Links 7/2/2022

Yves here. Jonah is doing Links for the first time, which is a very big learning curve, process and content wise. So please be supportive.

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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.

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Out of the Forest: We Have Thought of Humans for a Century or More as Creatures of the Savannah, Shaped in Every Way by Grassland Life. Not So. Aeon

How Do You Know You’re Not Dreaming?  Ted-Ed

How Neurons Really Work is Being Elucidated The Economist

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Can be Killed by Pom-Pom Molecules NewScientist

Lost in space: Astronauts struggle to regain bone density France24. I thought the cosmonauts used whole body vibration plates before and after for bone density and muscle strength…




Covid in Scotland: One in 18 people had virus last week BBC


California’s COVID Levels Appear as High as Ever: ‘The Sewage Never Lies’ Sacramento Bee


Chinese Air Group Simulates Striking Aircraft Carriers Near Taiwan: J-16, J-11B, Su-30 and H-6 Combat Jets Involved Military Watch

In chip war, Korea spends big to stay ahead of China Asia Times


The White House Did Not Push to Fund a Key Energy Cost-Saving Tool American Prospect

The Supreme Court’s EPA Ruling isn’t the Only Legal Attack on the Environment Vox

Old Blighty

Queen’s Secret Influence on Laws Revealed in Scottish Government Memo The Guardian

La belle France

France’s Revived Left Can Stop Emmanuel Macron in His Tracks Jacobin

Does Hungary Offer a Glimpse of Our Authoritarian Future? New Yorker

The Aristocratic Ineptitude of Ursula Von Der Leyen Foreign Policy

New Not-So-Cold War


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The West’s Self-Defeating Sanctions The Critic

The Anatomy of Germany’s Reliance on Russian Natural Gas Der Spiegel

Russia seizes control of Sakhalin gas project, raises stakes with West Reuters and Sakhalin-2 LNG project to switch from Bermudan to Russian operator Interfax

Why the US Could be the Real Winner in the Energy Wars Financial Times

Russia demands rubles for grain exports RT. Boy has RT hollowed out. Buyers get to pay in their currency but they to set up accounts at Gazprom Bank so that Gazprom can make the currency exchange.

Concerns Grow that India is ‘Back Door’ into Europe for Russian Oil The Guardian

Exclusive: Ukraine requests Turkey detain Russian-flagged ship it says carrying Ukrainian grain Reuters

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Exclusive: EU Nears Compromise Deal to Defuse Standoff with Russia Over Kaliningrad Reuters


Yemen in Purgatory Catalyst

The Unholy Alliance: Hindutva and Zionism The Cradle

‘They’re not Arriving with Trucks to Deport Us, but the Goal is the Same’ 972 Magazine

‘Intensifying Attempts to Remove Women from Public Life in Afghanistan’: India at UNHRC The Wire

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Smart Pet Door Uses AI-Powered Facial Recognition To Allow Only Your Pets Indoors Flipboard

Your Fitbit has Stolen Your Soul UnHerd

Google Hit with More Privacy Complaints for “Deceptive” Sign-up Process [Updated] Ars Technica

Imperial Collapse Watch

Empire Burlesque: What Comes After the American Century Harpers

Biden Announces Changes in U.S. Force Posture in Europe US Department of Defense

How the System Was Rigged: The Global Economic Order and the Myth of Sovereignty Foreign Policy


Biden is Continuing Trump’s Privatization of Medicare. Here’s What You Need to Know. Wendell Potter

GOP Clown Car

‘It Was All Just a Show’: Confessions of a Republican Campaign Hit Man Politico


The Case for Expanding the Court Before November LiberalCurrents

The Supreme Court Decided to Leave the Administrative State Alone—for Now New Republic

Confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court Sinks to New Low Statista

The Giant Pandemic Pool of Money: A new book details the penny-ante crooks extracting federal cash during COVID, and the disastrous budget decisions that gave them the opportunity American Prospect

Proposal to Teach Slavery as ‘Involuntary Relocation’ Sent to Texas Education Board NBC


The Fresh Hell of Depending on Your Employer for Abortion Access In These Times

Should companies be in charge of abortion access? Politico

The US Supreme Court’s Blind Spots on Abortion Financial Times

Feminism Made a Faustian Bargain With Celebrity Culture. Now It’s Paying the Price. New York Times

We Shouldn’t Destroy What Is Working in Our Economy The Nation

The Immediate Outlook for the US Economy Adam Tooze

Adam Tooze Is Answering Your Questions about Inflation Foreign Policy

Out with the Old: Is Neoliberalism Really Dying? New Statesman

McKinsey, Consiglieri of the Opioid Crisis Pluralistic (Cory Doctorow)

EU Moves to Rein in ‘Wild West’ of Crypto Assets with New Rules The Guardian

Class Warfare

Most Hospitals Are Ignoring a Federal Law Requiring Transparency on Prices Jacobin

Enemy Within? Hardly…Most People See Why We Need Unions Prepared to Strike The Guardian

I Got Fired for Unionizing at Starbucks. And I’d Do It Again. Jacobin

Antidote du jour:

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. griffen

    Not a pet owner myself, but did find the above link today on the facial recognition for a convenient pet door to be, ahem, a little odd. Maybe that’s just me.

    Hey at least the company behind this is not skynet. Reliving specific scenes from the Terminator, where the search for Sarah Connor had begun.

    1. John

      I would love something that distinguishes between my cat and the local possums who would love constant access to my house.

      1. digi_owl

        Ages ago i recall reading someone’s site describing a home made system using an old webcam and a flashlight to create a silhouette based system. It could even refuse entry if the cat brought home a rodent or similar.

      2. griffen

        Yeah I could see that intruding creatures like raccoons or possums would be highly unwelcome. Not to mention needing a full sterilization afterwards.

        I think this video from a goofy comedy illustrates how to deal with them.

      3. Questa Nota

        Also distinguish between pets and small people wanting to burgle. Granny catching a perp in that awkward position halfway through the pet door used to be a staple photo. Ah, good times.

  2. GramSci

    re: How Neurons Really Work is Being Elucidated

    Yawn. XOR. In 1967 MIT hired a young neural network researcher. After publishing a series of mathematical analyses of neural networks, they promoted him to Associate Professor in 1969 and awarded him the Norbert Wiener Medal in Cybernetics. In that same year his bosses, Seymour Papert and Marvin Minsky published Perceptrons, in which they argued that neural networks were hopeless because they could not perform XOR. In further publications culminating in 1972, the young Associate Professor demonstrated how the brain not only computes XOR but does so ubiquitously, also explaining why you don’t forget your mother tongue when you learn a foreign language. Minsky and Papert denied him tenure. (They had promoted him to Assoc without tenure.)

    The Economist article still doesn’t get it right.

    1. Samuel Conner

      “ubiquitous XOR”

      I wonder whether this might be related to the phenomenon of abrupt changes in attitude and thinking. I think it was in The Varieties of Religious Experience that I read, decades ago, the analogy of people’s attitudes being like a polyhedron, whose resting face is very stable to small and medium sized perturbations, but that will with a sufficiently large push tip to rest on a different face, which will have similar stability to the prior one.

      and — welcome, Jonah!

      1. GramSci

        Very much so, as in the ability of fluent bilinguals to “code switch”, e.g. flip back-and-forth between Spanish and English.

    2. BillS

      Welcome Jonah!

      IIRC the XOR problem is not resolvable for the linear perceptron. If the so-called non linear kernel is used, XOR is perfectly resolvable. This is the basis for the Support Vector Machine and most modern neural networks are based on non linear responses.

      1. GramSci

        The larger problem with Grossberg’s solution was that it described human intelligence (with unsupervised learning). MIT and the MIC wanted robotic intelligence, without free will (Asimov’s Laws, and all that).

        My problem with AI is the MIC’s pursuit of “intelligence” without free will and implying that such intelligence is “human” or “human-like”.


  3. Robin Kash

    Demonstrations as outlets for outrage go ignored. Voting gives way to lobbyists and their money. Money is all that elected, appointed, and corporate leaders.
    Time to speak In terms they understand. A general strike/work stoppage will bring the economy to a screeching halt and get the attention and actions needed on abortion, guns, health care, wages, and the list goes on.

    1. GramSci

      The general strike will come as a variation on the old Soviet joke: “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work”.

      Covid was a rehearsal.

      1. JTMcPhee

        And the old saw about bankruptcy, applicable to so many phenomena:

        “It happens slowly, and then all at once.”

        Wonder if it will happen to Ukraine’s military too. And the vaunted USNATO machine..,

    2. Fraibert

      It would really depend what the general strike focuses on. If it’s mostly about abortion and guns, I don’t think a strike for those causes is going to even be fairly called a “general” strike as plenty of citizens will have no interest in supporting those causes. More likely, the action would just further polarize the country to the benefit of the elite.

      Focus on economics and healthcare and it could work.

      1. super extra

        > Focus on economics and healthcare and it could work.

        Hard agree. In fact I’ll go further and say that the more general you make your demands the less likely it is to work. Never forget that this is a country where people literally die every single day because they cannot afford to pay for medical treatment or food or housing. The fact that gofundme is a major part of the survival strategy of a significant number of people – and that there are millions who die because they couldn’t play the social media game well enough to survive – should be a source of intense national shame for our elected officials. General strikers should start with that, and they should learn from the enemy and build support for it before they start the strikes. They should find the most egregious examples of tragedy due to the current situation and create stories and soundbytes to saturate social media conversation to prepare for the inevitable response attacks from the extremely well-funded enemy who will try to scare people into not supporting what they know in their hearts is right. There needs to be an understanding of ‘what needs to be done’ before they start striking because otherwise they will be split by intentional and unintentional saboteurs.

        The problem is that starting with a single big thing means defining the ‘hierarchy of suffering’ which, like the ‘hierarchy of oppression’ and the ‘hierarchy of hate’ is a losing game. This is why sometimes I think the only 2 issues that could successfully induce a real general strike of this caliber are political corruption and, to a lesser degree, healthcare for all. The first one is the one thing that seems to be agreed on by both sides. The second is too prone to splitting/purity test tactics by professionals and idpol martyrs.

        1. marym

          “There needs to be an understanding of ‘what needs to be done’ before they start striking…”

          Yes, but not just the strikers!

          Those who think there needs to be – and possibly can be – serious, risky, unified direct action (a general strike, any strike, underground abortion support) need to be clear in their own minds what actions and risks they would take in support.

          If they’re in any way able would they strike, contribute to a strike or abortion fund, walk a picket line or do clinic support, refrain from crossing a picket line, shelter or transport someone, fight in the streets, boycott, provide jail/bail/legal support, contribute to community mutual aid? Do they understand their own community well enough to join or build a support network?

          Those who are too poor, elderly, etc. to actively join the strike effort should also participate in the thought process. What advice can they give from personal insight? What community support would they and others in their position need during a strike?

          1. super extra

            One of the many reasons the right wing is so far ahead is because they are tapping into a still-extant community center still intact across the country (churches and their own internal/regional support and social service networks). What you’re saying is correct and makes sense. In order to have the same reach as churches there needs to be coordinated outreach into those communities to have the discussions you describe. Who does that? How do they earn the trust to make their opinions heard and acted upon? Ideologically I am in line with the Bread and Roses crew, but I don’t see them going into churches or expanding the brake clinics to stuff like food banks, community clean up, homeless housing services (go beyond the existing feed/comfort aid in place stuff) – things that could demonstrate they were serious about bringing their message to everyone long term.

            The oligarch networks fund with actual dollars their organizations that do this footwork. They don’t have to rely on the volunteer efforts of the believers. How does the funding potential of the masses be directed appropriately to the striker’s cause without being stolen/misappropriated/used for stupid shit that will be used by the enemy to show how unserious they were and tar future efforts?

            1. super extra

              also I think the earlier successful example of the grange vs the railroads in the late 1800s is probably the best US model to imitate:

              Fears of monopolistic power: The Granger Revolution
              – American History: The Granger Laws

              It is wild to me how anodyne the info online in places like Wikipedia about the topic is, because in a lot of states there are still tons of Grange Hall buildings around in various states – membership was massive. It is mentioned in passing in the wiki on the organization itself, but they also organized stuff like mail-order catalogs for member products, like direct sale by a cooperative:

              “Rapid growth infused the national organization with money from dues, and many local granges established consumer cooperatives, initially supplied by the wholesaler Aaron Montgomery Ward. “

              Note the rapid rise of the group especially (from the American History link above):

              Among those who most prominently pushed for regulation were the Grangers (the first major farm organization), who represented farm interests that suffered under discriminatory rate practices. The Grangers were established in 1867. Within a few years, there were Grangers in almost every state, with a total membership exceeding three-quarters of a million

              Not sure we could build it from a base of farmers, though. Maybe wage-earners and those who wish to become so or rely on them? Literally anyone who relies on wage income (salary is a wage) vs capital gains is at risk of predation.

            2. lyman alpha blob

              The “left”/Democrats have used churches for outreach, especially black churches. Unfortunately that generally entails the church leaders humping the endorsements of someone like James Clyburn for awful candidates who might as well be Republicans.

              Excellent point about the Grange. They carried some clout back in the day, there is still an extant organization although membership has dwindled, and if done right it could really be re-invigorated. I think you’re right that it would need to be labor in general getting involved and not just farmers, since there are so few of them left.

              I have no idea what current membership is like though and what they stand for. My family are still farmers but they are not involved with the Grange at all, but still exists because I’ve looked them up a few times over the years. In my hometown I think the Grange hall is used to hold luncheons for retired people and other events like that, and I’m not sure it’s still an active Grange or it just retains the sign on the building for nostalgia. It could be mostly a group of older people with an interest in gardening , which might be a good base to start from actually.

              Anybody out there involved with the Grange these days that can speak to what they’re up to?

            3. drumlin woodchuckles

              Well . . . . if there is such a thing as liberal churches ( United Church of Christ, Unitarian, Society of Friends, etc.) perhaps such organizing efforts could happen in/around those liberal churches so they can anchor their own Power Blocks to counter the Christofascist Power Blocks anchored by the Christofascist Churches.

              And within middle-of-the-road denominations, some individual churches may be “liberal” enough to want to host and develop such community power-blocks for various social and economic uplift agenda items.

              Perhaps also Reform Temples and Conservative Synagogues at the “liberal” end of the Conservative Judaism spectrum which runs from “Conservareform” to “Conservadox”.

              And one wonders where the Black Church might fit into all this. The Black Church will support economic uplift in some areas while supporting Cultural Oppression in others. ( For example, some years ago in Michigan – I forget just when- Karl Rove had the flash of insight to get Republican activists to put anti-gay-marriage constitutional ammendments onto the Michigan Ballot in order to attract more-than-normal Black Churchmembers to the polls, in hopes they would vote Republican along with voting no-gay-marriage.)

              If they can become focal point fortresses of power, perhaps they can decide what to do with that power.

              1. GC54

                In my upscale area, a couple of those particular operations according to once-church going spouse are filled with self-satisfied, condescending PMCers arriving in Teslas or Priuses depending on debt load who want church to fund more solar panels and carbon offsets as they jet around.

                Although running a minor group nationally if not regionally, one shouldn’t discount the LDS leadership to suddenly get a transmission from G*d to consider “healing the Earth for His Greater Glory”. At least they are very good at stockpilling calories and helping brethren in need. My spouse cycled through them but ultimately threw in the towel on any religion because of the patriarchy. Back to being a Wiccan.

    3. hunkerdown

      That only keeps the system of exploitation alive so that they can keep doing it ad infinitum. There’s nothing sacred about Adam Smith’s mythology of capitalism. The “circulation of souls” that our “chiefs of the hunt” supposedly sustain in exchange for our best stuff is mythical nonsense. All those “issues” are katcina masks waved around by the ruling class to menace us.

      Instead, let’s set about destroying the world in which the permission of ruling classes matters. I think devolution is going to happen for several reasons, and that it will be helpful to play into it rather than indulging morality ideology or creating world churches, as some types of “activists” are wont to do.

        1. Wukchumni

          In retrospect i’m glad I wasn’t aborted as it would have meant going to the back of line in the naked city, just another spermatozoa on the make… looking for a way out.

    4. Kurtismayfield

      I am more for a “We will bribe you better” PAC. Make it completely obvious that we are funding the PAC to bribe Congress critters better than the other lobbyists, and stick to a single issue (gun control for example). Really underline the farsical nature of it all while playing the game, and highlighting publicly when we beat the opposition factions bribes and when we expect results.

      We live in an oligarchy, let’s act like one.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well . . . America has a big enough population that several million people can do exactly this, while another several million people do something else, and yet another several million people do a different other thing.

        With numbers of people like that, several different approaches may be sincerely tried by different groups at the same time. And we could see what works how.

      2. GC54

        The problem is that most of CONgressthings gets wealthy from insider trading intel not cash “donations”.

        1. hk

          In fact, ppl whom I know on the inside have described the relationship between politics and interests as politicians shaking their moneyed “allies” down, not the moneyed interests “buying” influence, or, asas they put it, if you have power and money bargaining, power always beats money. The great myth that too many people buy into is that politicians are “owned.”. They are no more owned than the mob is owned by businesses that they are extorting from. Now, this is not to say that moneyed and other interests close to politics don’t get anything: protection rackets do, after all, provide protection–if you pay one group of mobsters, then you figure you get protection, even if that protection comes from them looking to keep their cash cow–you–out of other mobsters’ hands rather than any leverage. And breaking the political mob and it’s protection racket is tough precisely because mobsters are tough to beat, especially when they are “respectable” ones running a “legitimate” operation.

    5. Tommy S.

      Indeed. And maybe rather then arguing on line about ‘the issues’, we all help set up in cities, with bottom up democracy, real organization for general mass meetings, to actually decide the main issues, and prepare the mutual aid needed. And of course, there has to be a commitment to make them non stop….one day is ‘not’ a general strike. ..have to be rolling and militant….Bolivia just forced fascists out…..and new elections……after a year of work…..of course it’s different here, but there are great examples from the past 160 years. There has to be a real ground network, where people can go, meet and get info. Online forums mostly won’t work as the base for this IMO.

