Links 12/17/2022

Berlin Hotel’s Huge Aquarium Bursts, With 1,500 Fish Inside New York Times (see also Giant aquarium bursts in Germany, killing 1,500 tropical fish and spilling 1 million litres of water ABC Australia, hat tip Kevin W). BC: “Some engineering feats are more complicated than originally assumed.”

Pentagon Has Received ‘Several Hundreds’ of New UFO Reports Associated Press

Airport security 100ml liquid rule to be scrapped BBC (furzy). Weirdly, the Birmingham airport has those better scanners but not LGA.

What Would Plato Say About ChatGPT? New York Times (David L)

The Illustrated Transformer Jay Alammar (David L)

Almost 8,000 US shootings attributed to unseasonable heat – study Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

The rise and fall of peer review: Why the greatest scientific experiment in history failed, and why that’s a great thing Adam Mastroianni (Chuck L). Today’s must read.



China facing largest COVID surge of the pandemic: possibly 800 million cases NPR (David L)

Beijing Crematorium’s Death Surge Points to Rising Covid Toll in China Wall Street Journal (Dr. Kevin)



Working Parents Are Overwhelmed as Kids Get Sick Again and Again Bloomberg (ma)

New poll shows why some adults aren’t getting the COVID booster ABC (ma)

Virginia schools can require masking for peers and teachers of 12 students with disabilities, settlement states CNN. ma: “Glad I don’t have to administer this!”

Ann Arbor Public Schools issues health advisory amid rise in student, staff illnesses ClickonDetriot (ma)


Amazon’s Plastic Waste Soared in 2021, Report Finds Gizmodo

One of NYC’s Biggest Co-Ops Considers Ban on E-Bikes in Response to Battery Fire Fears The City


China Threatens To Fire Senators Who Voted For TikTok Ban Babylon Bee

The fentanyl wars: China, Mexico and the US Asia Times (Kevin W)

Chinese fighter jets’ South American hopes grounded as Argentina pulls purchase plan South China Morning Post

Old Blighty

>UK weather: More warnings of severe cold, ice and snow before blizzards sweep in Sky

France’s Nuclear Reactor Has Been Delayed Again Barron’s

Polish police chief, Jaroslaw Szymczyk injured after gift explosion New York Post. “Polish authorities have asked Ukrainian officials to “provide relevant explanations” as to why the gift exploded.”

New Not-So-Cold War

Russia pounds Ukrainian infrastructure in ‘biggest attacks’ since invasion Financial Times. This was the day after the biggest attacks on Donetsk city. The Russians have been making big strikes on at least an every-other-week basis. If this one was meant to be in part retaliatory, the Western press is pointedly not taking notice. BTW Rybar disagrees:

Although the missile attack cannot be called the most massive in recent months, the number of missiles fired and the geography of targets are still impressive.

Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv without power after Russian strikes BBC

Ukraine Updates: Kiev warns of long energy shortages DW

European rights court to take precautionary measure against Belgium over asylum seekers’ lack of shelter Anadolu Agency

* * *

How to avoid another world war Henry Kissinger, Spectator. Kevin W: “Henry has gone senile going by his assumptions in this article.”

Diplomacy Watch: Is the Overton window of the Ukraine war’s end game shifting? Responsible Statecraft. Less deluded is still deluded.

America’s New Sanctions Strategy Foreign Affairs

Meloni fully supporting NATO’s war in Ukraine Defend Democracy

* * *

Volodymyr Zelensky and his generals explain why the war hangs in the balance Economist. Despite my allergy for this sort of thing, this is important, despite the rah rah set-up and the usual blather from Zelensky. The interviews with Generals Zaluzhny and Syrsky contain many admissions against interest. Contrast this with the statements from the British MoD: Western Hysteria Ramps Up Larry Johnson

How Putin’s technocrats saved the economy to fight a war they opposed Financial Times. Late to this, partly because it was obvious where it was going. Alexander Mercouris is right, the article is openly angry over the fact that Putin’s seen-as-liberal economics team didn’t turn on him. But it does not establish whether they opposed the recognition of the breakaway republics simply on economic grounds (the clear belief that the West would crush Russia with sanctions) or also because they opposed a war in Ukraine on political/moral grounds. The article presumes they are (or should have been) but relies on disapproving statements from outsiders or the few officials who did leave.

Also notice the image of Putin meeting with his advisers. Boy, did he NOT want to get Covid! Recall he skipped the 2021 G20 over professed Covid concerns. There are more recent shots and staged events with him sitting pretty close to individual officials. More confidence in Sputnik? Super ventilated offices? More risk tolerance?

* * *

What are they now talking about on Russian talk shows? Gilbert Doctorow


Moscow welcomes Turkey’s call for trilateral Syria diplomacy Middle East Online. Turkey finally mad enough about NATO provocations via Greece to join forces with Assad v. Americans.

Family of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat files case against Palestinian Authority in International Criminal Court CNN (ma)

2022 was a record year for settler violence. Palestinians say next year will be even worse. Mondoweiss

Imperial Collapse Watch

Five F-35 issues have been downgraded, but they remain unsolved Defense News

Biden’s Halftime Report: Is America Really Back on the World Stage? Haaretz

Shocking Video Shows Man Overboard Incident on Hospital Ship USNS Comfort QCaptain (guurst). For a degree-of-difficulty comparison, cruise ships do this maneuver all the time with that size or bigger tenders in ports where the ship is too big to cokc.

Our No Longer Free Press

From the Twitter Files: Twitter, The FBI Subsidiary Matt Taibbi (Chuck L)

Twitter’s suspension of journalists sets ‘dangerous precedent’, UN warns Guardian. Kevin W: “Exclusion of independent journalists is still OK however.”

In assault on democratic rights, rail union sanctions victorious opposition candidate for sharing WSWS article WSWS (fk)

Supply Chain/Inflation

US ‘peak’ inflation talk misses the China point Asia Times (Kevin W)

Biden administration set to start refilling oil reserve Politico (Kevin W)

The Bezzle

Binance’s native BNB token plunges to lowest since July as concerns mount about withdrawals, FTX ties CNBC

Accounting firm that issued proof of reserves report for Binance halts service to all crypto clients Fox

Democrats Plan To Return Over $1 Million From FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried The Verge. A small fraction of what it is known even now that they received.

Can Child Care Be a Big Business? Private Equity Thinks So. New York Times. fk: “Child care tollbooths?”

Goldman Sachs prepares to lay off almost 4,000 employees Financial Times

Class Warfare

Labor Leaders Provide Cover for Privatization of Medicare Counterpunch

Starbucks Workers Strike at 100 Stores Nationwide – UK Strike Wave Spreads – Hyundai & Kia Used Child Labor in 10 Alabama Plants Mike Elk

Antidote du jour (CV):

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. griffen

    Story on the police chief opening his gift, which exploded after returning from the Ukraine. Beware of gift givers this holiday season. \sarc
    By the way, that is life imitating art. The final episode of season 3 for Yellowstone features an unmarked delivery pretty much destroying a law office.

    1. QuarterBack

      Tip: If you gift or receive a grenade launcher, be a lamb and take a few secs to make sure there isn’t a round in the chamber.

      Happy holidays!

      1. semper loquitur

        Years ago, I worked with this guy at a pizza shop. He was one of those weirdos that are fun to talk to cause they always have something crazy to say but when it comes to hanging out you start to think back on all the crazy things they have said. This guy said a LOT of crazy things.

        So one day we were talking about our time in the Army. He told me that he had managed to smuggle a grenade launcher home. It wasn’t the old ‘Nam style break-barrel ones nor was it the one that hangs under the assault rifle. It was a German one, if I recall correctly.

        I expressed some skepticism at this claim. He promised he would show me it one day. About a week later, sure enough, he takes me to his car and pulls out a breech-loading grenade launcher, complete with a couple of shells. He said something like he was trying to figure out how to make his own loads for it.

        I moved away from the area not too much longer afterwards. He asked for my number so he could come visit. I demurred.

      2. griffen

        I think the sort of launcher devices that I might gift to anyone would be the Nerf variety. I would say maybe a Red Ryder BB gun or pellet gun was an option, but there is the cautionary tale about shooting one’s eye out.

      3. Thistlebreath

        My former running partner was a 1st. Lieutenant in a rifle company up in the Iron Triangle. The M16’s under-barrel M 203 40mm launchers had a disturbing habit of firing after their load was inserted and its tube snapped into position. Nobody much used that weapon.

        1. semper loquitur

          I watched a live-fire exercise using the 203’s once. Nobody, but nobody, hit the intended target. The sergeant in charge of the exercise laughed and noted that they were notoriously hard to aim properly.

          1. skippy

            I spent most of my military years humping a M16/203 and became quite good with it, trick is don’t use the sights for it, you have to feel the target and have fired enough rounds too accomplish it. Basically handing them out and popping off a few rounds is useless in gaining any proficiency.

            I have instructed on ranges for this weapon and yeah its difficult to master, especially as it has a big kick too it. A West Point cadet of small build was nervous as hell and psyched themselves out and by the time they jerked the trigger the round went many lanes over – very bad safety breach.

            Yet I was glad to hump the extra weight considering how it can be applied and it also has an interesting range of rounds to be used. Interesting to note that the round has to spin ex times after leaving the tube before its armed.

            1. semper loquitur

              I was a unit armorer and once a 2nd lieutenant approached me with a conundrum. When he had inserted the manually fired white flare cannister into the 203, he couldn’t close the breech. I pointed out, pointedly, that the flare he was attempting to load was not intended for the 203 and that he would likely burn his fingers off if he tried to ram it in and it ignited.

              1. skippy

                Whips tear from eye for the good old days and knowing when to back away slowly from people, rank or not, because someone is going to get injured.

            2. Scylla

              I’m late to the party as usual, but you’ll be happy to know that these are available to purchase (stand alone or picatinny rail under-barrel mount)- in the $2k range plus a $200 NFA tax stamp. (a company called LMT is still producing them for sale) Anything other than chalk rounds are hard to come by, though.

    2. Eclair

      My big concern is the packaging. Was it wrapped in the non-recyclable and large marine mammal-killing thin plastic mailing wrappers so favored by Amazon? And were there air pillows inserted to cushion the rocket launcher during transit?

    3. eg

      Really inspires confidence that US ordnance sent to Ukraine won’t end up redirected to, um, other purposes …

  2. Wukchumni

    The fentanyl wars: China, Mexico and the US Asia Times
    My sister in San Diego is a bit freaked out, as she knows a few parents whose teenage kids overdosed and went for a dirt nap, and her boys are just the right age to want to experiment. Much of the fentanyl comes through Tijuana.

    We went from all the cool people doing interesting drugs in the 60’s & 70’s, to this abyss where you don’t even get high before you say goodbye.

    Is fentanyl lacing pretty much only a scourge in the USA?

    If so, i’d claim that payback for our supplying opium to China way back when is being served cold.

    1. Daryl

      Have to say I’m unimpressed with the marketing slogan “One Pill Can Kill.” Sounds like exactly the sort of thing that won’t land with its intended audience. Might be good, however, to start running it after pharma ads for opiates on TV.

    2. griffen

      I am of the age when Nancy Reagan was pontificating and Just Say No was the motto of choice. And of course, a memorable episode of “Different Strokes” unless my recall is just wrong. And then of course after that passed, the egg cooking in the fry pan for Your Brain on Drugs became the advertising slogan.

      Per the article, it seems those other countries don’t really care for US policies. I am shocked at reading that, shocked I say.

    3. Lex

      I have some friends who still purchase recreational quantities of various drugs like coke, ecstasy and similar. They keep fentanyl test kits on hand even though our location is at the absolute extreme end of supply chains and they get their fun from friends. Cutting heroin with fentanyl “makes sense” in a drug effect context. Why anything else would get cut with it doesn’t to me, except as an extreme example of full bore nihilism.

