Links 6/23/2022

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.

–Yves

P.S. Also, before further stressing our already stressed moderators, read our site policies:

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.

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Man Grows Out His London Backyard to Make it Welcoming to a Family of Foxes and Other Wildlife Laughing Squid

On Inflation: It’s the Monopoly Profits, Stupid Matt Stoller, BIG

The big mistakes of the anti-globalisers Martin Wolf, FT

EXCLUSIVE Inside the hangar at the centre of $1 bln Airbus-Qatar jet dispute Reuters. Whoops.

How to Beat the Chip Shortage and Buy a Car Without Getting Cheated Popular Mechanics

How to Buy a New Mattress Without a Ph.D. in Chemistry The New Yorker

Climate

The Coming Green Hydrogen Revolution Project Syndicate

‘Disaster Land Grabs’ Worldwide and in British Columbia The Tyee

#COVID19

Neutralization Escape by SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Subvariants BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5 (letter) New England Journal of Medicine

These data show that the BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5 subvariants substantially escape neutralizing antibodies induced by both vaccination and infection. Moreover, neutralizing antibody titers against the BA.4 or BA.5 subvariant and (to a lesser extent) against the BA.2.12.1 subvariant were lower than titers against the BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants, which suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant has continued to evolve with increasing neutralization escape. These findings provide immunologic context for the current surges caused by the BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5 subvariants in populations with high frequencies of vaccination and BA.1 or BA.2 infection.

Good thing we have a robust, multilayered system of non-pharmaceutical interventions in place. Oh, wait….

China?

China’s Xi warns of ‘alarm for humanity’ in Ukraine as BRICS leaders meet for virtual summit ABC Australia

Beijing Eyes Pacific Islands, Exploiting U.S. Strategic Vacuum Foreign Policy

China officials who abused health codes to stop bank protests punished South China Morning Post

Myanmar

Is Myanmar’s Military on Its Last Legs? Center for International and Strategic Studies. Worth a read.

Scam City: How the coup brought Shwe Kokko back to life Frontier Myanmar

US–ASEAN summitry signals step up in relations East Asia Forum

Sri Lanka Sued by Bondholder in US After Historic Default Bloomberg

The Koreas

Privatized Healthcare Fears Rise Following a Court Ruling on For-Profit Hospitals The Blue Roof. ““This enemy you cannot kill. You can only drive it back damaged into the depths and teach your children to watch the waves for its return.” Richard Morgan, Woken Furies.

Syraqistan

With an eye on re-election, Turkey’s Erdogan risks the ire of Western partners France24

UK/EU

Shadow ministers rail against Starmer’s picket-line ban The New Statesman. I’m just a simple American. Maybe the “u” in “Labour” makes it mean something other than what I thought it would mean?

Biggest railway strike in 30 years strands commuters in UK Al Jazeera. Commentary (MT):

Polio Virus Found in London Sewage Puts U.K. on High Alert WSJ

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Live Blog: European Council summit Politico

Spain demands EU leave energy treaty over climate concerns Politico

Bulgaria faces fresh political turmoil as government loses confidence vote Euronews

Russia

Russia’s rebranded McDonald’s sells 120,000 burgers on its opening day – more than it ever sold before the US chain withdrew from the country due to Ukraine war Daily Mail

New Not-So-Cold War

It’s time to talk about peace in Ukraine Nonzero. Explicitly throws the power of The Blob onto the win-lose scales. Good.

Southern Ukraine is the priority in NATO’s planning Indian Punchline (upstater). Well worth a read.

Russia Gains in the East, Threatening to Overrun Luhansk NYT. Change in tone.

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Kaliningrad row: ‘It’s nothing to do with a blockade’ says Lithuania’s former foreign ministers Euronews. See today’s post on Kaliningrad.

Estonia’s PM says country would be ‘wiped from map’ under existing Nato plans FT

Let’s Fight WW3 Over Lithuania Caitlin Johnstone, Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative

* * *

Exclusive: G7 likely to discuss Russian turbine, but may not find solution – Canada minister Reuters. Hilarity ensues.

Asia imports more seaborne Russian oil than Europe, with India taking the lion’s share of Urals Hellenic Shipping News

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Columbia Law School to advise Ukrainian president on war reparations Reuters. Lawyering up, eh?

Revealed: Secretive British Anti-Crime Agency Spent Millions Training Colombia’s Repressive Police Declassified UK

Biden Administration

FDA Investigates Death of Another Infant Given Abbott Formula Bloomberg. Shades of China’s 2008 infant milk powder scandal.

Court strikes down Maine’s ban on using public funds at religious schools SCOTUSblog. Give no public money to any private school. Problem solved.

Shortages

Volkswagen CEO Diess Warns Car Plants Are at Risk From Energy Supply Halt Bloomberg

Health Care

Universal Health Care Could Have Saved More Than 330,000 U.S. Lives during COVID Scientific American

Police State Watch

‘Try out this simulator’: My advice to defund-the-police crowd after trying out NYPD’s active shooter training NY Post (dk). Commentary:

Our Famously Free Press

Networks covered the war in Ukraine more than the US invasion of Iraq Responsible Statecraft

‘They Should Be In Jail’: How The Guardian and New York Times ‘Set Up’ Julian Assange Kit Klarenberg, Kit’s Newsletter

Class Warfare

Ep 5: What’s Ahead for Labor? (podcast) Class Matters. “Adolph Reed Jr. talks with Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants/CWA and APWU President Mark Dimondstein about what’s ahead for Labor in this moment that holds out both promise and peril.” Generalizing:

Sara? Sean? Harold? Christian?

The Quants in the Room Jason Furman, Foreign Affairs

There but for the grace of God….

Unconditional cash transfers and maternal substance use: fndings from a randomized control trial of low-income mothers with infants in the U.S. (PDF)( BMC Public Health. “Uur randomized control trial of monthly cash gifts to mothers with newborn infants fnds that a cash gift diference of $313 per month did not signifcantly change maternal use of alcohol, cigarettes, or opioids or household expenditures on alcohol or cigarettes.”

Where Did the Long Tail Go? The Honest Broker

If aliens are calling, let it go to voicemail Vox

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

209 comments

  1. Toshiro_Mifune

    Try out this simulator’: My advice to defund-the-police crowd after trying out NYPD’s active shooter training
    A simulator that only allows for shoot/don’t shoot responses tells you a lot about how the police view their interactions with the public.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe they should try out a different simulator with a different scenario. So in this one, you turn up to a school that has an active shooter inside. You already have a squad or more of police all armed with you and have located the classroom where the shooter is. You already have reports of lots of kids shot as well as mobile calls from kids inside proving that they are not all dead. Also, you know that you have the “golden hour ” to work with so if you can take out the shooter and get those kids to a hospital, there is a good chance that more than a few will live and not just bleed out. The clock is ticking.

      Now start the scenario…

      Reply
      1. Glossolalia

        But the teachers and all the student are armed in this scenario, right? So it makes sense that the police won’t rush in because there will be dozens of people all firing trying to stop the killer and the police could get hit by friendly fire.

        Reply
        1. Turtle

          Not to mention that their bodies, being much smaller, probably suffer a lot more tissue damage as a percentage of their volume of body tissue than adults.

          Reply
  2. fresno dan

    https://hotair.com/allahpundit/2022/06/22/the-worst-uvalde-story-yet-n478020
    According to the timeline laid out by Texas DPS chief Steve McCraw, one of the Uvalde school district cops on the scene told the other officers that he’d been on the phone with his wife, Eva Mireles, a teacher at the school who’d been shot in room 112. She was dying, she had said. He relayed that information to them at 11:48 a.m.
    Police didn’t enter the room and confront the shooter for another 62 minutes.
    How could the officer, Ruben Ruiz, not have ignored the warnings to stand down and rushed into the room to try to save his wife?
    It turns out that McCraw answered that question during his testimony yesterday. Watch 60 seconds here. We’re almost a full month on from the shooting and somehow the police response continues to get less explicable and more outrageous. They detained him, disarmed, and kicked him out of the building while his wife bled out on the other side of the wall. That’s not the only example of cops detaining people who were willing to risk their own lives to try to stop the shooter either.
    ….
    The Uvalde school district chief, Pete Arredondo, has become the chief villain in the story of the police’s non-response but I agree with Ari Schulman that it has to be more complicated than that. For a responding officer to be deterred from rescuing his own wife, there’s more going on than Arredondo screwing up.
    ========================================
    Remember Parkland? Yet 99% of the media portray police as heros. The first words out of the mouth of the Texas govenor was how wonderful the police were. Its like we’re trying to believe that because the alternative is too difficult to accept. But just not about the police…
    ….

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      Catherine Lucey
      @catherine_lucey
      AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas public safety chief says classroom door in Uvalde school shooting was not locked, even as police waited for key.
      ….
      Ari Schulman
      @AriSchulman
      ·
      Follow
      There are so many bigger examples, but every time I read a new revelation about Uvalde and another pathetic excuse from the police, I have the sense that the whole tableau of our leaders cowering out of view while the country burns comes down to this one story.
      8:05 PM · Jun 21, 2022

      Reply
        1. Tom Stone

          Nope, they didn’t try turning the doorknob.
          And these are the people who we trust to enforce “Red Flag” gun laws, along with the LA County Sherriff’s department gang members, the Ferguson County Mo.Sherriff….I’m sure they will enforce these laws without any hint of racism or class bias.

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            >>>I’m sure they will enforce these laws without any hint of racism or class bias.

            Thank you for the laugh.

            Between the barely passed gun control legislation that sorta does nothing, the entire country is now a shall issue CCW, and the probable strike against abortion…. It is almost like they are fraking with us by getting out as many hot buttons as possible.

            I just know that Governor Newsom will be doing his performative outrage on guns and abortion at the podium to gin up the Democratic faithful while doing nothing for a statewide healthcare system. I only live in one of the richest countries on the planet, there is no free healthcare system, mental health is seemingly made to make you more crazy, homelessness is rampant and growing, and now we will more Kabuki.

            And probably more states will pass some sort of abortion bounty laws and more people will be carrying concealed. I’m all for the Second Amendment, but somehow I don’t see this ending well.

            But look, it squirrels!

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              I am rather down on the police, but isn’t that a bit harsh? :-) I think we should start by getting rid of qualified immunity and change their training, first.

              Reply
  3. flora

    re: If aliens are calling, let it go to voice mail. – Vox

    That was a fun read.
    But the most frightening vision isn’t an alien being at all — it’s a computer program.

    And just how *do* you authenticate the sender? / ;)

    an aside: Gonzalo Lira has an interesting episode on that question concerning AI. utube,~18 minutes.

    2022.06.20 My Experience with an AI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKpntJHB27g

    Reply
    1. Gawr Gura

      Posadas was right. These aliens want to bring us space communism and the bourgeoisie are terrified of interstellar solidarity.

      Reply
      1. Kouros

        Iain M. Banks wrote about that in his Culture series… Earth does appear in State of Play short stories…

        Reply
    2. Tom Doak

      What if the aliens’ AI starts a conversation with one of ours?

      We’re toast. But maybe I could sell the movie rights to that story first!

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I watched a classic saucer shaped UFO land in Humordor and the occupants (amazingly they looked and dressed just like us) got out and uttered:

        ‘Lead me to your takers…’

        Reply
    3. jr

      I’m leaning towards giving the aliens a shot. The way things are going, we’re headed for disaster as it is. Extinction is a distinct possibility. I’d settle for life under an alien dictatorship. Unless they eat us, how bad can it be? Worse that Bill Gates and the Pritzkers who are working overtime to become aliens?

      An aside, the “Space is big!” line doesn’t hold water. We don’t know what kind of technology an advanced species might command. Also, it’s been worked out that a really old species could have diffused through space with slower than light travel, colonizing as they go then sending out scouts to new regions. If we can think of it, they surely could have.

      Reply
      1. Petter

        I’m in Norway, home of the world famous Nobel Peace Prize. I suggest a conference in Oslo on Universal Values, as in the whole universe. All sentient beings, all information processing beings, conscious beings, uhmm…need to define the terms here.

        Reply
    4. Jeremy Grimm

      Suppose there are all kinds of intelligent beings in the universe and they have built all kinds of civilizations. How many of those beings and civilizations might have inherited the vast stored energy riches our civilization had? Of those who inherited similar riches, how many used their inheritance wisely and how many burned through it in a century or two, as we are? Our civilization seems to have a strange faith that some new source of unlimited energy will be discovered and tamed. It is much hoped this will happen before we exhaust the greatest part of our inheritance. This faith in the existence of that future technology may be unfounded and if so, the chances we might be receive contact from an alien civilization depends on matching the brief window our civilization enjoys the fruits of energy wealth with the window of time when a communication from an alien civilization similarly blessed with the necessary energy wealth might reach us.

      The idea that an alien civilization might be capable of constructing a AI with the intellectual power necessary to “quickly take over the Earth’s infrastructure — and us with it” seems extravagant. The further idea that the alien civilization could describe the construction of this “impossibly advanced computer” for that generating the AI is extravagant in itself. Consider the difficulties we will face in attempting to communicate our Knowledge to future generations of Humankind. Assuming we can come up with a sufficiently durable medium for storing that Information and a sufficiently build-able/maintainable means for reading the Information from that medium — what language and what writing systems might be decipherable in ten millennia?

      Assuming the speed of light is the limit for all speed of space travel, how would an alien civilization benefit from discovery and exploitation of our civilization or world? Chances are good that the alien beings and their civilization which originated the communication would be long extinct.

      Reply
      1. jr

        We ourselves may be the prize. I could see an alien civilization seeking out different configurations of consciousness, different perspectives. Maybe that would make us worth saving.

        Reply
    5. Aaron212

      I think most people theorizing hostile intentions from aliens are just projecting their own shadow/fears onto the scary unknown truly other. An advanced alien race assuming a similar evolution to our own would have either not “developed” capitalism or would have jettisoned it a very long time ago.

      I can’t imagine morbidly obese liberal neocon humanity reaching the stars one day since we can’t even keep our home in order. And if we do, hope ET has photon torpedoes.

      Reply
    6. ex-PFC Chuck

      They’ve no doubt come by many times looking for intelligent life and not finding it moved on.

