Links 9/21/2022

Generous readers:

Yves is wrapped around the axle on estate matters, along with posting on Putin’s partial mobilization speech, and asks me to tell you that this year’s fundraiser is now over — although, for extreme procrastinators, the Tip Jar is still to your right — and to think you for the contributions that alone make Naked Capitalism possible. Yves will express her thanks more gracefully and completely at a less fraught time. –lambert

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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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Earth’s ant population of 20 quadrillion outnumbers humans by 2.5 million times, study finds NBC

Bees may feel pain Science

How Do Fireflies Flash in Sync? Studies Suggest a New Answer Quanta. Interesting! This photo is so beautiful I must run it:

(Credit: Jason Gambone Photography)

Private equity may become a ‘pyramid scheme’, warns Danish pension fund FT


Shell’s Internal Emails Show Just How Cynical Oil Companies’ Emissions Promises Are The New Republic

How oil companies endlessly avoid cleanup costs High Country News

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Clearing Pollution Helps Clear the Fog of Aging — And May Cut the Risk of Dementia KHN

The US Is Measuring Extreme Heat Wrong Wired

How a Quebec Lithium Mine May Help Make Electric Cars Affordable NYT

Vultures Prevent Tens of Millions of Metric Tons of Carbon Emissions Each Year Scientific American

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Meanwhile, at the World Bank:


Jackson, Mississippi, residents sue officials over water crisis ABC


Three myths about COVID-19 — and the biggest challenge that lies ahead ABC. “As an immunologist with four decades of research on antibodies under my belt, I always felt like I had a pretty good handle on COVID-19. But when I caught the virus in May, my hubris quickly turned into humility.” Well worth a read.


China’s extreme weather challenges scientists trying to study it Nature

China and United Arab Emirates agree on joint lunar rover mission South China Morning Post

Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Samarkand: first conclusions Gilbert Doctorow

The SCO’s Clumsy Push to Disrupt the World Order Walter Russell Mead, WSJ


Witnesses: Myanmar air attack kills 13, including 7 children AP

The End of Kleptocracy in Malaysia? Center for International and Stategic Studies


How the Pandemic Exacerbated Identity-Based Discrimination in India’s Labour Market The Wire


How Israeli media reported a ‘lynching’ that never happened +972

Israeli Forces Deliberately Killed Palestinian American Journalist, Report Show The Intercept

Old Blighty

And now our queue is ended:

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Leicester shows Hindu nationalism is no longer confined to India The New Statesman

European Disunion

Putin’s Energy War Is Crushing Europe Foreign Policy. Makes you wonder “Why now?” on partial mobilization.

In Germany, energy price shock triggers fears of insolvency wave Reuters

Szijjarto: Brussels position on Ukraine war not shared by most countries The Budapest Times

New Not So Cold War

Ukraine Live Updates: Putin Calls Up More Troops as His War Effort Falters NYT. I’m not seeing the level of aghastitude and hysteria I’d expect from the announcement of a Russian mobilization, even a partial one. Perhaps the press and the intelligence community — sorry for the redundancy — were wrong-footed in some way?

Putin calls up 300,000 reservists, makes nuclear threat Politico. The headline is deceptive; “all resources at our disposal” includes hypersonic weapons, which are not nuclear.

Vladimir Putin Mobilises More Troops for Ukraine, Says West Wants to Destroy Russia The Wire and Putin Escalates Ukraine War; Announces Partial Mobilization Before Pro-Russia Referendums Republic World. “This story is auto-generated from a syndicated feed; only the image & headline may have been reworked by” Hmm.

On The Upcoming Putin Speech And Announcements Moon of Alabama. Pre-speech, but some interesting speculations.

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AMLO defends his peace proposal after Ukrainian criticism Mexico News Daily

Brazil’s Bolsonaro calls for negotiations to end Ukraine war AP

Biden Administration

Biden declared the pandemic ‘over.’ His Covid team says it’s more complicated. Politico. “When the White House reviewed a transcript of [Biden’s] comments after the interview, which was taped earlier in the week, it did not alert its Covid team — leaving the administration without a coordinated response for the immediate aftermath.” West Wing Brain Fog?

Stoller live-blogging Kahn’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

Judge signs off on UnitedHealth-Change deal, rejects DOJ challenge Becker’s Hospital Review (Otis B Driftwood). Commentary:

Intelligence Community

America’s Open Wound Ed Snowden, Continuing Ed. Well worth a read.

Secret Documents Have Exposed the CIA’s Julian Assange Obsession Jacobin

Big Brother Is Watching You

MTA to install 2 surveillance cameras on every subway car Gothamist

Tracked: How colleges use AI to monitor student protests Dallas Morning News

Supply Chain

Shipping: liners swimming in money but supply chains sinking Hellenic Shipping News

Video: Two Massive Fires Hit Refinery Complex in Venezuela Maritime Executive. Odd.

The Bezzle

Human Trafficking’s Newest Abuse: Forcing Victims Into Cyberscamming Pro Publica

Imperial Collapse Watch

Toward a Phenomenology of the U.S. Alliance System: Boon or a Scourge on America’s National Interest? Institute for Peace and Diplomacy

US is becoming a ‘developing country’ on global rankings that measure democracy, inequality The Conversation

Nation’s field grades begin annual fiscal year migration away from food Duffel Blog

Class Warfare

Deal averting railroad strike has potential to fall apart The HIll. Since there’s no contract, there’s nothing to vote on, hence no “deal.” Clearly, the Democrats, union administrators at the national level, and the railroads deem done a backroom deal between elite players, erasing the role of workers entirely, but that’s not how it works, even today.

Fresh UK rail strikes to hit Tory conference FT

Railroader: The Unfiltered Genius and Controversy of Four-Time CEO Hunter Harrison (reveiw) Rational Reflections. Hagiography for the inventor of Precision Scheduled Railroading. Note the role of private equity at Illinois Central.

