Links 11/27/2022

The Mystery of the Blue Whale Songs Nautilus

A bot that watched 70,000 hours of Minecraft could unlock AI’s next big thing MIT Technology Review

A man won the legal right to not be ‘fun’ at work after refusing to embrace ‘excessive alcoholism’ and ‘promiscuity’ Business Insider

Unprecedented Detail: Researchers Capture How Genes Fold and Work Sci Tech Daily (Kevin W)


Australian wildfires depleted the ozone layer Science

A Burned Redwood Forest Tells a Story of Climate Change, Past, Present and Future Scientific American


What does water want? Most humans seem to have forgotten Psyche

Paintings of Half-Submerged Animals Foretell an Unsettling Future Hyperallergic

Star Wars to science: Researchers harvest water from air to address shortages TechXplore


SARS-CoV-2 evolution, post-Omicron

Omicron subvariant BA.2 replicates faster in brain cells than other strains, study finds SCMP

China: Protests erupt over COVID curbs after deadly fire Al Jazeera

Deadly Bird Flu Outbreak Is The Worst In U.S. HistoryHuffPost (Kevin W)



India’s Economic Ascendance May Happen This Time Bloomberg


Syria – Another Turkish Invasion Is Imminent Moon of Alabama

US mediating between Ankara-SDF to prevent ground offensive: Report The Cradle

Iran’s Khamenei comes out against talks with US amid protests Alarabiya

Old Blighty

Opponents slam Troubles Legacy Bill which would let war criminals off the hook Canary


Taiwan elections: DPP’s Tsai offers to resign as chief after KMT wins big SCMP

US Military Set to Return to Subic Bay, Philippines to Counter China Antiwar

Japanese chip company Ferrotec rejigs supply chains to access US and ChinaFT (Kevin W)

New Not-So-Cold War

U.S. and NATO Scramble to Arm Ukraine and Refill Their Own Arsenals New York Times

Britain says Russia likely removing nuclear warheads from missiles and firing at Ukraine Reuters


EU is Now the Largest Seaborne Importer of LNG Hellenic Shipping News

Tehran, Moscow agree on transit of 12m tons of Russian goods via Iran Tehran Times

Gazprom unveils its biggest investment programme in eight years as it begins to reorientate to the east Intellinews

S Jaishankar defends India’s neutral stance over Russia-Ukraine crisis The Economic Times

U.S. issues expanded license to allow Chevron to import Venezuelan petroleum Reuters

European Disunion

EU gives Serbia ‘contradictory’ demands – PM RT

No migrant relocations unless Italy takes ships says France ANSA

Biden Administration

White House resists declaring emergency as flu, viruses surge in children The Hill


The Memo: Democrats pine for Trump as GOP nominee The Hill

Trump’s act is ‘old and tired’, says his own former national security adviser Guardian. John Bolton.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Bipartisan band of brothers: The West Point grads coming to Congress Politico

Democrats en déshabillé

Police State Watch

JOHN KIRIAKOU: Pardoning Turkeys Instead of Humans Consortium News 

Our No Longer Free Press

The Techno-Feudal Method to Musk’s Twitter Madness Project Syndicate

Guillotine Watch

Jeffrey Epstein Accusers Sue Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan WSJ

Class Warfare

Empathy & the Economy The New York Review

Belabored: Pandemic Black Fridays are Twice as Tiring, with Cynthia Murray and Lisa Harris Dissent

Caterpillar worker’s grisly foundry death blamed on training and work conditions Guardian

The Bezzle

Crypto Lender Genesis Is Subject of Probe by Regulators Barron’s


We are interwoven beings Aeon


Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    ‘I’ve heard through the grapevine that Caterpillar engineers are being tasked with learning UAW members’ assembly jobs in preparation for a strike, as well.’

    Well that should prove entertaining. I can see it how. The assembly workers are out on strike so Caterpillar sends in the engineers to work on the assembly line. After a few hours on the line and comes time for a break, the conversations would go like this-

    ‘My god – this is hopeless. You have to be a contortionist to assemble some of these components together.’

    ‘You got that right. How do they do it? The instructions don’t work on this assembly line. You have to figure it out as you go along.’

    ‘Some of these components really need two guys to lift properly but there is only myself on this part of the line. I’ll be lucky to finish this shift without a broken back.’

    ‘Fully agree. What were the people thinking about when they designed this assembly line. Oh wait – that was us.’

    1. Randall Flagg

      Mr. Rev Kev,
      That sounds a little like a “Been there, done that” scenario ( at least with managers replacing strikers on the line) with the John Deere strike a little while back.

      While I hate to ask as I don’t want to create work, I for one would be very interested in a follow up on the situation inside the factory with the JD worker that was keeping NC informed up to and during the John Deere strike a little over a year ago.

    2. griffen

      The death of the very recent hire was pretty gruesome to read about. One can imagine that is a role best left for a younger person with dexterity and a lack of fear, as opposed to a parent with a family to support. Maybe that does sound harsh but I’m sure reality sets in quickly when you are working above those steaming cauldrons for any length of time,

      The foundry sounds like a literal job from hell.

      1. spud

        i worked in one in my youth, a black sand foundry. i got stuck on the shaker one night, it was hell on earth, the other worker was covered from face to toe with burned scarred skin.

        you either got into the shakers whilst it was shaking, and chain up the red hot casting, or be sent out into the streets.

        i would not do it. what saved me was i was a molder with a less than 1% failure rate that was sent to the shaker whilst my machinery was repaired.

        i was the only one who could properly operate my machinery. so i went back to my work station to make sure everything was put back correctly.

        as usual in our free trade economy, a home builder bought out a foundry, and a rail road car maker, then drove them all into the ground.

        1. kam

          I’ve never seen nor heard of an untethered operator where the pot is designed such that the worker could fall in.
          And having worked in and around Cats most of my life, this horrific death sounds a lot like lax procedures or practices.
          Sad. But the UAW also should offer “mea culpa”. What purpose does a union serve where safety can be compromised.

    3. Skip Intro

      Engineer 1: This is BS, I may be a scab but I’m no assembly line worker.
      Engineer 2: Yeah, F. This, I’m gonna answer those headhunters.