      Reply
  4. CanCyn

    I have a 2013 Subaru and am starting to think about something new(er). Not urgent, wondering about full electric or hybrid or even gas as I don’t really put on a lot of mileage. Asking myself buy now or wait until electric isn’t so new? So the the Popular Mechanics article, How to Beat the Chip Shortage and Buy a Car Without Getting Cheated seemed right up my alley. Sigh. Another click bait headline. The good news is that the article is a good summary of the computer chip shortage problem. In that way it is an interesting read. The bad news, other that broadening your search, the article tells me nothing about how to buy a car without getting ripped off. Here is the earth shattering last sentence: ”The best advice, then, might be this: If you can find a fair deal on a new or used vehicle that meets your needs, grab it.”

    Reply
    1. griffen

      You are just getting started! An older sibling owns a 2003 model Outback, over 270k miles and to my knowledge it still runs mostly okay. Major issue last year with the charging system and alternator, but nearly everything still works.

      That said he plans to buy new in the future. Future could honestly be in 2023 to 2024.

      Reply
      1. FreeMarketApologist

        My 2010 Forrester has 220k miles, and I see no mechanical reason it won’t make it to 300k — I’ve been diligent about service, and it hasn’t been abused (though I do speed). I’ve had a couple of the newer models as short-term loaners, and really want them to neaten up some of the styling and improve the automation before I get a new one (the cruise control ‘safety features’ and lane alerts are particularly poor).

        Reply
        1. WobblyTelomeres

          I cooked up a spreadsheet showing the annual cost of keeping my 2008 Toyota versus buying a hypothetical vehicle that gets 60mpg. Variables included the initial purchase price/value, fuel cost per gallon, insurance, repair costs, depreciation, interest rates, etc. Turns out the most economical choice is keeping the older car running, and it isn’t even close. I can spend *stupid* amounts of money keeping the older car running and still be ahead. New engine? New transmission? New seats? New carpet? Still way cheaper. But, I knew this. Just wanted some reassurance that I was making the right choice when filling up the tank.

          Edit: this only works for vehicles that aren’t driven on salt-covered roadways.

          Reply
          1. dougie

            THIS! As an auto shop owner, I see many drivers coming to the same conclusion every day. “Cheaper to keep her”

            I could expense/depreciate buying new personal vehicles through the business…… Still, my newest vehicle is a 2006 model with 220k miles on it. My “daily” driver is a 2000 model. I shudder to think about what I will drive when parts are no longer available for these older cars.

            My wife leased a brand new vehicle that gets about 300 miles a month put on it. Total waste of money, IMO. It’s junk, as are most of the new vehicles being produced these days. I won’t even ride in it, if I can manage to avoid it.

            New cars have been crapified, designed to be disposable, just like nearly every other product we are sold these days. The vehicles you buy today will, most likely, not be on the road 10-15 years from now. Manufacturers want them to last 5 -7 years, then lather, rinse, repeat the sales cycle.

            Excuse me, time to go shout at the clouds!!

            Reply
            1. AndrewJ

              After a couple decades of used cars, none with more than $1500 in street value (and the last a ‘94 Jeep ZJ, given aka free-fifty to me at 219k and given away again at 299), I used Covid unemployment to buy a 99 manual Tacoma. $4500 for a twenty-year-old car with 230,000 miles and worth every penny. I don’t foresee ever getting rid of it. It’s the ultimate vehicle, manual (unbreakable) window winders and a V6 that can’t be stopped, and I have no shred of a desire to get anything newer.
              Keep the Subaru, until you find an old Toyota that you like.

              Reply
          2. griffen

            To add to your point, in the past 3 years I paid a pretty large sum to repair the engine when a cylinder went bad. The labor hours involved were more expensive than the parts! But this was on a 2008 Honda Accord V6, and I felt better a few months later when more repairs were necessary to just keep it rolling on.

            And now that I commute less for work, at least in the short run I plan on keeping that vehicle. Hoping to reach 225k miles on it.

            Reply
            1. dougie

              This should make you feel better! I study the numbers in my business, and have determined that we need to serve 9-10 Honda/Toyota clients to generate the same GP as 1 client with a Euro car over 80k miles. We have also seen that Honda owners travel in a pack. If you provide great service to the first one, over time you will meet all their Honda owner friends and acquaintances!

              Reply
              1. Anthony G Stegman

                I purchased a Honda Accord wagon with a 5 speed manual transmission in 1995. I still drive it – less these days due to Covid – it now has 280K on the odometer. Four and half years ago I spent $1200 in order for it to pass the CA smog test. Money well spent in my view. Over the years I’ve had to replace various engine parts due to wear and tear. Four years ago the car was stolen, and recovered five days later with minimal damage (I was lucky the car wasn’t stripped for parts). I’ve always had the car serviced at the Honda dealer from whom I purchased the vehicle. One time one of the mechanics asked me if I would sell the car to him. He wanted to put a Honda Prelude engine in it since apparently the Accord transmission syncs perfectly with the Prelude engine. I declined the offer since I can’t part with my baby. :)

                Reply
          3. LifelongLib

            With an older car (even a well-maintained one) my experience is that you have to expect the occasional breakdown. For some people this is ok and I agree you can save money. If you have health issues and being stranded for a couple of hours might be dangerous you’re better off paying a premium (if you can) for a new and hopefully more reliable vehicle.

            Reply
    2. jackiebass63

      Grab it if you find a fair deal on a vehicle that meets your needs is probably good advice. A fair deal is determined by the buyer. Different people have different ideas about what is a fair deal. Keep in mind that the dealer is in business to make a profit. I suggest you do pricing research before talking to a dealer. Remember you don’t have to take their offer. You can try a different dealer or simply put off buying. I remember walking out on a dealers offer. Before I reached my car the salesman caught me and said he was willing to budge on the price. He asked what I wanted for a deal. My response was his lowest price he would sell me the car for. He actually came back with a lower than what I had determined I would accept. An important thing to remember is be reasonable and be prepared to walk away. You always can eventually get what you consider a good deal. The key is be patient and don’t let the dealer know you have to buy this car.

      Reply
      1. CanCyn

        Thanks JB – this advice could probably be considered out of date in the new world of car buying. Certainly was my standard practice in the past. I think most people know you need to be able to walk away in car buying negotiations. If you read the the article, it is not about negotiating for a car. It isn’t really helpful in that regard. Find a good deal and take it? Seriously? What car buyer doesn’t know that?
        The article is about what automobile manufacturers have learned from the pandemic and the chip shortage/supply chain problems. They are changing the way they do business and in a shocking turn of events, it ain’t in the consumer’s favour! Not so much inventory, custom orders with down payments encouraged. Focus on popular, in-demand models and profiteering mightily off of them. If I learned anything, it is that to get a decent price on a car, you probably need to find inventory of less popular models like sedans, then you can probably still do some old fashioned car buying negotiating. If you need/want a truck, SUV or crossover you’re going to pay through the nose. At least this year anyhow.
        Griffin is right, my car will keep me going for sometime now. In all likelihood, I will ride (pun intended) out the chip shortage and see how things are in 2-3 years.

        Reply
    3. Carolinian

      That’s not much of an article but it does suggest the foolishness of making everything dependent on electronics when much simpler methods will do. Chips controlling the engine, yes. Chips controlling the heated seat–oh please.

      And in bemoaning the high price of an F 150 the author says that buyers might even have to settle for a small sedan or perhaps even a used car. Indeed it will be a shame if current miscalculations by car companies deal a blow to the American culture of rolling status symbols. But a bigger blow may already be here with the new oil shock. The country ditched the land yachts for smaller cars before and it can happen again.

      Reply
      1. Anthony G Stegman

        Perhaps I’m un-American, but I feel a much greater satisfaction when I drive my old 1995 vintage vehicle, rather than some shiny new status symbol. An old vehicle has stood the test of time, much like an old individual. Both oldsters have more character, even if they also have more scratches, dings, and wrinkles. During my neighborhood walk I often pass a old Toyota Corolla (The CA license plate number begins with 1, so you know it’s at least an 80’s version) that is in very good condition. If I ever see a For Sale sign on it I will go for it. I don’t need no touchscreens! :)

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          My previous car was so old it didn’t even have airbags and that’s one reason why I finally gave in and bought another. While my own driving is of course impeccable everyone else’s seems to be getting worse!

          I will say, contra ambrit, that you are unlikely these days to have a car so old that you can’t find parts. The Chinese are on that particular case until the Sino American war breaks out. Those of us who used to listen to NPR Car Talk know that they advised keeping a car til it drops if you don’t mind the aggravation. This is why the car companies have to do so much advertising. They have to convince you that you are what you drive.

          Reply
            1. rowlf

              A lot of car junkyards offer notifications of vehicles coming in for parting out. One of my teenage sons is always racing around to get early access to a vehicle that recently arrived. It also helps that the ladies that run several junkyards like him a lot.

              Since he has a new (to him 2006) vehicle he is rehabilitating feel free to contact me offline to see if he can locate the part. The kid is like a squirrel going after a bird feeder when it comes to fixing things.

              Lastly, GM cars can be fairly easy to maintain as parts are often common across several brands and models.

              Reply
            2. Carolinian

              I’ve always owned Asian cars so that could be the difference between my experience and your Buick or Ambrit’s PT Cruiser.

              Reply
    4. Jeff W

      …the article tells me nothing about how to buy a car without getting ripped off.

      I’m no car-buying maven but, when I needed to buy a car in 2014, here’s some of what I learned and what I did:

      Timing matters. It’s better to buy a car at the end of the month (or, even better, between Christmas and New Year’s, when no one is thinking of buying a car) because that’s when salespeople are really watching their numbers to know which ones they have to make.

      The dealer might want to sell you the car a lot more than you want to buy it. The manufacturer-to-dealer incentives might be such that, for example, selling the nth car gets the dealer $1000 per car. (In other words, if your sale is the 100th one and that’s the number the dealer needs to clinch the incentive, that sale might be worth $100,000 to the dealer.)

      Fees may be bogus. The legit fees are vehicle registration, sales tax, and documentation fees Other fees, such as “shipping and handling” or “dealer prep” are not. It’s actually not that mysterious: any fee on the manufacturer sticker is legit—you can walk away if the salesperson tries to get you to pay any other fees.

      You might be able to find out what others paid for the same year, make, and model. At least when I bought my car, I found out for free (I think I had to register) on TrueCar what others had paid for that car in the prior week. (There are ways to figure out what the dealer paid for the car, i.e., the “true dealer cost,” but something like the lowest price paid from something like TrueCar is good enough.)

      Email dealerships for the out-the-door price. It’s like “reverse eBay” and actually makes the experience kind of fun. The last thing you want to do is negotiate price at the dealership—you become like a sucker in the old Warner Bros cartoons. You want to walk in with all of that settled. There’s a lot of info online how to do it but, in any case, it’s not rocket science.

      Here’s what I did: I knew the make and model of the new car I wanted and emailed the sixteen dealerships in my area asking for the out-the-door price. (I figured it was worth driving even 50 miles and back once to get a good deal.) Eight dealerships responded—there was a $5000 spread between the lowest price and the highest. (The lowest offers were, essentially, the “no haggle” price you might see advertised.)

      I responded to the lowest bid, offering a few thousand dollars less than that (knowing what others had paid for the same make and model the previous week), and my counter-offer was accepted. (It was the 26th of the month and the salesguy really wanted to get that car off the floor.) No hassles, no last-minute fees—the price I negotiated was exactly what I wrote on the check.

      The finance guy (whom I had to see even though I was paying cash) seemed genuinely surprised by the low price—he showed me on the computer that the dealer made only $400 profit from the sale of the car itself—but who knows what the dealer incentives were? (TrueCar showed that I paid the second lowest price in the area out of all the car sales for that car that week—the price I had relied on from the previous week had dropped a bit. Oh, well.)

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Haggling was a way of life for me in the coin biz, heck i’d even ‘sport chisel’ on stuff that was underpriced (most of my business was dealer-to-dealer transactions) just to keep in form.

        Cars are one of the few things we’re expected to ‘drive a bargain’ on, and they used to be silly putty in my hands-the new car dealerships, as they weren’t used to anybody who really knew how to haggle, in my opinion.

        Reply
        1. Jeff W

          “…they weren’t used to anybody who really knew how to haggle…”

          I agree—they’re not. I think it’s partly in the mindset of knowing you can beat them, rather than the other way around. Even knowing some of the “basics,” like which fees are bogus, and, most importantly, I think, being prepared to walk, throws them. I still like the email strategy because you can haggle—as I mentioned, I countered to the lowest offer—but you do it from the comfort of your own home at your own pace.

          I test-drove the car I wanted at the dealership which turned out to be the most difficult of the ones who responded to my email request for an OTD price. After the test drive, the salesguy said, “Come inside and we can talk,” and I said, “No, I’ll email you later.” “Oh, you’re going to make us an offer?” “No, you’re going to make me an offer.”

          Later, when I sent that dealership my email message for an OTD price, the initial response I got was something like it was “difficult” to do by email because there were “too many factors” to consider. “That’s funny,” I responded, “Somehow seven other dealerships have managed to do just that.” The salesguy then responded with “Tell us the price we have to beat.” I said “You don’t need to know that to give me your lowest OTD price.” He did—it was more than $2200 higher than what I had negotiated by that time with the other dealership. C’est la vie.

          Reply
      2. Jonathan King

        JeffW: I’m curious about whether your email to 16 dealerships was a mass mailing, so that all could see which others had been asked, or 16 individual emails. If the former, I’m shaking my head over the dealer(s) who “replied to all.”

        Reply
        1. Jeff W

          It was, as I recall, 16 individual email messages because, to the extent possible, I tried to address each email message to an actual person. (I don’t recall it being that arduous—I probably just copied and pasted the same message, changing only the salutations, 15 times after the first one.) And, in any event, I would not have been inclined to have the various recipients know who the other recipients were.

          Reply
      3. Anthony G Stegman

        A big money maker for dealers is financing. It may in fact be the most important driver of profit. A customer paying cash for a vehicle is not a very profitable customer.

        Reply
        1. Jeff W

          I actually did not state that I would be paying cash in the original email message and no one who responded inquired about it. As I recall, it was only after I arrived at the dealership with whom I struck a deal, that the salesperson and I talked about the financing (or lack thereof). This particular salesperson really cared more about moving this particular car off the floor—it was a base level that, apparently, did not sell as quickly as the higher trims (he said as much) but had exactly what I wanted—and he was not all that concerned about financing (although he probably would have preferred, of course, if I had financed the purchase).