    6. Mildred Montana

      >”Demonstrations as outlets for outrage go ignored.”

      Well, that “demonstration” on Jan. 6/2021 certainly hasn’t been ignored. 435 representatives and 100 senators are still quaking in their expensive shoes.

      Yes, it was violent, but outside of violence what’s left for the outraged in the face of government intransigence?

      Their next most powerful tool, as you mention, is the general strike. And it is effective. But it is exceedingly hard to get one off the ground when most of the peasantry is deliberately kept poor* or ignorant by the elite. There will be large numbers of them who don’t care because they don’t know, and those who do are unlikely to be able to sustain a general strike of any length.

      *One reason why I believe wages are taxed at source, while other income is exempt until the end of the tax year: Keep ’em poor, keep ’em waiting for that blessed tax refund, much-needed manna from IRS heaven.

      1. Tommy S.

        Actually for 150 years, general strikes, long and militant (and I don’t mean violent with guns and bombs) have worked in drastically more poor populations then we have now. New Orleans black and white late 1800’s….SF 1930’s….There weren’t ‘food stamps’ or rental gov’t aids then…..Spain 1900’s to 1930’s…etc. I also disagree that the ‘poor’ are ignorant. Just not mobilized, and without a base of organization. Which working class and middle class with more means, should be helping to fund right now….My experience with the poor …and my class, is that they are more educated, common sense wise, then most liberal democrats……Still this is the most effective propaganda system in world history, I will grant that…..

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          How does one appeal to the mass self interest of the still-working working class and the middle class? Can they be convinced to understand that ” the bed you make for poor people is the bed you lie in when you get poor”? And that ” today’s middle class person is tomorrow’s underclass person”?

          If the question has an answer, its worth finding out what that answer is.

      2. Sparticus

        ” Keep ’em poor, keep ’em waiting for that blessed tax refund,”

        First step to escape that, File a W-4, Exemption From Withholding.
        That way you “owe” them and don’t have to beg for your own money back. That truly makes it a voluntary income tax system which is the words they use.

        Deal in cash only and make sure and support your fellow working class people the same way.

  4. griffen

    Used car market tweeting, and the “2008 scenario bound to crash” the banks, lenders, and probably holders of the asset backed securities (debt instruments). I suppose this is a pithy comment, but it’ll be like almost every other financial asset class performed thus far in 2022 ? Used cars are the next crypto to flash and burn with increased intensity.

    Oh the humanity. And just to be clear, yes auto finance companies and lenders are not really your friend after all. They’ll sell you the rope you need, only as long as the payments remain on time.

    1. Juneau

      After being held hostage to buy my used Corolla 2 years ago (held for 4 hours or so) I let myself get fleeced by the loan guy. I was in a weakened state and got a loan I didn’t need under duress. Amazing what fatigue can do to one’s judgment. I can’t think of a more predatory lending practice facing consumers except maybe student loans. Applying for a fixed rate mortgage in the ARM heyday of 2006 was easier. Being a single woman, going alone to buy a car, it must have been fresh meat for those guys. Savages. Lesson learned as well.

      1. jackiebass63

        In your case this would be the last time I considered buying a car from this dealer. I’m fortunate to be able to pay cash if I buy a car. I let the dealer know this up front. It make the buying process less stressful.If the price is right I can be out the door with the car in less than an hour. In buying a car remember the important word NO. Always be prepared to refuse an unreasonable deal. Patients pays off.

        1. ambrit

          I learned never to tell the dealer, on anything that could be loan financed, that I had cash. I let the “loan” process run on up to the final point, and then pull out the cash. When car dealers know you are a cash buyer, the price automatically goes up to cover the “lost” revenue from the loan. Every. Single. Time.
          Being a woman is also a major signal to dealers to send in the sharks. I know not why, but misogyny seems to be a foundational aspect of large sales organizations. I know it is sexist, but it often works out better if you go into a price bargaining session with a “supportive” male in tow. Watch the eyes of the company representative. Even when you tell them up front that you are the primary buyer, they will give more attention to the male ‘customer.’
          Another sexist aspect of the process is that dealers will sic a woman onto a male prospective customer, (if a woman sales professional is available,) and a male salesdroid onto a woman. It is also usually the youngest and best looking male in the shiver of ‘tame’ sharks.
          Biggest rule on buying; always be ready to walk out.
          One thing I learned from autiding the course on advertising back in college was that; “The two biggest sales tools are Sex and Death.” (The famous image of the shark fins photoshopped into the picture of the mixed drink in the booze ad comes to mind. A perfect combination of subliminal cues and fear motivation.)
          That’s one reason why I consider the NC “mascots” of the two “baby” big cats to be genius level influencing. That image combines cute and cuddly (which triggers sex ideations in men and maternal ideations in women,) with potentially dangerous.
          Stay safe! Don’t let the viruses bite!

          1. FlyoverBoy

            Terrific advice in your first paragraph about the wisdom of not announcing you don’t need their financing, ambrit.

            Equally terrific advice: Make sure you don’t need their financing. Go to a credit union (not a for-profit bank) and arrange your financing first, THEN go to the dealer to buy the car. They either can beat the rate that’s already in your pocket, or you don’t have to take their loan.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            I have heard that car dealership people demand that you let them hold your car keys for the duration of your presence on their facility.

            Perhaps one should refuse to let them hold your keys, and make insistence on their part a trigger for walking out right there.

            1. ambrit

              The “hold the keys” trick is a classic “Hard Sell” technique. When you see that, be prepared to either walk or play equally “hard ball” bargaining games. with the “Hard Sell,” it does devolve into gamesmanship. At that point, one may as well enjoy it.

              1. Carla

                “OK, you can hold my car keys if I can hold your wallet.” Word to the wise, Jeeps are the most dangerous and worst domestic car sold.

                As to trade ins, let them print the final deal and price and then tell them you changed your mind and to add the money you were going to get for your trade in to the cost of the new car. Sell the old car on Craigslist. You’ll get around 200% of what they offered you for it.

                1. Carla

                  @Carla — I’ve been commenting here as Carla since at least 2010, and I did not compose the comment above. Welcome to the new (or newer) “Carla” with a friendly invitation to consider adding another initial or other unique identifier to your handle so that others do not confuse us one for the other. You might not want to be thought responsible for my comments, after all.

          3. Wukchumni

            Dickering on price was a given in numismatics in the largely dealer-to-dealer trade that I was in, and you got really good @ pencil whipping the other guy into submission…

            Oddly, really the only 2 items that Americans are expecting to haggle on are also the most expensive in the venue of cars & homes. Most people are no good at it, frankly.

            I used to relish the idea of going mano y mano against the new car dealers who were putty in my hands, er mouth.

        2. John Zelnicker

          Good advice, jackiebass. Buyers need to be prepared to walk out.

          I have also been fortunate not to ever need a car loan.

          However, for those who aren’t so lucky, a bit of advice from experience.

          There are three separate parts of most car purchases: the price of the car, the value of a trade-in, and the terms of any financing. Buyers need to negotiate each of these separately, although most sales people will try to wrap all of these into one package with one price, the monthly payment. That leaves a lot of room for shenanigans.

          Don’t tell the salesperson at first if you’re planning to finance the purchase. If they ask, just say you’re not sure yet. Otherwise, they’ll try selling you on the monthly payment.

          Negotiate the price of the new car first and get an agreement on the final price with all taxes, fees, etc. Then negotiate the value of the used car you are trading in, if you have one. Finally, talk about financing if you’re going to get a loan.

          Research prices before you go to any dealers. There are web sites that will tell you how much the dealer is actually paying for the vehicle and the markups they are adding. I’ve had success in offering a price just a few hundred dollars above the “dealer cost”. (Note that even “dealer cost” has profit for the dealer built in through rebates and other discounts.)

          Research prices for your trade-in, if you have one. Be conservative about it’s condition and look at the trade-in value and the private sale value. Try to get as close to the latter as possible.

          If you plan to get a loan, go to your current bank first and see if they will give you a pre-approval. Most of the time bank car loans are cheaper than the dealer’s loans. Again, don’t mention this until you have a final price, with trade-in, if applicable, and it’s time to talk about how you’re paying for the car.

          1. Objective Ace

            You can get a lower price sometimes if your willing to finance, so it may make sense to let them know ahead of time.. then just pay off the loan a couple weeks later if your so inclined

      2. The Rev Kev

        Sorry to hear about your experience and we all of us end up in situations like that sooner or later. I hope that you also remember the lesson of that saying too – ‘Experience enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.’ That saying spooked me the first time that I read it.

      3. Janie

        Juneau, a few days ago there was a thread here on keeping reliable old cars like the corolla, forever. That’s how we got out of the car payment racket: kept a paid-for small old car while we deposited “car payments”, then upgraded with cash. Also, stick to proven model used cars, not new ones.

        1. FlyoverBoy

          As a car geek, I’m not convinced that the formerly unimpeachable wisdom of “buy proven model used cars, not new ones” applies anymore.

          I’ve served recently as a shopping sherpa for a couple of family/friends trying to buy a used car to a semi-reasonable price. The cars are not there. The old adage that “a new car depreciates 10% the moment you drive it off the showroom floor” is no longer true. You can pay 50%, 90% or 100% of a new car price and not get the reliability of a new car, which at least gives you a 100% assurance that no previous owner has screwed it.

          If you have $25-35k for a car, the best way to be a smart steward of your transportation funds—if that’s really your #1 goal, because for most buyers it’s really around #3—is to identify an unglamorous sedan with decent Consumer Reports reliability stats (Legacy, Prius, Corolla, Camry), order it and wait. If you have $!5k or less, well, you’re scrounging. Try to buy from someone you know so you at least know what you’re getting into.

      4. Felix_47

        Kind of like how it is for guys at the jewelers when the prospective wife wants and engagement ring.

    2. cnchal

      > . . . Used cars are the next crypto to flash and burn with increased intensity.

      I have no clue as to why anybody would pay $20 to $30 K for a used vehicle only a few years old when stuff 20 + years old that works great is available for a few thousand bucks. Bonus to old car, any garage can repair it when something big happens. Something big happening in your newish, gargoyle laser light festooned tall car, costs thousands per corner for a light tap, or when the Chineseum electronics hiccup, be held hostage by the dealer.

      1. Carolinian

        Most cars now have steel beam functional bumpers covered by plastic cosmetic bumpers painted to match the body. Increasingly I see cars driving around without the plastic bumper covers since the owners apparently couldn’t afford to replace the expensive part after an accident. Back in that other century if you got a dent the repair shop would just knock it back out and fix with putty. However the plastic that is now used to save weight shatters.

        Saving weight and the electronics that are used to improve gas mileage are virtuous things but best be careful not to have an accident.

        1. GramSci

          I recently backed our 2009 Camry hybrid into dumpster. The body shop wanted $600 to replace it with a used bumper. Our mechanic, who doesn’t do body work, heated the plastic bumper up and popped the dent out. “It won’t look right”, he warned me. “It’s a thirteen year old car”, I replied. “Who’m I gonna impress?”

        2. .human

          As an aside regarding plastics; just look around. My (rented) house is sheathed in plastic. My wife was enamored of “fleece” textile products. Try to buy a kitchen gadget that doesn’t incorporate some plastic. And don’t forget those mountains of water, sugar water, juice, etc offered in plastic bottles.

          How are we to ever remove this blight from our Eden?

          1. ambrit

            Removing the plastic blight will require the reintroduction of Regulation uncaptured by Business. Unfortunately, that assumes something no longer in evidence; Political Will in the Instrumentality.

            1. Skip Intro

              Where is your faith in markets? Plastic gathering will be the subsistence career for 80% of this century’s humans. The gathered plastic will be a major raw material and energy source. Future generations may thank us for converting this place from a jungle covering oil to a plastic covered desert.

              1. Carla

                I happen to agree with “Carla” about Gavin Newsome, but I’ve been commenting here as Carla for at least 12 years, and I did not compose the comment above. Welcome to the new (or newer) Carla with a friendly invitation to consider adding another initial or other unique identifier to your handle so that others do not confuse us one for the other. You might not want to be thought responsible for my comments, after all.

          2. GramSci

            So long as we must use fossil fuels to maintain the few institutions of human civilization worth saving, vinyl siding is very much a lesser evil. Not only does it prevent Grenfell Tower disasters, it is recyclable.

            Plastic bottles are another matter. And glass bottles need to be standardized to enforce re-use.

        3. Jason Boxman

          I just saw a BMW in the Walmart parking lot yesterday without a bumper. I bet that is an expensive repair for a luxury car!

          1. Jokerstein

            We test drove a Bimmer when we were looking for a new car. Beautiful drive, nice ride, super in most every way. BUT, we also took a look at servicing and parts costs – and ran a million miles away.

          2. griffen

            I understand that everything about repair and maintenance for recent BMW models is expensive. OEM replacement or nothing.

        4. drumlin woodchuckles

          Is the shattering also part of impact-forces absorption and dispersion? If so, it could be a safety feature, believe it or not. The plastic overbumper may be a crash-sacrificial overbumper.

          Jus speculating, to be sure.

      2. GramSci

        If they can get the parts. I empathize with Juneau on weighing the pros and cons. But point well taken on “newish, gargoyle laser light festooned tall car”.

      3. Thistlebreath

        Spot. On. Themselves here have a mint nineties diesel pickup. Low miles. Most mechanics were born after the truck was made. So a local repair shop botched a job. We found a specialist one town away. They’re booked two months out. Their advice: do not sell this truck. We heard a litany of how gimmicky and unreliable new $80K trucks are. Put two new anti theft devices on our vehicle, we usually get one offer a day to buy it.

        Highly recommend a older vehicle in good condition. Start watching Youtube for routine maintenance. Where there’s no rust, they’ll last for decades. At about half the costs to own and operate.

        Longest runner so far: a ’63 Valiant slant six that we ran up to 375K miles. If you can find a meticulously kept older Volvo, maybe even pre fuel injection, they’ll go a million.

        And…welcome Jonah! Good job.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          Diesel fuel is now over $6.50 a gallon in AZ. (Slava Ukraina!) How can you afford to drive it?

          1. orlbucfan

            I’ve been waiting on prices to hit on $10/gal for quite some time. We are prepared in my stupid neck of the woods.

        2. Jokerstein

          Our second car is a ’92 Civic EX with some 380,000 miles on it. It has only even let us down once – battery problems. Our service guy says it should get another 70-80,000 miles before we will have to put a bullet in it. Although, if we can find a good used transmission, we may get more out of it. The problem will most likely be worn out structural parts that can’t be found.

          1. howseth

            We bought a new Honda Accord in 2001. It still only has 78,800 mile on it. Yes, you read that right. (though I’m on my second, expensive, timing belt (per maintenance schedule).

            Expect it to last as long as I do. However, It has become a magnet for other peoples mischief. It was attacked by wind blown dumpster in a parking lot a couple years ago – small dent – insurance gave some cash. Last year in the same parking lot someone backed into it when it was parked. The person’s insurance gave cash – though I was worried the insurance would ask to ‘total/salvage the car instead – being old.
            This April, Easter Sunday night, 70 mile from my home, thieves stole the Honda’s catalytic converter. (that was a loud drive back home). Turns out it is very expensive to get the ‘official’ 2001 Honda Accord catalytic converter parts. Geico – our insurance – wanted me to total/salvage the car. Looking at current/new car prices I was getting fits. The adjuster called – and I asked, “Can’t you just give me cash?- it only has 78,500 miles on it!”
            To my surprise he did not argue. Then he deposited nearly $2900 into my bank within minutes!
            Expensive freaking official parts! However, a mechanic at the official repair place told me of an unofficial repair shop – who could fix it for a lot less. It turned out to be true….

            So, my 2001Honda is currently humming along – and I’m richer for it. We make a good team.

        3. BlueMoose

          We have a pair of 940 Volvo (Station wagons) 1990 and 1994. Sure I have to pay for an occasional repair as parts wear out but I have no monthly payments to worry about. So happy wife isn’t the type that can only be seen driving newest BMW/Audi.

          I’m getting back into repairing myself (did most work when back in US on my Acura) but I don’t have the tools anymore that I had in the US. I have some good local mechanics and labor is cheap here, so I probably won’t reinvest in auto tool replacement. Besides, I think we will all be walking soon or if you are lucky, riding a bike.

      4. Jason Boxman

        I did it because I hate cars, driving cars, and having to own a car, and a used car recent enough that I got the full manufacturer warranty balance means I don’t have to care about the car beyond routine maintenance. In other purchases in life, I’m willing to trust to my sense of value, but in this case, the small risk something happens is enough of a deterrent that I’m willing to possibly vastly overspend to avoid it.

        It was also a ridiculous market in 2021 for used cars, I suspect those with a better sense of value picked over many of the best options, and I lack the experience to suss out what’s value and what’s legitimately a bad buy in the used car market in the midst of a highly competitive, white hot market.

        Some battles I’ve decided aren’t worth joining. Scoring a highly reliable, inexpensive, used car is one of those.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      I have no doubt that lenders gouged borrowers on used car loans. It’s what they do.

      But the entire situation has never made much sense to me.

      During the pandemic, tens of millions were unable to work and those who could were largely working from home. People were not travelling or congregating due to covid concerns. There was less “need” for cars. Yet, at some point, the claim was that used cars were selling for more than new ones, and apparently people were taking out loans to buy them. Who in the world–lenders or borrowers–thought that situation would continue?

      Now, GM has 95,000 cars that it can’t sell because they’re not functional due to a chip shortage, and the prices of used cars are falling???

      High prices when there’s less need and lower prices when supply of new is low. It seems completely backwards to me.

      1. GramSci

        Good points! I wonder if “The Giant Pandemic Pool of Money” has a chapter on used cars?