      1. Wukchumni

        I get the profit motive gig, but if i’m the local heroin dealer, is my thinking along the lines of…

        ‘Well, Steve and Mary were really good customers, kinda meek in that way heroin addicts are, all grey looking as if they’d been pre-embalmed, well, today i’m gonna kill em’ by cutting their supply with fentanyl.’

        You’re correct in that it makes no sense to cut other drugs with fentanyl, and i’d mentioned the Chinese payback, but what if Mexicans wanted payback for the hyperinflation hell that befell them for a dozen years, largely brought about by us wielding the financial puppet strings?

        The downfall of the Peso was when Mexico turned into a remittance country, with many dependent on a family member working in the USA in order to keep them going.

        How bad was their hyperinflation?

        Mild, but long lasting.

        In the end, a 1992 Peso had 1/264th the exchange rate value against the almighty buck, versus its value in the late 1970’s.

        Lets say you were a middle class Mexican with 100,000 Pesos in the bank and just left it there with the initial worth being $8,000 US and by the time it was over, the same 100,000 was worth about $30.

        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘well, today i’m gonna kill em’ by cutting their supply with fentanyl.’’

          That is the difference between drug dealers and Big Pharma. Drug dealers normally want to keep their customers alive so that they can make money off them again and again. After all, return customers return with money in hand. Like you said, it is the profit motive gig.

          But Big Pharma does not care if they kill their customers like seen with opioids and certain, ahem, vaccines that they released the past coupla year. So if you were faced with a drug dealer and a Big Pharma exec and were uncertain whom to trust, I would go with the former.

        2. Mikel

          “Tranc” , “Benzo Dope”….this is what’s on the rise.
          Fentanyl is now the main ingredient and drug dealers add benzodiazepines to a drug.
          Or benzos/tranquilizers are the main ingredient and fentanyl is the cut.

          This is dangerous because it makes reviving a person from an OD with Narcan more complicated.

          Heroin is not on the scene in a lot of drug infested areas.

          1. John Steinbach

            Around here in Northern VA, the drug of choice among teenagers is Fentanyl mixed with Percocet.

          2. IM Doc

            The combo craze makes reviving anyone much more complicated.

            Please note that many of these poor souls have been addicted by our health care system and the PAIN industry. I would also add that benzos like Xanax and clonipin are now a major problem with the stimulants like adderall coming right behind them.

            When I was a young MD, opiates were used for acute trauma for a few days, post surgery for a few days, or cancer/terminal patients. THE END. What public health and Pharma have introduced into this country with the pain crusade has been tragic and totally predictable. This very thing has been responsible for bringing great powers to their knees in the past ( see China and opium) but this is America. We are exceptional. We are above the laws of nature itself.

            In the old days, you would have a heroin overdose and you could be well assured that was it. Those days are long over. They are likely to have benzos and stimulants and hallucinogenic drugs on board as well.

            It makes the withdrawal issues much worse as well as the OD issues.

            Thus my comment about SBF the other day. It would be one thing if it was just adderall he was on. But there have been reports he is also on Super human dosing of provigil, and selegeline on top of benzos to take the edge off. Both ODs and withdrawal are now nightmares. You give the antidote and it could possibly set the other drugs off in completely unanticipated ways.

            I feel for the ER docs and nurses and the EMTs as well. This is so so stressful. And was just not happening to this degree at all even a decade ago.

            1. KD

              Don’t forget that when the addicts get busted, they are putting them all on suboxone or methadone, which is $$$ for pharma, better than selling cigarettes.

            2. Jason Boxman

              I’d say benzos are a pernicious evil not to wish on anyone outside a few days of use in an emergency. The Brits were on to this at least a decade before US practitioners.

            3. JBird4049

              It was the Opium Wars that forced the Chinese government to allow the importation of opium and permit unrestricted addiction; the British government did not want to continue to pay good silver for Chinese goods so they decided to force the opium onto China as payment instead.

              It has been the Sackler family and their ilk that have effectively forced opioids and other drugs onto Americans; however, with the economic hellscape of long hours for garbage wages and a healthcare system that is more likely to drive you to bankruptcy instead of curing you, why are people surprised that many take drugs just to work? Especially when one is older? Dirt cheap drugs less expensive than coffee or alcohol that are stronger as well.

              A lot of people make bank selling drugs, putting people in prison, or giving treatment. Life sucks? Here’s something. Be careful or else it’s slave labor in prison. Maybe we’ll send you to a clinic when you get out.

          3. KD

            Its worse than that. Very to easy to die detoxing off benzos without medical supervision, so if you use, you risk death from OD, if you get sick you risk death from detoxing off benzos.

            And they are cutting the street drugs with fentanyl because it makes for repeat customers. Not everyone dies, and not everyone dies quickly, plenty of time for profits.

            Nihilism, or capitalism?

      2. Jason Boxman

        I guess it’s all going according to plan. And COVID has taught our elite that killing a million undesirables is a-okay. So drug users… not a problem! And so far its a bit less than a million of the past two three years.

        And once apply you apply this COVID principle to other areas, mass death is quite acceptable all around for all kinds of social murder to our elite.

        This is the stupidest timeline or the most vicious.

    4. Spork

      The drug culture is going splendidly! The pressures are all social but the consequences are all individualized. All the cool people indeed…. If everyone is involved then no one is to blame? I guess we can always heap more scorn on the Sacklers?

    5. Watt4Bob

      I have multiple friends who are ex-heroin junkies, they assure me that when junkies hear there is really dangerously powerful dope in the neighborhood, they aren’t afraid of it, they go looking for it.

      In the usual sense, heroin is cut with a inexpensive substance that weakens the product. Fentanyl is less expensive than heroin, but it’s much stronger.

      Properly understood, cutting involves diluting your product to make more money, but adding fentanyl isn’t “cutting” it’s boosting the effect of your product on the cheap, and by the way, making it much more dangerous.

      And of course any market that includes both fentanyl and 16 year old wanna-be drug lords is very dangerous indeed.

      1. Mikel

        A fentanyl high don’t last as long as a heroin high.
        Benzos are now being added to fentanyl to extend the users perception of a “high.”

    6. John Zelnicker

      My 45 year-old daughter died in May from fentanyl-laced cocaine.

      I have never understood why drug dealers would put fentanyl in other non-opiate drugs. They have to know it’s deadly so why would they kill their customers?

      1. ambrit

        Really sorry to hear that Mr. Zelnicker. Loosing a child is the worst feeling. We haven’t experienced exactly that yet, but one of our children ended up in the ER once from a self inflicted overdose. They eventually pulled through, but it was close for a while. The shock of living through that is profound.
        Our daughters are at the forty year mark now, and they both mention the ready availability of street drugs to the middle class cohorts. This is yet another front in the decline of the West.
        I have yet to read of anyone suggesting that we find out where the majority of the fentanyl seeping in under the border comes from and bombing that facility, no matter where it is, back to the stone age. Perhaps we could farm the job out to the Russian Federation Aerospace Forces.
        Stay safe.

        1. John Zelnicker

          Thanks, ambrit. I’m glad your child recovered.

          Sadly, fentanyl is not that hard to make in a well-equipped lab. What I’ve seen lately is that much of it comes from China through Mexico, although I have no way to verify that.

          RF Aerospace forces sounds like a great idea. They certainly seem to be dominating the sky over Ukraine.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        OMG I didn’t realize this was how it happened. No way is a good way but drugs feels worse that a lot of others because it’s bad societal issues plus bad luck. So so sorry.

        1. John Zelnicker

          Yes, Yves, in many ways it is worse, partly for the reasons you mention, but also because it’s accidental in a way that could be prevented.

          Unfortunately, the ways to prevent it would take a lot of resources that politicians and others leaders are unwilling to devote to fixing things.

      3. John Zelnicker

        Thank you all for your kind words. It really means a lot to me as I highly value this commentariat. As I have said many times, I learn as much from the comments on this site as I do from the original post.

        You folks are the best.

        Please have a Happy Christmas or Chanukah (if you celebrate either) and a Merry New Year.

        Stay safe.

    7. Yeti

      No Wuk, here in BC 5-6 die every day and upwards of 80% are due to fentanyl. My GF’s cousin stayed with us for about a year as we tried to help him. He came here a wreck due to that drug and got on the methadone program. In summer of ‘21 we got evacuated due to fires and he ended back in the addiction. He cleaned up again and was doing well we thought then we got the phone call in March this year that he had been found dead on the street in Chilliwack. He was only 31. Such a waste of artistic talent and life. Both my kids are in their 30’s and have each lost friends and acquaintances to this drug. I have friends who are struggling with children who are on the street fighting addiction. There is almost no one who does not have a similar story to tell.

      1. Wukchumni

        I knew it was bad in Canada, and it sounds like quite the nightmare, and sorry also for your loss, its an insidious thing, fentanyl.

        Would heroin users in UK or the continent also run into fentanyl laced goods?

      1. LifelongLib

        A doctor of my acquaintance once got a letter from the DEA or somebody saying that he was prescribing too many painkillers. He’s no drug doc, he was just giving what he thought his patients needed. I’ve read enough horror stories about people in chronic pain who can’t get the medication they need to be functional (much less comfortable) that I can understand doctors erring on the side of too much rather than too little.

        Now, if somebody would invent a non-addictive painkiller that worked…

    8. Aumua

      One quick way to solve the whole problem? Legalize the drugs. Eliminate or curtail the black market. Is that going to create other problems? Probably, but from an overall harm reduction perspective, it’s a no-brainer.

      1. Wukchumni

        All that legalizing marijuana did here was to kill the retail price from $300 an oz down to $50, pretty much eradicating the little guy grower, but not the usage of marijuana.

        We’ve benefited from various Mexican DTO’s not needing to have gardens in remote backcountry locations here as the economics doesn’t work anymore.

        They found the first marijuana grows in 2001 in Sequoia NP just off of Mineral King Road (my driveway, if you will) and for about a decade it was a cat and mouse game with the drug trafficking organizations versus the law enforcement narcs in the park.

        A friend was the spearhead behind rooting them out, interesting fellow who was a tanker in the IDF, volunteering as an American Jew.

        He merits his own chapter in The 188th Crybaby Brigade: A Skinny Jewish Kid from Chicago Fights Hezbollah–A Memoir, by Joel Chasnoff.

        1. Procopius

          How are things going in Portugal? They legalized all drugs and set up free rehab treatment everywhere. A couple years ago I read that was going very well. Did that change (American MSM are not going to report on the story)?

    9. Wukchumni


      FDR’s grandfather made bank on opium in the Civil War, but the goods were coming here, not going there.

      Unfortunately Warren Delano’s wealth evaporated in the panic of 1857, forcing him to put Algonac up for sale. However, because nearly every American was affected by the panic, no one could be persuaded to buy the property. Warren chose to return again to China to recoup his fortune and arranged to spend five years trading once more in opium. Many scoffed at him, believing that the economic climate was such there were no opportunities to earn a fortune. Experience had taught Warren Delano otherwise, and he was confident that he could maintain his remaining assets and regain the losses of the investments that crashed. It was the Civil War that saved Warren Delano’s wealth.

      Warren Delano and other wealthy families along the Hudson River, including the Roosevelts did not experience the losses of the war as others did, in part because the gentlemen did not fight. The wealthy living along the Hudson River remained untouched by the havoc experienced by of the rest of the country. Warren Delano contributed to the Union war effort by shipping opium to the Medical Bureau of the U.S. War Department. While this contribution has been hailed as a humanitarian effort to ease the pain of the wounded and dying, the fact remains that Warren Delano was able to recoup his wealth from the trade in opium.

    10. playon

      The US has successfully demonized the use of Ivermectin, but is helpless with Fentanyl… where’s the PR campaign for that?

    11. agent ranger smith

      ” Our ” supplying opium to China? Which “we” did that supplying? What were their names and locations?

        1. agent ranger smith

          Thanks for this.

