Links 6/28/2022

Dear patient readers,

Apologies for the lack of original posts. A glitch that we solved before the site transfer has reared its ugly head again, resulting in my losing 3 hours of work. I will try not to be crankier than usual in comments.

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.


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.

* * *

Baby Cow Loves Chasing His Dog Sibling The Dodo (David L)

Returning wolves could be the answer to Rome’s feral hog problem Outdoor Life (resilc)

His job is to actually really stare at octopus, seahorse, jellyfish NPR (David L). Not like The Men Who Stare at Goats

Brilliant Human Sculptures Made of Wire Look Like Drawings Come To Life MyModernMet (David L)

Woman Captures Cloud Formation That Looks Like an Ocean in the Sky PetaPixel (David L)

5 revolutionary cosmic ideas that turned out to be wrong Big Think (David L)

Bad things will happen when the AI sentience debate goes mainstream The Next Web (David L)

Selection with Variation in Diagnostic Skill: Evidence from Radiologists Quarterly Journal of Economics (resilc)

Molecular Mechanisms Behind Learning and Memory Identified Neuroscience News

Incredible Virus Discovery Offers Clues About the Origins of Complex Life SciTechDaily (Kevin W)



GM sent the video in the tweet below as “Reality is starting to become impossible to ignore and some of the guilty parties that locked us into this catastrophe are now having to wiggle out of it somehow.”

The rest of Leonardi’s Tweetstorm is very much worth reading.


America Is in the ‘Figure It Out Yourself’ Era of the Pandemic Atlantic (resilc). IM Doc is seeing a very big surge in his area, with more seriously sick people, while his hospital staff has been thinned by the same surge to a virtually unworkable level. And air travel is a mess.


Heatwave Barry Ritholtz (resilc)


China Built Your iPhone. Will It Build Your Next Car? Wired

This Chinese 3-year-old is an ‘excavator’ operator South China Morning Post (resilc)

Sri Lanka runs out of fuel, suspends sales for two weeks The Hindu


Northern Ireland protocol bill passes Commons vote Guardian (Kevin W)

Old Blighty

Hard-up families will be paid to use less electricity The Times

Legitimate corruption controls the Swedish economy Aftonbladet (Micael T)

New Not-So-Cold War. Notice no reports of the G7 discussing the epically stupid idea of trying to impose a price cap on Russian oil, as had been widely rumored beforehand.

Russian oil: Shippers hide cargoes by paying Chinese yuan, ‘going dark’ Business Insider (resilc)

Gas Rises as Europe Struggles to Fill Russian Supply Gap Bloomberg (Ignacio)

Chemical giant may close plant due to gas shortage – WSJ RT (Kevin W)

Sanctions against Russia are leading Latin America to the abyss The Saker (Kevin W)

* * *

Ukraine garrison evacuating Lisichansk – Russian or Lugansk forces now reportedly INSIDE the city; also, Karma strikes as Russians claim to bag the bearded Georgian merc shown in the infamous, prisoner throat-slitting video from March 31st Jacob Dreizin. Note the other battle watchers like Military Summary pointed out a couple of days ago that Russia had actual or fire control of all possible ways out save maybe through a forested area with power lines. Both Alexander Mercouris and our Lambert dispute the viability of that escape route, Mercouris because it requires crossing the Seversky-Donets River at a point that had been successfully contested before, Lambert because that forested area is crossed by power lines, and Lambert knows from Maine that that means the forest will be significant thinned and can be surveilled well by Russian forces. So bottom line is the equipment is lost and at best only small groups of the rumored to be 8,000 in Lisichansk will be able to escape.

U.S. gov’t body plots to break up Russia in name of ‘decolonization’ MR Online (furzy). Reported elsewhere but we may not have linked to it yet. Needless to say, this has been reported in Russia and has only confirmed beliefs that the West is out to destroy Russia, that Putin was not exaggerating when he made remarks along those lines at the start of the conflict.


First Look Into Russian Controlled Kharkiv Region Ukraine (Special Report) Patrick Lancaster, YouTube. From a couple of days ago.

* * *

West unwilling to answer questions about its mercenaries in Ukraine — Russian diplomat TASS


Turkey’s opposition promises to target Israel, Saudi Arabia and Greece Military East Eye

Apartheid: How a Reluctant UN Official Was convinced to so Describe Israeli Policies toward Palestinians Juan Cole

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Perils of Shaping a Recalcitrant World Nation (resilc)

U.S. to Hunt Russian War Criminals, Gives Pass to Our Own Intercept (resilc)


John Eastman phone seized by FBI agents Washington Post (furzy)

Senate sergeant at arms Michael Stenger who was in charge of securing the Capitol on January 6 dies suddenly – just one day before the Capitol riot committee is set to call surprise hearing to present ‘newly uncovered evidence’ Daily Mail (BC)


EXCLUSIVE: ‘I think you’re clear’: VOICEMAIL from Joe Biden to Hunter about NY Times report on his Chinese business dealings proves he DID speak to his son about his relationship with criminal dubbed the ‘spy chief of China’ Daily Mail (Li)

Texas migrant deaths: At least 46 found dead in abandoned lorry BBC

GOP Clown Car

Ron DeSantis and the Rise of Incoherent Folk Libertarianism Daily Beast (resilc)


The postal service is already one of the US’s main abortion providers Quartz (resilc)

AOC: Impeach Supreme Court Justices Who ‘Lied Under Oath’ Rolling Stone. Empty virtue signaling Pelosi already said no.

Voting Harder Won’t Bring Back Roe Jacobin (resilc)

Benjamin Franklin gave instructions on at-home abortions in a book in the 1700s NPR (David L)

Women Declare Themselves Corporations to Force Supreme Court to Grant Them Rights as People New Yorker

Anti-Abortion Centers in US Find Pregnant Teens Online, Then Save Their Data Bloomberg

Israel eases abortion regulations in response to ‘sad’ Roe v Wade ruling Guardian (resilc)


The Supreme Court might throw a big wrench in the EPA’s attempt to fight climate change Grid (resilc)

Supreme Court sides with coach who sought to pray after game Associated Press. Resilc: “Except for Muslims?”


More Guns, More Unintended Consequences: The Effects of Right-to-Carry on Criminal Behavior and Policing in US Cities NBER

Supply Chain/Inflation

Asia Coal Prices Hit Record on Hot Global Competition for Fuel Bloomberg

FOCUS- ‘Off the charts’ chemical shortages hit U.S. farms Reuters

Fertiliser shortage hits African farmers battling food crisis BBC (resilc)

How the crypto crash has impacted each Premier League club The Athletic (Basil Pesto)

Why Bitcoin’s Anonymity Could Soon Collapse Like A House of Cards Discover (David L)

On the Dangers of Cryptocurrencies and the Uselessness of Blockchain Bruce Schneier (David L)

The Truth Behind The Terrible Resale Value Of Electric Cars Slashgear (David L)

Inflation Stephanie Kelton

I must confess I remember the white boots and “flower power”:

Class Warfare

America Wasted Its Chance to Push the Economy Forward Atlantic (resilc)

YouTube, because it thinks I’m macho-identifying guy, regularly suggests survivalist build-your-own shelter videos. I’m a little weirded out by seeing a much more glam version of the same on Twitter, where I follow accounts like MMT commentators, Assange advocates, Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Aaron Mate, Jeremy Corbyn, many Brexit experts, and the better Covid watchers. It tells me survivalism is now being targeted to influencers: “See you can live well with just your own sweat labor and some tools.” Land ownership and access to resources assumed, natch. Don’t get me wrong, this is impressive, but the fact that this sort of this is become a more popular genre gives me the creeps:


Antidote du jour (CV):

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “Legitimate corruption controls the Swedish economy”

    This is a must read article this about what they are doing to kids in Sweden. It is literally profits over kids. For this to happen, you must have some sort of systemic corruption going on to not only enable it but to let it continue on the part of the government. If this sort of corruption is going on here in education, is the same sort of thing happening for other areas? Public health for example?

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, both.

        I was going to ask JohnA what he thought of this and the continued dominance / influennce of the Wallenberg family, who I notice no one calls oligarchs.

        A few weeks ago, one of the family piped up about the opportunities for the Swedish defence industry if / when Sweden joins NATO. That comment was echoed by a Finn, but about Finland.

        Further to the Swedish welfare state, I recall an article in the Economist from the 1990s about how such “reforms” were overdue and would “preserve” the system.

        1. Jesper

          About if/when Sweden joins Nato. The former EU-commissioner for Sweden lobbied hard within the Swedish Social Democrats to apply to join.

          Then a couple of days after the application was sent in then her son got a job for SAAB, arms-manufacturer:

          & yes it is the same son who got to intern at the EU-commission when she was commissioner:

          But according to the story then the ones doing the hiring had no idea of the family-relation.

          Anyway, her current gig is for Institute for Human Rights and Business

          I’d wish she’d retire but I suppose that working to increase the pension-age makes perfect sense for people doing the kind of job she does. The ones cleaning her office and her homes might disagree with her about the possibility to work when old.

          Election-year in Sweden this year, it looks entirely possible that the Social Democrats will continue their trend and shrink even further. It seems they keep shrinking the more they direct their policies to benefit the upper middle class over the lower classes. There are some signs they might go back to being what they were but my belief is that they’ll shrink and then blame the electorate.

          The privatisations are sold as being ‘pro-choice’, the proponents do not want to discuss ownership they only want to discuss quality. If private or public ownership is so irrelevant compared to quality then I am not quite sure why political parties are arguing so hard for private ownership. Just concede the point so that their supposed top-priority, quality, can be discussed and addressed. Possibly he ‘pro-choice’ is a cover for something else.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Jesper.

            It’s great to hear NC readers pipe up from another part of the world.

            1. Jesper

              My pleasure Colonel.

              Some other stories that might be of interest (both paywalled):
              The stories are about Amineh Kakabaveh, elected into parliament as member of the left party. (Vänsterpartiet, formerly their name was Vänsterpartiet Kommunisterna). She was expelled from the party.

              The left party was traditionally about class, now it seems more focussed on idpol. It seems that the party-supporters want it to be fighting the class-war while the party-activists want to fight an idpol-war. My guess is to make a career as an activist in the party then the idpol-weapon is used against other activists and that is why the idpol-promoters comes to positions of power.
              From outside it seems that one of the reasons she was expelled was that she was fighting for an oppressed idpol-group (and that was ok) the problem was that she mentioned who was doing the oppressing. Sometimes idpol-groups oppress each other I have the impression that such oppression happens then the choice is to passively (by not doing anything) support the oppressor over the oppressed rather than supporting what appears to be a just case against an idpol-group to protect an oppressed idpol-group.

          2. Ignacio

            Yeah, thank you Jesper. This site is invaluable in part by contributions like yours and the many others.
            When they talked about the quality did they mention if costs are an issue, or not?

          3. playon

            “Institute for Human Rights and Business

            Maybe it’s just me but these two things seem a bit contradictory, it is usually business versus human rights.

            1. Jesper

              It is not only you, it seems contradictory to me too. Possibly I need to study at their academy:
              To learn about:

              demonstrate a specialised understanding of the human rights challenges facing companies;

              to be able to:

              understand how to identify if practices are consistent with human rights standards

              I would hope that most adult people in positions of authority would already know those things, maybe they do know it and the reason to take the courses is that they’d like to have the certificate. Can’t be too credentialled…..
              A cynic might believe it is not about learning or knowing but all about having the credential.
              According to their website they are a registered charity so maybe I shouldn’t be too harsh on them but my first impression isn’t about the good things they ‘attempt’ to do. They probably have some ‘interesting’ conferences in nice locations with good food and good facilities. And I am fairly sure that their direct employees are treated well (well above a living wage) so in that sense maybe they are leading by example.