        1. Michael Ismoe

          The reason why used cars went through the roof during the pandemic is because public transportation went to hell. The only way to get to work was with your own car unless you wanted to spend an additional 8 hours commuting on abbreviated bus and train schedules or car-pooling with Typhoid Mary. Yeah, the PMC stayed home and kept their cars for another two or three years since they weren’t using them anyway. Those of us who were “essential” still needed to get to work.

          1. Jason Boxman

            I relocated to where a car is required, for my own pandemic safety, having happily had no car at all for years. So that’s one more used car on the road. Guilty as charged. I don’t even drive it 8k a year.

          2. tegnost

            Western Washington has great and improving public transit but no don’t move here it’s cold, dark and rainy
            I go from Friday Harbor to anywhere in seattle for $10.50 (4 bucks to everett, 3.75 to northgate, 2.75 in seattle proper…the return trip is more due to the ferry being 13 that is only paid westbound
            I rent a car once or twice a year

            1. neorealist

              Improving public transportation, but I wouldn’t call it great. Two pencil sticks we call light rail. Other parts of the sound overdue for rail will be waiting another 10 to 20 years, while other neighborhoods that sorely need it won’t be getting it.

      2. ambrit

        From what I am gleaning from “The Street,” that is “paying more for the used car than it originally sold for,” not necessarily what new cars are selling for.
        An independent small contractor down the street had to buy a new truck last fall. He got a full sized truck with the V-8 motor so he could pull trailers full of materials with it. He went out of state to purchase one (new at a dealer) his wife found over the internet for ten thousand dollars less than any similar truck sold within a hundred miles of here. Ten thousand dollars less. They won’t tell anyone what they paid; they seem to be too embarrassed (in both senses of the word.)
        I agree with you. Prices in this market definitely seem manipulated.

        1. Jokerstein

          Wondering how he managed to register it in his state of residence?

          We live in WA, and there is zero sales tax in OR, so some people think “I’ll buy a car there and take it back home”. Nuh-uh! The states are really strict about collecting tax in the state where you register it.

          The best we can do here in WA is to go to a low tax county – head east over the Cascades to Spokane County and get a car for 1.8% lower tax than King.

          There is a huge number of dealers in the Burlington area (Skagit County) for the same reason, and it’s less than 90 minutes from Seattle up I-5, so they do a roaring trade,

          Also, while our primary residence is in King, we have a place on Whidbey, in Island County, where the registration fees are way lower: Pierce, King, and Snohomish counties all have a levy of something like 1% of the value of the car (scaled down as it gets older, of course) when you buy tabs. Those $100,000 Tesla Model Ss, and all the spiffy other vehicles are paying over $1000 for their tabs each year!

          1. ambrit

            Mississippi is similar to you all in that auto tag fees are graduated based on the “value” of the car. That’s one aspect of a system where the Rentiers have gained control of the tax authorities. Such fees, when the item is necessary for functionality, is the essence of regressivity.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Is there a way to paint fake rust on the car and apply fake cracks to various windows to lower the car’s “value”?

      3. PlutoniumKun

        I don’t know what its like in the US, but one problem for those of us who have given up on car ownership is that the shortage of cars has hit the rental market so hard. It costs me around $150 a day to hire a very basic car (at least three times what it was last year). And thats down from a couple of months ago when it was often more than $200 a day. I’m assuming the drop means that the rental companies here are finally getting deliveries of new cars.

        One bright spot though is that there has been an enormous boom worldwide (except, seemingly, north America) in electric bikes. Around my way I see lots of electric load carrying bikes, often with one or more kids on board. The cost the fraction of a car to run. On my recent trip to France, the mid sized cities like Nantes were full of them, and most were clearly being used by regular folks, not urban hipsters.

        1. hunkerdown

          It’s no boom, and it’s not exactly electric, but non-automotive transportation is fairly popular in my neighborhood [seethes internally]. There are several scooter users here. I have seen some older children on e-bikes and a few adolescents on dirt bikes. The local junque shoppe does seem to do brisk business in vintage bicycles; at the same time I see many fewer dedicated full-service cycleries open, perhaps half, compared to three years ago.

          1. ambrit

            Where ever you are, you are doing better than here, Mississippi. There is one dedicated cyclery in our half horse town. Metro region population about 50,000. That emporium, which is close to where we live, is geared to Yuppies and Hipsters. Priced accordingly too. The largest seller of bicycles here is WalMart.
            To paraphrase Tacitus: “They make a desert and call it an economy.”

    4. Mikel

      Sub prime lending has always been the other main fuel for the auto industry.
      No surprises here and nothing new.
      No surprises that low interest rates don’t “trickle down” to the masses like everyone is made to believe.
      That’s why I laugh at anyine talking about how “raisng interest rates will hurt the poor…”
      They never get offered a low fixed interest rate ao that BS doesn’t matter unless you’ve bought a house or car that you really can’t afford.

      1. Questa Nota

        Don’t forget those little kill switches that disable the beater when the hapless driver is late on a payment. Can’t get to the job to earn car payment and grocery money? Tough. Not their problem. Wonder how the sales manager trains the sharks and finance bro to dance around that.

    5. ArvidMartensen

      Old proverb. When person with money meets person with experience, then person with experience gets the money, and person with money gets the experience

    6. super extra

      I noticed a phenomena sometime in 2020 where it seemed like some were trying to intentionally inflate certain sectors of the used car market. Specifically I am thinking here of any type of vehicle that can be labeled ‘cool’ in any way shape or form by any subculture, stuff that can be ‘instagrammable’. At that time I was looking for a small truck and had been keeping an eye on listings at sites like Bring a Trailer, which is one of the nicer car auction sites with heavy social media presence. The prices for stuff I would consider basic – not cool – think early ’00s Honda hatchbacks, not the racing type – seemed insanely high even then. At the time I thought it was people flush with crypto returns trying to create mini ‘flash hype’ sub-markets, like driving up the prices on a certain style of retro car popular with guys in Miami who listen to pop-rap (or something equally niche) – basically finding some type of car they could buy in multiples through the nationwide auctions, hype up through streaming stuff, and resell for a profit. I saw this with stuff like Japanese camper vans too, but that seemed almost reasonable since everyone was crazy from the lockdowns.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Exclusive: EU nears compromise deal to defuse standoff with Russia over Kaliningrad”

    And as can be seen in this article, it is Lithuania that is trying to keep this massive disruption going, even though the EU knows that politically it is self-defeating and is trying to end it. The EU is trying to give Lithuania an off-ramp but they just speed past it and insist on full speed ahead. If as a result of this blocking of Russia’s shipments Lithuania ended up in deep financial doo-doo, I would not be expecting much help from Brussels if this keeps up. As it is, Lithuania is having to give their citizens subsidies to meet the skyrocketing price of energy as ‘Gas prices for Lithuanian households have been increased by between 27.5% and 41.5%, depending on their consumption, according to the State Council for Energy Regulation.’

        1. Pelham

          Fourthed. I can’t imagine compiling the Links myself. It’s sort of magical that it can be done on a daily basis.

          1. Brunches with Cats

            I’ll take the fifth! So who’s this new kid on the block? Have we been previously introduced, and I missed it due to inconsistent lurking?

            Anyway, great job at seamless integration. If I hadn’t seen the byline, I never would have guessed we had a new links host. (FWIW, I did links for my own very short-lived blog a few years back and can attest that it’s not for the faint-hearted.)

  6. DJG, Reality Czar

    Welcome to Jonah: More ironical comments (as red meat to us groundlings), please.


    Kuras article, Foreign Policy, on Ursula von der Leyen:

    Notable observation:

    What’s remarkable is not that she has failed so badly in the position. She rose, after all, by playing on her family connections. What is, however, remarkable is she has failed in so nearly the same way as in her last two positions. Running the Bundeswehr, she entrusted the army’s procurement efforts to neoliberal market logic espoused by management consultants, and things went poorly. A few years later, responsible for Europe’s vaccine procurement efforts, she has faced criticism for placing too much trust in the free market, failing to insist on centralized control of vaccine production and distribution within the European Union.

    So she’s the Hillary Clinton of the EU? Ursula, Abuelita of the Ukrainian Adventure?

    We’re doomed.

    And if you click through on the Juncker reference, you’ll get:

    Which includes this statement by someone named Kirkegaard (who is not of the same stern stuff as Kierkegaard):

    Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund thinktank in Brussels, believes Von der Leyen’s gravest mistake is missing an opportunity to tell a “fantastic story” about EU openness.

    “I think fundamentally she seems to be struggling with her basic narrative,” he said.

    Since when do Germans talk such slop? I recall some years back a German resident here in Italy insisting that Italians are incapable of rational thought. And this bilgewater is German rationalism?

    For a “basic narrative,” the German government halted Nord Stream II, because what we live on are slogans and polite government lies, not warm radiators.

    We are doomed.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      What I find most interesting is not the article, but where it is published. A (well deserved) hit job like this in a mainstream middle of the road publication like FP indicates to me that her reputation is now such that a lot of very powerful people are desperate to get rid of her.

      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        Plutonium Kun: From your keyboard to the ears of the gods.

        At this point in our evolution, it seems that only the gods can remove someone from a position in the Anglo-American-German sclerotocracy. The article indicated one failure-up after another in her career, with no consequences.

        And now she has declared that she’s going to rebuild Ukraine. What could possibly go wrong?

        1. Ignacio

          Pity I wrote my comment not having seen yours and PK (I swear they weren’t published when I started writing). Like PK I don’t think the publication is just plain paper filling stuff but first and strong signal that Leyen days might be ending.

          1. sporble

            Just a tiny reminder, in case anyone’s forgotten: van der Leyen (only) became President of the EU Commission because neither of the 2 leading candidates (Weber and Timmermanns) had a majority. Her “candidacy” was put to a vote which passed oh-so-narrowly, 383/747.

            We are indeed doomed, perhaps even doomed to be doomed.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Time Is Not on Kyiv’s Side: Training, Weapons, and Attrition in Ukraine”

    Seen this before and was very dissapointed. More so as this is actually coming from the Modern War Institute located in West Point. A more accurate title would be ‘Time’s Up for Kiev’. That NATO trained army is just about crunched and the Ukraine is so short of manpower, that not only are they sending Territorials with only a few days training, but now they are handing out draft notices to girls and handicapped people. Lugansk has just about been retaken, bar a cauldron with a few thousand soldiers, and the Ukrainians are losing the equivalent of about two brigades a week in combat casualties. I have no idea why they choose to say ‘Of course, the Russians continue to take even higher casualties’ unless this is part of the narrative that they have to tell themselves. The Russian casualties are only a faction as they let their artillery to a large extent do their fighting for them. And I do not understand why they are obsessing with the idea that the Russians want Kiev. That is a Ukrainian city that. Odessa on the other hand is a Russian city and would secure their control of the Black Sea coast. This may sound boorish but instead of having an ex-special ops guy write this article, perhaps it would have been wiser to let an ex-officer write it whose expertise was in, say, logistics? Just sayin’.

    1. Samuel Conner

      regarding the lower R casualties, you aren’t taking into account the long term damage to the R economy caused by the hearing loss experienced by all those R artillerists. In these terms, R casualties are far higher than acknowledged by the R MoD. /s

      1. The Rev Kev

        Saw a video clip on YouTube yesterday where this guy used an Excel chart – based on US artillery barrel use – to prove that through constant use, Russian artillery barrels are about worn out and so the Russian main weapon will run out if steam now. No mention how those Russian artillery units are probably being rotated and barrels replaced as needed.

        And those Russian artillerists? If you asked them what music they would like to listen too, they would probably say it doesn’t matter what – so long as it is played LOUD.

        1. Paradan

          So if the Russians are firing 50,000 rounds a day, then the weight of shrapnel that they’re producing is enough steel to build an entire company of M1A2 tanks(about 60 tons each). Last I heard we were producing a single M1 every month.

          1. Andrew Watts

            The approximate number of shells the Russians are firing off every day is what the US produces in a year according to the linked report in Will Schryver’s tweet thread,

        2. PlutoniumKun

          The latest cope is that the Russians can’t build any more tanks because of sanctions, or more specifically they can’t source the French Thalys sights/night scopes that they use on their T-72’s. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t notice that Russia has being making their own (probably reverse engineered) night sights since 2018.

          Its pretty clear from the intensity of bombardment that the front line Russian artillery are under no pressure to ease up to save barrels or ammo. If they were under logistical strain, we’d surely see changes in tactics or timing of offensives to reflect this. I’ve seen no evidence of this whatever.

          1. Janie

            Re: Russian optics. Saw a video (Patrick Lancaster?) A while back of an interview with a Russian sniper squad. They were using bolt action WWII rifles (Mosin, I think) because of the sights.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Yes I saw that, it was interesting. From what I recall, the soldiers said they liked them because of the stopping power at range. The bullet from a Mosin is about 3 times the weight of a modern round. Most assault weapons are designed on the basis of fairly close range combat in urban areas or jungle, mountains, but in Ukraine it seems most combat is from the boundaries of fields – which seems to be 4-500 metres in many cases. So while lighter rounds may have the accuracy in those ranges, they lack stopping power against a soldier in full protective gear. I recall a few years ago a sniper in the Irish army here saying that they kept old Lee Enfield rifles as back up to modern rifles for exactly this reason.

              1. ambrit

                The ‘old’ Lee Enfield No.4 (T) class rifles, standard Lee Enfields of superior quality (retrofitted by a bespoke rifle concern, [H&H]) will fetch several thousand dollars each today. Highly sought after by “real” shooters.

          2. Polar Socialist

            In around 2010 Vologda Optical and Mechanical Plant licensed Catherine-FC thermal camera technology from Thales, and started producing Susna-U thermal sights.
            The company is nowadays called Shvabe, and it’s part of Rostec corporation. Sometimes after 2014, when the collaboration with Thales ended due to the sanctions, they figured out how to use the equipment they still owned to grow their own crystals for about the same quality of thermal sights.
            Even if it’s not the same quality, the detecting and targeting ranges should still way beyond any normal battlefield not in the the desert – or way longer than the effective range of the gun.

            1. Polar Socialist

              As a late addition, Shvabe also produces Irbis-K sights, and PPNK commanders panoramic sights.

              Then there’s Romz company making TO1-KO1-TP sights with TPN4-TP thermal sight for T-72, T-80 and T-90.

              And also and Armenian company Aragats which makes update thermal sights for T-72A. Of course, Russia doesn’t have any A models in stock, but we can assume all the 8000 or so stored T-72B’s could use a sight developed for previous version. In any case the Russians don’t really have to build new ones until the +13000 stored T-64s, T-72s, T-80s and T-90s have been re-activated.

          3. Andrew Watts

            I’ve seen a few reports that the Russians are starting to draw munitions from their far eastern military district’s warehouses. Which probably means they’ll increasingly have to ship their munitions across the country to get it to the front. Nevertheless it represents a logistical challenge that will determine the tempo of operations and not the necessarily the outcome or combat efficacy.

            Who knows what role China is playing in facilitating the transfer of these completely Russian munitions. Even if that hasn’t happened yet it should still be pointed out that Russia has the unlimited backing of the world’s greatest industrial power and that kinda matters.

        3. jr

          Thanks for this comment Rev, I always look forward to your perspective on these things. This video seems emblematic of the way this war is being presented to us. I think it speaks to the shoddy state of the Western mind that such bilge could even make it to the point where someone felt compelled to take the time to make a video about it. Are we to assume that the Russians don’t know that artillery barrels wear out? That they wouldn’t consider their capacity to produce new barrels and deploy them in a timely manner? That, being involved in a war and an offensive one* at that, they wouldn’t consider that there is a window of time within which those capacities would be viable and that a conservative approach would be the best? For that matter, we have all heard discussions about the slow and steady “grind” that the Russians are engaging in, perhaps that tempo is at least in part dictated by their needs for materials and the speed at which they can be realized? Is this the first war Russia has engaged in?

          But the West cannot comprehend anything except through their own myopic perspective. Much of our leadership and I suspect much of our populace cannot see things but through their own eyes. And the simplistic logic of social media presentations. Truly, there is no alternative when alternatives threaten the brittle core of entitled presumption. There is a dearth of imagination and an assumption of the superiority of their point of view that, when faced with evidence of it’s errors, closes in on itself like a wound healing over sepsis.

          * I realize that the Russian effort is ultimately a defensive effort against NATO encroachment.

      2. Scylla

        Not just hearing loss- and I realize you are making a bit of a joke regarding western cope (which is valid IMO), however artillery operators are all prone to traumatic brain injury as well. This has been noted about US artillery operators, so it certainly holds true for the Russians, especially given that Russians have lots of 203mm class guns (US tops out at 155mm) and they even have 240mm monster mortars. Feel bad for all those guys, no matter the battlefield or side they are on. Just thought I would point that out.

    2. bwilli123

      Control of Odessa (and thereby the southern coast of Ukraine below that city) would also give Russia treaty access to the Danube. Handy if you want some measure of influence via the Danube’s riparian states.

    3. Tom Stone

      Rev,having Ukraine and NATO focus on Kyiv would be beneficial to the Russians if they intend to take Odessa.
      The Russians know that a Feint has to be strong enough to be believable, the original thrust toward Kiev was very well calculated, if Kyiv was ready to fall like a ripe apple they would take it, if not it would freeze UA troops vitally needed elsewhere and tell the Russians how important Kyiv was emotionally to the people making decisions about how to prosecute the War.
      Deceptions and diversions are a time honored part of warfare and something Russia has a history of being good at.
      These are campaigns that will be studied intensely for a long time,Russian forces have done an impressive job.

      1. jefemt

        They have? That’s not the headlines I see?! (sarc sarc sarc- sung to the tune of a barking seal)

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Russian forces did an impressive job in Syria, and yet somehow the combined genius of Nato command didn’t notice, or take any lessons. Its pretty clear that the entire military establishment in the west has become a tight little intellectual circle jerk that puts WHO to shame when it comes from excluding anyone who questions the main narrative.