          Reply
    5. ambrit

      We have a 2001 PT Cruiser, (I am most definitely not trolling for sympathy,) and a seldom used 1998 Dakota truck. Both vehicles now have a slew of basic replacement parts that are no longer made. I have had to weasel around online tuner forums and salvage yards, (the latter usually involving a dedicated telephone call,) to find what were once common parts. For the under the hood fuel line hose connecting to the engine’s fuel rail, I had to make my own from stock fittings and nylon tube. (There was a very steep learning curve on making that item.)
      Secondarily, most vehicles made after the mid 1980s extensively use computerized controls. A decent ‘scantool’ is required. Those run anywhere from $300 USD on up to the thousands of dollars range. I have been lucky so far in not having had to buy one, but that day is coming.
      Thirdly, I echo the comments here on the cost difference between the “modern” vehicles sold now and the older models. In many cases, the differences in fuel consumption and pollution outputs are well within the ‘comfort zone.’ Simply put, ‘new’ automobiles are extremely overpriced. Add in to this the costs of decomissioning older vehicles and the disposal of their carcasses and you run into a curious cost benefits quandry.
      Finally, few I read bring up the fact that this situation was engineered back in the middle of the Twentieth Century when a cabal of ‘interested parties’ ran a successful campaign to destroy the then functioning and efficient metropolitan street rail systems. Greed coordinated it’s constituent tentacles to grasp and rend asunder the Public Good, and then consumed the remnants.
      See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwExk32mXjM
      We struggle with the results.
      Consider; when fossil fueled vehicles are mandated into extinction, there is no guarantee that the “average” person in America will be able to purchase and maintain the successor fleets. Given also that America has perhaps the worst public transit system, taken nationally, in the West, the resulting loss of mobility will plunge the dregs of the former middle and working classes back into nineteenth century living conditions and social systems.
      We may yet pine for something as functional and beneficient as a Dystopian Dickensian society.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        I kept an old car going for many years–I’m into mechanical stuff–and the one thing I never had to fix or even scan was the engine control computer. Usually the things that go wrong are pretty basic. It was the early 80s pre computer control era, and back then still carburetor era, that was a nightmare. One of the great advantages of computers is that they are consistent.

        Which one suspects is a reason they have taken over the auto biz. They also probably save on the cost of manufacturing if not on what goes into the car. So we pay more while the car companies have an easier time turning out a consistent product.

        When I did finally replace my car I timed it perfectly in retrospect. A couple of months later Covid came on the scene and with it all the supply problems we are having now.

        Reply
      2. Anthony G Stegman

        Most car dealers can obtain parts for older vehicles. I needed to replace the turn signal and windshield wiper switch on my 1995 Accord. It took the dealer a few days to find a used part, but find it he did. I was a happy camper.

        Just a side note: Many people avoid getting their cars serviced at the dealer under the mistaken notion that they charge too much. Where I live I have found that not to be true. Dealers usually have well trained mechanics, access to the parts required, weekend hours, and some provide loaner cars. The shops that specialize in Honda and Toyota, or BMW, etc…usually are open only Mon thru Friday, with no late hours. Forget about loaner cars. And their prices are not better than the dealer in most cases in my experience.

        Reply
    6. Glossolalia

      Reminds me of the articles about whether you’ll have enough money for retirement. They always end with the sage advice to start saving a lot more money.

      Reply
    7. lyman alpha blob

      Find a good independent mechanic you can trust and ask them. We had a 2008 Subaru that we were hoping to get another couple years out of. About six months ago we took it in for the annual inspection and our mechanic who we’d dealt with for years and who worked exclusively on Subarus said it wouldn’t pass without about $5K in repairs. He does usually have a handful of used Subarus for sale at this shop, so we asked what he had for $5K or less that already passed inspection and wound up with a 2012 Subaru.

      I didn’t think much of it at the time, but looking at prices on used cars later, $5K seems like an extremely good deal. I’ve seen cars older by several years selling for double that amount or more online recently. Of course the online ads all claim these 10-20 year old cars have well under 100K miles on them which I guess is what they’re using to justify the high prices, but I would be very skeptical of any claims like that.

      The good news is you should be able to get a bunch in trade-in value for your 2013.

      Reply
    8. Janie

      I’d get a standard transmission, if such can still be e found. I don’t do much stop and go, and standard is what I learned to drive. That clutch is the perfect anti- theft device.

      Reply
      1. Anthony G Stegman

        Not necessarily. I had a 1995 Accord with a 5 speed manual stolen. The thieves used a screwdriver to start the car. They trashed the ignition in the process, but fortunately did not trash the rest of the car.

        Reply
    9. Oh

      Three quarters of the article was about computer chips, what they do, the shortage and what the car companies are doing about and about one quarter of it told me about how to buy a car but it really did not tell me how to buy a car w/o getting cheated. What a poor headline! Clickbait it is.

      Reply
      1. CanCyn

        WThis is what I was trying to say! The headline mislead and I guess I mislead by saying I was considering a new(er) car. I was more interested in the whole chip problem and the rip off factor in that regard rather than the age old ‘how to negotiate for a car’ problem. As I said in my reply to jackiebass, the article was also interesting because it talked about how car sales are evolving, not in the buyer’s favour – many peoples’ car buying tactics are no longer valid.

        Reply
  5. Mikerw0

    The article on green H2 is pretty nonsensical. It is based on H2 costing/priced at (they mix the words) $1/KG. That means the power reaching the electrolyzer costs under $0.01/kWh. No current power technology will sell power at this price, anywhere. And that is for gaseous H2.

    More power will be required to condense and store it. Also, the H2 market is unlikely to function like current hydrocarbon markets where we have large scale production centers remote from where it is used and a transport network (tankers, bulk coal haulers, pipelines, etc.) to distribute it. H2 will most likely be produced at or near the point of consumption as it is very expensive to transport (estimates are 5X LNG).

    Reply
    1. smashsc

      Agreed that the article is propaganda. Re-purposing the phrase in the last paragraph sums it up: “hideously inefficient”.

      Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      In Europe there is plenty of investment in green hydrogen. The electricity is from surplus renewable from the grid – essentially it allows wind farms and solar to keep generating when they’d otherwise have to close. This allows for extra production in high-production countries where windfarms regularly have to be shut down during low demand times. And with thermal plants (especially nuclear) it is often literally cheaper to give away the electricity than reduce production (over short time periods like a few hours). In other words, it allows better overall grid load balancing.

      The H2 production is focused in areas where there is an overlap of electric supply with an existing possible commercial user. Its very niche, and probably not particularly significant in the overall picture, but its incorrect to say that it can never be commercial or viable – it already is.

      Reply
    3. Lex

      Yep, and the internal links were to essentially marketing material. There was nothing technical about how we’ll produce enough “green” hydrogen except some vague statements about needing 10K tWh of electricity to reach these goals. Timelines were all out towards 2050 too.

      Reply
    4. Roger

      Green H2 has always been a chimera, as you state the net energy is negative. But without these “wonder technologies” we would have to accept that dealing with climate change means doing without a lot of the useless shit we currently consume.

      One of the points raised by other people in the comments is the stupidity of getting a new car every few years (even an EV as the energy consumed in its production is very high), both on a personal and an environmental level. We need to get away from the “throwaway” economy, but that would put a real crimp on profits!

      Reply
  6. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert, especially for the link to the UK rail strikes.

    It has been a breath of fresh air to see Mick Lynch take on the Tories, including that mindless cheerleader on screen above, former teacher (sic) and now MP Jonathan Gullis, and their media sympathisers, including the Grauniad, which was set up and owned by Manchester mill owners until its bankruptcy in the noughties. There are many wondering why Starmer is not like that and pining for someone like Lynch to lead Labour.

    One wonders what NC’s UK contingent, including current and former Labour activists, think of the events so far.

    I have always thought that the left is too soft and should be peppering its opponents with short pitched deliveries, even body line stuff. We should see how good the opposition are playing off the back foot. I suspect not that well after being served dobbers enabling cover drives from the likes of Ted Milli Vanilli Miliband, Corbyn, Sanders and Starmer.

    For readers not familiar with my analogy, please google body line or Michael Holding bowling to Tony Greig in 1976. With apologies to NC’s Aussie contingent.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Thank you, Colonel. I think that we colonials down under may have heard about body line once upon a time. I gotta say that this Mick Lynch is a breath of fresh air. He mocked those so-called journalists and they knew it and got quite puffy about it. People like Mick Lynch are normally supposed to be deferential to them. But what really impressed me was when he called that government wonk a liar to his face several times. And that guy had to take it as he knew that it was all provable in a court of law. Usually a person will say that another person is exaggerating or misrepresenting what happened or some other waffle but that guy just hulled him between wind and water and left him nowhere to go. And I am wondering how many people in the UK are comparing Mick Lynch’s solid performance with the weak, poisoned tea that Starmer offers.

      Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      Mick Lynch: this is how an authentic leader talks and acts.

      Not only did he call that guy a liar (so true and refreshing), but he talked as much as he wanted and refused to be hijacked; whenever interrupted he just continued to talk so that his opponent couldn’t be understood either.

      If there were an American left or labor movement, that’s how it would talk to power.

      Reply
      1. doug

        He did not back down. He made fools of them, whether they realized it or not. One of the clips was like the comedy duo that is sometimes linked here, except the interviewer was the one not making sense.

        Reply
      2. hunkerdown

        “Leadership” implies abasement, which is an unhealthful attitude for workers. I perceive that we need no shepherds or other operationalizations of patriarchy, but rather models, to show us how to reframe class order for ourselves and not be bowed, in work or outside of it. Mick Lynch is a superb model of the proper level of regard which should inform every worker’s, better, every human’s responses to their “betters”‘ power rituals to cut them off in the micro and collapse them in the macro.

        Reply
    3. skk

      That’s a good compilation. Glen Greenwald retweeted a couple of clips so I came across them and it encouraged me to watch Peston on ITVplayer ( via VPN proxying etc etc ) . Mich Lynch was on there and he was very good. Its good to see this stuff. Coupled with Jeremy Corbyn’s interview that I came across yesterday, yesterday was a good day.
      O, btw, NZ are 165-5 at the moment.

      Reply
    4. Revenant

      I wish it well but the rail strike is absent from my life here in Devon, Colonel. I do not watch television, I don’t take a paper, I read heterodox internet sites (hi all!), I work from home as a symbol manipulator…. I’ve had to cancel a lunch in town but only because my guest pointed out the strike when I proposed the date in ignorance.

      And the biggest irony is, it turns out there are still plenty of trains running on the Great Western Mainline that I could take – so even the successful strike breaking is badly advertised. :-)

      I think it is a London commuter thing, to care about it. I don’t see it “cutting through” nationally as the spin doctors like to say. Middle class life has routed around commuting post-pandemic and working class life has indignities aplenty anyway.

      I think the train operating companies are the most nervous – 18% ridership is bankruptcy territory unless the government is still directly funding them and god knows what the post-franchise arrangements will look like.

      Labour is professionally embarrassed by actual labour and wishes it would go away. The Tories are simply grateful to have a culture fight to parade on.

      The freight stoppage is the slow burning issue. If they can wreck the remaining coal deliveries to power stations and steel mills or jam the just in time grocery depots and the online shopping, we may see complaints. But the coal power stations and steel mills closed, the hauliers are mainly road and the mail trains were retired….

      Reply
    5. lambert strether

      On reflection, I think Lynch was a little too deferential to the talking head.

      Something like: “I’m not a revolutionary, but if there is a revolution, those Tory pigf*ckers will have brought it on themselves.” #JustSaying

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Contrary to appearances as it may be, I’m inclined to see Lynch’s style as an example of the ‘Velvet Glove’ approach.
        We have yet to see a true ‘Iron Fist’ approach. That heuristic harradin Thatcher was accurately named the “Iron Lady” for her outright anti-social political philosophy. Labour has yet to raise an equal to the thankfully now retired to the Infernal Regions ex-PM.

        Reply
    6. CitizenSissy

      Mick Lynch holding his masterclass on pushing back on neoliberal “twaddle” made my week. What an absolute breath of fresh air.

      Reply
  7. JohnA

    Re British railway union leader Mick Lynch dealing with idiotic questions from journalists. This clip is worht a laugh. He looks like some baddie character in Thunderbirds, apparently, and put this image on his facebook page. The journalist tries to argue Lynch is trying to liken himself to this character who seemingly wants to destroy the world. (I confess I have not watched Thunderbirds for decades so no idea of the background.) Lynch points out it is just an in joke amongst his friends and that the journalist should ask serious questions.

    https://twitter.com/PiersUncensored/status/1537516158944935938
    Lynch is wiping the floor with all the journalists and Tory politicians who engage with him in the media. Putting Starmer to complete shame.

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      Piers Morgan endeavors to perform a ritual of censure and contrition on his guest and establish the property of moral supremacy. His ritual fails miserably as the guest successfully avoids having any of it with his quick and sure conversational footing, a model for the ages.

      Graeber’s anthropological theory of value theorized the elite person as being made of property, rather than substance. In his essay on the phenomenology of giant puppets and the alter-globalization movement, he theorizes the acute insecurity experienced by members of the enforcement class when confronted with large images they don’t or can’t control. That terror also seems to motivate the Western movement to enforce structural ignorance.

      Reply
    2. CanCyn

      Between the compilation above and Lynch refusing to bow to this Piers Morgan idiocy (how does anyone watch this guy?), Michael Lynch is my new hero! What I wouldn’t give to have some politicians with this fellow’s mettle! Hell, I might even start voting again if people like Lynch were running!

      Reply
    1. Robert S

      I particularly like the last part of that video:

      “One of the ways they can redress the imbalance is through industrial action where negotiations fail.

      What else are we to do? Are we to plead? Are we to beg?

      We want to bargain for our futures. We want to negotiate. And if you’re not bargaining, you have to beg.”

      Well said Mick.

      Reply
  8. Lexx

    ‘How to buy a new mattress without a Ph.D. in chemistry’

    Back in the 90’s we bought our first new spring coil mattress from a furniture store in Tacoma. We had been a waterbed couple up till then. The mattress was branded a ‘Thomasville’, a label of quality. It was a king, pillow-topped on both sides, firm compared to our waterbed, and very heavy. We drove up to the Big City and picked it up ourselves, then muscled it up the stairs and around the landing to our bedroom. It took two of us to flip and rotate the mattress for even wear, and that mattress was the one and only mattress to last us for many years. I regret replacing it and I’m double vexed at never finding its equal in quality again.

