Links 12/22/2022

Ancient Grammatical Puzzle That Has Baffled Scientists for 2,500 Years Solved by Cambridge University Student Good News Network

One of the world’s largest lasers could be used to detect alien warp drives Live Science

Institutional Failure: A Future of Finance Worldview VettaFi


Bomb cyclone and Arctic outbreak put 215 million under weather alerts Axios. Maps.

Nations Adopt Historic New Agreement for Nature Pew

One Farmer Set Off a Solar Energy Boom in Rural Minnesota; 10 Years Later, Here’s How It Worked Out Inside Climate News


How Water Cycles Can Help Prevent Disastrous Floods and Drought Scientific American

Bye, Bye PFAS The Brockovich Report but Why EPA’s long-awaited proposal on two ‘forever chemicals’ is bound to be controversial STAT

Underwater Living London Review of Books. “Human life and property by the trillion dollarload hang on the millimetre margins of the concept of ‘sea level’, but a closer look makes a seemingly hard-edged measure complex and uncertain.”


Alarming antibody evasion properties of rising SARS-CoV-2 BQ and XBB subvariants Cell. From the Abstract: “[O]]ur findings indicate that BQ and XBB subvariants present serious threats to current COVID-19 vaccines, render inactive all authorized antibodies, and may have gained dominance in the population because of their advantage in evading antibodies.”

* * *

Brain autopsies of critically ill COVID-19 patients demonstrate heterogeneous profile of acute vascular injury, inflammation and age-linked chronic brain diseases Acta Neuropathologica Communications. n = 20, 14 male, mean age-at-death was 66.2 years. From the Discussion: “The results of this study confirm and extend prior COVID-19 autopsy studies in several ways….. Findings of this study suggest that acute brain injury superimposed on common pre-existing brain disease may put older subjects at higher risk of post-COVID neurologic sequelae.” Commentary:

Excellent thread worth reading in full.

SARS-CoV-2 Spike triggers barrier dysfunction and vascular leak via integrins and TGF-β signaling Nature. From the Abstract: “Severe COVID-19 is associated with epithelial and endothelial barrier dysfunction within the lung as well as in distal organs….. Our findings offer mechanistic insight into SARS-CoV-2-triggered vascular leak, providing a starting point for development of therapies targeting COVID-19.”

* * *

Asymptomatic screening for severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) as an infection prevention measure in healthcare facilities: Challenges and considerations Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. From the Abstract: “Testing of asymptomatic patients for severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (ie, “asymptomatic screening) to attempt to reduce the risk of nosocomial transmission has been extensive and resource intensive, and such testing is of unclear benefit when added to other layers of infection prevention mitigation controls.” Those “other layers” being non-pharmeceutical interventions like masking, ventilation, and HEPA filters, which the hospital infection control community is either fighting tooth and nail or simply ignoring (and have no guidance from CDC to do anything else, see NC here).


China COVID wave could kill one million people, models predict Nature

WHO Asks Accurate Deaths, ICU Admission, Severity Of COVID From China For Risk Assessment Republic World

* * *

Biden’s China tech crackdown leaves Xi with few ways to hit back Japan Times. Or maybe not:

More here.

The China Initiative: How Chinese Academics Like Xiaoxing Xi Were Falsely Charged as Spies Teen Vogue


‘We are facing a crisis’: New law puts Myanmar NGOs in ‘impossible’ position Frontier Myanmar. The impossible position is inherent in the NGO model, which would have treated Sherman’s march to the sea as a “humanitarian crisis,” as opposed to it being part of a war-winning strategy against the slave power.

Japanese bond yields continue to rise after Bank of Japan bombshell FT

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Officiates the Launch Ceremony of Singapore Navy’s Second and Third Submarines (press release) MINDEF Singapore

Foxconn to Begin Making MacBooks in Vietnam as Early as May 2023 MacRumors


Wells Run Dry The Baffler


A U.S. ally in Iraq vowed to tackle corruption. Torture and extortion followed. WaPo. Surely no surprise, after Abu Ghraib and Gitmo.

‘Hugs, screams and cries’: Afghan women anguished at university ban Agence France Presse

Latin America

Peru: Chronicle of a Coup in Slow Motion Orinoco Tribune and Aerial investigation reveals 168 previously unnoticed Nazca Lines in Peru Live Science. The latter story got much more coverage.

The Caribbean

Ex-rebel leader known as ‘the torturer’ is arrested in Haiti president’s assassination Miami Herald

Cholera in Haiti, Again NEJM. Brought in the first place by UN peacekeepers. So if Haitians “have little faith in foreign intervention,” that might be one reason why….

Dear Old Blighty

The political, moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the current Conservative party Mainly Macro

Season’s bleatings Private Eye

New Not-So-Cold War

Zelensky addresses Congress, makes push for advanced weapons Responsible Statecraft

No One Would Win a Long War in Ukraine Foreign Affairs

“Why Bakhmut”, a thread. John Helin. Interesting.

* * *

No conclusive evidence Russia is behind Nord Stream attack WaPo. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!

* * *

U.S. LNG exports both a lifeline and a drain for Europe in 2023 Hellenic Shipping News

How Bloomberg is deceiving everyone about Russian oil exports (translated) Aftershock. Original.

