Links 10/1/22

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.

* * *

In the Mind of a Whale Hakai Magazine

Fish fossils found in China shed light on human evolution: Researchers Daily Sabah (AL).

How a School’s ‘Bike Bus’ Won Over Students and Charmed the Internet Route Fifty (MR).

No end in sight for Fed-delivered beatings Politico

The Cost of the Fed’s Challenged Credibility Mohamed A. El-Erian, Project Syndicate

Swimming naked Ruffer


What do Nord Stream methane leaks mean for climate change? Nature

There’s a Mind-Bending Amount of Solar in the US Pipeline Bloomberg

What is blue carbon, and why is it important? Soils Matter, Get the Scoop


SARS-CoV-2 furin cleavage site was not engineered PNAS

Ford government buying 2M cloth masks for Ontario schools. Doctors say there are better options City News. A slap in the face to layered protection, besides being lethal.

CO2 monitors to be mandatory in all Dutch classrooms Dutch News

Some officials now say monkeypox elimination unlikely in US AP. Flawless victory from the Centers for Disease.


COVID-19: China’s death toll puts US to shame but the western centric media tell a different story Pearls and Irritations

Anatomy of a debunked China coup rumour South China Morning Post

Surfing on land gains ground among youth China Daily

MHI develops reactor with enhanced safety features World Nuclear News. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Fuelled by meth addiction, Vietnam’s drug-treatment centres are rife with abuse Globe_

European Disunion

German €200bn energy support plan sparks ‘animosity’ within EU FT

Munich Oktoberfest emerges as COVID superspreader event in Germany WSWS

Lidl told to destroy gold chocolate bunnies after it loses copyright case with Lindt Sky News

Uganda Ebola cases jump to 50, with 1 more death Center for Infectious Disease and Policy

Dear Old Blighty

Pound’s Swoon Echoes Declines in British Power, Past and Present NYT

Breaking: Starmer’s ‘public energy co’ exposed as big con The Sqwawkbox

Peter Thiel’s Palantir Had Secret Plan to Crack UK’s NHS: ‘Buying Our Way In’ Bloomberg

King Charles Hired A Former Top Editor At The Tabloids That Published Critical Kate Middleton Columns And The Story That Was An Impetus For The Breakdown Of Meghan Markle’s Relationship With Her Father Buzzfeed

Hardship for Brazil’s poor may cost Bolsonaro election AP

New Not-So-Cold War

That escalated quickly.”

Ukraine says it encircles Russian troops at Lyman stronghold Reuters. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything else on this that isn’t Ukrainian propaganda (often using the same photo). Readers?

Senior Defense and Military Officials Hold a Background Briefing US Department of Defense. Deathless quotation:

[R]elative to the Nord Stream Pipeline in the Baltic Sea, you know we, as is the case with the rest of the global community continue to monitor the situation and the circumstances. I think we’re as perplexed as anyone else and would — are very interested in knowing how this came about, whether it’s an accident or otherwise.

I’m imagining this clip from CIA-parody-but-not Burn After Reading rewritten for pipeline explosions:

“No biggie.” “Report back to me when, uh, I don’t know. When it makes sense.”

* * *

Vladimir Putin speaks at the accession ceremony Gilbert Doctorow

Understanding Russian Coercive Signaling RAND

Putin’s Roulette Foreign Affairs. The deck: “Sacrificing His Core Supporters in a Race Against Defeat.”

Tallinn postcard: Feels like a big war is coming Yasha Levine

* * *

Shock and Awe: Who Attacked the Nord Stream Pipelines? Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Sweden and Denmark: Pipeline leaks caused by “several hundred kilos” of explosives Axios

EXPLAINER: A deep dive into risks for undersea cables, pipes AP

* * *

After Putin’s Land Grab, Zelensky Wants to Fast-Track NATO Membership Foreign Policy

Zelensky and NATO plan to transform post-war Ukraine into ‘a big Israel’ The Grayzone. With nukes, presumably.

Russian oil exports are still booming and EU is still reliant on Russia Hellenic Shipping News

Biden Administration

Biden is punting on COVID relief for the third time Speaking Security

FCC Approves 5 Year Satellite Deorbiting Rule Payload

Realignment and Legitimacy

A concrete vision of the liberal democratic future Noah Smith, Noahpinion. The deck: “The free societies must once again show what kind of world they want to build.” Have fun!

Imperial Collapse Watch

U.S. sailor found not guilty of fire that destroyed ship Reuters. And see here.

Guillotine Watch

Musk’s texts are a who’s who of power players — and everyone had an angle Protocol

Class Warfare

Zombie capitalism is unravelling Yanis Varoufakis, The New Statesman

Twitter reverses account lock on Will Lehman, rank-and-file candidate for UAW president, without explanation WSWS

Bruce Willis Sells Deepfake Likeness Rights So His ‘Twin’ Can Star in Future Movies

Kill it with fire:

Katherine Rundell: ‘Larger than the world’s chaos are its miracles’ FT

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 King of the Road by Roger Miller)

    Hopped up on cocaine lines
    In my underground confines
    I got no more tanks or jets
    But I ain’t got no regrets

    I get billions from overseas
    For beggin’ on my hands and knees
    I got offshore funds, that makes me
    King of Kiev

    Weapons arrive by rail
    We promptly put them up for sale
    It’s our private treasure hunt
    Two or three even reach the front

    (Of course) Most blow up on the ground
    When the Russians are around
    But I’ll get more from DC
    (Because I’m) King of Kiev

    I’m surrounded by big thugs with guns in their hands
    Wolfangel tattoos and Azov armbands
    They tell me that I’m just along for the ride
    I don’t care so long as they keep me supplied

    (Yes, I’m) Hopped up on cocaine lines
    In my underground confines
    Ain’t got no tanks or jets
    I ain’t feelin’ no regrets

    Dontcha worry none about me
    I’ll go down in history
    Spell it EE-len-ski with no ‘Z’
    King of Kiev

    (Watch out, I’m so) Hopped up on cocaine lines
    In my underground confines
    Ain’t got no tanks or jets
    I sure ain’t got no regrets

    I get billions from overseas . . .

      1. Joe Renter

        1+ I remember Roger Miller and that song from my childhood. Wish I could get a 2 bit room for sweeping floors these days. $65 a night at motel six. I am sold old that; I remember when a room was $6.00 a night! My parents owned a motel, and I grew up in that setting.

    1. bassmule

      From the comments:

      A: Get this done now!
      Fund it, warp-speed it, and get it into people’s noses.
      To do otherwise is criminal and will not be looked upon too kindly by history.

      B: Nope. This is America! Pfizer’s profits come first.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          Have you seen their “We’ve saved the world!” ads on TV. Humanity could not survive without them.

          Dark, dark comedy.

    1. Louis Fyne

      Lyman is going to be a war-nerd footnote in whatever comes next. Presumably within the next 4 weeks.

        1. NotThisAgain

          I don’t think it is the Russian military that is making these timeframes–it is the commentariat.
          It is also the commentariat that claiming that winter favors Russia, incidentally (while it may be true, I haven’t heard the Russians say anything directly about this).

          However, if you have any good links as to why Lyman matters, please let me know–I have only found very superficial analysis. My only assumption is that it is not that important because Russia doesn’t seem to have expended a whole lot of resources to defend it, but I really don’t know…

          1. lambert strether

            Lyman will not cut Russia’s land bridge to Crimea, unlike the loss of Kherson or that other offensive south of Donetsk that hasn’t materialized yet.

            OTOH, “In war, moral power is to physical as three parts out of four” (Napoleon). Exaggerated, otherwise French elan would have carried the day in August 1914, as per doctrine.

            But still real. I think whoever’s running things up there is due for replacement, lack of reinforcements or no.

            1. Tom Hickey

              I came to a similar conclusion independently.

              1. Russia is trading some territory that is not operationally significant at this time for a chunk of the adversary’s men and equipment.

              2. The adversary is then forced to defend the territory gained, fixing his forces and providing further opportunity to degrade him militarily.

              3. The territory can be retaken if and when it becomes important to do so operationally. Kharkov will likely not be a major objective until the Donbass is wrapped up and the territory in the southeast that the command wants to capture is secured.

              If I were the commander this is what I would be doing. Ukraine appears willing to lose the troops and equipment for the optics of an isolated tactical victory with little to no operational or strategic significance. I would not be getting in the way of this tradeoff that supports the policy goal of demilitarization.

              I expect the plan and modus operandi to change when the Duma votes for accession and the president signs the official document. Then the game changes big time. The gloves will come off.

              1. NotThisAgain

                Ukraine appears willing to lose the troops and equipment for the optics of an isolated tactical victory with little to no operational or strategic significance.

                That is what I gather from the link, but is that really true? Why would Ukraine be willing to do so, given that the country can’t magically regrow soldiers and its backers are presumably not going to continue to throw resources into a lost cause?

                Incidentally, if this is in fact the case, then NATO must be aware of this, and the countries must (presumably) have some kind of contingency plans for when this occurs that doesn’t involve caving in to all of Russia’s demands. What could those plans possibly involve? I assume that all of the countries bordering Russia are going to have lots of conflict and color revolutions and whatever over the winter months in order to distract Russia from Ukraine, but that one is a sort of obvious five minute thought–there must be far better strategies to exploit weaknesses, I think.

                War is horrifying, but the mental game is really interesting in an abstract sense.

                1. Shugahara

                  >given that the country can’t magically regrow soldiers and its backers are presumably not going to continue to throw resources into a lost cause?

                  It’s backers just spent 20 years in Afghanistan and seemed hungry for more.

    2. LawnDart

      So totally unclear.

      Seconded. After hitting more than a half-dozen Russian media sites, all I could gather is that seems like a very fluid situation when the facts on the ground are changing by the hour.

      1. NotThisAgain

        So totally unclear.


        Honestly, it’s not just the event that is unclear–I don’t even think I understand the implications.

        1. juno mas

          My guess is that when Ukraine deems the concentration of forces attacking Lyman are sufficient, the Russian Air Force and ground attack “flame throwers” will turn the setting into “war porn”.

  2. Old Sovietologist

    “After Putin’s Land Grab, Zelensky Wants to Fast-Track NATO Membership”

    The Ukraine has been very surefooted when it comes to the information war. So who is responsible for Zelensky’s major miscalculation on NATO membership. He staged the show but no one showed up. Looking at Ukrainian telegram its not gone down well and has damaged his reputation. Without some sort of win in Lyman he looks in trouble.

    Lyman offensive isn’t going well for Ukraine either. They are suffering what looks some serious losses. Yet they are sending more into the meat grinder.

    1. timbers

      “After Putin’s Land Grab, Zelensky Wants to Fast-Track NATO Membership”

      “The Ukraine has been very surefooted when it comes to the information war. So who is responsible for Zelensky’s major miscalculation on NATO membership.” (?)

      Gilbert Doctorow might be on to a possible answer to your question, which in short is…the Neocons running the show may have gotten cold feet regarding staging a nuclear false flag that – IMO – they were laying the possible ground work for:

      “Meanwhile the dummy in charge of the U.S. State Department, Antony Blinken, told reporters yesterday that in fact the United States has no indications Russia intends to use nuclear arms in Ukraine. This reversal of his remarks of the past few weeks is no minor point; it means that U.S. flirtation with staging yet another anti-Russian false flag operation, this time by detonating a nuclear device somewhere in Ukraine that might be blamed on the Kremlin, has, thankfully, been abandoned. The world is much safer for all that.”

      “Today’s Financial Times continues its snarling denunciations of the Russian leader and his ‘annexation’ of the four former Ukrainian oblasts. However, in The New York Times I see a sign that even our media can comprehend that the game is up, with or without successes of the Ukrainian counter offensive. I point to today’s opinion essay on the paper’s front page by columnist and three time winner of the Pulitzer Prize Thomas Friedman entitled “Putin is Trying to Outcrazy the West.”

      1. voteforno6

        I wonder if Zelensky is facing some internal political pressure. This could be part of some jockeying between him and (presumably) Ukraine’s military leadership.

        1. timbers

          One wonders if and how long Zelensky will be around. If Russia finally does what many have been saying is long overdue – decapitates Ukrainian decision centers and infrastructure – he may be gone. On the other hand if he serves no PR to the US, he could face a similar fare under different circumstances. Or not. Who knows?

                  1. ambrit

                    Thanks, and we work Pro bono, relying on the Per Diem for our Regime Ration. Alas, with the unfortunate demise of Diem, we are left wandering in a Minh-field of Dreams.
                    But then, we find ourselves thrown upon first principles, as in neo-liberal principles, (do neo-liberals have principles?) and are left contemplating the Dreaded Second Rule of Indochinese Neo-liberalism: Bao Dai.
                    Be safe adjacent.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Removing Zelensky from Ukraine leadership would pose the same risk as removing Putin from Russia leadership.

            Remove Putin and Russia gets a pure Duginite leadership which non-Russia gets to deal with.

            Remove Zelensky and Ukraine gets a pure Ukranazi leadership which non-Ukraine gets to deal with.

            1. timbers

              No. Zelensky is a mere tool of the West, disposable. And he is being run by the N word folks already (that would be USA not Azov. USA is for more ruthless than Azov). Taking him would be a boon to MSN vierership and revenue but that’s about all. In contrast, Putin is not a tool. There is NO comparison btwn Zelensky vs Putin.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                I was not comparing Zelensky versus Putin. I was comparing any successor to a post-removal Zelensky to any successor to a post-removal Putin.

                A post-Zelensky successor would be pure Ukranazi.
                A post-Putin successor would be pure Duginite.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              I remember once reading where the MagazineLords of Time said . . . ” Man of the Year” doesn’t mean we like the “Man of the Year”. It just means we believe he has the most visible power, influence, whatever, this year.”

              1. ambrit

                So that’s where TARDIS originated. I should have guessed. That Luce family always have had that “alien” look.

      2. dftbs

        I was really happy to see Blinken direct the narrative away from nukes.

        Taking the Western/American habit of projection into account; stories over the last week of the US using secret/private/back channels to “warn” the Russians of serious consequences if they used nukes are likely an opposite telling of the truth. I can imagine the Russians giving that discreet warning to us, and the flying monkeys at State scrambling to their megaphones at the Washington Post to let the world know they discreetly put the Ruskies in their place. Of course we’re meant to ignore the striking contradiction of plastering a “discreet” warning on the front page.

        The further we go into this rabbit hole the more outrageous the “propaganda” aspects are. And I fear we’ve long passed the point at which our supposed mastery over the narrative yields any strategic benefit in our geopolitical contest with Russia(and China). Whether 90% of Americans hate Russia, or 95% do, isn’t going to get us any closer to war than we already are. The limit against that is the same today as it was in 1963. Popular support doesn’t matter if they truly want to get us in a shooting war with ICBMs. It’s not like you need the public support for the long haul once the nukes start flying.