    In our married lives we’ve tried waterbeds, memory foam, and spring coil. The mattress on our frame now is spring coil, having sold our memory foam to a couple in Boulder. (Yes, they’re re-saleable!) It’s pillow-topped on just one side and I can rotate it on my own. It’s awkward but doable. Two permanent dips appeared within three years (it’s 6 years old) and I’m already thinking about replacing it. If there’s anything like the Thomasville out there still, I’m pretty sure we’ll be paying twice or more what we once paid, for exactly the same mattress and be glad of it… as in ‘Shut up and take my money’.

    Pretty sure it’s not going to arrive at the house rolled up like a pillbug… unless there’s something a commentor would like to share about their own successes buying mattresses online, hmm?!

    Reply
    1. Mr. Rogers

      I turned toward natural mattress options many years ago. I started out trying a Japanese style cotton futon, but it was not totally satisfactory – I suspect you might need to be in Japan to find a well crafted one. US regs make them wrap a layer of polyester around the cotton for some kind of dumb fire protection.

      I subsequently looked into wool, sand, straw, buckwheat hulls….. and finally settled on my current sleeping on a layer of hemp hulls on top of a layer of shredded natural latex. My pillows are filled with buckwheat hulls. There is an adjustment period but for me it was very short. I find this set up to be incredibly comfortable and honestly, I can’t recommend it enough. Supportive, soft, conforming…. no toxic dust. I sleep like a child.

      I got the materials to make my current mattress at ” open your eyes bedding “. Because of weird mattress regulations natural options are all somewhat DIY. I bought empty mattress “toppers” with zippers and filled them with the materials from open-your-eyes. The site has instructions for several types of mattress options and explains exactly what to do. I would never ever want to go back to anything with springs or synthetic foam.

      Reply
    2. John Beech

      In my youth I loaned a pal $500. One day, when he didn’t show up for work, I learned he’d been sacked for poor performance. The boss, with a mirthful smirk, allowed as I could go try and chase him down for my money (everybody had warned me against loaning so much as a dime). I, in the hubris of youth (in which I knew better), did so anyway.

      Cutting to the chase, I appear at his apartment just as he’s almost finished loading his worldly goods into another friend’s pickup. I snatch the keys and demand payment. No dice of course, so he offers the only thing he owned outright, a water bed frame, liner, heater, and the bag. I accept, we transfer same into my vehicle and I give them back the keys (yes, I know all about negotiations under duress not being valid in a court of law, we were in a parking lot).

      Fast forward about 40 years, give or take, and me and my lovely sleep in the same water bed to this day. Yes, two new bags (old school, full wave), for certain one new liner, plus a new heater (maybe two), but it’s still the same bed as I took in lieu of payment. And I sleep like a baby. Don’t flip mattresses, do vacuum the perimeter occasionally (dust, skin cells, whatever), and we always buy good sheets.

      Best deal ever. No regrets.

      Reply
      1. IntoTheAbyss

        Latex, it doesn’t wear. I replaced the cover/pillowtop after 10 years. Cal King, with (3) 4″ sections per side. The sections are sold by density, depending on sleepers’ weight and preferred sleeping preference. No regrets.

        Reply
      2. Lexx

        I’m not going to say a waterbed isn’t comfortable… it is!.. and our first bed was free-ish. My husband had built his own frame in his teens, so we slept on that one for over a decade. We only replaced the big water balloon mattress for one with baffles and some padding on top. We were done with the nightly experience of one of us getting out of bed to leave the other ‘hanging ten’ on the residual waves.

        But I changed or at least my back did, and that’s how we came to purchase the Thomasville… a good bed and for a long time. Otherwise we’d probably still be in some version of a waterbed.

        A friend of Husband’s swears by a Sleep Number mattress. He and his spouse have quite different sleeping preferences and they can just dial in what they want. Basically two twin beds side by side. He likes softer and warm (for his shoulder). She likes firmer and cool (COPD).

        Reply
    3. Roland

      I’ve been sleeping on a carpeted floor for over three years now. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a mattress again. Sometimes my shoulder or hip gets a bit sore, but after 25 years of running injuries, one of my joints is usually aching anyway.

      Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “Court strikes down Maine’s ban on using public funds at religious schools SCOTUSblog.”

    ‘Give no public money to any private school. Problem solved.’

    My first thought too. Why should public funds go to private schools but without the accountability, especially wealthy ones? Read a really bad example of how this can get skewed back in the 90s in Sydney. So it came out that a wealthy private school was receiving a million dollars a year from the public purse. This was a school that had so many facilities, that they had multiple shooting ranges. But a few kilometers away was a public school that had been given only $60,000 a year. It was my belief at the time that it was the government undermining public schooling to get parents to switch their kids to private schools on ideological grounds. Haven’t changed my mind since.

    Reply
    1. Fraibert

      The case at hand presents a such a unique set of facts that I wonder whether “no public money to any private school” makes sense _in this situation_. I wonder if Lambert can add any context because IIRC he’s from Maine?

      At least according to the case, these facts are:

      1. Maine requires free public education under its Constitution and state laws.

      2. Also per state law, the public schools are to be operated by local school administrative units.

      3. There are 260 of these administrative units in Maine and less than /half/ operate a secondary school (high school).

      4. Maine therefore established a tuition assistance program for residents living in school administrative units that have made no arrangements for a high school either by (1) operating such a school or (2) contracting with another public or private school to provide secondary educational services. This program allows children in those districts to have a kind of “school choice” among private schools approved (i.e., accredited or having sufficient curriculum requirements) by the state Department of Education.

      5. This tuition program is the entire subject of the case.

      In essence, the tuition program more or less concerns the ability of certain Mainers to get a publicly-funded (“free”) high school education. For these children, the local school district simply does not (and perhaps cannot?) provide a service it is supposed to provide and state government of Maine created this tuition program as a patch for that reality. I’m guessing Maine chose this route because it was less expensive and logistically problematic.

      Interestingly, although it sounds like there is a tuition payment limit, Maine did not place a geographic limitation on the location of the school but I see no obstacle to the state correcting that oversight to limit tuition payments to schools in Maine or near Maine in case of qualifying residents near another state’s border. (The oversight is understandable–it probably seemed unlikely that parents taking advantage of the program were going to send their children to some faraway school.)

      Overall, though, this is such a specific set of facts where “no public money to any private school” might mean that “government simply won’t provide a free high school education because you live in a very rural area.” Looking behind the doctrine, this is probably one consideration for the outcome. (Judges do consider these kinds of facts, but they’re often left unmentioned in the formal written reasoning.)

      Reply
      1. Fraibert

        I made a mistake in the last paragraph. The first sentence should be:

        Overall, though, this is such a specific set of facts where “no public money to any private _religious_ school” might mean that “government simply won’t provide a free high school education because you live in a very rural area.”

        Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      Just wait until the thousands of African immigrants showing up in Maine pool their resources to start a private Muslim school and want to send their kids there using tax dollars.

      Somehow I suspect that might have Mainiacs looking to carve out an exception to this SCOTUS decision.

      Reply
      1. Kurtismayfield

        I believe an Islamic school association submitted a brief in support.

        Yes it did.

        3
        The Council of Islamic Schools in North America
        (“CISNA”) is a non-profit organization dedicated to its
        vision of a world in which all students have access to
        the highest quality Islamic education. CISNA
        partners with Islamic schools to provide a rigorous
        accreditation process that ensures excellence in the
        academic and Islamic aspects of schools, thorough
        accreditation visits by experienced Islamic school
        professionals and ongoing support through resources
        and professional development. In the United States,
        37 CISNA accredited schools and 112 member schools
        are currently in the CISNA network. These schools
        serve about 24,000 students.

        I don’t think the right will care as long as they get their schools funded in this narrow case.

        Reply
  10. russell1200

    Where Did the Long Tail Go?

    I don’t agree with this piece. I don’t think the author is looking too hard.

    Amazon is a delivery system for the long tail. Their general overhead is too high to fund too much long-tail work themselves. They are the go-between for long tail business though. Instead, Amazon uses the computing power subsidized by their marketplace business to fund the computing/server business. Netflix doesn’t seem to have found anything comparable and are at risk of going out of business. I think Marx said something about the affect squeezed margins in an open market that addresses this.

    He choose some strange examples to illustrate a long tail. Music always has had a second tier market driven by live performance. Some of these second tier market people can expand their reach using the available long tail markets. But music is a very competitive field. So even the second tier acts are always looking over their shoulder at the new people coming up behind them.

    I think a better example is something really obscure. To use an example I am familiar with, lets take Prepper style apocalyptic fiction. A very scattered deffused market. There was some adjacent-type novels, mostly geared to the Western-Thriller type market, and a few Catastrophe style novels in both Sci-Fi (Lucifer’s Hammer), Horror (I am Legend), and the general last person on earth nuclear war novels (On the Beach). But novels about “preppers” in a collapse setting are fairly recent. The earlier ones I can think of (Lights Out – David Crawford) were often written as serials on prepper fan sites and then compiled (and occasionally edited) before going the Amazon/Publish on demand route.

    I am sure most of these writers keep their day job. It is such a diffused market, that it can be hard for any book store to stock this type of book and thus gets little attention. But the overall market is very large. Most of the novels are not well done [clarification: the median quality novel of the type is very bad]. But the end result is that even competence gets you a significant audience. Writers who have some skill (Scott B. Williams was a nature guide type writer, Kyla Stone was doing YA fiction) have switched to the market and stayed. The very preppy-style zombie writer D.J. Molles quit his job as a police officer.

    I am sure there are other markets that are similar. I have been looking at getting into wood working/carving. Some of the tools overlap with more normative craft woodworking, so it is not a completely barren marketplace. But the long tail gives anyone access to the more esoteric branches of the craft.

    Reply
    1. John Beech

      For one of my business, we eschew Amazon altogether. We manufacture and sell direct. We don’t even advertise yet someone manage to sell out our every production run (with enough consistency to enable serial production for all of these products on a 3X to 4X yearly schedule, e.g. over and over again). Tidy little business that makes cash.

      Rich? Depends who you ask. Successful? We hold our own, even against East Asian imports distributed largely by Amazon and eBay. And this, while the whole business concept was against advice. Meaning, when everybody and their brother said don’t do it (specifically our banker who literally chuckled, our accountant who solemnly enjoined against it, and our attorney who wondered if I’d lost my marbles), I went ahead, anyway. And when I said, ‘Nuts!’ to the very idea of distribution via Amazon and eBay (they take a handsome cut), everybody was even more certain I’d lost it. Yet here we are, not just persisting but thriving. Life is good. Point being, there is another way other than Amazon.

      And as it happens, I have in the last six months, or so, seen a shift in aggregate demand (from higher end products to less costly ones). Make no mistake, business is still good – but – I sense customers are counting pennies. They ask if there’s an alternative to widget A to which I invariably say, yes, let’s look at widget B, instead. This, I am reasonably certain, being a product of $5/gallon gasoline. So why is this important? Because, it’s my opinion, Chairman Powell is out to make his bones. Think Volker part deux!

      Will we go out of business if the recession/depression materializes? This is yet to be determined. Not my first rodeo. Self employed closing on forty years, the last 30 full-time (meaning without the benefit of a W-2 from someone else). So while we’re in reasonably good shape (just because I’ve seen this before and know what to do), there’s no real telling if we survive this time around, or not.

      Note, others have been raising prices. We have too. Had to because of input costs. However, in some areas, ones where we think we can hurt them, when they raise prices we have lowered ours. This is 100% about maximizing the pain for our competitors as we look to garner market share. The Japanese have it right, business is war.

      Me? I suspect they’re in for a shock (they being the majority of my competitors). Why? Simple, it’s because within the next two years (if I’m reading the tea leaves correctly) I suspect the majority (if not all) of our import competitors (who haven’t been around long enough to experienced a recession) are going to learn a thing or two about living large (these idiots post on Renren when they buy new cars and such). Basically, I make it my business to know as much as possible about them, to include especially about their ‘private’ lives. Ain’t nothing private!

      For my part, our machine tools are fully paid for. Accountant says we should buy news ones. Urged me to lease. Honestly? I’d rather pay taxes. On the personal front, I drive a truck that was quite costly when purchased (second hand through the dealer’s certified program, still cost a pretty penny). While I’ve owned it 16 of its 18 years (and it only just now ticked over 100k miles), I fully expect it to see me off this mortal coil. Could I buy a new one, cash in hand? Sure, but I don’t see the need. And I’ve never posted pictures or anything about it on social media – not doing it now, either. Company plane? It’s 58 years old. Flies just as fast, and just as high, as a brand new (that looks almost exactly the same) but costs a cool half million bucks. What’s the point? Who am I going to impress? Accountant now knows what I am going to say so he saves his breath.

      Anyway, and as a general rule, my business advice is, if you haven’t already, begin cutting expenses. Sooner rather than later. Figure who/what is essential vs. nice to have. Alternate suppliers should be lined up (however, this is Business 101). Sharpen your pencil with suppliers, too. Do it now. For example, I use Alro instead of Copper & Brass because I like the salesman. Basically, they take good care of us and despite Alro not always having the best deal, they deliver the vast majority of our bar stock. So last time, I mentioned this to her and lo and behold, she called back with a little bit better price. One that slightly undercut her competition, too. Put another way, it never hurts to ask.

      Finally, if you’re thinking of a capital acquisition, e.g. new machinery, new building, whatever, be sure. That, and pay for it outright or do without because it’s not unheard of for debts to be called. For example, in 2009, a company card with $25000 revolving due to a favorable rate was called. We were liquid so we paid up, but we closed our accounts and moved bank. Everyone isn’t so fortunate. Word to the wise, eh?

      So heads up folks, things are getting interesting out there, capice?

      My 2¢

      Reply
      1. Kfish

        My grandparents, who were farmers, would have approved heartily of your advice. They didn’t have the Internet to track their neighbours’ spending, but they did shake their heads and disapprove when someone bought a new tractor on debt. Grandad built his own tractor implements from scrap and preached constantly about how doing it yourself was putting money in your pocket, rather than someone else’s.

        During the good times, they stocked up in preparation for the bad times which in Australia can last several years. “Silage” is a form of cut hay that gets wrapped in plastic and buried in the field by the ton. My grandparents buried a massive amount of it which enabled them to outlast the local drought in the Sixties.