Biden Administration

FTX’s Gary Wang, Alameda’s Caroline Ellison plead guilty to federal charges, cooperating with prosecutors CNBC


How Dobbs Triggered a ‘Vasectomy Revolution’ Politico

‘Anything’s on the table’: Missouri legislature may revisit contraceptive limits post-Roe Missouri Independent

The Bezzle

Two Executives in Sam Bankman-Fried’s Crypto Empire Plead Guilty to Fraud NYT. Plus they’re “co-operating.”

FTX’s Bankman-Fried Gave Ex-Jane Street Traders Who Formed Modulo Capital $400M Yahoo Finance

Sam Bankman-Fried Alleges Law Firm Used ‘Mentally Unbalanced’ Tactics To Get FTX To File Bankruptcy DealBreaker. Sullivan and Cromwell.

Our Famously Free Press

Of Course the Feds Were All Over Twitter The American Conservative. The deck: “Twitter was staffed by craven functionaries eager to please contacts and former colleagues in the national security state.”

FBI blasts ‘conspiracy theorists’ over ‘Twitter Files,’ claims to provide ‘critical information’ to ‘protect’ company NY Post

Xmas Pre-Game Festivities

A story of legends, families and capitalism: a candid history of the Christmas tree The Conversation

Alive on the longest night Brutal South


Global health nonsense BMJ. Footnote 1 cites to Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit.

Realignment and Legitimacy

The American experiment has just begun Unherd

Class Warfare

Fighting for Growth: Labor scarcity and technological progress during the British industrial revolution (PDF) University of Glasgow. From the Abstract: “We collect new data and present new evidence on the effects of labor scarcity on the adoption of labor-saving technology in industrializing England. Where the British armed forces recruited heavily, more machines that economized on labor were adopted. For purposes of identification, we focus on naval recruitment. Using warships’ ease of access to coastal locations as an instrument, we show that exogenous shocks to labor scarcity led to technology adoption. The same shocks are only weakly associated with the adoption of non-labor saving technologies. Importantly, there is also a synergy between skill abundance and labor scarcity boosting technology adoption. Where labor shortages led to the adoption of labor-saving machines, technology afterwards improved more rapidly.”

Disentangling Rent Index Differences: Data, Methods, and Scope (PDF) Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The ‘Perpetual Broths’ That Simmer For Decades Atlas Obscura

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

Double-bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Sardonia

    Zelensky addresses Congress. Here’s his song, to the tune of Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer”

    All the Pols come into Congress
    And these Pols are all the same
    Sporting idol-worship faces
    So CNN will say their names
    You don’t think of them as human
    You don’t think of them at all
    You keep your mind on the money
    And your escape plan, come the Fall

    I’m your private dancer
    A dancer for money
    I’ll do what you want me to do
    I’m your proxy fighter
    Who hides from the action
    While conscripts get turned into glue

    I want to stash a zillion dollars
    And bathe myself in accolades
    Hidden safely from the Azovs
    My sponsors are my barricades
    Raytheon, Northrop and Lockheed
    I know they’ll take good care of me
    Though Ukraine will soon be rubble
    I’m sure my Masters will always see….

    I’m their private dancer
    A dancer for money
    I’ll do what they want me to do
    I’m their proxy fighter
    Who hides from the action
    While conscripts get turned into glue

    I’m their private dancer
    A dancer for money
    I’ll do what they want me to do
    I’m their proxy fighter
    Who hides from the action
    I’ll sell T-shirts on EBay too!

    Euros or dollars
    A Nobel Prize will do nicely, thank you
    Let me loosen up your collars
    You’re so hot cuz I gave you Cold War Two

    I’m your private dancer
    A dancer for money
    I’ll do what you want me to do
    I’m your proxy fighter
    Who hides from the action
    While conscripts get turned into glue

      1. Sardonia

        I think “wanton whore” is somewhat of an apt analogy – but I really see Zelensky as more like a 15 year old girl who got intrigued by “the game” and decided to dabble in it – only to get taken in by a “protector sugar daddy” (pimp) who promised her the world and got her more involved, and now she’s WAY in over her head.

        And when Sugar Daddy decides she’s no longer of use to him at some point, the cops will find her dead in an alley.

        Couldn’t think of any popular songs for that exact analogy though. :)

          1. Wukchumni

            There’s a smart-aleck man on a light blue screen
            Who came into my house last night
            And he takes all the hosannas
            And he turns them into pleas for more might
            But you tease, and you flirt
            And you always have on your green shirt
            You can help yourself & somebody’s gonna get it

            Better cut off any non-identifying label
            Before they put you on accounts payable

            ‘Cause somewhere in the DC Quisling Clinic
            There’s an accountant writing checks this minute
            He’s beholden to the party line
            He’s leaving the amount blank
            The money given away, yours & mine

            But you tease, and you flirt…

            Never said he was anything other than a proxy
            Never said some might call him a fiscal doxy
            Everybody is under suspicion
            But you don’t wanna hear about that

            ‘Cause you tease, and you flirt…

            Better send a begging letter to JRB administration
            Ukraine’s needs leaves much for imagination

            You tease, and you flirt…

            You can help yourself & somebody’s gonna get it
            You can help yourself & somebody’s gonna get it

            Green Shirt, by Elvis Costello


          2. Henry Moon Pie

            I was quite disappointed when I saw that there was no piano in the well of the House. That would have made quite an impression upon our esteemed representatives.

            1. nippersdad

              To quote Peggy: “It would be irresponsible not to speculate.”

              They have clearly been in bed together for a while…..The jokes write themselves.

            2. Greg

              Very long arm is a giveaway, it’s doctored.
              There’s another version floating around where both Biden’s have very long arms with hands resting on the Ukrainian rearguard.

