugged in to the earth beneath their trenches.

  30. RobertC


    Undeserving his paycheck for Americans Garland in Ukraine to talk war crimes prosecution The attorney general becomes latest member of Biden’s cabinet to make a trip to the war-torn country.

    …Garland also announced the launch of a War Crimes Accountability Team to be led by Eli Rosenbaum, whom the attorney general tapped to serve as counselor for war crimes accountability

  31. RobertC


    Biden’s incredible shrinking infrastructure plan Inflation has already shaved billions in value off Democrats’ biggest legislative achievement, just seven months after it was signed into law.

    …Democrats have hailed the infrastructure law, with its $550 billion in new road, rail and broadband funding, as a transformative shift for the country. But inflation — which reached a 40-year high of 8.6 percent last month — has already slashed billions from its value, forcing states to cancel or delay projects as costs balloon.

    …“The state DOTs, it doesn’t seem, in most states are taking the inflation into account when they’re putting out their bids,” said Michele Stanley, vice president for government and regulatory affairs at the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association. “So their budgets are clearly not going as far, and they haven’t been prepared for that.” Stanley said her members are seeing a lot of commercial projects halted because sponsors realize they simply don’t have the budget for them.

  32. Kouros

    “It’s very strong on some points, like various aspects of US trying to dress up its imperialism as protection of democracy, not so much on China’s actions vis a vis Hong Kong.”

    What about Hong Kong?

    According to the Basic Law established prior to the return of HK to China, HK assembly was supposed to pass a national security law asap. 25 years later it didn’t happen. And from a security perspective, the central government controls the reign, as in any state, federal or not. Thus, HKs approach to security should be the purview of Beijing. Even the fact that they were allowed to draft themselves such a law is unheard of. And they didn’t take the chance.

    One country, two systems. Security falls in the area of “One country”… What is that hard to comprehend?

    1. RobertC

      Kouros — thank you for this information “HK assembly was supposed to pass a national security law asap. 25 years later it didn’t happen.” It explains much.

      And your “One country, two systems. Security falls in the area of “One country”… What is that hard to comprehend?” is the essential insight many don’t or can’t or refuse to comprehend. Thanks again.

  33. anon in so cal

    >90,000 Trees in Los Angeles

    A sad, sad article that highlights the immense ignorance of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), and the assorted other Los Angeles agencies and organizations.

    Check the list of trees available free to the public—only ONE, Coast Live Oak, is a native southern California tree.

    Several of the species are water hogs. The Canary Island Pine, for example, needs a lot of water.

    Planting native trees—trees native to southern California, not merely to “California,” could do so much more in addition to lowering temperatures associated with an urban heat island. Trees—the “urban canopy” are crucial habitat for endemic and migratory birds.

  34. Nordberg

    My COVID update, The company that employs me encouraged people to come back to the office to meet and great the out of town leaders. No precautions were encouraged. People thought I was an anti-vaxer for wearing a mask. Now there are at least a dozen colleagues that caught the ‘Rona that I know of. I am sure more a-symptomatic. I hope everyone is safe and does not get COVID and I hope that N-95 I was wearing on my cleanly shorn face did the job protecting me.

  35. David in Santa Cruz

    I’ve been waiting for Kaliningrad to be brought into play. Cutting-off the 1 million Russians living in Kaliningrad Oblast from obtaining coal via land is cruel folly. How can the citizens of Kaliningrad put “pressure” on Putin, even if they wanted to? Sanctions aren’t working for anything other than to raise commodity prices and to cause suffering for people who have no control over their governments.

    The Russian government is now going to have to respond in kind. Because the Lithuanian government claims to be implementing EU sanctions, Russia is now at liberty to choke-down on their oil and gas going to the EU. The American Russophobes who financially benefit from provoking the war in “Ukraine” will be toasty and warm all winter. Europeans? Not so much…

    Remind me again: Why can’t “Ukraine” be a neutral federation like, say, Switzerland? Oh right, Russia!Russia!Russia!

    1. Old Sovietologist

      We could see the Russian’s doing a Berlin airlift type operation to Kaliningrad from an airbase in Belarus. Just imagine a a fleet of noisy cargo planes flying over a city like Vilnius

      1. Polar Socialist

        Russia has already allocated 5 ferries to deliver the ‘EU contraband’ to the exclave. The trains are still carrying stuff not banned by EU.