        Of course, this strategy is ‘inefficient’, but as John Michael Greer says in his essay “Salvaging Resilience”, resilience is the opposite of efficiency.

        https://countercurrents.org/greer210711.htm

        Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        ‘it’s not unheard of for debts to be called’

        Got that right. Heard about one guy that was running his business well here in Oz until there was a minor bit of turbulence. So his bank called him in and said that they would feel better about his debt if he put up his house as collateral which the guy reluctantly agreed to as he knew his trouble would be quickly over. As soon as he did that, the bank called in the loan and took his house. Surprise!

        Reply
    2. digi_owl

      Netflix also lost their juiciest content when Disney upped and created their own service (never mind that some arcane sub-licensing contract that gave them access to a massive throve of direct-to-rental films etc ran out).

      Frankly that rodent is in real need of being dismembered. That its purchases over the recent years were allowed by market regulators is a travesty.

      Reply
  11. PlutoniumKun

    Where Did the Long Tail Go? The Honest Broker

    This article explains a lot, very succinctly.

    I’m a bit of an obscure old movie buff. 10 and more years ago there was a dvd rental shop in my city that had a vast collection of the type of rarities I enjoyed watching. And if they didn’t have it, they would try to get it for me. Around 2011, it shut down forever.

    While I was very disappointed, I thought it wasn’t a big deal. They can’t have made money from stocking unusual HK films from 1959 or lesser known Ozu works, but I thought that with the rise of streaming, someone would make them available. But it never happened – if anything, its become even harder as Netflix etc reduce their purchases of non-mainstream films. The specialist dvd/streaming services are becoming more focused on certain genres (probably because of licensing costs). It baffles me that it is almost impossible to find many old films, even ones that are frequently highlighted in the literature as highly important. Its similar with TV, where the range of (for example) fairly recent anime is getting more and more restricted and fragmentary. Even with the hugely popular Demon Slayer you have to seek out two separate sources, and you frequently find that only a dub is available. I find it incredibly expensive to get the manga I want in original Japanese.

    So yeah, the long tail doesn’t exist, and our culture is getting narrower and narrower.

    Reply
    1. Lexx

      Three murder mysteries starring Martha Rutherford have been languishing in ‘Saved’ for years now. I’ve stubbornly left them there waiting for Netflix to take a hint, thinking that if there were enough fans for these old films, the pressure of all those swollen accounts would incentivize Netflix into supplying our requests. The number of films wanted compared to those available in our account is about 4:1.

      We signed up for HBO Max last month; I’ve already consumed everything I consider watchable and worth the time. We consumers are burning through content like it’s fast food… high in calories and low in nutrition, especially the new stuff. You have to wonder what their plan is for keeping our attention?

      Reply
      1. jr

        It’s hard for my partner and I to find things to watch together as our tastes are very different. We long ago gave up going through the various streaming services’ catalogs. Hulu’s had to be the worst: long after the holiday season was over one year they had at least seven Hallmark-style Christmas specials up. Into the summer. Single dad meets single mom under the mistletoe, divorced couple gets back together under the mistletoe, Golden Retriever rescue finds loving family under the mistletoe, etc. Then there was the Christian Lite relationship movies, had to be a zillion of those.

        In general, the same (rappy movies sit and sit while a few new ones cycle through. This is true of all the services. Netflix has their television shows but I find the pacing of television shows annoying and unsatisfying. They never hold my attention for long.

        Criterion was the best streaming service I used but it has it’s limits. If you want to watch the works of a gaggle of film students on meth, try MUBI. One horror that will always stick with me was a hybrid musical/mocumentary/“comedy”. It drove me to cancel the service after leaving a review that bordered on a bomb threat. It was like watching aliens trying to make a film. It was art imitating art.

        How I miss the movie rental store in Philly I used to frequent. Staffed by cinephiles, it offered all manner of rare gems on tape or DVD. They had a great bargain bin with movies for like 5$ a pop. You could spend five minutes discussing a film with a staff member, as they watched all of them before putting them on the shelves. It’s where I discovered the greatest film ever made, The Children of Paradise, which for me is a litmus test of another’s aesthetic sensibilities.

        Crapification proceeds apace. Movies are poorly written with huge logical gaps in the narrative and lots of whiz-bang CGI that still fails to compel no matter how extravagant. Television offers the same stale tropes and both genres now come dusted with the rat poison of Woke moralizing. It has me reading more, at least.

        Reply
        1. Lexx

          I didn’t like my odds when I saw the date on that film – 1946 – but it went right into the queue, so I guess we’ll get to see ‘Children of Paradise’. The Rutherford’s are 1962, 63, and 64 and they’ve been in ‘Saved’ for years. ‘Ship of Fools’ is 1965, and you’d think a Lee Marvin would see more demand than Martha, but both have sat like stones. Maybe they weren’t old enough? ‘Taxi Driver’ is available though (1976)… I somehow missed that one.

          It seems to me like the big streamers are creating an opportunity for the mom-and-pop shops to return, in that as long as there are people who can recall the experience of watching a well-made film, they will have customers who want to rent those DVDs.

          I’m married to a guy who protects the intellectual property of his employer for a living, crossing the line to qbittorrent is a ‘naynay’.

          I started streaming ‘Falling Skies’ because any show that got renewed for five seasons must have something going for it, amiright?! In each season they retire (KIA) characters and introduce new ones, each and everyone of them (human and alien) played by actors who have made a career playing a stereotype. I’m gonna guess there was no money in the budget for rehearsing. I’ve been in appalled, open-mouth wonder at the horror of this storyline. The skidders turn out to be ‘good people’ but Matt Frewer (again!) has got to go… back to Canada and stay there!

          Reply
          1. Pat

            You might not banish Matt after seeing Ezra Miller’s interpretation of Trash Can Man in the latest version of The Stand.

            And do you mean Margaret Rutherford?

            Reply
              1. Pat

                Tubi, a free streaming service, has a documentary about her and Marple.
                I know I encountered her Marple films somewhere I stream in the last year, but unfortunately I’m not sure they are anywhere right now.

                Reply
          2. jr

            The Children of Paradise has an incredible history. It was filmed during the Nazi occupation of Paris. The cast had both resistance fighters and collaborators in it. One of the actresses stood trial after the occupation for having dated a Luftwaffe officer. The director, Marcel Carné, managed to get around 40K white flowers delivered in the middle of a war. It still wins awards close around 80 years after it was released. I have it on DVD and the voice over narration by some film historian is fascinating.

            Reply
        1. Lone_Geek

          Unless you are a member of a private tracker, it’s pretty hard to find good torrents these days.

          Plus that you need a solid vpn that won’t pass on your logs to avoid any DMCA complaints.

          I’m pretty happy using open source software to rip content from my subscribed streaming services and then archive it to my Plex server. That and purchasing DVDs / BluRays of tv shows and movies I’ll watch.

          Reply
      2. JustAnotherVolunteer

        I use https://www.justwatch.com/ to find my rarities and then hunt and peck through my current subscriptions for “free” streaming. I’ve upped a service like BritBox for a month at a time if I collect enough treats. “Murder She Said” was a motivator –

        AppleTV seems to rent a lot of HK content – I’m a Bridgett Lin fan and most of her films all come at a one time cost. I miss GreenCine.

        Reply
    2. hunkerdown

      The industry is set up on media sales = media consumption, but unauthorized consumption reaffirms the social messaging and modeling of the programme almost as much as authorized consumption does, with the possible exception of the idea of paying to be entertained on command. That long tail is harder to see and rarely looked for, though Windows piracy could be roughly approximated by tallying the User-Agent headers offered by web browsers.

      Japan should take all their anti-piracy enforcement MMT money and just pay creators.

      Reply
    3. Harold

      I can’t believe Lloyds of London isn’t available as a DVD, at least in English. It’s not even obscure.

      Reply
    4. norm de plume

      ‘there was a dvd rental shop in my city that had a vast collection of the type of rarities I enjoyed watching… I thought that with the rise of streaming, someone would make them available. But it never happened’

      My experience precisely. I was moaning to a friend about 5 years ago that even if you subscribed to every streamer available you still couldn’t get the old and/or foreign stuff I wanted. She asked if I’d heard of Film Club in Darlinghurst, a cinephile heaven, with whole walls devoted to Directors, Cult, Doco, Drama, each of the major ethnic cinemas, etc etc. I joined the next day and saw over 700 flicks right up until they sadly shut their doors a couple of months ago. The fellas who ran the place were tragics and put me on to all sorts of goodies. I made my way through most of Ebert’s Great Movies and the BFI’s Top 250, enjoying ‘seasons’ of French noir, Italian neorealism, 30s screwball and lots of Japanese gems. Mizoguchi’s Ballad of Narayama was my last rental, a worthy and rather apt finale.

      Since they closed I have been a bit bereft, scratching around for good stuff and have been surprised by what you can find on Youtube, but that well is running dry. I tried to subscribe to Criterion but if you can believe it they don’t service Australia.. the Tyranny of Distance!

      I can understand the streamers not wanting to pay for titles very few people will watch, but I can’t understand why some enterprising soul hasn’t negotiated a deal with the rights-holders to be able to host obscure films which, if the platform was globally available, would be accessed by people like you and I. If you added us all up we would be a fair sized market, I would think. The site would take a tax, but the holders would also rack up fees for these curios that would dwarf whatever they’re making now.

      Reply
    5. digi_owl

      As best i recall, Netflix used to have some arcane sub-license thing going with another distributor that provided them access to a throve of backlog movies etc. Netflix was unable to renew when the initial contract ran out.

      In the end the thing is that if humanity had gotten access to the whole back catalog of the US entertainment industry from the 60s onwards, there would never be a need to buy something new ever again.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        >>>In the end the thing is that if humanity had gotten access to the whole back catalog of the US entertainment industry from the 60s onwards, there would never be a need to buy something new ever again.

        I don’t know about that. Even though the catalog is vast, so is humanity, heck reality. Yes, one could be entertained for several whole long lives just by what has already been created from the 60s onwards; we could just as easily say that no one ever needs to buy a book by a new writer because of the five thousand years of writing.

        Even trite writing is a conversation with someone. Often from a very different universe then ours. I hate traveling although I always enjoy any destination, but trip from my chair while drinking coffee or beer is quite enjoyable; although I am more of a bibliophile and not much of a cinephile, but I am still annoyed of what is not available. But then, I want it all available if it still exists and not stored away because reasons. Film is just another way to travel comfortably.

        Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “With an eye on re-election, Turkey’s Erdogan risks the ire of Western partners”

    Personally I dislike the man as he is turning his country into a regional wrecking ball and cares nothing about getting his own troops killed. But he is an opportunist who does cut his coat to his cloth. So this was why he did not join western sanctions on Russia as doing so would have economically sent his country down the gurgler, especially as far as wheat imports are concerned. But he does know his country’s strengths. Turkey has the second largest army in NATO so they cannot go after him too hard or else he might withdraw all troop participation from them. Yeah, Turkey wants to get into the EU but that is not really going to happen. I believe that they got on track to do so in 1987 but that was nearly half a century ago and what has happened since? More to the point, Ursula von der Leyen was recently on Spanish media and when asked about Turkey going into the EU, said that their performance had gone backward. In other words, no EU membership for you, Turkey. So I will admit that when this war is over, that Turkey may end up being in a stronger position than before just by playing their cards smart.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Before Erdogan (all things considered, I really think he might be the worst major leader in the world), Turkey was jumping through hoops, but the EU kept playing coy. Besides the religious differences, Turkey is a major country. It would disrupt Berlin’s dominance. Paris was happy with Berlin at the time, and London had delusions of mediocrity at the time where they could be Euro and Commonwealth at the same time with Berlin’s approval. Turkey like Russia disrupts this power relationship. They aren’t little countries joining. Within the EU, you would have situations like the Chinese competing with the US in Africa.

      Reply
  13. Roger Blakely

    “These findings provide immunologic context for the current surges caused by the BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5 subvariants in populations with high frequencies of vaccination and BA.1 or BA.2 infection.”

    Why should any eyebrows raise if I say that I have gone through a dozen fourteen-day cycles of COVID-19? Any essential worker is going to get hit with each subvariant that comes down the pike.

    Reply
  14. OnceWereVirologist

    Estonia’s PM says country would be ‘wiped from map’ under existing Nato plans

    … and wants 125,000 NATO troops permanently stationed in the Baltics to defend them

    Good lord, certain eastern European nations are really starting to irk me. I mean the Laos, Cambodians and Vietnamese lost untold thousands during the Vietnam War and they’ve had to just walk it off. They’ll never get any restitution or revenge for the unjustified deaths that happened within still living memory. Nor do they make a national culture of fetishizing their grievances. Yet certain European countries demand the rest of the world risk WWIII, by and large justifiying themselves with centuries-old grievances and the sins of a political entity that doesn’t even exist any more, and making not the slightest effort to cool but rather exacerbate tensions at every opportunity.

    Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    “Exclusive: G7 likely to discuss Russian turbine, but may not find solution – Canada minister”

    Looks like the Russians gave the straight dope in spite of what the EU was saying. Germany sent this machinery to Canada who sat on it like it was the return of Meng Wanzhou. So in a way, this is a Canadian sanction on Germany but they must know what they are doing. I am reliably informed that Canada gets just as cold in the wintertime as Germany does so they know what is at stake. So the question arises. Is this a power play to force Germany to provide more military weaponry to the Ukraine in return for this Siemens machinery being repaired and sent back? One thing for sure. It has just opened up a major fissure between the biggest country in the EU and Canada and will be a long time being repaired. If Germans freeze this winter, then call it decades. Worse case scenario, I wonder if the Germans could negotiate with the Russians to open up Nord Stream 2 again.

    Reply
    1. Kouros

      It is possible the order came from Washington… As with holding up for three years the CFO of Huawei… Canada is carrying water for the US big time. The new generation of leaders, well groomed from their 20s know who the boss is… And it is not the Canadian electorate…

      Reply
      1. digi_owl

        Nah, if you look into some of the power players in Canada right now you find that they have ancestry from the nazi side of Ukraine dating back to WW2.

        Canada has perhaps been even more hawkish about Ukraine than DC, something that has been unusual for a nation that has long come off as a more laid back, metric, USA.