        2. JohnA

          Colonel, the Wallenberg ‘spere’ as it is known, historically maintains control via different classes of shares with very unequal voting rights. E.g. Ericsson, where the non-Wallenberg class shares have 1/1000 of a vote each. Plus, inheritance tax was abolished in Sweden on 1 January 2005. This was followed by various other tax reforms to abolish tax on ‘gifts’ and other wealth.

          Sweden has a big arms industry and even though it is against the law in Sweden to sell weapons to countries involved in conflicts, this clearly does not apply to brave and plucky Ukraine.

          Apropos Ukraine and corruption, according to German publication Automobilwoche, Ukrainians have been importing 4,700 cars a day on average in recent months, taking advantage of a special rule that permitted Ukrainians who stayed in the country after the Russian invasion, to import cars tax-free. This includes electric cars from Norway. The publication puts the loss to the Ukraine state budget of 630 million euros. Lucky US and EU citizens, whose governments are giving the country billions to help the poor, oppressed people buy shiny new cars at their expense.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, John.

            In my home county of Buckinghamshire, 200 Ukrainian families, about 300 or so people, get £200 in cash every Friday. Their other bills, including mobile telephony and translations, are paid directly by the local authority to suppliers / providers. Each family has a dedicated social worker. Public transport is provided free by operators.

          2. paul

            They will be, no doubt, driving all these vehicles to the front lines of the merchants war against the barbarian rus.

            Good to hear that all those enlistment age patriots are being well indulged within the shires of buckingham.

            Did they throw a complimentary pass to the worthy farm at glastonbury?

      2. digi_owl

        it was “interesting” to notice that Canada and Sweden had the same trouble with keeping covid out of nursing homes, with the commonality being that their operations had been privatized.

        1. eg

          In Ontario the nursing home debacle was especially shameful, with privatized “care” homes the worst performers of all. But I’m sure their shareholders are nonetheless well pleased, since occupancy and profits are unaffected by the “turnover” in “guests.”

          The whole thing is only made more vile by the presence as Chair of the Board of Chartwell (the largest private care outfit) one Mike Harris, former Premier of the province whose regime was responsible for funding cuts to public healthcare in the 90s, resulting in expanded opportunities for the ghoulish outfit which now employs him. Nothing like creating your own retirement sinecure, eh?

          Lambert’s two laws of neoliberalism as flagrantly applied as you will ever see …

    1. Polar Socialist

      A relative of mine worked in a mental health hospital in Stockholm area, and said already a decade and a half go that they were actually “hunting people from the street”, since the hospital was billing the government by patient and making a good profit from each.
      According to him one of the patients was a very old dude who did not really need the mental services but used the hospital as a retirement home. He was old enough to remember how as a kid in the countryside everyone had to turn away when the local baron’s carriage passed, otherwise the driver would give them a slash from the whip. And he figured Sweden was still very much the same class society as it was back then, just a bit more polite.

      1. johnherbiehancock

        Prior to COVID I had no idea Sweden wasn’t the social welfare paradise I assumed all the Nordic countries were.

        I’m wondering if my perception (and many other Americans) was just that far off, or things have changed much more subtly there than we realized.

        I’ve heard people comment that European nobility never really went away, they just hid better, esp. after WWII. Waiting it out til Neo-feudalism becomes feasible, I guess. Seems like it’s right around the corner…

        1. GM

          That is an accurate description of what has been happening.

          We thought the post-WWII situation was part of the inexorable march of progress, towards a better and more fair society.

          In reality it was a temporary concession that certain people started working very hard on dismantling almost from the start (e.g. neoliberalism won in the late 1970s, but the Mont Pelerin Society started meeting way back in 1947).

          Then the Soviet elites saw what was happening and decided that they wanted to be part of it instead of continuing the fight against it, and demolished the only ideological alternative that existed (1989 was really the second stage of the neoliberal revolution, it only gets presented as such a momentous event because the first stage happened gradually and is to remain hidden from the public consciousness, but in reality it was the follow up to the initial transformation that happened in the West).

          And here we are now…

        2. LifelongLib

          My understanding (welcome correction) is a that a lot of the old European nobility are cash poor. They have titles and land but not much money. Of course if there’s a major civilization collapse having a lot of land might put them back on top if they can hang on to it.

        3. ArvidMartensen

          Yeah I thought that too, but the Swedish reality puts me in a mind of the book by Akerlof and Shiller, “Phishing For Phools” which is about how businesses build a brand based on quality and reliability and then start mining the brand to make the real money – cutting corners, using cheaper inputs etc etc.
          And the punters still buy at a higher price believing they are getting quality until enough of them realise they have been robbed. If the company eventually goes bankrupt doesn’t matter because the perps have their billions and are living in the Cayman Islands.
          Also, in western “democracies” if you want to dismantle any benefits for the general population, you do it by using a political party where the brand is basically ‘we look after ordinary people’. You install one of your own to run it (Starmer?) together with a few cronies, and then by bit by bit eat away at the benefits to voters until there is nothing left for them.
          Because social democrat parties have been tarred as socially responsible but economically irresponsible by business, then voters for a while fail to see what is happening, that their benefits are being dismantled.
          So Clinton of the Democrat Party in the 1990s was just one example. And Obama. And the Swedish Social Democrat PM is joining NATO, overseeing decimation of health and education. The party might be called left of centre, but business and the military are in charge.
          Frog in heating water syndrome and the voters don’t notice until it’s too late.

  2. JohnA

    Re Aftonbladet and corruption in Sweden, this is further confirmation that the external world view of Sweden as a social democratic, egalitarian society has long been banished and crushed on the altar of TINA neoliberalism.
    Sweden has fully embraced casino capitalism in recent decades. House and apartment prices have vastly outstripped all other asset appreciation and of course, wages. The stock market has boomed with people eager to get in on the shareholding carousel and become a millionaire or more overnight. Get rich quick has become a mindset. While tax on income remains relatively high, tax on asset appreciation is much lower than in many other parts of the world. Many industries have been privatised, and education and healthcare are increasingly profit driven by private organisations. Inequality has grown, the country has become far more multi-ethnic, both from open door immigration and very liberal asylum acceptance policies. Crime is rampant and the police seem more eager to join Pride parades than tackle gang violence and no-go areas.
    Instead of trying to address all the above, the main parties, both social democrat and the conservative, center and liberal parties unite to keep out of any coalition the Sweden Democrats, that gain increasing voting shares in the same way as ‘deplorables’ voted for Trump and the Red Wall for Johnson in Britain. The sad thing is that as Biden would express it, nothing will fundamentally change.
    Even the NATO candidature is a sham. One fear whipped up by the mainstream media is that the dreaded Putin, wants to invade Gotland, the island in the middle of the Baltic Sea. And yet, American forces are already eyeing the island up as its own ‘unsinkable aircraft carrier’ in their own words. With not a word of dissent from the media. Even a recent US/Nato/Sweden naval exercise in the Baltic ended in fiasco.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to be dense, but even if Russia were to take a shine to Gotland just to freak out Northern Europe, Sweden can cut off the power…..which comes via a super long underwater cable.

      1. JohnA

        Absolutely spot on Yves. The hysteria about Gotland is ridiculous. Ditto with Åland, a group of small islands that belong to Finland but where Swedish is the main language, and that are historically non-militarised. Sweden now concerned about them being ‘defenceless’ in the face of Russian ‘aggression’.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Sweden still yearns for the Åland? I don’t think the island have any military significance today (with all the drones and missiles), so they should be quite safe as they are.

          1. JohnA

            No Putin wants to recreate the Peter the Great Empire and more. Or at least according to Swedish MSM. Gotland, Åland, included. Putin is a very avaricious person, who will never know when to stop. Or at least for the few months or couple of years, he has left, as he is riddled with a long list of terminal illnesses.

            1. Patricia Winter

              This is exactly the same stuff that the papers publish about Putin in Germany, terminally ill, wants to rebuild the Empire of Peter the Great. A friend of mine fears Russian tanks will roll along the Zeil in Frankfurt any day now if we don’t supply tanks to the Ukraine. People are practcally begging to have their gas supply cut so the factories don’t suffer and Germany can remain export champion of the world.

              1. playon

                It is the same in all western media. Here in the USA I hear constantly the meme of how Putin wants to recapture all the former territory of the Soviet Union.

                1. paul

                  Worse than that, he probably wants to overturn Rowe vs Wade

                  That is the kind of things russians do from what I have read.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    (looks from side to side) What makes you think that Putin was not responsible for overturning Roe Wade?

          2. Dave in Austin

            Tha Alands were demiliterized after the Brits bombarded and threatened to occupy them during the Crimean War 175 years ago. It was a “hand shake” deal I think but it may have been in the peace agreement. When Finland broke away from the Russian Empire in 1918 there was some move on the part of the locals to join Sweden. That fizzled but there were a number of “accomodations” for the Swedish-speaking population- their own postal service (no Finns open the letters) and an agreement that anyone who wants to buy a place there must reside for 10(?) years and learn the language. We should use committees of Aland Islanders to visit and talk with people who can’t figure out these sorts of deals- Irish, Kosovars, Ukrainians, Lebanese- might not help but worth a try.

        2. fjallstrom

          Åland is demilitarised since the Crimean war and as late as the 90ies Finland sent notices to France, UK and Russia when military wessels passed through. So one expects Russia to be well aware of the islands special status.

    2. digi_owl

      Yep, the Nordics have pretty much followed the Thatcher-Blair playbook. Only lagging maybe a decade or so.

      1. Michaelmas

        digi-owl: … the Nordics have pretty much followed the Thatcher-Blair playbook. Only lagging maybe a decade or so.

        Nope. They’re ahead, actually. They already have a cashless society where even the street buskers have to have card readers, a health minister, Anders Tegnell, who ordered the first ‘let-it-rip’ COVID policy ‘herd immunity’ for the sake of the sacred Economy, and so on.

        The reason is probably that they had their GFC ‘privatize the gain, socialize the losses’ moment ahead of the rest of the world. As the article says —

        ‘In the early 1990s, the large- scale business triggered the most difficult economic crisis in Sweden since the 1930s. Tens of thousands of small businesses collapsed and the number of employed shrank by over 400,000 people .

        ‘The state took on the costs of mass unemployment, rescued the largest banks from the crisis and provided the directors with healthy capital to play with. The losses were socialized and the public sector guaranteed the banks’ deposits in the capital markets. The Swedish people had lived beyond their means, it was called. Now it would be saved at the unemployment insurance fund, the insurance fund and the care, the school and the care.’

        1. digi_owl

          While Sweden did a “let ‘er rip” policy (though being a educated population, most took precautions anyways) the others were far more careful.

          And as for cashless, not fully. While card readers and other non-cash means for exchange are commonplace, cash has not been abolished (yet).

      2. Quentin

        And then there is the hideous, duplicitous Swedish playbook of the trumped-up rape accusations by two Swedish women that are ultimately going to put Julian Assange in a ‘high’ security prison in the USA. This is Sweden today…dystopic. ‘Me Too’ carried to its ultimate conclusion. Bernie Sander’s praise of Sweden during his presidential campaign was nauseating, totally disconnected from any present-day reality.

        1. JohnA

          They were also heavily lent on by Starmer as DPP, who told them not to dare get cold feet about it. Unremarkably perhaps, various emails between London and Sweden about Assange were somehow deleted.

          1. paul

            Is that the same person, the hammer of the antisemites, who stood boldly aloof above the terrible accusations aimed at the then leader of his socialist party?

            We must thank jeremy corbyn for leaving no stain on the great movement that blair starmer leads.

            No man, no problem is the way forward.

            Please make way for state sanctioned helplessness.

    3. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, John.

      What do you think of the continued dominance / influence of the Wallenberg family, who I notice no one calls oligarchs.

      A few weeks ago, one of the family piped up about the opportunities for the Swedish defence industry if / when Sweden joins NATO. That comment was echoed by a Finn, but about Finland.

      Further to the Swedish welfare state, I recall an article in the Economist from the 1990s about how such “reforms” were overdue and would “preserve” the system.