  2. DJG, Reality Czar

    The article about “cracking” Pānini’s language machine for Sanskrit is especially interesting for how knowledge bumps along. It is also a good example of the array of missing knowledge, missing texts, and missing techniques from the past. Thinking by human beings has always been highly refined and practical, and snobbery toward the past is a major weakness.

    I note this paragraph, with advice for the ages: ‘Six months before Indian-born Rishi Rajpopat finally decoded the 2,500 year old algorithm, his supervisor at Cambridge, Sanskrit Professor Vincenzo Vergiani, gave him some prescient advice: “If the solution is complicated, you are probably wrong.”’

    Vergiani is on the mark. Gosh: He didn’t even ask Rajpopat to means-test Sanskrit vocabulary.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Sorry: I’m referring to the Ancient Grammatical Puzzle article up top. Worth your while. The resolution is indeed elegant and simple.

    2. Kouros

      Seeing the solution, one wonders how stupid people are for not figuring out over 2,500 years the answer. Idiot savants…

    1. Sardonia

      That cat would look more like Jake Sullivan if he/she had a ridiculously cocky facial expression that said “I know exactly what I’m doing.”

      1. John

        Cats take it as it lays then do what is indicated and necessary never judging the outcome or trying to force it unlike some people who do not know better.

    2. semper loquitur

      Funny, it occurred to me last night while watching a video that Lawrence O’Donnell looks like a particularly pious cat’s a$$…

  3. Steve H.

    > SARS-CoV-2 Spike triggers barrier dysfunction and vascular leak via integrins and TGF-β signaling

    >> cell-intrinsic interactions between the Spike (S) glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 and epithelial/endothelial cells are sufficient to induce barrier dysfunction in vitro and vascular leak in vivo, independently of viral replication and the ACE2 receptor.

    Our NC Covid-19 brain trust has been on the right side of wrong on pretty much everything, I think. It has maintained that it is unlikely that Covid-19 was created in the lab.

    We just finished ‘Young Frankenstein’ on Sunday, and one of the greatestest comedies of all time is having an unsettling effect. This virus is such a cacophony of shankings, and while the process of descent with modification is miraculous in its bounty, I’m having a hard time reconciling the full-spectrum f-u of this disease with the brain trust consensus. That the particular spike is also the one chosen to prime mammalian cells with a viral phenotype is beyond the stupidest timeline. This plot sucks.

    1. Sardonia

      Maybe we’ll get a plot twist in which Madeline Kahn gets Covid, but while lying in bed starts singing “Sweet Mystery of Life, at last I’ve found you….”

    2. Yves Smith

      This is just a handwave, an unsubstantiated opinion.

      The list of health effects do not prove your views re origin.

      In fact, they’ve generally gotten worse over time due to increased infectiousness + immune system damage, which happened due to mutation in the wild, due to letting ginormous # of people get infected with a pathogen with a short time to infectiousness, getting shorter all the time.

      The very impressive Omicron mutation almost certainly came from a very long infection in an immunocompromised individual, or did you forget that???

      And the brain trust, contrary to just about everyone else, was warning about breadth and severity of infection. They’ve been dead right about that without buying into your origin story. Pray tell, how do you reconcile that?

      1. Steve H.

        Yes to everything you said.

        The increased infectivity was anticipated, and is fulfilling its potential with its unprecedented access to victims. It’s the conjunction of the effects present in the initial variants that is skull-popping.

        What is the solution of the conjunction of priors for a virus which:

        1. Is a respiratory virus;
        2. Has an element which causes (a) prion-like blood clots, and (b) vascular leakage; and
        3. Has such a depleting effect on the immune system?

        The first is very high, but the third seems unprecedented and blows the calculation up. This does not factor in using the particular element in a medically intrusive fashion.

        To be clear, pursing the history of an existential threat is arguably a waste of time, when the threat is present. As is casting blame. There is time for that. The issue is, how to assess a paradigm shift within the previous framework, and get that through to practice in real-time. People Are Not Masking.

        This is not episte, this is tekne. When I say I’m having a hard time reconciling the differences, that is the truth. This thing is such a demon that my simple monkey brain is having a hard time bridging the gap. Can we present a critical analysis, possibly using priors, that can clarify this clearly enough to affect behavior?

        1. DJG, Reality Czar

          Steve H. Evolution finds its way.

          Good ole Yersinia pestis. Airborne bacteria. Spitting blood (vascular leakage). Hard on the immune system–and produces three (count ’em) kinds of plague.

          No need to look for sloppy lab techniques. The lungs are a warm, easy entry to the human body…

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      Regardless of the original source, this family of virus variants does almost seemed “designed” to bring down human industrial society. I especially feel this way after China gave up. Yes, they made mistakes and failed, but Covid is a hell of an adversary. It’s adaptability stands in stark contrast to our rigid “the schools, bars and restaurants MUST remain open,” and it’s lethality, combined with its long-term effects, serve as sand in the gears of capitalism.

      Maybe we should rename it Gaia’s Revenge.

      1. Yves Smith

        Your subjective view is simply proof of how we have become desensitized to the prevalence and dangerousness of contagion prior to the vaccine/treatment/good sanitation era. It was common in Victorian England for even well off families to lose a child or two to disease.

        The last 70-80 years, with the ability of medicine to limit infectious diseases, are a massive anomaly in human history. You are acting as if a privileged period is normal, just the way the people who eschew protections like masks, ventilation, avoidance of groups are. It’s not.