        Reply
  16. SOMK

    interesting fairly wide ranging interview with Corbyn here, think it’s the first that goes into this kind of detail on the campaign against him https://declassifieduk.org/exclusive-jeremy-corbyn-on-the-establishment-campaign-to-stop-him-becoming-pm/

    “I had my first speech outside Number 10 as prime minister all planned out,” Jeremy Corbyn tells me. “I was going to announce homelessness in Britain ends now, next week no-one will be sleeping rough.”

    Reply
    1. skk

      That was good. I was going to send it to NC as a candidate for their Links section. Perhaps NC will hoist that interview with Jeremy Corbyn. His comments on the Guardian are of note:

      “I have absolutely no illusions in the Guardian, none whatsoever,” Corbyn tells me. “My mum brought me up to read the Guardian. She said, ‘It’s a good paper you can trust’. You can’t. After their treatment of me, I do not trust the Guardian.”

      He continues: “There are good people who work in the Guardian, there are some brilliant writers in the Guardian, but as a paper, it’s a tool of the British establishment. It’s a mainstream establishment paper. So, as long as everybody on the left gets it clear: when you buy the Guardian, you’re buying an establishment paper”.

      Reply
    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      Needless to say, the UK PMC, vide Gabriel Milland and James Johnson, have been on to that and out again for Corbyn.

      Is SOMK south of Milton Keynes, i.e. in Buckinghamshire? :-)

      Reply
    3. Glen

      Good interview. What shocked me was learning there were only 2000 unhoused in all of the UK? So few. Seems like we have at least that many in every larger city.

      Reply
      1. digi_owl

        Likely a legacy of UK going in big on council housing after the war.

        Also, the climate there do not really allow for rough sleeping unless you are really well prepared most of the year.

        One thing that will trip you up is that if you check a globe or world maps, you find that most of Europe, and UK in particular, is more in line with Canada than USA.

        The primary reason Europe is so hospitable to habitation is the Gulf Stream that carries hot water from the Gulf of Mexico. And there is a real fear that said stream will fail as global warming continues. That in turn will perhaps once more cover much of the Nordics in a glacier.

        Reply
  17. Ignacio

    RE: Kaliningrad row: ‘It’s nothing to do with a blockade’ says Lithuania’s former foreign ministers Euronews. See today’s post on Kaliningrad.
    Turning it a war on semantics? It is not blockade, it is sanctions. Not ‘blockade’ because it doesn’t involve grain or medical supply, they say.
    A definition of blockade from Britannica:

    Blockade, an act of war whereby one party blocks entry to or departure from a defined part of an enemy’s territory, most often its coasts. Blockades are regulated by international law and custom and require advance warning to neutral states and impartial application. Most of the legal stuff applies to coastal blockades and embargoes.

    What we can agree is that this is an embargo. Is it legal? What kinds of things can be legally embargoed under international rule? Car parts? Computers? Clothes? Lithuania is playing with fire and I doubt they spent a single minute considering the legal niceties of all this apart from consequences intended or not. Does this sound as regular enforcement of international order or is it just retaliatory behaviour? What good does this bring to Ukraine and the world in general?

    Reply
    1. digi_owl

      What i find myself suspecting is that for a lot of these shipments, they are likely intermixed inside a train car or truck. And thus customs officers need to stop and inspect each and every one crossing the border. And if they find anything on the list of sanctioned goods, further time has to be spent offloading that before the rest can be sent on. So basically no matter how they spin it in diplomatic terms, this will slow the deliveries to a crawl.

      Reply
  18. The Rev Kev

    The other day there was an article saying that Europe should prepare for having Russia cut off all their gas which made no sense when you thought about it. But just watched a Alex Christoforou video where it suddenly does. He says that there is a story where the EU will put a cap on prices for gas that they will buy from Russia and not one cent more. That is like going down to a gas station and telling them that you will only pay $2 a gallon. How well would that work out? If they try that with Russia, the Russians will say that they broke their contracts for the agreed price so no more gas for you. This would be an absolute lunatic move for the EU to make but they may just be thinking of it. Just the other day the US was trying to organize a buyer’s cartel where they would pay Russia only a minimal price for their oil. This is real Clown World stuff but that is the world that we live in right now.

    Reply
      1. vao

        This question has been raised repeatedly — first with the Brexit: why were industrialists not up in arms at the complete lack of preparation by the British government?

        I already gave my opinion in the past, which can be summarized thus:

        Large, multinational corporations have the necessary clout to command incite governments to change their ways, but they do not really care. They can always offshore — it is at worst an inconvenience, at best the circumstances justify the implementation of relocation plans they had already drafted.

        Remember for instance that automobile manufacturers only retained their sites and workforce in Germany because trade unions repeatedly agreed to widespread, multi-year wage freezes. If employees agitate for raises (because of inflation), and with energy affordability / availability in doubt, production will be transferred — no longer to Slovakia, but to Turkey (or Vietnam, or wherever).

        SMEs on the other hand do really care about the situation, because their existence is at stake; but they do not have the clout to convince politicians to act sanely.

        As for consumers, well, strikes have started in Belgium and the UK. They may well spread. But for the populace to compell politicians to stop mucking around, this will take something like a European movement of gilets jaunes cubed.

        Reply
        1. Monosynapsis

          I also would be very keen to understand the apparent weakness of the EUs industry lobbies in face of this punishment imposed by politics. Until february I really thought that for instance the german car industry – which has considerable clout – would quickly bring Scholz et al. ‘to reason’ behind closed doors.

          The fact that this hasn’t happened makes me question quite a few aspects of my world view, or to put it more precisely, shows me how little I really understand.

          But I think that the current supply chain crisis makes it abundantly clear that offshoring ain’t that easy – the hypothesis that they don’t care ‘cos they gonna move everything to Bangladesh or Mongolia doesn’t convince me.

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            I share your confusion about this. I think the notion that major companies – or business in general – is a monolith and just tells governments what to do is a gross simplification. Multiple sectors have conflicting agendas and in some circumstances it may be that internal dynamics prevent a unified voice calling governments to heel.

            I think in many ways, similar to Brexit, business has been caught off guard by consequences of what was happening and has taken the approach of assuming that somehow, some way, common sense will prevail. It was not in any one CEO’s interest to be the first to put his head above the parapet. I certainly experienced that over Brexit when business people I knew who were going to be badly affected by it just took a stance of shrugging and assuming that things will be alright in the end, that some sort of deal would be done. But it is still astonishing that German industry can see the precipice just months away and aren’t screaming about it. Perhaps there is an element of arrogance, a feeling that ‘yes, we’ll be hit hard, but our competitors will be hit even harder, so we’ll come out on top’. Mind you, I also find the silence of the City of London and Wall Street mystifying over the crackdown on Russian money – they must be aware that this is resulting in a major shift in markets away from the Anglosphere.

            I’ve also been mulling over whether the rapid rebound after Covid has given a lot of businesses a false sense of security. People are spending a lot of money right now in my neck of the woods – I suspect its a general sense among people that its time to let your hair down. The cost of travel and holidays is astronomical right now, and yet people seem happy to pay for it. So business is not yet feeling the effects. But this can’t last – I think there is going to be a terrible hangover, and its going to hit at just the wrong time, just as an energy crisis really hits home.

            Reply
            1. Polar Socialist

              My exposure to the corporate world, as minor as it may be, has shown me that surprisingly many leaders are made of the same cloth than the current breed of politicians – they have no clue.

              It’s all about branding, keywords and bullet points. Slogans and networking. It’s not about where the company will be in ten years, it’s about where they will be in 6 months time.

              Good network and brilliant BS will let you fail upwards in business, too. Too bad about the companies you wreck or ‘disrupt’ on your way.

              Reply
            2. Skippy

              “I share your confusion about this. I think the notion that major companies – or business in general – is a monolith and just tells governments what to do is a gross simplification. Multiple sectors have conflicting agendas and in some circumstances it may be that internal dynamics prevent a unified voice calling governments to heel.”

              If I might elaborate a theory on that vexing issue PK … the wealthy funded a ideological Bernays happy meal for the unwashed to roll back all the social programs post WWII. To facilitate this agenda a good stock of political operatives has been groomed since Uni or even if some cases HS to then filtered before entering the political class – hence pipeline demand pull.

              So now your befuddled because the push for this ideology has met two things that it can not dictate too e.g. the environment and any nation like China or Russia that won’t ascribe too it … see petulant child …

              BTW old NC Philip wrote a good book on social networks that should help.

              Reply
          2. vao

            offshoring ain’t that easy – the hypothesis that they don’t care ‘cos they gonna move everything to Bangladesh or Mongolia doesn’t convince me.

            The matter is not that offshoring is easy, but that the CEOs of large corporations believe it is just a relatively easily solvable technical issue. After all, they already successfully offshored quite a large part of their activities, so if problems arise in Europe, why not just apply the same recipe?

            There are two issues that would confirm their position:

            1) One way to interpret the supply issues caused by the SARS-2 pandemic is that

            a) one needs even more diversified offshoring — avoid putting all eggs in the same basket;

            b) one must be closer to the suppliers of materials and components, i.e. relocate even more of the final manufacturing activities to avoid disruptions of transport networks, or export bans of essential inputs (actions taken by India during the pandemic come to mind).

            2) If essential inputs provided by Russia become permanently unaffordable in Europe, or even unavailable, then one should relocate activities to countries that do not impose restrictions on the procurement of those materials and components.

            Large firms may well think that everything will calm down and return to normal, but I am convinced that their surprising composure is due to their (probably unjustified) certitude that if things become too tedious in Europe, they have a wonderfully effective, feasible, proven plan B — offshoring.

            Reply
            1. Monosynapsis

              After mulling over this, here’s an appeal to the NC hivemind to comment and complement some halfbaked ideas as to why the EU industry has been almost completely quiet so far in regards to the US/EU/NATO policies vs. Russia even if they appear to be largely detrimental to its interests.

              this is actually just a brainstorming session of mine (inspired by PK and vao responses)

              1. conflicting interests whithin ‘the industry’ which cancel each other out

              – sure, but ‘the non monolithical industry’ has shown in the past centuries great skill in shaping policies to its advantage, often collectively

              2. straightforward incomptence and ignorance

              – as a genXer techie who has done some interface design my juvenile trust in technocratic competence whithin major companies has been forever scarred by the Windows Start button. Yet, I have to assume that resource hungry compagnies must at least have a spreadsheet here and there showing the impact of rising costs on their revenue.

              3. appeal to authority, da gubmint will surely find a way to fix it.

              – closely related to 2.

              4. vehement back office haggling is actually taking place, its just kept quiet so far.

              – seems very likely; I can imagine EU leaders succesfully soothing industry leaders with promises (see 3,). So far…

              5. ideological blindness, riding on the coattails of NATO to the NewWesternEmpire to show the Chinese competition once and for all who is boss (WallStreet)

              – ?

              6. CEOs afraid of cancel culture to publicly come out of the closet as rational businessmen

              – I can imagine that as just the slightest deviation of the main narrative makes one a Putinist nowadays.

              7. Shock Doctrine, ‘lets embrace the crisis’

              – old school war profiteering, sure. For the Weapons Industry 2022 has been one continous orgasm so far. Also a nice cover for firing unwanted workers. Inflation as an out for debt…and much more has been discussed here on NC. Still, Habecks announced gas restrictions in Germany must be a punch in the stomach for many capitalists….

              8. EU is a US satellite, so is its industry

              – ?

              9. justification/hope to delocalize and mitigate the problems

              – ok, but this doesn’t change the energy/raw materials problematic, does it ?

              10. political decision makers hold actually much more power over the industry than we might have suspected

              – as it is clear that the political elites have a firm grip on the media apparatus I can imagine many CEOs being very careful. Also, subsidies.

              11. ?

              Reply
              1. vao

                11. In a similar way that the upper echelons of politics are trusted by lawyers, political scientists and academics, the upper layers of large corporations are now manned by lawyers and financiers.

                No engineers or persons “skilled in the arts” to be found, hence neither experience, know-how and appreciation for the down-to-earth inter-connections between various aspects of the industrial web and for the practical consequences of what is taking place.

                Not valid for SMEs, though, where management usually has a deep practical knowledge of the industry and of the inner workings of their own firm.

                Reply
    1. marym

      “…the government must affirmatively prove that its firearms regulation is part of the historical tradition that delimits the outer bounds of the right to keep and bear arms.”

      They overturned a >100-year old law. One citation was to something or other in England between 1660 and 1688 as “particularly instructive.”

      Just pick convenient timeframe and decide that’s when history starts and ends. Alito’s draft opinion on overturning Roe did the same

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        There’s practically no concealed carry permits that are issued in SD/LA/SF, we’re talking about maybe 100 or so in each locale.

        This would have big implications, not to mention all the money making possibilities. (you need to take a 8 hour safety class-and then fees for concealing said manhood on your person, etc.)

        Reply
        1. Tom Stone

          The price for a concealed weapons permit has been a $5K campaign contribution for many years, plus the costs for attending a class approved of by that jurisdiction and the cost of the background check.
          Of course if you are Dianne Feinstein, Don Perta or Donald Trump you can get one for the asking.
          These corrupt games are why the number of “Constitutional Carry” States has grown from one (Vermont) to 36 during my lifetime.
          And yes, there has been an effect on crime, more crimes against property, less rape and less spousal abuse, crimes which are all about power.

          Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    This father-son team of reporters from Las Vegas is doing yeoman work in chronicling the decline of Lake Mead, check out the houseboat which became stranded on dry land after the water level dropping a bunch in just a short time.

    It’s difficult to fathom where the first real manifestations of climate change really show themselves in the USA, but my money is on Lake Mead, which means that Las Vegas will be another ghost town such as Tonopah or Austin, but with much more eyesore potential.

    STRANDED!!! Lake Mead’s Water Dropped Too Fast!!!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gND12rp0IDM

    Reply
    1. Ignacio

      Not being engineer I am wondering whether at some point Meade’s dam might collapse if there is not enough water pressure as it was designed to support.

      Reply
      1. chris

        That’s possible but not the likely cause of failure from having a dam this exposed. What you need to worry about are things like cracks expanding due to the absence of compression on the water facing surfaces. Also, because there’s no water to absorb the heat and cool the concrete, the entire mass of the dam will thermally expand more now. When that expansion is resisted by things like sidewalls or rock, it will cause an increase in stress. That stress increase can cause reinforced concrete to fail.