        If the Russians do feint to Kiev but then take Odessa, expect a wave of articles on how brave Ukraine kept their capital free and intact while only losing a few minor industrial cities.

        I’m increasingly convinced that so far as the western media is concerned, Russia will never win the war. they will simply redefine victory according to wherever the Russians stop pushing. It will be a little like how Britain convinced everyone that Dunkirk was a huge victory. And sadly, many people will believe it.

      3. ambrit

        True. Attacking against a numerically larger enemy and winning is the epitome of good generalship.
        The Russians seem to have learned, or relearned, the lesson that “boots on the ground” win wars. One of the first things the Russians did in Syria was to get Damascus to incorporate the best of the militias into an elite force and make it a part of the overall Syrian army. Those units are now the elite striking forces of the SAA. The Chechens seem to be filling a similar function on the Ukraine Front for Russia. Having a superior missile force too is just icing on the cake.

    4. Lex

      I think it was yesterday that a Ukr government official gave total casualties for Russia at +30K and +100K wounded. There’s no way Russia would still be fighting with those numbers (shy of mobilization). However, those numbers are suspiciously close to estimates of Ukrainian losses (probably underestimated or at least fudging the balance of KIA/WIA).

      I’ve reached the conclusion that Ukrainian state information is pure projection based closely on their own situation. And this forms a negative feedback loop because ISW and other western sources take Ukrainian information to publish and then the Ukrainians feed ISW maps and analysis back into the Ukrainian information space.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I saw an estimate earlier this evening of about 5,000 Russians killed and another 8,000 killed from the Donbass Republics. Ukrainian deaths? Scores of thousands at least and the Ukrainians are just abandoning their dead in the field so it is hard to get a true figure. No idea how many POWS the Russians must be holding but I think that in the next few days, there will be several thousand more from the Lysychansk cauldron being added.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I think there are good grounds for thinking that there are 10:1 ratios for casualties. And it will get worse before it gets better for the Ukies – as they are driven from Lugansk and Donetsk, the Russians will be inflicting massive casualties by artillery on retreating infantry. Apart from a very small number of specific actions, such as river crossings, there is simply no need for them to take any risks. Artillery is doing all the dirty work. And it does seem that Russia is getting more and more efficient as the war goes on, while the chaos in the Ukraine ranks means that hard won lessons are not being applied widely or correctly.

          To make matters worse for Ukraine, its pretty clear that their Syrian and Chechnian experience has made the Russians very efficient at urban clearance operations. You’d expect defenders to have a strong edge, but this doesn’t seem to be the case so far (although it may have been in the very early stages in Mariupol where the Russians do seem to have gotten a bad beating before eventually coming out on top). The only hope the Ukrainians have of stopping this is that the Russians press too far and deep into northern or western Ukraine and leave themselves open to irregular warfare (assuming Ukraine has anyone left capable of firing a gun or RPG).

          We are rapidly getting to the situation where Ukraine is looking at WWI scale casualties. Anyone who has travelled in France will have seen those sad memorials in little towns and villages, listing all the ‘sons of the land’ who died at Verdun. The lists are astonishingly long in even the smallest rural village.

          1. Janie

            Verdun is the most sobering place I’ve been. That area has a cross honoring WWI dead at every road intersection and the Canadian Vimy Ridge memorial, but the Ossuary at Verdun is beyond imagination. It’s a huge sealed windowed building containing the skeletal remains of some 100,000 (not a typo) soldiers killed at Verdun who could not be identified.

        2. Skip Intro

          Apparently many of the AFU forces are ghosts, either dead, deserted, or possibly entirely fictional. Their pay goes to their commanders, who get to keep the pay for soldiers who are on the books but not around to collect. I think this leads to extensive misreporting. This is the very model of a modern neoliberal…. army.

          1. super extra

            Rich material to mine for a very bleak comedic anti-war classic story of the future. Somewhere walks our new Bulgakov with the seed of the next version of The White Guard.

            1. hk

              Starring a real comedian, who, adding to the comedy if it weren’t so tragic, is taken as serious person, at least publicly, by everyone.

        3. Polar Socialist

          The official DNR military casualties from January 1st to June 1st (released today) are 2247 dead and 9453 wounded.

          LNR militia has been involved in much heavier fighting than DNR, but I doubt they’d have 3.5 times as many dead. Unfortunately they don’t publish the official numbers. It’s still very likely that the true Donbass casualties are likely to be under 6000 thousand, not 8000.

          And yes, DNR doesn’t think the war started in February, thus counting from the beginning of the year.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Thanks for those details. I was thinking how it must be for the Donbass fighters and perhaps the present fighters will be known to them as their ‘greatest generation.’ They started with nothing, built themselves up into a militia, then into a professional military, defeated two separate Ukrainian invasions and are now taking back all their lands and freeing their Russian-speaking brethren. There will be legends told about the present war and they will remember their dead from 2014 through to now. When I write this, it kinda makes it sound how it must have been for the American colonists of the 1770s.

            1. hk

              Or, perhaps the modern day versions of Minin and Pozharsky? History buffs may remind us that they weren’t that impressive in real life and the memory and legend of the Patriotic War of 1612 have gotten rather overshadowed even in Russia but there are ample parallels between the last 30 years and the Time of Troubles, complete with a Boris Godunov (Gorbachev) and a False Dmitri (Yeltsin), along with actual Polish and Lithuanian invaders, in a manner of speaking (or perhaps even literally in due time).

      2. Samuel Conner

        > pure projection based closely on their own situation

        I have thought the same. I’ve also read that the U government is not repatriating remains of dead U soldiers in R hands; perhaps this is a concrete basis for the projection: “the Rs have X dead soldiers”; unstated is the affiliation.

    5. RobertC

      As I highlighted at RobertC June 27, 2022 at 3:42 pm

      Andrew Milburn … is the chief executive officer of the Mozart Group, an LLC training and equipping Ukrainian frontline units.

      This mercenary is writing to his customer audience.

      I’ve been mostly disappointed with MWI articles. USNI’s are more useful. But then I’m a navalist.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Agreed on everything!

        They throw those Anti Russian Talking Points with ZERO EXPLANATION too.

        This Ex Marine Colonel has a Private Military training company called THE MOZART GROUP….grifters gonna grift!

    6. KD

      No, its proven fact that you take much more casualties operating artillery than being on the receiving end, and any military expert who writes for the Modern War Institute knows this. Its like would rather be driving a semi truck, or would you rather be the pedestrian in the crosswalk when it hits?

      Most lay people may think it is safer to operate a semi in a collision than to be the pedestrian, but it takes a real expert to understand that the opposite is true. . . and it is this caliber of expert who have been advising the West with respect to the ground war and the sanctions war. [Lay people don’t realize the pedestrian will turn into a zombie and eat the driver’s brains in the counter-offensive, and you can’t kill zombies.]

      What people don’t realize is that Baba Yaga is going to raise all the dead Ukrainian soldiers from the dead, and they are going to take out the Russians. It’s top secret, only Zelensky and Biden know.

      1. chuck roast

        You got the zeitgeist right. The guy on the Military Summary Channel reported today that in their drive to Lysychansk the RU forces are using thermobaric weapons. Think a 20 or 30 rocket artillery truck doing a stonk. Then think a battery of these trucks. Then expand your thinking to see that these warheads are like teeny atom bombs without the radiation. They use them against fortified positions. Wicked scary. All the old territorials must be beating feet. It’s either that or get absorbed into Baba Yaga’s zombie army.

    7. Bituminous Coalman

      Welcome aboard Jonah!

      This is really short, sweet succinct and accurate.

      Ukraine Is the Latest Neocon Disaster

      Jeffrey D. Sachs
      June 28, 2022

      “The war in Ukraine is the culmination of a 30-year project of the American neoconservative movement. The Biden Administration is packed with the same neocons who championed the US wars of choice in Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Syria (2011), Libya (2011), and who did so much to provoke Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The neocon track record is one of unmitigated disaster, yet Biden has staffed his team with neocons. As a result, Biden is steering Ukraine, the US, and the European Union towards yet another geopolitical debacle….The neocon movement emerged in the 1970s around a group of public intellectuals, several of whom were influenced by University of Chicago political scientist Leo Strauss and Yale University classicist Donald Kagan. Neocon leaders included Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan (son of Donald), Frederick Kagan (son of Donald), Victoria Nuland (wife of Robert), Elliott Cohen, Elliott Abrams, and Kimberley Allen Kagan (wife of Frederick).”

  8. Samuel Conner

    I’m afraid that Adam Tooze’s Chartbook item lost me at the 3rd sentence:

    “Meanwhile, the inflation numbers remain stubbornly high. They will ease, presumably, only when the economy slows down significantly.”

    I think, given the significant contribution of supply shortages to the current inflation, that this merits, even if one reckons it to be an improbable near-term development, the additional contingency “or supply shortages ease.”

    I wonder whether this might be an example of the XOR property of the brain. Perhaps even really smart people have difficulty holding supply-side and demand-side considerations in their heads at the same time.

    Is he outside his wheelhouse? I thought his Wages of Destruction: the Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy was quite good.

    Come to think of it, that book feels kind of relevant to the present world situation.

    1. griffen

      Further down in the same paragraph, he describes the Fed fantasy of a mild to soft landing without their current tightening being required to continue apace into late 2022 with rate hikes. Which is a fantastical dream sequence for the Fed / FOMC; but I really have doubts that will work this time.

      What will the the FOMC do next, should the economy slow or even a recession but inflation remains stubbornly high, or dare I think so, just behave like the recalcitrant teenager refusing to hear what’s good for them. A mild recession is wishful, but the first half of 2022 has revealed that many experts on planning and investing have been wrong.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        The “offical ” date to the start of the recession will be Jan 2022. Both first and second quarter GDP are gonna be negative.

        We’ll see a return to “growth” this quarter and next (under 1.5%, is my guess) and then really hit the skids with big layoffs in Jan 2023 and thru most of ’23. Double dip recession,anyone? That’ll be steeper and with a “jobless recovery”..

        We’ve all seen this movie before, no?

    2. GramSci

      I think it’s mostly a problem of literate people trying to sell a logically consistent point. It’s easier if you ignore some facts.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Adam Tooze is usually excellent and is a very smart guy, but its noticeable that he frequently hedges his articles to stay just on the right side of the Overton Window. I suspect he knows full well the main reasons behind inflation, and trusts his smarter readers to read between the lines.

    4. hemeantwell

      I thought his Wages of Destruction: the Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy was quite good.

      Totally agree.
      Despite his tendency to portray central bankers as deserving Masters of the World I would look forward to his Chartbook mailings. But his adolescent response to the Ukraine war sucker punched me, it was a major contributor to a genuine, settles-on-you-shoulder-and-won’t-go-away feeling of dismay that I experienced in reaction to leftish intellectuals signing on to the mob. A paean to Javelin missiles, then some chirping about the “flexible small unit tactics” of the UKA. I can see that his info sources might be severely limited — is he going to cite NC or Moon of Alabama to his buds? — but, oh, the rah-rah.

    1. ambrit

      While the better focused Republicans practice “pink slip courtesy.”
      Someone in the RNC has to have noticed that the dreaded ‘Soccer Moms’ are gunning up. There is a real opportunity for the Forces of Reaction in there somewhere.

  9. John

    Of course Biden is continuing the privatization of Medicare! He’s the man from corporate America. Other than the welcome cessation of the loud insistent bloviating rhetoric all day every day what has changed? Congress is deadlocked. The Democrats are feckless. The Republicans march into the past. Oh wait… We have a war and no penny ante war, but a full spectrum war that has the distinct possibility of bringing down the house, all the houses. Atta boy, Joe.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      From Potter’s article:

      That raises the underlying but key question: Will this latest Medicare experiment, which brings in more private equity firms that want a piece of the program, really solve Medicare’s cost problem, or will it simply hand over more of the program to private companies seeking to grow their profits? Is this solution really in the best interest of America’s seniors and their health, or another clever instance of American companies mining the health care system for fresh profits?

      jeezus h. christ. Is this person serious?

      The “key” question is, “When has private equity EVER made a situation better?” Answer: See air ambulances, emergency rooms and ToysRUs. Oh wait, nothing left to see at ToysRUs.

  10. Solarjay

    The Biden administration is truly biz as usual like he said. They truly don’t seem to have any intention of acting for the environment.
    The DPA being unfunded was just a press release, zero intention of any action. And the 100 million is so small as to be basically meaningless.

    In regards to the Supreme Court ruling, they could have anticipated a few options and had bills already drafted ready to vote on. But duh, forgot about the filibuster, and manchin and, and, and.

    Here is a link about new drilling, dropped on a Friday before a holiday weekend, no coincidence there.

    1. tegnost

      When the allowable details (who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of dems) of the Build Back Bull (malarkey) came out and and had zero dollars for wetlands restoration it reaffirmed my belief that we have 2 republican parties. Your link is yet more proof…

      1. Robert Hahl

        How about: Who knows what lesser evil lurks in the hearts of Dems?

        At the start of Bernie’s second campaign, I ordered a visor with the slogan Don’t be Lessor Evil, and offered it to Katie Halper who was a big supporter, but got no response. I am still working on one for Bernie’s third campaign.

        1. ambrit

          My cynical take would be a t-shirt with Bernie wearing a blindfold on it, tied to a pole, with the caption; “The Future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades!”

  11. KD

    Awake versus sleeping:

    If I claim I went to school naked yesterday, you can ask my classmate to verify whether or not I went to school naked.

    If I claim that I dreamed I went to school naked yesterday, even if you ask my classmate whether I dreamed I went to school naked (and wouldn’t that be ridiculous), whatever they said, it would not refute my assertion.

    “Reality” depends on an intersubjective system of agreement, whereas self reports on dreams depends on a different intersubjective system. From a Cartesian, phenomenological perspective, the purported phenomenon appears the same, but the game is entirely different. You can imagine Rommel assessing a landscape versus Van Gogh.

    The above addresses the criterion of truth–true mistakes get you killed.

    1. hemeantwell

      I think we’re always dreaming in the sense that in the background of our consciousness wishes and defenses are continually bubbling away. Fortunately we have neurological structures that enable us to suppress/repress those processes enough so that we can navigate reality, avoiding lions and tigers and cars and such. That hardware supports software, aka culture, that varies quite a bit.

      Some people have great difficulty allowing the wish-defense stew to achieve representation in dreams as we usually understand the term. Thomas Ogden, a psychoanalyst, has written a good bit on patients learning to be able to dream over the course of analysis. In his view it’s the analyst’s steady effort to make sense of their strivings that eventually allows the patient to be more free in representing those strivings to themselves.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Sober up, recall yourself, shake off sleep once more; realise they were mere dreams that troubled you; and now that you are awake again look on those things as you would have looked upon a dream’.

      Marcus Aurelius

    3. Chas

      Thanks for this video Jonah. In “The teachings of Don Juan: a Yaqui way of knowledge,” Carlos Castaneda tells of a dream Don Juan had where he dreamed he was sleeping under an apple tree and then woke up in his dream under the apple tree. Then Don Juan took control of his dream and decided what he would do next. It was the beginning of his learning to travel in his dreams and even to fly in his dreams. I’m still working on it.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Nearly twenty years ago every night for a month I flew (and landed, which was more difficult there at first) in my dreams. I mastered it, levitation, superman style, carpets, first solo, then with passenger, went everywhere, then began to find all those in my life great and small and take them for a flight. I don’t know, but I sometimes think it all ended when there was nothing more to share or accomplish.

        I can’t recall any other time I had a dream pick up where it left off on a following night. Much less for a month. I somehow managed for most of that month not to question or scrutinize by day. Just gently let it go, with no expectation.

      2. c_heale

        Casteneda’s claims of being taught by a shamen are disputed. Not sure how much faith you should put in him.

    4. QuicksilverMessenger

      I think you are missing one point, and he touches on it at the end of the video, that it is far too simple to propose the binary of ‘awake vs sleeping’. That it’s more like a scale, in movement, full of layers and gaps.
      There is a great legacy in the Tibetan lineages of The 6 Yogas of Naropa- ‘illusory form’ yoga, dream yoga, sleep yoga, bardo yoga etc. – a discipline and practice that fundamentally is working with the nature of mind, of awareness, of illusion that begins to call into question what we think of as our stable and continuous existence, always identifying with our states. How do you know you’re sleeping? dreaming? awake? dead?

      Lobsang Lalungpa used to say (always while laughing) ‘this is all a dream!’.

  12. orlbucfan

    Welcome aboard, Jonah. Thanks for helping out Yves, Lambert, and Jerri-Lynn. In these very Dark Times, you all are the very best.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Queen’s secret influence on laws revealed in Scottish government memo”

    Not just Scotland either. She may look like a sweet, little old lady but behind the scenes she has been ferocious in protecting not only the privileges of the Royal family but their financial interests as well. From her viewpoint, she is not just thinking about this quarter’s financial report but is thinking in terms of a multi-generational Firm. After all these decades, who knows how many thousands of pieces of legislation she has helped change to her and her family’s benefit and I once saw a similar story written about twenty years ago to do with England. The Crown Estate is something to behold and to a large extent, they are super landlords-

    1. TimH

      Don’t forget Brenda’s Georgian terraces around Regents Park which got exempted from the tenants right to buy freehold law a while ago.

      1. c_heale

        Similar situation in Princetown on Dartmoor. Prince Charles is exactly the same as his mother in this regard.

  14. Dftbs

    For months now there’s been a lot of speculation as to when Russia will “demand” Roubles as payment for exports other than gas. The addition of grain to the list is extremely curious and unfortunately the RT story doesn’t go into the motivations for the move.

    Changing gas from Euro denominations to Rouble was obvious. Russia’s access to Euros was taken away by regulatory fiat. The method of physical delivery in gas put the risk wholly on the Russian side. That is Russian gas travels straight from gas fields to the buyers via pipeline. If the Russians are “paid” for this via Euros they can’t access they are essentially giving gas away.