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GEICO Tells Workers They Have ‘Right to Contact Police’ If Union Organizers Visit Their House Vice. Asking for somebody to get whacked, just like any 911 call.

The 32nd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony Improbable Research

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Antifa

    (melody borrowed from Puttin’ on the Ritz by Irving Berlin)

    We’ve all seen the Western press
    Tell us Putin’s such a mess
    He’s a total invalid
    Clearly dying, (Gawd forbid!)

    Perishing in pure agony
    Failed his colonoscopy
    Can’t make some enzyme
    Has so little time

    He turns blue just standing there, it’s true they swear
    And those epileptic fits . . .
    Putin’s On The Fritz

    He needs shots, he’s in all our prayers and thoughts
    Alzheimer’s disrupts his wits . . .
    Putin’s On The Fritz

    Something in his arteries exploded
    Who can say how many times he’s coded?
    (He’s so bloated)

    He appears among his peers fighting tears
    Wanting to simply call it quits . . .
    Putin’s On The Fritz

    (instrumental interlude)

    So they lie and say he’ll die, or he has but
    Months to live and then won’t exist . . .
    Putin’s On The Fritz

    News of losing in Ukraine is painful so
    They’re quite quick to say he’s sick . . .
    Putin’s On The Fritz

    When Putin dies some Yeltsin will take over
    Western banks will be rolling in clover . . .
    And take over

    Propaganda is their game, Western media will proclaim
    Putin’s on their kill checklist so . . .
    Putin’s On The Fritz

    Putin’s On The Fritz

    Putin’s On The Fritz

    Putin’s On The Fritz

      1. nycTerrierist

        Bravo Antifa!

        fellow Brooks fans, didja know

        “…Gene Wilder had to fight to keep “Puttin’ On the Ritz” in Young Frankenstein, that Brooks initially only conceded about keeping it in test screenings with a plan to cut it later, and only surrendered to the superior judgement of his collaborator when “Puttin’ On the Ritz” killed in said test screenings. If it isn’t the funniest thing in that movie (and it might be), it’s only because that other Gene in the movie nearly walks away with the film in his scene. (An achievement in any project featuring Peter Boyle or Madeleine Kahn.)”

    1. juno mas

      Great lyrics Antifa!

      Now whom in the commentariat can transform this into a skit for SNL?

      Some comedy is going to be needed to get us through the winter.

  2. digi_owl

    “Private equity may become a ‘pyramid scheme’, warns Danish pension fund FT”

    Could have sworn it has been that from day one…

    1. russell1200

      When they are selling stuff back and forth between various owner/operators and management groups valuation is at some point tied to the company’s ability to stay solvent. A very sticky valuation, but still tied to a reality.

      When they just sell stuff back and forth between themselves, the valuations are based on not a whole lot of anything other than maybe leverage.

      Granted, given the garbage incentive structure that has banks/lenders funding their purchases of the companies in the first place, it is a matter of degrees rather than absolutes.

    2. spud

      bill clinton single handedely turned over america to be raped by hedge funds and private equity

      Cut Off Private Equity’s Money Spigot

      A variety of legislative and regulatory actions would make it hard for private equity to stay in business. That should be the goal.

      by David Dayen

      July 28, 2022

      “PRIVATE EQUITY FIRMS RAISE funds from several different sources. But after the industry temporarily collapsed amid Michael Milken’s prosecution in the late 1980s, institutional investors like public pension funds and university endowments drove the return to prominence. That support can be traced to one law signed by President Bill Clinton. It’s called the National Securities Markets Improvement Act of 1996 (NSMIA), and its impact has been almost totally forgotten to history.”

  3. Roger Blakely

    RE: Three myths about COVID-19 — and the biggest challenge that lies ahead

    What I have learned about the virus is that I must worry about every particle of SARS-CoV-2 that I inhale. This virus is special. Every time a particle comes into contact with vulnerable tissue, the infection is off to the races.

    It doesn’t matter that I have been vaccinated. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been infected previously. It doesn’t matter whether the particle came from me or someone else, whether it came out of my butt or someone else’s butt. My immune system struggles to apprehend and neutralize each particle.

    It looks like for the rest of my life I am going to have to worry about respirators, ventilation, filtration, and social distancing.

    1. BeliTsari

      Vinay Prasad MD MPH of Jeffrey Tucker’s GBD/ AIER/ Brownstone Institute was on Briahna Joy Gray; without ANY mention of his Libertarian Aktion T4 Lebensunwertes Leben agenda. Fun ensued, but only a few of us were blocked? Kulldorff, Bhattacharya, Gupta, Zeke Emanuel, Gandhi, Rochelle & Ashish didn’t join in? I’m remembering a few of us, suggesting Bre would soon be the next Amy Goodman Bellingcat, WEF, CAP, CFR, Atlantic Council Progressive shill?

    2. jackiebass63

      I concluded the same thing. Things about Covid won’t change unless there is a better vaccine developed. That isn’t likely because the virus can quickly change to elude a permanent immunity. It is somewhat like the flu but more dangerous.

    3. Lee

      “It looks like for the rest of my life I am going to have to worry about respirators, ventilation, filtration, and social distancing.”

      Particularly given my age and health status, I’m right there with you….appropriately distanced and wearing my Darth Vader P-100 Ellipse respirator. For those who wish to pretend the pandemic is over, it may for them be so sooner than they think.