        So it must be that these lies directed at Western public aren’t meant to engage them towards conflict with Russia; but to disengage them from their ever colder ever hungrier reality. I mean just last week the U.K. ceased to be a going concern. The first domino is down. At this point TPTB may need an overwhelming Russian victory to keep our fear frothed up. They have nothing better to keep our societies glued together.

        1. timbers

          I agree and too am relieved. The Neocons often believe their own propaganda (nuke war is winnable). This is why I take variance of the common view expressed here that “time is on Russia’s side.” Suffering in Europe this winter isn’t going to slow down US playbook and escalation. At least that’s my guess.

          The sooner Russia wraps this up, the better for her. But I do hope she finishes by taking Odessa. If Russia decapitates and takes out transportation infrastructure, dealing with the AUF will become dramatically easier and as they become increasingly irrelevant. But….US sponsored terrorism is next on the agenda and Russia needs to pivot to that, too.

          And the new Russian Oblasts can reap some economic benefit as Russia will need to establish military bases and facilities there to protect them going forward. There should be some jobs going south into that part, too, with reconstruction.

          1. Anthony G Stegman

            Nuclear war with Russia will not benefit the West. They aim to take Russia whole, not in irradiated pieces. The approach the West takes with regards to Russia is to slowly weaken it, foment discord internally, overthrow the government, install a puppet, and then steal Russian assets and resources. It’s the imperial and colonial game that has been played for centuries.

        2. Revenant

          UK has not ceased to be a going concern.

          Its treasury function subsidiary the BoE (CEO Andrew Bailey) just got reminded of its duties to the group….

          1. dftbs

            I’ll be honest, I’ve been betting on hikes and qe as the “solution” that will be agreed upon across the West. I thought it would be a few more months before a Western CB capitulated to this inevitability. So I was surprised how quickly hikes turned “good collateral” into “bad collateral” in the UK, particularity since the collateral under discussion isn’t some esoteric loan securitization, but Gilts.

            The BOE can buy all the Gilts they want. At least all the Gilts their Fed dollar swap lines will allow them to purchase. But the end of the road of this is nowhere good.

            Rate Hikes to destroy demand, and QE to keep asset values relatively elevated won’t necessarily destroy a polity, but it will debase the citizens of that polity. I believe the Lehman brothers unwind was finally finished last week. The UK unwind may take a few decades yet. But yes, it is as much a going concern as the legacy Lehman loan book was.

            The real ugliness will start when the same process accelerates stateside.

    2. Dave in Austin

      “Fast-Track NATO” is a bit of theatre. NATO membership requires a definiton of the boundaries of the new member and that would have to be all the areas claimed by Zelensky including the Donbas and the Crimea. If NATO admitted the Ukraine under those conditions, then NATO would be required from the first day to intervene militarily to “Protect a NATO nation under attack”. So membership right now is off the table, as Jake Sullivan made clear whan asked the question at a recent press conference.

      But Zelinsky’s call for NATO membership does indicate he is an independent actor and not just a pawn of NATO.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        But Zelinsky’s call for NATO membership does indicate he is an independent actor …

        Not really. It was chutzpah and they called his bluff. I wonder who the “vice president” of Ukraine is? I have a feeling we are going to find out shortly.

        1. Kouros

          Yup, chutzpah. It was on the same level with him playing piano on the stage only with his soft appendage. But even there he needed a partner, couldn’t do it solo.

        2. Anthony G Stegman

          I think Zelensky is being underrated. To date, he has been very clever, and very successful in obtaining massive shipments of arms and other aid without which Ukraine could not function. Zelensky has a very effective stage presence. As the front man for the Ukraine enterprise (have not doubt, it is an enterprise) Zelensky has proven to be quite formidable. At this point in time it is obvious to me that Putin underestimated the short man wearing the green T-shirt.

          1. jsn

            The Blob wants it’s war and he’s happy to kill off a quarter million of the population he represents to profit from it.

            Of course he’s successful, seen his opportunities and took ‘em.

            The end game, however, promises to be interesting.

    3. Skip Intro

      He may be slow to grok that the destruction of NS1 and 2 have made him expendable, and that NATO just isn’t that into him anymore.

  3. Old Sovietologist

    Although there are some unconfirmed reports that the Ukrainian Army has entered the centre of Lyman after the Russian forces withdrew overnight.

          1. jsn

            Someone else appears to be losing a lot of manpower and equipment in the exact same area. Odd.

            Who should worry now and who should worry later? It’s playing out within Russia now, from the Russian perspective.

            I wonder what license the Russians might see in that?

          2. ambrit

            Now the Russians have a great internal propaganda weapon. Mother Russia has been entered and ravished by maleficent ‘outsiders,’ the Ukies. The call to arms to expell the invaders will be heeded by the ‘patriots’ inside Russia. The nay-sayers will now have to think, not twice, but three times before speaking out against this war, for a full on war is what we now have.

            1. Stephen

              One Russian channel even likened Lyman to The Alamo! Nothing like a glorious defeat to rally the team. Even if you are smart enough to not lose many or any of your guys in losing the place.

              1. hk

                I am curious as to how this will play out in domestic Russian politics, regardless of the military wisdom. Apologies in advance for rambling.

                1. Russians may be patriotic and behind the war in principle, but they are also deeply suspicious of gov’t, both its competence and honesty, and stories about reverses, even if “militarily insignificant” would not help things for the gov’t. Of course, this would not support creation of the kind of opposition the West wants: the kind of chatter (admittedly, aware only through 3rd parties) out of Russian media seems to be mostly people decrying gov’t incompetence and/or lack of effort and/or aggressiveness. For all the demonization in the West, Putin is fundamentally an advocate for reconciling with the West (at least the Continental Europe) in the long run and this makes him vulnerable from the more nationalist side.

                2. On a related front is that these are likely indicating that the strategy behind SMO has ultimately failed: that Russia can manage the war with fairly limited commitment in regular forces. Of course, this admission did come about with the fanfare that accompanied the declaration of “partial mobilization.” (which I don’t think, especially in retrospect, the event deserved) Russians have not been able to prevent Ukrainians from mounting large coordinated operations, regardless of how they pulled it off. While the Ukrainian casualties may have been immense, they are finding troops and equipment somewhere (I have the nagging suspicion that the “Ukrainian” regulars operating today are not Ukrainians at all, no more than the “Viet Cong” after Tet were in fact regular North Vietnamese troops who didn’t even bother disguising who they were any more). Like the Tet offensive, this probably caused some crisis of credibility for the Putin gov’t.

                3. How will the politics play out? I don’t think the Russian public opinion in support of the war itself would be dented at all by the apparent military reverses. However, there may be repercussions for confidence in Putin and his conduct of the war. In this sense, I’d imagine that this is more like Chancellorsville/Pennsylvania Campaign than Tet for Russians: Moscow would make negotiated peace with Ukrainians (i.e. without terms dictated by Moscow) today no more than the Union would with Confederacy in, say, mid 1863. But, if so, can Putin pull off his version of Gettysburg address, rally the Russian people behind his approach to the war?

                4. Ironically, the West is probably best off hoping that Putin succeeds at this. I’d shudder to think who might come to power in Kremlin and what their approach to the world might be.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The reports that I saw from several hours ago said that four Russian BTGs managed to arrive in time to reinforce that position. One swung north and halted an attempted Ukrainian river crossing that was meant to cut Lyman off from any reinforcements. Not only are the lines now being held but the Russians are actually counter-attacking. And I believe that those four BTGs are part of Russia’s 58th Army – the one that took out Georgia back in 2008. But I am smelling a trap.

      Zelensky has been frantic for a PR victory and Lyman is tailor made for him if it can be taken. So he has had formations taken from north and south of Lyman to reinforce those attacks but in doing so, has thinned out the fronts that are actually more important to hold. Taking Lyman would be a PR trophy but would hardly be a strategic victory. I can imagine the thick density of Ukrainian formations in front of Lyman and that the Russian artillery will be pounding them for all they are worth and I heard that Russian aircraft have been rolling in too. Maybe the situation will be clearer in several more hours.

      1. Sibiryak

        Unconfirmed reports: Liman defenders have retreated from the town to a prepared defensive position.

        FWIW: Mercouris in his last video claimed there were only around 500 Cossack brigade fighters left in the the town and that defending it didn’t make strategic sense. The propaganda value for Ukraine, of course, is an entirely different story.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Just saw this headline but no story yet. The Russians have withdrawn from Liman so those reinforcements musty have been there to make this possible.

        Meanwhile, Russia has had to halt all gas deliveries to Italy-

        ‘“Gazprom informed that it is not able to confirm the gas volumes requested for today, stating that it’s not possible to supply gas through Austria. Therefore, today’s Russian gas supplies to Eni through the Tarvisio entry point will be at zero,” the statement from Eni said, as cited by news agency RIA Novosti.’

        And the reason for this?

        ‘According to a statement from Gazprom on the company’s Telegram channel, the gas flow through Austria has been suspended due to the refusal of the Austrian operator to confirm transit nominations due to regulatory changes that were introduced in Austria at the end of September.’

        Italian-Austrian relations are about to go really sour. EU payback for the elections going the wrong way?

        1. Old Sovietologist

          Russia’s military top brass is getting a kicking on Russian Telegram and you can understand why.

          Another PR win for Ukraine. The Russian’s need some military successes and quickly. Its easy how disappointment and apathy can quickly take hold on society and provide fertile ground for protests against Putin

          The NATO plan is a maiden in Moscow by Christmas and those who write the colour revolution scripts are slowly implementing things in the Russian Federation.

          Russia is playing a waiting game but they had better not wait to long.

          Slighty OT but there are unconfirmed reports that Moldova is mobilising against Transnistria.

          1. pjay

            The wildly different interpretations of this development among *pro-Russian* commentators is quite striking. I’ve read that Kadyrov is really pissed. I guess we will have a better handle on the consequences soon.

            1. Sibiryak

              Kadyrov is really pissed.

              No doubt he is! And his criticisms of Russian military tactics and leadership may be quite valid. But he goes completely off the rails when he opines that Russia should have considered using tactical nukes! Tactical nukes to defend a small, mostly deserted town of little strategic importance! That’s crazy Chechen talk!

              Kadyrov also said Russia had to stop caring so much about how the US/NATO might react, and just get the job done. Yeah, employ tactical nukes to prevent a minor Ukrainian advance, then watch the entire world turn against Russia, and NATO get forced into intervening. That’s insane!

              Putting aside Kadyrov’s ill-considered outburst, Alexander Mercouris’ more general criticisms of the pro-Russian telegram channels is worth considering. In his view they may be good, even essential, for getting information about tactical events unfolding in real time, but they really drop the ball when it comes to understanding big strategic issues, let alone the geoeconomic and geopolitical context within which this whole war is taking place.

    1. dao

      Friend of the family is a few cards short of a full deck and lives in her own little world where she is the “queen”. She also stands with Ukraine and condemns Putin on a daily basis. For what it’s worth.

        1. kramshaw

          > Shock and Awe: Who Attacked the Nord Stream Pipelines? Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

          key figures like International Energy Agency director Fatih Birol are not holding back about the identity of the culprit. “It is very obvious (…) who was behind this issue,” the latter said on September 29.

          Carnegie and Reuters (elsewhere) are using this quote to heavily imply that its obvious Russiadidit, but I’m left wondering if this isn’t in fact just a doubling down on the IQ test you mention?

          I know nothing about Fatih Birol and can’t find his quote in its original context. Does anyone know if the russiadidit implication was his originally?

          1. chris

            The responses on that tweet are hilarious. I shouldn’t be surprised that so many people assume Russia must have done it with no evidence besides, it must have been them because China is now saying it wasn’t. Treating everything in the world as if it’s an extension of domestic US politics is insane.

            The current situation makes me feel like we’ll see a big December surprise. Like, once the Russian reinforcements arrive, and Germany and others are freezing, all the US people who assumed Ukraine had already won the war will be in for a shock.

            1. Anthony G Stegman

              With Biden’s remaining agenda on the line come this November’s mid-term elections we may see an October surprise. Stay tuned.

        2. albrt

          I would have agreed with you until this morning that there was no way Russia would or could have done this. But the Carnegie article points out that the pipelines could have been blown from the inside by sending the cleaning bots down the pipe with bombs. I hadn’t thought of that.

          I still don’t think it is likely that Russia blew up the pipeline, but it is possible. It would send a message to the West that Putin really might be crazier/more demented than Biden, and Russia is done fooling around.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Maybe, but consider this. He could have had the same effect by personally going down to that gas terminal and turning off the pump by hand. It was that easy. The billions spent building them remain intact and in negotiations, he can offer to turn them on so that Germany does not freeze. And all that gas rushing into the atmosphere at present would have eventually been put to use. As scrap on the floor of the Baltic Sea, it is now worth nothing to him. His most valuable ace in negotiations is gone and it helps kill off a negotiated peace that would work to his advantage. Now it does not matter who the leadership will be in Germany as the most fruitful point of negotiations has been destroyed. If you were playing cards and received two aces, would you burn them in sight of the other players to convince them that you were serious?

            1. Tor User

              The pumps on the #1 pipeline had already been turned off. The #2 pipeline never got ‘turned on’. (Yes, I know there was stuff in the pipeline.)

            2. NN Cassandra

              Actually, no need for him to even get up, both pipelines were already non-operational (NS1 due to the turbine travails, NS2 because Germany refused to turn it on). The point of destroying them now is to prevent them from being used in future, which would make sense for Russia to do only if NATO was going to physically capture the terminals and the gas fields that supply them.

              But it’s interesting that for long time these pipes were presented as Putin’s way to control EU, everything was to be done to stop them from going online, only now when the dream came true the same people try to paint it as Russia’s attack on EU.

              1. Stephen

                Building on that, apparently Russia did not want to build NS2 because they thought Germany would end up sanctioning it somehow.

                I believe Merkel then nicely convinced Putin to build it by saying that would never happen.

                This whole thing is just a mess from start to finish.

            3. bdy

              More fodder for the “unhinged madman” talking point. Using amateur psychoanalysis at a distance to justify crimes against humanity is nothing new around here. Super convenient when nothing you say about your enemy or their motives makes any sense: he’s an insane dictator, why should he make any sense?

          2. chris

            I would be very interested to hear about any negotiations on the Russian side which resulted in the decision to blow up those pipelines. It’s true you could have sent a pig loaded with explosives down the pipeline and created similar effects to what has been kinda reported. The best information for whether that did indeed happen will be available if we ever get to see the affected pipeline sections. You can do forensics on pipelines and determine which direction the damage came from. We don’t have enough data to do more than speculate right now. But even then, I find it incredible that Russia would have done this.