      Manager 1: I can’t believe they want us to do engineering and assembly. This sucks.

    4. JP

      What kind of engineer has to learn assembly from the production line worker. A real engineer trains the assembler his job based on quality control. The so called industrial engineer, the guy with the stop watch, not a real engineer, is concerned with “efficiency”. Conversely the engineer is informed by the line worker as to the art of the possible, short cuts, and mitigation of fatigue.

      Mechanical engineers in this country often have their heads up their ivory tower. They graduate and pass their PE exam with a head full of theory and no practical experience. Incompetent to write a process control, they are justifiably ridiculed on the shop floor. Real engineers are born not made.

      1. John Beech

        JP, I hew to the opposite view. Real engineers are made, not born – any more than real doctors are born or real chemists, or real anything.

        When I learned to fly, the examiner made the observation I was now being set free to learn. The corollary being, I was but a fledgling able to fly on my own with permission from nobody – but – I’d be wise to seek out a mentor to continue the process.

        So it was when I took my degree as an engineer. My advisor, a retired Marine major, gave similar advice. As it happened, my first professional job saw me taken under wing by the general manager. And after a few years, it was on his advice I formed my first company and earned my first winning bid, a sub to him and my ex company. He gave me my start, and helped when it was the right time to sell my company.

        He passed a few years back but not before he saw me start and sell two more companies. I’m now running another and of an age to consider this my last. I have grandsons coming along and hopes of passing this one on to family instead of investors.

        Don’t be so cynical about how people get to be real, it really does take a village.

  2. PlutoniuKun

    What does water want? Most humans seem to have forgotten Psyche

    Well timed article for me – I was hiking yesterday along a rare example of a river without a dam, weir, or abstraction to halt its flow through some (semi) wild woodland. its a very different experience from so many ‘wild’ rivers, not least because the banks are broken and choked with fallen trees and swales and multiple other features that make the walk…. adventurous (especially when its with short legged corgis who insist on diving into every pool they see). I’m often surprised at how people don’t realise that most of the rivers we are familiar with are to some degree tamed, and not always in a good way.

    1. Chas

      I’ve been scurrying around the house this morning looking for a book called “Living Water” published in the 1930s by Austrian scientist Viktor Schauberger. I couldn’t find it though so I can’t write the post I wanted but as I recall Schauberger studied fish to learn about streams. He said streams of water need their banks to be lined with trees to shade the water for the water to be healthy. He designed flumes for sending logs to mills and for hydroelectric dams. The author of “What Does Water Want?” would have found Schauberger’s book helpful. It’s for sale at Abe Books but I failed in my attempt to provide a link here.

    2. Wukchumni

      No ground water sources are damned on high in Sequoia NP and i’ve been to the headwaters of most of the rivers, and have explored for springs which is quite easy in the summer and especially so after a crummy winter such as this year where the snow went away early and any 40 degree water in August comes from a spring, somewhere.

      What amazes me is everywhere the creeks and rivers have a built-in ability to process tiny amounts of water or gullywashers, Mother Nature’s handiwork on display in her waterworks.

      1. redleg

        People would be astonished as to how relatively little is known about springs, specifically where they are located and where the water comes from.
        For example, Minnesota’s Lake Superior shore features scores of trout streams, but mapping the springs that create this cold-water habitat hasn’t been done, except for a pilot mapping project by G. Brick in 2015. In other words, the entire Lake Superior watershed in Minnesota, which is something like 20% of the State and critical for Great Lakes fisheries, is essentially unexplored. And Minnesota is one of the top states for water research in terms of policy and funding!
        Areas without similar priorities of either policy or funding are generally going to have even less information regarding how to protect and manage water.

    3. Aaron

      For anyone looking to learn more about the how-to of rebuilding water sheds on your property or region, the books Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond volumes 1 and 2 by Brad Lancaster are a great starting point. Many great examples of people regenerating their land by harvesting rainwater, and I love the story of the neighborhood in Tuscon that illegally cut curbs to harvest street water during rainfall events.

      1. Bsn

        And here’s a short introduction to the concept that water has memory. (turn down sound – cheesy music alert, about 3 min.)
        Also, as a teen I read The Phenomenon of Man by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wherein he proposed that awareness, self refection and consciousness evolves alongside matter. So, why wouldn’t water have “awareness”?

    4. Lambert Strether

      > the banks are broken and choked with fallen trees and swales and multiple other features

      Capturing lots and lots of carbon in and of themselves, and creating niches to capture more.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Star Wars to science: Researchers harvest water from air to address shortages”

    It seems like an interesting idea though of course there are age-old tricks for getting water in desert like conditions-

    As for these new high-tech ways of gathering water all I can say is, well, they’d better have those units in the South Ridge repaired by midday, or there’ll be hell to pay.

    1. digi_owl

      Funny how with Star Wars it was a throwaway thing to establish Luke as a farm boy.

      But in Dune it is a core issue…

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It’s argued ad nausea over how much Lucas planned, but I’m pretty certain the obvious parallel to Arrakis was meant to show “a more civilized time” was a bit of bs by the guys training a child soldier to murder (this is what happens. Obi Wan even accused him of letting the emperor win if he didnt kill Vader, Luke wins when he doesnt kill Vader). The people were just left on Arrakis, catering to criminals, instead of infrastructure projects and inclusion in a larger community.

        Mussolini was famed for the promise to make the trains run on time, but he merely turned out better propaganda as things became even worse. The Empire just made bad things worse.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      In the Northeast, high levels of humidity combined with increasingly hot summers are a problem. Perhaps one of these water gathering techniques might provide a more efficient means for dehumidifying the air in human living spaces than an air conditioner.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Taiwan elections: DPP’s Tsai offers to resign as chief after KMT wins big SCMP

    This isn’t as big a deal as its been made out. To an extent, local governments are reverting to the mean after some major recent DPP victories. The KMT has always been better than the DPP at the cut and trust and glad handling of local politics, and the DPP took its eye off the ball in some major cities. The vote seems to have been entirely about bread and butter issues and voters wanted to punish the DPP for not paying enough attention to local problems.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The DPP are suffering from projecting themselves as ‘clean’ (compared to the KMT, pretty much everyone is clean), so they get a bigger hit in any scandal. Same thing as (for example) Fine Gael in Ireland – by projecting themselves as the party of integrity, even minor local scandals hit them very hard, while its considered business as usual when it happens to Fianna Fail.