          So if the ChinaGov wants to get cold revenge for the opium trade handled by these 5 families, it should really figure out how to reach out and touch the actual living descendants of these actual families.

          If that is what motivates the ChinaGov to let the fentanyl flow.

      1. Janie

        Brian Berletic at The New Atlas had a you tube post a week or so ago about China’s Century of Humiliation. Also, lots of other info out there.

    12. Karl

      According to the Asia Times article:

      … tensions with China over issues unrelated to drug trafficking have all but erased cooperation toward curbing it [and cites tensions over Taiwan as one of these].

      So “great game” geopolitics has apparently helped make Fentanyl the #1 cause of death in the U.S. for citizens of age 18-49.

      There is some discussion here at NC about why lacing heroin with Fentanyl (and killing your customers) is a sound business model. Maybe it’s not about business but geopolitics, i.e. maybe Fentanyl has been weaponized for reasons of gaining diplomatic leverage and signalling displeasure with the U.S.

      We have made both China and Mexico very unhappy with the US, so why not some Fentanyl blowback? Maybe if more Fentanyl deaths were in the families of the donor class, things would change….

  3. Louis Fyne

    —Can Child Care Be a Big Business? Private Equity Thinks So. New York Times. fk: “Child care tollbooths?”—

    FFS. Any parent can analyze this without a MBA—-same story as hospices, funeral homes: (a) high fixed costs, high labor costs, zero returns of scale.

    The best providers being orgs that can mitigate (a) via being long established and/or often local churches that add-on childcare both for ministry purposes and to get a tiny bit of extra cash flow.

    Clearly a generation of ZIRP has cleared out all the decent private equity investment opportunities.

    This is purely about finding someplace, anyplace to invest.

    Unless you cater to the <1% high-end like the schools cited in the article, it just won't be profitable

    As always, beware of the glossy advert material.

    1. griffen

      I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise. Yep, an investor class with the insatiable appetites to continue their rapacious brand of investing. Under the guise of something otherwise, of course. I caught this as a key quote from the article, “investors really like the benevolent focus of the industry…”

      Vomit worthy, but hey America in 2022. Onward to Elysium, or a version thereof based on the fictional movie circa 2012.

      1. paul

        I find a problem with the idea of ‘investment’.

        A euphemism for strip mining.

        The english water system is a great example.

        Give a minister a great big cardboard cheque they can appear on colour television with, as a one time payment, set up a service subsidiary and then:

        The gravy will flow.

        The craze for free swimming coinciding with the alarming toxification of near shore water is quite baffling.

    2. Calvina

      “…hospices, funeral homes”

      “Consumerism, already having captured death as a consumer obligation whereby sadness and regret are quenched by spending lots of money, now turns major life events like weddings and births into consumer events with their own hierarchy of demands for the things which assume a life of their own. For example, the bride’s dress and accessories assumes far more significance in the telling than the bride’s state of mind. Baby shower trinkets take precedence over helping with the baby.”

      Maybe they could monetize getting pregnant? Oops, they already have, fertility clinics about where pesticides used. Insemination? pregnancy, birth, infant care, preschools, schools, colleges, adulthood, old age, Scrapbooks! hospice, funerals…what are we forgetting that could be monetized? Burials? The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford is a classic.

      1. Carla

        My grandmother read The American Way of Death in the 1960s, and as a consequence, joined the Cleveland Memorial Society, a non-profit that contracts with local funeral homes to provide low-cost cremation and burial services to its members. My mother joined as well, and when I reached my 40s and realized that death can come at any time, so did I. A lifetime membership cost $20 at the time — not sure if it’s gone up since.

        Anyway, there’s a national network of these memorial societies called the Funeral Consumers Alliance.

    3. Kfish

      So the solution is the same as the privatised nursing homes – screw the wages down, reduce staffing to skeleton levels and find a captive customer base that can’t leave. Bonus if you can find a source of government money.

      Naked Capitalism reported a few years back that death rates in private equity-owned nursing homes were 10% higher than non-profits.

      1. eg

        Certainly here in Ontario the performance of private, for-profit nursing homes during the first year of COVID was shockingly bad, as revealed when the Canadian Armed Forces had to take over some of them.

        The whole tragedy was only more sordid due to a former Ontario Premier (the vile Mike Harris) whose government passed the laws making the private business possible subsequently serving on the Board of Chartwell, the largest such outfit.

        Revolting revolving door of neoliberalism alive and well here in Ontario.

  4. Wukchumni

    LA just decided that the situation with Colorado River water is really serious as per the LA Times a few days ago… as Lake Mead has been dropping so much that with the new normal, never exposed gummy gooey mud is really a problem in getting boats in the water.

    I like the photos of the on the road regatta on the Las Vegas Strip, its so us with our heads in the sand, protesting against climate change, essentially.

    A parade of boats headed north on the Las Vegas Strip as boating enthusiasts protest the possible closure of boating ramps at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

    1. semper loquitur

      Thanks for this, wuk. What could possibly be more American than a bunch of entitled idjits in gas-guzzling, climate collapsing pickup trucks hauling super expensive, showy, gas-guzzling, climate collapsing speed boats down the streets of a city dedicated to shoveling your money into the hands of institutionalized corruption in order to protest the government shutting down access to lakes that are literally drying up and blowing away? I call a Vonnegut Event.

      1. Wukchumni

        It isn’t all bad news in Pavlovegas, I hear plans are afoot to build a palatial house of chance called Davy Jones Locker Casino when they feel enough of the Colorado River is gone vis a vis Lake Mead, to construct it along with a giant multi level parking lot right on what was the lakebed.

    2. griffen

      I guess they are Mad as Hell and aren’t taking this lying down. But at some future point in time, the fact of less water and even lower lake levels might be the bigger constraint to using the boat ramps. Or in that scenario, just ramps.

      Mel Brooks comes to mind for a proper satirical analysis. Not only “are they the new pioneers, the common clay…you know, morons…”

    3. JP

      LA city water, for the most part is provided by DWP water from the east side of the sierra. MWD, the biggest water district in the world, supplies much of the county and other areas between LA and the river including parts of San Diego with Colorado river water. They do this with massive pumping stations that push the water over the intervening mountain ranges. The power to run the pumps comes from the electrical output from the dam they control that holds Lake Havasu. I am just spit balling here. I don’t have any data or calculations, but with the river drying up, I think they will run out of power long before they run out of water.

      I did work almost entirely for large water infrastructure for many muni, state and fed projects. I rebuilt the massive head gates and lifts for MWD in 2013. The infrastructure there is 80 years old. The people who understood and could manage it are long gone. The job I did was supposed to be a refurbishment but was really a restoration because the people in charge did not have the knowledge to upgrade to current technology. They fought me tooth and nail over any design change from the original design.

      It always tickled me that once the water is pumped out of the river it becomes special. Like you can’t touch it but it is the untreated lake water that has the residuals of hundreds of daily ski boats and all the other crap a desert lake gets flushed into it.

      1. Wukchumni

        Wow, what great insight as to the innards and working on a period piece where nobody dared mess with anything!

        I got to take a tour in our hydroelectric plant about 7 years ago and things have been updated, but there is still a lot of circa 1904 original workings keeping things going.

        The water ain’t exactly mountain stream quality coming out of the Colorado River, and the Quagga mussels have had 15 years to branch out and breed like underwater rabbits, they’re good at gumming up the works.

        The decision on who gets less is coming down in the next week, somebody’s artichoke is gonna get choked off, asparagus garroted, or coup d’honeydew.

        1. JP

          Funny you mention the Quaggas. One of the most objectionable parts of the job was the stench of rotting Quagga mussels in the pumped out wet wells.

          Colorado river water runs 7 or more PPM salt. Our sierra streams run about 2 PPM and contain no industrial or pharmaceutical residuals. The best and sweetest stream water I have ever drunk flowed from a canyon dropping into grand canyon of the Tuolumne.

          1. Wukchumni

            My favorite was on the border of Kings Canyon NP & Sequoia NP heading towards Pants Pass from the north and we were a bit parched and I heard a faint ever so slight rumble underfoot atop a talus field.

            Like a miner working his claim, I carefully lifted one piece of schist after another until I got to the vein about 2 feet below that remains the best water i’ve ever tasted.

          2. caucus99percenter

            One oddity that seems a bit symbolic of the times: according to Wikipedia, the invasive species known as Quagga mussels are originally native to the Dniepr river basin in the Ukraine.

    4. agent ranger smith

      The Park Service should do the following:

      1: Set up blockhouse-guardhouse and gates type of entry-control barrier to those ramps.
      2: Keep maintaining the ramps.
      3: Make anyone who wants to use those ramps sign a legally-binding waiver acknowledging that the
      “lake”may be hazardous to try putting a boat into and that if the would-be boater gets stuck, he/she
      should expect zero assistance of any kind in getting their boat unstuck or getting themselves rescued,
      and they should get that zero assistance of any kind.
      4: Let every would-be boater who will sign that waiver go ahead and run their boat down the ramp.
      5: Let nature take its course.

    1. albrt

      The logic is pretty straightforward to me. During the emergency I was willing to get a poorly tested, emergency-use-authorized vaccine. The government clearly said the emergency has been over for a while, so I don’t see any logical basis for emergency-use-authorizing the latest untested version of the vaccine and I’m not going to get it.

      As Kev indicated, I am also further lowering my estimate of the trustworthiness of the FDA and the CDC with each obviously untrustworthy recommendation they issue.

      And I am continuing to avoid crowded indoor spaces and wear an N-95 mask as part of my personal risk assessment.

      1. outside observer

        I imagine all the talk of herd immunity has had some effect to dampen enthusiasm as well. If you have gotten covid, which by now, the vast majority have, isn’t that as good if not better than a booster? And if the shot always lags the variant in circulation, how helpful can it be really. I have read that Novavax might be better in that it is based on a part of the spike that doesn’t change much from variant to variant, but not seen much real world data on this.

  5. Stephen

    How to avoid another World War: Kissinger.

    The comment about “Russia’s propensity to violence” is just awesome. I have read a few times that one ingredient for a successful career in personal terms is being able to be totally hypocritical when it suits you. I guess he illustrates the point.

    That success is defined in personal terms, by the way, not in terms of outcomes achieved.

    I used to be a Spectator subscriber but canceled early this year. They seemed to be totally captured by Neo Con beliefs. It would be great to know if their mindset has changed at all. I am guessing not.

    1. timbers

      Meanwhile, from the Dept of Extremely Not Smart:

      “The White House believes Ukraine’s military could retake the Crimean Peninsula from Russia. However, officials say the offensive may cross Moscow’s “red lines” and prompt a nuclear strike.

      The Biden administration has radically changed its view of Kiev’s military since Russia invaded nearly ten months ago. The Ukrainians “continue to shock the world with how well they’re performing on the battlefield,” an unnamed official said.

      The White House now assesses that the Ukrainian armed forces are capable of retaking Crimea, with NBC News reporting that statements to that effect were made to lawmakers during a Congressional hearing last month. The administration official was attempting to explain to Congress why Kiev still needs American support.”

      Kyle Anzalone at AntiWar

      Maybe just cheerleading to keep support for Ukraine going, and they know its complete BS.

      1. nippersdad

        “Maybe just cheerleading to keep support for Ukraine going, and they know its complete BS.”

        That is undoubtedly the case. When I saw that last night the first thing I thought of was the 800 billlion dollar defense bill. They know it is complete BS, but the spice must flow.

      2. Skip Intro

        Every nuke story from the neocon maw just feels like a setup for a false flag. From this we infer that someone is hatching a plan to launch a huge wave of cannon fodder at Melitopol or Kinburn Spit, then hit them with a tactical nuke.

    2. agent ranger smith

      Perhaps Kissinger felt he had to write that comment as a concession to the prejudices of the people whose attention to his article he would like to receive. That comment is part of the delivery vehicle of his article whereas the concept of giving up on abolishing Russia from existence and even treating it as an entity with a valuable long-term stability-enhancing character of its own is part of the payload of his article.