            I think the best explanation is “Coronado burnt his ships so that his soldiers were well motivated…” The US or US aligned interests did this. They did it with the same lack of forethought they do everything. Like breaking Libya or promising we’d be welcomed as liberators in Iraq. It’s the military equivalent of quarterly short termism. “Hey, that thing we did last year turned out to be a bad idea but it got lots of good press and all the plebes have forgotten about it, so, whatevs.”

            The fact that even after we had multiple US officials this past year say they wouldn’t accept Germany using NS2 people aren’t immediately pointing at the US is evidence that our media is the best propaganda machine on the planet right now.

            1. Stephen

              “…lack of forethought.”

              The big general issue is that US foreign policy does not really matter to most Americans because objectively there is no existential threat to worry about. Despite attempts to fear monger.

              My neighbour who is South African described Ukraine to me as a “playground” for the MIC.

              This is exactly the issue. The whole world can be treated as a playground. So things do not have to be thought through. When they go wrong, everyone just gets in the helicopter and heads home. Or rather they head to the next misadventure.

              The UK is no better either.

            2. hk

              In response to the Coronado (or Cortez, in the version I heard) story, there’s this (from Chinese historical novel Romance if Three Kingdoms):. Ma Su insisted on deploying his army where they would be short of water and were difficult to supply. When his subordinates protested, he reasoned that the men would be extra motivated to take the water and supplies from the enemy. Instead, as the supplies were dwindling, Ma’s soldiers simply defected by droves to the Wei (the enemy kingdom) side where Sima To (the Wei general) welcomed them with open arms.

              1. chris

                I think you’re right, it was Cortez.

                There’s so much hatred against the Russians that I can’t see other people fleeing to them if the war goes badly. But who knows? This entire mess has gone sideways from what I thought made sense. My best hope right now is that we all get through this with our society more or less intact and no one sets off any nuclear weapons.

            3. The Rev Kev

              ‘You can do forensics on pipelines and determine which direction the damage came from.’

              The first images will tell the story. Either those pipes were blown in or they were blown out. It’s one or the other.

              1. chris

                These are pipes with a composite cross section. They’re lined with concrete while being under a significant amount of external pressure and supported on one side by a seabed. I don’t know that we’d see the classic fishmouth deformation from an internal explosion. I don’t know that we’d see a clear cave in from an external charge penitrating the side.

                Also, there’s ways you can cut up pipe to show what you want to show, and there’s ways you can cut up pipe to preserve evidence. Given the location of the pipeline, at least one filter or balancing of color on the images will have to be performed. So the usual caveats about digital evidence will exist here. It’s not hard to photoshop away what you don’t want to people to see. Let’s see if they’re going to share pictures or evidence and then who is doing the sharing before buying into anything observed in a photo.

                1. jsn

                  Quality and truthfulness of representation is a real issue.

                  Nature, source and type if images will impact interpretation.

                  Materials, however, have properties as do explosives and explosions. Not that hard to interpret.

          3. Lex

            Pigs require pipeline flow and there was none on NS2. It might have been possible on NS1. In fact, the pigs used in pipelines are propelled by the flow through the pipeline. They’re inserted and removed via traps, it’s a messy job. I’ve never seen it on a pressurized gas pipeline though so I may be slightly off on technical details, but I have seen it on mixed product pipelines (I assume only in the liquid product flow but don’t know, now that I’m curious I’m going to ask someone who will know on Monday.)

            1. chris

              That’s true. Most pigs are designed to use pipeline flow. Doesn’t mean there isn’t some option our government has that the industry wouldn’t need. The operating conditions would make that a fairly simple self propelled drone to build and use. I still back to why any Russian interest would be served by doing that? I can’t come up with any. Maybe someone will be able to suggest a plausible reason later. But right now I think the simple is the best explanation. If there are no pipelines then there is no way for Germany and others to leave the coalition.

              1. Lex

                Agreed and I will ask people I know who know more. I’m not sure how it would work to push a pig through a pressurized pipe though. That must be a lot resistance and everyone’s real sketchy about power sources around product transport infrastructure. Most companies have rules that don’t allow ferrous tools to touch the outside of a pipeline. A big battery pack in a pig seems like a huge risk.

                1. chris

                  If the pig is delivering a bomb, who cares?

                  You could certainly make it work for however many miles you needed it to function to get to the desired point. It’s kind of cool to think about how someone would go about designing that kind of system. It still just change my opinions around who would have done the deed to NS1 and NS2 though. Russia only needed to turn off the taps. There was too much leverage in that possibility for US interests to be confident that the Germans would hold the line. Maybe it is too simple to think that just because the US made repeated threats they would do something, that they did do something because they had the means and opportunity to do it. But there you are.

            2. lambert strether

              > Pigs require pipeline flow

              Literally and metaphorically!

              Thanks, I’ll be here all week….

                1. The Rev Kev

                  Thanks for that, Sibiryak. I could guess what it was but was too lazy to look up what it looked like. Here are two links for any interested-



          4. Scylla

            Sending pigs through the line to blow up Nordstream 1 would work, however it is absolutely impossible on Nordstream 2. The pigs (cleaning bots or whatever others call them) are pushed through pipelines by the flow of the product being pumped through the lines. Nordstream 2 valves were shut on the German terminus, so pigs could not move through the pipe. So the Carnegie article if full of (family blog).

    1. griffen

      I don’t use that social media service but how many ways could Elon or Tesla get pwned on the tweeter. I just find those robotic creatures or whatever you wish to be weird.

      These are not the AI Bots you are looking for. Obi Wan

      1. Michael Ismoe

        That wasn’t a robot. That was Musk.

        But I’ll bet those four guys operating the robot will soon have jobs at the next White House press conference.

    2. NotThisAgain

      I bet Boston Dynamics is quaking in its boots at the mere thought of such intense competition, led by the Savior of Humanity, Himself!

  4. Old Sovietologist

    Truss Watch

    Here Truss talks about “illegal Wars”

    Oh Liz, there’s no such thing as a legal or illegal war, war is simply a continuation of politics by other means, and states regularly resort to the use of force to enforce their wills.

    I suppose her tweet is aimed at the wavering liberals and keeps slippery Starmer in the tent. Mind you she doesn’t have to worry about the latter going off the reservation.

    1. David

      I don’t see why we should give her the credit for knowing this (she was only Foreign Secretary, after all) but any war launched by vote of the Security Council, with P5 members voting in favour or abstaining is by definition legal in technical terms, and nobody would dispute that.(Yes, I know about Iraq.)

    1. Alice X

      So I would like to link together two pieces by Pepe Escobar, the first from September 29 2022 after the NS2 sabotage and the second from July 5, 2017 after the US Senate’s vote to sanction Russia after the outset of NS2.

      Others more able than I can fill in other blanks, but these two strongly bookend, IMHO, on the theme of: Keep the US in, Russia out, and Germany down.

      Who profits from Pipeline Terror? – Secret talks between Russia and Germany to resolve their Nord Stream 1 and 2 issues had to be averted at any cost.


      Washington and Berlin on a Collision Course -The Russia sanctions bill that passed the US Senate by 98:2 on June 15
      [2017] is a bombshell; it directly demonizes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, under the Baltic Sea, which is bound to double Gazprom’s energy capacity to supply gas to Europe.

      1. JTMcPhee

        From Paul Atreides: “Who can destroy a thing controls a thing.” Talking about his doomsday weapon, a drum of the ‘water of life” hung over a pre-spice mass, that once spilled would poison the entire ecosystem that produced the “spice.” Cracking a major pipeline system is a distressingly close analogue.

        Why no discussion about the vast mutual vulnerabilities inherent in this f@@ked-up global political economy? The bioweapons increasingly available, the undersea and surface fiber optic cables, the holes in cybersecurity created by planned doorways and smart cookies hacking, the fragile power grid? All the myriad places where relatively small “interventions” can have catastrophic effects?

        So far, some residuum of “common sense” or failure to achieve liftoff by various stratagems and operations seems to have kept things going. “You blow up my power grid, I nuke your capital” of course presumes one knows who the destroyer is, and the calculations that flow from that on blowback and how much one cares about all the rotting bodies that result. There are plenty of loose cannons, and “underwater drones,” and mad scientists with CRSP-R and more sophisticated tools, and geeky coders with lots of penetration and corruption tools, who are crazy and nihilist enough to just F@@K Things Up for the hell of it or in pursuit of some idiotic logic. Gavilo Princip walks among us, or is just born and waiting to be formed into that unaccountably perfect catalyst for collapse —

        But sooner or later, something is going to break that sends waves of reaction and destruction down through those infinitely interconnected chains of vulnerable systems of systems. I wonder how close we are…?

      2. Detroit Dan

        Wow! Thanks for those links. Escobar nailed it in 2017, making the latest developments a lot easier to understand.

      3. jsn

        So, the Trump clown show was a useful distraction to cover a US color revolution in Germany.

        The coup on 2014 Ukraine was obvious and clumsy.

        The one installing the Greens, seasoned by the destruction of Yugoslavia on their last watch, passed unnoticed in the noise of “RussiaRussiaRussia”.

    2. Alice X

      Well, after the Doctorow piece, now I have read the Guardian piece, it is peppered with PDS (Putin Derangement Syndrome).

  5. DorothyT

    Charles III and his hire of a tabloid executive to run his ‘communication’ office:

    The former Daily Mail co-editor’s hiring by QEII’s successor can only be seen in light of Tobyn Andreae’s association with the shameful belittling of the two most prominent young women now married to royal ‘princes.’ The DM savagely belittled Kate Middleton. Who could be better experienced to carry out a royal mandate to destroy Meghan Markle’s reputation. Markle, after all, had the temerity to call out a royal-to-be-named who wondered aloud what tone her first child’s skin would be.

    This isn’t merely indulgent gossip. It’s the UK’s contribution to put yet another uppity woman in her place. Especially a woman ‘of color.’

      1. Tom Stone

        When that transcript of Charles’ conversation in which he mentioned his desire to be reincarnated as a sanitary Napkin became public I thought that although it would be an improvement, he was being unduly ambitious.

    1. petal

      Meghan Markle ruined her own reputation, all by herself. She’s done it over her whole lifetime. I suggest reading Tom Bower’s book, at a minimum.

  6. Bart Hansen

    On the Munich Oktoberfest being a potential super spreader, it might behove any Yanks planning to attend to buy maple leaf patches to sew on their jackets and backpacks.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Back in the 80s, I would often see Canadian backpackers sport Canadian flags from their packs in order to make that distinction plain. Of course that was not long after Ronnie became President and was threatening nuclear war – with Europe as Ground Zero. But I don’t think that those American soldiers stationed in Germany right now will be popular after the cold weather moves in. I would imagine calls by Germans to cut back on energy going to all those bases from their grid in order to have the pain “shared”.

      1. Carolinian

        I haven’t read Putin’s speech but Doctorow says he calls Germany and Japan “occupied countries.” And of course they are if willingly. Surely, as Michael Hudson keeps saying, globalism has always had the goal of suppressing nationalism in favor of international financialization with, in Europe, the excuse that nationalism caused the carnage of the 20th century. But Putin says these governments are now betraying their own people with the energy crisis the result.

        Back in the day the propaganda line was that we in the West were the “free world” holding back the tide of USSR totalitarianism. But looks like we are about to find out just how free we are given this new challenge to Western hegemony. For the neoliberals we’ve gone from “democracy is under threat” to democracy is the threat. Their constant protest to the opposite effect is “making the lie big enough.”

          1. Carolinian

            Thanks. Last night I re-watched Russian Ark which is a kind of time machine tour of the Hermitage via one 90 minute steadicam shot. It’s a little bit pretentious with its musings by the character called “the European,” but an amazing technical achievement in that it really was one shot–no cuts or faking–and provides authentic costumes for thousands of “cast members.”

            Plus the Hermitage itself is rather amazing. The movie is an ode to Russian culture and Russian patriotism at a time (2002) when the place no doubt needed a morale boost. We Americans might feel the same with shots of the West or the Grand Canyon. But our patriotism–these days at least–is rather tattered compared to the Russians. The MSM notion that they are going to fold is delusional.

            1. Lex

              An amazing technical achievement to do that in one take. The fun Easter egg is to count the number of Pushkin appearances since not all are obviously about Pushkin. As a student I had free entry to the Hermitage and it was a wonderful place to just wander and spend hours upon hours.

              1. Carolinian

                I’ve seen it multiple times. My only real quibble is that the technical quality of the videography–which was then transferred to film–would be a lot better if it were made today. Indeed the film stage would be bypassed altogether.

                Of course the movie does go a bit easy on the Tsars and their big ass house.

        1. Portia

          From RAND report

          Russia’s deterrent signaling appears to be deliberately predictable.

          So, we need RAND to sort of tell us that Putin is being honest and telling us how it is. The honesty coming from Russia is refreshing, but neocons can’t bring themselves to engage with the World as equals.

          1. hk

            Umm, isn’t “deterrent signal” supposed to be predictable, by design? If the signal is not credible, it’s deterrence value is diminished.

            1. Portia

              If they think Putin is credible, they certainly can’t come right out and say it, so they bury it in tortuous code.

        2. Tom Bradford

          Doctorow says he calls Germany and Japan “occupied countries.”

          I believe he does, and adds South Korea.

          What will be interesting now is whether Uncle Sam is willing to support his friends in Europe in their moment of need with anything like the $billions he’s found to help Ukrainians kill Russians.

      2. Michael Ismoe

        The only problem with sporting a Canadian flag is that your bank accounts get frozen if they don’t like your politics. In America, we send in the FBI.

      3. Wukchumni

        Who can take an American (who can take an American)
        Sprinkle luggage with a maple leaf or two (sprinkle it with a few)
        Cover up with subterfuge and have a toque on too?

        The Canada Man (the Canada Man)
        Oh, the Canada Man can (the Canada Man can)
        The Canada Man can ’cause he messes with their minds
        And makes the world feel good (makes the world feel good)

        Who can take a sentence (who can take a sentence?)
        And end it in an eh (end it in an eh?)
        Speak softly and carry a big schtick?

        The Canada Man (the Canada Man)
        The Canada Man can (the Canada Man can)
        The Canada Man can ’cause he messes with their minds
        And makes the world feel good (makes the world feel good)

        The Canada Man fakes everyone he takes
        Its satisfying and delicious
        Now you talk about your identity wishes
        You can hook a lot of fishes

        Oh who can take an American (who can take an American)
        Depict him differently as seen (depict him differently as seen)
        Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream?