            1. Patrick Donnelly

              Garret The Good also had an unlimited overdraft, while growing the banks by allowing tax evasion by ‘non-residents’.

              Growing the banks started in 1977 with the removal of rates, allowing the Greater Shaitan, FF, into power.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Re: China

    The wise thing right now with China is not to jump to conclusions. But something big is definitely afoot. Chinese social media now has gone crazy, and the usual shills seem able to know how to react, which is always a sign that everyone is taken by surprise by whats going on.

    This is not unique – every few years large scale protests break out around China, mostly its due to pent up frustration over a variety of issues, and this seems typical. Zero Covid has led to a lot of deep strains and frustrations, even while most people seem supportive, its causing a lot of stress to ordinary people. Add to this the slow motion collapse of property markets and you have a recipe for lots of very angry people. It seems to have spread across social media faster than the censors could deal with it (or to be precise, faster than Beijing could decide what to tell the authorities), so what was a local thing – the deaths in Urumqi – has gone national with great speed.

    Most likely Beijing will stay calm and wait to see if it burns itself out. So my guess is that this will go on for a few days before there are either crackdowns, or concessions. Its only over a few weeks if we’ll see if this is a real challenge from the ground up to CCP authority, or just a regular release of steam.

    1. thousands points of green

      Would China already be getting better actual control of covid if the Chinese government adopted an aerial theory of transmission as its basis for response? It would be a shame for China to just let ‘er rip as a response to public unrest.

      If Professor Hudson still has contacts within the Chinese government, one wonders if he would find it worthwhile to them to suggest to their government superiors that the airborne theory of transmission be considered and acted upon.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The Chinese attitude to airborne transmission is bafflingly contradictory. They put a heavy focus on masks, but seemingly very little on ventilation.

        Part of the explanation would seem to be that Beijing leaves a lot of discretion to local governments in how they deal with it, without providing strict guidance. This may be deliberate, as it allows blame to be passed downwards if an outbreak occurs, nobody has the ‘we did exactly what you told us to do’ defence.

        1. Carla

          Or could it just be that masks, in the short term, are cheaper than air filtration and good ventilation ?

          1. thousand points of green

            Either way, it puts China at risk of all this discipline and controls and suffering having been for nothing in the long run.

            Good air filtration and good ventilation will indeed be way more expensive than masks, but if the China government does not make the expensive investments for the long term containment and suppression of covid, China risks failing to be the Last Country Standing after all others have fallen to covid.

            They still have the benefits of the good start they were off to. One hopes they decide to do the uniform thing and expensive thing and go for the ventilation and filtration gold.

          2. Lambert Strether

            > Or could it just be that masks, in the short term, are cheaper than air filtration and good ventilation ?

            I can’t imagine a state better placed, from the aspects of both manufacturing and regulation, to implement air filtration and good ventilation than China. A good propaganda campaign would be needed, but surely they are adept at that too.

      2. Basil Pesto

        China would be getting better actual control of Covid if they maintained their strict external border, simple as that. Better masking would help but people don’t wear masks 24/7. In that context HEPA etc would then help but air purifiers can’t really deal with near-field transmission efficiently, so their benefits exist but they have a practical ceiling and it’s not clear that their combined use would completely solve the problems they’re having, just make them easier to manage. Maybe that would be enough? It’s a bit hard to know.

        Another issue is that they are exposed to much western propaganda about the virus via social media: “it’s mild now”, and know next to nothing about covid sequelae which would appear to be a failure of the Chinese CDC. They’re also clearly obscuring and will continue to obscure bad news in the form of Covid deaths, in the time-honoured communist party style. Simple reality is that mass infection of the Chinese population will kill hundreds of thousands of people. They’ll be successfully reduced to our level.

        When they had a stricter external border, disruption experienced by average citizens was slim to non-existent. But China isn’t an autarky and it may have been unduly difficult for them to maintain those strict border controls, while the rest of the world’s idiotic infinite covid policy condemns them to be confronted by repeated small outbreaks as long as they have a border of controlled leakiness (the state also don’t seem to offer enough financial support to citizens when these outbreaks occur). In trying to test the limits of dynamic zero, they may have let the situation run beyond their control.

        That’s a broad, simplistic overview, which I’m sure obscures a lot of important detail, one problem is the country’s opacity to westerner’s, language gap etc. another is its de facto status as a staging ground for information warfare (it’s also an open question at this point of how much of this recent unrest is western-agitated “colour revolution” style protest).

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I think its pretty clear looking at China’s covid policy that nobody is in charge – by which I mean that while they have a clear overall strategic objective, they don’t have a coherent plan on how to get there. This is quite typical of how China works – Beijing has never been interested in micromanaging the country, its always preferred to let each region/city do its own thing so long as everyone is pointing to the same objective. The problem is that disease control is not like other problems – the virus has its own strategic objective and doesn’t take orders.

          As you say, if borders (and to a degree, internal travel) were strictly controlled, then zero covid would be much easier to achieve. But its pretty clear now that this is not possible politically in the long term – too many powerful Chinese want or need to travel, and the quarantine rules were too strict.

          One thing that has struck me is how long some localized lock downs have been, which strongly suggests to me that covid has been happily gestating away for weeks within locked down apartment blocks making it very hard to eliminate. This is clearly something that could be addressed with better internal filtration which would at least minimize transfer within buildings. Yet I’ve seen little evidence of this happening.

          I think there are only two logical explanations for this failure. Either the public health system isn’t fully on board with airborne transmission (unlikely), or just as in the west, nobody really wants to face the prospect of essentially re-engineering every single building in the country.