        I’m not sure what kind of operating conditions the people responsible for Hoover Dam/Lake Mead structures have plans to accommodate. But it is reasonable to assume that without a large inflow of water we may experience a situation that was unanticipated and would require the dam to shut down all operations.

        Reply
        1. Shannon

          I think this is the motivating factor behind the Dept. of Interior enforcing a 2 to 4 million acre feet reduction in usage for 2023. They are trying to keep the lake level above dead pool, which is the level at which the hydroelectric generators cease to function. Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell are in just as bad, if not even a little worse, shape.

          The decision is going to have to be eventually, power or water for agriculture, as you will no longer be able to fully utilize both. California is going to have a difficult time with this as they have senior water rights since the 1920s.

          Reply
          1. c_heale

            Having just read Cadillac Desert, I think no power and no water is more likely. When the water gets too low, you can’t have either water or electricity.

            Reply
            1. chris

              At current rates of inflows, evaporation, and usage, Lake Mead is losing about 7 ft of water elevation a month during the hotter parts of the year. The minimum elevation for Lake Mead to produce power is about 950 ft. If the current trend holds, without acceleration, then in about 2 years Lake Mead will be low enough that it will not be able to supply any power because the water elevation will be below all the intake structures. At about 890 ft, Lake Mead will be low enough that most of the flow channels for leaving the reservoir will be too high. Much below that elevation and Lake Mead becomes a lake that doesn’t let much water out at all. I am amazed to have friends who tell me they’re buying property in AZ, or CA, or Las Vegas, with 15 year or 30 year mortgages. They really have no idea what will happen if the water and power from Lake Mead is cut off.

              Reply
        2. Ignacio

          Thank you chris. NC will always surprise with commenters giving reasonable thoughts at any question.

          Reply
        3. ambrit

          If I remember correctly, internal cooling pipes were installed inside the dam structure to carry off the heat generated by the curing concrete of the insides of the dam. This facilitated a quick general cooling down of the curing concrete. Also, there is no reinforcement in the dam. Except for the later grout filled one inch diameter cooling pipes, no reinforcing rods were used. It is a truly monolithic structure, poured one section at a time.
          See: https://www.phcppros.com/articles/9765-preventing-a-national-landmark-from-crumbling

          Reply
      2. PlutoniumKun

        A key issue with dams is not the structure of the dam itself, but the underlying geology. You can have contraction effects (due to lowering water table) and expansion impacts (from the weight of water being released) that are very hard to predict, especially when they interact. Even with modern modelling its surprising how often engineers fail to accurately predict how rock types will behave when subject to such stresses. A high percentage of dam failures are not due to problems with the physical structure, but unexpected stresses in the rock below or upstream.

        A hydrogeologist friend regularly bemoans to me just how poorly civil and structural engineers are educated on the dynamics of geological structures, they so often see the base rock as a fixed constraint, not a dynamic variable. Mind you, he’s made a good career out of troubleshooting problems caused by this.

        Reply
  20. Wukchumni

    On Inflation: It’s the Monopoly Profits, Stupid Matt Stoller, BIG
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Inflation in the 1970’s was pretty bad, but in no way was it all that coordinated, there being no computers to speak of and no bar codes or anything, everything had a price sticker or marked price on it, and there wasn’t really all that much downsizing of product as the machinery and knowhow so commonplace today in our computerized world, simply wasn’t available. The act of downsizing a Hershey’s chocolate bar would have taken an awful lot of effort in retooling the factory, etc.

    Much of what I see in an pricing vein on retail products seems to be trying to stay ahead of the inflation curve by anticipating, which isn’t really an exact science to say the least.

    The latest bump came the other day in Bistro brand prepared salads which went from $2.99 to $3.59 in a fortnight!

    Reply
    1. Mildred Montana

      As a life-long (Canadian) renter with a good memory I remember the rents I paid in the inflationary ’70s:

      1975-1977: $120/month for a studio, 15-20% of my salary
      1978-1979: $160/month for a studio, ditto
      1980-1983: $180/month for a one-bedroom, 10% of my salary

      These modest but decent abodes were not rent-protected. My salaries were also modest. Yet I was still able to live comfortably. I never saw runaway rents or exorbitant increases.

      Today seems to be different (imagine paying 50% of one’s income on rent!), and it matters a great deal because housing is the largest expense most people face. Inflation of house prices and rents has been insane and I place the blame squarely on the Fed’s easy-money policies, coddling of banks, and quantitative easing. Nothing else.

      Reply
  21. flora

    Latest episode of Useful Idiots, (skip ahead to the 20 minute mark for the start of the interview with Max on utube):

    Max Blumenthal on Censorship and Masongate

    https://usefulidiots.substack.com/p/max-blumenthal-on-censorship-and-625#details

    In secret meetings and leaked emails, Paul Mason and Nina Jankowicz work to silence journalists who don’t promote the approved message. In public, they complain that journalists bully them, and do vile things like publish past things they’ve said.

    Guess Mason will work with Kamala now? (KH is B’s new ‘disinformation group’ leader.)

    Reply
  22. Jake

    “After months we finally got her birth certificate and then she woke up to a sweep where all of her paperwork was thrown away.”
    Living near a camp in south Austin has been traumatizing for me. We hear all the time how life is so hard for people in the camps, but I’ve become hardened after a decade of attacks, feces, bodies, meth, opioids, stolen copper pipes, the list goes on forever. When they clear the camps here they let people take their shopping carts across the service road and when the sweep is done, they go right back. My neighborhood is full of businesses that are boarded up, the ones still open have huge fences, and the fences that aren’t metal get torn down. The reason my neighborhood is an epicenter in Austin is that there’s a church that started doing handouts 10 years ago. Of course they claim they are providing services, you say tomato, I say you’re killing the neighborhood. They are enabling people to live in the neighborhood for months and years on end wallowing in addiction, panhandling for drugs, and getting free food and clothes at the church. A small number are people who simply need some assistance and it’s good they can get it there, but there is so much danger, death, and despair around that place I don’t feel like the benefits outweigh all of that.
    I used to think the democrat socialists made more sense compared to the other political parties, then they became radical and a small number of very vocal activists started arguing that people should be allowed to camp all over town. They weren’t screaming for housing, they were screaming for camps unde rhighwya overpasses, something I will never understand. So many people assaulted in their vehicles at stop lights next to these camps. In 2019 the city leadership went along with that idea and had absolutely no plans for the large influx of people that resulted. Then they defunded the police. The republicans reversed all the defunding, but the damage was already done. No one wants to work for APD anymore, they are perpetually short staffed. Law enforcement is rarely able to respond to call now and quality of life is in free fall. I used to be friendly with a lot of homeless people in my area. I used to only vote democrat or 3rd party. I used ot go for walks in my neighborhood. I used to shop at the grocery store that is 1 block away. I used to donate to the food bank. The complete lack of planning from city leadership has changed all that. They are truly evil people. I no longer have hope that anything will improve in this town. I will be voting straight republican until I finally make the move to another city that I have no connection with, that is not my home. I feel like the that church stole my neighborhood, and then the city stole my hometown. It’s has been so hard to watch this all unfold over the last decade.

    @Housing 4 All is Hot is right, the leaders that have let all this happen are terrible people. But I have little sympathy for people who lose their property during sweeps. They are announced ahead of time and people are typically able to take their property with them. Those camps become massive public safety, public health, and environmental disaster areas. They have to be swept and people need to be realistic. I understand wanting to have sympathy for the unhoused. Being housed near these encampments is also incredibly stressful and traumatizing. I’ve had to stop associating with friends who refuse to understand this because I can’t stand hearing them say we need to have compassion when they don’t live in close vicinity of the results of the misguided compassion. I’ve lost faith in the future, and not just the future of this city.

    Reply
    1. Kouros

      Never here of providing housing as well as security and police at the same time. Very strange dichotomy…

      Reply
      1. LifelongLib

        Doing both at the same time would cut across existing political divisions. I once saw a study on how to reduce crime that suggested legalizing many drugs and locking up violent teenage offenders until they were middle aged. Not saying those are good/bad ideas, but I can’t imagine any actual government doing both.

        Reply
    2. OnceWereVirologist

      “I used to think the democrat socialists made more sense compared to the other political parties, then they became radical and a small number of very vocal activists started arguing that people should be allowed to camp all over town.”

      If there’s never going to be any systemic solution from above, and the nation as a whole is just going to get more and more unequal, then permanent slums are the logical end-point. There’s going to be a point where the numbers get too big and just moving people on isn’t viable any more. A Rio-style favela developing from a permanent encampment is probably less of an eyesore than unstructured tent camps spread out all over the place anyway. Fix the system or embrace your first world / third world hybrid future !

      Reply
  23. Wukchumni

    Prosecutors Ask That Ghislaine Maxwell Spend at Least 30 Years in Prison

    Ms. Maxwell, who will be sentenced next week, showed an “utter lack of remorse” for helping Jeffrey Epstein recruit and abuse girls, federal prosecutors told a judge. (NYT)

    Who does she rat out before sentencing?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Epstein was quizzical
    Studied physical science in a bed @ home
    Late nights all alone with a ‘test tube’
    Oh, oh, oh, oh

    Maxwell-Ghislaine, majoring in meddling
    Calls him on the phone
    “you know they have us together in pictures, oh!’
    But as he’s getting ready to go
    A knock comes on the cell door

    Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver spoon
    Came down upon his head
    Clang! Clang! Maxwell’s silver spoon
    Made sure that he was dead

    Back in court again, Maxwell plays the fool again
    Judge gets annoyed
    Wishing to avoid an unpleasant scene
    He tells Max to stay when the jury has gone away
    So she waits behind
    Writing fifty times “I must not be so”
    But when he turns her back on her ploy
    She creeps up from behind

    Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver spoon
    Came down upon his head
    Clang! Clang! Maxwell’s silver spoon
    Made sure that he was dead

    Bailiff Thirty-One
    Said “We caught a dirty one”
    Maxwell stands alone
    Painting testimonial pictures
    Oh, oh, oh, oh

    Bill, Donald & Andy screaming from the gallery
    Say she must go free (Maxwell must go free)
    The judge does not agree, and he tells them so
    But as the words are leaving his lips
    A noise comes from behind
    Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver spoon
    Came down upon his head
    Clang! Clang! Maxwell’s silver spoon
    Made sure that he was dead
    Wo-wo-wo-woh

    Silver spoon swoon…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJag19WoAe0

    Reply
  24. RobertC

    New Not-So-Cold War

    Fresh from inciting Zelensky against negotiations and Simonyte to blockade Kaliningrad, EXCLUSIVE Boris Johnson signals UK’s willingness to demine, help export grain from Ukraine

    KIGALI, June 23 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday Britain was willing to assist with demining operations off Ukraine’s southern coast and was considering offering insurance to ships to move millions of tonnes of grain stuck in the country.

    …Asked if Britain was ready to help Ukraine demine the area, Johnson said: “Yes, I don’t want to get into the technical or military details, but you can take it from what we have already done in supplying equipment to the Ukrainians to help themselves protect that we are certainly talking to them at a technical level to help demine Odesa.”

    The Turkey-led negotiations were making slow and positive progress but Biden’s Fool-Tool-Johnson looks to jam them up.

    I’m hoping at some point soon Johnson’s failure with strikes, leveling-up and the Northern Ireland Protocol will see him out of office and restoration of UK foreign policy to rationality.

    Reply
  25. Susan the other

    Matt Stoller. BIG. Thank you for this Link on monopoly profiteers driving inflation. This was timely. I just happened to catch Powell in front of the Senate Finance Committee yesterday. Long hearing, but riveting. I noticed the difference between now and 15 years ago when they grilled Bernanke. Most of our representatives back then knew nothing. They looked sleepy and bored and asked the world’s dumbest questions. I thought, my god, we actually elected these guys? But yesterday in the senate hearing the questions were excellent by comparison. So they can learn! Powell stuck to his guns on fiscal policy and refused to even discuss it. Only a few soap-boxers tried to get him to give them some “suggestions” on how to prevent a recession, etc. Back door fiscal policy questions. Powell clearly stated his goal to keep interest rates high, but not too high, to prevent any “growth in inflation.” Not so much to squeeze it back into the tube, but just stabilize it. And Stoller in this Link said he finally came to the conclusion that this was a good choice because according to the research he has read the highest inflation acceleration is in the FIRE section of the economy. No surprise to Prof. Hudson. So, raising interest rates clocks the financial explosion that was poised to take off like a rocket, right? Possibly. And higher rates will, theoretically, not cause a recession but create a pause so supply can catch up to demand. Etc. More interestingly, Stoller said inflation was not pushed by demand (even though he agreed that the FIRE industry was pushing it) but pushed by monopoly price gouging. (But – me here – perpetual financialization really does seem to be our chosen economic paradigm.) Biden has said as much recently about the oil industry. So it is not demand, it is instead the exploitation of demand. Like getting the economy hooked on the drug of financialization. And there, in the middle of Matt’s post, sits a quote straight from the dragon himself – from Larry Summers that it is ill advised to do any anti-trust regulation because that will not solve the problem. Larry is an idiot or a shill. maybe.

    Reply
  26. fresno dan

    Where Did the Long Tail Go? The Honest Broker

    This idea was popularized in the 2006 book by Chris Anderson entitled The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More. Anderson was anticipating a world in which more businesses were like Amazon, with huge warehouses filled to the brim with everything from bacon-shaped bandages to jail cells for your teen’s mobile phone.
    ======================================
    I read that book. I was so looking forward for a chance to see all sorts of foreign and niche movies. The idea was that electronic storage made storage and retrieval of any electronically stored music or movie so cheap and inexpensive to store and distribute, that old songs and movies could be available for pennies.
    Right now there are 149 movies in my Netflix (really it is DVD.com) that have been there for 5 or more years. A couple of years ago Netflix came clean and admitted that over 100 other movies in the queue would NEVER be available and eliminated them from the queue. I doubt that any of the movies not IMMEDIATELY available will EVER be available.
    Also, I finally got a smart phone (fortunately, the denizens of the bar I frequent taught me how to actually answer the thing, as I am not actually smart enough to really be entrusted with a smart phone – you have to press the thing and swipe simultaneously – OF COURSE, no physical book came with the phone actually explaining that). One of the things you can do with this phone is use a “jukebox” at the bar – so songs that I want to play, from say Dean Martin, where the song is 70 years old are a DOLLAR – even though the singer and songwriter are long gone. Someone is STILL getting outlandish royalities – you can’t say the roayalities reward creativity – the creative people who have actually written and sung the songs have been dead for decades. Shouldn’t a song by someone long gone only cost a nickel or a dime?