        The Canada Man (the Canada Man)
        Oh the Canada Man can (the Canada Man can)
        The Canada Man can ’cause he messes with their minds
        And makes the world feel good (makes the world feel good)

        The Candy Man, by Sammy Davis, Jr.

      4. Jeremy Grimm

        The impression I brought home from a trip to Germany over a decade ago was that American soldiers stationed in Germany were not very popular at that time — perhaps only modestly more popular than the American soldiers stationed in Korea. I had visited Korea around the same time. The Korean government had just modified the SOFA agreement with the u.s.

        1. Oh

          The Japanese are not crazy about the US troops inn their country. They also complain about the millions of $ extracted from them for the “protection” they never asked for.

          1. Yves Smith

            I have long described Japan as a military protectorate of the US. The Fed also told Japanese banks, via the Bank of Japan, to buy Treasuries in the 1987 crash.

  7. Henry Moon Pie

    Blue carbon–

    It has been driving me a little crazy (or even crazier?) to watch American politicians compete to support “rebuilding” SW Florida in the wake (or tidal surge) of Ian. As the blue carbon article points out, mangroves and coastal lowlands are among the best carbon sequesterers on the planet. With places like Ft. Myers Beach, we have an opportunity to relocate people, return that area to its natural barrier island state, and sequester some carbon. But no, we’re going to “rebuild,” most probably in a way that favors big money over small business, and put up a bunch of infrastructure to be destroyed by the next hurricane.

    There was a superb comment in the last few days about the delusions of our leadership re: money, namely mistaking a medium of exchange for the truly important, real stuff. Perceptions of the value of such symbols can change quite quickly. Look at gold, always considered a hedge against inflation, now going down as inflation rises.

    Pursuit of profit, especially when it occupies the position of chief goal of a society, leads to madness.

    So which is more likely true: what is happening is part of a master plan; or the people in charge have lost their minds? Now a follow-up: which is scarier?

    1. spud

      Today’s global rich are increasingly stateless, detaching their money from nation states and conventional representations of ownership to hide and preserve it. A global oligarchy is growing — and it does not bode well for everyone else and the planet.

      free trade enables the plundering of the wealth of nations, especially hurting the world’s most poor and vulnerable populations. It allows wealthy individuals and corporations to dodge and evade their tax responsibilities, shifting obligations onto those with fewer resources. It empowers criminals, deadbeats, and kleptocrats

      in 1983 there were only 15 billionaires in the u.s.a., under bill clintons free trade, billionaires have ballooned into more than 615, and under free trade, this is happening globally

      The costs of a secretive ‘wealth defense industry’ of shell companies, offshore tax havens, and empty luxury condos
      When oligarchs and ultra-wealthy around the world game the system to hide riches in Boston and other cities, everyone else pays.
      By Chuck CollinsUpdated April 1, 2021, 11:55 a.m…

    2. Mildred Montana

      >”But no, we’re going to “rebuild,”

      The residents of Florida might want to rebuild but unfortunately they probably won’t be getting much help from the insurance companies, as they go bankrupt, deny claims or delay payment, or raise premiums beyond affordability. The state and federal governments will be forced to step in as “insurers of last resort”. Will they? And, as you ask, should they?

      “Hurricane Ian will forever change the real estate industry and city infrastructure,” Larsen [insurance risk analyst at CoreLogic] said in a news release. “Insurers will go into bankruptcy, homeowners will be forced into delinquency and insurance will become less accessible in regions like Florida.”

      1. ambrit

        As we learned here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, keep a close eye on “upgrades” to the building codes. Many of such “upgrades” directly contribute to the gentrification of entire counties. Make it much more expensive to rebuild in the coastal zone and you force out all those ‘deplorables’ who used to live there. You end up with neighbourhoods filled with “the right sort of people.” The servants can live in crowded warrens, er, large, cheaply built apartment complexes.

        1. Mildred Montana

          I apologize for the slightly flippant comment, but there’s a reason why habitations in coastal areas all over the world consist of little more than thatched huts. They’re easy to rebuild.

          1. ambrit

            Oh, no apology needed. Staying in the house on the Coast when Katrina approached was an own goal by us. Heavens above, as you point out, building anything on the ground in a flood zone is an own goal. However, in our defense; prior to Katrina, almost nothing along the Coast was even rated as a flood risk. The property our house was on was nine feet above sea level and even the banks did not require flood insurance. Then Katrina came along and we suffered a nineteen and a half foot storm surge. (We confirmed that ourselves.)
            Stay safe and stay warm!

    3. Sailor Bud

      From Tolkien’s Hobbit:

      “This thing all things devours,
      Birds, beasts, trees, flowers.
      Gnaws iron, bites steel,
      And grinds hard stones to meal.
      Slays king, ruins town,
      And beats high mountain down.”

      Bilbo answered correctly and luckily with ‘time,’ but Gollum would have had to shrug if the hobbit had simply said ‘money’ instead.

    4. Wukchumni

      The thing is, on account of shortages of everything and then some, rebuilding is kind of a pipe dream anyhow, so if you’re a politician why not go whole hog, nothing is going to happen, is it?

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        It’s a little like when my farmer father-in-law complained to my fertilizer-salesman father about the price he was quoted for some anhydrous ammonia.

        Father-in-law: They’re only charging $1,000 per at the Coop.

        Father: Why don’t you buy it there then?

        Father-in-law: They’re out.

        Father: Hell, when we’re out, we only charge $500 per.

        And a hat tip to my father whose story that was.

    5. hk

      King Canute would be amused. Some people think, with enough money, they really can command the oceans.

      1. Mildred Montana

        King Canute wanted to show his subjects that he was not God, that he could not control the tide. Therefore he set his throne on the beach and commanded that it stop rising. Needless to say, it didn’t. That was the point of his theatrics. His subjects were duly disabused of any notions they might have had about his divine powers.

        1. hk

          What king Canute did in irony, the modern “leaders” will do it conviction: they would actually expect the waves to obey them (in this case, literally.) as long as they throw enough money at it (and obfuscate.)

    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      People who think global warming is a liberal hoax, and that sea level is not rising and will not rise; have a real contrarian investing opportunity here. They should invest all of their own personal money in rebuilding that part of SW Florida which is at or below the near-future line of sea-level rise, and they should be investing all over Florida at or below the line that sea level will not rise to over the next few decades.

      Let them show their sincerity.

    1. griffen

      That is so very on point. Priceless satire!! Pair it with the Karl Rove phrase about inventing realities and “boom” here we are.

  8. Stephen

    The Noah Smith piece on the vision for liberal democracy is super fun, as you suggest!

    It includes a link to an even more fun piece in The Atlantic by the ever delusional Phillips Paysan O’Brien of St Andrews University.

    Apparently, the Ukrainian state has evolved to be more liberal and tolerant. Guess the “hit list” and banning opposition parties are manifestations of all this. However, he does note that the Ukrainian Army is LBGT+ friendly and thus beats the hyper masculinity of Russia’s Army. No real evidence is given though. I had not particularly thought of Azov as an LBGT+ type outfit before but maybe it is.

    The few specific facts O’Brien does quote are not accurate. The UK did not lose 384k “soldiers in combat” in WW2. We lost 146k per official 1946 HMSO statistics quoted in Alan Allport’s excellent book “Browned off and Bloody Minded” on the social history of the WW2 British Army. The quoted figure looks more like total WW2 military deaths (including possibly crown colonies) and the source he references is actually worded incorrectly. So much for his overall expertise on this subject matter. It ought to be obvious to an expert military historian with a feel for the content. The error is an order of magnitude even.

    He then references his own book on WW2 and claims that Germany sent more war production to fight in the west than the east. I seriously struggle with that claim too. Perhaps it was true for air and sea power but given that the Wehrmacht never deployed fewer than 200 divisions in the east for four years versus less than 50 in the west, fighting for a much shorter period it cannot be true for land related production. Anything to make Russia look primitive and incapable, I guess, is fair sport. Even the USSR of 80 years ago.

    Amazing that people get paid to write such drivel. Unless: is The Atlantic a satire publication these days, like Britain’s Private Eye. Can anyone advise? Then I can understand it… surely cannot be a serious journal that people pay to read? Really?

    1. Sibiryak

      the Ukrainian state has evolved to be more liberal and tolerant […] the Ukrainian Army is LBGT+ friendly and thus beats the hyper masculinity of Russia’s Army…

      Linking Ukraine as well as neoliberalism/ militarism with accepted progressive values, and demonizing Russia on that account, are critically important tasks.

      1. CitizenSissy

        Point taken, but in that neighborhood, demonizing at least the Russian hierarchy isn’t too much of a stretch. See: Katyn Forest Massacre.

        Gotta say – Team Hypermasculine hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory these days.

      2. lambert strether

        So. LGBT+ Nazis vs. hyper-masculine non-Nazis

        Liberals: “I’m thinking it over!”

        1. hk

          If Ernst Rohm did not get purged, Nazis would have been A-OK? Strange ideas people come up with these days.

          1. ambrit

            Ah, but the neo-cons running things from behind the scenes are Puritans at heart. Authoritarians often are, especially in the Christian West.

    2. griffen

      Noah’s column was full of something. The Atlantic is a serious place where serious people write about serious topics. It’s a comfortable place where all views are welcome, except for Bible thumpers or the MAGA folks who should seek their enlightenment elsewhere. Don’t believe me? This guy gets frequently linked. A former speechwriter for Bush 43.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        The Atlantic is a serious place where serious people write about serious topics. It’s a comfortable place where all views are welcome,

        Are there two Atlantic Monthlys? Because the one I see quoted all the time is a neoliberal rag. You must be talking about the other one.

        1. Ignacio

          Wasn’t griffen being cynical? That Frum somehow resemble the famous moustache at NYT by the sample of articles in griffen’s link. The ‘comfort’ these writers bring to the audiences must be priceless.

        2. griffen

          Alas I failed to properly include the “sarc” tagline. I felt somewhat inspired from recent headlines off the Babylon Bee.

    3. Some Guy

      Yes, thanks for that link to Noah Smith – if only it had been written 20 years ago, you could have convinced me it was Suzanne Collins’ inspiration for The Capitol region in The Hunger Games.

      I did a few searches on his piece.

      “Life expectancy” – not found
      “Poverty” – not found
      “Homelessness” – not found
      “Opioid” – not found
      “Working class” – not found (at least, only in the comments)

      Maybe Chris Arnade can start asking people he meets about this vision of the liberal democratic future as he wanders around…

      “economists and economics pundits need to figure out articulate a vision for the future of labor and entrepreneurship”

      They have, but Noah isn’t listening since “Because Markets” and “Go Die” doesn’t quite fit with what he is selling.

  9. KD

    The free societies must once again show what kind of world they want to build.

    i.) “Diversity” “inclusive nationalism” I think this means you get a nice black lady to give press conferences and dissemble to the corporate stenographers about war crimes or weapons of mass destruction.

    ii.) “densified green suburbs” Cabrini-Green to you neighborhood!

    iii.) “pop culture is a stand-in for the freedom of speech that people in liberal democracies enjoy” . . . if you don’t believe you have freedom of speech, just ask Siri if you do.

    iv.) “Part of this will come from America’s continued export of hip-hop music.” From a guy who can’t type out the N____ word without fear of being cancelled. . .

    v.) “Ukraine’s armed forces and those of NATO as a “they/them army”, and claiming that Russia will win because it hews to traditional masculinity” Isn’t gay marriage illegal in Ukraine? And what is that Black Sun patch I see on all the Ukies? Sowilo and Othala are diverse I guess.

    vi.) “So I don’t really have all the answers here.” Captain Obvious.

  10. Sibiryak

    “I dunno, it all feels all like we’re on the precipice of a big war”–Yasha Levine

    I stopped following Yasha and Evgenia’s musings closely after they claimed it was completely obvious that it was the Russians, and only the Russians, who had committed war crimes in [a town above Kiev], sneering at anyone (eg. deluded leftists) who might have the slightest doubts about that. There were also their near-hysterical reports of Russia falling into pure fascism as support for Putin solidified and Russian-liberals fled the country (and now Y/E are terrified by the “ fascist victory in Italy ” as well. )

    Yasha/Evgenia strike me as typical Russian-liberals (self-hating Russians?). Notably, when they make a quick trip back to Russia they stay for a brief time in a bastion of Russian-liberalism like St. Petersburg, never daring to travel around the vast country to get a deeper understanding; they talk to some scared, worldview-crushed Russian-liberal friends, then run back home to report on the frightening prospect of Fascism and malignant patriotism taking over their ex-homeland

    Okay, I’m being too harsh, but that’s my basic impression. I realize they may be producing some good “content” that appeals to many, and Levine’s book “Surveillance Valley” may be excellent (I haven’t read it), but I’d say if you are looking for informed insights into Russia— not superficial opinions (feelings) dictated by a Russian-liberal mindset–look elsewhere.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Just wait till he tries to open up a bank account or book a hotel room. When people find out that he is Russian, it won’t matter if he tries to tell people that he is ‘one of them’ as they will give him a hard time anyway. He is the sort of person that Thomas Paine called a “sunshine patriot” back in the early days of the American revolution

      1. Sibiryak

        C’mon. He’s a Jewish American, if he wants to be. (His family immigrated to the US from the Soviet Union in 1989 when he was 8-years-old).

        But I doubt he’ll have to renounce his Russianess any more than Masha Gessen does.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Not only do they not need to renounce their Russianess, they must not, since it’s integral to their brands (though Yasha doesn’t seem to flog it as much as Gessen).

    2. hemeantwell

      My reading of Levine is that his response to the invasion was largely visceral, friends were in danger, etc. That’s split off from some his post-invasion historical postings, e.g. one was about long-term CIA backing of Ukrainian Nazis, another about c. 1930s anti-Semitic doggerel he picked up in a Ukraine market. I’m going to continue to follow him to see if his thinking clears. When you’re suddenly faced with the possibility of friends getting blown up it’s hard to give much cred to the logic and morality of the preemptive strike that endangers them.

      1. Detroit Dan

        Yup. Yasha Levine lost me some time ago. He got the most important event of his time completely wrong, in my view. And that is the area that is supposedly his expertise. Even before the Ukraine war, I suspected some flakiness.

    3. Lex

      Yasha is American. His family emigrated to the US but I don’t remember how old he was. He went to Russia in the 90’s and worked with Ames at the eXiled. I guess it’s possible that he held dual citizenship but don’t think so. The eXiled guys did good work (and some disturbing things) but generally have a grudge against Putin. Ames understandably since Putin put his newspaper out of business, but I’ve always thought some of it was because they were really enjoying the chaos of the late 90’s that Putin ended. And their enjoyment was what I’m referring to when I say disturbing behavior.