    4. ambrit

      Mr. Cynical CTist tells me that this new learned behaviour concerning continuous conscious attention to breathing issues looks suspiciously like one of the major adaptations Terran humans will have to re-learn in order to facilitate living in space and on ‘alien’ orbs where local atmospheres are not Terran Standard oxygen to nitrogen ratios.
      [Zeta Reticuli isn’t that far away. A generation ship could do the job easily. Terran humans did multi year ocean voyages a few hundred years ago. Space is just an Ocean of Stars.]
      Our overlords’ home star:

  4. BrianH

    The “3 Myths About COVID “ article was a good read, decent explanation of some of the continuing risks of COVID. But my takeaway from the article is that this is a tragic example of the deep penetration of COVID propaganda. This is a seemingly quite accomplished and experienced immunologist, yet he believed that it might be a good idea to get the virus and get it over with and that masks are no longer necessary. And one assumes that he’s been having conversations with colleagues, friends and family over the years, and they walk away with “My friend is an immunologist and he believes blah”. My gut reaction was that he’s an idiot, but by many measurements, he’s not. And yet he clearly rejected much of his learning and experience with viruses and spread pure propaganda.

    1. SteveD

      Similar reaction. I thought the title of his article should have been “As a fully paid-up member of the scientific establishment, I present proof that I do not understand what ‘science’ is”

    2. Jen

      I work for a medical school and continue to be gobsmacked at the very smart, experienced and accomplished people who are on board with the whole covid is over thing. I do wonder, as some of them begin to experience what the author did, whether they will change their tune. I am confident that as long as they don’t pay the real price of contracting the virus, they will continue to minimize its impact. To say I’m disgusted would be an extreme understatement.

      1. Sub-Boreal

        I teach at a small Canadian university which has a medical program run jointly with a larger university.

        To get to my office, the most direct route from the parking lot involves cutting through the meds building.

        The meds program starts its semester a week before the rest of us, so one day in early Sept I was taking my usual shortcut and ran into a group of ~ 15 meds students in the hallway.

        Not one was wearing a mask, even though the university’s policy is that mask-wearing is “strongly recommended”. (Instructors can ask students to wear masks in classes and labs, but we can’t require them to do it. That’s both provincial and individual institutional policy in the education sector.)

        I stewed about this for a couple of days, because how could I persuade my own students – mostly in forestry, environmental science, and geography – to mask up if they were going to encounter docs-in-training who couldn’t be bothered?

        So I emailed this question to the head guy in charge of the program, and got a semi-apologetic reply with a promise that he’d look into this. And later in the week, additional signs went up in the meds building, advising mask-wearing.

        Since then, I’ve noticed no change in how many people (including faculty) in that building are masked in public areas, although I don’t know what goes on in their classrooms.

        When I ranted about this to a colleague, he mentioned that he had 3 MDs in his extended family, and he wasn’t surprised by this behaviour. He said that he’s observed a kind of macho bravado among some docs which involves deliberate flouting of sensible safety procedures.

        A week later, on the day of my first class, I shaved off the beard that I’ve had for > 40 years, hoping that any improved fit of my N-95s will save me. Retirement is less than a year off, and I’m d****d if I’m going to let these idiots wreck it for me.

        But I fear that we’re [family blog]-ed.

        1. paddlingwithoutboats

          Sub, I agree. I work in the SouthIsland system on Vancouver Island, at the largest hospital there. Staff are dropppng masks all over, if I say’scuse me can you put your mask up for us’ the disrespect is marked. Many of my coworkers in Diagnostic Imaging have had covid, some multiple times, the patients are beligerent. Always white people, sorry, had to say. I’m white. Very entitled region, lotta money in predation industry, real estate particularly. Administration hasn’t formalized dropping masking, yet.

          1. wilroncanada

            We (three) are just a few kms. north of you in the Cowichan Valley. Doctors’ offices here and the local hospital are still (so far) insisting on masks, and distancing with the interminable waits medical consultations at the walk-in clinics. 25% of us don’t have family doctors.
            But I have two daughters in Victoria area, both in health care: one a Psychologist working with children,the other a community nutritionist. They deal with a lot of careless people, including doctors.

    3. Sutter Cane

      Cipolla’s second law of human stupidity:

      The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

      As the pandemic has demonstrated, you can have people with all the right credentials,who went to all the right schools, and represent all of the right institutions, who are nevertheless still stupid.

      1. JBird4049

        I find that while there are plenty of not very bright people, it is the refusal to use what intelligence they have that is the problem. That is something that propaganda is very good at getting people to do. And which can be done on anyone whatever their intelligence is.

    4. Ignacio

      The first one: “this is just another cough” is the most pervasive and I find it frequently in informal conversations.

  5. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    Just a couple of comments.

    What took the New Statesman and its peers so long to notice the impact of Hindu nationalism?

    The first clashes between Hindus and Muslims of Indian / South Asian origin in the UK took place in the late 1940s. There were similar clashes outside the Indian High Commission in London in August 2019.

    Anyone who works in a large UK office will notice it, too. There have been problems at HSBC, Deutsche Bank, the NHS and some IT firms, leading to pay-outs by employers to aggrieved staff.

    On their return to India from Durban, Mohandas K Gandhi asked Manilall Doctor to stay a bit longer in (and later return to) Mauritius and organise the Hindu community, largely sugar estate workers then. There was already a Creole led labour movement, but the pair felt that Hindus should organise on their own (including at political level, which Creoles had yet to) and adopted a motto that is used to this day, “koon ke koon”, “our own kind”, to the exclusion of other, and often much longer established, communities. It was this movement that pushed for independence in 1968 and a republic in 1991, when nearly half the population did not want independence and no one was consulted about becoming a republic.

    Further to United Health, the firm donated money and staff to Owen Smith, the Blairite challenger to Corbyn, Starmer and the Blairites’ favourite to succeed Starmer and Pete Buttigieg of Britain, Wes Streeting. Over the summer, Starmer and Streeting said that the use of private sector providers / contractors for NHS services will continue.

    1. MaryLand

      My husband worked with a lot of foreign nationals including some from India. He was friends with everyone and our kids and their kids went on family outings together. We invited 2 of the families for a day on our boat not realizing they would not get along. Both families were Hindu but of different castes. They managed to not speak to each other the whole day on a small boat. Very awkward.