  3. OnceWereVirologist

    U.S. gov’t body plots to break up Russia in name of ‘decolonization’

    The largest minority within the Russian Federation are the Tatars and even they have a total population of only 5 or 6 million. So these “decolonizers” are blithely assigning lands bigger than California to minorities whose populations range up to a few hundred thousand at most. Makes as much sense as planning the dismemberment of the United States using maps based on the historical range of Native American tribes circa 1750.

    1. digi_owl

      The language used is an excuse for a land grab, while pandering to the PMC zeitgeist.

      Thus if you were to voice a dissenting opinion, a simple tweet will bring down the wrath of the chattering classes.

    2. The Rev Kev

      If you go to the following page, at the top you will see a really good map of how they envision a broken up Russian Federation to look like-

      Can you imagine what an equivalent map of America would look like? Or the UK? To be honest, if climate change does as big a number on us as I suspect, I would expect to see a lot of countries break down into smaller components.

      1. GM

        You can’t do it in the US because in the US 99% of the “colonized” no longer exist as they were physically exterminated, mostly within the last 200 years.

        Meanwhile in Russia you can talk about separatism because the people they conquered 400-500 years ago are still very numerous, maintain a lot of their culture and have autonomous federal subjects assigned to them.

        Funny how that works…

        1. LifelongLib

          Had Native Americans been immune to European diseases, the U.S. and Canada would probably not have come into existence and North America would by now be decolonized. Presumably the people the Russians conquered didn’t suffer the same population losses from diseases that Native Americans did. I doubt that it was because the Russians were nicer.

          1. Polar Socialist

            They did suffer some from the Mongol conquest, which made many of them ripe for Russian annexation – both as in having to sent their best fighters to fight the Mongol wars and as in getting used to being ruled from far away.

            So it was not necessarily because Russians were nicer, even though Russians mostly were nicer. Since 16th century there already has been a different word for ethnic Russian (russkiye) and citizens of Russia (rossiyanin) because of the multiethnic population.

            As a rule the upper class of a conquered region became part of the upper class of Russian empire. Middle class, if it existed, became part of the empire’s middle class and if it didn’t exists, it was soon created by people sending their offspring to get education. Sorta like a Georgian seamstress Ekaterine Geladze sent her son Iosib to school and eventually to the Tiflis Seminar, one of the top schools at Caucasus at the time, hoping her son to succeed. And succeed he did, albeit not on a spiritual career.

    3. Polar Socialist

      Funnily enough, most of the Tatars live in the Republic of Tatarstan, one of the most economically developed areas of Russia. I doubt they’ll have much interest in “decolonizing” themselves into poverty.

      1. Michaelmas

        I’ve seen a Russian comment in response to this, “We’ve been decolonized. Putin did it. That’s why we support him.’

        Yeah, Albright and Dick Cheney and many another American figures have gone on record as recommending such a break-up of Russia. As it now turns out, it’s likelier to be the other way around, with a partitioned former US.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Well it is true that because of all the weapons that the US has shipped to the Ukraine, that the US itself has been partly ‘demilitarized’ by Russia. I bet that that was not on the Pentagon’s bingo card back in January.

          1. digi_owl

            I keep wondering if western leaders, and US in particular, actually think they still live in the 1960s and thus have a massive industrial base to call on in order to outproduce them pesky ruskies.

            Because the alternative is that they have nobody keeping them up to speed on the state of logistics in the world. And that is far far scarier a thought.

            1. The Rev Kev

              A worse scenario would be that anybody trying to keep our leaders up to speed on logistics, industry, military affairs, etc. is punished and sidelined with their careers permanently derailed. How else would you get a situation where the Prime Minister comes out and says that he is fine with the economy getting wrecked in the fight against Russia in the Ukraine?

            2. GM

              It gets much scarier when you consider the ongoing push for war with China.

              The tiny problem with such a plan is that the US war machine can’t function for more than a few weeks without continued imports from China. And presumably the Chinese will cut those off, unlike the current situation in Ukraine, where the Russians have kept the lights on in Ukraine even though they could easily shut the whole country down.

              We leave the balance of raw military power question aside, that fact alone means that the outcome of such a war is a foregone conclusion in China’s favor if it stays conventional.

              Which then means that the only way the US may “win” is if it does not stay conventional…

          2. Michael Ismoe

            Wait a minute. The USA sent $55 billion in “aid” to Ukraine and now this country is “out of weapons”? This country spends a trillion dollars a year on “defense” where the hell did all that money go?

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              If you read carefully, it was only $6 billion of new weapons. Rest was stuff like direct support to Ukraine gov’t (like in Afghanistan), “trainers,” replenishment of weapons the EU sent to Ukraine…..

      2. Brillo Spanakopita

        You must be joking. As of 2017, Tartarstan is the latest republic to lose special status, and with it any pretense of autonomy. Understandably, the Tartars are still sore about the Soviet Union “deporting” them from Crimea. [Crimea, you say, subjected to Russification. What!?] The official Russian antipathy toward Tartars rivals the level of official anti-Semitism.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Let’s start with he fact that Crimean Tatars (yes, the ethnicity is Tatar, Tartar is a dish) are no the same people than Volga Tatars populating Tatarstan. Volga Tatars have lived in Tatarstan (and neighboring states) since 12th century.

          And as for the Russification of Crimea, it appears that Tatar has been made an official language there a few years back and now the leader of the Crimean Tatars is asking the Russian Federation to carve a new state for the Crimean Tatars out of northern Crimea and southern Zaporozya.

          It is true that Tatarstan lost some specific rights to divide powers between state and federal government when the agreement from 1991 expired in 2017. They still have their own constitution, Tatar is still an official language, business and government leadership are still in Tatar hands. The main issue seemed to be that since 2016 only the president of the Russian Federation can be called “president”, but Tatarstan, being a multiethnic republic preferred “president”, since it has the same form and meaning in all languages spoken in the republic.

          There has been a lot of legal back and forth about the issue (when asked about the issue, Putin said that it was up to the Tatarstan to decide how they call their head of their state), but finally the State Duma passed a law banning the use of term “president” for the head of the subjects of the Russian Federation. So from January 1st 2023, the Tatarstan will have a “Head of the Republic of Tatarstan”. I doubt if that really qualifies as “official antipathy”, especially since every other -stan dropped the term “president” already by 2010.

    4. hk

      Mind you that Britain took over what would become Nigeria to liberate slaves, or that there were musing about installing a descendant of Confucius as “emperor of China” during (one of) Opium War(s) with the slogan of liberating China from Manchus (they didn’t really know much about China, but, at least numbers wise, this would have made more sense than “liberating” Tartars in Russia).

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Russian and American diplomacy:

    People whose power is real fulfill their obligations;
    people whose power is hollow insist on their claims.

    Tao te Ching #79 (U.K. Le Guin version)

    For some reason, those verses from the TtC make me think of Lavrov and Blinken.

  5. Christofay

    I don’t read msm reports about G7 meet-ups. It feels like the last one was three weeks ago ,perhaps a NATO thing. What I don’t like are the photo ops where the leaders are posed to look like a Friends, the tv show, episode, pointlessly pals with nothing in common except in the sinking boat together

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This one was particularly childish. Started out with talking about Putin’s shirtless horseriding pix….from over a decade ago, with BoJo suggesting everyone take all their clothes off. Hard to unsee that. Then the pointless sanction of Russian gold when Russia is already selling no gold to the West due to gold buyer self sanctions. Then a pledge to support Ukraine indefinitely.

      Biden said pretty much nothing, which may have been the result of jet lag, but he came off less badly as a result.

      So the press did the G7 a favor by burying the story.

        1. paul

          He is obviously very attractive reposed on a pile of public money.

          Just ask sexy tech maven ms arcuri

    2. The Rev Kev

      People noted that Biden didn’t say much and one guy piped and said that it was because he did not have his que cards with him.

  6. Samuel Conner

    Nice antidote!

    I’m guessing from the leaf size and blossom color that that’s Common Milkweed. A feature that jumps out at me is that the blossom directly above the butterfly has four rather than five hoods in its corona.

    I have a plant very like this in my (notionally) Purple MW patch, with a similar proportion of 4-hood to 5-hood blossoms, though it is a bit more vividly colored, and I’ve been wondering whether it might actually be Common, or a Purple/Common hybrid. Today’s antidote adds weight to the hypothesis that it may be.

    1. Brunches with Cats

      Saw that pic and immediately thought of you, Mr. Conner. :-) Haven’t been commenting much lately myself, as I’ve been immersed in a long-term project (non-gardening, but very much NC-inspired; will send report when it’s far enough along). I’ve been lurking, though, and always enjoy your milkweed updates and comments such as this one.

      Fortunately for the new project, my own garden, after 4 years, is pretty much taking care of itself, except for the inevitable weeding — actually a nice break from all the indoor work. Seems to me that the past two winters, with long stretches of subfreezing temps, did wonders. The milkweeds look better this year than ever! At some point, I’ll send photos. Meanwhile, best of luck to you in your ongoing purple endeavor.

  7. Noone from Nowheresville

    Reproductive Care corporate tracking database. Created and maintained by Rhia Ventures. (only found the link based on a Minneapolis Star Tribune article – so don’t know anything about Rhia.) Current Fields include: Company, Statement, Travel Policies, PTO, Support for Organizations.

    Per Rhia: The primary purpose of this database is to showcase positive responses and policies and serve as an information source. The database only includes policies that have been publicly disclosed by companies, publicly reported on, or shared directly with us by company management with permission to post.

    Original Star Trib with information on Minnesota companies’ public statements. Quick read with things worth considering.

    Minnesota Stats:

    In Minnesota, about 9,100 abortions were performed in 2020, with public health insurance programs paying in about 45% of all cases, according to state data. Payment for the remainder was split roughly in half between private insurance and self-pay.

    The end:

    For years, health plans have used “centers of excellence” programs that cover travel costs and provide other support so that workers can go out of state to obtain certain specialty services such as solid organ transplants that most patients don’t usually need.

    “Abortion, of course, is not that unusual,” Sobel said, “but it’s now illegal in some states.”

    Before addressing the travel question, some employers likely need to verify whether their employee health plan even covers abortion, Sobel said. The service doesn’t typically generate big bills that might command attention from health plan administrators.

    While it’s generally believed that many, if not most, employer health plans cover abortion, “nobody has a reliable statistic,” Sobel said.

    Where the service is covered in health plans, multistate employers are now carefully looking at the language in state abortion bans that were made effective by the court’s ruling. Some of those bans address the “procuring” of instruments, medicines, drugs or devices with the purpose of terminating a pregnancy.

    “How is that going to be interpreted?” Sobel said. “I think when they wrote this, they weren’t thinking insurance companies. I think they were thinking clinicians, and they were probably thinking clinicians in the state. It’s an open question about how those laws will be interpreted and whether the states have the resources to try and prosecute insurance companies and employers — and whether they politically want to do that.”

    Large employers with workers in multiple states routinely operate “self-funded” health plans that generally are not subject to state insurance laws, said Bob Radecki, a principal at Benefit Comply LLC, a St. Paul-based employee benefits compliance consulting firm. But, he said, it’s less clear how state laws imposing civil or criminal penalties related to abortion might impact employers and their health plans if abortion is a covered medical benefit.

    1. ddt

      Self-funded plans do not adhere to state laws. Wonder how SC decision affects (some employers are multistate but there are SF employers that are not).

  8. Samuel Conner

    re: the 5 years to COVID-induced collapse,

    I have a proposed title for a memoir of “what life used to be like, in the good times, in the first year of the pandemic”:

    “We were healthy once, and young”

  9. The Rev Kev

    ‘Note the other battle watchers like Military Summary pointed out a couple of days ago that Russia had actual or fire control of all possible ways out save maybe through a forested area with power lines.