      Note: I was in Petersburg during some of those eXiled years and was a reader. They got off on some of the most depressing aspects of Russia as a failed state in very frat boy ways. There was excellent investigative journalism but also the same behavior that was super disturbing by the American expat community. They all claim it was satire now, but it wasn’t and I doubt anyone who saw those times in Russia and read them in context would be convinced by the satire claims.

        1. Lex

          They were tight with Lomonosov too, though how much was related to any Nats-Bol “ideology” and how much was related to Lomonosov’s translated novels being an influence on Dolan (the war nerd and IIRC, Ames’s prof at Cal) I don’t know.

          In the grand scheme of things they were very far from the worst Americans in 90’s Russia. They weren’t bankers or consultants. And they were super harsh on those types of expats along with the oligarchs and Yeltsin. But I’ve always taken some of their anger at Putin being him putting an end to their party. (I’ve always respected Putin for putting an end to that misery.)

      1. judy2shoes

        “There was excellent investigative journalism but also the same behavior that was super disturbing by the American expat community. They all claim it was satire now, but it wasn’t and I doubt anyone who saw those times in Russia and read them in context would be convinced by the satire claims.”

        Seeing the name “eXiled”, together with Mark Ames, reminded me of Matt Taibbi’s early involvement with eXiled. Your comment helps to explain some of Matt’s initial coverage of Russia’s SMO, which seemed to me to be a bit unhinged. I remain a subscriber, though, because his journalism is generally excellent, and not a single one of us is perfect and without our particular blinders.

        1. Lex

          They’re all talented writers and good journalists. Alexander Zaitchek was always my favorite but not sure he’s even writing anymore. And it was a strange time and place where the going was weird and they turned pro. I don’t necessarily hold it against them (but find the “it was satire” bit disturbing) and will read their current work because it’s generally good journalism.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Bruce Willis Sells Deepfake Likeness Rights So His ‘Twin’ Can Star in Future Movies”

    If it resulted in a version of Bruce Willis with hair again, I could live with that.

  12. Mikel

    Re: What do Nord Stream methane leaks mean for climate change

    “Per unit mass, methane has a much more potent greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide — particularly in the short term.”

    People keep saying Europe would be helped be helped by less cold winters – especially while energy supplies are tight.
    Never under estimate the psychotic short term thinking that still runs wild along with other plans.

  13. Chas

    So, in the story about the gas leaking from the bombed pipelines it said 115,000 tons of natural gas rose into the atmosphere. It’s the largest natural gas leak ever and will have a serious impact on earth’s atmosphere. I know of only one country whose lack of respect for the environment is so intense that it would bomb a pipeline without any regard for the impact on the atmosphere. The mad bomber must have been the good ole US of A.

    1. The Rev Kev

      They really do want that win. Jackson Hinkle was saying in a tweet that ‘We’ve spent more money on Ukraine in seven months than we spend on the State Department annually.’ I wasn’t sure that was true so checked and found out that the US State Department have $84.56 Billion in budgetary resources for 2022. When you consider that a big chunk of that would have been spent on the Ukraine, he is probably correct-

      And I saw today that the Senate had approved another $16 billion for the Ukraine.

      1. Acacia

        And according to the “Financing Ukraine’s Victory” article up today, all those billions and billions still aren’t enough.

        Just to think how many of the Ukraine support billions are being siphoned off, diverted, or stolen… the mind boggles.

    2. Polar Socialist

      That’s about 0.002 % of the annual global methane emissions (570 million tonnes). Or 3.4% of the global anthropogenic emissions.

      Or to put it in other words, and making an example of the way we, the humanity, actually emit crap into the atmosphere, that magnificent bubbling spectacle was worth of about 3 hours of business as usual.

      1. Polar Socialist

        0.0034% of anthropogenic emissions. Sigh.

        1/2970, without resorting to that error-prone “decimal” notation…

        1. Mikel

          Is that emissions so far? Is it still rising into the atmosphere from that location?

          And you say it’s a percentage of emissions and not an addition to emissions. I think of it more as additions to emissions since the leaks weren’t there before.

          1. Mikel

            With other “surprise leaks” from elsewhere to be expected to be added over the coming months either as the normal business as usual or otherwise.

  14. Mikel

    Covid: China’s death toll vs US death toll

    The USA could have halved the enormous numbers of deaths. This sicko country wouldn’t enforce stringent air quality and masking at hospital and clinics. You know…the places were vulnerable and sick people go…

    A bunch of educated fools refused to admit what “non-sterilizing vaccine” meant.

    1. Lee

      And even given the U.S. let ‘er rip policy, we could reduce the current number of Covid deaths from ~500 per day, to 50 to 60 per day by providing the timely use of Paxlovid, according to Dr. Daniel Griffin. See this week’s Clinical Update, minute 29.

  15. griffen

    The above story on Elon Musk and his powerful group of friends/colleagues/capitalist buddies. Well it is a hit list or best of the best depending on how you rank people*. But I will not offer up many spoilers, other than to say Elon is essentially asking a few players for their monetary commitment and from others, their possible thoughts. I still have a suspicion that A. Elon was possibly a bit high on his supply and B. He totally did himself in offering a lofty valuation on a seemingly broken tech company.

    (Caddyshack reference!)
    Judge Smails: If you don’t keep score, how to compare yourself?
    Ty Webb: I dunno, mostly height.

  16. Mikel

    “Fuelled by meth addiction, Vietnam’s drug-treatment centres are rife with abuse Globe”

    Tragic, but fascinating to think about in contrast with a country like the US being laid flat (especially with effects on worker participation) by opioid crisis after crisis.
    I’d have to think the former main drug of the Golden Triangle has fallen out of favor with the increasing industrialization.
    The descriptions of the abuse of workers are horrid.
    Much of the drug abuse likely begins with an attempt to keep up while being over-worked.

    Industrialization = amphetamines
    Industrial wasteland = opioids

    1. Jessica

      Opioids are the drugs of those who have been eliminated from any role in society: Much of the industrial working class now and Southern agricultural workers displaced by mechanization and ethnic cleansing after WW2 (mostly African Americans who wound up in northern ghettos)

    2. Petter

      I remember reading, years ago, that the Thais gave their elephants amphetamines to make them work harder.

  17. Mikel

    “Some officials now say monkeypox elimination unlikely in US” AP

    It was intentionally left to mutate in a way that made development of a sterilizing vaccine harder.
    It’s not going to be eliminated without a sterilizing vaccine, but that would require constant monitoring and testing for the mutations and variants on a deeper level and the type of pox innoculations that are easy to weaponize.

      1. Expat2Uruguay

        Or maybe, just hear me out, maybe reduce the number of sex partners you have in a given year, month, or week!

      2. ambrit

        Do I see a new Clinton grift aborning?
        Pink P—- Dildos. Goes nicely with yesterday’s Pink Flamingos. “Simply Divine dahling!”

          1. Bob White

            I guess it depends on what kind of movie you like…
            For me, I will take Pink Flamingos, Polyester, and Female Trouble over most any Disney flick. Of course, I also like 200 Motels…

  18. Eclair

    I have been reading and rereading Michael Hudson’s article on the Euro without Germany …. slow learner here. More and more, the abrupt and, with the destruction of Nordstream 1 and 2, the irreversible, cutting off of ‘cheap’ fossil fuel energy in the form of methane, to a heavily industrialized nation, resembles an addict going cold turkey. The pain of the sudden withdrawal will probably be devastating.

    Steve Keen has been lecturing on how orthodox economists have not included energy in their models. Here, with Germany, we have an actual real world experiment in play. Turn off the energy taps and see how much the German GDP declines. Too bad about all those workers and old people and small children.

    1. Lee

      Caught a bit of an interview with Ursula von der Leyen recently acknowledging that the impact of energy costs and shortages on citizens will be severe. She was quick to add, “it is a burden we are glad to bear.”

      Spare me. It is a burden that will most certainly not fall upon the shoulders of the privileged such as her. Absent a popular uprising that is, which is not beyond the realm of possibility.

      1. Ignacio

        Correct vdL interpretation: “it is a burden for our peasants and I am glad about it”. The lack of respect for the citizenship is stunning.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      We’re going to see what degrowth looks like under a government that could care less about the welfare of most of its citizens.

      The next stage will likely be degrowth without any real government at all.

      There is some good news. Over and over again, I’ve cited this UN study saying we must reduce carbon emission by 7.6% per year every year between 2020 and 2030 in order to have a 50% chance of staying under 1.5 degrees C of warming. We made it in 2020 with Covid shutdowns, but have since reverted to our always-growing increases in carbon emissions. A real humdinger of a worldwide depression would put us back on track. At least the survivors of this mess won’t have to deal with such an overheated planet.

      1. Eclair

        And, there is nothing like a war to push that anxiety about Global Climate Disruption to the back of the mind. A few years ago we were talking about how bad pipelines were; Standing Rock, the tree-sitters down in Texas. Now, it’s ‘oh horrors, someone blew up, not one, but two pipelines Oh, the humanity!’

        But, as you observe, either slowly by climate change, or really fast, as in war and blowing up stuff (and people,) we are going to reduce the fossil fuel emissions. Too bad we’re not a smart enough species to tackle the problem in a rational manner. Well, I have to hold on to the hope that some of us will cling together, cooperate, hunker down, survive. Maybe the Amish communities.

      2. Expat2Uruguay

        We’re going to see what degrowth looks like under a government that could care less about the welfare of most of its citizens.

        And then that tragedy will be pointed to over and over again so that the masses know that degrowth is not an option, that it’s absolutely terrible for people…

        1. Tom Bradford

          a government that could care less

          This always puzzles me. To me, brought up in ‘English’ English, it has always been “couldn’t care less”. “Could care less” means the subject does care to some extent, which is surely not what is intended.

          Of course I could care less about what the Americans do with my native tongue, I suppose.

    3. Kouros

      Zoltan Poszar was musing about the big leverage of cheap and reliable Russian gas / oil had for Germany…

    4. Alice X

      Thank you again Eclair. This is the Nate Hagens interview with Keen that you pointed me to a short while back. I listened once and read the transcript. I’ve kept a copy (there is a slight error in the transcript which should be apparent).

      Steve Keen: “Mythonomics”

      In it Keen holds that the relationship of energy to GDP is one [ie 1 to 1]. Hagen puts it slightly lower. Either way, subtract 25% in energy and whether the fall in GDP is 25% or 24%, or even 20%, there is dramatic drop.

      The piece is very informative in a number of ways.

      1. Eclair

        Thanks, Alice X. We should be getting a real time test of Keen’s hypothesis, unfortunately for Germany.

      2. fresno dan

        excellent, excellent article.
        From Keen: Now, there’s no role for energy there. When they tack in energy, what they’ll do is add it onto another factor. They say, “Well, all the exponents still have to sum to 1. The contribution of energy is about three or 4% of GDP, so the exponent of energy is 0.03 or 0.04.” There’s a brand new paper actually by Rudy Bachmann and a few others, it’s a working paper, but what it does is apply neoclassical theory to say what would happen to Germany if Russian embargo and energy, reduced energy input by 10%. Now, according to standard Cobb–Douglas production theory, a 10% fall in the energy input to German industry would reduce German GDP by 0.4%. When they use the high substitution, they’ll say it might reduce it by 2%, but in other words energy is pretty irrelevant.
        Nate Hagens (00:24:26):
        Here’s one thing that I never quite get. Any sixth grader or ninth grader or 12th grader or college
        student could be listening to this conversation and they could, in five minutes, on their own, from a
        credible source, find out on the internet that a barrel of oil is 5.7 million British thermal units worth of
        energy potential. If you translate that to work, 1,760 kilowatt hours of work. Where you and I, digging
        ditches or hauling manure, or building a house generate around 0.6 kilowatt hours worth of energy in a day. Meaning without any conversion factors, a barrel of oil is 11 years worth of work potential. If you handicap it, because humans are more efficient at directing their energy, it’s four or five years of work.
        Yet, we pay a hundred dollars for it and the average laborer in the United States makes $50,000 a
        year, yet we’re generating four or five years of that person’s physical labor from this barrel of oil that
        all we do is pay for the cost of extraction, not the cost of creation, nor the pollution. How does an
        economist not see and understand what I just said?

        Page 9 of 31
        Steve Keen (00:25:43):
        Because they have a nonphysical view of the economy. It’s all stuff you can write on a whiteboard when you have terms, labor and capital and … But energy’s not one of the terms they even look at. It’s a mindset that I trace right back to Adam Smith, in fact. Because if you go before Smith, you’ll find you had the physiocrats. The physiocrats, Quesnay, Cantillon, there’s quite a few others, they argue that all wealth comes from the soil, but what they fundamentally meant was all wealth comes from the sun (oil of course is decomposed biological matter).
        I suspect what will happen in Germany is that Germans will get Russian oil and gas via China. The alternative to the laundering of gas and oil would be German politicians losing power, so the illusion that oil and gas sanctions are not economic suicide can be continued. After all, Keen later says, “They are. This is where the role economists play. They’re not doing it deliberately to support the status quo, but the status quo is very happy to have this religion being the underpinning of how people think about capitalism.”
        I think that “politicians” can be substituted for economists in the above quote – and we choose to run our societies based on myth and fantasies…

        1. Kouros

          I just bought an electric hedge trimmer on discount price at Walmart – 40 CAD. In 10 minutes I did the work that with scissors (which would have been as expensive to buy if not more) would have taken me quite a few hours…

          Why do economists always assume that mythical can opener? Deux et Machina…

  19. Katniss Everdeen

    Meanwhile, back on the homeland ranch:

    The biden administration has taken advantage of the bizarre “whodunnit” pipeline speculation and Hurricane Ian catastrophe to cut back its student loan “forgiveness” program which, to my knowledge, has yet to “forgive” one single solitary student loan:

    The decision from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on Thursday affects Federal Family Education loan (FFEL) borrowers – whose loans were issued and managed by private banks but guaranteed by the federal government – and does not allow them to consolidate their loans and qualify for debt relief.

    Earlier, the department’s website advised these borrowers that they could consolidate these loans into federal direct loans and qualify for relief.

    On Thursday, the department changed the language to: “As of Sept. 29, 2022, borrowers with federal student loans not held by ED cannot obtain one-time debt relief by consolidating those loans into Direct Loans.”

    According to federal data, more than 4 million borrowers still have commercially held FFEL loans. An administration official, who declined to be identified, said the change impacts 770,000 borrowers.

    They only have to hang on for a few more weeks. After the “election,” they can just junk this failed vote-getting gimmick altogether.

    1. Norm

      Here are a few more promises not kept:

      Where’s our $600 dollars?

      Minimum wage increase?

      Free college?

      Codify Roe?

      Reverse Trump tax breaks for billionaires?