      I did not see anything “senile” in this article.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The guy is 99-years old so you would think that he could say to himself, f*** it – I am going to tell the truth. Go out with a bang and years down the track let people say that even before his final exit, he was still on the ball. Instead he is going with the flow and repeating Zelensky’s idiotic ideas. Is he worried about being shunned by the neocons? Worried about his reputation or something? I have no idea but after he is gone, it will not be a good look for his “legacy”, such as it is. Seriously, Russia gives up everything and Crimea comes up in play through “negotiations”? All that blood and treasure spent and he expects Russia will just forget the whole thing? If Henry does not know or recognize that Russia is literally in an existential fight for its life then the man is a damn fool. has gone senile or is just a lyer.

        1. John k

          You might propose something similar for Bernie.
          Imo both think they’re doing the best they can to make any difference at all in the face of various self-seeking and/or derangement syndromes.
          It is surprising kissinger is still able to say something that makes sense. Does the White House still send out a congratulate letter when you hit 100?

        2. agent ranger smith

          Perhaps he recognizes it but is trying to move the actor-thinkers among his readers a little bit now, in preparation for moving them a little bit more later, and then moving them a little bit even more a little later after that, and so on.

          Kissinger was never going to be a grand-gesture hero, any more than Sanders ever was. They are just not that type of guy.

          For example, if the Dems nominate a Kamala Harris/ Pete Buttigieg ticket for 2024, Sanders will campaign just as hard for that as he campaigned for Clinton even if he expects the same level of ingratitude from the Kamala-Pete Dems as he got from the Clinton Dems. Because his deepest fear is the re-election of Trump, or the election of DeTrumpis or Trumpeo or CottonTrump or Trumpawley or some other leaner younger tougher meaner Trumpist.

          And Kissinger’s deepest fear is not being listened to by the movers and shakers because he scared and repelled them by telling too much truth all at once.

  6. griffen

    For the crypto bros, Binance is now the poster child for what happens next. We shall see whether their leader, broadly known by just the initials CZ, is more attuned to what leading a company through a very turbulent period than the dear SBF. At the end of the day, I still keep this recurring thought. Whatever was there, may not be there anymore. Off topic, there are / were CNBC interviews this week that offer some popcorn worthy moments. The aforementioned CZ may have thrown a few stones at Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O’Leary and Mr. Wonderful is throwing them right back. One good thing about featured on TV interviews frequently will be the ability to use actual words said by either party surrounding FTX, in particular.

    1. Wukchumni

      Its damned interesting when everybody notices the emperor’s new clothes have designer labels on them, and this one is better than that one which went the way of the Dodo, despite all of them being cut from the same cloth.

  7. Wukchumni

    The F-35 struggles enough to try and be an ordinary plane that has serious misgivings, but I think burdening the Edsel of the Air® with VTOL capabilities is the anvil that broke the camel’s back.

    In all fairness though, the F-35’s that fly over here all the time, can still get it up.

    1. begob

      The plane’s giant Mekon brain knew not to eject the pilot sideways into passing traffic. Putin-Musk would have splattered him all over the road. That’s a win, people.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      VTOL aircraft have a history of being widow makers. The much vaunted Hawker Harrier had a staggering crash rate in peacetime, and it would have been even worse if it had ever gone deep into a hot war (it was always kept as a last resort precisely because it was far too vulnerable to ground fire).

      The good news for the American taxpayer is that this particular F-35 was still in Lockheeds hands – it was being tested by a civilian pilot.

      At least they didn’t have the embarrassment of the Royal Navy, which managed to lose one because someone forgot to take the cover off one of the air intakes.

      It should be said though that while the F-35B is a terrible waste of money for the US military, its proven very popular around the world as it gives a huge boost to navies with even small flat top helicopter carriers, which is a lot more than have full aircraft carriers. Even the Thais want them for their notorious Thai-tanic (thats what the Thai English language newspapers call it).

      1. semper loquitur

        Years ago, I watched a video of a British pilot describing trying to wrangle a Harrier. He asked the viewer to imagine balancing the aircraft on the head of a pin. The video went on to say that only veteran pilots were allowed to fly them because too many newbies had died trying.

  8. The Rev Kev

    ‘Secular Talk🎙
    We spent $1.7 trillion on this’

    To be fair, any plane type will have crashes from time to time. It looked like the pilot was going to stick with his plane when it was only the nose gear that collapsed on him but when the main landing gear also collapsed which might have led to an explosion, he quickly punched out. The good news is that the pilot is OK though he may have had a few dents in the fenders.

    1. griffen

      Hey now, I watched the Top Gun movie this year and these fighter planes are awesome. This is America. USA USA!

      With a few more trillion spent, I am sure our fighter planes will continue to reign supreme and mostly stay airborne. Sadly I will not mark this with sarcasm for it will be true.

      1. Not Again

        Between the jet fighter dancing exhibition and dumping half the ship’s crew into the Caribbean for midnight skinny dipping, I think we’re ready to take on those damn Russians in Europe now. Putin must be scared to death.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        A 0-0 (zero height, zero speed) ejection is generally the safest type. But it does look like he had a very heavy landing. Years ago I witnessed skydiving friend have a landing like that (he got a little too casual and careless and mistimed it) and ended up with permanent back problems.

        The big problem F-35 pilots have is their helmet, which is too heavy and has caused neck problems in ejections. But as this was a civilian test flight I would guess he was wearing a standard one.

        1. North Star

          My father-in-law’s F86 had a flameout on takeoff out of Ramstein in the late 50s. The ejection blast fractured his back, made worse with a hard landing in a farmer’s turnip field. While waiting for help while lying there unable to move and in excruciating pain, the farmer came up, and offered him a cigarette, which he gladly took. He never fully recovered and collected a small disability pension in retirement.

  9. Not Again

    Berlin Hotel’s Huge Aquarium Bursts, With 1,500 Fish Inside

    Were there any Seal Teams seen in the area immediately before the blast? Once is a coincidence. Twice is a pattern.

    1. fresno dan

      Not Again
      from the link There was speculation that freezing temperatures which got down to minus 10 degrees Celsius overnight caused a crack in the acrylic glass tank, causing it to explode under the weight of the water.
      The tank cracked due to freezing temperatures? – which seems odd, as I understand it, the tank contained tropical fish. Also, the tank was in the LOBBY – I would think that even if the tank wasn’t heated directly, ambient heat from the lobby would have kept it well above freezing…

      1. Skip Intro

        Wonder if they had the thermostats extra low, for patriotic loyalty signaling. If so, it’s clearly Putin’s fault!

  10. Steve H.

    > The rise and fall of peer review

    >> If you’ve got weak-link worries, I totally get it. If we let people say whatever they want, they will sometimes say untrue things, and that sounds scary. But we don’t actually prevent people from saying untrue things right now; we just pretend to.


    1. hunkerdown

      Those untrue things have to be said, and to be seen to be said, in order for scientific positivism (and scientific positivists, and their CVs) to be seen to be doing moral works in/on the world. False impressions of motion are career fuel.

    2. t

      I didn’t see any address of the “new” slight of hand that is so common. Research a different group of people or set up in a your institution and viola, a “new” finding that is just a retread of something well-know with a discussion on what the outcome means for X, along with y and z, instead of what the results mean for Y, along with x and z.

      Killing peer review might help.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Its a great article, and I agree that its a must read.

      One of the more disturbing things I’ve found about most branches of science is how little many scientists know about science or epistemology. Pretty much all the branches of science are guilty of epic quantities of gate-keeping (especially when some social scientist dares to tread into they hard sciences) and group-think. The big issue is not so much that that there is a problem with how things are done, but that so many active scientists aren’t even aware there is a problem. Just last week there was a twitter spat fest when someone pointed out to some doctors that RCT’s are only considered a gold standard by the medical profession – they are considered a very limited tool by many other branches of science. A lot of medical professionals seemed genuinely surprised at this. Of course, RCT’s are beloved of Big Pharm for a very good reason.

      1. fresno dan

        I think you are exactly right, and I think there is no better example of gate keeping then the go along to get along covid vaccine prevents transmission crowd than the shameful cave in regarding “trials” of the covid vaccines. Obviously untested assertions were put forward that were revealed as untrue with time, yet these indisputably false claims are still kinda left out there (and I note Twitter doesn’t ban them…)
        And what drives me to distraction, the idea of using “clinical trials” for testing propositions that are just not suited for such a manner of evaluation.

        1. fresno dan

          and another thing:
          (from the article) I think we had the wrong model of how science works. We treated science like it’s a weak-link problem where progress depends on the quality of our worst work. If you believe in weak-link science, you think it’s very important to stamp out untrue ideas—ideally, prevent them from being published in the first place. You don’t mind if you whack a few good ideas in the process, because it’s so important to bury the bad stuff.

          But science is a strong-link problem: progress depends on the quality of our best work. Better ideas don’t always triumph immediately, but they do triumph eventually, because they’re more useful. You can’t land on the moon using Aristotle’s physics, you can’t turn mud into frogs using spontaneous generation, and you can’t build bombs out of phlogiston. Newton’s laws of physics stuck around; his recipe for the Philosopher’s Stone didn’t. We didn’t need a scientific establishment to smother the wrong ideas. We needed it to let new ideas challenge old ones, and time did the rest.
          I would say it applies to all ideas, or as an alternative, speech. If you look at religion, one has to accept that sometimes “the truth” is unknowable – am I better off being a Hindu or an atheist? I have no idea.

          Is taking the covid vaccine or wearing a mask a good idea or not? Different people will have different ideas. Is making either idea enforceable by government a good idea?

          1. Verifyfirst

            Well sure, different people have different ideas. People have different ideas about wearing seat belts, and red lights, and speed limits. They have different ideas about smoking cigarettes in restaurants and giving alcohol to minors and whether pilots should be licensed or children should work in coal mines. And all those terrible government rules about food safety and stuff. You’re right–you do you.

            1. fresno dan

              and you think slavery, the Vietnam war, the Iraq war, and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study were good ideas?

            2. YankeeFrank

              Everything you mention is settled science. Its a nice sleight-of-hand to pretend that’s what we’re talking about.

              With regard to the OP, what’s not settled is the establishment covid and global warming “science” which are both the product of massive groupthink and the corruption of science that occurs due to simple money corruption as well as the more complex social gatekeeping that ensures only approved ideas get funding.

              IMHO this site has made the mistake of throwing in too strongly with the establishment on both these issues. I don’t know if the dire predictions re global warming will come to pass but I do know any scientist that disagrees with them will be ostracized and banished from polite society. Good science may be impossible under such circumstances. Predicting the future states of our infinitely complex atmosphere is at best guesswork. Scientific fact (in many cases an oxymoron) is not the work of seers.

              I do know the covid response was horrible science as the results are all around us with so many dead and horribly sickened by these experimental vaccines. Inventions such as “SADS” and all these young healthy people dropping dead… a reckoning is coming. Public health has been ruined already, with many parents pushing to abandon the school vaccine requirement even for well established and safe vaccines now that trust has been destroyed. I hope a year’s bumper profits for Pfizer and Moderna were worth it.

              1. Basil Pesto

                I do know the covid response was horrible science as the results are all around us with so many dead and horribly sickened by these experimental vaccines. Inventions such as “SADS” and all these young healthy people dropping dead… a reckoning is coming.

                The vast majority of pandemic harm is caused by the pathogen itself. The sudden deaths you are describing were predicted outcomes of the uncontrolled spread of the virus based on observations of what the virus was capable of doing to the human body, including observations that were made throughout 2020, before the vaccination campaign.

                Besides establishment vs anti-establishment being an utterly foolish heuristic through which to analyse a physical problem of Covid’s size and scope, the establishment view is that covid is a mere cold/flu now. That’s completely wrong.