      A friend of mine is an operating room nurse. She said schedulers have to be careful to have doctors and nurses that are not from different castes (and not have Hindus working with Muslims) working on the same surgery. If it happens they will only speak to each other via a third person and it makes the surgery take longer. She said people from India can tell by the person’s name what caste they are.

      So sad.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        For a couple of decades or so in the UK, after the subcontinent got independence, the caste and religious differences were minimised by the adherents. However, as they became more established, the differences were asserted, often violently so. The violence has always been there.

  6. .human

    Love the firefly photo.

    I was once strolling with my family one warm summer night on the property of an abandoned estate come local park when a large shrub pulsing with hundreds of lights like an over-the-top Christmas display came into view! I will never forget that time nor glorious image.

    1. ambrit

      Complete agreement.
      We used to live near the end of a dead end road “out in the country” near Bogalusa, Louisiana, USA. Every spring the fireflies would come out in the wooded spaces at the very end of the road. Phyl and I would take the toddlers on down to the spot at dusk and show them Nature at it’s prettiest.
      A three year old with some fireflies blinking on and off crawling on her hand is a memory that makes today’s world a bit more bearable.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The fireflies were always great at my parents, but there is a wooded, unbuildable area at the bottom of there street. It’s crazy. It’s like Christmas lighting.

    2. GC54

      Yes we used to have them in abundance for our kids to catch and release them in jars. However, all our progressive neighbors now have a yard service come through regularly to spray an “environmentally friendly mosquito spray” so the little darlings don’t get bites that seems to have killed bees, lightning bugs, and the frogs in our pond too. Birds are gone as well, in part because of absent bugs but also because we stopped putting out suet cakes to prevent the avian virus spread. Had to take down some 100+ yr old trees that were not doing well in the new climate, so the woodpeckers are gone. I miss all that life with great sadness, Silent Spring take 2.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Brazil’s Bolsonaro calls for negotiations to end Ukraine war”

    “Brazil’s Bolsonaro suddenly finds himself listed on Ukraine’s Myrotvorets website”

    1. britzklieg

      That it’s Bolsonaro who is uttering a sane response is jarringly beyond ironic and absolutely indicative of the black-is-white “western” nightmare excreting from the malign minds of “liberal” neolib/neocon fascists.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        My gut is US behavior is too well known for the US to support a Bolsonaro coup publicly. There may be calls to sanction Brazil. Lula advised what’s her name to our sue a relationship with China mirroring the Moscow-Beijing arrangement. Brazil is potentially a major country and distant to China. Brazil has the potential to be a partner with China in a way the US would try to stop without the risk of being overwhelmed by China the way Vietnam or South Korea might be. Any peaceful push into the Americas is going to force the US to reassess it’s force disposition. China and Moscow have interests in Brazil without the hypocrisy and local memory (the Obama administration was involved in peddling the corruption charges against Lula).

        Though it could be the covid brain fog, but since Bolsonaro’s natural inclination is to be insane, the fog is turning him relatively sane.

        Brazil’s election is the big geopolitical event of the year. Regardless, there will be a new frost relationship with the US.

  8. zagonostra

    President Truman who created the CIA in 1947 knew by 1963 that it was out of control and should be reigned in, Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs debacle was quoted as saying that he “wanted to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”

    As I learn more about the CIA’s involvement in Ukraine, it seems that the CIA has not only solidified its hold but is busily working to splinter peace and scatter the possibility of cooperation with other nations to the wind. I can’t wait until Pompeo’s bid for the presidency begins in earnest, he wouldn’t be the first CIA chief to be Commander-in-Chief.

  9. griffen

    Railroad executive Hunter Harrison linked article, thought I had heard about or read about him previously but perhaps not. Based on what’s covered, it seems certain he made few friends, but if you’re not winning the hearts and minds of other executives it likely means you’re damn good at what you are doing. It may also mean you have very little in common, aside from the work, with Stanford or Chicago trained MBAs whizzing about with spreadsheets.

  10. upstater

    re. Railroader: The Unfiltered Genius and Controversy of Four-Time CEO Hunter Harrison (reveiw) Rational Reflections

    The review says nothing about Harrison’s hyper-confrontational management of labor relations. This culture is the one playing out today with the mass resignations of unionized employees. Harrison also required office employees at Canadian Pacific to become qualified operating employees also, providing a ready pool of scabs.

    Also unmentioned is the ultimate effects of single-tracking mainline and shutting classification yards. Running 3 mile trains with 1.5 mile passing sidings doesn’t work well. The industry spent far more on buybacks than capital investment. Those turkeys have come home to roost.

    Harrison was a monster and his unpleasant demise was just.

  11. KD

    Some thoughts on Russia:

    1.) If referenda are successful, and Duma agrees, then Donbas+ Oblasts become part of RF and Putin can use Russian conscripts in those areas. This suggests a signal for the territorial end game for the Russians, although they still have the problem of NATO in the rest of Ukraine. Odessa will have to wait, and perhaps remain a useful casus belli.

    2.) Mobilizing 300K of reserves adds even more ground troops. Presumably this will create better capacity for defense in depth, in addition to strengthening offensive capabilities. (My guess is that this is a better plan then just releasing rapists, robbers and axe murderers so they can act as stormtroopers for Wagner PMC.)

    3.) Ritter suggested, and received a lot of criticism, for suggesting that Russia needs to mobilize due to Western military aid, but this move by RF suggests he may have been correct.

    4.) Effects on Russia will be higher cost and higher casualties, which may make the war less sustainable in the long-term, but probably creates more strategic and tactical possibilities in the short-term.