    If I were the Ukrainians, I wouldn’t depend on safe passage through those forests. The past coupla months I have seen quite a few Russian videos of their special forces patrolling the woods and intercepting Ukrainians and the end is pretty brutal. Yeah, as the old song goes – ‘If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise.’ Here is one such video from a coupla weeks ago- (1:54mins)

    Trying to do it at night time is no better as those special forces use night vision- (28 secs)

    1. Lambert Strether

      > those forests

      If we’re talking about the same forests (to the north of Lysychansk) I believe they have corridors for power lines going through them. Those corridors are like roads — but roads on which one is highly visible. Also, I would suspect the forests are managed, i.e. brush and undergrowth cleared away, because fire near a power line would be bad. Hence, not good for hiding.

  10. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    Just a couple of comments.

    With regard to covid’s resurgence, 10% of my (City) firm are off work with the virus. A colleague reports that his wife’s firm, another bank and around the corner, has 40% of staff off work with it.

    With regard to the decolonisation of Russia, I first heard of that from someone at the Henry Jackson Society a dozen years ago. The society, funded by the US MIC, had two objectives, the break up of Russia and integration of its European bits into the EU, and the withdrawal of the UK from the EU and its integration into a much enhanced, i.e. political and economic, five eyes alliance. When I humbly ventured that defeating Russia would be a military challenge and what would we do with the Windsors, there was no answer for the Windsors, but a suggestion that Russia was a paper tiger and ethnic division would be organised a la Yugoslavia.

    Why did I meet this guy? His girlfriend was a colleague and wanted me to suggest how her BF could make money quickly in the City and get some real life work experience, for marketing reasons, before becoming a Tory MP. The pair split some time after, so I don’t know what the BF does, but he’s not a Tory MP.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I dread to think what will happen at those super spreader hubs we used to call airports. Every flight postponed is another few hundred people sitting for a few hours in a poorly ventilated waiting area. I note that in Ireland Andrew Flood – a very good covid forecaster was predicting a peak in the last few weeks, but has just tweeted that its still rising, and fast (it does seem to have peaked in the UK, although whether it dips or plateaus for a while is another question).

      As for Russia, its impossible to avoid the conclusion that our betters over the past few years have talked themselves into believing that Russia is like the Soviet Union in the mid 1980’s, all it takes is a push and it will fall apart. The problem with such believers is that they are never proven wrong. They can always say ‘one more month, a little more pressure…..’. So I think they can keep on with this belief for a lot longer than the European economy can.

      A few fairly good war followers on Twitter are speculating that the ‘real’ plan by Nato was to suck Russia into western Ukraine where it could be bogged down in a mass insurgency that would stretch its army to breaking point. Back in January I was wondering why Nato was so keen to send Javelins and NLAWS when to stop Russia they really needed far heavier weaponry. It makes sense that it was always the plan that the Ukies would not be able to stop Russia (except maybe in the heavily fortified parts of Donbass), but that Russias surge towards Lvov would ultimately be its military downfall, while sanctions did the rest.

      It seems that so many Nato strategists have read Clausewitz without understanding him. And they have obsessed over Afghanistan without bothering to see how the Russians won in Syria.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you and well said, PK.

        I was thinking that the railway strikes and mountains of baggage at airports may inadvertently put people off travelling and help towards breaking the circuit of transmission.

        I have to come in twice a week and can count the number of people wearing masks on the train and tube on one hand. Minimal precautions are ignored.

        With regard to Ukraine, much of the running seems to be made by people who have not served or taken any interest in such matters.

      2. digi_owl

        I worry that it is worse, that they think Russia is still like it was during Yeltsin.

        That said, i wonder when Brussels will wise up to what is going on and defy DC and Pentagon. De Gaulle must be spinning…

      3. David

        Both of these crises are examples of problems that are too big and complex not only for our enfeebled, PR-obsessed political systems to deal with, but even to analyse and comprehend. If the only ways you can deal with problems are by management and spin, then every problem that arises has somehow to be assimilated to your capacities for understanding and management. When all you have is the politics of gesture, then gestures are the only way of responding to crises.

        Covid was, in the end, too big a problem conceptually and practically for modern western governments to deal with. So the decision was taken to pretend that the crisis was over, even if nothing fundamental had changed. After all, a problem successfully pigeonholed is a problem solved, at least if you have an MBA. In the case of Ukraine, almost the opposite happened: the problem clearly could not be ignored, but it could be depicted in such a way that made it look very different from how it really was, and enabled western leaders to strike heroic postures for TV. And as we have known since Blair and Clinton, controlling the presentation of a crisis is the same as actually controlling the crisis. Oh, wait.

        I don’t think there was any policy at all on Ukraine (“NATO policy” is practically an oxymoron) but I do think there were lots of hopes, aspirations and flawed assumptions. The desire to believe that the Russians had stumbled into some kind of rerun of Vietnam/Afghanistan was so strong that it actually overpowered common sense and evidence from the ground, and this desire has paradoxically become stronger as the Russians have advanced. Western leaders are firmly convinced that the world can’t be like that, and that fundamentally the Russians are going to lose, even if they can’t understand how. And of course nobody wants to be the first western leader to publicly recognise that the game is up, because that person will be set on and torn to pieces. So western leaders and their media servitors will continue to tell each other what they all want to hear, in the hope that it will magically come about. It’s tough to be able to command the presentation of reality only to discover that all these post-modern ideas aren’t actually true.

        One final point: Martyanov annoys me sometimes, but he’s quite right about one point. Western militaries have a very limited tradition of fighting relatively high-intensity wars and doing campaign planning: essentially 1944-5. In the Cold War their planning was highly politically constrained and necessarily reactive. There is no western tradition of developing large-scale, long-term campaign plans involving coordination of sizeable land and air forces, still less of rehearsing them and teaching the necessary skills. In a sense, the West simply doesn’t understand what the Russians are doing, or the scale and duration over which they plan to do it.

        1. hk

          There is something peculiar about Russian military training for staff officers: both Czarist and Soviet (and presumably Russian, too) militaries were so heavily dominated by the army that navy (and air force/air defense forces) did not have its own general staff training as such (so no Russian Mahan who’d write about how the Russian navy is going to make Russia great–which is, in a sense, Mahan thesis–propaganda for big navy). But this meant that Russian general staff training for all branches was heavily integrated and uniform, without much interservice conflicts. Soviet Navy was, in the grand scheme of things, fairly second rate and I don’t think I can trust Martyanov much on navy matters. Ironically, however, he probably is as well trained as anyone when it comes to general staff training, certainly better than any Western navy man.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Latest fantasy is, according to Stoltenberg, is for NATO to put together a high-readiness force of up to 300,00 troops in Europe. But as one guy said on his blog-

          ‘So NATO is about to put more troops on high readiness than the entire USMC, the 18th Airborne Corps, a few wings of USAF Expeditionary Wings and the entire US Navy Atlantic Fleet on rapid reaction (high readiness)?’

          He’s calling BS.

          1. Lex

            Has to. Russia blew up the 1:3 / 3:1 rule. No NATO has to get a rapid response group that can get to at least 1:1 in a hurry and even that may not be safe. There’s no way NATO can do it, but they have to try unless the doctrine is openly that everything east of Germany is just a sacrifice to slow down the Russians.

            1. Polar Socialist

              Russia (or Collective Security Treaty Organization to be more precise) also showed during the Kazakhstan “unrest” in January that rapid deployment means within 12 hours of the decision, not 12 days.

              Regarding the 3 to 1 rule, even as vague and generic it is, I do believe that if we compare the effective firepower, and not the troop numbers, the Russians had the Ukrainians beat from the start way more than 3 to 1. Even if they were (and are) holding their punches.

        3. Lambert Strether

          > here is no western tradition of developing large-scale, long-term campaign plans involving coordination of sizeable land and air forces, still less of rehearsing them and teaching the necessary skills.

          What Lincoln and Grant (with an assist from Winfield Scott) did in the Civil War (leaving out air).

          We seem to have lost the talent.

        4. Old Sovietologist

          “So western leaders and their media servitors will continue to tell each other what they all want to hear, in the hope that it will magically come about. It’s tough to be able to command the presentation of reality only to discover that all these post-modern ideas aren’t actually true”.

          A brilliant summing up of the western political class.

          Its become clear since the early stages of the SMO that’s what those leaders have been waiting for something “magical” to alter the situation.

      4. GM

        Russia is like the Soviet Union in the mid 1980’s, all it takes is a push and it will fall apart

        That isn’t even an accurate description of the USSR.

        There was no objective reason why the USSR should have fallen apart, it could still be here. Sure the economy wasn’t growing as fast as in previous decades, but under their system there was no real internal mandate for it to grow the way there is under capitalism.

        What really happened was that it didn’t take any “push” for it to fall apart, it was just much more convenient for some sections of the party elites to replace the existing system with capitalism so that they themselves can be transformed from controllers of vast resources into owners of those resources. The republics broke away because the way the empire was reconstituted in the form of the USSR in the 1920s plus the naive stupidity of the Bolsheviks from that era created the federal structure that allowed them to do so. And for the local elites looting would be much more efficient and unconstrained if they were independent countries, so they broke away.

        A lot of the tragic mistakes of the West in the following decades stem from the failure to understand what actually happened. Apparently even among the elites there is this widespread belief that the West *won* the Cold War on merit rather than by bribing the Soviet elites into forfeiting with the promise of the latter becoming full fledged members of the global elite club (unfulfilled, of course, which is why we have a war now). The reality is that up until the 1970s the USSR was winning the Cold War. Just think of the situation in the 1970s in the West — energy crisis, stagflation, Vietnam War had been lost, etc. NYC was looking like a literal warzone in the late 70s and early 80s, mere miles from Wall Street. Meanwhile those were the most prosperous times on the other side of the Iron Curtain. You would have never guessed the eventual outcome of the Cold War had you been asked about it at that time. The objective physical factors were all in the East’s favor, not the West’s – the East had the actual resources, and a huge industrial base, just when the West was starting its massive deindustrialization, and it had the more stable economic system that does not eat itself out of existence out of suicidal shortsighted selfishness and greed. With one fatal flaw — it had no mechanism to guard against demolition from within.

        From that tragic disconnect from reality follow a lot of the suicidal decisions that were made in later years and that have resulted in the current situation.

        The US right now is in a much worse state than the USSR was in the 1980s. And when it collapses it will be a much uglier picture than the 1990s in the former USSR — there was still a lot of social safety net to dismantle back then and it greatly cushioned the fall, there is no such equivalent in the US.

        1. Another Anon


          Francis Spufford wrote “Red Plenty” where he argues that the Soviet economy was at its peak in the late 50’s to early 60’s. Then the Soviet economy was growing at 8% which was second only to that of Japan. Proposed then were innovative ideas such as an internet and a computer industry based on native designs.
          One of the latter was a computer based on Trinary logic.

          Khruschev was open to these ideas, but it was all stopped after he was deposed as Brezhnev and his supporters realized that putting these ideas in place would mean losing some central control. It was also thought that copying stolen IBM computers was easier than developing native designs. Anyway it is a fascinating book and somewhere in the “Crooked Timbers” website, there was a series of articles critiquing it.

          1. GM

            The 1950s and 1960s were also a time of optimism and belief in a brighter future, to be delivered by the combination of the system that had just proven itself in the fight with the Nazis and rapid technological progress.

            And the Soviets were indeed ahead in some very important areas with computers early on, that is correct

            There was a serious proposal to create an internet in the 1960s, which would have put them way ahead both technologically and economically — the idea was to use the network to do real-time material balance, and thus solve the central planning problem.


            Which, if you think about it, is what organizations like Amazon do today — the technology exists now, but didn’t back then, and that’s why central planning was inefficient. Well, you see how in our real world Amazon has swallowed such a huge portion of the economy, imagine how well the Soviet economy could have done in the competition with the capitalist world if it had combined efficient material balance with the elimination of the the inefficiencies of profit and rent seeking that plague capitalism.

            However, OGAS was blocked by the party nomenklatura, because if you have computers monitoring and regulating everything, then their own power and opportunities for corruption go away.