                The bullshit ‘Died Suddenly’, “it’s the vaccines that are to blame for everything” line works in a kind of demented complement with the establishment line, incidentally: obviously, Covid is a cold/flu, so all these bad things happening have to be the result of the vaccines. This distracts from the actual, multifaceted and formidable nature of Covid as a disease. It is simultaneously true that while there is much we don’t know about SARS2, there is an awful lot we do, and directionally, none of it is good. But we know enough to know that all these outcomes (cardiac arrest, stroke, and more to come!) were predictable and predicted

                Whenever these anti-vax tropes crop up in comments, Raymond Sim often implores the users making these claims to offer some mechanism by which the harms of the vaccine could possibly be worse than those of the virus itself. None is ever forthcoming. But who has time for mechanisms when one can simply be anti-establishment. Another commonality between the “establishment” and their would-be “anti-establishment” opposition: the self-defeating use of political thought to try and make sense of and respond to a scientific problem.

                And despite your appeals to groupthink and the ~mysteries of unsettled science~, no evidence you have offered to date has come remotely close to repudiating the reams of evidence of SARS2’s harm shared by the blog on a weekly basis, so I very much hope users will see through your condescending “ IMHO this site has made the mistake of throwing in too strongly with the establishment on both these issues.” bullshit, as though the blog’s staff came to their conclusions about Covid through deference to establishment opinion.

      2. hk

        Much the same thing if social science people try to go too overtly against the conventional wisdom in their own fields.

        Admittedly, this is the basic problem of statistics, absorbed into the “scientific process,” with it’s attendant status quo bias combined with inherently murky problems and noisy data in social science questions (p-value does mean that whatever you are saying, it can’t be the product of the null with higher than probability x–altgough what exactly “null” means can be a bit, eh, complicated when dealing with social science questions.)

      3. Laura in So Cal

        One thing I didn’t see mentioned as a problem is the fact that “peers” are often reticent to be too critical because their paper will probably be reviewed in the future by same “peer” they are reviewing. Given the stakes associated with publishing and the current political environment where objective truth doesn’t seem to matter much, I can totally see the problem.

    4. Boomheist

      Great article. Looks like the whole peer review sector has become its own self justifying industry. It of course makes logical sense to have others review your work, test it, comment, and this was always the case before peer review came into being. One might even argue that it only came into being because of the proliferation of scientists and studies; ie a method to properly reduce what articles should be even looked at. But, as the article makes clear, yet somehow (in my view) soft pedals, the tremendous power of the use of peer review to enforce group think and absolutely prevent alternative points of view from being considered may be the greatest danger facing science today.

      1. Steve H.

        Proliferation is a good point. There are at least three problems at different levels: for the individuals, the limited time available and the need to filter all the information. For the embargoing, the flex-net nature of access to the major journals, which determines grants and funding. And the epistemological, that this system of knowing has broken down.

    5. Aumua

      A business school post doc is critical of peer review… I don’t know. Maybe due to their nature, fields like business, psychology, economics or medicine (which seems to be particularly egregious) might benefit from the peer review process being changed or even scrapped for something better. But in the hard sciences I think peer review, while it has its problems (and even more so the journal system itself), generally works and is quite necessary.

      Now pretty much every journal uses outside experts to vet papers, and papers that don’t please reviewers get rejected.

      I don’t know what he’s talking about here with outside experts. Once again, maybe in Business Science or whatever you call it, this is true, but in something like Physics, peer review is done by you know, peers. Like other people who are doing research in your field, who are familiar with the previous work that your research builds on, and who can somewhat quickly evaluate your methodology and reasoning. In science, most people who are actively doing research serve on peer review boards for various journals at different times in their careers.

      Only one of Einstein’s papers was ever peer-reviewed, by the way, and he was so surprised and upset that he published his paper in a different journal instead.

      Of course Einstein’s work was reviewed by his peers, it just happened outside of a formalized process which didn’t exist at the time.

      We go to conferences where people give talks about unvetted projects, and we do not turn to each other and say, “So interesting! I can’t wait for it to be peer reviewed so I can find out if it’s true.”

      Instead, scientists tacitly agree that peer review adds nothing, and they make up their minds about scientific work by looking at the methods and results.

      What he is describing here is peer review, it’s just once again informal.

      Weak-link thinking makes scientific censorship seem reasonable, but all censorship does is make old ideas harder to defeat.

      Is that the goal of science, to defeat old ideas? You know, I can’t even finish this article, it’s immature drivel in my opinion. And my real issue with it is that it will be seized upon by the anti-science contingent as validation that anyone who has “done their research” on the Internet about i.e. climate change should have their theories and/or opinions considered equally alongside people who spend their lives studying these things.

      1. sfp

        Thanks for this comment… also an academic in the hard sciences and thought I was going crazy reading this article. It’s bad.

      2. Steve H.

        Every one of your points is valid, but you have a category error. You are distinguishing hard science from soft science, while the critique is of method and its verification.

        Suppression of Covid research, and how Twitter took over as informal peer-review/virtual conferencing, has been covered here. The example of fMRI is more salient:

        Bug in fMRI software calls 15 years of research into question
        (linked here in early November)

        That’s a lot of invalid results using a hard technology. A human interprets the scan, but the equipment gave consistent results. So is fMRI not hard science? Melting/freeze point is literally a hard number, but the values are a consensus of variations. You can’t tell if that is natural variation or the equipment until you get better equipment.

        Again, I’m not disputing any of your points. But the perspective is from the high walls of a science that’s been working through its issues for millennia. Bohr: The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.

        1. Aumua

          Thanks for your response. It really does seem like the medical field in particular is rife with problems in the publication system. The author here cites medical articles and examples almost exclusively to prove his points.

          The opposite of a profound truth may be another profound truth, but nearly all of scientific progress is building on existing established theories, if only in the capacity of looking for exceptions in the observations and theorizing on what might cause those exceptions.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “How Putin’s technocrats saved the economy to fight a war they opposed”

    The boys at the Duran were talking about this article and indeed it is remarkable. As they said, you can see the sense of betrayal at how Russia’s central bankers sided with their own country rather than have solidarity with the central bankers of the west. Those Russians rose to the challenge and helped their country weather the tens of thousands of sanctions placed on it but you can see the bitterness in this article that they did this. It even mentions how an economist at the University of Chicago stopped talking to a Russian colleague because they refused to abandon their country in need. I guess that life for those central bankers in Russia is indeed now more interesting as they orientate their country eastwards and reconfigure it accordingly. Man, that would be a worthwhile challenge for an economist or central banker. I wonder if they will ask Doc Hudson in to give a few talks eventually.

    1. Lex

      So much for transnational solidarity of the financial elite. And this after at least a whole generation was led to believe that there is no alternative. One might even be tempted to feel bad for these bankers and economists as they reread the book of Job for solace and an understanding that one’s god may be capricious and abandon you for reasons even less compelling than protecting one’s nation.

    2. John

      Reminds me of the dismay of socialists when the workers rallied to the flag not their cause at the start of the Great War.

      1. Daniil Adamov

        Of course, most socialists also failed to rally to the flag of the cause of the anti-war socialists…

    3. Will

      Russian technocrats who decided to help their own country will surely come to regret the decision. Putin’s Russia will never be able to create the rewarding professional opportunities as await their Western counterparts.

      For example, will Russia be hiring the equivalent of a ‘chief sanctions economist’ and necessary underlings? The self-congratulatory essay (America’s New Sanctions Strategy) linked today from Foreign Affairs says:

      Building on this experience, the Treasury Department is currently recruiting a chief sanctions economist who will help develop a full-fledged unit and corresponding analytical capabilities to enhance the United States’ ability to undertake this sort of detailed economic analysis in other instances.

      I genuinely can’t decide if these people believe what they’re saying or are just playing along hoping that their loyalty will be rewarded by being let into the life raft.

  12. Not Again

    Is Elon the Banksy of capitalism? What do you call it when “the world’s richest man” buys himself a $44 billion toy and then proceeds to destroy it publicly in three weeks? Hubris? Common Good? Karma?

    Someone in Ukraine could have really used that money.

    1. Wukchumni

      He’s the Match King of our era, and late in the game in 1932 Ivar Kreuger lost oodles of money before offing himself. The parallels are awfully peculiar, and $44 billion in Chinese numerology translates to ‘Death-Death Billion’ so maybe destroying Twitter was preordained?

      Similar to SB-F, when they went over the Match King’s complicated deals…

      The Price Waterhouse autopsy of his financial empire stated: “The manipulations were so childish that anyone with but a rudimentary knowledge of bookkeeping could see the books were falsified.”

      1. fjallstrom

        I read a book about Kreuger a few years ago, and there are similarities.

        Kreuger built up a myth about himself as a genius. On his “first” trip to the US (actually second, but the real first one didn’t work out, so it was ignored) he booked all telegraph stations onboard in the early evening of the first night. Anyone trying to telegraph was told “Sorry, but director Kreuger is using all telegraph stations”, so when he finally entered the dinner salon (think the movie Titanic), everyone had heard about him and wondered who he was and how he could be sending so many messages. Of course that buzz reached New York before the ship did.

        Later on, in meetings with financiers he always showed up without any notes or assistants, often rattling of numbers that he either made up or had crammed before the meeting. To the financiers he appeared as a genius without even playing league of legends.

        Kreuger did a lot of creative bookkeeping, used a lot of companies in a lot of European countries. Including a holding company that had one employee, the CEO, a man formerly convicted of financial crimes (and thus owned Kreuger bigly for the job). The CEO literally carried the company and all its papers in a briefcase, making it practically impossible to enforce any kind of audit. Audit rules where at the time rather optional anyway. Not all companies at the New York stock exchange needed to make an annual report.

        A difference to SBF, and where he is more standard tech mogul, is that while his underlying business lacked social value, it did make economic sense. Using US money from the stock market froth to borrow to cash strapped European countries in exchange for monopoly on matches, was profitable. Where his business collapsed is that he couldn’t accept that his business model had limits (like the US stock market and willingness of European countries to hand out match monopolies) so he kept doubling down when he should have consolidated.

        In the end he couldn’t accept that the world limited him, or he couldn’t accept it and live with it.

    2. griffen

      There is an argument to be had about whether the company was sorta in self destruct mode prior to his purchase. Based on the readings and varied sources on my own in recent weeks, it’s clear there was a few adults in charge but legitimate concerns about running a modern, properly constructed IT infrastructure were a joke. That is based on information from a whistleblower report, I wish to recall.

      He should have bought a nice yacht instead, I suppose. Even on TV and CNBC, a few that follow him more closely are citing his erratic behavior. And based on the drop in TSLA during 2022, his reign atop the world is likely to end for what it’s worth.

      For good or ill, the man’s every waking moment seems newsworthy. Except for maybe private moments in the bathroom, which we need not know.

    3. Carolinian

      destroy it publicly

      Getting a little ahead of yourself. And it’s dubious that the wish will be father to the deed. Alec Berenson was booted from Twitter pre Elon, sued and won and says that big media won’t walk away from Twitter despite all their threats. After all what they crave is an audience and it would take years for an alternative to become big enough to provide them with what they get on Twitter.

      Of course Hillary wants the Europeans to outlaw the thing (you too?). It should be interesting to see if the tail does end up wagging the dog.

    4. Skip Intro

      He is certainly chaotic and creative and sensational. It is a wonder how quickly the Trump derangement was able to pivot to Musk. Pretty soon the Dem.s can run against him, and finally dispose of Trump.

      1. ambrit

        Ah ha! You gave me an idea.
        Consider this as a new domain on the Internet: (Which expands out to read: Democrat Party Commerce.)
        It’s just an admission of the financialization of American politics.

      1. Carla

        I agree. But I also think it’s important to recognize and applaud the rare ones who actually do the right thing, as the Innocence Project did in this case.