      No insider stock trading for congress?

      A Promise kept: “Nothing fundamental will change,”
      thanks for the vote suckers!

      1. Expat2Uruguay

        Nothing fundamental will change? Wasn’t that promised by the guy who’s trying to start world war iii, nuclear war, and make it okay for State actors to bomb critical infrastructure of other states? That seems like some fundamental changes are in store right there!

        1. USMCvet

          You are looking at effects of policy.

          The Husk Puppet was talking about the people that influence policy, not the policies nor their ever changing effects.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “How a School’s ‘Bike Bus’ Won Over Students and Charmed the Internet”

    As the character Harris said in the 1889 novel “Three Men In A Boat”-

    “How about when it rained?”

    This was in Portland, Oregon and these kids are biking to school? Doesn’t it rain there from time to time? So forget the romance and I will set the scene. It is morning. You are biking and are wet through with your socks saturated with rain trickling into them. Cars going by splash water on you unintentionally but it does not matter as you are already drenched. You try to wipe the rain from you eyes but your sleeves are wet too. The bike seems to be stiffer to push and you hate going through puddles or worse, a fresh pot-hole hidden by the pools of rain. Cars going by honk to cheer you on but it sounds more like they are taunting you. You see your parents drive by and wave and know that they are both dry and warm in their heated car. You only hope that your school books and notes aren’t drenched too. Meanwhile, the rain is pouring steadily down all the time. Finally you reach school and can put an end to this nightmare, only to realize that in fact your day is just beginning. Next week you vow to take the bus.

    1. aletheia33

      your books, along with a change of clothes, are packed safe and dry in a waterproof bag. you wear a visor or ball cap under your helmet that keeps the rain out of your eyes, and your glasses if you wear them. you are wearing raingear that keeps the rain off the back of your neck, your hands, and any other vulnerable points. you do not get cold because you are exercising your body, and the extra sweater under your raincoat keeps you warm too. you carefully watch for the places in the road where you have learned, and your companions will remind you, pitfalls lie. you are with your buddies outdoors under the sky with the wind keeping you company.
      maybe more slowly than on a sunny day, still you experience the joy of motion under one’s own steam that only your bicycle can give you. you feel as one with the other riders around you, and that mutual protection, and you trust your adult leader(s) to guide you safely in automobile traffic. you all arrive at school together, exhilarated and especially proud that you’ve done it one more time in the rain. there will be mornings when you really don’t feel like doing it again, but your family, your school staff, your neighbors, your friends will be there to encourage you. and the next time, when one of your friends doesn’t feel like it, you will encourage her.

      1. Rod

        Thanks for that
        Choice or not,
        We’ll all need a new mind set to get into the future-together…

    2. Tom Bradford

      When I was a kid if you didn’t bike to school, you walked. “And the rain it raineth every day.”

  21. NotThisAgain

    For some reason I can’t get the possible impacts of Nordstream out of my head.

    Silly question, but let’s very hypothetically say Credit Suisse becomes completely insolvent next week. Can the country bail it out? (Incidentally, does this result in a rise or a fall of the Swiss Franc?)

    How would neighboring governments that are facing an energy crisis and an inability to either import energy or export goods (let’s hypothetically call them Germany and Italy) manage to stave off contagionary (is that a word?) impacts?

    And how would other countries prevent their own banking systems from succumbing as well? Germany is in no position to backstop DeutscheBank–and politically, I can’t see it possible for them to bail out the banks while forcing its citizens to cope with inflationary pressures on their own anyway (this is not 2008).

    And how would the citizens in, say, Germany, feel about Poland and the US afterwards?

    No matter how I think about this, the same conclusion comes up–NS was very, very, very poorly thought out, even from a short-term strategic perspective. I am also increasingly convinced that anybody who lives in Europe and who has the ability to leave but who chooses not to is insane.

    There must be another side to this argument, but I really can’t see it at the moment.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      The destruction of NS is, along with the theft of RU’s central bank reserves, the biggest consequence of the UKR war. The military activity is a sideshow and the final outcome a foregone conclusion, IMHO. To address your questions in order:

      The Swiss can and will save CS by printing vast amounts of Swiss francs, as they mint their own currency. What this means for the value of the CHF depends on market expectations, about which I’m unwilling to speculate.

      Germany and Italy are not currency sovereign (both Eurozone), so their flexibility is limited. Italy gets a lot of gas from North Africa, has less heavy industry than Germany, and has relatively mild winters, so Italy will probably muddle through. Germany (to use a scientific term) is screwed.

      Deutsche Bank has been among the walking dead for some time now. It will be quite amusing to watch the Germans (who were a tad arrogant towards Greece during the Grexit bank crisis way back in the day) going cap in hand to the EU and ECB, begging to save DB.

      In the short run, Germans will do as they’re told and be polite and respectful towards their bosses in USA and Poland. In the long run, reality will reassert itself. But that might take a lot of time.

      Yes, the destruction of NS was quite the game changer. I think Southern Europe will muddle through OK (admittedly I’m biased, being in Italy). But I agree that Northern Europe’s future isn’t looking too great these days.

      There might be another side to your argument, but I’m not seeing it either.

      1. Revenant

        With the destruction of NS2, Italy just became an energy superpower. It is the natural landing point for Algerian and Libyan hydrocarbons. If Italy has any sense, she will swap gas for debt relief and migrant resettlement from France, Germany and Austria. Switzerland may get taxed a little too….

        1. NotThisAgain

          With the destruction of NS2, Italy just became an energy superpower.

          OK, this isn’t my area, but are you sure about this? Based on the following links, it appears that Italy consumes the vast majority of the gas it receives, and that it only exports a small fraction of its total imports (and that ~40% of its imports come from Russia–presumably via Ukraine (??))

 — ~73,000.000 cub m mn
 — ~400.000 cub m mn

      2. Irrational

        Swissy is too strong anyway, so they can print a bunch.
        How this unfolds in this rest of Europe will be, ahem, interesting.
        I would love to leave, but where to at short notice?

        1. NotThisAgain

          Would the CHF stay strong even after Germany craters? I would have thought that the Franc derives at least a large part of its strength from the stability of the countries surrounding it.

          If you have an EU passport, can’t you go just about anywhere in the southern hemisphere for the winter?

      3. NotThisAgain

        Thanks–this view clears up a few of my thoughts quite a bit. Two follow ups, if you don’t mind:

        Italy gets a lot of gas from North Africa

        Is there good reason to believe that those pipelines are secure from sabotage? Or are they just as susceptible?

        Deutsche Bank has been among the walking dead for some time now. It will be quite amusing to watch the Germans (who were a tad arrogant towards Greece during the Grexit bank crisis way back in the day) going cap in hand to the EU and ECB, begging to save DB.

        Could the EU and ECB provide meaningful help even if they wanted to? I imagine they would have to just to prevent contagion, but where does the money come from (or rather, what economic output is backing that money?)

        Also, do you have any explanation why the German DAX is reasonably stable at the moment?

        I don’t invest, so I don’t personally care–I just can’t quite wrap my head around the relative sanguine reactions thus far

        Thanks again for your original response!

        1. Maxwell Johnston

          Addressing your questions in order (and of course I might be wrong):

          No underwater pipelines or cables are truly safe anymore, given existing technology, and this is a key lesson of NS. Welcome to the 21st century. Re Italian gas supply, Italy has moved rather nimbly to protect its energy interests (Italians are consummate survivors), here’s a good recent summary:

          The ECB can print as many digital Euros as it wants to, there really are no physical constraints anymore. Bailing out DB (or any number of Italian banks, for that matter) might have a negative impact on how the Euro is perceived by foreigners (i.e., devaluation and inflation), but modern currency markets are strange beasts, so who knows. Japan has been printing yen for three decades now without falling off a cliff. I still believe in the quaint notion that any government-issued currency should be backed up by economic output or a shiny yellow metal or something tangible, but I’m clearly in the minority nowadays.

          I have no idea what the DAX is doing (or any other stock exchange), they’re simply not part of my life. Buying stock on an exchange is not an investment, BTW, it’s just a speculation, similar to Basil Fawlty having a flutter on a horse named Dragonfly. You are just buying a piece of paper that’s been bouncing around between other speculators in the hope of selling it so someone else at a higher price. The value of the DAX or DJIA has nothing to do with productive economic activity.

  22. Wukchumni

    Oh, Vladdy boy, the pipes, the pipes are leaking
    From 1 to 2, and down below the Baltic wide
    The moment’s gone, some might claim a Rubicon
    It’s you, it’s you who must go to allow Europe to abide

    But come ye back when Ukraine is in the rear view mirror
    Or when the battlefields hushed and white with snow
    It’s Germany who’ll exist in the cold shadow of winter
    Oh, Vladdy boy, oh Vladdy boy, the west loathes you so

    But when ye come, and all the flowers of capitalism are dying
    If it is dead, as dead it well may be
    You’ll come and find the place where they are lying
    And kneel and say an Ave there for thee
    And they shall hear, though soft with threat seen
    And all the grave warnings, given by he
    For Europe will bend and tell him please supply me
    And capitalism shall rest in peace for the big sleep

    Eva Cassidy – Danny Boy

    1. CitizenSissy

      When I see Eva Cassidy’s name, I’m reminded of her tragic early death and unfulfilled promise.

      1. aletheia33

        attempted unsuccessfully to post link, i’m liking judith durham/1968 recording, also deanna durbin, undated, both on youtube.
        powerful female voices.

  23. Mikel

    “Tallinn postcard: Feels like a big war is coming” Yasha Levine

    “…Putin’s clearly deadly serious about it and things are getting meaner and meaner. With this mobilization, he and his people are bringing the war home in a real way. But they think they can take on the challenge and come out victorious. It’s scary looking at this thing from here. It’s not abstract like it is if you’re sitting in California or New York or Washington D.C….”

    I look at the Fed’s insistence that unemployment needs to increase to battle inflation as potential to inflate the military recruitment pool.
    So we’ll see how long it all remains abstract in the USA.

    1. Old Jake

      As a boomer it never occurred to me that, after escaping the Cold War threat of global nuclear disaster, we could see a world war. But no generation since the late 19th century has escaped so I guess we could never be so lucky.

  24. The Rev Kev

    I hope that this is not too bad a case of thread-jacking. Been thinking about Putin’s speech after having read it earlier. I swear that in one or two parts, it was like he was channeling Doc Hudson but he said something that might give context to this war. The outlines of the plan are long visible. Force Russia to take action to save the people of the Donbass, have the entire west hit them with massive sanctions unprecedented in history, seize all their off-shore wealth, cause the Russian economy to implode, have the locals topple Putin for maybe a Navalny, move in and privatize & de-industrialize everything. Soon break up Russia into smaller countries that can be more easily exploited and turned against each other like was done in Iraq. None of this is secret now but these were the broad outlines. But why? I had assumed that given a choice of Russia and China, that Russia would have seemed the easier target which when successful, would have left China ripe for the taking. After that, there rest of the world will have to fall in line for the west. But in his speech, Putin said this-

    ‘And here it is important to recall that the West bailed itself out of its early 20th century challenges with World War I. Profits from World War II helped the United States finally overcome the Great Depression and become the largest economy in the world, and to impose on the planet the power of the dollar as a global reserve currency. And the 1980s crisis – things came to a head in the 1980s again – the West emerged from it unscathed largely by appropriating the inheritance and resources of the collapsed and defunct Soviet Union. That’s a fact.’

    So trying to put this altogether, what if this was what it is all about. Think of the 2008 crash which is supposed to have only cost $2 trillion (and the rest!). Think of the unholy amounts of Quantitative Easing that has been done since them to make the banks whole and profitable, to keep the FIRE sector safe. And then think of the massive amounts of money that has been printed since the pandemic started. If you could sit down and work it out, it must be a veritable ocean of debt. It cannot stay that way. In fact it is getting worse. It is not sustainable. So if they could cause Russia to fall, wouldn’t all the untold wealth of that country not serve to make them and all their debts free of worry again? That this whole war is to make western debts go away? Of course it would make a lot of wealthy people even more wealthier and advance a lot of careers. I’m telling you, to my own mind it is an attractive theory and I haven’t even got my tin foil hat on.

    1. Michaelmas

      That this whole war is to make western debts go away?

      Bless you, Rev. You’re just now realizing that this is one strong likelihood?

      The fact that what’s gone down in Ukraine fails in significant ways to meet the conditions set out in, forex, RAND’s battle plan, ‘Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground’ —

      –suggests a certain ‘urgency of desperation’ such as would arise if ‘experts’ were making the rounds of policymakers, giving presentations about how with every month that passes US hegemony is losing ground and US countermeasures undertaken now have a better chance than the same measures undertaken even next year.

      And obviously Russia is the state with the largest territory and the most resources left to grab, especially as it has also gained dominance in a melting Arctic — with its resources — while the US has been asleep at the wheel up there.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Been slow on the uptake here. The desperation to take control of Russia is obvious and the plans like that RAND report “Extending Russia” are all public. But I never made that final connection of Russia – and China’s wealth – with the catastrophic position of western finances. Yes, it is a predatory system but they are running out of worthwhile places to devour. That’s why they have been devouring themselves for such a long time (flyover America for example). You take over Russia, and most of the west’s financial problems goes away for another generation – and you never have to change that predatory system at all. As I said, I have been slow on the uptake here.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Implosion. That is why the west is refusing to negotiate and is frantically looking for new ways to try to win this war. And that pipeline attack shows how desperate they are. Maybe down the track we will see the following grave marker-


            1973 – 2022

            Killed by the Russian Armed Forces’

            1. JBird4049

              (I was doing some pontificating and sorta lost it.)

              Considering that the First World destroyed five empires (three immediately and two slowly) effectively ended European hegemony, started the sequence that would almost cause revolution in the United States (but for the New Deal), global economic disaster, and the Second World War which caused the Holocaust and almost quite literally eliminated the entire area between Germany and Russia as a functional society (as well as Poland and Ukraine), and the Cold War…

              Had we not had a FDR, or had two or three of the many, many battles fought during both world wars ended differently, or had any of the many close calls of the Cold War gone wrong, anything from either world wars lasting another year causes millions more deaths in the first war or ending Poland in the second, causing an American civil war during the Great Depression, or just ending planetary civilization during the Cold War.

              We really, truly, absolutely got lucky during the Twentieth Century although it might not look it; anyone who looks at the three largest military conflicts, including the Cold War, and thinks that means profitability of the wars mean trying for a quadfecta is a


              And then JBird has an epiphany during his ranting and raving. The fools probably are trying for the quadfecta. Those few who know enough about history to know this, that is.