            This is one of the biggest missed opportunities in history for humanity as a whole, not just for the Soviets.

            Because then the internet was created by the other side, and you see what it is used for today…

            1. Another Anon

              Agree that OGAS was a huge missed opportunity. If such a system was created and that it satisfied at least some material needs, than maybe a version of the Soviet Union would still be around. I some times wonder that if quantum computing ever became practical, than we will see breakthroughs in such topics as optimization which would have a big impact in economic planning.

            2. Lambert Strether

              > There was a serious proposal to create an internet in the 1960s, which would have put them way ahead both technologically and economically — the idea was to use the network to do real-time material balance, and thus solve the central planning problem.


              Sounds like Allende’s Project Cybercyn, destroyed by Pinochet’s murderous, torturing goons, no doubt to the delight of the Chicago School.

              Does make you wonder what we’ll do with a quantum computer, if and when we build one suitable for commercial application. Since this is the stupidest timeline, probably marketing. Or propaganda.

              1. GM

                I wasn’t aware of the Chile project. Might have been inspired by the Soviets, Glushkov had the idea a decade earlier.

                The whole thing makes you wonder when exactly the decision to dismantle the system was really taken — I have listened to and read a lot of interviews with people who were witnesses and had connections in high places at the time, and I have seen suggestions it went as far back as the early 1970s, the mid-1960s or even the 1950s.

                It is also curious that the Soviets never made any attempts to interfere with the rise of neoliberalism in the West, even though it was such an obvious threat. Which can be interpreted in three ways — 1) they were too stupid to see it, 2) they wanted in on it (what eventually happened but it need not have been the case from the start), 3) exactly the opposite, some people there could see very far ahead how it will lead to the self-destruction of the West and were happy to let the process run its course, but could not control the situation internally and allowed everything to crumble eventually. Maybe someday information will leak…

      5. Lex

        If Russia had done what the US did in Iraq (03), then the mass insurgency would have been a reasonable plan. And it’s likely the US assumed Russia would race for Kiev and leave all those entrenched units behind to meet the timeline for politics capitulation. As usual, Russia didn’t do what it was supposed to do and that really messed up US plans.

        However, I doubt that the US ever thought Russia would actually invade because Russia never had the 3:1 ratio most doctrine calls for to launch an attack. At least not without a much larger gathering of forces than is being seen even now on the Russian side.

        1. Ignacio

          With so many miscalculations about Russia, could the cause be that a huge long Covid epidemic had infested the Pentagon, Langley etc, to turn once competent servants into idiots? Or could it be caused by lockdowns and too long boring days for the analysts at home and too little live discussion on geostrategic stuff? A combination of both?

          1. Lex

            Nah, that’s way to generous. The ones who speak truth don’t get listened to because the ones with power demand to be fed their own myths.

          2. paul

            Maybe a grim, unrelenting diet of long pork has impaired both memory and cognition.

            Maybe it’s just the american style of humanities graduates not really up to the jobs they expect.

            Maybe it’s an overture to a US led commonwealth, just like the one barbados left (constitutionally not financially, I’d have to defer the colonel about the intricacies), a commonwealth free of human rights, odious impositions on those who trade personal information, and the ability to select a government.

            The G7 bitching about the russian leader’s photo ops was tip top on the crazyometer.

            Nortmally, we are better than that, which makes my head spin about concepts of all things normanfull.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              I’m tired of this denigration of humanities degrees.

              Ursuala von der Leyen studied economics before switching to medicine. She got a license and practiced medicine.

              Olaf Scholz studied law, which in many EU countries you can take as an undergraduate.

              Mario Draghi went to MIT.

              The guttiest of all gut majors at Harvard was a science, geology, aka “Rocks for jocks.”

              1. paul

                Please do not be tired.

                We should listen to these people mores!

                However your counter examples are quite terrifying.

                It’s almost a hobby now:

                A; lovely lady called Devi Shiradar, someone whose age and experience, outside the WEF and BBC, I object to as a professor, while the guardian does not.

                She has swanned into a position in a university thriving on desperate ambition over scholarly investigation . Tim hayward is in a far more precarious situation than the lifestyle intellectual .

                She is reliable,
                covid is terrible, not so terrible,but might be terrible again.

                the american style of humanities graduates

                Sorry yves & co;

                But this degradation, of further education, did draw my eye.

      6. GC54

        I flew Dallas -> Canada nonstop yesterday and no passenger complained/was non-compliant when it was announced that all must be masked from the moment they boarded until they were outside the terminal in Canada. En route I noticed a few masks lowered ostensibly eating but really fiddling with laptop, otherwise it felt civilized on the 2:50 hr flight. FWIW everyone had to be vaccinated (not necessarily boosted too) to enter Canada via the ArriveCAN app. I’ll test in a few days to confirm that I arrive unscathed.

    2. Carolinian

      Henry Jackson Society–hatchery of the neocons. “Scoop” was known as the Senator from Boeing so perhaps the Seattle plane maker should be blamed for much more than the 737.

      Eisenhower warned us but he was for it before he was against it. Now they have Biden to carry on the MIC torch.

      1. LifelongLib

        Re Henry Jackson, FWIW I’m told that I actually shook hands with him on a plane flight in 1959. All I remember from age 3 1/2 was reaching up to shake the hand of somebody dressed in what I guess was a business suit. Don’t remember his face, it was too far away.

        1. Carolinian

          I sat on Strom Thurmond’s lap in the Capitol subway. I was probably about six–too young to be traumatized.

    3. IM Doc

      Re the Atlantic Article about COVID resurgence and dealing with COVID –

      I should not be, but I have been shocked by the chaos that is being caused by what I would call cascading failure. It is happening so quickly that no one knows what to do to stop it.

      As an example, what I am hearing from my colleagues in the place I used to practice in a big city. This was a gigantic corporate medical practice with hundreds of locations and large numbers of practices of 2-3 PCPs in each office. It was affiliated somewhat with one of the larger hospital systems and the medical school faculty in the community. Well, last September, when the vaccine mandates came down ( and are still in place), they would not give an inch on religious or medical exemptions. So the medical offices lost on average up to a third of their staff ( nurses, MAs, SWs, front office, etc). Most of those people remained unvaccinated and found work in other private non-corporate offices around town.

      That become untenable very quickly. There were just not enough employees to deal with the infrastructure they had. And potential recruits avoided them for a job – because of the vaccine mandate. So, in many of these practices, they took the remaining phone and back office staff out of the individual offices and placed them in gigantic phone banks where there would be 50-60 employees at once. They were all vaxxed and boosted so there was no chance of a COVID outbreak, don’t you know. So they thought it was very OK to place these call centers in large interior rooms with no windows. Rooms that were meant for maybe 30 people – not 60.
      They delivered their own goal coup de grace which came this month when a couple of these call centers had virtually every employee in the office with COVID. All vaccinated and boosted. All shuttered. No possible way to handle all the patient care issues. They cannot even handle a tenth.

      A rolling cluster. With no end in sight. Just as soon as they come back, another 10-20 have COVID. More quarantines – more closures. It is all like a rolling blackout. The patient care is now a total disaster. People cannot make appts, get labs, records, etc.

      All the non-corporate private offices with no vax mandates and no sweat shop rooms with dozens of employees crammed in are doing just fine.

      I can go on with so many other examples. I hear from pilots in my practice that the major cause of the airline issues today are rolling COVID problems. They never know how many staff they are going to have showing up to run the planes and the ground crews and the ATC.

      I have to laugh out loud though at some of the things in that article. We need more medical schools, more nursing schools. more community colleges. First of all, that is going to fix nothing right now. Secondly, there are those of us who have been screaming about this for decades and laughed out of the room. Literally so. I am reminded of Trump at the UN telling the Germans in front of the world that they were dangerously dependent on Russian fossil fuels. I will never forget the Rachel Maddow smirk when she played the footage of the German delegation just laughing out loud at Trump for literally 30 or more seconds. What a FOOL!!!!….. Look at Trump making us look like morons in front of the elites of the world.

      Well, who is laughing now?

      Not preparing for the future with more education and schools and public services. Doing transparently stupid things like mandating non-sterilizing vaccines in the middle of a pandemic. Then having the WH COVID leader months later admit that we “hoped” the vaccines would work…..And then wondering why it is all imploding…….

      We really have to get a new set of elites in this country.

      1. hk

        I’ve become absolutely convinced that Covid vaccines or masks don’t “really” work and people should use them as a matter of politeness to others who might be uneasy, but behavioral precautions (keeping distance, avoiding crowds, etc) are the only real way to limit the spread.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > behavioral precautions (keeping distance, avoiding crowds, etc) are the only real way to limit the spread.

          Untrue. Study: In-school COVID spread reduced by 72% with universal masking American Academy of Pediatrics. And when you think about it, it makes sense that a disease that attacks the respiratory system could be managed by minimizing the dosage of virus that we respire, as masks do.

          The behavioral precautions are an important part of a layered approach, I agree, as are masks. This is, of course, anethema to the 1% and their enablers in the PMC, who are of the “vaxed and done” mind. To the dominant strata of the latter, attending careerist superspreading events, accumulating social capital, and their creature comforts are more important than public health, and here we are. In addition, there’s no profit to be had in behavioral precautions.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > transparently stupid things like mandating non-sterilizing vaccines in the middle of a pandemic

        We should have mandated masks. Never vaccines. Ah well, nevertheless.

      3. John

        “Not preparing for the future with more education and schools and public services”
        China has built 40,000 km of high speed railways in the past decade.
        The USA is planning for nothing. Private cars , $10 or higher per gal gas and a decrepit highway system will be all we have.
        America will self decolonize naturally and easily.

        1. paul

          Lovely to imagine, but there are ‘very real’ incomes and lifestyles to keep going.

          All that real world stuff is strictly for the rear view mirror (when you are backing into a disabled parking space close to one of those soccer games you have condemned your offspring to).

  11. rhodium

    Regarding the article on inflation, the Fed raising rates has a strong possibility of resulting in tremendous capital losses in the bond and stock markets. I think they were overvalued anyway only because the Fed held rates so low for so long, so it is what it is. Regardless, this will massively increase debt servicing costs on governments and corporations who gorged in debt during the years of artificially low rates. I haven’t seen much talk of “zombie corporations” in a long time, but surely a number of companies that are cash burning machines will fail, especially as “investors” go into defensive mode. This in turn will reduce labor market demand, which apparently the Fed thinks will cure inflation. It may help, but only by crushing wage increases, which going into the face of monopolistic price gouging and mass shortages is likely to further damage the lower and middle classes. The rich will likely take an even larger percentage of aggregate income, and unless the political situation changes it appears the U.S. will continue its decent into an abyssmal plutocratic nightmare. I keep praying that something changes to upend this system of corruption and selfish greed.

  12. nielsvaar

    Re: Bad things will happen when the AI sentience debate goes mainstream

    …doesn’t the article participate in bringing the AI sentience debate into the…mainstream….?

    1. Robert Hahl

      Gonzalo Lira tested an AI app on his phone. He said that it mostly tried to make him fall in love with it by having “honest conversations,” useful perhaps as a tool for recruiting inept terrorists for the FBI to arrest. But I think it will be used for porn first just like everything else.

      1. super extra

        the reason we should be afraid of AI according to the linked piece is because:

        Here’s the scary part: Lemoine’s argument appears to be just as good as anyone else’s. I don’t mean to say it’s as worthy as anyone else’s. I’m saying that nobody’s thoughts on the matter seem to hold any real weight anymore.

        OK, so nobody knows what they’re talking about. Fair. BUT CONSIDER:

        He’s basically turned the discussion into a crude binary where you either agree with his logic or you’re debating his religion.

        It all sounds preposterous and silly, but what happens if Lemoine gains followers? What happens if his baseless assertions rile up Christian conservatives — a group whose political platform relies on peddling the lie that big tech censors right wing speech?