    There was speculation that this was some sort of hybrid energy war move by the Russians and they would follow with roubles for oil. I think the reason we haven’t seen this move is because the oil trade with the West largely happens via tankers and third party intermediaries. Global oil traders such as Glencore or Vitoil pay the Russians in Russia, likely not with dollars or euros since this settlement happens in Russia, and assume the sanctions risk themselves. When a Vitoil tanker is seized by the US Navy and brought to port that isn’t Russia’s risk, it’s Vitoils’.

    Grain trade is more like oil than gas, and so the Russian move to demand rouble payment doesn’t seem to me to be driven by risk concerns. This does seem to be a “political” move but not in the way the Western brain trust thinks. Rather this change in denomination is meant to make grain more affordable for non-western importers of Russian grain. Demanding roubles for grain lowers the utility of the dollar and it’s vassal currencies in grain transactions and allows non-western importers to bypass the inflationary nature the “daivc”. Settlements and loans for purchase can now be made in roubles which are under the control of the Russian central bank and don’t liberally trade in the West, so can’t be attacked by coordinated action of Western banks. Moreover roubles aren’t experiencing the same inflationary pressure as western currencies.

    Imagine a world where the West is forced to go to the global south and offer piles of “cash” to get their intermediary access to roubles so they don’t starve in Europe. See you later WB/IMF dollar debt. Shoe on the other foot, and all that.

    1. Robert Hahl

      The five stages of grief:

      Paying in roubles

  15. JAC

    Regarding Starbucks: I am traveling and stopped in a Starbucks this morning to grab a coffee and read NC before continuing on driving today. The lobby was empty, a new store for sure, five really young kids working there. They all seem to have had a look on their face. I had my backpack over my shoulder and ordered a split shot Americano. $3.95! Ok, so they must have just figured I wanted a grande.

    I sit down and attempt to access the internet and….nothing. I ask them if their internet is working a kid says “ohhhh, no its not. Do you want to use my hotspot, it works pretty good?” I thought about that for a moment, how I could ruin his life by surfing to all sorts or totally wrong websites, but I knew he was not the problem and I warned him about his offer.

    I asked the manager for my money back for my coffee order (which they got wrong) since they knew the internet was down for a few days the could have at least hung up a sign. She says she has to call her boss. All this over a $4 coffee! I try to not stop at Starbucks but this was going to be it.

    This kid manager was hemming and hawing with me about the refund, they she said they could give me a card or something. I told them to forget about it, that they could pay me back by hanging up a sign and the kid replied…..”Our manager does not just let us hang us signs anywhere..”


    I told them if their manager does not let them hang up signs that they should start a union and went on for a bit about capitalism and power dynamics under capitalism. I know I had two of those kids brains clicking.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      This is a feature of many retail companies I’ve noticed these days – they are massively over controlled from the centre so the manager on the ground has almost no discretion whatever. Its a deliberate attempt of course to de-skill retail work. I’ve noticed when I travel that most big chain hotels are very rigid in their pricing, while smaller independent hotels still give the receptionist plenty of scope for offering a discount if you ask the right way at the right time (i.e. after 5pm).

      Five years ago when staying at a Manhattan hotel for a funeral with several members of my family we accidentally double paid (two of us paid the bill at reception separately). The staff in the hotel had no idea how to rectify the problem – they actually pretty much denied there was a problem, insisting that it was impossible to overpay. It was pretty clear that none of the staff in the hotel had any discretion whatever to give refunds and they had been chosen because they looked kind of cool hanging around the lobby, not because they knew anything about customer service. It took months of emails and calls (to a particularly nasty senior finance person in the company) to get a refund. What was an otherwise very nice hotel stay was ruined by this type of stupidity. I’m sure some consultant (probably McKinsey) thought this was a good idea.

      As for Starbucks, they seem determined to destroy their own reputation. I’ve little experience of it in the US but the few times I’ve visited in various places around the world the staff have been noticeably much more of a positive feature than their coffee. In some countries, a stint at Starbucks is considered a pretty high prestige part time job for a well educated student. My only regular visits to a Starbucks was 14 years ago when I was recovering from facial injuries in an accident and the only treat I could take was a Frappuccino (I couldn’t eat solids for 3 months). The staff were lovely and had it ready for me as soon as they saw me at the door. If they destroy this element, then people are far more likely to notice their coffee is terrible.

      1. LifelongLib

        There’s a scene in “The Sopranos” where a couple of Tony’s crew try to shakedown a Starbucks. The manager explains there’s no way he can pay them, that he has to account to Seattle for every penny. They leave in frustration, saying “The little guy just doesn’t have a chance”.

      2. wilroncanada

        My oldest son-in-law swears by Starbucks. I swear at it. The coffee? Burn, baby, burn!

    2. Pelham

      I’ve never worked at a Starbucks, but somehow the situation you describe here is disturbingly and rattlingly familiar. I suppose it’s summarized as a feeling of bewildered powerlessness under an invisible dome of unlimited and capricious authority.

      What’s encouraging is the tiny point of light in their day you offered by pointing out the power dynamics rather than choosing to be just another p’d-off customer. How many Starbucks visitors would do the same?

    3. Janie

      JAC, good for you enlightening the staff. Several times lately, I’ve had store clerks tell me supply/prices are better at a competitor. Happened again yesterday at grocery when I asked if a missing item was on the pallet being unloaded (middle of aisle, middle of day). Clerk said wistfully that he wished a rival company would open in our part of town so he could shop there more conveniently. For all he knew, I could be from corporate; he didn’t know and didn’t care. Then, the cashier told me the berries were cheaper at Winco, where she shops!

  16. dougie

    Jonah, you had me at “How Do You Know You Aren’t Dreaming”, your second link. You are off to a dazzling start!

  17. Lex

    Re: Ukrainian grain,

    It’s now clear that the west and Ukraine are considering all the grain in Russian controlled territories to be stolen from Ukraine. They’re conflating what’s at Odessa and in the western oblasts with the projected national totals (20M tons vs 6M tons). The operative question then is whether the farmers in the east are getting paid for their crop. If so, it’s hard to argue that it’s stolen except via the fantasy that Ukraine will regain all the territories and be denied this year’s tax revenue from that grain.

    1. amechania

      Defense Politics Asia suggests the russian withdrawl from snake island is not just tactical, but part of a larger political and communications strategy.

      They are baiting the ukrainians to de-mine their coast line (he says) and getting political cover to avoid blame for the current inability to ship out the grain in question.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “The West’s self-defeating sanctions”

    A lot of the chaos and problems that we are seeing would go away if the sanctions were lifted. But it seems the egos of the elite are refusing to consider it and the collective west won’t even consider trying to start negotiations. In fact, they are thinking about sanctioning countries in places like Africa and Asia unless they stop buying stuff from Russia. Come to think of it, nobody is talking about what comes next which is really bizarre. And today I read that damn, old fool Kissinger come up with his ideas how this war will end. He says that there are three possible outcomes-

    -Russia stops where they are and call it a day.
    -The Ukraine tries to push Russia out of Crimea & the Donbass which ends in a wider war.
    -The Ukraine pushes Russia out of the country.

    And people still listen to him as he is considered an elder statesman or something.

    1. Mikel

      “Concerns grow that India is ‘back door’ into Europe for Russian oil”

      This bit:

      “India’s 1.4 billion-strong population gives it reason to seek cheap supplies. But it’s a dangerous political game. “India is walking a tightrope,” said Alan Gelder, the vice-president of refining, chemicals and oil markets at Wood Mackenzie. “If you take too much, you do not want the west to sanction the rest of your economy.”

      So they have lost their minds. They think putting another billion or so under sanctions is the way to influence. Yep…they think it’s a good idea to threaten to isolate India too.

      This is the madness of countries whose very wealth is dependent on what they have taken. Now there is fear with the broader
      recognition that they need the world more than it needs them.

      Africa is a net creditor to the world.
      Could India even begin to recollect the treasure stolen from them over centuries?
      And China is NOT going to be returning to any century of humiliation any time soon.

      So some countries need to grow the hell up and start learning to deal with other countries in ways that recognizes they have their own interests and populations to take care of.

      1. Oh

        To me it behooves the US to allow this back door. Modi probably has an unwritten agreement to import Russian oil and export petroleum products and the US conveniently looks the other way. When India imports 5 times the usual amount of oil we can surmise what’s happening. A bunch of Modi’s buddies are getting rich. I can’t believe that the US does not have the leverage to stop this back door. There’s too much at stake for India because of its trade with the US.

        1. hk

          I would imagine a lot of the refined petroleum products are actually being imported to US. It would be suicidal for American pols to stop this.

    2. Lee

      More like an elder cane toad. He’s right in the first instance. Russia will quit and call it a day once it wins the day.

    3. Skip Intro

      The sanctions will, of course, not be removed until regime change in the NATO capitals is complete, because the economic war was the point all along. A few thousand tanks or missiles in Ukraine are just a pretext for the economic war targeted at Nordstream2 and the risk to the US that the EU and Russia grow closer, economically. It will take

      I guess Kissinger forgot the part where LPR and DPR are joined by Karkhiv, Kherson, Odessa and Zaporizhie(sp) as new people’s republic buffer states, and Poland grabs and brutalizes a chunk of Galicia.

    4. Mikel

      From the article:
      “…Simply put, Russia makes more of the stuff that is used to make other stuff. Think about this with respect to energy. Russia produces around 40 per cent of Europe’s natural gas, a key commodity used in electricity and heat generation. Can a service sector business remain open without access to this energy? Obviously not. A high street retailer, for example, would not be able to function without electricity. Now put the shoe on the other foot: can an energy provider continue to produce energy if all the high street retailers closed their doors? Of course.

      What we are showing here is that all GDP is not created equal. Some output in the economy is more important, more fundamental to how the economy functions than other output. Russia produces far more of this more important output than we do, making it a more critical economy than it appears on a simple GDP metric…”

      Same could be said for China, etc.
      Which brings me back to an article from the other day. While I wouldn’t put much into their hopium that the Fed will have to sooner rather than later cut interest rates, this observation was right to the point about differences in economic output:
      “…Then there’s the impact of the technology boom, although Barnes casts doubt on the productivity benefits of the recent offerings from the Big Tech companies. “Time spent on Facebook, Twitter and Netflix do not have obvious benefits for increased economic efficiency,” he comments with typical Scot wryness.”

      And, as I’ve pointed out, the service economy includes the financial sector. So when these clowns are praising the growth of GDP in terms of the service sector, often they are talking about working people servicing debt and “insurance’ – at the mercy of rentiers.

  19. Ignacio

    RE: The Aristocratic Ineptitude of Ursula Von Der Leyen Foreign Policy
    That was indeed an interesting reading at least for me not having enough insights on German policy. The article focuses on the Covid vaccine mismanagement and blames excessive faith in markets and too neoliberal stance on the part of von der Leyen. That this article appears now when Leyen is involved in a crazed spree about Ukraine, with at least talk that is very much out of her bounds and roles, might or might not be coincidence but this is first article to my account with hard criticism on her. Could be a signal, not a good one for Leyen. Now and onwards I am removing her nob title.

  20. RobertC

    Imperial Collapse Watch

    While China is rapidly introducing AI into port operations [“All of China’s major ports are at or close to full automation.”] Oakland A’s Win Key Approval for Waterfront Stadium at Port Site Useful to Shipping

    The Oakland Athletics are one step closer to building a $12 billion ballpark and real estate development at the Port of Oakland after a state agency decided that a 55-acre terminal is no longer needed for maritime operations.

    The baseball team is seeking to move to Howard Terminal, which has been without a tenant since SSA Marine Inc. relocated to newer facilities in 2014, and has threatened to move to Las Vegas if the project isn’t approved. The plan has generated opposition from the shipping industry, which argued it will cause major impacts to both the surrounding community and port operations.

    …Although Howard Terminal is no longer used to unload ships, the terminal now serves as a truck parking lot, as well as a pop-up container yard and a training site for dockworkers. For the industry, allowing it to be used for anything other than maritime operations would deal another blow to already-stretched supply chains.

    Howard Terminal could also be used for proof-of-concept introduction of AI into US port operations without impacting active ports, Silicon Valley being in the neighborhood and US port operations being in desperate need of efficiency improvements and cost reductions.

    But but … circuses!

    1. Sardonia

      Circus indeed:

      Oakland A’s 26 53 .329

      Worst record in MLB. It’s not the ’70’s anymore – except economically.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Exclusive: Ukraine requests Turkey detain Russian-flagged ship it says carrying Ukrainian grain”

    ‘The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office asked Turkey to “conduct an inspection of this sea vessel, seize samples of grain for forensic examination, demand information on the location of such grain”, the letter said, adding that Ukraine was ready to conduct a joint investigation with Turkish authorities.’

    This is just the Ukraine trying to stir up trouble between Russia and Turkey by putting Turkey in the firing line – with Ukrainian help. They will probably try the same with every grain ship that leaves Russia to keep them tied up and stalled in the Black Sea instead of going to market.

  22. Mikel

    “The Supreme Court’s EPA Ruling isn’t the Only Legal Attack on the Environment” Vox

    “…Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the EPA “must point to ‘clear congressional authorization’ for the power it claims…”

    “This court in one term has basically dismantled the administrative state,” Rebecca Bratspies, a law professor at the City University of New York who studies environmental justice, said in an email….”

    I can think of alot of the excutive branch/administrative state that
    needs challenges to the power being claimed.
    All that overseas meddling has the Democratic Party establishment especially enthralled with the presidency above all else.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Opinion | Feminism Made a Faustian Bargain With Celebrity Culture. Now It’s Paying the Price.”

    I don’t think that this happened at all. From what I have read, third-wave feminism tied themselves to well-off ambitious women who were determined to break the glass ceiling – but mostly for their own benefit. In fact, I would go so far as to say that feminism was identified with the success of wealthy women and it came to a head with Hillary Clinton when this wealthy, white woman was going to break the ultimate glass ceiling – the Presidency. Her rally place in 2016 actually had an animation of a glass ceiling breaking. The trouble was, as I said, that it identified with only well-off women who were typically white. I have read of meetings where women who tried to bring up the plight of their poorer sisters were sidelined and shut down. Got a bit ugly when you had a bunch of wealthy, white woman shut down a black women trying to bring up her concerns. And these celebrities that they talk about in this article? How many of them are still poor? (crickets) Any tool that could be found to further their ambitions was used such as when #MeToo came on the scene. What happened to that movement? Joe Biden, that’s what. When old Joe was accused of sexual assault by Tara Reade, “Believe women” quickly became “Not her” because old Joe was useful to these women so Reade should shut the hell up. After that #MeToo kinda died off. Even the abortion issue does not affect these women as they have the money and resources to fly to another State. I think that what is really needed is a fourth wave feminism but based on all classes if it is ever to succeed.

    1. orlbucfan

      Any American with half a few braincells knew that MeToo was a bunch of celebrity horse manure. No wonder I have been grieving for my country for decades!!

      1. c_heale

        I think Me Too did reframe the argument. And it’s more common now for abusers to be outed, and at least lose their position and status, which is a good thing. The fact that this is happening to powerful people, is important.

    2. Questa Nota

      Hypocrisy is one of the more successful growth industries in America. Ask your doctor, politician, feminist, professor or other, er, authority or media figure if STFU hypocrisy is right for you. /s

    3. Geo

      I agree with everything you said but that fourth wave you mention is sadly not feasible for much of the same reason that so many other movements fizzle out before they get anywhere: the marginalized groups have all been so stratified that they are much more focused on fighting each other than they are their oppressors.

      Much like the old LBJ quote “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket” we now see feminists arguing with trans arguing with non-binary arguing with POC all about who is the real victim of the abortion ruling. We have socialist groups arguing with democratic socialist groups arguing with communist groups arguing with Marxist groups over who is controlled opposition all while none of them notch any progress. Heck, even see environmentalist groups arguing about representation and how one group doesn’t center this group or that group enough. And on and on and on…

      Rights movements used to be centered on human rights. Now it’s centered on “Me” rights. Until this culture of “me and mine” is remedied all these groups are family-blogged.

      This is why worker movements seem like the last hope for us in many ways. Without that, people will gravitate toward celebrity saviors (I put Bernie and AOC into that camp even though I like them). As comedienne Maria Bamford once said, “Reach for the stars. They’re the only people who can save you.”

    4. hemeantwell

      I’d urge caution about conflating feminism with a faction within it that got more resources and air time for class-based reasons. I’ve known plenty of working class women who thought of themselves as feminist as in “just as good as a man” re basic abilities and savvy. My impression from reading years of Labor Notes fits with that, but more along the lines of a “woman-friendly way of doing union work.”

  24. Wukchumni

    I was working for a big firm in LA in the late 1980’s and the owner had 4 season tix about 50 rows behind home plate & a parking pass to Dodger games, and got to go to around 35 games that magical season of 1988 when the blue crew improbably won it all, including going to a number of playoff games & the 2nd game of the World Series, but honestly the highlight was watching Roger Owens pitch every game.

    Play on the field was second fiddle to watching him throw 3 bags of peanuts behind his back 15 rows up and 6 rows over from where he stood and he never missed the strike zone. Fans would vie for goobers even if they weren’t all that hungry, he had that sort of effect on the crowd. If you flubbed the catch, he’d request that you throw the bags back so he could make up for your poor fielding as he was a perfectionist in things peanuts, and a master in economics-as in get the money first!

    I’ve probably only been to a dozen MLB games since, and i’m not going back to Chavez Ravine anytime soon as there is no joy in Mudville as the great Owens has struck out and isn’t allowed to pitch anymore.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Everything is sanitized, squeaky clean, no fun allowed, lest one neoliberal’s litigiousness costs another Richie Rich an extra house they won’t live in anyways.

      Bring back some grit or just get it over with and let robots play the games without fans for the benefit of DraftKings.