              Cyndi Lauper

              She said, I’m sorry, baby, I’m leaving you tonight
              I found someone new, he’s waitin’ in the car outside
              Ah honey, how could you do it
              We swore each other everlasting love
              She said, well yeah, I know, but when we did
              There was one thing we weren’t really thinking of and that’s money

              Money changes everything
              I said money, money changes everything
              We think we know what we’re doin’
              That don’t mean a thing
              It’s all in the past now
              Money changes everything

              They shake your hand and they smile
              And they buy you a drink
              They say, we’ll be your friends
              We’ll stick with you till the end
              Ah, but everybody’s only looking out for themselves
              And you say, well, who can you trust
              I’ll tell you, it’s just nobody else’s money

              Money changes everything
              I said money, money changes everything
              Ya think ya know what ya doin’
              We don’t hold the strings
              It’s all in the past now
              Money changes everything

              Yeah, yeah, yeah
              Money, Money changes everything
              I said money, money changes everything
              We think we know what we’re doing
              We don’t know a thing
              It’s all in the past now
              Money changes everything

              Hey, yeah, yeah
              Money changes everything
              Money changes everything now
              Money changes everything
              Money changes everything
              Money changes everything

      1. Carolinian

        And from the same source and the WSJ some interesting information.

        Taxes add about 66 cents to the price of a gallon, about twice as much on average as other states. California’s cap-and-trade program and low-carbon fuel standard add roughly another 46 cents a gallon.

        These climate regulations are causing refineries to shut down or convert to producing biofuels that are more profitable because of rich government subsidies. California lost 12% of refining capacity between 2017 and 2021 and is set to lose another 8% by the end of next year. Yet refineries outside of the state can’t produce its supposedly greener fuel blend.

        The article says the CA average price is currently $6.29 while here in SC our low price is $2.99. So my earlier question about why so high answered? At least according to the WSJ.

    2. Kouros

      Not enough. This is why China is also a big target now. One is also looking at future profits as well…

    3. LifelongLib

      For the U.S. breaking up Russia (and China) may be long-term goal(s). For now we’re probably more worried about what happens if Russia wins in Ukraine. Back to multi-polar spheres of influence. “Rule-based international order” out the window. And then there’s China/Taiwan…

  25. Wukchumni

    Lidl told to destroy gold chocolate bunnies after it loses copyright case with Lindt Sky News

    Somebody’s trying to milk chocolate with this rabbit test…

  26. semper loquitur

    Holy Lord, that Noah Smith article is like a box of bon bons, if bon bons came in flavors like bull$hit, delusion, vapidity, and wish-fulfillment.

    “liberal democracy has defined itself too much in terms of what it’s against, without offering a picture of what kind of world it wants to build.”

    Smith should visit this world once in a while. His liberal democracy is a wasteland of poverty, illness, unchecked corruption, and exploitation. Is that a “concrete” enough vision of the future? Cause more of that’s what’s in the offing…

    “But Islamism generally failed.”

    Oh, good to know radical Islamism is in the dustbin of history. Let’s do some simple math: According to Wiki, there are 1.9 billion Muslims on the planet. So let’s draw up an equation:

    1.9 billion Muslims + steady if not increased Western meddling in the region + catastrophic climate effects + resource depletion = Radicalized Islam! Not to mention radicalized every other ideology on the planet.

    “The price of renewable technologies (solar, wind, batteries, and electrolyzers) has come down so far, so fast, that decarbonizing our economy will actually lead to increased profits, increased growth, and abundant energy.”

    Wow, talk about counting your chickens before they hatch! He forgot to mention free mealworm Smoothies for everyone! Hooray!

    “And emerging technologies — AI to analyze surveillance data, social media that records everything you do online, cell phones that track your movement, miniaturized cameras and sensors, etc. — have made this sort of state a lot more technologically feasible.”

    Yes, the United States has become a terrifying place. Oh, wait, he was talking about China. Oh, never mind, back to my smartphone………………………………..

    “A world where individual choice and voice are exchanged for order, moderate prosperity, and (at least in China’s case) national greatness.”

    By individual choice and voice, he means the tech billionaires and the banksters, of course. Cause everyone else is losing all manner of rights, left and right. And I’d bet the average Joe and Jane would trade individual choice for food, shelter, and clothing. Which they are lacking at the moment.

    “But one concrete vision of the future they’ve offered is diversity. Increased media representation of minorities — racial, gender, and others — has been one of the main animating liberal causes over the past decade. In many cases, this has had explicitly patriotic overtones, such as the musical Hamilton, or the singer Lizzo playing James Madison’s crystal flute:”

    Oh, thank the heavens, $hit-lib diversity for the win! Increased media representation will put food on the table and a coat on your kids back! Hamilton will provide a newfound sense of purpose and clarity! Cheese Whizzo on the flute will provide musical accompaniment!

    “Today, however, this attempt at broadening the core American polity has been hotly contested — Hamilton is hated by conservatives, Lizzo’s flute-playing has ignited a culture-war debate, and the 1619 Project is of course wildly controversial.”

    Allow me a moment to wipe the coffee off of my screen…..ok. What kind of !mbecile actually thinks any of these things is about “broadening the core American polity”?! Hamilton is hated by anybody with a sense of aesthetics beyond that of a high school theatre club, Whizzo’s flute playing has ignited a Twitter storm, and the 1619 project is shot full of mistakes and confusions:

    “These urbanists don’t want to turn the whole world into Manhattan, or even Amsterdam. Instead, their visions are of somewhat-built-up suburbs that offer more transit options (trains, buses, e-bikes), are more environmentally friendly, and combine multi-family housing with single-family housing”

    What a wonderful idea! Now, we just have to quash the automobile industry, the one Smith notes that American’s are so in love with just a paragraph above, get BlackStone/Rock and Bezos to stop buying up affordable housing so they can turn it into perma-rentals, and claw funding for light rail from the iron grasp of local and national governments! Easy!

    “pop culture is a stand-in for the freedom of speech that people in liberal democracies enjoy.”

    Yeah, cause pop culture flows from the people! The people in the recording industry, at Netflix, and MCDCU comics! Real grassroots stuff there, Noah! Stand in is right, standing in for something they don’t really have!

    “As Ukraine has become more diverse and tolerant, its army has benefited. In contrast with Putin’s homophobic military, the Ukrainian armed forces include LGBTQ soldiers who have incorporated “unicorn” insignia into their uniforms.”

    Look out Putin, the Unicorn Corp is on the march! A more diverse and tolerant force that will easily overcome Russia’s artillery hammer and anvil strategy! And those hypersonic missiles! And the industrialized military production process! I just hope not too many of the men get pregnant before they can join the fight!

    ” Conservatives don’t like this sort of liberal culture, but an embrace of this variety of self-expression has become one of the visions that liberal democracies are starting to sell to the world.”

    Sell is the operative word here…

    “Now, however, there’s much more uncertainty about what material benefits the citizens of liberal democracies will enjoy in the future.”

    Do you think? Why is there so much uncertainty, Noah? For things like healthcare, food, shelter, education, fu(k, for a future at all? Is it because liberal democracies allow for the unchecked accumulation of wealth and celebrate sociopathic power players as creator-gods?

    “The titans of industry have to do their part here, presenting more concrete visions of the future they’re going to sell.”

    Oh, they are doing their part Noah. They have a concrete vision of the world to offer. It’s filled with bug-burgers, constant surveillance, prison camps, and killer robots. And Klaus Schwab wearing bizarre Star Trek meets Game of Thrones meets The Guy You Warn Your Kids About outfits:

    “So I don’t really have all the answers here.”

    You don’t have any answers here, you dun(e. Just pabulum for the $hit-lib fauxgressive f00ls who read your blog. Utter dreck.

    1. Bugs

      I follow this site on Twitter.

      It provides a lucid and very disturbing picture of the USA, just from the facts of crime and its punishment there. Some of the stuff, especially involving children in situations of poverty, is really hard to read. It’s a country of Lynchian depravity but without the romanticism or humor of that auteur.

      1. semper loquitur

        Thanks for the link. That’s some grim reading. Here’s one that jumped out at me, rather mild compared to the other articles:

        Texas Judge Who Allegedly ‘Scans’ the ‘Piety’ of Lawyers and Litigants During Courtroom Prayer Ceremonies Wins Fifth Circuit Victory

        The case, styled as Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Mack, held that Texas Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack did not violate the the U.S. Constitution by carrying out the ceremonies in question — mostly because the appellate panel found that the prayer sessions didn’t involve “measurable coercion.”

        Right, because a judge in court telling you to pray isn’t by his very nature coercive.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      You don’t know whether to laugh or cry that someone still writes this kind of Pinker garbage.

      “The price of renewable technologies (solar, wind, batteries, and electrolyzers) has come down so far, so fast, that decarbonizing our economy will actually lead to increased profits, increased growth, and abundant energy.”

      Wow, talk about counting your chickens before they hatch! He forgot to mention free mealworm Smoothies for everyone! Hooray!

      Here’s a lengthy but interesting debate between a neoliberal Green Growther making this same argument and a socialist Degrowther, moderated by Doughnut Economics author Kate Raworth. My only problem with the debate was that it posed the question as if humans could still make a choice. It looks to me like Donella Meadows and her team are coming up as prophets more powerful than Moses, Amos and all three Isaiahs combined. We’re already in degrowth.

      Consider two questions:

      1) Will the UK’s GDP be higher or lower in 5 years than the UK’s GDP in 2019?

      2) Will the UK’s life expectancy be higher or lower in 5 years than it was in 2019?

      Now apply the same question to Germany, or Italy, or …

      Things are getting weird in the WEIRD countries already.

        1. aletheia33

          “Donella Hager ‘Dana’ Meadows (March 13, 1941–February 20, 2001) was an American environmental scientist, educator, and writer. She is best known as lead author of the books The Limits to Growth and Thinking In Systems: A Primer.”


      1. Lee

        If only we could replace the term “degrowth” with “degroaf”. But then we’d have to explain to everyone what “groaf” means.

  27. Ghost in the Machine

    This is an interesting response to Sachs’ comment in the Lancet report.
    SARS-CoV-2 furin cleavage site was not engineered PNAS

    First, it is another commentary not a research article. It is an elaboration of their original arguments against a lab origin in their Proximal Origins Nature commentary. Again, there is the ‘it is not a theoretically optimal’ Furin Cleavage Site (FCS) argument. But, a lab would likely just use what they have around. Not design something from scratch. They would just want to enhance, not necessarily make the most optimal virus. Since Sachs mentioned the UNC lab, they comment that it is not the exact FCS nucleotide coding for the amino acids (the ENaC from UNC). But it is the technique not the exact sequence that is important. They mention that a lab would have optimally used an FCS from another coronavirus. Not necessarily, again you would use what you have around. Especially, if the natural FCS’s were not good at infecting human cells. Interestingly, this argument goes both ways as a natural recombination event that occurs in cells infected with two types of coronaviruses, would result in an FCS from the natural coronaviruses known to have an FCS site. So the source of the FCS, lab or natural, is currently unknown.
    The frame shift argument is interesting. In my previous research I used genetic mice. Mostly fluorescent proteins inserted under cell type specific promoters so we could identify specific cell types for recording via fluorescent microscopy. But, I collaborated with genetic engineers. I did not make the mice. I don’t know enough about it to comment on how rare or hard a frame shift is using these techniques. It seems frame shifts could arise pretty easily with genetic techniques like serial passage. If it doesn’t screw up all the other protein translations, then no worries. Any commentary?
    It ends on a petty note.
    “Harrison and Sachs (1) allege that scientists at NIH and elsewhere, including myself and colleagues, conspired to suppress theories of a laboratory origin of SARS-CoV-2. This is false. A possible laboratory origin of SARS-CoV-2 was discussed in our earlier publications (6, 7).”

    In their earlier publications, they argued that the lab origin was a ridiculous hypothesis. You can discuss something and suppress that something. This is a disingenuous argument. These people are definitely smart enough to know that suppression is not just silence.

    This commentary does not seem to me to clear anything up.

    1. Michaelmas

      @ Ghost in the Machine –

      All your points seem correct to me, including as regards frame shifts.


      For those unfamiliar play with the state of play re. transgenic mouse in research, Ghost in the Machine wrote: –
      “In my previous research I used genetic mice. Mostly fluorescent proteins inserted under cell type specific promoters so we could identify specific cell types for recording via fluorescent microscopy. But, I collaborated with genetic engineers. I did not make the mice.”

      Essentially, in the 21st century it’s a routine matter for a researcher(s) to order such mice engineered to precise specifications from one of the ‘factory farms’ specializing in transgenic mice, in the same way that a researcher can send out to one of the big DNA synthesis houses and get back the precise DNA structure/sequence they ordered.

      So, forex, Michigan U’s Biomedical Research Core Facilities sets out the engineering services and prices it offers thusly —

      B6SJLF2 Hybrid Transgenic Mouse Production -$3,700.0 – The Transgenic Core guarantees that at least 3 transgenic founders will be produced from your transgene DNA

      C57BL/6J Transgenic Mouse Production – $5,800.0 – The Transgenic Core guarantees that at least 3 transgenic founders will be produced from your transgene DNA

      Custom Genetic Background Transgenic Mouse Production – $6,800.00 – The Transgenic Core guarantees that at least 3 transgenic founders will be produced from your transgene DNA; The investigator will pay shipping and per diems costs for custom donor strains

      Sprague Dawley Outbred Transgenic Rat Production (other strains available) – $11,000.0 -The Transgenic Core guarantees that at least 3 transgenic founders will be produced from your plasmid transgene DNA. The Core will purify DNA for microinjection from restriction enzyme digested plasmid DNA provided by the Investigator. The investigator will pay shipping and per diems costs for custom donor strains …

      And so on. There’s a lot more, but you get the idea.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      “Let’s go, Brandon!”

      “You Dog-faced Pony Soldier!”

      “Lemme tell ya the story about Corn-Pop!”

  28. Art_DogCT

    “Too bad about all those workers and old people and small children.”

    The (thankfully deceased) ghoul Madeleine Albright summed up elite Western thinking about such issues.

    “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”

  29. Exiled_in_Boston

    “Unfortunately, I can’t find anything else on this that isn’t Ukrainian propaganda (often using the same photo).

    How about this… ‘Hours after Ukraine’s defense ministry said its forces were entering the city, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said in it had made the decision to pull out of Lyman.’

    1. lambert strether

      Had that appeared in my search on “Lyman” at “press time,” I certainly would have included it. Along with a link, hint hint.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Did you say you get ‘You get access to credits’ or did you mean ‘You get access to crickets’?

  30. Carlton

    “MHI develops reactor with enhanced safety features…”

    When the end users can buy liability insurance on the open market, we’ll know that they are truly safer.