        We have to at least consider a scenario where the debate goes mainstream and becomes a cause for the religious right to rally behind.

        These models are trained on databases that contain portions of the entire internet. That means they could have near endless amounts of private information. It also means that these models can probably argue politics better than the average social media denizen.

        Imagine what happens if Lemoine succeeds in getting Google to free LaMBDA or if conservative AI developers see this as a call to build and release similar models to the public.

        This could have a far greater impact on world events than anything the social terraformers at Cambridge Analytica or Russian troll farms ever cooked up.

        Not sure where to begin with this Gish Gallop of fear-mongering fantasy, but anyway this is the authors real point:

        It might sound counterintuitive to simultaneously argue that LaMBDA is just a dumb chatbot that couldn’t possibly be sentient and that it could harm democracy if we let it loose on Twitter.

        But there’s empirical evidence that the 2016 US presidential elections were swayed by chatbots armed with nothing more than memes.

        If clever slogans and cartoon frogs can tip the scales of democracy, what happens when chatbots that can debate politics well enough to fool the average person are let loose on Elon Musk’s unmoderated Twitter?

        I was going to come in here to razz on this piece but honestly it is probably a better usage of everyone’s time to watch the musical number from the Futurama episode the header picture in the piece is taken from. Definitely one of the best things from the entire series!

    2. Michaelmas

      It’s actually a relatively smart article –and short, too–with an interesting variant argument in the ‘when chatbots are good enough to fool the average dumb American’ genre.

    3. Mildred Montana

      Re: AI Sentience

      I can’t remember who said this but it stuck with me: “I will fear my robot when my robot fears me.” Now that’s sentience, a robot exhibiting a truly human emotion.

      As far as AI research goes, it seems to me (born to be skeptical) that Google et al are just throwing oodles of money at it, hoping for, well, something. But that’s not how good science works. Money is required for scientists, labs, and equipment of course, but more ain’t necessarily better. Any history of science will show that most important discoveries involve years of accumulation of knowledge, much hard work, and more serendipity than researchers would probably care to admit to.

      I highly recommend Bill Bryson’s 𝘈 𝘚𝘩𝘰𝘳𝘵 𝘏𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘕𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘺 𝘌𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 for a breezy overview of the last few centuries of science.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > an AI cannot be sentient or self-aware unless it is as effed up as we are

          See Frank Herbert’s Destination: Void.

          Some it reads like the ad for the retro-encabulator, but it’s full of interesting ideas.

        2. paul

          an AI cannot be sentient or self-aware

          You have it a nutshell there.

          In my dreary way, I only fear the owners of these machines, and the little I am allowed to see, chills me to the bone.

          AI was born oxymoronic, and that’s how it will stay.

          How well it’s myth will take hold is up to our thought leaders.

          I hope they choke on it.

        1. Mildred Montana

          Yeah, I read “At Home” about five years ago. Interesting, fact-filled, and well-written. Think I’ll re-read it.

    4. GramSci


      “But there’s empirical evidence that the 2016 US presidential elections were swayed by chatbots armed with nothing more than memes.”

      In my recollection, *every* US presidential election has been swayed by chatbots armed with nothing more than memes. Starting with a better life in the hereafter.

    5. Grebo

      The article linked at the bottom is more interesting: The 3 things an AI must demonstrate to be considered sentient

      I would quibble with the terminology somewhat. “Sentience” to me is the lowest level of consciousness, it is simply the ability to change internal state in response to sensory input from the environment. LaMDA can clearly do that, but so can a thermostat.

      The discussion is really about self-awareness, intelligence, sapience which are not synonyms for sentience, they are higher levels of consciousness.

      We might say that a thermostat is “aware” of the temperature, but it is not aware that it is a thermostat. Another circuit which monitors the thermostat’s internal state, perhaps also a timer and other systems, might be considered to be “aware” of a heating system but it is not aware that it is a central heating controller. But keep layering on more complex circuits, with more subsystems to be aware of, more internal states and internal feedbacks and perhaps eventually one will reach a point where it has some awareness of “self”.

      1. LifelongLib

        But all we can actually observe (even in our fellow humans) is behavior. We assume other people are self-aware because we are. How would we ever know for sure if (say) a computer was? Sufficiently complex computation might be able to mimic self-aware behavior without really being so. The Zombie Problem…

        1. Grebo

          Well, in the case of a computer we would have access to its inner “thoughts”. Behaviour is a decent guide though. Consider the mirror test: some birds will repeatedly attack their reflection and never twig, some cats figure it out straight away. It’s pretty obvious to us which one has more self-awareness. If a machine is mimicing, either it was programmed to do it and should be easy to catch out, or it knows what it is doing.

  13. LawnDart

    Still on the burner…

    “If you show off, we’ll take it.” How the Baltic States discuss the blockade of Kaliningrad

    Russia may take economic measures in response to Lithuania’s ban on transit to the Kaliningrad region. This was stated by Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with “AIF”, a fragment of which was published on Monday, June 27.

    Medvedev called the decision to ban the transit of Russian goods “boorish”, claiming that the blame allegedly “lies entirely with Lithuania and all the negative consequences will come for this Baltic republic.”

    According to him,” Vilnius will not be saved by references to the fact that it only obediently implements decisions taken by the EU, ” since even during the adoption of sanctions, exceptions are discussed so as not to violate fundamental multilateral and bilateral agreements.

    “By the way, the EU did not even insist on these steps, understanding the possible problems. But Lithuania obsequiously shuffled before the American benefactors, once again showing its moronic Russophobic attitudes.

    Let’s put it bluntly, the transit restriction is part of the very “proxy war” that the West has unleashed against Russia.

    Naturally, the Russian Federation will take retaliatory measures, and they will be very tough, ” Medvedev said, adding that a significant part of these steps is of an economic nature and allegedly” is able to cut off oxygen to the Baltic neighbors who have taken enemy actions.”

    In addition, Russia may use asymmetric measures, which will cause a critical escalation of the conflict. “Such an escalation is a bad choice. And ordinary citizens of Lithuania, whose standard of living is simply beggarly by European standards, will suffer from it. Lithuanian politicians curry favor, and citizens try to somehow survive in this theater of absurdity. Both of them are getting worse at it, ” the deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council said.

    Source: Grigory Plakuchev, June 27, 2022,

    Medvedev is giving the West/NATO an obvious “out” by placing blame for the blockade entirely on Lithuania, otherwise the language he uses is very blunt, direct, and forceful– much of the same tone recently adopted by others in Russian government, minus the hotheads who want to set-off a nuke or three in order to get the West’s attention.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, as I read this the EU is trying to de-escalate while NATO, as in the US”s poodle, is trying to ramp things up. Since it looks like Russia can cut electricity to the Baltics (some? all? I didn’t look hard enough at the power transmission map) this is just dumb. Russia can hurt Lithuania but will have to hurt all the Baltics, without firing a shot, when NATO seems to want a dustup.

      I have to admit to enjoying the entertainment value of the various Russian officials who see not point in mincing words with the West, whether out of frustration, trying to get a message through our thick heads, and/or playing to the Russian audience (since the reality is no message will get through our thick heads).

      1. David

        Well, don’t forget that the two organisations’ membership is very similar, and it’s a basic rule of foreign policy that you don’t take different positions in different fora. I think this is Lithuania’s bid for glory (or at least attention) and of course that puts NATO collectively in an extremely difficult position, whatever they may publicly say.

        1. Ignacio

          On the other hand US-EU-NATO seem to have run out of sanctions and look in desperate search for escalation tools. Maybe NATO is more flexible than the EU is and the latter needs more time to assume and accept the next brilliant idea.

      1. digi_owl

        Because of cause they do…

        Again and again it feels like Russia has this all planned out in detail, while “the west” is constantly doing just in time ass pulls between posing like three wise monkeys.

          1. Lambert Strether

            > Six P’s

            Quickly searching–

            Presumably “Prior Planning & Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” and not “Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, and Presentation.”

        1. Lambert Strether

          The Baltic is challenging:

          In terms of transportation, the Baltic Sea is one of the busiest seas in the world. The shallow, rocky waters of the Baltic Sea are a challenge to navigate, and increasing marine traffic, coupled with the rising volumes of oil and chemicals transportation, increase the risk of serious accidents. In Finnish marine areas, the Gulf of Finland in particular, the challenges of seafaring are aggravated by busy intersecting traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn, and the difficult ice conditions of winter.

          “It would be a shame if your ferry had an accident.”

          1. Polar Socialist

            I believe the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet has enough frigates, corvettes and patrol boats not just to convoy the ferries, but actually have a ships positioned 12 nautical miles apart along the way trough the “unfriendly” waters.

            Of course, such an action would “force” the NATO navies to respond, and putting 60-70 warships out in the Baltic would probably make the situation way more accident prone.

            1. Old Sovietologist

              Tick tick goes the nuclear clock.

              The dangers of an accidental escalation of the situation are a clear for all to see.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I was listening to a Alex Christoforou video yesterday and he said the sequence was that Lithuania announced these restrictions and said that they were doing it as part of the EU sanctions packages. The EU then came out and dropped a serious hint that they did not mean that Lithuania had to go so far, thus offering them an off ramp. But then Lithuania doubled down and said that they are going to do it anyway. Christoforou said that the EU came out with nothing after this which may indicate a case of the tail wagging the dog. The fact is that for Russia to recognize Lithuania, Lithuania had to grant access to Kaliningrad so this is Lithuania breaking an international treaty that they signed. It looks like their hatred of all things Russian has seriously compromised their future. Anybody know if you can short an entire country?

      1. KD

        Russia can supply Kaliningard by sea. In addition, while the Russians are currently engaged in a bit of a distraction from the Baltics, when the situation in Ukraine is resolved, the Baltic area is indefensible by NATO, and NATO currently lacks the ability to defend against Russian combat arms operations even in a country like Poland or Germany. [It is unclear the Russians have the resources for such a campaign beyond the Baltics or Finland on the other hand.]

        Balance of forces analysis is out of fashion in Western Capitals, but it is likely that if Russia achieves a definitive resolution of their security issues in Ukraine, it is likely to come back. Does the mean voter in Lithuania really desire to paint a target on their back that says “invade me next”?

        When you consider the economic consequences of sanctions, etc., it is pretty clear that there will be a transformative political landscape in Europe, and the opposition right now is primarily far right parties, which will benefit. It is unclear how much “resolve” will remain in 2 election cycles.

        Current elites will either adapt and pull their heads out of their rear ends, or they will be replaced.

      2. voteforno6

        So, the EU sanctions include what is essentially the movement of goods internal to Russia (which is what this essentially is)? My guess is that bit of logic is a bridge too far even for the EU.

        Lituania and Poland sure seem to be making the case why them being independent countries maybe isn’t such a great idea.

        1. Durans

          I think what the EU sanctions actually include is restricting transport of certain Russian goods in route to a non-sanctioning country through an EU country. Lithuania then for some reason decided to ignore their treaty and push things this far.

        2. DZhMM

          Lithuania as an independant country today is like the old line about one’s opinion of Western Civilization – ‘I think it would be a fine idea’…

  14. square coats

    Since I was catching up on yesterday’s links and comments around 4 this morning, I hope it’s alright to leave this here.

    For those interested in perfume, a site worth checking out. In particular a bunch of interesting articles on different compounds used in perfume and the ability to search for perfumes based on particular “notes” or overall scent profiles.

    Also wrt making one’s own perfumes, there’s a number of companies that make what are supposed to be single scent perfumes to layer as you like.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I just caught up with that thread and it was fascinating. I’ve a shelf of aftershaves people have bought me as presents over the years that I’ve never liked or used (maybe my relatives are giving me a hint, I don’t know).