        Note I am not charging you personally with being cavalier re Covid. But we managed to get ourselves to a very advantaged position, public health wise, and then somewhat to greatly undermined it with global air travel. I think it was Ignacio who posited, before it was picked up on Twitter, that the big infection wave in Italy early on was strongly connected to how many flights they had, particularly from China (fashion-textile industry connection).

        China has dreadful animal husbandry practices. Lack of traps in toilet plumbing would greatly increase spread, particularly in apartment blocks. I know the plural of anecdote is not data, but my parents spent 3 weeks in China the year before Tiananmen Square. They said Wuhan was the filthiest place they ever visited, including Nairobi. And Wuhanese are also famous for their willingness to eat exotic animals, more so than is typical in China.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          Very true about this having been a privileged period. In my youth, I mowed cemeteries during the summer. One old cemetery dated back to the founding of our little town in the 1830s. Among the old headstones were several belonging to a family whose patriarch had walked across the state of Missouri with my great-great-grandfather after both made it to St. Louis from Hamburg. He and his wife lost six children. None survived. Several generations later, my grandmother lost two siblings, one to appendicitis, the other to smallpox.

          We are being reminded that even our medical science, as far as it has advanced, is not magic. It has its limits.

          And also very true about the public health effects of so many people flying all over the place.

          What is sad is that our society seems incapable of making any kind of adaptation or adjustment to take these factors into account.

          1. Jason Boxman

            I guess it takes the science equivalent of one funeral at a time to get to a shift in thinking about public health and risk. Sigh. That’s truly a day late and a dollar short.

            1. JBird4049

              It is not the science, nor is it the particularities of covid that is the problem, nor even the increased ease of traveling. It is the refusal to use either the old techniques like quarantine, ventilation, and masking, plus whatever new treatments are available; just giving everyone good shelter and food, plus basic medical attention would work wonders. But reasons, which is why the pandemic will continue until we do use again what our ancestors (including some still living) to deal with past diseases.

              1. Jason Boxman

                Right, so perhaps today’s elite need to die off and the next generation perhaps will have taken stock of what a disaster this all is and once again adopt these sensible, time tested mitigations.

                For our current crop of elite, TIA to neoliberal capitalism, so any change in the social order, albeit even temporary, to eliminate the virus, ain’t gonna happen.

              2. eg

                But we will not do those things because our culture long ago contracted the most debilitating disease of them all — a profoundly selfish atomization

                1. JBird4049

                  We could relearn how to be connected and not atomized, perhaps? I really don’t feel like letting those vampire squids, those who have profited from our mutual dissociation, the win.

        2. John

          George Stewart’s Earth Abides was published in 1949. I read it more than once when I was in college in the middle 1950s. A super disease with extremely high mortality is spread widely by air travel. Civilization collapses, few are left, at least in North America. The presumption is that it is world wide.

          I have never forgotten that book and it was recalled to mind vividly when Covid appeared. Things have changed because of the Pandemic and will continue to change as we are far from seeing an end. Is there an end? Do we live with this indefinitely? Get comfortable with ambiguity.

          1. Wukchumni

            George Stewart’s Earth Abides was published in 1949.

            One of my favorite authors, he could write with authority in regards to such diverse subject matter, and was an outdoorsman-which really shows in Earth Abides, and i’ve re-read it about every 5 years for decades now.

            Its a thinking person’s personalized end of the world, if you will.

          2. Luckless Pedestrian

            “As you yourself, Ish, well know”

            A memorable book. The waves of different animals ascending in population then crashing described in the book is a pattern I could then see all around me after I read it.

          3. mistah charley, ph.d.

            I didn’t read this book until the 1970s. By then I had read a large number of post-atomic war science fiction novels – it was intriguing to read about a civilizational collapse NOT caused by nuclear war. It remains in print – now with a 2020 introduction by Kim Stanley Robinson.

        3. Eclair

          So true, Yves. A few years ago, doing research on my family, I found one page in the death register of a Massachusetts mill town, for July 1906. Two family members are listed: a maternal great-aunt, age 14, and a paternal aunt, age 4 months.

          Of the 26 deaths on this one page, 16 are infants under one year, most dying from ‘cholera’ or ‘gastro-enteritis.’ Of the 5 adult (20 years and over) deaths, 4 resulted from infectious diseases.

          My great-aunt died from ‘broncho-pneumonia.’ The child, for she was 15 years old, was employed as an ‘operative in the cloth room’ of a woolen mill. These mills were notorious for the amount of cloth fibers hanging in the air and constantly breathed in by the workers.

          My aunt, died at 4 months, from ‘gastro-enteritis.’

          Six years later, in 1912, the ‘Bread and Roses’ strike erupted in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

          Almost all the deaths listed on this page would have been either preventable (OSHA, municipal water and sewer systems) or curable today.

        4. JBird4049

          Your subjective view is simply proof of how we have become desensitized to the prevalence and dangerousness of contagion prior to the vaccine/treatment/good sanitation era

          Desensitized or complacent? Perhaps success breeds ignorance. Or maybe our collective memory has been removed and dumped into the garbage.

          I got hit with Rubella just before the vaccine was widely available and got measles in daycare. I knew people crippled by polio and all my older relatives could have told horror stories. The time of regular epidemics including of smallpox is within living memory and not of the boomers, but of their oldest children. Yet, if I was to talk about this to people younger than me, would I be believed?