          The irony is that economically, inserting HEPA filtration into every building in China is exactly what the country needs now that its housing boom is starting its long, slow collapse. Redirecting all the money currently going into trains and roads to nowhere into retrofitting would be an ideal way to generate more jobs and wealth around the country while achieving a zero covid or a controlled minimal covid strategy (I think the latter is now more realistic for the country). But so far, there is no sign of this type of strategy. I think the likely reason is simply bureaucratic – nobody wants the enormous fight that would be involved in deciding who pays for it. And yes, I know about MMT and fiat currency and so on, but for all sorts of reasons Beijing seems reluctant to make that jump.

          1. Lambert Strether

            > covid has been happily gestating away for weeks within locked down apartment blocks making it very hard to eliminate. This is clearly something that could be addressed with better internal filtration which would at least minimize transfer within buildings.

            IIRC, Chinese plumbing doesn’t have traps (certainly not universally*). I have seen at least one study (not Amoy Gardens but I’m too lazy to find it) showing airborne transmission in apartment buildings through chases.

            NOTE * Unlike code in the US. Interesting that plumbing is one of the few crafts in the US that has not, well, gone to sh*t).

      3. Lambert Strether

        > Would China already be getting better actual control of covid if the Chinese government adopted an aerial theory of transmission as its basis for response?

        As I have been saying for quite some time now [lambert preens]

    2. Acacia

      A European friend who has worked in China for several years noted that her impression has been that the health care system is not very robust, and that the zero Covid policy has been seen as necessary to avoid overwhelming/collapsing hospitals and clinics.

      What I find worrisome is all the news in the West that lacks any perspective on the stark differences between, say, USian and Chinese policies (starkly illustrated in the Eric Reinhart tweet, above), insinuating that this upsurge in popular protest means that the current policies have “failed” and that the ‘correct’ course of action in China is to let-‘er-rip.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Your friend is right – China’s health care system is at best mediocre. While historically the CCP has been good at disease control (clean water, suppression of infectious disease), the Chinese health care system essentially consists of fairly basic free clinics (fine for regular health conditions) with higher grade health care left to a random selection of public and private provision of variable quality. For reasons I’ve never really understood, doctors and nurses are simply not held in the same esteem in China as in most other Asian countries, and this leads to a generally low quality of individual care (although the plus side of that is that many are in the profession for very genuine reasons, not for the money). There is a reason why health care tourism is a big deal in the countries surrounding China – most Chinese feel a lot better being treated in a Bangkok or Seoul hospital, and they are probably right.

    3. Lambert Strether

      > Most likely Beijing will stay calm and wait to see if it burns itself out.

      If the riots are from Westernized Shanghai university students missing their perks, I wouldn’t worry too much. (“This will go on your permanent record.”)

      But if the riots have worked their way inland, and merged with other grievances — the Foxconn riots were about wages, despite distorted Western reporting — than I would worry a lot.

      Adding, I’ve been listening to Mike Duncan’s Revolution’s Appendices on historiography. He urges that revolutions involve class alliances, vertically, among the insurgents. Think, in the French revolutions, of the Duc D’Orleans, Lafeyette, provincial lawyers like Robespierre, and of course the sans culottes. If such alliance got rolling I would be very worried indeed, if I were the CCP. Some combination of lockdown + no wages + school delays -+ real estate issues + bank failure, say.* The fact that Western journalists are salivating at the prospect of millions of deaths among Chinese elders “because freedom” doesn’t mean we can reverse engineer “there’s no there, here” out of the coverage, sadly.

      NOTE * Or local issues we’re just not aware of.

  6. LY

    New mayor of Taipei, Chiang Wan-an, is Chiang Kai-shek’s great-grandson, via Chiang Ching-kuo’s mistress. Being mayor of Taipei is often a stepping stone to president of Taiwan.

  7. Wukchumni

    Gooooooood Moooooorning Fiatnam!

    You don’t want to go into battle with a bunch of loose change jingling & jangling in your BDU’s, although a Dime can come in real handy as an ersatz flathead screwdriver in a pinch.

    This is why the platoon had embraced cryptocurrency and in doing so had finally found a utilization for its existence, experts agreed.

    Nobody was prepared for the onslaught of online onerous owing or even owning up to it when news of the FTX imbrogliowe hit, and sadly it was back to the future from then on with dead Presidents presence very much in abundance.

    …we called them ‘séance simoleons’

  8. mrsyk

    The world map according to fish is lovely and stimulating. Look at Antarctica right there in the center.
    Meanwhile, I’m not sure why 550 days is the denominator in the Reinhart tweet on Covid deaths, but it inflates the deaths per day and gives all of Trump’s to Biden (I think I have that right).

    1. The Rev Kev

      I hope that that map does not imply that fish are Flat Earthers. Or should that be Flat Oceaners?

      1. LawnDart

        The land mass is solely for the purpose of keeping waters from spilling over the edge– even a goldfish would know that.

    2. Questa Nota

      Protesting on behalf of freshwater fish.
      Why do those salties get all the glory?
      What about riveries, streamies, creekies, pondies and such? /s

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      It doesn’t. The graph is clearly labeled. The statistic in the upper right corner is just the average deaths per day pulled from the graph. The slope does show key events. The large scale rollout of vaccines and Biden’s “smile” genocide announcement. The deaths are interesting because we have to be wary of estimates now that a higher rate is factored in, better treatments, and the culling of the herd that has already happened.

      Given anecdotal evidence, we can probably assume the first steep slope was in nursing homes for the most part.

      1. mrsyk

        I have to disagree. 1.1mm deaths from April 1, 2020 to approximately October 1 2022, approximately 900 days = approximately 1222 deaths per day. This calculation doesn’t affect the graph.

      2. jhallc

        While we do seem to have learned how to treat covid better and have vaccines that do provide some intermittent protection, the number of cases has grown, given our “let ‘er rip” policies. As such the number of people dying has more or less tracked along the same path over time. It has flattened some recently as it did pre-winter in 2020 and 2021. People not able to get decent healthcare and likely having other existing health issues, such as being immuno-compromised, (possibly exacerbated by a previous case of covid) are likely most at risk of dying. Also not mentioned are the increasing number of long covid disability cases.