  13. The Rev Kev

    ‘Matt Taibbi
    http://18.In an internal email from November 5, 2022, the FBI’s National Election Command Post, which compiles and sends on complaints, sent the SF field office a long list of accounts that “may warrant additional action”:’

    That phrase ‘which compiles and sends on complaints’ interests me. So who was sending those complaints that the FBI were compiling to be sent onto Twitter? It wasn’t Twitter itself so it was an external party. Was it from groups funded by the Democrats or was it from some three-letter agency that used their you beut computer power to generate list of accounts that could be sent on as ‘complaints’. The role of the FBI and Twitter are obvious here but I am more interested in the back-end of this technical operation.

  14. upstater

    This link is for railfans or those interested in the complexity of changing railroad gauges vis-a-vis the USSR/Ukraine’s 1520mm and Europe’s standard 1435mm gauge. It requires special cars equipped with gauge changing wheelsets (trucks). The locomotives do not change gauge. Hence the suggestion that 1435mm diesel locomotives to replace Ukraine’s fleet of electric locomotives was always a non-starter, as locomotive trucks contain the traction motors and not just axles.

    Swiss gauge-changing Panoramic Express debuts on Golden Pass route

    This would never be practical for general freight cars because of expense, but I suppose it might be used for cars carrying military equipment when NATO decides to invade Russia /s

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its not just tracks – gauge also includes transition curves, bridge parapet heights, platform clearances, etc. Changing gauges is a very difficult and expensive business, which is why its rarely done. One reason the Spanish went for a very expensive HSR network is that Spain has a number of regional gauges making interlinked national networks extremely difficult. It was simpler and possibly cheaper to start anew than try to reconcile all the gauges.

      Mind you, I live in a city where the great engineering geniuses in charge of public transport gave us four entirely separate gauges, including two on the light rail network system. Total madness.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “European rights court to take precautionary measure against Belgium over asylum seekers’ lack of shelter”

    ‘The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) took a precautionary injunction Friday against Belgium for not providing shelter to male asylum seekers seeking international protection.’

    Brussels is going to be sorry about this judgement. The whole thing is about how Belgium was not supporting only a coupla hundred refugees with shelter. What happens when soon a coupla hundred thousand Ukrainian refugees turn up at the border who know that Belgium is now required by law to provide them all shelter toot suite. Try to send them off to Greece and Italy?

    1. Polar Socialist

      Belgium has been required by Belgian law to provide shelter for asylum seekers since for ever.

      This injunction was due to Belgium not doing what it should be doing. Belgium’s own courts have convicted the Belgian Federal Agency for the reception of asylum seekers (Fedasil) over 4500 times for neglect of it’s duties.

      1. ambrit

        The Belgians will soon enough be ‘hiring’ the refugee Azovs to “relocate” the other Ukrainian refugees. My best guess is to some ‘comfy digs’ in the Ardennes forest somewhere. Some of the Azovs should remember Grand-dad’s stories about helping out at the Katyn Forest ‘fertilization experimental programme.’ (Yes, the Katyn Forest programme was, supposedly, mainly Soviet, but, hey, United Front anybody? There is a differing opinion concerning the responsibility for the massacre of the Poles in 1940.)

  16. Lex

    Childcare is ripe for big business. It already is a huge business and has its customers over the proverbial barrel. My coworkers (I’m childless) talk about how if they had three kids instead of two it wouldn’t make sense for both parents to work. One kid in daycare is near a mortgage payment. They count down the days until kids start school because it’s a huge savings.

    When the day care closes for any reason (snow, not enough staff, etc) the parents still pay for those days. The contract includes “vacation” time of like a week per year of days the kid can be absent and not pay. But that needs to be used between Xmas and New Year when the place is closed and you pay like the kid(s) are there anyhow. Severe supply constraints mean that a new day care is almost immediately full and people are on waitlists, willing to drive the kids 20-30 minutes for a place and in at least a few cases the day care closes at 4 or 4:30 so a parent has to leave work early.

    1. Questa Nota

      Childcare, the penalty phase.

      A co-worker had two kids in daycare. He went out to lunch with a client and they drank, for it was the 1980s. That resulted in a long nap late in the afternoon. When he awoke, somewhat hungover, he glanced at the clock and saw 6:30. It was kinda dark out and he was confused whether a.m. or p.m. Then he jumped up and began to panic. His daycare place charged $1 per minute in late fees so he was looking at $180 for his binge.

      Then the phone rang. It was his mother-in-law calling to let him know that she picked up the kids. She worked out pretty quickly what had happened and had a good laugh. He looked for some aspirin and vowed to stop drinking at lunch.

      1. t

        Always heard it called the kid tax. Adds up. Can’t take public transport to work, have to drive in and park, and park nearby. While we childless folks and many men whose wives pay the child tax, can relax and say things like, oh, the rain might let up, I’ll catch a later bus.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Russia pounds Ukrainian infrastructure in ‘biggest attacks’ since invasion”

    I think that fairly soon there will be a decrease in missiles and drones hitting the Ukraine. The spin put on this development will be that the Russians are for real this time running out of missiles as they have exhausted all the washing machines in Russia that they could yank microchips out of. The truth will be however that the electrical grid has finally collapsed and so there are fewer targets left. There is something else that I have been thinking about.

    In reporting loses, they will say that Russia launched 100 missiles and that the Ukrainians shot down 90 of them but 30 targets were hit. This puzzled me but I think that I understand now what is happening. The Russians are now using nanotechnology. So a Russian missile will hit a transformer and blow it up. Then, like that scene out of the film “Terminator 2”, all the parts and shrapnel will be drawn to each other and build itself into a complete missile again. That missile will then fly off and hit a second target, repeat the process, then hit a third target. It seems then that those Russian missiles get three lives each- (36 secs)

  18. Polar Socialist

    About that “massive” Russian missile strike yesterday: Russian MoD says they used a lot of decoys to confuse the defenses and make the Ukrainians to expend their resources.

    They also claim to have destroyed 4 S-300 radars, which indicates that there were anti-radiation missiles following the decoys. This would have forced the Ukrainians to either shut down their radars or loose them, allowing the actual strike to commence with maximal effect.

    This would also explain both the large number of missiles intercepted and yet reaching the target.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Four S-300 systems on one day? That is a lot. Thanks for that report. I just read earlier that the S-300 systems that Greece have might go to the Ukraine. But they would have to be swapped with Patriot missiles first as they are needed to protect Greece with. If I were the Greeks I would want the latest version of the patriot system rather than an old National Guard version. Even then, I think that they might be getting an inferior weapons system and I bet that the Greek military are not happy-

      1. Polar Socialist

        Just the radars, sir. Just the radars. A battery of S-300 usually has 2 radars, sometimes 3.

        Since the older missiles (that Ukraine has) are either radio commanded or semi-active radar, this basically means that at least two batteries are for now just useless missile carriers.

        The MoD also said that they hit Ukrainian logistics and command chain. Considering that Putin met yesterday with Shoigu, Gerasimov and Surovikin to discuss the SMO, I’m wondering if the Ukrainian grid is finally beyond repair and the ground in eastern Ukraine freezing up…

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’d be curious to know why this is happening now. Either the Ukrainians have given up trying to protect them by not lighting up when they think they might be detected, or the Russians are making a more determined effort to use mass strikes and aerial decoys to flush them out. Its clear there has been a cat and mouse game going on since February. The point at which the Russians are confident that they’ve all been destroyed is the point where they can bring up the big bombers with dumb bombs.

      Mind you, last week I was looking at some pro-Russian channels showing strikes on S-300 launchers with suicide drones, and it was very obvious that the launchers were crude decoys. By the looks of it, the Ukrainians are using out-of-commission vehicles and weapons as decoys, and they’ve no shortage of these. So the Russians are likely to be very cautious about concluding that their SEAD/DEAD policy has succeeded or not.

      1. nippersdad

        “The point at which the Russians are confident that they’ve all been destroyed is the point where they can bring up the big bombers with dumb bombs.”

        They must be there, then. Mercouris mentioned yesterday that they were bringing out the bombers.

        1. hk

          Still operating mostly as missile carriers rather than dropping dumb bombs, per Mercouris, so not quite there yet, I think.

          1. Polar Socialist

            Just saw a claim that on yesterday also on Luhansk front Ukraine lost two Buks and one S-300 during the missile attack. Those S-300s MoD talked about earlier were in Dniepro and Zaporozzye areas.

            I don’t recall the earlier attacks targeted the Ukrainian air-defenses like this.

  19. nathe

    the destruction of the public sphere continues and accelerates. not only are the union bosses on board with aco reach (which reaches to remove you from medicare without your approval or even knowledge) but the government has just cut medicare reimbursement to doctors by nearly nine percent over the next two years, forcing some senior doctors into retirement (we just got a notice from our eye doctor that he’s retiring. i expect more will too) but also forces doctors who can’t quit to quit medicare instead. at the same time, by not raising the debt ceiling for the next two years it gives the republicans who say they’ll only approve raising it if there are further cuts to medicare and social security, etc. an opening to cut even more. on the local level in nyc the two most powerful unions, the uft and dc 37 are working with our anti public sphere mayor adams (he’s about to seriously cut funding for libraries and has tried on public education) to move us to medicare disadvantage. they just won on arbitration and soon we city retirees will be begging aetna – with whom they’re colluding – for permission to have tests, procedures and operations that medicare normally approves. the fix is in. as our most incisive political commentator, the late george carlin has it, “it’s a big club and you’re not in it. it’s the club they hit you with.”

  20. DJG, Reality Czar

    Meloni supporting NATO to the hilt in Ukraine.

    Senz’altro. Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia party aspires to being the Tories or the U.S. Republicans. She has attended the Conservative Political Action Conference.

    She is also buying some non-interference. By making nice with Ursula Van Der Leyen, Meloni ensures that the EU doesn’t try to pull another soft coup and install someone like Mario Monti. Meloni opposed Draghi because he was parachuted in.

    And there is always the problem of U.S. interference. So the war in Ukraine puts a buffer between European governments and the U.S. spook state. Calling Putin a no-goodnik is an easy way of lengthening one’s political career.

    The party in opposition to the war, the Five Stars (the Five Stars!), is now showing up in second place in the polls.

    The EuroParliament “Scoop Up the Banknotes” tangentopoli is one more cause in destroying the Partito Democratico. This is what happens when one chooses the U.S. Democratic Party as a model.

    The Partito Democratico is supporting the war in Ukraine so as to avoid being called nasty commies and nostalgics for Berlinguer.

    And Meloni, in her role as Ursula/Margaret Thatcher, plans to cut basic income (reddito di cittadinanza) because of imaginary strapping Italian youths spending all day sitting on the divano.

    Hillary Clinton would be proud. It’s gutsy, attacking the poor.

  21. PlutoniumKun

    France’s Nuclear Reactor Has Been Delayed Again Barron’s

    This plant had been scheduled to open in 2012, so another 6 month delay merely means its a decade and a bit late. Its a good thing nuclear power isn’t intermittent otherwise we’d really be in trouble.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Meloni fully supporting NATO’s war in Ukraine”

    I bet that Meloni made a deal with the EU. They let her run her own agenda on the local level in Italy – for which she was elected – and she will follow EU dictates on foreign policy in connection with the Ukraine and Russia. I think that she only really cares about her own version of Italy and wants it to return to being more traditional. I hope that she does not trust the EU too much as when they can, they will go back on their word. And I wonder too if Bernie Sanders made a similar deal. He seems to only care for an internal American agenda and is willing to follow the Democrats on foreign policy.

    1. Carla

      Well, the comparison between Meloni and Sanders and their potential impact on the domestic agendas of their respective countries breaks down, seems to me, when you consider that Meloni is prime minister of hers, while Bernie continues to be a very lonely one of 50 senators in his.

  23. Wukchumni

    Got about 15 hours to kill, premeditated?

    Burt Lancaster is my favorite actor of his era, and he’s the narrator for the 20 episodes of The Unknown War, which was kind of documentary revenge porn, in that the Soviets felt left out in the World At War series, so it’s all about the eastern front, and full of interesting footage, most of which i’ve never seen. It was produced in 1978.