          It is the same with the Cold War and the horrific effects of a nuclear war being dropped into the national memory-hole. I grew up knowing that the world could end at any moment. Reading people saying nonsense that would have them insane thirty years ago is painful, but where is the memory? And why isn’t the senior political leadership, which is decades older than I am, not cracking down on the crazy talk?

          It looks like the continuation of memory ain’t very important to our society, and do not blame Joe and Jane American because all our institutions have failed; they have done so, at least in part, deliberately; maybe it helps some to be profitably agreement incapable.

    4. flora

      I have a lot of a questions about all of this. re
      > SARS-CoV-2 Spike triggers barrier dysfunction and vascular leak via integrins and TGF-β signaling

      I accept that idea as fitting what we’re seeing now. What I don’t understand is why, if that’s the case, the mrna jab was designed to:

      “By injecting cells with a synthetic mRNA that encodes a viral spike protein, an mRNA vaccine can direct human cells to make a viral spike protein and evoke an immune response without a person ever having been exposed to the viral material.”

      Spike protean is spike protean, if I understand this correctly. I understand the designers of the jab maybe didn’t realize the spike was bio-active when they designed the jab and rushed it to the public with no long term testing.

      1. Yeti

        Here is a study on mutability of proteins on the Covid-19 virus.

        It is my understanding that the spike protein mutates with higher frequency than other proteins in the virus. One must then wonder why choose that particular protein for vaccination. I’ve quickly read through the study and there is mention that upwards of 58% the virus is fairly stable see below.

        “According to Nextstrain (10) global analysis (May 2021, 3,883 genomes), no mutational event has occurred for 58% of the entire proteome, while only 14% has experienced more than two events. In particular, the protein cores tend to be less variable as mutations in the core usually have a deleterious effect on the stability of the protein (11, 12). In contrast, the exposed regions of the spike protein have accumulated a large number of mutations resulting in variants with increased affinity with the human ACE2 receptor (13, 14) and transmissibility (1, 2) and reduced antibody neutralization”

        Here is link to British MP Andrew Bridgen interview claiming the the spike protein was chosen for that reason.

      2. marku52

        No they believed that the spike produced would stay at the injection site (intramusclature) and the antibodies would proliferate and move about.

        They did not test this, and it was false. The spikes go pretty much everywhere, and can persist for months. This is perhaps why vaccine damage can look like Covid damage.

        1. Presley

          Thanks for this insight. Can you suggest a reference regarding the understanding that the vaccine-induced spikes would remain at the intramuscular injection site?

  4. digi_owl

    I do wonder if rather than labor saving, one should think of machines as labor-multiplying. At least if one think of labor in the Marxist sense.

    This in that one laborer and a machine can do the same work pr hour as multiple laborers beforehand.

    If one want to talk saving, one can talk “wage saving”, as it saves the employer having to pay more than one wage.

    When production was outsourced to China, it was not labor that was saved. It was the wage expenses pr laborer.

    1. Tim

      Interesting thought. In my ‘sole proprietorship’ shop, having acquired modest CAM/CAD I’m able to produce far more than I ever could with traditional woodworking equipment. Much of my business is cutting for other shops unwilling or unable to acquire the technology for themselves.
      This allows them to also produce more but save on labor costs and stay viable, preserving labor.
      The lowering of costs of ownership of the means of production means smaller companies can compete with larger companies, delivering the same quality but not at the same scale.
      It’s an interesting situation where I can see it as both a labor savings (for myself) as well as preserving labor (remaining viable) in my small world of millwork.
      Larger macro numbers probably tell the larger story here.

    2. CanCyn

      This! I have never understood why more people don’t understand this. My little local dairy that also has a small retail shop (where they sell their milk and ice cream and baked goods along with other local and organic produce and products) just installed a computerized cash register and inventory system. It takes way longer to check out now and often 2 people are at the cash instead of one because it takes longer to ring in anything fresh that isn’t barcoded. Most of the local products are not packaged & barcoded.
      IDK if they set up the system incorrectly or were sold a bill of goods about helpful it would be. The shop is small, I go in once or twice a week and could easily tell them what they sell most just by observing the shelves when I am there. I can’t imagine why they thought they needed the computer and inventory database. Whatever the reason, it is has been in operation for a few months now and it certainly isn’t saving them any labour up front.

      1. vao

        This might be because of legal requirements.

        An increasing number of countries require many kinds of businesses to produce printed receipts and bills linked to a certified accounting system — slips written by the seller are no longer acceptable.

        This is typically linked to such aspects as tax deductions (for the buyers) or VAT settlements, and is usually the case when selling standard products (e.g. a shop) or services (e.g. a restaurant), whereas craftsmen (e.g. plumbers) may still be allowed to produce hand-written invoices and receipts.

      2. Don

        It’s just badly set up and/or needs workarounds. I won’t bore you with details (it involves creating SKUs [stock keeping units] setting up sold-by-weight items as weight units, inexpensively producing bar codes in-house, etc.) — consider that every large supermarket sells lots of unpackaged, non-barcoded products by weight and manages it easily. They just need to get some help; if they get it, they will see substantial improvements in labour performance, get very useful real-time data about inventory, sales (by product, product category, time of day), shrinkage, etc., be able to provide better service and product quality, and eliminate tedious, menial work. Unless they have a lease that requires them to pay a percentage of sales to the landlord (common practice in malls) it is unlikely that they are doing it to fulfill a legal requirement.