    5.) Additionally, the referenda announcement is either intended to bait a Ukrainian counter-offensive, or to create such short notice that Ukraine cannot plan a counter-offensive to undermine the vote. Given rumors of an impending counter-offensive in Zaporizhia Oblast, probably the first, suggesting Russia wants a counter-offensive now, and anticipates a reversal of the Ukraine’s recent fortunes.

    6.) The question of whether this is militarily necessary (which implies failures of planning on the part of the Russian MoD) or domestic politics, or both, is really not something that can be determined based on the public record. Russia’s MoD knows what they have, and where they have it, and what they think the Ukrainian’s capacities are. However, the American experience has been to consistently underestimate the necessary ground troops and the actual length that a prolonged war of attrition requires, so it would not be surprising if the Russian MoD committed similar errors in planning.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Earth’s ant population of 20 quadrillion outnumbers humans by 2.5 million times, study finds ”

    You think about ants and all you usually think about is their small size. But their ability to cooperate is a power unto itself. Yesterday I came across a video demonstrating their ability to cooperate in building a colony and it was impressive- (3:18 mins)

    And would you believe that somebody found a good use for fire ants? (2:45 mins)

    1. Rolf

      Wow, thanks for this RK! The depth of that fire ant structure is impressive. Picture a network of those linked over an area, gives one a sense of the success of their aggressive colonization. Here in Texas it’s a battle to keep them at bay.

      1. The Rev Kev

        They arrived in Oz in my region about a decade ago and so we now have patrols of fire-ant workers go through our place every few months. In fact, they were just going through our place yesterday and treated it just in case. And I say – ‘Kill ’em all!’

        1. Wukchumni

          Oh great now you’ll get PETA* all hot and bothered over your** stance…

          * People for the Ethical Treatment of Ants

          ** I’ve dispatched tens of thousands and more keep coming, 20 quadrillion is probably even more than all the money ginned up since the turn of the century.

          Diatomaceous earth is my favored method, but a product named Terro is less messy and does the trick. I’d heard distant faint rumors from the ground troops that they consider me a Terro-ist.

        2. Earl Erland

          I spent 2 1/2 years in Bakouka, Gabon. Upon returning from a two day visit from the Provincial Capitol I discovered that my hut had been invaded by army ants. The interior walls and floor shimmered with black movement. Unfortunately, this happened about a week after my cat had a litter. She got one kitten out; the rest were consumed.

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          Here is a recipe for a claimed-to-be-effective homemade killer-juice for use against fire ants.

          This recipe may have been lifted from Howard Garrett’s ” The Dirt Doctor” column for the Dallas Metroplex area. He emphasizes organic solutions to garden and landscape problems and projects. Here is his article on various organic approaches to fire ant control, including this orange oil containing recipe.

          An especially interesting thing I found buried deep in his article is his statement that fire ants only became a major problem after repeated use of artificial pesticides on them turned them into a major problem. Here is the paragraph on how the users of pesticides got that achieved . . . ” Before the chemical pushers started throwing Diazinon, Dursban, Myrex and Orthene at these insects, they weren’t much of a problem. The queens were territorial, there was only one queen per mound and there were very few mounds per acre. After the toxic chemical assault, the ants altered their behavior so that there are hundreds to thousands of queens per mound and large numbers of mounds per acre – except on organic sites. Here’s the 3-Step organic program that actually works to control this man-made problem.”

          He then goes on to describe his 3-Step organic program to control fire ants.

    2. dougie

      Ha! Love the link to Fire Ants. Although our mounds rarely get over 2-3 inches high, I have been reluctant to use poisons to try to eliminate them. I just mow over the hills, and they relocate elsewhere. But never in my neighbors yard! I dug a little deeper and came up with this gem! A free aluminum melting device.

      This will be a huge hit with my spousal unit, since she is very allergic to fire ant bites. And this could become the Holy Grail of hobbies, in that it is FREE! Over the years, she has become quite used to my new hobbies coming with some steep price tags(shrugs)

      1. ambrit

        I don’t know what the forge costs, but just collect beer cans from off of the side of the road for “free” re-raw materials.

      2. hunkerdown

        You’ll want some sand, some paraffin, and some wax carving tools to complete your investment.

        Desktop PCs often contain aluminum in useful quantities. Laptops, maybe even more so. Hard disk chassis and heat sinks are particularly good sources of melting stock.

  13. notabanker

    Well, the good news is that climate change and Covid really become moot points after nuclear war. I wonder if the short wave radio broadcasts will let us all know that Biden has resolved those issues.

      1. Wukchumni

        2, 4, 6, 8
        Who do we incinerate?
        Go team!

        If we get lucky, the Taupo volcano in NZ will put us out of our misery, and it has a track record of blowing up real good as in a Yellowstone type gig 25,000 years ago, which wiped out the only human living in NZ, a neander Thiel.

        1. ambrit

          Considering that positively prehistoric population’s peregrinatious ploddings, ‘meander Thiel’ would track better.
          As the Hebridean Bard put it; “Oh what a tangled World Wide Web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

    1. Ignacio

      Well, and the contrary might probably also be true: you get flu and it prevents for a while corona (and others).

      1. semper loquitur

        Allow me to clarify my comment, I was just mocking Biden’s recent claims about the end of the pandemic. And thank you for the information!

  14. semper loquitur

    I’m deeply concerned’: Francis Collins on trust in science, how Covid communications failed, and his current obsession

    Former NIH director and current White House science adviser Francis Collins told a group of journalists late last week about his passion for both the Cancer Moonshot and the new biomedical research agency known as ARPA-H. But he also revealed his pain at seeing people spurn mRNA Covid vaccines developed with breathtaking speed and lamented that he and other health officials failed to communicate the ever-changing science behind Covid recommendations.

    Yeah, maybe the “breathtaking speed” played a role in the lack of trust?