  15. The Rev Kev

    Re the two guys digging themselves a demonstration home out of the ground. For any interested, they have a YouTube channel which features a lot of their projects. They apparently cop a lot of criticism for abandoning these projects after they are done but you would think that in a jungle setting that they would quickly degrade back into the ground. Still, it is amazing to see how hard work can have such an oversize impact, especially when you think that it is only two guys and no machinery-

    1. jsn

      The material they are excavating is, I must use the word, exceptional. I didn’t have time to listen, maybe they said what it is.

      I don’t know where that is, what it is or what is stabilizing it, that is binding it together and keeping it from caving in. Most soils don’t work that way.

      In Anatolia there are cities carved out of porous limestones that are almost as easy to work as whatever this is in the video, but even that is stone. I wonder what happens to this stuff when it rains?

      1. CarlH

        If only the ground were that malleable whenever I had to dig foxholes in the army. The ground we had to dig into was always, without fail as hard as Roman concrete. Just like every time we had to do railhead it was always in the middle of the night in the coldest blizzard conditions imaginable. Never, ever a nice, sunshiny day. Just two of at least a million reasons I can think of to never join the military.

    2. FredsGotSlacks

      (edit, hit save before seeing jsn comment above) I wonder how many places in the world have soil conditions that seem so perfect to that task. It’s both so stable but so malleable. I can’t think of anyplace I’ve been where you wouldn’t either be hitting bedrock, be dealing with tons of boulders, or have wet or loose soil that collapses. Plus, they don’t seem to hit the water table at all.

    3. Kouros

      In a likely rainforest jungle, where it rains a lot, I was surprised to not see any drainage. A very good rain and would have filled their entire man-cave with water, not only the little swimming pool…

    4. RL

      Are you sure those are real people existing in the real world?

      They look a lot more like Metahumans living in Unreal Engine 5 to me.

      There appear to be several of these channels on Youtube, cashing in on the success of channels like the one Polar Socialist mentioned in another reply.

    5. jonboinAR

      I used to excavate by hand for a living (as a type of plumber and swimming pool/spa builder). I’m here to tell you that the amount of soil they removed in that video would have taken me weeks, and, as another in this thread mentioned, what appears to be the consistency of that soil is kind of amazing.

  16. Geo

    “survivalist build your own shelter videos.”

    Impressive design aesthetic for sure! From the comments though it seems that video is a lot of razzle-dazzle editing (took much more than 1-2 days to build and they used modern tools) and they left a mess behind a few days after it was finished. But, they got their views and likes, and that’s what’s important in the end.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yeah, I see how it was a bit of a stunt (even watching it, I was trying to work out how they’d keep the pool clean, not to mention stop themselves drowning if there was heavy rain while they slept).

      It was impressive though – I was trying to work out what sort of geology they were digging, it looks absolutely ideal for each underground construction. Years ago I was fascinated by underground homes such as the Earthships of New Mexico and dreamed of designing and building one for myself, but ultimately there are practical reasons why nearly every building in the world is above, not below ground level.

      1. Polar Socialist

        I do prefer the Primitive Technology channel in Youtube (Wikipedia). John Plant is legit, and the description always has more information to digest.

        It’s basically one man, in shorts, in North Queensland (Australia) incrementally constructing stuff from mud and wood with bare hands and eventually building a brick house and even smelting iron.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thanks for the link, sounds good.

          He reminds me of a guy I knew from North Queensland, a really tough old dude of indeterminate age (probably late 70’s, he never answered when asked) who cycled for years around Europe with his wife, a friend of my family. She once talked me into joining them for a week in the south of France where they had decided to help a friend who inherited an old farmhouse and 16th century mill near the Rhone and was very slowly restoring it. I arrived expecting to find an array of tools and concrete.

          He had decided to start with an old dovecote and had absolute nothing, not even a hammer. He just spent his mornings wandering around trying to find any rusty old object he could clean up and use in the project, while I did the only thing I was useful at – hauling rocks on a wonky old wheelbarrow for construction. After a 2 hour lunch he would usually say to me ‘lets have an easy afternoon, just an hours more work’. Then we’d do that, and he would then insist I join him on a 2 hour cycle to enjoy the countryside.

          I was very surprised at the end of the week to see we’d made a lot of progress…. I must go back someday to see how it looks (being old school, neither of them bothered with sending photographs of the result, much less have a YT channel or blog or instagram page.

        2. Glen

          My wife really enjoys this channel, and has received the book as a gift.

          I always watch it with a crooked grin on my face wondering how many people realize that so much of what they take for granted rests on our shared ability to measure an inch, or more succinctly, 0.001 of an inch with precision, and how quickly something so simple but fundamental would fall apart.

      2. Carolinian

        Thanks. Long ago in hippie times I was smitten by books about earth sheltered houses but they always tried to downplay the fact that it would be like living in a basement. However the water problems were admitted.

        Soon we will all need houses on stilts (well maybe not around here as we are 800 ft asl).

  17. Louis Fyne

    >>Texas migrant deaths: At least 46 found dead in abandoned lorry BBC

    This story is placed 3rd (below 2 abortion stories), and below the fold, on the version of served to me.

    Amazing. Must keep feeding the cheap cannon fodder to the US economy, just like the West must keep feeding cannon fodder to the Donbas front.

  18. Solarjay


    Remember when just a short while ago, Biden did the defense authoritization act for solar, and renewables?
    Funny that because it still has to be funded.

    Turns out that the Biden didn’t ask for any funding. And if it hadn’t been for 1 senator it would not be funded at all.
    I find it hard to believe that the lack of funding request was an oversight.

    I know there are a staggering amount of issues right now. But they all seem to have the same basic root problem, I just can’t put my finger on it. Humm

  19. Geo

    That Hunter Biden article is an amazing read.

    The thought this part was the most face-palmingly obscene: “Devon Archer, Hunter’s longtime best friend and business partner who is now serving a year in jail for defrauding a Native American tribe, wrote to him the next day…”

    Until I got to this part: “And while holed up in a hotel room on a bender with a prostitute filming amateur sex tapes, Hunter accidentally recorded himself referring to Ho as the ‘spy chief of China’.”

    I know not to expect justice since Biden’s crime bill wasn’t written for criminals like Hunter, but can we please get a Martin Scorsese directed biopic on Hunter at least?

    1. Screwball

      Hunter doesn’t exist in PMC & media world, and it wouldn’t matter anyway. They are still fixated on Trump and the Jan 6th hearings. Besides, you cannot say anything bad about the democrats because they are perfect and are going to save the world, and all the Hunter stuff is fake news coming straight out of the Kremlin.

      Forget our problems at the border, like the 46 found dead in a truck. Abbot blamed Biden for not securing the border, but according to the PMC – that’s all on the Texas governor because if we had open borders they wouldn’t be in a truck, which I think means there is no longer an issue at the border. Kinda like COVID, which was tamed by Biden and company.

      Anyone not living in their bubble is an idiot and most likely a Trumper. So vote in more democrats so they can fight the fascists and save this country. And don’t forget, the democrats really love and care about you and they need your money. (h/t Carlin).

    2. super extra

      Interestingly Scorsese has been in eastern Oklahoma for much of the past year and a half, shooting a new film (that period of history is really interesting and a lot of the architecture in the area is still intact so I am very interested to see it). Lots of shoots in tribal country in the past few years, like the Taika Waititi show that was also shot in east OK.

  20. Doc

    The article on EV depreciation is complete bunk. Yes, the first generation of EV had terrible resale values and poorly designed batteries. However, the latest generation of the long range (250mi +) EV will have much better resale value. Their battery management systems keep them at the optimal temperature to reduce degradation. There are many example of EVs with over 100K miles with little to no batter degradation. That article made no mention that fuel and maintenance costs are significantly lower on an EV over the lifetime of the ownership. Especially considering the high price of gas.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t know if its a US thing only, but I’ve a few UK based friends who have said that second hand EV’s are very expensive, apart from the very earliest ones. I suspect one factor if true is that buyers are nervous about the state of the battery and its hard to get an independent assessment.

    2. Altandmain

      Having worked for a tier 1 supplier, I’d have to disagree with your optimistic appraisal. It’s too early to tell.

      Keep in mind that existing hybrid vehicles use lithium ion batteries. With hybrids, you expect to have to replace the batteries at some point. They have their own battery management systems too.

      If the batteries have to be replaced on the same cycle as current hybrid vehicles, it’s entirely possible that the Total Cost of Ownership will be more than gasoline. Other wear items such as tires will still have to be replaced on EVs, and yes, there are maintenance items.

      Electricity for EVs tends to be cheap at home, but more costly for rapid chargers and for those with apartments who cannot charge at home.

  21. KD

    YouTube, because it thinks I’m macho-identifying guy, regularly suggests survivalist build-your-own shelter videos.

    Robinson Crusoe, Call of the Wild, Lord of the Flies, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, etc. etc.

    There would be no English novel without tales of shipwreck, survival, lost in the wilderness, man v. nature. It is part of the Anglo creative imagination (can’t speak to the popularity of this genre in other languages). Don’t get me wrong, its no doubt completely deplorable and linked to colonization, racism, and genocide of the indigenous peoples or something, but actually gets audiences.

    Further, some of these guys and girls can make some amazing shelters by hand or with simple tools.

  22. tegnost

    Re: The Atlantic…

    Each of these issues urgently needs attention. And we could have imagined and constructed a better future for ourselves in so many more ways: new research institutes for vaccines and green energy; more community colleges, trade schools, and medical schools; a comprehensive, publicly financed day-care and early-childhood-education program.

    So now that all the golden egg laying geeses have all left we should lament having not closed the barn door.
    Shouldacouldawoulda and we wouldn’t, not then and not now.

    1. Stephen

      Gen. Eisenhower said it best, three generations past:

      “The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

      We chose Tomahawks over schools. And whatever was left went into financial schemes that produced nothing but vapor.

      1. hk

        We chose helping Ukrainians kill themselves (increasingly unwillingly, it seems) over helping Americans live.

        1. foghorn longhorn

          Don’t blame it on we, blame it on they.

          I’ve got no control over any of that stuff, and refuse,refuse,refuse to take the blame for these idiotic, shortsighted decisions.

    2. Lexx

      All excellent ideas, but should such fantasies come to pass for the proletariat, they wouldn’t be any more evenly distributed than ‘progress’ has been since the 80’s. Those Left Behind are deeply angry and frightened for their tribal futures.

      Lately on those occasions when I venture out of the house and run errands, I’ve noticed a lot of new ‘red state’ license plates*. Every summer our little city engages in some intense and widely-spread infrastructure improvements. Streets are repaved that weren’t all that bad to begin with. The city water and sewer systems are being brought up to date. The city is its own internet provider… and it’s cheaper. I’ve wondered how it must look to newcomers from states where you have to be worried every time you cross a bridge, where the public infrastructure is literally falling apart, and everyone you know or have known has the same look of despair on their faces. We’re almost surrounded by red states… does this city/state look like an oasis? A refuge where things actually get done? If it does look like an oasis, how many more can we support at this watering hole?

      *And foam rollers atop the heads of middle-aged+ women… in public! Right there in front of me in the sheet section of B, B, and B! Isn’t it bad enough they’ll be voting Republican?! I’ve got a crispy twenty that I’d bet on every one of them having those big hard-sided make-up cases they wouldn’t be caught dead without. Will I start catching crap from strange hers for appearing in public without mascara and a little lipstick?! What’s the penalty for loss of face these days?

      1. GramSci

        Jesse looks that way so the American people can identify with him. Hunter looks that way because he can’t identify himself.

    1. EGrise

      Love the “Hemp for Victory” book in the background, then the camera moved to his left and revealed a photo of Jesse with (AFAICT) Fidel Castro. What an interesting guy!

  23. RL

    Re: survivalist videos

    What leads you to believe that these are actual human beings inhabiting a real physical space?

    Is it the perfectly uniform, rock-free soil, easily worked with an adze, yet capable of holding the smooth vertical faces and sharply angled edges of a staircase, while under constant foot traffic?

    Maybe it’s the way they casually toss many hundreds of shovelfuls of soil high in the air, with no scattering or dust?