    3. cfraenkel

      Outsourcing to China had little to do with lower wages per laborer – for most consumer products, at any rate. (For high touch products it would have been more relevant)

      The ‘labor’ savings I saw (back in the 90’s) was drastically lower CEO & middle management labor, supply chain profit margins and the ‘labor’ costs of debt financing.

      US manufacturing was priced out mostly because every component had to be sourced through distribution. The identical Motorola CPU cost us $2.50 in the US, but somehow was available for $1.50 in Shenzen. Identical plastic parts, with identical GE ABS cost $5 something in NY, but cost $2.50 in China.

      The direct labor on these products was way less than 10% of the FOB cost (in both locations). But when your material costs 2x and you pay 10% profit + 15% “overhead” in the States, compared to 12% total markup in China, there’s no way to justify producing locally. (We tried, it just made no sense.)

      Everyone pretends to ignore that ‘labor’ is everything that isn’t capital and blame outsourcing on direct wage labor, when management compensation, bloat and corporate financing (ie interest) is by far a more significant factor.

    4. marku52

      When HP moved printer production to Asia, lots of assembly (part placement) that had been done by machine in the USA was instead moved to hand placement. As a manufacturing engineer, I was told to assume that labor was “free”.

      Joys of free trade.

  5. Wukchumni

    A story of legends, families and capitalism: a candid history of the Christmas tree The Conversation
    Even when I was a little kid, I thought it was barbarous the whole rigmarole of killing a pine just coming into their own, and then using the living room for a 3 week wake where you make sure the amputated lower limb gets water lest the tree dry out and play dead for real.

    There’s scary horror film potential here: ‘Tree-animator’

    1. CanCyn

      In the city we always got farmed trees and as I child I never thought about killing a tree. My parents were adamant about having a real tree not an artificial one. We moved to northern Ontario and I went out once with my Dad to get a live tree from the bush. I admit I was horrified by the chopping down and never really wanted a live tree after that. For a while as an adult I would buy and decorate a small potted tree that I could plant in spring but our little city plot could only hold so many trees. If I needed one, I would buy a farmed tree from one of the little local tree farms. At least I’d be supporting a local business. But we’ve given up celebrating Christmas altogether, so the trees are safe from us!

    2. jhallc

      I’ve always had similar thoughts about the practice. For the last several years I’ve been using branches off firs on my property that are broken or need to be trimmed and bundling them up to make my “Xmas” tree. I bundle them together at the base with wire and stick them in an old galvanized sugar bucket loaded with rock as a stand. I’ve even used some boxwood branches that had gotten way overgrown. String on a few mini-lights and Bob’s your Uncle. Not exactly conical, but festive.

      1. Joe Renter

        For a number of years, I would go with my Son on Xmas eve day and go find a Charlie Brown tree, one that was ugly or had been discounted or free. We would decorate and exchange presents that evening. Then I would take him to his mom’s house and he would have Xmas there. Memories that endure.
        Seasons greetings to all!

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Zelensky addresses Congress, makes push for advanced weapons”

    I actually sat down to watch the CNN video of his speech and about halfway through the video, realized that the whole thing was just theater. I noticed that (others may disagree) whenever Nancy clapped, the whole Chamber clapped. And when Nancy clapped and stood, nearly the whole Chamber stood to give Big Z a standing ovation. She was sort of like the ring master. Big Z, being a trained actor, read his lines pretty well considering that it was probably written for him by the White House and had appropriate references to the Battle of the Bulge and FDR. I’m sure that the bulk majority of the Congresspeople were happy to play along. Tens of billions will be given the the military industrial complex which will feed back to them political donations and maybe jobs if they leave Congress. I think that Big Z was lucky when he went to kiss Nancy in that he managed to avoid her wet tongue. I did hear a sort of grinding sound in the background which I thought was some sort of interference with the video until I realized that it was the sound of Netanyahu grinding his teeth in Israel because somebody else was getting all those billions and standing ovations in Congress. That video is not going to age well.

    1. zagonostra

      As I was reading twitter comments on Z’s address to Congress one word struck me as most apt, disgust. Democrats are disgusting, along with their Republican counterparts. Complete and total disgust, that’s it, nothing more I can think of to say. I tried reading the transcript, but only got two or three paragraphs deep before giving up. I wanted to deconstruct the slippery deceitful language and analyze the lies, but I just didn’t have the stomach for it with Christmas coming on…I rather look out my window and watch the snow fall, the Empire will have to unwind without my gazing on today.

      1. pjay

        I had an almost identical reaction. Though the word does not seem strong enough, I can’t think of one better, especially if it is reinforced by the right adjectives: complete, total, utter, soul-crushing….

        I also could not get through much of the video or transcript. But I did download the picture with Pelosi and Harris holding the Ukrainian flag behind the earnest Z. I want something to remember this atrocity by once Ukraine is rubble and our liberal humanitarians have moved on to other Noble Causes.

      1. Earl Erland

        Never trained. Remember Bonzo? Millions of Reagans think all they need is one chance at a camera.

      2. Daniil Adamov

        He did say he thinks of himself as more of a Reagan when people compared him to Trump… Reagan has quite a few admirers in the former USSR.

    2. Screwball

      My PMC friends are gushing about the Z man. He is their hero, and the Ukrainians are their brothers. We need to help them because they don’t want to live under Russian rule – so send them more money.

      I made the mistake of saying if we wanted to help them, end the war, stop the funds. How dare me???

      “Just admit it – you don’t care about the Ukrainians, or their sovereignty, or the other NATO countries.” I am the worse person in the world. Putin must be stopped at all costs.