  15. Lex

    The Snowden piece is a good philosophical rundown of CIA, especially that he managed to never get caught in the weeds. That’s quite a feat when writing about CIA. Nothing good has ever come out of CIA and based on the published historical record, it’s pretty bad at its stated job of analysis and prediction to inform the president. The Agency can’t be reformed. It has to be dissolved, which is likely impossible because it’s now becoming apparent that to a great degree it is the motive power in US government.

    Note how deeply its veterans have penetrated media and tech companies. It’s converted the state department into the public arm of the agency. And it uses all of these means to manipulate policy. How much US foreign policy appears to be political responses to unnamed intelligence sources talking to a reporter? Because politics is about reacting to and winning news cycles, all the agency has to do is leverage those news cycles and then reinforce them in briefing the current regime. Realistically, the “deep state” (or “the blob” if you prefer early 21st century blogging language) is CIA and adjacent intelligence agencies.

    It will never cease to amaze me that these people go on TV, say stuff and a large percentage of the population believes them. How can you believe someone who’s job description includes lying? It’s abject naivety to think that they wouldn’t lie to you because you’re both on the “same side”.

    1. Lee

      “Nothing good has ever come out of CIA ….”

      How would we know? I suppose they could tell us but then they’d have to kill us.

      1. ambrit

        “I suppose they could tell us but then they’d have to kill us.”
        That’s the old CIA. The ‘new’ CIA kills you first, and lets Dulles sort it out.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Based on the embrace of Argo which didn’t carry a disclaimer about the operation being Canadian until after booing at the premiere in Toronto, I think we can safely assume any CIA success they would want to share would be turned into a Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  16. russell1200

    “I’m not seeing the level of aghastitude and hysteria I’d expect from the announcement of a Russian mobilization, even a partial one. Perhaps the press and the intelligence community — sorry for the redundancy — were wrong-footed in some way?”

    The media doesn’t get upset, because this part of the narrative confirms that the Ukrainians are winning. That the Russians are a conscript army, and the policy change is a matter of degree rather than an abrupt change is would be another reason, but would likely be lost on most in the media.

    FWIW it is hard to see why Russia would be using hypersonic missiles, when normal guided weapons would do just fine at a much lower cost. That guided munitions are showing themselves to be a very expensive proposition in an attritional war is something so obvious, that it takes everyone by surprise. Does every time. Look at the size of the navel and air forces in the early WW2 Norwegian Campaign versus the D-Day invasion fleet. Wars get really really expensive.

    It is attritional war. The Ukrainians have a leg up at the moment, but if the Russians keep going it doesn’t necessarily have to stay that way. The Ukrainian advantage in free equipment versus Russian greater resources is a difficult to predict calculation. I do think the US/Nato emphasis on spending money on training is wise though.

    1. ambrit

      The problem is, training who? The Ukraine is already experiencing “manpower” constraints. Will we now see NATO countries rounding up Ukrainian “refugees” of draft age and shipping them back to Lvov and Kiev? Talk about a modern version of the “Fugitive Slave Act!”
      US Fugitive Slave Act of 1850:,returning%2C%20and%20trying%20escaped%20slaves.

      1. russell1200

        Ukraine has 40 million people or so. If the threat is existential, you can field a very large army with that many people: obviously the Russians even more. The limiting factor is going to be weapons and training.

    2. Karl

      “[This] is attritional war.”

      Putin’s announcement of partial mobilization undoubtedly had this sobering effect on Biden’s people if not the MSM stenographers: he’s in this for the long haul. He is doubling down with another 300K troops. He may or may not need them in the short term, as “General Mud” (Ritter’s term) bogs everyone down.

      Ritter pointed out yesterday that, in attritional war, the occasional “operational pause” is essential for the troops, and Ukraine’s “advance” came during one such pause. The occasional advance by either side is inevitable in attritional war. It’s the trend that matters, and here the latest trend seems to be statis.

      As the Western economies self destruct with inflation-fighting hikes in interest rates, statis only helps Putin and hurts the US, EU, Japan….

      The upshot is that, because this is attritional war, Russia can well afford, and may well prefer, to let this drag on through winter. If his goal is to weaken NATO, letting the EU freeze is a brilliant strategy. Russia has always understood the value of “General Winter” to winning its wars.

      1. russell1200

        I am sorry, I have not found Mr. Ritter to be terribly credible. His experience in operation warfare seems to very limited, much of what he says is rather vague.

        Operational pause? Sure, people run out of ammo and have to slow up. Does he give any example of an operation pause leading to a similar result in some other war? The words are in English, but the idea isn’t even coherent. The closest analogy I can think of is the Germans attacking through the Ardennes (the second time) in a relatively quiet sector. But it’s not like the allies were pausing, they were just surprised. The Russians didn’t stomp the Germans in Operation Bagration because the Germans were paused. They stomped them because they surprised them as to where the initial attacks were coming from.

    3. juno mas

      Well, hypersonic missiles are more accurate, less detectable, have higher ground impact (both physically and emotionally) than the other stuff. It’s likely the Russian general staff is not using them randomly.

      1. russell1200

        I am not sure any of this is true, or at least very true.

        The main advantages of hypersonic is that they travel so fast (toward a moving target) that they are harder to evade.

        They are also very difficult to intercept as they are coming in so fast. I guess this somewhat works with what you are saying with regards to being detectable. But it is more about reduced reaction time after detection.

        Both of these are why they are so dangerous to naval vessels. Particularly big fast ones like aircraft carriers. Their usefulness over land is less obvious as interception of incoming missiles over land has generally been pretty spotty in any case.

    4. Old Sovietologist

      “I’m not seeing the level of aghastitude and hysteria I’d expect from the announcement of a Russian mobilization, even a partial one”

      Sometimes what’s not said is more significant. Putin’s decision to announce mobilization (albeit partial) is taken very seriously by the West. As it means their plan to “freeze” the conflict in Ukraine is now in tatters.