    4. Samuel Conner

      > why 550 days is the denominator in the Reinhart tweet

      It looks to me like the straight line that represents the average trend is a 2-parameter fit (slope and intercept) to the cumulative deaths versus time data (whether a true statistical regression or “chi by eye” I don’t know). The best-fit line intercepts the x-axis about 30 months — 900 days — prior to the last datapoint in the time series. I speculate that they miscounted the months, and used 18 months (which is about 550 days), basically forgetting that the pandemic is 2.5 years old, not 1.5, hence the denominator chosen. I think that they put that calculation, 1.1 million/550 days, in the graph to make it easier for readers to grasp; to say “the fitted slope of this line is 2000 deaths/day” may be less intuitive to many readers. They should have checked the slope from the regression calculation, which would have been ~1200/day, as noted above by mrsyk.

      1. redleg

        A graph like this is best used to look for changes in slope. A magical end to Covid would manifest as a horizontal line (m=0), and an extinction event would be a vertical line (m= inf.). If this was a curve based on calculations, the derivative curve would be a more useful indicator. Over the last few months the slope has flattened, but it’s done that before and then reverted to the mean. More time needs to pass before anyone can point to an inflection point that might indicate conditions are improving.

        1. Objective Ace

          I’d also note covid deaths isn’t the full story; maybe just a small part. What’s the excess deaths graph look like due to long covid effects

    1. griffen

      I will concur on the super cuteness of the animal antidote. And when I clicked through to the additional tweets below the photo, it was like a thread of tweets from “The Truman Show.”

      Good morning, good evening and good night.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. and NATO Scramble to Arm Ukraine and Refill Their Own Arsenals”

    Reading between the lines, you can see that there is no solution. Ammo is running short and the west is now reduced to supplying older weapons systems. Supply can be ramped up but you are talking about years to do so. And most of the NATO countries are tapped out too. Some problems just don’t have any solutions. Washington players might be thinking of pushing US forces into the Ukraine but the Pentagon knows that they would only be able to supply them with ammo for a few short weeks. And that is only if the Russians do not attack the supply lines. The US spent the past twenty years in the Sandbox and a lot of those ammo reserves go used up there. I was reading years ago that they used up their own reserves, then the reserves left over from the Gulf War, then the stuff in reserves from the Vietnam war, then the reserves from the Korean war and I think that in the end they were using stuff left over from WW2. I guess that they thought that they would not have to fight the Russians as the sanctions were suppose to collapse the country so there was no need to think about ammo long term. Oh well. Better luck with fighting China.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I also think State, especially, was promising a no fly zone. I suspect it’s why Zelensky made his infamous nuke line. My gut is that doofus, Harris, made promises without running it by the Pentagon or even Biden with no understanding of how logistics work. Then they couldn’t conceive of how quickly the Russians knocked out the Ukraine Airforce.

      1. digi_owl

        All in all, the blob seemed to have thought Russia would go in like they did in Chechnya or how USA invaded Iraq. Instead Russia has been very careful and deliberate in their target selection and force usage, perhaps hoping to sway the eastern parts of Ukraine to their side (or at the very least leave Russians alone). Only after the truck bomb on the bridge did they shift to knocking out infrastructure in a wider sense.

      2. Skip Intro

        I think that is one of multiple pieces of evidence that suggest internal factions trying to drive the narrative with leaks and announcements that may represent aspirational rather than actual policies. Off the top of my head, other episodes I can think of:

        The story of the 101st, on normal rotation pitched as the 101st moving into new combat positions for fighting in Ukraine, with the distorted general quote about going where he’s told, all spun to look like imminent US troop movement into Ukraine.

        The repeated ‘Russia is going to use WMD’ stories that are later walked back by the Pentagon.

        The stream of alternating threats and conciliatory statements surrounding negotiations, surrounding Milley and others.

        Add your own examples, I get the feeling a certain amount of the messaging apparatus is driven by neocons, in hopes of establishing ‘realities’, but that they are opposed at various points.

    2. Louis Fyne

      on the plus side, if the DC idiots ever decide to greenlight war with China, a lack of 155mm shells will be the least of the Pentagon’s worries

      a “blue navy” (US carrier group) won’t last long within 300 miles of mainland China

    3. Old Sovietologist

      NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has acknowledged that supporting Ukraine in the current conflict is costly for Westerners, but noted that it is necessary to “maintain and increase” assistance to Kiev.

      At the same time, it is reported that 20 out of 30 NATO member countries have now exhausted the supply of weapons they can send to Ukraine.

      It is assumed that the remaining 10 (including France, Germany, Italy) countries can provide more. They can, but do they want to?

    4. digi_owl

      The behavior of the blob suggests they thought Russia was simply a larger Venezuela. A petro exporter with atrophied domestic industry. That once the petro exports were sanctioned, there would be massive exchange rate issues and shortages. This in turn leading west leaning elites to push for Putins ouster either willingly or not.

      Instead the nation rallied around domestic replacement products, set up a system for shoring up the Ruble, and has kept pointing out the nakedness of the “emperor”.

      1. Skip Intro

        One thing to remember is that they had planned for Clinton to start WW3 in 2018. Their little boo-boo vis-a-vis the Pied Piper strategy gave Russia 4 years to prepare for the obvious economic attack vector, as presaged by the MH17 false flag and sanctions. Now Russia is prepared and the neocon plan is unchanged, but the Democrats have been shock-therapied into a state of anti-Russian frenzy that is probably unparalleled. Cry havoc!

      2. Karl

        The behavior of the blob suggests they thought Russia was simply a larger Venezuela.

        It’s clear that neo-liberalism’s focus on “market measures of GDP”, and the inherent superiority of markets for allocating resources, is all wrong.

        The West continues to under-estimate the ability of command-and-control economies to produce some astounding results, particularly in the military sphere.

        Neo-liberals forget that the US was essentially a command and control economy in WWII. Out of that came nuclear reactors and bombs, digital and analog computers, etc. The capacity of innovation to emerge from military spending continues to this day with micro-electronics, GPS, data mining, satellite imagery, etc.

        We forget that Goering supervised, at the point of a gun, the creation of the most advanced aircraft industry in the world basically from nothing in a mere five years. That’s just one example. Economists are just coming to understand how coercive and effective the Nazis were at getting things done.