      These people are just plain nuts.

      1. digi_owl

        > their sovereignty

        Ah yes, the same one that went out the window when CIA color revolution-ed and Maidan- ed their nation because the blob didn’t like the decisions taken by their sovereign government.

        Sadly these slogans are easy to spout but hard to dismantle…

        1. Screwball

          Yes, no doubt. I told them to study a little history going back to 2014ish and look for the name Victoria Nuland. It fell on deaf ears. We have to fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here, was the response.

          Now where have I heard that?

      2. jan

        “or the other NATO countries”

        Don’t know what they meant by that, but do they realize Ukraine is not in NATO nor in the EU?

    3. IM Doc

      Is it not telling that our Congress extended the invitation to Zelensky but would NEVER consider doing the same for say the President of the Railroad Union?

      Could not have truth being told ever.

      1. Earl Erland

        Well, Zelensky is seeking cover from Congress and the Media for the meat he wants to send to Bahkmut; he’s today’s MIC flavor and fits into the Campaign Cash River that flows near and parallel to the Potomac.

        President of a Union? What Congress critter would spend a million on a child that wanted to be President of a Union when he or she grew up?

    4. semper loquitur


      | Full Academy-Award Winning Movie | István Szabó

      The 1981 Academy Award-winning (Best Foreign Language Film) Mephisto concerns a passionate, but struggling actor (Klaus Maria Brandauer) who remains in Germany during the Nazi regime and reaps the rewards of this Faustian pact by finally achieving the stardom he has long craved.

      I cannot get this film out of my head these days. The scene at 1:15 seems especially relevant. Mephisto meets Mephistopheles.

    5. Boomheist

      Close friends, living in the east coast, called me last night foaming and raving about Z’s speech – “Are you watching the speech! What a great speech! Putin is a monster!” to which I laughed and said, “No, I am not watching the speech,” and they could not, absolutely could NOT, comprehend that I did not share their view that Z was of the status of Churchill in 1940, that FINALLY we in the west were expanding to teach Russia a LESSON. I pointed out, gently, that on this same day Russia had adopted a new military structure, an expansion of their military from one million to one and a half million, 500,000 more soldiers, and that the danger of a vast nuclear miscalculation was growing ever higher, and honestly I believe their view was, and is, one that approves of a Western first use of tactical nukes before that vast Russian army can, and will, overwhelm any NATO land force in Eastern Europe.

      And I confess, too, that I have taken the position that Tiabbi’s Twitter “expose” is a huge nothingburger, which I still hold because in my opinion the integration between government security agencies and the public media and social media square has been bipartisan for at east 20 years, but the hive-mind that has emerged about PMC support of interventionist wars and controlling free speech is becoming way too obvious…..

      1. Alex Cox

        Carl Bernstein wrote the Rolling Stone article about Mockingbird – the CIA program which controls US and much of western media – back in the 1970s.
        That was him finished as a MSM reporter.

    6. Maxwell Johnston

      Today’s web version of La Stampa features an amazing photo of Z surrounded by congress-critters. Ignore the Italian (the article itself is garbage), just look at the photo at the top: desperate supplicants surrounding Jesus, or Gandhi, or the pope, in the hope that touching his garments will provide miraculous results:

      Weird. Really, really weird.

  7. Lexx

    ‘Bomb cyclone and Arctic outbreak put 215 million under weather alerts’

    We’re an hour south of Cheyenne. Around 4 p.m. we saw the air change. It had been a reasonable warm day for winter in Northern Colorado, thinly sunny with a persistent wind. Then it was as though the fog had rolled in and the temperature dropped to 5 degrees. We drove down to the next town to pick up a pizza; the truck thermometer said it was 5 degrees outside. An hour later when we drove back up it had dropped to zero.

    Doggo has been running out in the snow for a piddle and back in again like his ass is on fire. Old dog no likey!

  8. Henry Moon Pie

    Little Zeitgeist report from the land of the NFL. Practically the entire KC Chiefs defensive line, including All-Pro Chris Jones, was unable to practice yesterday to “illness.” Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy showed up in a mask, saying he wanted to go home, not spend the next six months in a hotel.

    But Covid’s so over.

    1. Verifyfirst

      “Not Covid” has been making appearances at many top level sports events, including the World Cup and bicycle racing. It is, however, ALWAYS “Not Covid”.

      This seems to be the new version of “so grateful I’m fully vaccinated, feeling mild symptoms, going to work from home for a few days”

    2. curlydan

      Covid finally got me in Kansas City this week. Looks like my 8th grader who I was barely around passed it on to me. My wife who shared a 1 hour car ride with my son didn’t get it. Weird.

    1. John

      McGoey’s important work, The Unknowers: How Strategic Ignorance Rules The World, is also referenced. Unlike BS, McGoey details how BS actually works, especially in high risk situations and power involved, and yes, human life.

    2. Louiedog14

      I blame “reach out”, as in “I just wanted to reach out and….” I can’t remember when I first heard it or when it became ubiquitous, but I instantly had a visceral reaction bordering on nausea. What the heck does that mean and why can’t you simply say “let you know”, or “discuss”. It’s such a weaselly, mealy-mouthed little expression and it seems like the language has become infested with them, particularly the professions where that Bingo Card applies across all manner of disciplines, not just health.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        The current one that’s driving me crazy is “space.” “I’m trying to get something going in the climate space.”

        This stuff is contagious because people thinks it makes them sound current and knowledgeable because they heard someone they consider current and knowledgeable used it.