      1. Old Sovietologist

        Meanwhile looking at Ukrainian Telegram, there are a lot of Ukrainian’s who oppose Russia’ invasion but are not supportive of the Zelensky govt either, the rumours are that Erdogan is attempting to mediate the release of all PoW’s There are now only 400 Russian military personnel in Ukraine and in Russia there are about 6,000 Ukrainian prisoners. It will be interesting to see if he can pull this off.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Deal averting railroad strike has potential to fall apart”

    Deliberate mindf****** going on here when the title of the video says ‘Railroad workers reach tentative deal to AVOID strike.’ They did no such thing as they have not agreed on anything yet. And it is hard to vote on an agreement when you have no firm details on what is actually in those agreements. Obviously those rail workers never got the memo. How it is supposed to work is that the bosses of an organization and the union bosses get together and screw over the workers together – while the union bosses get the appropriate kick-backs. We saw this with the teacher’s strike just before the pandemic started for example.

    I really think that what a union needs is to have compulsory, secret paper balloting on major decisions with votes counted in public. It’s the only way to stop union bosses selling out for their own reasons and not necessarily financial. As the White House is involved here, perhaps those union bosses were promised a photo with Biden in his office as well. But if those workers vote to go out on strike, I don’t think that people like those at The Hill will be able to deal with it. Nancy Pelosi says that Democrats are ready with a resolution to block a railroad shutdown if negotiations collapsed but it would be tough if all those workers called in sick with covid.

  18. Questa Nota

    The railroad non-contract news could lead one to imagine the following convo:

    Team Biden Braintrust: We need to announce something big. Midterms, labor support, yadda yadda.

    Team Railroad: We need to keep the dividends trains rolling.

    In Unison: We can announce something!

    Have your people interns call my people newbies to hash it out. Can we still do lunch?

  19. Wukchumni

    Gallego: Hard to imagine someone as ‘dumb’ as McCarthy being Speaker

    This isn’t the first brickbat from a fellow Congressman that My Kevin (since ’07) has been hit with and lets face it, nobody claimed My Kev was Mensa material and he’s certainly no Pol Pot, more of a pol plot.

  20. Pat

    I don’t think the White House staff not realizing that Biden’s declaring Covid over was going to need handling is limited to West Wing Brain Fog. It is indicative of how this is just “common knowledge” there, it was no big deal because they are ignorant, lazy, unaware, greedy and incompetent. Since they all think that getting Covid is of no danger to them, know most of the easy money making opportunities have passed and do not consider it of political importance, they have been functioning with the mindset that Covid was over for most of the last year. Hell they have probably been saying it to the President.

    Their ignorance and stupidity is on display as they clearly do not comprehend that the virus morphs rapidly and no one knows how it will morph, possibly to something far more dangerous than the current form. And that getting Covid multiple times, and I don’t think you can entirely divorce the effect of multiple vaccine boosters here either, can and does affect the immune system that can be devastating, even for the young and fit.

    Their incompetence is on full display in their lack of recognition that a few of the administration’s actions, that are politically important are to Covid being an emergency.

    The fog can be that they don’t listen to anyone but each other, still all the other aspects of character failings that allow this appear to be required for advancement in the Democratic Party machine and certainly needed before you can even get to the West Wing.

  21. Mikel

    “How oil companies endlessly avoid cleanup costs High” Country News

    And while this issue continues, I’m sure lithium mining companies will dig deep into their own pockets to ensure proper clean-up.

  22. Wukchumni

    He’s a lumberjack and he’s ok…

    Been parting out a bigger oak that up and died on me in the past year, and truth be said i’m not unhappy to see it’s demise as it was way too close to the house-but that said, my daily morning twitter feed is going to be more distant by taking down the perch on which they performed.

    Its multi-trunked with the largest width being around 18 inches and then tapering out into tips of tendrils, why’d a 300 year old tree die on my watch?

    Anyhow, if left to its own devices, the tree might take 10-20 years to slowly crumble away, gravity and all that doing the rest, but not with yours truly gyrating a grinding polesaw dance certainly not under the member as that could be hazardous, but coming in from an angle with as much as 18′ can accommodate.

    One of the trunks has a lean towards the house and slowly but surely i’m paring off branches 6 to 8 inches wide with oh so much burn pile potential in the non-keeper kind, i’ve had to double my usual locales as there is a feast of fodder for the pyre, not to mention the tree’s mutiny of its bounty all to soon be in the compact guise of a cord of wood not especially needed (it doesn’t get that cold here in the winter) as it goes into storage like so many ammo dumps i’ve got scattered about with the goods stacked up on wood pallets, the cut rounds looking like artillery shells.

    My 10 cords of good oak would be so beneficial to somebody in Europe instead, but as they say… location-location-location

    1. Louis Fyne

      (living) lumberjacks and arborists are the masters of applied physics outside of CERN, in my opinion.

      source: cutting a few modest trees in the backyard myself

      1. Late Introvert

        I cut down a small apple tree about 15 years ago, with a step ladder and some ropes, along with my father-in-law. Never again. Wow, was that dangerous! Then a HUGE amount of work after it was down on the ground.

        Nowadays I have a mature Green Ash 15 feet away from my house that is dead from the Emerald Ash Borer, featured here on NC last spring. We will pay about 2 grand for it to be cut down, this fall is the plan. It’s hard to find reputable and affordable “tree care specialists”. What do you call them? They are neither lumberjacks nor arborists.

    2. juno mas

      What type of oak tree is it? Interior live oak (Quercus wislizeni)? If it’s a Live Oak it lived a long and stately life. 200 years is a normal lifespan.

      Count the tree rings to estimate its age.

  23. Mikel

    “Clearing Pollution Helps Clear the Fog of Aging — And May Cut the Risk of Dementia” KHN

    The type of framing the environmental movement needed to stick with all along.
    How fighting polution and environmental degradation helps people in the here and now.
    By extension, it will help people in the future.
    But that doesn’t cause people to have to take out loans or sell much of anything.