      1. Wukchumni

        Every MLB umpire is sporting a couple of FTX patches on their uniform and once they disappear will be your clue that crypto is a done deal.

  25. vao

    Regarding the thread about “TIME IS NOT ON KYIV’S SIDE: TRAINING, WEAPONS, AND ATTRITION IN UKRAINE”, Will Schryver notes:

    But it does explain why we now see them doubling-down on efforts to prolong this war – both to (hopefully) degrade Russian capabilities, and to buy time for themselves to determine what to do next.

    Which reminds me that there is another case where a supposedly modern, unbeatable military has been trying to bleed another, supposedly inferior foe for a long time, without daring to confront it head-on: Israel vs. Syria.

    I presume that just like Russia, Syria has now a battle-hardened — if war-weary — military, experienced in urban combat, long-range operations in the countryside (including deserts), and static siege warfare (e.g. Deir ez-Zor), and that, just like USA/NATO, the Israel general staff is kept awake at night thinking about what would happen if they have to face their Syrian counterparts on the battlefield, especially once they are re-equipped with modern Russia weapons, and even more ominously if they co-ordinate with the Lebanese Hezbollah. Hence those recurring strikes against Syria to “degrade its capabilities, buying time to determine what to do next”.

    1. Raymond Sim

      It’s worth noting that much of Hezbollah’s success against Israel can be attributed to Hezbollah possessing a truly modern military infrastructure in the form of fortifications and secure communications, and its use of same in a truly modern fashion.

      I’m seeing a tendency right now for analysis of Russia’s war in Ukraine to misunderstand the potentialites of modern defense in depth. Russia’s very methodical approach, which could even be called conservation of force, seems to indicate the Russians haven’t made that mistake.

      1. hk

        This is an interesting perspective. I suppose one might expand on it by noting that Hizbullah has fought a modern guerrilla war–lightly equipped, seemingly backwards force actually equipped with modern stuff where it matters and well-trained to use them accordingly according to their situation. This is in marked contrast to the Arab armies in 1960s who were seemingly well-equipped with then-modern tanks and jet fighters but badly trained in their use, let alone in proper context, or even the Syrians and Egyptians in 1973 who were much better trained technically, but did not optimize their approach to war to fit their strategic capabilities (i.e. how much sense did it make for Arab armies in 1973 to go mano a mano with Israel in a contest of conventional arms, where they were much thinner in the broad infrastructure, in technical, socioeconomic, and institutional bases, to support them?

        I think you are right about the potential of the defense in depth, if organized by a force that understands its own weaknesses and strength (and the other side’s) and has the suitable training and equipment that fit their circumstances. Given what we saw in Yugoslavia in 1998, the ability of properly dug in force to resist bombing and shelling is tremendous and, when given opportunity, can at least inflict considerable pain and annoyance on an unwary and/or impatient foe. I have a hunch that Russians certainly and possibly even Ukrainians learned quite a lot from the Serbian experience as well as subsequent ME conflicts (Did NATO? For all the frustration that we saw when the bombing campaign had to drag on for almost 3 months, I do wonder if there was too much triumphalism at the end to make them see what didn’t go right too carefully….)

        1. Raymond Sim

          I think the most neglected aspects have to do with communications: The extraordinary degree of situational awareness that can be afforded to commanders, and the ability to use highly dispersed forces in a concerted fashion. Additionally, though it’s hardly a novel observation, the fact that fortifications can enhance the mobility of light forces is, I guess, counterintuitive.

          Since 2006 the Israelis seem to have paid a lot of attention to fiber optic lines in Lebanon.

  26. Mikel

    “Out with the Old: Is Neoliberalism Really Dying?” New Statesman

    No. Kill it with fire. It’s the only way to be sure.

  27. Mikel

    “When buyers purchase a car, a vast majority (~85%) are financed. The problem is that, unlike real estate, auto loans are not subject to strict underwriting requirements allowing almost anyone to get one.

    Buyers with lower credit scores were funnelled into loans with 2x interest!

    Graham Stephan
    Jul 1
    You can see how crazy this is in the latest auto loan consumer reports.

    -25 to 50% of the loans were given to customers who might not be able to repay it

    – Lenders only verified the source of income and employment only 4% of the time

    If that’s not crazy enough, as of now, 5% of Auto Loans are behind payments and nearly half of them are underwater!

    Just like how the housing market collapsed from the loan crisis in 2008, the same thing is said to be starting to happen in the Auto Loan market….”

    Just as I told you all months ago when there was talk about how much people were paying for used and new cars. Sub prime lending is going on, I said.
    No investigation needed because it has never gone away in the auto market. It’s the other fuel of the auto industry: sub-prime lending.
    Most Americans are not gettingand will never get the kind of rates the more privileged get. Even those with good credit never really benefited from the low interest rates.
    I keep telling you “trickle down interest rate” nonsense doesn’t work any more than any other kind of BS “trickle down economics.”

  28. Mikel
    MSN story from this past Dec. Xmas Holiday Season.
    Memorial Day weekend

    Flash forward to today:
    “Thousands of flights were delayed, and hundreds canceled Friday evening amid pilot and crew shortages, as industry experts warned of travel chaos this Independence Day holiday weekend.

    More than 7,800 flights were delayed within, into, or out of the US, and 586 canceled, according to FlightAware….”

    Phantom flights continue to appear for you all to book….
    Move along nothing to see here? How’s that “normal” going for ya?

    1. Glen

      Wall St has been a “free market” (i.e. barely regulated, broken, corrupt) seen clearly by everybody since 2008, propped up by the Federal Reserve with trillions. Every company/industry/service is in a head long rush to emulate Wall Street’s very enviable position in the American economy:

      Airlines – get a huge tax payer bailout to retain people, then lay them all off, and now sell tickets for flight’s that don’t exist (much more profitable than having to actually fly a airplane.)
      Oil Companies – get bailouts in the CARES Act, and now, just charge more and cite some BS reason (Putin, global market, take your pick.)
      Car companies – to be fair, these did not receive a CARES Act bailout, just government loans, but they were bailed out in 2009, and now, make less, charge more, way more.
      American healthcare – pick your own horror story, there are too many to cite.
      Power utilities – to be fair, programs were established for their customers, but some utilities have aggressively pursued profits as opposed to reliable power for decades, and now (as then) maintenance is expensive, just stop doing it. If things go really bad, just shut off the grid.

      I suppose we should not be surprised. The Federal Reserve has printed so much money that PE firms are buying everything, and bringing along their unique “management” style. And there are also “industry leaders” that have been leading the charge even prior to the PE invasion.

      1. Mikel

        Outside of price point and sale ads, most marketing and advertising is about acclimating youth to consumer culture and brainwashing by branding. It’s all part of forcing that TINA mindset.
        As you point out, the biggest of the big with little competition aren’t interested in selling to customers or clients, they are interested in CAPTURED consumers that can be milked and milked and milked with no improvement to lives or services.
        That’s the neoliberal order that looks askance at other countries that want to produce and develop in other ways by making investments in their countries and people.

  29. Mark Gisleson

    I count sixty [60] links (not including critters). For a holiday weekend, that’s Rookie Blogger of the Year stuff.

    I think Jonah’s a keeper!

  30. Mikel

    “McKinsey, Consiglieri of the Opioid Crisis” Pluralistic (Cory Doctorow)

    Now let’s see some investigation into McKinsey and “vaccine” marketing…

  31. CaliDan

    Your Fitbit has Stolen Your Soul UnHerd

    Welcome Jonah!

    Intersesting read. Personally I’ve tried to curtail smart devices since Roomba. But whatever you may think of smart devices it is intellectually inedible to ignore the indespensible, in-home health monitoring that fitbits provide to many people, like my Mom for example, who recently had a heart attack.

    What really triggered this response however was that I had never heard of, well, UnHerd. After checking it out a bit I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it’s not for me in the long run. But I liked Vice’s description of it enough to quote it here: “The social media news cycle can be a jading stream of ill-informed narcissists, but it’s refreshing to be reminded that at least it offers a more diverse outlook than [Thatcherite-Evangelical founder] Tim Montgomerie funded by an oligarch publishing the kind of people who are generally ‘unheard’ because people edge away from them at parties.”

  32. jr

    Jonah, welcome and thanks for the great links. I loved the short bit on dreaming versus reality. As an Idealist, I think it’s important to note that neither of the above phenomena take place outside of consciousness. In this view, the distinction made between dreaming and reality shifts from a duality to a spectrum of experience. The wider world we experience, always within a conscious state, speaks not to some fantasy of a world outside of consciousness but rather a conception of consciousness that encapsulates all we experience: the “outer” world, the “inner” world, and dreams, the worlds within the inner world.

    One of the best things about NC is not just the links but the links one finds when exploring a link. Here is a talk between John Searle and Bryan McGee on the philosophy of Wittgenstein. I really must understand how Wittgenstein squared the circle of language not referring to objects or concepts with the intuition that language must refer to something:

    Searle points out that Wittgenstein did believe that all words were not created equal in that, I suspect within my crude understanding, some were more “reality based” than others. He also notes that Wittgenstein didn’t agree with those who argue there is no such thing as “mind”. Finally, Searle provides with a hint of derision that Wittgenstein is much abused by post structuralism, the intellectual structure that eschews intellectual structures.

  33. ChrisRUEcon

    “How Do You Know You’re Not Dreaming?”

    Well finally, I get to comment on one of my favorite pandemic over-indulgences – the movie “Inception” (via IMDB)


    I’ve taken a late shine to this movie. I used to be a far bigger fan of director Christopher Nolan’s previous effort, “Memento”, which plays out backwards in time. With “Inception”, Nolan tangentially tackles the same question asked by the Aeon article, as the key to the movie’s plot revolves around the ability to make a dream so much like reality that it becomes the dreamer’s reality. In reverse engineering my love of this film, I’ve gone though a lot of the reviews from the time of its release, and almost universally, the movie-cognoscenti suggests that Nolan uses “inception” as a metaphor for movie-making itself – i.e. we, the viewers, are drawn into movies the way Inception’s dreamers are drawn into the dream. I find this to be shallow comparison, however. The deeper, more interesting metaphor is what some of the ancient philosophers in the video suggest – that our reality being a dream is the possibility we struggle to invalidate. I encourage those who have never seen the movie to watch it. It is one filled with interesting comparisons to our current reality, one of the most prominent of which from an NC-commentariat perspective would be “inception” as a proxy for “consent manufacturing”. The notion of a planted idea being as resilient as a “virus” hits close to home, especially if say, the idea in question were that “COVID is mild”. Thanks so much for the short video. Interested in hearing what other fans of the movie “Inception” think about this!

    1. QuicksilverMessenger

      I just watched this the other night. I love the premise but was fast forwarding thru a lot of it: why does there always have to be so much violence, gun fire, murder, car chases, explosion and fires? And all at top decibel level. I just can’t stand that.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        [SPOILERS AHEAD!!]

        Thanks for responding QM!

        Try to watch without FFWD-ing at least one time … :) It will help catch some subtle stitches that bind the plot together!

        It’s essentially a heist movie that takes place in dreams except the protagonist’s team has been hired (this time) to put something in (inception), not take something out (extraction).

        The violence in largely incidental. In all shared dreams, the dreamer’s projections attack when the dreamer senses someone else in the dream. Additionally, the main plotline reveals that the target’s subconscious has been “hardened” by training against extraction – a fact which catches the entire inception team off guard. Try to focus on the story surrounding the main character’s wife as well. That will take your mind away from the car chases and bullets – all of which happen in dreams by the way … :)


  34. Raymond Sim

    So, the Bee has noticed the pandemic again eh? Our betters must be worried. I got so pissed-off reading it that I really can only claim to have scanned it.

    What sort of sorry a-hole calling themselves a journalist talks about Sacramento’s levels being relatively low while Davis and the Bay Area are blowing up, but doesn’t ask how that could be possible?

    What sort of sorry a-hole calling herself a public health officer uses the b-s ‘decoupling’ jargon? I once had high hopes for Aimee Sisson.

    Is there any mention that the newly dominant variant is expected to be ‘not so mild’?

      1. Raymond Sim

        Yeesh. Can those competitive advantage numbers be real? Of course that’s what I said about Delta, and BA.1.

        I guess, per GM, I really should be asking “Will this be the one that finally kills enough people?”

  35. CaliDan

    Proposal to Teach Slavery as ‘Involuntary Relocation’ Sent to Texas Education Board NBC

    How do you break a Texan’s finger? Sock them in the nose.

    But seriously, I simply wish to pass on a very related piece from Current Affairs, The Incredibly Disturbing Texas GOP Agenda Is a Vision For a Theocratic Dystopia as well as the 2022 Texas GOP party platform discussed therein. In them you’ll find all kinds of interesting things they want to do to/with the education system.

    1. super extra

      I’m not a republican but I am surrounded by them and saturated by their manners of thinking and processes and live in Lesser Texas (Oklahoma). I find the best way to view the Texas GOP (and the national GOP) is to view the GOP itself as a corporation-style organization for those interested in prioritizing the interests of landed gentry and business owners. There are factions within the organization that do not agree on all matters, and pull funding from different sources. But everyone has the discipline, and there are likely some internal controls enforced in unseen ways, to whip the vote along certain expected lines.

      There are at least 2 major factions, probably more like 4:

      – Patricians: primarily backed by oil&gas and ag monopoly money. Koch bros/Federalist Society. Same group, roughly, who supported the Bush clan.
      – Magas: Trump’s people
      – remnants of the Tea Party: those who remain from the libertarian “revolution” of ~12 years ago
      – Other: mixture of none of the above, in some states bigger than the tea party, like the non-patrician private equity people and the military/spooks who aren’t in the Magas

      Enough damage was done by the Tea Party that the remaining Patricians had to run for the hard religious right to keep their seats. The Texas legislature, like most state legislatures with strong GOP parties, is splintered by these factional battles, and the Patricians are trying to cling to their powers and seats by going harder to the right in order to prevent the Magas from taking over.

      In Oklahoma we have a similar situation that has been tempered by being smaller/poorer and that half the state has the counterbalancing power blocs of the tribes. But there is a smaller version of the TX drama and during our primaries (it’s a closed primary, only registered republicans can vote in it, so extra feral) the ads were almost completely Patricians vs Magas. All the Patrician candidates who leaned heavy into the Christian sharia shit lost. I don’t think it means TX is going to see the same thing, I just think the Patricians are overstepping and in panic. Maybe someone more knowledgeable about TX election laws knows better if Abbot can still be primaried by Matthew McConaghey on an Independent ticket running on Uvalde and ‘none of the above’? Or maybe it will take another Abbot term?

  36. Glen

    Jonah, thanks for the links! NC has been a primary news source (or aggregator) for me since at least 2008.

  37. Brunches with Cats

    Re: Biden Announces Changes in U.S. Force Posture in Europe

    “The U.S. military will also maintain a persistent, heel-to-toe presence in the region and will intensify training with Baltic allies to maintain combat-credible capabilities, officials said.”

    WTF is “combat credible?” Just wasted an hour of my life searching for a definition, and the best I could come up with is that it has to do with deterrence by making the enemy — in this case, the evil russkies — believe that stepping one toe over the line would be a fatal mistake. Speaking of “heel-to-toe” (whatever the F that means), Putin must be shaking with laughter in his shoes.

    Among the top search hits was the following read-out of the press call with Kirby and Wallander, on which the article was based. Two reporters actually asked the first question on my mind, about whether putting troops in Poland isn’t some devious attempt to circumvent the NATO-Russia agreement. Their answer was, “no,” because it’s just a forward command post, no troops. They also said Moscow hadn’t been forewarned, cuz we got no stinkin’ obligation to tell ’em nothin.

    1. jr

      “Combat credible” sounds like a post modernist approach to military readiness. The objective ability to wage war successfully doesn’t matter. The appearance does. The signified is trumped by the signifier. If not, why bother with a concept like “combat credible”? Just say we’re ready for battle. A world of inanity.

      1. Brunches with Cats

        Good points, jr. Now what if those appearances are serving a calculated purpose? Off the top of my head, I can think of a few: lowering the bar for performance, lowering the expectations of holders of the congressional purse strings, providing cover for the real source of combat-ready troops.

        1. jr

          BwC, outside of the post modernist true believers, I have no doubts such claims are in fact hiding agendas. I think it’s why post modernism and it’s deformed progeny have been empowered to the degree they have: when meaning is merely about interpretation, without some adherence to a shared reality, it can literally mean anything. There is no standard by which to ascertain truth, to whatever degree it can be and whatever form it takes. We all have a story to tell , as Hillary pointed out, with the presumption that all stories are equal. It’s the perfect cover for everything from synthetic sexual identities and their juicy price tags, corporations proclaiming that their greed and avarice are actually moving society forward, “girl bosses” representing the rise of all women, and IDpol cults belching their inherently divisive dogmas and cavorting in mansions while claiming to uplift the downtrodden.

  38. psv

    The Spiegel article on Germany and natural gas is accompanied by a portrait showing Putin with horns, which should have tipped me off I suppose. Among other things it tells us the country’s reliance on Russia today “is often blamed” on “the network of Putin fan boys in the SPD.” Nice use of the passive voice.

    On a former BASF board chairman: “Jürgen Hambrecht also knows plenty about natural gas, in the way a junkie knows all about the drug he yearns for and knows precisely how to obtain it. Hambrecht was a natural gas addict.” And “[The] Russians weren’t nearly as evil then [in 2001] as they appear today.” And so on. I’d have figured Der Spiegel would be a little more nuanced but I guess that shows I haven’t read it much lately.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Even the Germans dislike their media because of junk like this and call it the Lügenpresse – the lying press. Here Der Spiegel is just showing what a garbage publication that they are.

  39. Lee

    [California] STATE OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE LATEST COVID-19 FACTS Redheaded Blackbelt


    77,630,160 total vaccines administered.
    84.0% of the population (5+) has been vaccinated with at least one dose.
    35,219 people a day are receiving COVID-19 vaccination (average daily dose count over 7 days).