        But, the post-Reagan narrative is that markets are always better. In fact, when it comes to getting stuff done FAST and RIGHT, arguably markets + democracy are arguably almost always worse. This is a sobering thought.

        After the collapse of the USSR, Putin (probably much more than Yeltsin) made major moves to make Russia a net exporter of food and energy. We are now discovering, all too late, that this helped finance a wholesale modernization of the military sector and probably much besides, right under our noses.

        All of the above suggests that the USA cannot rest on its “Democracy and Markets are best” laurels in the face of very powerful command-and-control economies like China and Russia. For this reason, our own MIC (e.g. via DARPA) is one of the most innovative sectors of our economy, churning out stuff that gets applied by the private sector and generate huge profits for our hi-tech oligarchs and jobs for Indian and Chinese coders.

        Unfortunately there is so much waste due to poor adaptation to new realities at the top. Much of our current military is based on outmoded assumptions, as we are now discovering in the fight against Russia in Ukraine. So, command and control has its weaknesses as well. How to fix?

        1. Karl

          An implication of the above is that, if the U.S. doesn’t do something to improve the way it builds basic civilian infrastructure to adapt to new realities like climate change, the conversion to renewables and EVs will be so much slower and more expense than places like China, as is now the case.

          If, as Jill Stein has memorably stated, we need a “Marshall Plan” to address climate change–or a Green New Deal–we need to fundamentally re-think the way the US does things, or the money will just be misspent enriching oligarchs and PMC planners and lawyers rather than accomplishing results. Even Europe does a better job at getting things done in the civilian infrastructure sphere than the U.S.

          Maybe the Army Corps of Engineers should be given near dictatorial authority to build cheap housing for the poor, continent-spanning electric bullet trains, and advanced electric grids for the zero-CO2 emitting future.

          1. digi_owl

            Unless congress finds a way to profit from such projects, there is no way they will be enacted.

            Keep in mind that for congress, insider trading is effectively legal.

        2. digi_owl

          More like willfully ignore it, outside of the confines of the corporation.

          They demand competition and “free markets” outside, in particular the free market to hire and fire people at will as if they were just another machine in the production line.

          But inside it is all about what the CEO commands, who in turn is only beholden to the board (if such exist).

          They want the world to forget, because their religion is the market. And the last thing they want is for the world to remember that governments can overrule markets. Instead they want the world to believe that government are subservient to the market, much like kings were subservient to the pope.

    5. Mikel

      I usually think of that word as associated with making a deadline of some sort.

      While time is a factor, some of the issues that NATO and the US are having make the word “struggle” more apt.

      1. Jason Boxman

        This is a recurring theme lately. Everything in the US is a scramble or a race or a rush because our elite are morons. No one would ever accuse Washington of having any foresight.

    6. Delfin

      You are forgetting that all that has to be replaced at new higher Bidenflated prices, with new higher inflated fees, and new higher profits those who supply the Pentagon, which is basically just a giant procurement agency.

      Wonder how long before one of those Ukraine missiles we paid for, now in the black market, is used against an American airliner?

      1. Bruna

        Repeating a Michaelmas comment from N.C.

        The US is a country founded and generally run on on an open policy of grift and self-enrichment by those governing it. Even by those standards the Biden administration is a historically corrupt one, what with little Hunter, old Joe himself, and figures like Blinken populating it from top to bottom.

        Blinken is involved in uglier hustles than that. With Lloyd Austin, he’s a partner in Pine Island Capitol, a PE firm specializing in defense, government service and aerospace industries and headed by John Thain — yes, that John Thain.

        From Pine island’s IPO: –
        “Pine Island Capital Partners spends the majority of its time focused in the aerospace, defense and government services sectors, where Pine Island Capital believes it has extensive connections to industry leaders, unusual access to information, and often unique insights into specific companies, programs and overall market dynamics. [. . .] The reputations and networks of Pine Island Capital Partners’ team, both individually and collectively, will ensure exposure to a significant number of proprietary opportunities.”

        “Opportunities” like the Ukraine proxy war?

        1. ThirtyOne

          That marketing argle bargle…

          1 of 2
          pro·​pri·​e·​tary prə-ˈprī-ə-ˌter-ē 
          plural proprietaries
          : one that possesses, owns, or holds exclusive right to something
          specifically : proprietor sense 1
          : something that is used, produced, or marketed under exclusive legal right of the inventor or maker
          specifically : a drug (such as a patent medicine) that is protected by secrecy, patent, or copyright against free competition as to name, product, composition, or process of manufacture
          : a business secretly owned by and run as a cover for an intelligence organization

    7. Jason Boxman

      It seems like if this were really a threat to the free world, in America we’d be making 155 mm rounds, not automobiles, until this is settled. But so far we don’t seem to be using emergency powers to force production of munitions and equipment on any scale amenable to the supposed threat. I doubt the Russians are making the same mistake.

    8. indices

      So it looks like 68 billion has gone into the bottomless pit so far… although the philosophy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies evoked a chuckle:

      “Congress should not put itself in a position where it undercuts the ongoing and successful Ukrainian resistance, which depends on U.S. military support. Rather than hacking away at the aid arbitrarily, members of Congress with concerns and questions should hold hearings to ascertain more clearly what is in the aid packages and what they do. Such inquiries would allow Congress to make better-informed decisions.”

    9. John Zelnicker

      Rev – It seems like ever since the Vietnam War the US has assumed it would never have to fight a land war with a peer country seeing as we’re protecting by two vast oceans and Vietnam didn’t go so well.

      As a result, the MIC has focused on gadgets and gimmicks, trying to build the latest, best-est technological answer to war, e.g., fancier computer-heavy airplanes leading to the F-35 which is unfit for most any purpose much less the intended ones.

      Since the US military has a “shock and awe” general strategy based on air and sea power, there was no need to provide for manufacturing large quantities of things like howitzers, tanks, and the ammunition to feed them. Thus, we have little left now to send to Ukraine until production can be ramped up which will take a minimum of 4-5 years. IIRC, a substantial portion of the most recent billions promised to Ukraine are for future production, likely after that war is over.