  24. Glen

    NY state drops the boom on Trump?

    Attorney General James Sues Donald Trump for Years of Financial Fraud

    AG Letitia James speaks after New York sues Donald Trump, company and family members — 9/21/22

    I think this is related to the deposition where Trump took the fifth.

    I’m just guessing here, but I don’t see Trump as doing anything wildly different that most billionaires with regard to property valuations, so can we investigate all of them?

    1. Pat

      Let me speak for Ms. James, someone for whom the Democratic machine put their thumb heavily on the scales for and still barely beat Zephyr Teachout,:

      NO! That was not my mandate when elected to this office. Trump is special and must be punished for having the audacity to win.

  25. Glen

    AND… (Seems like a lot of news dropped today)

    A 75 point rate hike by the Fed.

    Fed orders another super-sized interest rate hike as it battles stubborn inflation

    So, the Fed upholding it’s two mandates:
    Pump up the super rich.
    Crush the workers.

    I realize they state that their mandates are a bit different, but I’m basing my mandates on observed outcomes over the last forty years.

    1. Anthony G Stegman

      I don’t at all buy the notion that low interest rates helps “workers”, and high interest rates hurt them. There have been ultra low interest rates for well over a decade now. The 1% have been the primary beneficiaries of ultra low rates as asset prices have skyrocketed along with speculative fever. Workers have been crushed by the elite using a variety of means, with higher interest rates the least among them. Low interest rates encourage debt accumulation along with speculation. Both serve to destabilize the economy. This instability hurts workers. Normalizing interest rates at 5% – 6% and keeping them there for an extended period (years, not months) will be more beneficial than harmful for the economy and the workforce.

      1. Late Introvert

        I’m ignorant when it comes to the grey science of economics, but I think it’s been shown from empirical standpoint that low interest rates (1-3 for sure, but maybe higher), serve only to provide free money to speculators. Isn’t that obvious from the last few decades?

        As a homeowner with a 3.125 15-year, I sorta kinda benefit from it, but lost out on the 1 and 2 percents like Wall St., along with the mortgage deduction, given my puny house in flyover

        That’s my small window into the situation. The house is small, the windows are regular size.

      2. Glen

        Workers get laid off, and a stated goal of the Fed rate hikes is to cause worker lay offs.

        Larry Summers has stated he wants the rate hikes to continue until unemployment is at least 10%.

  26. Peerke

    About the Venn diagram, as someone in the tweet comments pointed out, it is “beans on toast” not “beans and toast”. Traditionally it is Heinz beans (not your American kind with molasses and other nonsense) made in the UK – the terroir is important. Personally I like to cook the beans a bit – if you just warm them up then the tomato sauce does not thicken and become milky in appearance. Also black pepper is a good addition. Many people like to literally slather the toast in butter such that it should be named beans on butter on toast. I prefer my toast unbuttered and fresh out of the toaster, immediately the beans are placed on top and it is eaten before the toast has become over soggy.
    Another note on beans: grilled tomatoes and beans as part of an Irish or British morning fry up do not go together – it is either one or the other but not both. Understood?

  27. swallow

    Europe is collapsing faster than expected. Putin needs to mobilize forces to accelerate goals in Ukraine before ceasefire negotiations begin. Which are now likely to be sooner not later. If China invades Taiwan after Congress in October, Israel and Iran go to war, Europe’s industrial base is going be broken.

      1. John k

        Feb often cold.
        As has been said, maybe 2-3 months to incorporate troop buildup, so winter might be favorable for Russ op.

  28. ArvidMartensen

    The US has only one real export. War executed in other countries. And latterly on its own citizens.
    “Colour” revolutions, colorless revolutions, “freedom fighters”, civil unrest, civil war, economic war, cultural war, selective war on “human rights abuses”, invasions, sanctions, offensives, violations of treaties …..
    The one real US export is to support the two real US activities; getting rich from selling weapons and looting everything they can get their hands on.
    That’s it. So simple, no need for two thousand word essays and hand-wringing on what America means for “democracy”..
    The US national anthem is a 4 verse love letter to the glory of war ….

    “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;”

    They need to get with the current vibe and add something about nuclear war – modest suggestion
    “Sent our nukes everywhere, leaving cities so bare
    No people remaining to see or to care
    And the star-spangled banner forlornly now waves
    O’er the last few elites sick and cold in a cave”

    1. caucus99percenter

      Those new “Star-Spangled Banner” lyrics need to make it into the NC Commentariat Songbook some people here are compiling.

      1. Late Introvert

        I read that link too, did not finish but got the gist. Ted was wrong on the random killing thing, crossed the line in every way to evil family blogger. Unfortunate, because if he had stuck to the ideas, he wasn’t wrong about much. His tactics were just ugh. No defense there.

        It’s hard to overlook the indiscrimitate terror. I hate airline and insurance executives too, but damn. Maybe more discriminate, is what I’m suggesting. Better targets, more consequential. I would never suggest any names but surely Sociopaths of the Day would come to mind? I like the idea of the PMC fearing for their lives. It’s going to happen sooner or later, why not hasten the day?

  29. sbarrkum

    for their twinkling — can settle on riverside trees. “Their light blazes and is extinguished by a common sympathy,” a British diplomat touring Thailand wrote in 1857. “At one moment every leaf and branch appears decorated with diamond-like fire.”

    If one has seen this, it is really a wondrous sight. Specially during new moon (moonless nights) If there is a lightning flash, the fire flies lighting stops and minute or so all start again in unison.
    Often go to a nearby stretch o paddy field, so no electricity*. There are huge trees near the irrigation channels that always have water flowing. The trees are full of fireflies and a really fantastic sight.

    *Bright lights apparently are a deterrent to fireflies.

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