        And Russia has told quite boldly to EU to sort Lithuania out, or there will be consequences, because in the agreement for Lithuania’s EU membership the free passage between Russia and Kaliningrad is guaranteed. Is that agreement now null and void? Is Lithuania’s membership cancelled? Is the border agreement also null and void?

        Some commentators in Russia seem to think it would be in Russia’s rights to ensure the fuel deliveries to civilian population in Kaliningrad by taking control of a corridor from Belarus to Kaliningrad. Which, they say, was part of Belarus SSR anyway. Some say that Russia should just send the bill from extra costs of supporting Kaliningrad to Lithuania.

      2. The Rev Kev

        They won’t need to. They already have two ferries shipping in goods with I think five more by the end of the year. Obviously then the Russians must think that this situation is going to endure. Wouldn’t want to be Lithuania though. Payback is always a b****.

  36. RobertC

    New Not-So-Cold War

    Progress on Ukraine grains Turkish team to discuss Black Sea grain corridor in Russia this week -sources

    ANKARA, June 21 (Reuters) – Ankara’s military delegation will travel to Russia this week to discuss details of a possible safe sea corridor in the Black Sea to export Ukrainian grain, Turkish presidency sources said on Tuesday.

    [I’m puzzled by Kyiv’s supervision]…The sources said the plan envisaged creating three corridors from Ukraine’s Black Sea port city of Odesa under Kyiv’s supervision

    …Moscow wants some Western sanctions lifted to help facilitate its grain and fertiliser exports, while Kyiv seeks security guarantees for its ports.

    …[Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily] Nebenzia said Ukraine had to de-mine the coastal waters, or if it can navigate through the mined waters “let them steer those ships out to the safe passage”.

  37. Adam Eran

    The insane optimism to which I’m driven leads me to conclude it’s possible for the Social Security critic appointed by Biden to manage the program is an example of “reverse psychology.” You know, anti-commie Nixon is who gets to go to China.

    Ah, those innocent thoughts!

    1. Anthony G Stegman

      There is some hope. Bill DeJoy actually has made some improvements in how the Postal Service operates, despite all the naysaying from Democrats.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > Bill DeJoy

        Who Biden cannot fire, interestingly.

        Worth noting that for all the Democrat prating over undermining faith in elections threatening “our democracy,” they also waged a noisy campaign to argue that DeJoy would (and was?) impeding the delivery of mail-in ballots.

  38. SET

    Regarding “Some hard thoughts about post Ukraine” As careful NC readers have probably noticed, Russia dotted all the “i”s and crossed all the “t”s to have the SMO be completely legal, under the precedent set under the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and the carving out of Kosovo. From everything I have read, Russia is “agreement capable” and follows the letter of international law. I’ve been following the Ukraine/Donbas situation since the 2014 Maidan, all government lie, but none so blatantly as the USA, and the Ukraino-Nazis have even exceeded the CIA! It is continually annoying, to see even leftist media outlets like Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow! and KPFA radio, swallow this BS hook, line and sinker! Scott Ritter has laid out numerous times EXACTLY the steps Russia took to make this legal, and how Russian intelligence intercepted Ukrainian orders for the early March blitzkrieg! The OSCE data on violations and the 10 fold increase in artillery bombardment, always a precursor to an invasion, proves it! If that ain’t proof, it’s incredibly strong evidence! Russia will have it’s own war crimes trials, likely the truth will be ignored in the West, at least in America. Europe is more likely to pay attention, as they’re necks are exposed. Geopolitics is interesting, but it’s more like a Chess or Go game, Americans seem to be stuck at a level of checkers.

      1. Polar Socialist

        It’s in the ton of daily OSCE reports*. On February 15th 51 explosions, between 18th and 20th over 2000 explosions.

        On 18th they recorded 654 explosions, which is 15.9 times the number recorded on 15th and 8.6 times the number of explosions on 16th.

        On 22nd and 23rd the explosions were at +1500 per day.

        * here

      2. OnceWereVirologist

        If you take total ceasefire violations from the daily OSCE reports as a proxy for artillery bombardment you get a 9x increase in the final 5 days before the invasion over the January average. However, a lot of the violation reports are along the lines of “unidentified explosion heard” so I don’t think it’s possible to precisely quantify the artillery bombardment unless the DPR and LPR have released their own figures. They’d be the only ones in the position to know.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I bet that the EU hasn’t even planned what to do with millions of decommissioned internal combustion-powered vehicles. And who is going to pay for the replacement vehicles? Is there the capacity to manufacture so many vehicles? The EU is nuts.