      In addition, the Pentagon has allowed the Armed Forces to become top-heavy with generals and admirals, leaving us with limited ground forces other than Special Ops like Seals and Rangers. We are a long way from having the best, strongest, most powerful military.

    10. David in Santa Cruz

      (That is a way for arms manufacturers to ensure that they can sell ammunition for their guns, the way printer manufacturers make their money on ink cartridges.) — NYT

      Yes, the GWOT was nothing but a lark to buy more jets and ski retreats for Our Billionaire Overlords. They actually engineered the no-bid supply lines for inefficiency. Not much good in a real war.

    11. chris

      We functionally can’t fight China. Not until we develop domestic capacity for a host of industries at least. Like an huge percentage of our drug precursors come from China. They’d all have to be shifted to India (not likely) or become domestic (not going to happen). So take all the inflation and “Putin’s price hike” hysteria and magnify it by 10 in a war with China. And then imagine what it will be like on the home front with no generic drugs available. In addition to not being able to get electronics, printed materials, replacement parts, fast fashion, Kickstarter rewards, toys, cell phones, etc etc. I can’t imagine even the dullest neocon being that stupid.

    1. Mikel

      I posted or tried to post about it a few days ago.
      And again, an EU leader with “the jungle” metaphors.

  10. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Trump’s act is old and tired

    Link goes to the wrong article – correct one here:

    I’m sure the Grauniad would like people to think that Bolton and Trump were once best pals joined at the hip who had a falling out so as to discredit Trump even more, but of course they were not. I will admit to quickly skimming the actual article, but I didn’t see any mention form the Grauniad that Trump had fired Bolton after a short stint for drawing too much attention to himself and that perhaps Bolton’s butthurtedness might have something to do with that. If Trump had just let Bolton press the button to nuke China or something, I’m sure he’d be a lot less critical.

    But if anyone would know old and tired acts, it would be John Bolton who never saw a foreign brown person he didn’t want to incinerate. As we’ve said at NC for many years, Trump’s ascension to power has been extremely clarifying, with “Liberals” putting warmongers like Bolton up on a pedestal.

  11. Carolinian

    Re The Hill and Trump’s 2024 weakness

    Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants and the leading female contender for the GOP in 2024, would offer a much more inclusive face of the party. [beats head against desk]

    Is there any detectable enthusiasm in the land for our former Guv other than her press cheerleader squad and the members of AIPAC? Haley’s true characteristic is not her “inclusiveness” but her naked ambition combined with little discernible ability. On paper that might make her an ideal candidate by recent standards but also yet another FP horror show by recent standards. Another empty but well paid suit is not what we need.

    Or Trump either IMO. But the Republican bench is as poor as that of the Dems.

  12. Wukchumni

    A Burned Redwood Forest Tells a Story of Climate Change, Past, Present and Future Scientific American

    We explored a couple of obscure Sequoia groves (Oriole Grove & New Oriole Grove) this past spring that had burned in the 2021 KNP Fire and its kind of funny in that despite being the closest groves in proximity to tiny town, we knew of nobody who’d been there before except a researcher from UC Davis who found no exceptional trees of note in a visit 5 years ago and surmised that one of the groves had been through a crown fire a few thousand years ago which ixnayed the potential of any real biggins.

    It was a tale of 2 groves-1 fire, and stark differences between them in terms of what the conflagration did.

    We walked up towards Oriole Lake for about 4 miles and then veered off-trail using GPS coordinates to get to the Oriole Grove and it was an uphill slog where there wasn’t a living thing for a few miles and the ground had a pretty consistent top layer of 6 inches of burnt duff which made the going slow. It was tantamount to walking up a dirty sand dune and quite tiring as you sank in said 6 inches with each and every step in the moonscape which had been under an inversion layer for about a week blazing away with no fighting of the fire from above or on the ground, it was left to its own devices. There wasn’t any living mere mortal trees and Sequoias had 50 foot high scorch marks on the trunks, probably a death sentence for a good many of them, we really thought we were in a cemetery of sorts, in our walk of a wake of woe.

    The New Oriole Grove was about 5 miles away and is more of a pocket grove of say 150 giants as opposed to the 1,000 or so in the Oriole Grove, and wasn’t under an inversion layer and every non-Sequoia was dead, but the Sequoias only had 10-20 foot high scorch marks and none were goners. We saw seedlings on the ground here as opposed to the Oriole Grove which burned too hot for too long in sterilizing the ground where we saw no seedlings sprouting.

    It gives you an idea of what it takes to be able to live for a thousand years, you outlast the competition.

    1. JP

      In the Dillon Wood grove I observed the densist acre of sequoia seedlings in an area with no large sequoias that had clearly sustained a crown run through dense fir. Possibly there had been less understory to scorch the ground. I couldn’t figure out what tree or trees had seeded the tremendous regeneration.

  13. Eureka Springs

    I live on a rare north flowing wild river, have a spring in yard. It’s a miracle they didn’t dam it up 50 years ago. Most people living along a wild river can’t build their home close enough to see it. Though I am just a couple hundred yards and perhaps 150 feet above the middle of the river, both ceder trees and a high bank on my side obstruct a clear view. With the exception of windy spells I can always hear it. One day it’s a small clear stream with emerald pools and the next day a big muddy a quarter mile across. Flora, fauna and fungi of much greater diversity does much better on a wild river.

    This stat within the water article surprised me. Don’t tell Joni Mitchell.

    In fact, the area of land, streams and wetlands covered by cities’ pavement has doubled since 1992.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      One of the considerations when I bought my home was that I not be engulfed by a new housing development. The Root River is a mile away and during heavy flooding the waters rise and cover the fields between the town and the river but there is a dike protecting the town so you can only build on the dry side of the dike. There is a field between my house and the dike that helps soak up the ground water, keeping my yard dryer. The field is good for crops but thankfully too wet for development. I want my end of town to remain the end of town!

      Similar to the farm I grew up on a latitudinal tick to the south. Mushrooms sprout in the dark corners of the lawn, as shrubs die shelf fungus start covering the less sunny sides of the branches. Hard to know which flowers are indigenous thanks to decades of wildflower planting in ditches and alongside fields.