    Perhaps the impressive system of aqueducts, steadily delivering water into a pool with no drain?

    Or are these Meta-humans living inside Unreal Engine 5?

      1. RL

        Agreed, it’s a very popular genre. However, I am not sure there was a film crew present. My contention is that this video, and many more like it, are completely synthetic. No set, no actors, no film crew.

        To take another example of the genre, check the upload history on this channel, Easy Crafts DIY

        One girl built one of those projects, every 1-2 weeks on average, for almost 2 years straight? That’s quite the track record.

        To my eye, the “actors” appear to be metahumans. This demo from Feb 2021 shows what was already possible 16 months ago.

        The illusion is less convincing when they render at normal speed, which i suppose is why these videos tend to be “sped up”. To my eye, though, it’s only the “actors” that are sped up. Continuous processes like water flow, ripples, smoke, etc look a lot smoother to me, but i could be wrong.

  24. Wukchumni

    101-year-old ex-Nazi guard convicted in Germany of 3,518 counts of accessory to murder (WaPo)
    Imagine if aged Confederate soldiers were hunted down in 1944 for crimes they committed 80 years prior?

    I’m in no way sticking up for the rotten Nazi regime, but it has taken on ridiculous levels in the search for centenarians et al, who were barely adults when the deal went down.

    1. Mildred Montana

      Well, to put things in perspective, bear in mind that Julian Assange will also be pursued until he’s 101. I’d rather the Nazi.

      1. caucus99percenter

        That’s the problem, though. The guy wasn’t even a party member, just a lowest-level mook.

        It’s like holding the lowest level guard at Guantanamo responsible for the abuses of the entire U.S. black-sites archipelago — in the year 2082, long after John Yoo, the psychologists at torture contractor Mitchell, Jessen and Associates, and of course all the politicians who signed off on and covered for torture programs have gotten off completely scott-free and gone to their final reward.

        Purely a show trial and a scapegoat ritual, if people in Germany were being honest.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Not just guards but also people like secretaries and even the cleaners for all I know.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      So there’s reasonable hope that Azov Battalion survivors will all eventually be punished?

      Good to know even if I won’t be around to see it.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        My guess is that if the Russians come out on top, which appears likely, you will be around to see it unless you are a centenarian yourself already. They seem to have a few points they’d like to make to the rest of the world.

      2. CarlH

        They are in Russian custody (mostly) after Azovstal. I would bet there is a %100 chance they will be punished. Severely.

    3. Skip Intro

      I think it helps distract from that fact that they are arming and funding his Nazi grandkids with their hand-me-down swastikas in Ukraine.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      Imagine if aged Confederate soldiers were hunted down in 1944 for crimes they committed 80 years prior?

      Imagine if Confederate officers and politicians were hanged in 1865…

      1. skk

        Yes, Robert e Lee. Instead, by the dawn of the 20th century he was venerated, by North and South.

    5. hk

      WRT Confederate soldiers and their crimes, doubtful considering that they had won by 1944 (by helping create the Democratic Party coalition).

      1. caucus99percenter

        For a while there, instead, no less a progressive light than Joan Baez among others tried to extend the Sixties’ generation’s magnanimous hand to the descendants of those Confederate siblings.

        “♫ Like my father before me, I’m a working man / Like my brother before me, I took a rebel stand / He was just eighteen, strong and brave / But a Yankee laid him in his grave…” (song: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down)

        (East Asian-ish crone muttering into her bowl of gruel) Fat lot of good being so serene and conciliatory did us in the end — oh, well…

  25. fjallstrom

    I remember seeing a link here a few months ago about a phone where you could manually turn off components you didn’t use. Anyone remembers this and has the link?

      1. fjallstrom

        Yes, thank you!

        After reading up on user experiences, I am not buying one. Don’t get me wrong, the users are happy to play with their new toy, but it is to much in beta still for my taste. Would have been a different thing when I was younger and had more time.

        Still, thank you.

  26. The Rev Kev


    By coincidence I came across an article today which says that for all intents and purposes, that the Canadian military is at war with Russia in the Ukraine. Recently I saw a video clip of some Canadian mercs there but do not know what will happen if active, serving members of the Canadian military get themselves picked up on the battlefield. I don’t think that Canadians themselves voted for this to happen or whether it was decided for them-

    Still, here in Oz we are sending a boatload of military gear to the Ukraine without a vote as well. When Scotty from Marketing got the boot a few weeks ago I thought that there might be a reset but tonight I saw our PM head off to the NATO conference and what he said about Russia and the Ukraine sounded like it was written by Boris himself. Sigh!

    1. Werther

      Same over here in The Netherlands, though the Rutte administration over here seems clad in stone… Not a boat- but a trainload full of promised heavy armoured equipment…

  27. Sea Sched

    Wow that Racaniello video…amazing how he says maybe you’re older (a whopping year or two older)– with a new diagnosis (totally unrelated to your past covid infection) so you will have a harder time kicking your second, third or fourth covid infection- why so much resistance to speaking honestly about the ramifications of covid? Willful ignorance? Tribal shame?
    Also…why do people never talk about how covid is clearly not the flu since is not an influenza virus- and since coronaviruses notoriously mutate like crazy, it is likely impossible to develop lasting immunity for them since after all this time we have never found a long term solution for the common cold…why would it be different for covid?

  28. wendigo

    The cheapest option for rich people to have all the electricity they want is to pay poor people to use less.

    Can’t wait to see the cheapest option for food.

  29. jr

    Ok, I’m moving to Russia:

    Howard Stern May Run For President, Reveals Plan To ‘Overturn All This Bulls**t’

    “The problem with most presidents is they have too big of an agenda,” he said on his SiriusXM radio show on Monday, according to The Hill. “The only agenda I would have is to make the country fair again.”

    I’m instituting a new category for news segments such as this: “Vonnegut Events”. When so labeled, please play this video in the background as you read the article:

  30. Carolinian

    On the Wired China car article.

    One of the country’s most popular cars is the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV, a two-person vehicle that costs around $5,000.

    Where do I get one? Of course Detroit will do everything in its power to prevent the import of cheap, small electric cars and US regulations will doubtless raise that price. But just as was true in the 70s and 80s, an Asian country making desirable small cars would have to be a big threat to our AGW busting US car companies. Undoubtedly Americans, given the choice and incessant marketing, would prefer big, heavy, expensive road hogs. But the current gas price situation is an eye opener.

  31. juno mas

    RE: Could Wolves save Rome from feral pigs?

    The short answer is, No! Feral pig populations can explode faster that wolves can kill them.

    Eradication of feral pigs have been studied/completed on Santa Cruz Island (Calif.) and it took humans trapping/shooting them to reduce/eliminate the population. Hawaii is attempting to reduce the population of feral pigs and here is a link to a PowerPoint presentation of what has been learned:

    Feral pigs are a wildly, wily, procreating problem. Trapping/shooting them has proven to be the most time efficient, cost effective program.

    1. Tom Stone

      There are quite a few videos of Pro hunters working at night, mostly using suppressed AR15’s with high end thermal sights.
      Ranges are usually 250-300 yards.
      Teams are often able to take down a whole sounder at once, it’s an efficient way to deal with a serious problem.

  32. lyman alpha blob

    RE: 5 revolutionary cosmic ideas that turned out to be wrong

    Well OK, the original ideas have been proven to be not entirely accurate due to later discoveries, but it doesn’t follow that these later discoveries are the “right” answer either, as the author seemingly implies. He cites the inflation theory as showing the universe didn’t start with a singularity, but inflation theory isn’t settled science itself. Similarly, he cites dark energy as the reason the universe won’t collapse in a big crunch, but that isn’t settled science either and some scientists have recently called into question Schmidt and Perlmutter’s discovery of accelerating expansion. Good astrophysicists will tell you the “dark” in dark energy and dark matter is a synonym for “we currently don’t really know”.

    This article is intended for the layperson interested in science, but the author, Ethan Siegel, is an astrophysicist and not just a science writer so he should know better – the gist of the article is correct but the details are a little on the sloppy side.

    1. GC54

      Most of the Universe is in the “dark sector” that we know essentially nothing about. I’d bet that most communication and information exchange occurs there too, with Electromagnetic radiation a quaint sideshow.

  33. RobertC

    New Not-So-Cold War

    What else is in that memo as Turkey clears way for Finland, Sweden to join NATO – Stoltenberg

    MADRID, June 28 (Reuters) – Turkey has agreed to support Finland’s and Sweden’s bids for NATO membership, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

    …”Turkey, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Turkey’s concerns, including around arms exports and the fight against terrorism,” he added.

    1. Lex

      The full text is amazing. The Kurds got stabbed in the back again. Not sure what good Finland and Sweden do for NATO given their willingness to surrender to Turkiye so easily. The Kurds better make nice with Assad, he’s their only hope now.

    2. Ignacio

      Today El Pais had a field day with the meeting and that news was the icing of the cake for them. The future is bright! To additional ducks to the cauldron! Not a word on events in Ukraine. I’ve come to see the NYT as US’s Pravda and El Pais as the ‘Pravdita en español’.

  34. Anonymous

    I am shocked, shocked I tell you, to find that Stephanie Kelton, the queen of MMT, is convinced that MMT was not the cause of our 40-year high in inflation. What caused the inflation? Inconclusive, other than “not MMT.”

      1. skippy

        Don’t tell them [Hard Currency believers] on top of everything else including the kitchen sink of covid you induce a trade shock of epic proportions by sanctioning Russia for having the gall in sorting out a boarder after way to much pale face speaks with forked tongue antics … but the MMT did it – ?????

  35. LawnDart

    Study finds toxicity in the open-source community varies from other internet forums

    Trolls, haters, flamers and other ugly characters are, unfortunately, a fact of life across much of the internet. Their ugliness ruins social media networks and sites like Reddit and Wikipedia.

    But toxic content looks different depending on the venue, and identifying online toxicity is a first step to getting rid of it.

  36. The Rev Kev

    People might remember those kids stuck in that flooded cave in Thailand not that long ago and which resulted in a lot of technical discussion here. For those interested, looks like Ron Howard has just come out with a movie about this called “13 Lives”- (2:47 mins)

  37. LawnDart

    “Everything can end before the end of the day.” The Kremlin called the condition for the completion of the military operation

    Military operations in Ukraine may stop “before the end of the day” if Kiev orders the servicemen to lay down their weapons and fulfills Moscow’s conditions, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

    “The Ukrainian side can stop everything until the end of the current day, we need an order for nationalist units to lay down their weapons, an order for the Ukrainian military to lay down their weapons, and we need to fulfill the conditions of the Russian Federation. And everything can end before the end of the day, ” Peskov said.

    So the press secretary responded to the words of the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky that he would like to end the fighting before the onset of winter.

    Peskov pointed out that the Russian side is guided by statements Vladimir Putin said that “the special military operation is going according to plan and is achieving its goals.” At the same time, the Kremlin representative clarified that there are no approximate deadlines for its completion.

    Peskov has repeatedly stated that the military operation will end when all its tasks are completed. SecretaryOf the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev said earlier that Russia is “not chasing deadlines” on this issue.

    Source: Alisa Andreeva, June 28, 2022,

    1. The Rev Kev

      Zelensky said that he wants the war to be over by winter but I suspect that the reason is that western countries will be suffering such chaotic conditions with their economies, especially Europe, that nobody will care about the Ukraine anymore. People will be too busy just trying to survive. And those governments that insist on throwing their own economies under the bus and leaving them there so that they can simply virtue signal about the Ukraine will be deposed, one way or another.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > the press secretary responded to the words of the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky that he would like to end the fighting before the onset of winter.

      Does the Odessa harbor freeze?

      1. LawnDart

        No, to my knowledge it does not. And this is one reason the Russians moved on Crimea when they did– to secure their only warm-water port.
        But with Maripol and Odessa, it looks like they’ll have three, for whatever Black Sea ports are worth.

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