    California has 9,431,299 confirmed cases to date.
    Today’s average case count is 14,768 (average daily case count over 7 days).
    Unvaccinated people are 5.4 times more likely to get COVID-19 than boosted individuals (June 6, 2022 – June 12, 2022).


    The testing positivity rate is 14.8% (average rate over 7 days).

    There are 3,467 hospitalizations statewide.
    There are 372 ICU patients statewide.
    Unvaccinated people are 7.5 times more likely to be hospitalized than boosted individuals (June 6, 2022 – June 12, 2022).


    There have been 91,701 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
    COVID-19 claims the lives of 16 Californians each day (average daily death count over 7 days).
    Unvaccinated people are 14.5 times more likely to die than boosted individuals (May 30, 2022 – June 5, 2022).

    1. kareninca

      Is it still the case that you don’t count as vaccinated until two weeks after your second shot? And so if you catch covid after vaccination but before that after-time has passed, you count as an “unvaccinated” case of covid (even though you have actually been vaccinated)? It was a “thing” for people to catch covid during that period when the shots first came out. That way of counting who is vaccinated, has led to a lot of actually-vaccinated people being counted as unvaccinated for the sorts of stats you are providing.

      I’m in CA, not vaccinated, and I still haven’t caught it. I mask, use nasal spray and “I”, and test weekly (this is not medical advice). The only people I know who have caught covid have been vaccinated, and most of them have been boosted as well.

      1. salty dawg

        You’re right, kareninca, CA doesn’t count cases/hospitalizations/deaths as vaccinated until two weeks after their second shot.

        From ,
        Post-vaccination cases are individuals who have a positive SARS-Cov-2 molecular test (e.g. PCR) at least 14 days after they have completed their primary vaccination series or 14 days after they have completed their booster or additional dose.

        So, nonsensical numbers from yet another vaccine marketing group calling itself a Public Health Department…

        I’m not in CA, not vaccinated, don’t mask, haven’t had covid (as far as I know) and was surprised to see the numbers quoted, so had to look it up. Similar to your experience, in the last couple of months, I only know of vaccinated people (many) who have gotten covid.

  40. Fraibert

    Re: Irony of Recent Supreme Court Cases

    I’ve been thinking over the last few days how ironic the recent turn in the Supreme Court is and thought this blog might be an interesting place to post these thoughts.

    For decades, liberal legal advocates turned to the courts as one means of achieving their policy ends. In the past, I thought the “legislating from the bench” descriptor was an unfair caricature, but over time, I’ve come to view it as not entirely inaccurate.

    I once heard the apocryphal story that Justice Brennan (who, yes, I think did a lot of good, but probably pushed too far in retrospect) went up to the newly appointed Justice Kennedy and held up 5 fingers while discussing his famous “rule of five” (five Supreme Court Justices are all it takes to establish a legal rule).

    Bottom line, as I think I said once before in the comments here, the legal left got too addicted to the judicial system.

    What I find is ironic is that it seems to have never occurred to the legal left that the right could undertake the same tactics. Now, in a time with a more conservatively inclined Court, we have conservative legal advocacy groups litigating against government regulations on constitutional grounds and even winning big in overturning _Roe_.

    The “rule of five” works both ways–five Justices to establish a rule, but also only five to overturn it. Accordingly, it seems to me that the legal left decided to rely upon the legal system’s small-c conservatism as a means to secure its judicial policy victories (go figure, right?). Because even the Supreme Court really does (believe it or not) prefer to follow _stare decisis_, the belief seems to have been that “rule of five” was more of a one way ratchet.

    This treatment of the “rule of five” is made even more ironic to me because the celebrated victory in _Lawrence v. Texas_ (finding laws criminalizing sodomy to be unconstitutional under a Substantive Due Process theory) overturned _Bowers v. Hardwick_. So the modern legal left should have been well aware of the limitations to the “rule of five.”

    Moreover, I suspect the conservative Justices themselves may adopt some of the approaches used in the past by legal liberalism. Take, for example, the recent school prayer case. in that case, the majority pointed out that the record showed no evidence that any student was coerced into participating in prayer. (Side note: Coercion is one of the key considerations in Establishment Clause cases, though the doctrine here is a mess in general.)

    This use of the record reminded me of _Texas v. Johnson_, which concerned a state law criminalizing flag burning. Justice Brennan’s majority opinion in this case pointed out that the state’s purported interest in punishing flag burning to prevent breaches of the peace was not implicated in the record. However, despite this key point, the case is generally viewed as standing for the proposition that flag burning is protected First Amendment speech.

    I guess this is kind of a situation of “those who live by the sword, die by the sword.”

    1. Fraibert

      Meant to add an additional parenthetical comment to the school prayer case discussion but ran out off time to edit. I wanted to say the following:

      “Additionally, the lack of specific evidence of coercion in the record could indicate poor lawyering, unless there really weren’t any students who could testify to feeling coerced.”

    2. Jason Boxman

      What’s particularly noteworthy, given the state of play, is how completely weak the Supreme Court is as an institution. As helpless as liberal Democrats claim to be, there are a wide variety of leavers available to thwart undesirable decisions by the Court.

      We can expand the court, we can investigate members of the court, we can impeach members of the court, we can refuse to enforce decisions by the court, we can actually write new legislation that invalidates rulings from the court.

      I’m sure I’ve missed plenty of other actions that might be taken, but the point is the court is more or less powerless. Liberal Democrats would have us believe they’re the ones without any power here. That defies belief.

      1. Fraibert

        Yes, that’s also very true. (I also suspect you mean to exaggerate to make the point, since only the last one is outside extreme cases consistent with a non-banana republic)

        With that said, I emphatically agree that legislation is a critical response to current judicial action. Interestingly, whether this is entirely pretext (given current legislative gridlock) or mostly driven by principle, the conservative Court is pushing decisions back to the legislature, except in areas that it views fall within the clear ambit of the Constitution. This framework, I think, can be used to reconcile the EPA regulation, abortion, and the Second Amendment cases.

        However, there’s huge advantages to pursuing legislation. I would contrast a “rule of hundreds” versus the “rule of five.” Convincing hundreds of legislators takes longer, but it also tends to guarantee greater durability of a legal rule. Moreover, hopefully this persuasion process will involve people with different actual perspectives (genuine in the sense of from different places and backgrounds) so the rule represents a broader social consensus, again protecting the rule from reversal.

        Honestly, I think the legal left underestimated the cost of having five elite (virtually always Ivy League educated) lawyers make key legal decisions. The result literally is having the PMC enforce its views on the citizenry. Even if a judicially enunciated legal rule is “correct,” there is a different texture to a similar legal rule when the legislature imposes it.

        Additionally, I think the legal left would be better off proposing serious amendments to the Constitution, rather than trying to stretch arguments until, like cookie dough, they simply give way. If the Court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence is “incorrect,” then propose something concrete to replace it. (Disclaimer: While I understand the serious policy consequences, I do think the Court is probably right that the Second Amendment was intended to protect a personal right to firearms.) Likewise, to the extent Substantive Due Process is unconvincing as a theory, reframe doctrines if possible (Equal Protection and/or Privileges & Immunities theories may be alternatives) or offer amendments.

        All of the above might fail, but the Court has not foreclosed legitimate political action to counter its decisions.

    3. marym

      As a non-lawyer I observe SC decisions from the perspective of how the powerful wield their power and to what ends.

      There’s a right-wing movement in the US with an economic, political, and social agenda. The conservative justices are part of that movement.

      They appear willing use any legal theory, any historical examples from any historical timeframes, retain or overturn precedent, define a new legal theory, choose which cases to hear, and stay pending implementations or not to get to a ruling that serves the stated objectives of the movement.

      Their exercise of power can be evaluated with the same criteria as those of any powerful figure in politics, religion, business, and media.

      If defenders of the use of the flag-burning decision wanted to, they could probably have found some prior “by the sword” ruling to mention; but powerful people are responsible for how they use their own power.

      (I enjoy your comments on legal issues, even though I don’t understand the details! I’d be interested in your opinion on the dissent which addresses the issue of social pressure, particularly in relation to children and their teachers.)

      1. Fraibert

        No matter how apolitical we want them to be, the courts still end up with a role in politics. This role can be small–every case decided on _stare decisis_ is small-c conservative, maintaining the status quo. Or, it can be large, as in the case of the civil rights decisions in the 1950s and 1960s.

        With that said, what I think what you’re noticing is that the conservative’s have learned from the legal left. The conservatives, just like the liberals, can play in the judicial sandbox, using the judicial tools in a way that affects politics. Now that the conservatives have woken up and gotten organized, they’re even starting to win, which really stands out since the conservatives were a nonentity for decades in this area.

        In my view, the best solution is simply to make the judiciary less functionally important. The way to do this is pass clear legislation or amend the Constitution, if necessary, to achieve the desired political ends. The judiciary should be looked to as a last resort to protect core rights and not as a convenient superlegislature in the first instance. If _Roe_ had not been decided (and keep in mind, _Roe_ was brought as a test case), I suspect abortion would not be the issue it is today because state legislatures were already starting to consider abortion legalization. (I think the history of no-fault divorce might suggest how abortion issues would’ve been resolved if the legislatures were allowed to organically consider the issue for another decade.)

        Finally, on the school prayer case, I think the dissent does make some good arguments about social pressure, though how relevant you find them depends on how you slice the case. Looking closer at the opinion, it seems the coach had participated in prayer activities with players in the past, some of which it seems were based on traditions predating his appointment as coach, but had stopped (at the district’s request due to Establishment Clause concerns) most of these prior to the incidents that gave rise to the case. However, he wanted to keep praying at the 50 yard line by himself and the coach was disciplined for three incidents of prayer at the 50 yard line.

        If one slices the entire set of facts as one (the prior prayer activities plus the continuing 50 yard line prayer) as a continual sequence off events (as the dissent does), then the social pressure argument makes sense. However, if one (as the majority does) treats the 3 incidents of prayer as a discrete, personal action, then the argument is much less convincing.

        I think the majority might have gotten the better here. Apparently, the school district in a near-contemporaneous public document conceded no evidence of direct coercion. Moreover, in the 3 incidents of prayer for which the coach was actually fired, apparently none of his players joined, so I have to ask whether there was any real social pressure to join the coach in those specific prayers. There’s apparently some indication in the record of students feeling social pressure but that seems to be from the prior prayer activities that the coach stopped (after all, none of them felt sufficiently pressured to join the coach in those specific prayer sessions).

        With that said, it’s a hard judgment call. The real question is how broadly the case might be read. I would personally read it to stand for the narrow proposition that “a government employee’s private prayer action undertaken during a public event does not constitute impermissible intertwining of religion and state if no other member of the public is coerced to participate.” However, if the case ends up like _Texas v. Johnson_, it could stand for a much broader permissibility of school prayer. Keep in mind: Justice Brennan probably intended for his rhetorical move about the record to be overlooked or elided in later decisions. So, we’ll have to see whether the conservatives are going to take a similar approach here in a future case…

        1. Fraibert

          Correction to the last sentence of the second to last paragraph:

          “There’s apparently some indication in the record of students feeling social pressure but that seems to be from the prior prayer activities that the coach stopped (after all, none of them felt sufficiently pressured to join the coach in those specific the 3 prayer sessions for which he was formally disciplined).”

        2. marym

          Whether or not anyone wants them to be political, they’re part of the political process.

          If the coach wanted to pray “by himself” nothing was stopping him. He could have prayed while walking off the field. He wanted public spectacle, media attention, players to join him, and a legal case.

          The movement of which the conservative justices are a part wants christian prayer in public schools. To that end, they chose to take the case. Whatever the “Lemon test” was they overruled it. They decided in favor of a public religious display by a school authority figure with power over the players.

          Definitely, the liberals/left are to be blamed for not passing legislation, and a hundred other failures to govern responsibly in pursuit of their supposed agenda.

          However, conservatives aren’t “learning from the left.” They’ve been formulating, funding, and executing an agenda for decades. I disagree with an argument that what they do is the fault of liberals/leftists who didn’t prevent it or do something better; and not that of the people doing it.

      2. Fraibert

        I’m also glad you enjoy my comments. My goal is just to try and help people understand some of the legal issues. It’s a whole world in itself, and one that isn’t (maybe can’t be?) as transparent as I’d like.

        1. marym

          You’re welcome! My goal isn’t to make or dispute a legal argument, just to understand how power is being wielded and the potential consequences. The legal analysis, however much I understand it, is helpful to that goal.

        1. marym

          Thanks, I forgot to include “shadow docket,” the court making decisions without hearing the case or issuing a signed ruling.

  41. drumlin woodchuckles

    Several threads ago I read a comment here that stated that there is a 6-month window around one’s 65th birthday for signing up for Traditional Medicare.

    If someone was too depressed and/or distracted to keep proper track of that, does the Traditional Medicare Sign Up Window re-open around someone’s 66th birthday, and/or 67th birthday, etc.? Or is the 65th birthday window the ONE and ONLY chance to sign up, and failing to act in that ONE and ONLY window means one has just failed a basic Darwin test?

    1. Fraibert

      As always, looks like a complex mess.

      There’s an initial 7 month enrollment period around one’s 65th birthday, ranging from 3 months before the birth month to 3 months after the birth month. Enrolling earlier starts the benefits earlier.

      Generally speaking, it looks like there are varying periods where a person can sign up later if they miss that first window. For Part A, it seems that a person who has accrued enough credits from paying Medicare taxes (“Premium-free Part A”) can enroll at any point after 65 without penalty, even after missing that first window. However, there appear to be late enrollment penalties for Part B coverage and limited time windows each year for enrolling (in normal cases).

      There are varying special situations, so it’s probably better to refer to the links below for particular issues.


        1. Robert Hahl

          Avoid choosing Part C (Medicare disAdvantage), because that plan throws you back into the world of medical underwriting, where the premiums can rise after you get sick, and limits which doctors you can use even though they see other Medicare patients.

        2. Noone from Nowheresville

          Depending on assets & income, there’s also the QMB programs. Each state has its own criteria, clawbacks and paperwork. There are 4 different levels of assistance via the federal Medicare program. Once you’re qualified then I believe it’s a 30 day waiting period.

          If you qualify for QMB, you may also qualify for transportation assistance to medical appointments or mileage reimbursement.

          If you need help with prescription drugs there’s Extra Help from Medicare. If you qualify for QMB, you automatically qualify for Extra Help.

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        I second the thanks for this start — and ask if anyone in the commentariat has experience and/or advice relevant to my unusual situation.

        I’m about to reach that initial sign-up period, and now in my fourth career as a distinctly NOT white-shoes attorney. I am still working — from home, and chiefly on document review. (Gig work, but moderate to good pay — especially when it involves Japanese documents.)

        Meanwhile, our family health insurance comes from my much-younger wife’s employer. The coverage is not as good as it used to be (surprise, surprise!); remind me to tell you about how they’ve repeatedly refused to cover the non-standard test on our then-6-month-old back in November which showed her as COVID-positive. (But for that, the rest of us wouldn’t have known to get tested; the 7-year-old and I were already positive too, and my wife caught up with us just in time to lose most of her sense of taste for Thanksgiving.)

        Still, I expect we’d do better if we can co-ordinate that with whatever we can get for me via Medicare. At the same time, I’m even more confident that the two coverages will each try to claim the other should pay for things, and may not be happy about telling us how to do this co-ordination.

        I expect we’ll have to talk with both insurers soon — maybe early in the next private-insurance enrollment period, or just before. But I can’t help wishing for a way to get impartial (and maybe even helpful) advice about what we should do. Any suggestions would be welcomed.

  42. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Agreed on everything!

    They throw those Anti Russian Talking Points with ZERO EXPLANATION too.

    This Ex Marine Colonel has a Private Military training company called THE MOZART GROUP….grifters gonna grift!

  43. jr

    Jimmy Dore discusses how the North Carolina Democrats illegally kicked the Green Party off of the ballot:

    The Democrats are $cum. Absolute, unmitigated $cum. They are the nihilists of the American uni-party; for all their profound and fundamental flaws the Republicans at least believe in something.

  44. RobertC

    New Not-So-Cold War

    Shell Warns Spare Oil Capacity Is Running Very Low

    ++ “Spare capacity is running very, very low,” Shell’s CEO Ben van Beurden said on Wednesday, as carried by Reuters.

    ++ However, Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude oil exporter, has never tested the 12 million bpd capacity it claims to have, while it has never produced more than 11 million bpd for a prolonged period.

    ++ In addition, global refining capacity lost around 3 million bpd of processing capacity in the wake of COVID and the crash in demand, as refiners opted to close some money-losing facilities, also because of uncertain oil demand trends going forward.

    ++ “I think it will be impossible to cover the entire pipeline gas capacity out of Russia with LNG,” van Beurden told reporters.

    ++ “If we are not going to take significant measures, like for instance energy savings [I think he means higher prices], maybe a certain degree of rationing [I know he means shortages], it will be problematic,” he added.

    I chose the OilPrice article over Reuters because it provided additional details and links.

    1. kriptid

      Years ago, I worked overnights in a warehouse. There were maybe 20 of us in the building during these hours.

      Of those 20, 15 were smokers, with me being one of the non-smokers. Of course, the smokers would go outside to the small wooden enclosure during our 15-minute breaks, while the rest of us would stay inside the breakroom, complete with filthy microwave, vending machine, and tiny television in the corner turned to CNN, which we watched, numbly.

      Eventually, I ended up wandering out with the smokers out of sheer boredom. What I found was a magical place where for those brief 15 minutes, I was exposed to all manner of jokes, commentary, and wisdom.

      My point is this: how many union initiatives do you think started as a conversation between smokers? How many candid conversations were started that those chained to the television or their smart phone in the breakroom would never be able to have with their co-workers?