  31. WillyBgood

    And now for something completely different:
    In a surprising developement China Daily finds “searches related to surfskating rose 420”

  32. Jason Boxman

    So liberal Democrats do seem to know that politics ain’t beanbag:

    President Joe Biden’s Administration has presided over an unprecedented drainage of oil from America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As of Sept. 19, about 155 million barrels of crude oil over a quarter of the stock, have been released into the economy, according to the Department of Energy.

    The purpose of the historic sale of America’s emergency supply was to lower gas prices. However, the depletion has had a marginal effect at the pump and could moderately weaken American energy security, according to some experts.

    (mega bold mine)

    What are the odds liberal Democrats survived the election without having gamed lower gas prices, I wonder? So we see that material benefits are a concept that the political class understands, when it suits them. In this case, there’s no change in the social contract, so it’s fair game.

    And then after the election, well, liberal Democrats certainly don’t care. Look, Putin!

    1. lambert strether

      “What do we learn, Palmer?”

      I should use this the next time write about the CDC….

      1. rowlf

        Jeez, I just pulled up both segments last night to watch. One of my sons just got hired to maintain ground equipment for an airline and mentioned an electrical tester the interviewer showed him. We looked it up online and I saw the cost was reasonable to the benefit, and if it helped the kid stay interested in mastering electrical troubleshooting it would be money well spent. (If you can troubleshoot you get more interesting assignments than scut work)

        All I could think of was JK Simmons as the CIA superior:
        How much?
        -There were several procedures.
        – Altogether they…
        Pay it.
        -Yes, sir. Okay. Yeah.

        I often channel the CIA superior at work, as there are many vendors approaching my company with medicine shows and magic beans. I’ll be brought in to review a presentation on a subject I have been working on for several years:

        Does it work?
        Is that true?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Well British General Montgomery – who planned it – did say that it was 90% successful. Unfortunately it was that last 10% that made the whole thing worthwhile.

        1. flora

          British Field General Sir Bernard Montgomery clearly understood the competing demands and claims. I’ll leave it at that.

  33. semper loquitur

    re: Whale Fail

    Thanks for the fascinating article about whale brains. It’s replete with gems of human hubris: we thought those neurons were just “filler” or when we find something in our brains in the brains of other animals, we think less of it. People wondering if these animals have complex thought when we already have anecdotes of say, whales protecting humans from sharks:

    Heck, my dog demonstrates the ability to plan ahead and to understand simple causal connections. When we play tug o war with her toys, she will turn in one direction but keep her eyes turned the other way when she thinks I’m going to switch sides on her. Once, while at dinner with friends, we watched her timing our movements and focus, when we all all turned away (intentionally) to look at something, she zipped up to the table and scored an enormous pop-over to the applause of nearby tables. When I use a laser toy, she will chase the dot for half a minute then stop and stare at the pointer itself. One time she lunged for it!

    But one line in the article leaped out, it’s a keeper for the next time there is some article about how science has finally unraveled the knot of consciousness:

    “In the words of one neuroscientist: “we don’t even understand the brain of a worm.”

    1. korual

      Neuroscientists are silly reductionists when they try to pinpoint consciousness in brains. Theories of consciousness all try to impose either a false unity (panpsychism and scientistic materialism) or a false dichotomy (dualists and common spiritualists). There are 3 dimensions of consciousness, the first being the self-observing intra-action of quanta, out of which emerges living beings that are self aware as they intra-act with their environment. Finally we have human consciousness which emerges through intra-active discourse (language and psychology).

      1. semper loquitur

        None-sense. To say that consciousness emerges from quanta, the smallest bits of physical existence, is panpsychism, the ba$tard stepchild of materialism. How do you know quanta are “self-observing”? Have you asked one? And how do these quanta bring their “self-observing” together into more complex “self-observers”? Any theories? Human consciousness doesn’t “emerge” from discourse as it must precede it to experience it. Are fetuses not conscious? What language do they speak? Or are they not human….yet? Is that the rotting husk of Derrida I smell?

        Idealism presents a far more rigorous framework to understand consciousness, as it places consciousness itself as the Monad, the fundament of reality. Here’s how it goes:

        1. All we know, with 100% certainty, is that we are in the state of knowing, of consciousness.*

        2. That consciousness consists of qualia and configurations of qualia, as well as the framework of space/time that the qualia appear to us within. A framework internal to us, mind you, as they describe relationships between configurations of qualia but never appear themselves. (Not the clock.)

        3. We have configurations of qualia that we directly associate with our consciousness, i.e. our “physical” forms. And we have configurations of qualia that we do not directly associate with our consciousness, the rest of the world.

        4. The configurations of qualia that make up the world are not contained within our consciousness, they have a separate existence. To assume otherwise is to assume solipsism and while solipsism cannot ever be disproven, there is an over abundance of anecdotal evidence that points to it not being the case. So there is a world outside of our selves and our qualia but that in no way implies that it isn’t within consciousness.

        5. Therefore, there must be a “field” of consciousness larger than our individual, subjective “fields” of consciousness. While this could conceivably be incorrect, we could never know that as we cannot know without knowing, observe without observing, be without being conscious.

        *@ witters: this is not a tautology, as I believe you claimed a while back when I was commenting on that article about “brain switches”. To know a state of knowing is to experience a state that both knows X and knows the potentiality of knowing X. It is not to I know and I know, it’s I know and I know I can know. It’s the difference between the wine and the gourd that holds it. Apologies if I am not recalling that exchange correctly.

        1. korual

          Everything emerges from quanta, if they are the smallest bits of physical existence.
          Panpsychism claims the essence of all consciousness is in matter, which I don’t agree with.
          I did mention that quanta do not speak, as language is in a higher dimension of consciousness.
          Discourse emerges from humans, obviously, not the other way round.
          No, fetuses have not acquired the highest form of consciousness, and they can’t talk either, no more than quanta.

          Your understanding of qualia doesn’t need Derrida, but it does need Saussure, or other basic, structural linguistics. Qualia cannot be understood outside of language, as you are asserting. You can’t describe Orange if you don’t have a word for Red, Orange or Yellow. Many post structuralist linguists go too far and detach language from physical reality altogether, which is also wrong, as language requires human brains, and human brains require quanta.

          1. semper loquitur

            If they are the smallest bits of physical existence, they are physical, and either matter or energy. Either way, to claim that somehow consciousness emerges from them is to claim that consciousness is inherent in them, a part of them, which is panpsychism. A claim you cannot prove. It is an assumption. My point about asking a quanta a question was to point out that you have no evidence that they are, or emit, or whatever, consciousness.

            My understanding of qualia requires language but my experience of them does not. I did not say that qualia could be understood outside of language but they can be experienced outside of language, as experience necessarily precedes language. Can you speak of that which you haven’t experienced? Understanding, an arrangement of meaning, requires language. Consciousness does not. You are conflating the two.

            1. Korual

              Can you speak of that which you haven’t experienced?

              Well, yes, you can. Human consciousness does require language.

              1. semper loquitur

                Not as in, oh someone else told me about something else. Or I read it somewhere. I mean if you had no experience at all, no inkling of it, you cannot speak of it. You must either experience something first or second hand to speak of it. Experience assumes consciousness. Therefore, consciousness precedes language. Language needs an experience to give it meaning.

            2. Korual

              Quantum physicists have proved it empirically, it is just a matter of interpretation. Also by inference, logically it must be so. Otherwise consciousness must arise ex nihilo, though as an idealist, I assume you are happy with that?

              1. semper loquitur

                You misunderstand idealism. Consciousness doesn’t arise, it is. As I stated earlier, it is the Monad. It is the panpsychist or the materialist who claims it’s existence ex nihilio. And apparently, you.

                Could you point me to your source for the claim that someone made an empirical QM claim?

  34. Wukchumni

    Tiny Town Confidential:

    I’ve been spreading rumors of a Thai restaurant opening soon for about a decade, no truth in it whatsoever-but as if that was gonna stop me from my appointed rounds, if you build it up-they will come.

    In spite of my efforts all we have in terms of new blood is a stillborn Greek restaurant which has had the ‘opening soon’ sign out front for about 3 years now. Talk about slow service!

    Greek food is ok, but maybe i’ve had it a dozen times in my life and its usually years between meals-not my favorite.

    1. dcrane

      Yep not accessible here in Auckland at the moment. That site has been brutally effective lately at cutting thru western media nonsense on Ukraine. Their recent analysis of the pipeline sabotage might have been one too many for the intel spooks.

    2. hoki haya

      down everywhere. b was too succinct in his recent synopses. NC, it appears, is the only genuine western alternative outlet left.

  35. Wukchumni

    GOLDEN TROUT WILDERNESS, Calif. — We clambered loudly up the miserable incline, horses stumbling as their shoes slid on the ladder of rocks that took us up and away from the Kern River.

    “Devil’s Stairway,” Chelsea McGlyn, the wrangler on this expedition, said over her shoulder, twisting around in the saddle.

    Sequoia NP largely got rid of private mule packing enterprises about 25 years ago, but there are still a number of mule packers on the east side of the Sierra.

    I’m of mixed opinion on them, it allows those that can’t walk the walk to be able to experience the grandeur of the back of beyond, but all of the doo-doo and trails with cuppy deep sand on account of their heavy hand vis a vis four hooves can make the lay of the land laborious on foot.

  36. semper loquitur

    Burned out at work? Try more work!

    The Unlikely Cure for Burnout? A Second Job

    “Overemployment” sounds like more of the same old grind, but its underlying philosophy is critical of work.

    “But it wasn’t long into her new work arrangement that she realized there were scores of knowledge workers doing the exact same thing and discussing it online.”


    “Despite the novelty of overemployment, if you dig deeper into the communities and their ethos, it’s all incredibly familiar.”

    No surprise that the good folks at TIRED think this is a novel idea, stumbled upon by knowledge workers. That fact that countless people have to work more than one job, and not by choice, doesn’t get a mention. Well, there is this:

    “Murphy has no moral qualms about overemployment, suggesting it’s both ethical and common. “My mom worked two jobs all the time growing up, but we don’t really think of that as weird because it’s a working-class situation,” she says. “But if you’re a knowledge worker and you’re working multiple jobs, there’s a sentiment that it’s unethical. It’s not, if you’re getting your work done.”

    I have absolutely no ethical obligations to my employer. They are exploiting me. I’ll exploit them as I can. To imagine otherwise is to assume some innate morality in one’s socioeconomic position.

  37. Parker Dooley

    Maybe I have missed this, but has anyone considered that the pipeline sabotage may have been caused by one of our stateless persons, e.g. fossil fuel companies, in search of financial advantage, and having escaped restraint by any government.

    I’m thinking of a concept advanced by Heinlein in the novel ‘Friday’, that it is difficult to fight an entity, whose legal domain is a mailbox in some obscure country, and whose physical existence is obscured by layers of legal fictions. Of course fossil fuel companies posess advanced UUVs, explosives, and the expert personnel to deploy them, as well as the motivation to destroy competition. And mercenary “security” operatives, of course.

    I don’t have access to the text, so will paraphrase a scene from ‘Friday’ — “American Airlines regretfully announces the total destruction of Acapulco.”

    1. ThirtyOne

      Nothing personal, just business.

      During the past few months, we saw a case of a not-so-friendly interaction aimed at expelling Russia from the natural gas market in Europe. The war in Ukraine is mostly a sideshow: the real thing is natural gas, and the critical point has been the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline. Whoever did it, it was a clear message to everybody, not unlike finding the severed head of a horse in one’s bed: the European gas market is now the turf of another mafia family.

    2. Tom Stone

      The Oil Cartels are certainly capable of the sabotage that occurred at NS1 and NS2, I’m surprised I hadn’t thought of it.
      It would be an interesting exercise to see if any unusual positions were taken in the various gambling venues such as the stock market.
      That occurred with 9/11 and for some reason there hasn’t been much coverage of the issue by the MSM.

      1. dcrane

        Might have to send a pre-emptive bank wire contribution to the Poor Poet if this ends up being something other than an innocent hosting problem. Their essay juxtaposing details of recent American military moves in the Baltic with the pipeline sabtage seemed extremely important.

      2. BillC

        And The Saker (less reasoned but still useful) has been temporarily (?) stalled by hurricane Ian.

      1. hoki haya

        yes, b was too succinct in his recent recaps. this is not allowed.

        this has been absorbed to its entirety, right?

        “It is worth reminding the West that it began its colonial policy back in the middle ages, and that they followed the global slave trade through the genocide of native american tribes in north america, the plundering of india, of africa, through the wars of france and england against china…”

        [please look; Russia has no history of persecuting its indigenous people.]
        “We are proud that in the 20th century it was our country that led the anti-colonial movement, whih opened up opportunities for countries to develop themselves, to reduce poverty and inequality, hunger and disease. What they despise about us is that we did not allow ourselves to be robbed during the period of colonial conquests.”

        [sandinistas, baby]

        “They’ve used many allibies to try to destroy us, before and after 1917. They managed to seize our wealth by the end of the 20th century…They called us friends and partners, but in fact treated us like a colony: trillions of dollars were siphoned out of the country.”
        [never forget the day my father pinned a thousand ruble-note on our refrigerator and said, ‘it’s not even worth a dime; we’ve got them’. around the time Clinton and Yeltsin were laughing their asses off in the Rose Garden.]

        “Western countries have been repeating for centuries that they bring freedom and democracy to other peoples. Everything is exactly the opposite: instead of democracy, suppression and exploitation; instead of freedom, enslavement and violence. The entirety of the unipolar world order is inherently undemocratic and unfree; it is deceitful and hypocritical through and through.
        “The United States is the only country to have used nuclear weapons – twice – in the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki…Together with the British, they turned Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne and many other cities into ruins without any military necessity…They have left a terrible mark on Korea and Vietnam with barbaric ‘carpet bombing’, with the use of napalm and other chemical weaponry. They continue to occupy these countries, and at the same time cynically call them allies. What sort of alliance is that?”

        “The US dictates by brute force, the law of the fist. Sometimes beautifully wrapped, sometimes bare, but the nature is the same: the law of the fist.

        “They do not give a damn about the natural rights of billions of people, the majority of humanity, to freedom or justice or the right to determine their own futures…Western elites target all societies, including their own. This is a challenge to all. The complete renunciation of what it means to be human…pure Satanism.

        ‘By their fruit ye shall know them’, said Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. These poisonous fruits are already obvious to people, not only in our country but in all countries, including many people in the West itself.”

      2. C.O.

        MoA is up where I am in western Canada now as well.

        Anecdata but interesting, I found yesterday that websites among my regular bookmarks that are hosted in Germany were throwing 524 and 503 errors most of the day. For example, and all its subdomains. Probably just a coincidence, of course!

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