      So I have to be glad my river’s been engineered or my little town wouldn’t even exist. And had my family not tiled their fields and managed the two creeks (oops, only one now) that cut through the farm, there would be less corn and beans in the world (admittedly maybe an own goal).

      I’m glad I’m not responsible for deciding what the trade-offs should be, but I do wish the process for making those decisions gave a little more weight to nature and less to more housing on unsuitable tracts of land. Present development excluded, of course ; )

  14. Carolinian

    Re Varoufakis speculation about a Musk Twitter as spybot and springboard to even greater success.

    This comes as Facebook is declining and Amazon is closing warehouses. Without a doubt Amazon has greased the capitalist skids by offering instant (ok two day) gratification and targeted goods. But on a practical level it has always depended on a friendly tax system, tight job market and a cheapskating delivery setup that cuts costs to the very bone. It is square peg/round hole and may yet change the world forever or may just fade away with changing conditions. Those Amazon delivery vans cruising around my neighborhood are starting to look a bit tatty.

    1. Mikel

      And don’t forget the troubles that have hit Amazon’s Alexa unit.
      “…Employees told Insider a combination of low morale, failed monetization attempts, and lack of engagement across users and developers made them feel as though the team was deadlocked over the last few years.

      “Alexa is a colossal failure of imagination,” one former employee said. “It was a wasted opportunity.”

      But the warning from YV should be considered.
      All the shouting back on Twitter at alleged leaders and assorted elite hasn’t seemed to diminish their delusions.

  15. semper loquitur

    Was in a NJ supermarket yesterday…masking was minimal, maybe four besides mine. Cold medicines of all kinds were gone from the shelves. The good news was vitamin D3 is buy one get one free.

    1. Jason Boxman

      On Friday at the grocery store here, the kids’ cold stuff was mostly out of stock. This is a rural area 40 minutes from Asheville. All other items in the OTC area were stocked, so presumably not an issue with staffing.

      1. Wukchumni

        I haven’t had a cold or flu for 3 years now and my cold/flu medicines are all past the use-by date and went to buy more in SoCal and the shelves were a little bare, but I prevailed.

    2. Yves Smith

      Here in Alabama (CVS in well off ‘hood) plenty of cold meds. Only exception was I got the last packet of Oscillococcinum, and of course it was the pricey overkill size (the aide Betty-Jo has a fever and taking Tylenol is not a hot idea for her)

  16. Jason Boxman

    Holy s**t. Walgreens up THREE percent today. The largest single day increase I’ve ever noticed in a year of looking obsessively. Boston wastewater south up a lot, north not yet showing a trend up. XBB1 and XBB2 account for 3.75% now.

    Congrats Biden! Congrats Walensky!

    Biden’s Winter of Death is well under way it seems.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      The books are available now (two-volume history of pedophilia in the intel/org crime family]. I want to read them but I’ve seen so many interviews with Webb now (a remarkable interviewee with an encyclopedic memory) I almost feel like I know the important parts.

      Our government uses children to entrap VIPS. That is information that does not add up, not unless our govt lies to us constantly and it appears that is exactly what they do. Webb has also commented that Barnes & Noble seems to have a lot of trouble fulfilling orders of her books but this one is already showing up on pirate sites so whatever the sales numbers are, the readership will be considerably larger.

      This will be the definitive work on Epstein but I hope not the last word.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “A bot that watched 70,000 hours of Minecraft could unlock AI’s next big thing”

    An interesting idea that. That bot was basically watching 70,000 hours of creativity and imagination but it remains to be seen what it learns from that.It may only learn how to imitate creativity and imagination but not much more than that.

    1. ambrit

      Here’s to our avowedly AI avian assistant, the ‘Mynah Bot.’
      Yet another lesson teaching that “The Map is Not the Territory.”

    2. Lambert Strether

      > “A bot that watched 70,000 hours of Minecraft could unlock AI’s next big thing”

      The “rules of the game”? Then applied to the world? Condensing hours and hours of dopamine loops into software, and then selling it? (Actually, they’d probably rent it.) From the article:

      “In the last few years we’ve seen the rise of this GPT-3 paradigm where we see amazing capabilities come from big models trained on enormous swathes of the internet,” says Bowen Baker at OpenAI, one of the team behind the new Minecraft bot. “A large part of that is because we’re modeling what humans do when they go online.”

      Gee, that sounds swell. Kill it with fire!

  18. Karl

    RE: Man wins “right not to be fun” in court ruling

    The ruling was based largely on grounds of free expression.

    OK, then: do you have a right to be a downer? Elon Musk says “no”….

    A Twitter executive said Elon Musk told her he “did not want assholes” on his team and that fired staff could be reinstated if they were “not negative”, the Irish Times reported.

    “He accepted that people could be talented but might impact the team negatively and he stated that he did not want assholes,” Sinead McSweeney said, according to the newspaper.

  19. Jason Boxman

    A new private equity exploitation!

    They Were Unjustly Imprisoned. Now, They’re Profit Centers.

    Many former prisoners are broke until state settlements arrive. Tiding them over has become a niche market for finance firms. An investment can reap 33 percent interest.

    For Mr. Burton, now 50, the advance was “a reset button, a chance to balance things out” until his settlement offered him true stability.

    “It’s kind of hard to ask people in that state, who need relief financially, not to do it at all, to worry about the interest when your bills are coming,” Mr. Burton said. “Even though you have money coming eventually, you still have to live today.”

    By the time Mr. Burton received an $11 million settlement from the city last year, the advance had accumulated $210,000 in interest over 16 months.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Britain says Russia likely removing nuclear warheads from missiles and firing at Ukraine”

    A story straight from the 77th Brigade. Those missiles were old and were destined to be scrapped. Instead, the Russians decided that they may as well be put to use for the first and last time of their service careers. So they loaded them up with ballast and sent them at the Ukraine. As Brian Berletic from “The New Atlas” points out, these were used to probe the Ukrainian defenses and have the Ukrainians waste some of their remaining missiles to chase them. More to the point, Ukrainian defenses would have to light up their radar to target them which would tell the Russians precisely where they were so that they could be either destroyed or avoided. Brian points out that the US did precisely the same during the Iraq war as well.

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