    Lets skip to episode 13, as its kind of current to present goings on…

    The Unknown War Ep13 Liberation of the Ukraine

    1. Wukchumni


      You get a feel for why Putin doesn’t want to destroy cities, as the newsreel footage taken from an airplane flying over Kiev after the Soviets took it back from the Nazis, looks just like any aerial view of a wrecked city in Germany, the damage done.

      Kiev looks pretty nice, circa 1977. Somebody had to rebuild it.

    2. Martin Oline

      Thanks a lot for this link. I’m staying at home so this will help fill the time after I’ve worn out my eyes reading today.

    3. Maxwell Johnston

      I had no idea this series existed; thanks for the link. Burt was a fine actor (Local Hero…..ahhh).

      Offspring no.2 is a history buff and introduced me to Indy Neidell, who has two outstanding YouTube series covering both world wars. The WW2 series is live and ongoing and updates every Saturday evening. Presently he’s on week 225 (17 December 1943). Each episode lasts about 20 minutes, a nice bite size for those of us with busy lives and limited attention spans. Indy Neidell is upbeat and has a good sense of humor (necessary when millions are dying in his episodes). Recommend strongly.

      1. Wukchumni

        AI stumbled upon it for me, I too had never heard of it before and am up to episode 14, slowly savoring.

        Hear, here on Indy, he’s so entertaining (kind of reminds me of Gene Wilder a little bit) and you know what’s gonna happen, but he keeps it all current for that week in war all over world, a great way to look at fronts being fluid in a space of time independent of one another for the most part.

        Thanks for your Moscovite on the street report yesterday, I had the misfortune to have my better half wanting to watch PBS Newshour and I hadn’t seen it in a world of Sundays, and Judy Woodruff interviews the CIA chief in his office! who tells her quite confidently how bad things are in Russia, the people making do and young men (they had a video of say 10 young men at some border crossing, leaving Russia) fleeing the country-so as to not be involved in the war, etc. It was such utter claptrap, a bad rap smear…

        …and then I read her your man on the street missive

    4. Polar Socialist

      I remember when that documentary series was broadcasted here. My dad translated it and part of the deal was that he was also running the subtitles during the broadcast.

      Being a wee laddie, the combination of a war documentary and a television studio was so enticing I used probably a few years worth of begging and pleading to get to tag along with him.

      Turned out the studio was a small, boring room with three monitors and three buttons. Monitors were much better than telly we had at home, though. And I did get to press the subtitle buttons during the broadcast, too.

      May also explain why I have, as long as I can remember, thought the Eastern Front was the most important part of WW2 in Europe.

    5. skk

      ThAnks , i will check this out for my waking hrs
      For my bedtime stories i have a speech synthesis narration of the audiobook
      The road to berlin, stalins war with germany

      NO BLOOD AND GORE detail, no music, no crash bangs, just stats, process, tactics strategy, Quite sanitized and easy to sleep to, 44 hours of it.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Moscow welcomes Turkey’s call for trilateral Syria diplomacy”

    The list of traditional American allies that she has which they have alienated the past year or so is getting longer and longer. The only ‘friends’ that she will have left will be those in the collective west. I think that Erdogan can see how Washington has helped militarize Greek bases near Turkey that are a threat to his country and that as the US has sent more reinforcements to their Syrian bases, that there may be plans to create a threat to Turkey in their south using the Kurds as proxies. Erdogan may have disagreed with Assad and tried to topple him, but I think that now he sees that if Syria was able to take back their lands in the east, that they would be able to put the Kurds back into their box and that they could work together for their mutual self-interest. And both Syria and Turkey want the US out as their presence is nothing more than a force for destabilization as well as a threat to both countries. Washington may be disturbed by this development and insist on staying but eventually their position will become untenable. As I saw in a video comment earlier today

    ‘Reality has escalatory dominance’

    1. nippersdad

      “The list of traditional American allies that she has which they have alienated the past year or so is getting longer and longer. The only ‘friends’ that she will have left will be those in the collective west.”

      Do you think we will even have those? I have been following events in Great Britain, the food pantries, warming centers, etc. One report asked people to call around and find out who were able to heat their homes. “Who were able”, like suddenly everyone’s furnace just mysteriously went out at the same time. This in conjunction with Yves post about the political disruption of fiscal austerity only gives further impetus to the idea that we may have no friends at all (save for, maybe, Canada) in a years’ time.

      It is not a pleasant idea, but not one that cannot be foreseen.

  25. Lex

    The peer review link is a must read. I was particularly interested in the author’s comparison of peer review to teenage “coolness” and self-censorship to maintain social position. As an academia adjacent guy I’ve developed a hypothesis that in some cases social development is stunted in academia. I presume it’s a matter of people never leaving the social setting of school and so there’s a lot of clique behavior and mean girl social interactions … or a tendency towards it.

    1. IM Doc

      Peer review in the late 1980s from my mentor……..I was right in the office when it happened. A conversation with the PI – principal investigator – on a trial he was peer reviewing.

      “Do you have the raw data ready to send or not? You are making quite a few leaps with your conclusions, and I just cannot bite until I have the actual raw data……you can’t send it? Alright………

      Immediately hangs up the phone and calls the journal editor……”This is really full of shit. I will not put my name on this….nor should you.”

      Peer review today……

      “Well these are quite the conclusions, but I am certain you followed the tenets of EBM. You are such an eminent guy. Who am I to question anything? See you in Hawaii next week. I have been looking forward to that Pfizer conference for months. See you on the links.”

      I wish I was exaggerating. Peer review is basically meaningless in our world today.

  26. Samuel Conner

    regarding the problem of inadequate review of submitted articles (and the related problem of non-reproducibility), perhaps reviewers should be paid for their time. Journal “desk editors” are paid for their work; I don’t see why the experts who accept assignments to carefully review submissions must do so pro bono.

    It would also make a lot of sense, IMO, to fund government laboratories to attempt to reproduce some proportion of new results, especially those that require costly technology for performance of experiments and characterization of results. Conceivably, some of these studies could even be challenged/reproduced at university or college laboratories; the funding streams to sustain this might help to incentivize administrators to not hollow out their hard sciences departments. It might improve the funding situation of graduate students or advanced undergraduates who were tasked with spending a portion of their research time on these reproducibility tasks.

    1. C.O.

      The peer review link notes that so far paying the peer reviewers does not in fact solve the problem, although insisting on seeing the raw data does seem to have a real effect. Yet paying peer reviewers also tries to find a solution in individual behaviour, not working together as scholars to produce a coherent alternative. I think it is fair to say that scholars are working towards a coherent alternative, but not necessarily in a very coordinated way yet.

      University departments are subject to asset stripping aka “hollowing out” because universities have been on the neoliberal hit list for decades. The process started with the humanities because they had been set up as supposedly “useless” and just training to work in coffee shops (never mind reality) and when humanities scholars protested with real arguments and evidence for their case, they were primarily ignored. The more far-sighted scholars also pointed out that the logic of the exercise would lead the distortions in peer review and subsequently in funding based on that review would lead the supposedly sacrosanct sciences into the maw of the neoliberal beast. But of course they were told off for being unrealistic because they weren’t doing “real” academic work like the people in sciences, and that their warnings were just “sour grapes.” And here we are.

  27. lyman alpha blob

    RE: What Would Plato Say About ChatGPT?

    Given that Plato was an aristocratic bootlicker who pioneered the use of chatbots* to spew out sophistry and word salad in the defense of oligarchs, I’m guessing Plato would have loved it.

    *there are no records of any of Socrates’ own writing – most everything he is supposed to have said comes from Plato using him as a character and putting words into his mouth.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      From the life written by Diogenes Laertius about the philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, who had a few things to say about Plato:

      Plato saw him washing vegetables, and so, coming up to him, he quietly accosted him thus, “If you had paid court to Dionysius you would not have been washing vegetables.” “And,” he replied, with equal quietness, “if you had washed vegetables, you would never have paid court to Dionysius.”

      Sotion too, in his fourth book, states, that the Cynic made the following speech to Plato: Diogenes once asked him for some wine, and then for some dried figs; so he sent him an entire jar full; and Diogenes said to him, “Will you, if you are asked how many two and two make, answer twenty? In this way, you neither give with any reference to what you are asked for, nor do you answer with reference to the question put to you.” He used also to ridicule him as an interminable talker.

      I have a feeling that Diogenes wouldn’t have much use for Twitter, either, even if he himself is highly quotable and pithy,

  28. Carolinian

    Re Hyundai/Kia using child labor in Alabama. If you follow the Reuters link what it is saying is that parts suppliers to Hyundai/Kia are using at least a few of what are probably undocumented (and therefore age ambiguous) workers to make seats and other parts at satellite plants. One can suspect this is at least as much about Alabama regulators looking the other way to attract foreign manufacturers. After all Bama has to compete with Mexico plants where such practices and much worse are likely common at the maquiliadora.

    The article also surprised me by claiming that Hyundai/Kia are now the number 3 US manufacturers by volume. However if you look at their combined sales for 2021 they are at least number 4 and may be number 3. In my neighborhood Hyundai/Kia are barely to be seen. Subaru: everwhere.

    1. Jason Boxman

      In western NC I see tons of Subarus everywhere as well. It seem the most popular vehicle, particularly the hatchback SUV version.

    2. rowlf

      More Korean factory fun in the US: Feds nab 13 Korean battery plant construction workers on immigration charges

      Federal authorities arrested 13 Korean nationals who worked for a sprawling factory under construction in Jackson County, accusing them of violating immigration laws.

      SK Battery America is a Korean-owned company that received $300 million in tax breaks and free land to locate its multi-billion-dollar factory in Georgia. The company has signed deals to manufacture batteries for electric cars and trucks. It’s due to open in 2022.

      In May, Customs and Border Protection announced it had apprehended 33 Korean nationals trying to come through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport with “fake employment letters” to work at the battery plant. They were turned around and sent back to South Korea.

  29. FreeMarketApologist

    I suppose I can whip up a little joy in the Dems (all of them? some of them?) returning FTX money, though it will probably be a drop in the bucket, and for all the virtue signaling, probably won’t cause Repubs to do the same….

    What I’m personally waiting for is the resolution of all the ‘loans’ that FTX and Alameda made to their employees. As loans from FTX to individuals, they are receivable assets of FTX or Alameda, which in bankruptcy may be obligated to call the loans in. If the loans are forgiven (unlikely), or turn out to be just huge payouts, the tax men will take a very strong interest in these people’s individual tax returns. Unraveling this will take a while, but will probably bankrupt those kids, as they seem to have been spending it pretty quickly.

    The NYTimes goes on today about Ryan Salame’s donations and other purchases, noting that “Mr. Salame, a former co-chief executive of FTX Digital Markets, the company’s subsidiary in the Bahamas, also received a $55 million personal loan from Alameda.”

  30. Wukchumni

    Anybody else got the hanging out with 30 members of the family for 3 days over xmas… heebie geebies?

    Every Christmas could be your last where you’re 97 and a half, so can’t really miss out on being with mom, I know i’d be full of regret for not going, even if the persuasive rational excuse would be to not go and explain what a bad idea this is to get together and you know things are bad when shelves of cold/flu medicine are about barren and hospital beds full, we oughta cancel flights from Wa state and drives in droves intrastate, everybody just chill out and stay home-but no, gotta go.

    1. nippersdad

      But why particularly during a holiday? I am sure that she would appreciate a visit on any random Tuesday just as much, if not more, than on days like that. I used to show up, turkeys in tow, at my Grandmother’s house all the time, and usually specifically timed not to meet anyone else; it was less stressful and a lot more fun.

      That is usually the time when one can be most useful, too. That is when you find that Grandad has been nailing the Christmas tree stand to the floor for years behind Grandmother’s back and can go out and get them an adequate one. Stuff like that can give you a lot to talk about.