    Reply
  27. Principe Fabrizio Salina

    An interesting article published on the website of RUSI (The Royal United Services Institute): “The Return of Industrial Warfare. Can the West still provide the arsenal of democracy?”
    From the conclusions: “The war in Ukraine demonstrates that war between peer or near-peer adversaries demands the existence of a technically advanced, mass scale, industrial-age production capability. The Russian onslaught consumes ammunition at rates that massively exceed US forecasts and ammunition production. For the US to act as the arsenal of democracy in defence of Ukraine, there must be a major look at the manner and the scale at which the US organises its industrial base.”
    https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/return-industrial-warfare

    Reply
    1. Glen

      Good article, it has a fairly narrow focus on making the munitions and rockets being used in great quantities which as they cite in the article has been a known issue in the DoD since the invasion of Iraq. It also touches on the fact that America’s industrial base, it’s numbers of skilled workers has shrunk to very low levels. (I would argue that the skills of the American MBA management class have shrunk even more significantly even as their number has grown.)

      I don’t doubt with over $1T available to the DoD and related agencies in America that they can get some very expensive production lines set up to start making the munitions, or even more innovative (and more in line with the thinking of our current crop of elites), set up a for-profit munitions production with prisoners in for-profit jails.

      But it also reflects a complete misunderstanding of how “Cold War 1” was fought and won. Sure, America, and other countries maintained much larger military, much larger defense industrial base, had bombers flying 24/7, etc, but also as significant (certainly MORE significant for us that lived it) was that America had a thriving middle class, where one parent could get a good job, and provide for the rest of the family with a good home. That excellent healthcare was really affordable and available. That your children could get a excellent public education, and get good jobs. That the grocery stores were stocked with food, and the big box stores had all the little toys and trinkets you could desire. In other words, we had something to fight FOR.

      To be honest, at this point, I see much less in common with the “New Cold War” and “Cold War 1” than I do with Orwell’s vision from 1984. Or to be more blunt, if this is the “New Cold War”, it’s getting much hard to figure out which side it fighting for it’s citizen’s future, and which is treating them like so much cannon fodder.

      Reply
      1. rowlf

        As a military brat we did ok on base while my father was in. After he was forced out during a reduction in force was when we were on foodstamps while he used the GI bill to get to his next profession.

        Compare that to now where the US military families are strapped.

        Reply
  28. juno mas

    RE: Snake Island and NATO

    This article’s projection of NATO’s power to control the island and further, the Black Sea, is fantasy.

    After recounting how thoroughly the Russians repelled a recent rocket and artillery attack on the island, does anyone think that NATO is a peer to the Russian military? What about the facts on the ground? The constant mutilation of bunkered Ukie ground forces failing to defend territory does not portend a future offensive (even with new (non-existant) weapons). As for the human carnage, the young boys of Ukraine are what is being buried, or left to rot.

    What most of these writers do not understand is this war is being fought in Russia’s home territory (they know the people an the language) and that proximity allows them to be patient with progress. Odessa and Transnistria will be joined, in time.

    Reply
  29. RobertC

    New Not-So-Cold War

    The video link to John J. Mearsheimer’s The Causes and Consequences of the Ukraine Crisis speech was posted in the 19 June Naked Capitalism’s Links. Here’s a link to the text of his speech.

    Reply
  30. RobertC

    New Not-So-Cold War

    Unbounded optimism, sales pitch or propaganda How Ukraine Will Win Kyiv’s Theory of Victory

    As Russia’s all-out war of aggression in Ukraine drags on for a fourth consecutive month, calls for dangerous deals are getting louder. As fatigue grows and attention wanders, more and more Kremlin-leaning commentators are proposing to sell out Ukraine for the sake of peace and economic stability in their own countries. Although they may pose as pacifists or realists, they are better understood as enablers of Russian imperialism and war crimes.

    …To avoid growing weary of the war and falling for misleading narratives, the West needs to understand exactly how Ukraine can win, and then support us accordingly. This war is existential, and we are motivated to fight. Properly armed, our forces can stretch Putin’s troops—which are already exhausted—past the breaking point. We can counterattack Russian forces in both Ukraine’s south and Ukraine’s east, pressuring Putin to decide which of his gains to protect. To succeed, however, the United States and its European allies must swiftly supply our country with appropriate numbers of advanced heavy weapons. They must also maintain and increase sanctions against Russia. And, critically, they need to ignore calls for diplomatic settlements that would help Putin before he makes serious concessions.

    …[We are the champions] Committing to Ukraine’s victory will have one final advantage: it will eliminate the uncertainty in the long-term strategies of the United States and Europe toward Russia, girding them for the long haul and helping them no longer be plagued by war fatigue. They will see that our mission—substantially weakening Russia—will enable them, and the rest of the world, to seriously negotiate with a humbled and more constructive Moscow.

    Reply
    1. OnceWereVirologist

      To succeed, however, the United States and its European allies must swiftly supply our country with appropriate numbers of advanced heavy weapons.

      If the Ukrainian government had the best interests of their country in mind they should have demanded the West put up or shut up weeks ago. The “appropriate” number of heavy weapons (enough to give the Ukrainian Army the ghost of a chance) would basically empty the European countries’ warehouses. They need to be delivered yesterday and without any realistic expectation that they’ll ever be paid for by Ukraine. If that’s not on the table, the Ukrainian people and army should know it (again assuming the government had the best interests of the country in mind).

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        It’s not just the advanced heavy weapons but also the ammo that they use. And this war has proven that if it was the US and NATO that were fighting in the Ukraine, that at the rate that ammo is being used up that the US/NATO would be all out of ammo in only a fortnight. That’s it. Game over. Thank you very much for playing. The NATO/Russia war is more an artillery war than anything else and I just heard an Alexander Mercouris talk where he says that the US has been cutting back on the annual order of artillery shells, not increasing. So they may be wanting to train against a peer enemy but they are refusing to invest in the industrial capacity to make this possible. In the military arena you can’t do just-in-time production, especially with supply lines that stretch a few thousand mile. So I suppose that you could say that Russia just called the west’s bluff – and us with a busted flush.

        Reply
      2. PlutoniumKun

        The latest wheeze is to give some elderly Leopard II tanks from Spain to Ukraine. This is really scraping the barrel. Even the Spanish only use these tanks for basic training, they are not considered suitable for regular units. The unfortunate Ukie recruits who are talked into some brief training in them will last only days if lucky against by now very hardened and experienced Russian gunners.

        This is now a slaughter – the Ukrainian government and European governments are sending thousands of men to their deaths because they are unwilling to accept reality. If these governments were serious and genuine about giving Ukraine military aid they would give them the only things that would trouble Russia – modern equipment with lots of ammunition and, most importantly, trained crews. They either can’t, or are unwilling (probably both).

        Reply
        1. OnceWereVirologist

          If it were to come to supplying trained active duty NATO crews, might as well give up the pretense that it isn’t a NATO proxy war and try to implement that no-fly zone that the Ukrainians originally wanted. That’s where NATO’s military strengths lie anyway.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            NATO is already involved in this war. The last attack on Snake Island was almost certainly tracked and coordinated by a USAF plane flying nearby and the Ukrainians are hooked into real-time intelligence for targeting the Russians with.

            Reply
            1. OnceWereVirologist

              No doubt. But both sides can and have so far maintained the public fiction that nothing that demands further escalation has happened. The Ukrainians, according to most, are still bravely fighting alone bar the foreign “volunteers”. Admittedly, there have been some loose lips on the American side, but the comments about helping the Ukrainians with real-time targeting were walked back pretty quickly.

              Reply
              1. PlutoniumKun

                I’ve been trying to read between the lines of what seem to be major internal arguments about the equipment to be sent to the Ukrainians. US artillery sent to the Ukraine has been stripped of the most advanced electronic systems as one example. The Pentagon backtracked on sending the most advanced drones. It seems to me significant that there is no evidence that Ukraine has been given any really advanced anti-drone electronic warfare kit which would surely help them a lot more than a few artillery pieces.

                Partly it seems to be a justifiable fear that advanced kit is going to fall into Russian hands (which sort of makes you wonder whats the point of weapons if you don’t use them because the enemy might capture it), but I suspect it also reflects arguments going on behind the scenes about the appropriate level of support. As David has noted, this is now a classic proxy war, and proxy wars always have unwritten rules and limitations.

                Reply
                1. juno mas

                  I don’t think that “capture” is the major Pentagon concern with an advanced warfare kit. It’s simply the real possibility that kit will be sold, intact/undamaged, to the Russians. :)

                  Reply
  31. jr

    I wonder if the NYPD simulator has scenarios where the cops are tearing down homeless encampments, battering young men of color, or killing pedestrians while speeding around for no good cause.

    Reply
  32. The Rev Kev

    “Man Grows Out His London Backyard to Make it Welcoming to a Family of Foxes and Other Wildlife”

    I can’t help but feel envious of the garden that this guy has created. Imagine sitting down at your window with a cuppa and watching these foxes at play.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      They are not always so nice to have in the backyard. I once spent a weekend building a wildlife pond in my sisters back garden in Birmingham, England. A few weeks later she came out to find it torn to shreds. It was foxes – probably trying to get at works or other creatures they thought would be under the lining. They did a lot of damage to her vegetables – eventually an ecologist friend suggested that she get her children to pee regularly down the back garden – it worked a treat. Foxes considered the territory ‘marked’ and stayed away.

      When I moved to England from Ireland I noted that there were urban foxes everywhere (a comparative rarity in Ireland), but I was shocked at how devoid of birdlife every English garden seemed to be. I had a house in Birmingham for four years and I rarely saw anything but an occasional sparrow or pigeon despite many attempts to attract them. It was only after a few years it occurred to me that it was down to pet choice. The English love their cats and allow them free rein. In Ireland, dogs are far more popular and are similarly likely to give them the run of any spare ground while cats are far less popular and are generally kept indoors. I think this is almost certainly the reason why birds do so well in Irish gardens in comparison, and why foxes keep their distance.

      Reply
  33. C.O.

    Here is a quick contribution to the ongoing discussion and efforts to find better search engines. It is a post at Rohan Kumar’s site and he updates it regularly. Of special interest to some here besides his discussion of sites that actually have their own indexes (the number of sites that use Bing is well worth checking) is one that is part of the TTN Translation Network, which I had never heard of and sounds brilliantly useful for both translators and anyone learning more languages.

    https://seirdy.one/posts/2021/03/10/search-engines-with-own-indexes/

    A look at search engines with their own indexes (includes permalinks to main sections)

    Reply
  34. The Rev Kev

    “United States cops watch in amazement while other country’s police do their jobs without taking any lives.”

    Gee, suicide by cop must be really tough to do in the UK.

    Reply
  35. drumlin woodchuckles

    I have begun reading ” Is Myanmar’s military on its last legs”? I have to go back to work in a few minutes.
    For now, I will just say that if it is . . . . it is because no outside intruders came in to “help” the NUG and the rebels. They had to learn how to do it all on their own and so they are learning. Outside help for NUG would merely have sanctified Russia/China in helping the Tatmadaw Regime in turn. As it is, Russia and especially China are somewhat observing this as a “Darwin test” of the Tatmadaw’s viability or not.

    As to the NUG and the rebels, if they decide that “deconstituting the Army” is good enough, the Tatmadaw will simply go underground and invisible like the Baath and the Iraqi Army did after their dismissal by American forces in Iraq. If a borderline victorious NUG-Rebel Coalition wish to permanentize their long-term survival within the physical borders of Myanmar, they will have to treat the Tatmadaws as a pack of TonTon Macoutes . . . . and hunt down and kill in personal physical detail every single member, leader, cadre, and adjacent friend and supporter of the Tatmadaw. Leaving even one single cancer cell alive will ensure the return of the cancer.

    But that’s just my ignorant amateur bystander opinion. The NUGies are free to decide that they know better, and they may be right.

    Reply
    1. caucus99percenter

      > hunt down and kill in personal physical detail every single member, leader, cadre, and adjacent friend and supporter of the Tatmadaw

      Hmm, sounds like the CIA view commending the way Suharto came to power in Indonesia (the all-engulfing🩸bloody pogroms of Sukarno supporters and in particular anyone suspected of the slightest association with the communist PKI in 1965, The Year of Living Dangerously, as the title of the movie set in the time of that holocaust put it).

      https://www.qwant.com/?q=year+of+living+dangerously+suharto&t=web

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well . . . . or maybe it sounds like the Haitian popular view after the fall of Baby Doc.

        But you can invoke CIA view if it pleases you.

        Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > it is because no outside intruders came in to “help” the NUG and the rebels.

      As I’ve been saying.

      I don’t know about hunting down and killing every Tatmawdaw member; everybody in the country has to live with themselves, after all. I am sure that the Tatmawdaw must have no institutional presence at all. If the great powers want to help at all, they could guarantee Myanmar’s neutrality, obviating the need for a large-scale military. Those poor souls will need a generation to recover, at least.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well . . . . I have and will have zero input or effect on how the Myanmarese non-Tatmadaws think about things and stuff.

        If they win, they will do what they do.

        I suspect that if the Tatmadaw is not destroyed and depopulated at least enough to where it doesn’t have enough physical members left to go underground and bide its time till re-emerging as the Myanmarese equivalent of al Quaeda in Iraq and then ISIS and etc.; that the Myanmarese will regret their failure to do so.

        But its their experiment to perform, not mine, if they win convincingly enough to be able to perform it.

        Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      Turkey has had candidate status for >30 years.

      I believe it was Dimitry Medvedev, former President and now head of the Security Council, who said something to the effect of there won’t be an EU by the time Ukraine qualifies to enter.

      Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      Its a classic piece of virtue signalling from the EU. They grant them that status but there is no intention whatever to let them in (although in some parts of Germany and Brussels there seems some delusion that it might be a good idea). If things get out of hand some minor EU member will be persuaded behind the scenes to be the token bad guy and block their accession.

      It may seem like smart politics, but in the long term this type of action is really damaging. Dangling EU membership in front of Turkey while keeping them at arms length really soured Turkish public opinion towards the EU and probably helped Erdogan.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well . . . . maybe the same treatment could sour Ukraine on joining the EU in the same way.
        Another slow motion future bullet dodged.

        Reply

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