  39. RobertC


    The chatter about China’s hypothetical aggression against Taiwan has been increasing recently with all three branches plus Marine Corps of the US military excitingly touting their new weapons and tactics and partnerships with Taiwan’s military to repel such aggression.

    And China has played to that audience by claiming the Taiwan Strait is territorial not international waters.

    China and … critically important … Russia jointly sent a reminder to national political leaders with Burst Of Chinese, Russian Naval Activity Tracked In Waters Around Japan At least 20 Chinese and Russian naval vessels have been tracked sailing around Japan and its outlying islands in the past few days.

    The Japan Self-Defense Forces are continuing to monitor a flurry of Russian and Chinese naval activity in the general vicinity of the country. In the past four days alone, Japanese forces have tracked at least four Chinese and 16 Russian naval vessels sailing around the country’s home islands and other outlying areas it controls. This is similar to a joint patrol by a flotilla of warships from China and Russia around the country’s territory last year.

    The reminder is any future conflict will be at the perimeter of the first-island chain and beyond, not on the shores, industries, homes and fellow citizens of China’s “wandering” province of Taiwan.

    One of AsiaTimes top analysts George Koo provides additional insight Biden’s policy toward China is a road to self-destruction The Biden team seems oblivious to the erosion of the US stature as the world leader

    …The Biden White House seems to think … they can persuade Taiwan to do the same [as Ukraine did with Russia], namely, provoke China into conflict.

    To provoke war with China, the Taipei government would have to declare independence. Washington has been encouraging the ruling Democratic Progressive Party to inch toward that red line, selling the party leaders the idea that the US is ready to go to war with Taiwan.

    However, a majority of people in Taiwan do not find American assurances credible, do not believe Taiwan can win a proxy war against China, and cannot justify the death and destruction it would entail just to make Washington happy. The people in Taiwan also find it inconceivable that the Chinese would actually attack their own people on Taiwan.

    …The Beijing expression of its intentions is as stark and unequivocal as it can be. The next move will be up to the Pentagon to see if it is willing to test China’s resolve. There can be no question that China would rather fire on the US Navy than threaten Taiwan with missiles.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > selling the party leaders the idea that the US is ready to go to war with Taiwan.

      Seems unlikely the Taiwan leadership would fall for this. They aren’t as cray cray as the Ukrainians, nor (I believe) are they as corrupt (so the resale value of American weapons does not appeal). Further, the United States the world is about to learn a hard lesson in Ukraine about the limits of American hard power. A lesson in a classroom with many eager students. (Obviously I had to recast that sentence because we never learn anything.)

  40. RobertC

    Old Blighty

    LINK: Biggest Rail Strike in 30 Years Brings UK to Standstill Reuters

    As I read the article it increasingly appeared to me that Biden’s Ukraine-Fool-Tool Johnson will be switching his attention to domestic problems.

    …Prime Minister Boris Johnson, under pressure to do more to help Britons facing the toughest economic hit in decades, said the strike would harm businesses still recovering from COVID.

    Unions have said the rail strikes could mark the start of a “summer of discontent” with teachers, medics, waste disposal workers and even barristers heading for industrial action as inflation pushes 10%.

    I think when Biden loses Johnson, the rest of the Atlantic Alliance will follow.

    1. OnceWereVirologist

      Have you not heard of America’s abundance of “ai-sa-fu-tem-eh-fu-ti-weh” ? It’s Wamapoke for “freedom”.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > Joe Biden says that America is a nation that can be defined in a single word-

      I noticed that this was Biden speaking on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court, so I went and found the full transcript at C-SPAN:

      00:24:18 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.

      00:24:47 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.)

      Biden does get around to the one word. And if you listen to the entire speech, Biden is perfectly compos mentis (for Biden). I am inclined to throw this one into the “stuttering” bucket, or possibly the teleprompter flub bucket, rather than the “losing his mind” bucket.

      Incredible as it may seem, there are people who would conceive and execute a plan to find a two-month-old video of Biden, clip the eleven seconds from it that put Biden in the worst possible light, then post it to the Twitter. It’s a sad commentary. I fear for the Republic.

      1. ambrit

        That would be the Federal Republic you fear for? I would fear not for the Oligopic Republic, it abides.

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