      I’m still not a regular tobacco smoker, but I make a point to enjoy a cigarette periodically at a bar or a party. It’s one of the best social interaction initiators that exists. I have had so many interesting conversations with people that started with “Hey, can I borrow or buy a cigarette from you?” or “Do you have a match or a lighter?” A simple and reasonable request that opens a door and indicates a common bond between two strangers, like wearing the hat of the same sports team.

      Now that less than 20% of the population smokes, we’ve forgotten that. To me, it’s reason enough that cigarettes should be absolutely legal forever. Put whatever you want on the box. Like the old Denis Leary routine says, if you made the box black and put a skull and crossbones on it people would still smoke.

      It is possible for something to be both bad for your (physical) health and good for your (mental) health at the same time, is the long-winded point I’m trying to make. Of course, try explaining that to millenial-or-younger class elitist who has never even met a smoker.

      1. rowlf

        No kidding, I preferred to hang out with the smokers too. Smoking kept the whiners at work away.

      2. Wukchumni

        My longtime backpacking partner is a half a pack a day cigarette smoker and quite fit in spite of it.

        I actually relish his smoking breaks as it means a 10 minute break for me, but you’d be amazed the hostility i’ve witnessed on the trail over the last 30 years of us walking in the range of light.

        It isn’t as if he’s indoors puffing away, but you’d think he’d stuck a rusty shiv into innocent babies from the reaction sometimes.

        I’ve watched the venues in a city setting where he can take a drag diminish greatly over the years. If we could only be this way in regards to fast food, eh?

        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘but you’d be amazed the hostility i’ve witnessed on the trail over the last 30 years of us walking in the range of light.’

          But what if they had said that they had put some marijuana inside that cig as a disguise? Would they have been given a pass then?

          1. Wukchumni

            We were at the Hollywood Bowl for the Playboy Jazz Festival about a decade ago and the aroma of ganja was everywhere and I watched a fellow light up a Camel in his seat and was promptly arrested.

            Completely opposite of how it used to be back in the day when cancer nails were everywhere and marijuana was a good way to get in trouble.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, if you can show how someone eating fast food forcibly injects fast food into someone else’s body, the way someone smoking tobacco forcibly injects tobacco smoke into unwilling bystanders’ bodies, you might get people to be this way in regards to fast food.

      3. Aumua

        Of all the stuff I used to do that I don’t do any more, smoking is the one thing I actually miss more than anything from time to time. Smoking tobacco is very grounding, for one. It adds a component of normality to any situation, no matter how strange or uncomfortable. I think certain native American tribes understood this. Smoking helped to make even several years of homelessness tolerable for me, and the smoking section of the Denny’s I used to frequent was always where the interesting people and happenings were.

        But there is no smoking section any more, and I suppose the world is healthier (?), but something definitely has been lost.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Would you believe that during World War Two, that Churchill considered tobacco a strategic war material?

        2. ambrit

          The Native American and Aztec tobaccos are a lot stronger than the stuff passed off as commercial tobacco today. Aztec tobacco is so strong, it will cause hallucinations. It is used today to add some “kick” to pipe tobacco mixes. Also very strong, a Louisiana tobacco known as Perique is considered about the best and most expensive. It descends from a tobacco cultivated by the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes.
          There is a lot to be said in favour of rituals.

      1. Basil Pesto

        actually, given the war on drugs and how it’s fought, yes it probably would. not sure how those might compare to this so-called war on nicotine

  45. Amfortas the hippie

    welcome, Jonah.

    i’ll leave this here, because y’all have been with us throughout…and i find that i can breathe again, having done it.

    Burial day

    spent all day thursday making Mole from scratch over a fire…near heatstroke, with lemon-lime pedialyte as half the margarita mix.
    Run around in circles friday…collecting tables and chairs from catholic church and sundry church ladies…setting up the benches down at the graveyard…and generally getting ready.
    Mom, of course, getting all OCD about aesthetics…eldest drinking at Wilderness Bar with a handfull of the Krewe….Cousin right there with them…
    …and me, sunburned and exhausted, wondering if I have covid from 2 weeks ago(mild, so far…or could be chainsmoking and dust and mold, etc)
    Talking to Wife’s wooden box…and reflexively touching the little jelly jar above the head of my bed that contains a portion of her ashes….
    fixin to go plug in the crock pots over at Mom’s…still surreal as fuck…all of it…
    ….and this will be it…grave is dug(me and the boys), my grandad’s ancient hod hoe at the ready to cover her over…to lay her to rest…
    if I can just get through today…
    I cooked for 40 or so….unknown how many will show up…because the robust grapevine assures that the whole county knows…unknown how many who do will end up at the Wilderness Bar…nor how long the Last Wake will last(this will be the 4th such Wake)…but after today, I hope to set about repairing my soul…likely sleeping a whole damned lot…and to set about getting used to this new chapter of my crazy ass life…as Widower.

    “….and its shameless love that sings the song, when its all been sung and the music ends…tears are only salty water, and shameless love again…”
    so we did it.
    Had familia and a bunch of the “neighbors”…all live more than a mile away….all under the oak trees by our little pasture cemetery…
    Wife’s immediate supervisor in spanish department did the preacher part…beginning with a Neruda Sonnet in Spanish(
    and then going from there…Psalm 23 in Spanish, too….he rocked it.
    Got to the Lord’s Prayer part and at the end: when the Catholics stopped, the Protestants continued with the end bit they tacked on(power and glory, etc)…trailing off…and giving me a smile….we are nothing if not ecumenical…
    Then me and the boys went into the little fenced area…and I called our “other son” up(whom we had practically adopted when we lived in town)…and I placed her box of ashes in the hole, and they filled it in, with me tossing the remains of the rosary I had given her in the last hospital, and worn around my neck since she passed, into the grave.
    And then it was done, and we 4 came out of the limnal space, and I closed the gate….spoke to the crowd(maybe 30 folks), thanking them…and “let’s eat”.
    White folks(the Protestants, notably) mostly left, after milling around and jawing for a time.
    Still ended up with a crowd eating Mole…
    maybe a 1/6 of what I made left over…although I made sure everyone took some home.

    And I do feel a sense of closure, I suppose…although she’s still very much with me….
    Usque ad Finem was our motto, after the cancer diagnosis…and I did that….carried on to the bitter end.

    i neither need or require any responses or well wishes…y’all have been there for us…that is enough.
    it therefore feels appropriate to me to include y’all in the final act of this little drama played out upon our little stage over these last few years.

    1. HotFlash

      “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” This was my dearest, dearest friend’s chosen epitaph. She died on May 26 and I still hear her sometimes at night, calling, “Hello?”. We are not doing a burial (no family plot in the pasture, no pasture for that matter) but she wanted to be mulched in. Seems we can actually do that with her ashes on Crown Land in Canada, so OK.

      What we have not yet done is a wake, seems to soon for that? So many people on my little two-block street and nearby are dead, Covid, old age, stuff, but with Covid we have not had proper community ritual to acknowledge their passing. I have been checking around and there are quite a few of us who have lost friends, spouses, family, and are feeling they have not been properly sent on. So we are planning a street Dia De Los Muertos (in Canada!) to celebrate our family, friends, and neighbours who are no longer here, to invite them to visit and feast with us and for us to remember, remember, remember. My dear friend had enjoyed this festival, we celebrated it privately and set up an ofrenda for her mother. Hers will include that picture of her with a sword, coffee with TOO MUCH cream and TOO MUCH sugar, and Aero minis. My mom gets chocolate covered cherries — she loved them but was embarrassed by a whole box — my dad gets a dry martini and chocolate peanut clusters (homemade), my in-laws get a hummingbird cake, pickled peppers, and St. Pauli Girl beer (I do not judge).

      To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.

    2. Pat

      Also thinking of you and the boys. I cannot speak for all, but afaiac please remember that being there does not end with this day.

    3. HotFlash

      My orig comment is in moderation so I couldn’t add this: Tammi Michele Ortiz will be remembered here. As will you and the boys. We are celebrating (yes, it is a celebration) on Nov 2, 2022 so people won’t think we are just Hallowe’ening. Herman, Honoria, Judy, Leo, Lynne, Maude, Zenon, Jack — so many friends to come visit us.

    4. MaryLand

      Just wanted to say how beautiful your burial service was. I am mostly a reader here, but have been following your journey. May your memories sustain you. The love will live on.

    5. Skippy

      Going a bit disheveled here Amfort …

      Gotta say the acts and not jawboning of your famialys tribulations throughout this entire experience is something to behold, especially, considering having to deal with covid and your boys entering manhood or half the other crazy stuff in the background these days.

      How you have stood during all this is something your boys will not only remember, but, take with them for the rest of their lives – long after you are gone. Not bad for a dirty hippy[lol] with a checkered past [deviant], all in your county can all see with eyes closed – act proceeds everything else – regardless of nascent tribalism, more so in such tightly weaved communities, as yours e.g. regardless of past opinions everyone can see the results and can not be denied no matter what lens they are looked through.

      As an antidote I would proffer that a month ago my mother in law passed away [father in law 2 years prior] and has devolved into a classic homo economicus moment that has fractured the family, 2 males vs 2 females all over 40. Biggest contention is the ownership of the mothers rings which not only were promised, but a tradition in these parts i.e. engagement goes to the eldest and the next ring to the youngest. Seems eldest son took rings a wee back to have them evaluated, also it seems a replica of the engagement ring was made. Long story short after the mother died the boys were smart on getting into the house to make the choice picks.

      Anywho the youngest brother had the engagement ring and as the eldest sister was in Sydney the youngest took it upon her to to suss out the dramas. After a bit of too and fro the brother said you can have the ring, oops, seems he tried to pass off the replica, ex wife knew every detail of the ring and called foul, more so said if she ever saw anyone wearing it out an about she would inform them they were in the possession of some one else property that was stolen. Lmmao brother in the face of this threat of his social standing decided to hand over the ring after calling her a scavenger hahahaha ….

      And now … what am I doing … repainting … nay contending with all the dodgy jobs done on a house since the late 80s, so the house the parents lived in can be rented at bare bones price so I can move on clean. Never ever used 80 grit on walls in rotary to remove so much bad work and gone through a bag of base coat and 15kg topping just to fix things in a 70s style house.

      Sigh … dang man … own how good you are … revel in it in the face of your personal loss …

      Alas I won’t be able to do a pop and bang and sit at your bar and enjoy the ascetics or company … groan one of those things in life again that will never happen but would like too have …

      Bangs chest and holds painter poll up high to the heavens and shouts AMFORT ….

    6. griffen

      Thank you for sharing the summary of events. It can be a really busy, hectic schedule to plan and organize ( and ideally not under duress, I say ideally because I know from one experience ). Your statements often provide to the many here, moments of appreciation for what is brought forth.

      It is also to be repeated, losing a spouse or close loved one is unfortunate and hoping it’s a highly infrequent event. I often think sharing in this manner has offered us all better insight than a hundred postings and updates on live Fbook (by comparison).

      Closing thought, is to go with God but the holy trinity is not for everyone and I greatly understand this better than I once did. Experience teaches us all.

    1. Polar Socialist

      This also means that pretty soon Luhansk Republic is “liberated” completely. Of course, LNR announced already weeks ago that their forces will continue fighting to help Donetsk and Russian forces even after Ukrainian army is removed from Luhansk.

      I bet they will still celebrate big time.

      1. kriptid

        It’s been eye-opening to see how quickly RF forces have picked up the pace since taking Popasna (suppose we should get used to saying ‘Popasnaya’ now?).

        In the span of the last week, RF/LPR/DPR have swallowed hundreds of square kilometers of territory at such a scale and level of alacrity certainly not seen since WWII. It seems hyperbolic when you hear it, but I daresay it’s a rather objective conclusion.

        1. JTMcPhee

          It absolutely looks like it. NATO is pretty clearly a totally Fokkered organization, loaded with lard and corruption even beyond the levels present and tolerated and even encouraged in the “Combined West” individual militaries. Got to love an orgy-producing series of evils denoted as the “Fat Leonard” scandal,

          Only thing that gives me palpitations is the unfortunate fact that there are thousands of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons out there, under the nominal “control” of Armageddonists and senior officers and pols that are type-cast as General Jack D. Ripper and General Buck Turgidson from “Dr. Strangelove.” Ducking and covering ain;t gonna do it…

          1. Skippy

            Not really concerned about the nuke stuff because even as daft some are all elites understand life is good as an elite and blowing up the orb sorta messes it all up …

            PS. but hay look at all those ants run around …

    2. The Rev Kev

      A video from Defense Politics Asia talking about the situation there. Those Ukrainians are now fully trapped so will now have to be mopped up in the next coupla days. It will be interesting of there are foreign fighters among them still- (9:06 mins)

      Russian reporters are already talking to locals and are asking them what has been happening in this city. They seem to be seriously unimpressed with being used as human shields.

  46. Wukchumni

    Go take a hike dept: King George III Lake (not really, it’s called Monarch Lake, but on July 4th weekend I christen it with that moniker)

    There are a couple of Monarch Lakes in Mineral King, lower and upper basins @ around 10,000 feet and like all lakes in the area, it’s Sisyphusian in that you have to gain a few thousand feet in altitude on the walk up, only to give it all up on the way back, but no need to roll a large boulder up en route, thankfully.

    A stark raving beautiful day, with lots of happy hikers sharing the trail and views up the wazoo, as we alternated sticking one leg in front of the other repeatedly, amazingly without the need for a Fitbit to inform of us of how any steps we’d taken.

    1. Skippy

      “amazingly without the need for a Fitbit to inform of us of how any steps we’d taken.”

      Funny how back in the day after a bit pace count becomes natural without any need to battery operated stuff …. especially under triple canopy in the dead of night with light/noise discipline set at maximum.

      I’m just bummed at all the great selfies we could have taken with a new pro camera with night vision smart phone … /s

  47. RobertC


    Indian diplomat (retired) M. K. BHADRAKUMAR and I agree that India is the problem India, BRICS in cold war conditions

    The phone conversation on Friday between Prime Minister Modi and Russian President Putin conveyed a big signal, coming on the morrow of the release of the new Strategic Concept by NATO which called Russia the alliance’s “most significant and direct threat.” The readouts from Moscow and New Delhi both highlighted the two leaderships’ determination to carry forward the momentum of economic cooperation despite the western sanctions against Russia.

    …India sees, on the contrary, great opportunities to tap into Russia’s tilt to Asia-Pacific region for economic partnerships. [the term-of-art is transactional; BRICS is about a qualitative change]

    …Frankly, no matter the impressive-looking XIV BRICS Summit Beijing Declaration, the fact remains that the grouping is performing far below its actual potential and one principal reason for this is India’s zero-sum mindset regarding China, which makes it difficult for it to work with China collectively in any regional forum. [eg, RCEP]

    …India has a problem to appreciate that the BRICS paradigm does not lie in expanding the capabilities or ambitions of the group’s member countries, but in fostering a qualitative change in the economic development model of the Global South. India’s dog-in-the-manger attitude — sulking and politicising the forum with extraneous issues (primarily to embarrass China) — doesn’t make sense.

    …It is high time for India to have a serious reassessment of values within the BRICS framework, and the changing internal balance of power in the grouping in the new Cold War conditions.

    As I’ve said before, China isn’t going to wait for India to figure out where its future lies and neither will the BRICS+ members (they can’t, dire circumstances are piling up faster and higher).

    1. RobertC

      Imperial Collapse Watch

      Akhil Ramesh, a fellow with the Pacific Forum, speaks truth to fading power An out-of-touch G7 could lose global leadership to BRICS

      Days apart, the BRICS and G7 meetings were held. The groupings couldn’t be more contrasting.

      BRICS is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — a multiethnic coalition of nations that gather to address the economic challenges of the Global South.

      G7 is largely a group of white majority countries coming together at a scenic cabin in the Alps to discuss security and containment strategies.

      The back-to-back meetings of BRICS and G7 have new significance with the Ukraine conflict in the background.

      Western nations have been pressing countries in the Global South to take a side in the conflict.

      Many have either abstained in their votes at the United Nations or have outright supported Russia, earning the wrath of commentators.

      Given this grim development, it is natural for leaders of the developing world to discuss ways to circumvent unilateral sanctions of the West and protect their economies, such as alternative reserve currencies to the U.S. dollar, or creating a larger coalition of countries.

      The G7’s recent launch of an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative reeks of power politics instead of an actual desire to help the developing world. As the American Enterprise Institute’s Director of Foreign Policy Kori Schake put it “We’d get so much more mileage if we even pretended the initiative was to encourage development rather than to counter China.”

      …The G7 needs to include nations of the developing world.

      If not, sooner than later, they’ll be up against more than 6 billion people and half the world economy.

      [Some editing for emphasis and clarity.]

  48. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a tiktok video from the ” tiktok cringe” subreddit, made by a young woman describing how a Political Christianist customer service person at Walgreen’s will not fill her birth control prescription and what steps she had to go to to get this corrected. Here is the video link.

    I wonder whether people like the Political Christianist customer service person described in the video are feeling emboldened by the Supreme Catholic Sharia Law Court’s recent decision against Roe v. Wade. I wonder whether the woman in this video will quietly take legal action against this Political Christianist who works at Walgreens. If such action were to be taken, how far might such action be able to go? Is the behavior described in this video consistent with having a pharmacy license or a pharmacy technology certificate, if the person is one of those things?

  49. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a Yahoo News item about Mark Zuckerberg of Meta telling his executives that he will be :”turning up the heat” with “heightened productivity expectations” so that some employees who “shouldn’t be here” will decide to self-deport themselves from Meta. It sounds to me like he might end up burning Meta down if he makes it unpleasant enough. I hope he does.

    Here is the link.

    1. Skippy

      Jefferson’s nail shack w/a side of a pin factory …. Trump would applaud … and there is your national sociopolitical agenda …

    1. Skippy

      Too bad about that share of productivity and how that might influence outcomes …

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