      1. Wukchumni

        I think part of it is nearing her high nineties, she’s beat the over big time as far as the grim reaper’s typical annualized odds are concerned, and I wouldn’t say she’s throwing caution to the wind, but if she was to catch something and pass away, well, something was gonna get her, would be how she’d probably like to be remembered-rumors of her demise being greatly exaggerated by yours truly.

        I’m looking forward to our time together.

  31. cfraenkel

    Highly recommend the ‘Transformers’ link. It’s a layman legible description of how the machine learning algos can ‘understand’ and translate natural language inputs. Some prior exposure to neural nets would make the reading a little easier, but not required. Kudos to the author for making such an opaque topic understandable.

    It lifts the curtain a bit exposing the some of the levers creating the magic, which is a good thing. Too many people are leaping to ‘it must be intelligent’ so our AI overlords are just around the corner.

    On the other hand, it also pushes the ‘magic’ down a layer – it’s amazing that you can take the chaos that is English, distill it down to a (very) big set of numbers, then just add “French” water and get legible French output or add “Chinese” water and get legible Chinese water.

  32. Mikel

    This NY Times article from a few days ago:

    “I had a friend who said, ‘You don’t want to be seen with them,’” said Larry Kramer, a former dean of the law school and a close friend of the Bankman-Fried family. “I don’t see how this doesn’t bankrupt them.”

    Have to wonder if it’s the lack of money that would make them pariahs to their set more so than suspected involvement in fraud.

  33. flora

    re: C19 and Australian care homes.

    Does Australia still ban doctors from prescribing vit. I for treatment?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Pretty sure that the drug that cannot be named is still banned from prescription by doctors and I suspect that that was part of the deal that Oz made for buying Big Pharma’s offerings.

  34. Wukchumni

    When you’re a seasoned NFT virtual Trump Trading Card day trader since late 2022 such as yours truly, in between trades I like to stick them in the spokes of my virtual e-bike that could be in real danger if I lived in a co-op in the Big Apple, according to the news. Anyhow, clickity-clack, clickity-clack.

  35. fresno dan
    Ro Khanna is a progressive congressman representing California’s 17th District—the wealthiest congressional district in America. He’s Silicon Valley’s congressman, so his constituents are the coastal elites of the elites.
    In fact, sometimes when you listen to Khanna—he says we need to “​​make more stuff here,” and “buy American”—he kind of sounds like . . . Donald Trump.
    Which sort of tells you everything you need to know about our current political moment. About how the old rules—about what is left and what is right, about which party represents the working class and which party represents the elites—no longer apply.
    On the importance of the Twitter Files:
    Here’s why I think the “nothingburger” argument is compounding the problem. Let’s stipulate that 60% of the country may not care about the Twitter Files. But if 40% of the country thinks they don’t have a fair shake on a modern platform, don’t you think you should listen?
    It’s like you’re doubly censoring. You’re censoring in the first place. And then you’re censoring the emotion of being upset about being censored.
    Later in the article, Khanna talks about deindustrializing this country. Maybe it wasn’t censorship, but defacto there really wasn’t any coverage of the idea at the time that it wasn’t a good idea – only the people with gobs of money who thought the best thing was making ever greater gobs of money counted.

  36. Jason Boxman

    Cowling says the virus is spreading faster in China than it’s spread ever before anywhere during the pandemic. It also looks to be especially contagious in the Chinese population.

    To estimate a virus’s transmissibility, scientists often use a parameter called the reproductive number, or R number. Basically, the R number tells you on average how many people one sick person infects. So for instance, at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, in early 2020, the R number was about 2 or 3, Cowling says. At that time, each person spread the virus to 2 to 3 people on average. During the omicron surge here in the U.S. last winter, the R number had jumped up to about 10 or 11, studies have found.

    This is going to be horrific. Also, recall that COVID is “over-dispersed”, meaning not everyone that is infected infections anyone else, but rather some are “super spreaders” (I hate hate hate the overuse of “super” in the US, ugh) that spread to many many people.

    I guess we’ll see what kind of new variants are cooked up in China over the next six months. We’re adding 1.4 billion to the number of hosts in the world. What could go wrong?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Well, Wall Street has been demanding that China open itslef up to the pandemic and now they are going to get their wish. Tough luck how the Chinese economy will be in chaos which will have a massive knock-on effect on western economies. Can’t get your goods from China? Sorry, half the workforce is off sick at any one time. Could never have predicted that.

      1. Jason Boxman

        And what ensues is the endless complaining that the Chinese have failed to sufficiently vaccinate their population or whatever and its disrupting Capitalism, from the usual organs (ghouls?) at the NY Times and elsewhere.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Chinese toilets do not have traps so they spread fecal plumes, and I believe can do so along an entire vertical brown plumbing line, at least for a few floors. That alone will make contagion rates worse.

  37. Tom Stone

    Inflation report from Sonoma County, Safeway Stores is selling somewhat sad looking waist high Christmas trees in a little plastic bowl for $46.99 (Plus Tax) each.

  38. upstater

    I guess the descriptions of the prison in the Bahamas must have been quite accurate:

    Exclusive: Sam Bankman-Fried to reverse decision on contesting extradition (reuters)

    Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is expected to appear in court in the Bahamas on Monday to reverse his decision to contest extradition to the United States, where he faces fraud charges, a person familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

    The cryptocurrency mogul was indicted in federal court in Manhattan on Dec. 13 and accused of engaging in a scheme to defraud FTX customers.

    His decision to consent to extradition would pave the way for him to appear in U.S. court to face charges of using stolen customer deposits to pay for expenses and debts and to make investments on behalf of his crypto hedge fund, Alameda Research LLC.

    That was a pretty quick decison for SBF. I’m wondering if the federal jail in Manhattan has vegan fare on the menu? I wonder if he knows about what happened to Epstein while held there?

    1. petal

      Squeakers running across your bed might do that. They are uh…very motivating. Speaking from experience.

      1. ambrit

        That wouldn’t have happened at Clinical Lab 301 – Away Camp, would it?
        My middle sister once had a ‘retired’ white lab rat as a pet. Very smart rat that. For yoiks, she would let “Basil” out onto the couch next to a guest sitting on the couch. Hilarity would result.
        Stay safe and warm.

        1. petal

          If by “Away Camp” you mean home? Spent high school years in rodent-infested home and property. Giant rats. At work in the animal facility, if I even see a cage of rats I have a physical reaction and need to get away from them. Can’t handle it.

          Had a lot of storm damage around here-11″ of heavy, wet snow. Broken/split trees and downed limbs and lines, etc. Still folks without power today.

          1. ambrit

            Ouch! That would scar the mind for sure. Please accept my apology for making light of your reference.
            My ‘secret night fear’ is big roaches. The ick factor I experience with them is hard wired into my brain. I’m guessing that “squeaks” are your ‘hard wired’ fear.
            Be safe with the winter. We are looking for lows in the upper teens here over Christmas weekend. That is exceptional for our region. If there is any snow and ice damage here, it will be novel and thus magnified in it’s effects. Heaven forfend that the electricity or natural gas services go out. People would freeze. There is almost no ‘institutional memory’ concerning cold weather survival hereabouts.
            Stay safe and warm!

    2. Jason Boxman

      I recall Yves commented some weeks ago that SBF made a mistake flying to a country with an extradition treaty with the US. Oops. I guess he really did think he could talk his way out of any criminal charges.

  39. anon in so cal

    By now everyone has probably read that P-22, the oldest surviving mountain lion in Los Angeles, was euthanized this morning due to several serious health issues. Only positives are that the City Council recently passed a Wildlife Ordinance, despite opposition from developers, and construction recently started on a desperately-needed freeway wildlife over-crossing. There is a lot of open space and wildlife in the Los Angeles hillsides, and so far, the Wildlife Ordinance only pertains to those areas. There is a constant battle to keep developers at bay.

    California’s population is now over 40 million and growing, which means continued loss of habitat. Habitat is also fast disappearing in Florida and nation-wide.

    “Consider this: several football fields-worth of forest and other valuable habitat is cleared per day in Florida, with 26 percent of our canopy cut down in the past twenty years. According to one study, an average of 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation worldwide.

    The ecocide happening here is comparable for our size to the destruction of the Amazon, but much less remarked upon. Few of the perpetrators understand how they hurt the quality of life for people living in Florida and hamstring any possibility of climate crisis resiliency. Pro-development flacks like to pull out the estimates of the millions who will continue to flock to Florida by 2030 or 2040 to justify rampant development.

    Even some Florida economists ignore the effects of the climate crisis in their projects for 2049, expecting continued economic growth. but these estimates are just a grim joke, and some of those regurgitating them know that. By 2050, the world likely will be grappling with the fallout from 1.5- to 2-degree temperature rise and it’s unlikely people will be flocking to a state quickly dissolving around all of its edges.”

  40. fresno dan
    PALM BEACH, Fla. — Hundreds of guests in tuxedos of all styles — sequined, quilted, velvet — and colorful gowns sipped on Trump-branded champagne and martinis. Between courses of steak and bite-sized Key lime pie, they danced to “YMCA” and “Macho Man,” the disco anthems at Trump rallies.

    But the main attraction, obviously, was Trump. He received a standing ovation after delivering an enthusiastic affirmation of gay rights not often heard in the GOP.

    “We are fighting for the gay community, and we are fighting and fighting hard,” the former president and 2024 candidate said. “With the help of many of the people here tonight in recent years, our movement has taken incredible strides, the strides you’ve made here is incredible.”

    Throughout the evening, speakers praised Trump for his embrace of the gay community. They credited him for his initiatives to combat the criminalization of homosexuality, his work pushing for public heath initiatives to combat the HIV epidemic, and for appointing the first openly gay Cabinet member, Grenell, as director of national intelligence.
    Good for Trump. But despite an impenetrable narrative that says dems get the gays, latins, and blacks, the truth is those demographics are eroding for dems.

  41. Kouros

    Is it possible that Boris Johnson forgot that Russia controlled Crimea and parts of Donbass prior to February 24, 2022?

  42. Karl

    Bolton says on MSNBC that if Trump was re-elected, “Russia would be in Kiev by now.”

    Ari Melber gives Bolton lots of softballs, never asks: Wouldn’t the Ukrainian people have preferred Russians “in Kiev” last March than to have endured all the carnage since?

    Bolton says that U.S. support for Ukraine is essential “to send a signal to Beijing.”

    Oh. And how did that work out?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Is Bolton still thinking about making a run for President in 2024? Sounds like that he wants to fight China.

      1. rowlf

        John Bolton – Elliot Abrams 2024? (With a full Kagan/Kagan adjacent administration?)

        Jeez, the Bush Sr basement loons take over.

    2. ambrit

      The fact that John Bolton is given any credibility or air time by the MSM says it all. The MSMs are facilitating the insane power dreams of the Neo-cons. This will not end well.

  43. Jason Boxman

    They Dispense Street Justice, One Defaced License Plate at a Time

    Scofflaws are tampering with tags, costing New York agencies more than $100 million a year in missed payments and fines. A group of citizen enforcers is coming to the city’s rescue.

    To avoid detection by speed and red-light cameras, as well as bridge and tunnel tolls that can reach $16 for a car, scofflaw drivers cover plates with camera-proof screens and sprays, as well as stickers, tape and other objects. They scrape off letters and use temporary paper tags and even retractor mechanisms.

    Drivers with E-ZPasses pay tolls automatically. But those without are billed by mail according to their license plates, which are photographed as they pass. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it loses around $50 million a year in evaded tolls on its bridges and tunnels. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says it loses more than $40 million a year.

  44. The Rev Kev

    “Beijing Crematorium’s Death Surge Points to Rising Covid Toll in China”

    Funny this. You could have read nearly the same exact headline at the beginning of 2020. In fact, I said in a comment at the time that perhaps this new virus was a zombie virus which was why they were taking care to cremate the bodies.

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