        1. semper loquitur

          “This stuff is contagious because people thinks it makes them sound current and knowledgeable because they heard someone they consider current and knowledgeable used it.”

          This explains a lot.

        2. Mildred Montana

          I believe such words and phrases began to mar PMC-speak about twenty years ago with “impact” for affect and “pushing the envelope” for taking a risk. Today a big one is “going forward” as a replacement for in the future.

          Instead of seeing them as cliches and finding fresh ways to express themselves, the PMCs keep on with them because using the accepted lingo is one of the badges of membership in the right club.

          My favorite current PMC locution is, “There’s no there there.” What they mean to say (and ought to) is a simple “There’s nothing there”. But in an effort to sound profound, educated, and loyal to the club, they use it because they’ve heard others use it.

          I am willing to bet the vast majority of them have no idea of the origin of the phrase. They just spout it reflexively, not knowing or caring that it was said by Gertrude Stein in reference to her childhood home in Oakland, California which no longer existed.

          Stein’s sentence makes sense. The PMC usage makes nonsense.

        3. vao


          Everything seems to have become a “conversation” — not a debate, controversy, talk, discussion; a conversation.

          1. semper loquitur

            Everything is a “conversation” so that when you disagree you can be accused of rudeness. Rudeness is adjacent to violence, as disagreeable speech is now considered violence. I once had a young woman scream at me in a rage that “This is no longer a conversation!!” because I had neatly and politely countered her various ill-conceived points. I had to concede that to her.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Why Bakhmut”, a thread.

    Bakhmut is getting a lot of attention lately. Just today I watched a video from Brian Berletic about the fight there- (25:25 mins)

    And also Gonzalo Lira had a Roundtable with Brian Berletic from New Atlas, Dima from Military Summary and Alex from the HistoryLegends channel- (2:02:55 mins)

    But there was one aspect not really mentioned in this article and that the whole place is really a trap for the Ukrainians. They have staked everything on holding this place so are throwing in all the men that they can, including all those guys trained in NATO nations recently. But in doing so, they are losing about a battalion of men each and every day. So Monday, a battalion of guys gone, Tuesday a battalion of guys gone, Wednesday a battalion of guys gone and so on. I think that they are actually throwing in the reserves that the Ukrainians have for this front which would mean that if Bakhmut fell, that they would not have the men to mount a counter-attack. Yes, the Russians and their Allies are losing men but only a faction of what the Ukrainians are losing. I guess that this is the military equivalent of the sunk cost fallacy.

    1. Lex

      Partly it is a trap because it’s an integral part of the whole defensive line. As is now obvious, massive fortifications and defensive lines are still effective in the modern age. In fact they may be more effective than a century ago because no nation (except Ukraine) is willing to spend the manpower to attempt crushing them with the massive, frontal assaults necessary. The age of surveillance makes going around them much more difficult too. The problem with banking on a massive defensive line is that a major crack in it could precipitate cascading collapse of the line. I think that’s especially true of Bakhmut because of the supply issue that the linked thread focuses on.

      I assume that the Russians would rather crack through here and deal with Ukrainians at a second line of defense and/or on the move back to them, but Ukraine gets a vote in this war and Ukraine votes to just feeding people into the Bakhmut meat grinder. Russia is wisely obliging that decision. It is most likely to have long term consequences for the AFU where if/when Bakhmut falls, the crack will be much larger than it would have been with an orderly retreat to the second line.

      1. Maxwell Johnston

        “As is now obvious, massive fortifications and defensive lines are still effective in the modern age.”

        Paul Robinson of the excellent and (unfortunately) discontinued (post 24 February) Irrussianality blog has published a good off-blog article summarizing tentative lessons learned so far from the UKR war:

        Well worth a read for anyone interested in matters military, especially as they pertain to this conflict. Good analysis of drone usage.

        My executive summary: surprisingly little has changed about the basic nature of warfare, despite much hi-tech blathering over the past 30 years (RMA, 4th generation warfare, hybrid warfare, etc). But it does appear that modern warfare favors the defender. Money quote: “…the soldier’s main weapon…is the shovel.”

        1. juno mas

          Agree that it was worth a read. But the author has his bias. His note about civilian casualties is taken from the fighting in Donetsk region; where AFU is purposely targeting civilians in Donetsk City.

          His description of the “air war” ignores the deep impact of hyper-sonic missiles; no air defense system available to Ukraine. These missiles heighten the “hybrid war” by removing infrastructure (electrical systems) that leads to a departure of civilians and a collapse of the economy; something propaganda was intended to do in the past.

          Lastly, though covered somewhat in the summary, the war you fight depends on your enemy. Russia was fighting the Ukraine military initially (which it decimated). Now it is fighting US/NATO capability and has decided to reinforce and plan for a larger outcome.

    2. Detroit Dan

      Thought experiment: Suppose that a year from today, Bakhmut is still not captured and that the story line remains the same. Ukraine is losing tons of men and equipment there — much more than Russia — but continues to send reinforcements. Does this work to Russia’s favor or Ukraine’s? I think Russia’s because, they know the facts whereas Western delursions will grow tired when Urkaine keeps asking for billions more dollars to make up for what is being lost. Also, the higher manpower casualities will eventually catch up with Ukraine’s manpower capabilities and morale.

      1. Not This Again

        I think your question is ill-framed.

        Under such a scenario, Ukraine is the worst off, but Russia needs to have sufficient resources and manpower to deal with another future war. If this continues for a year at current rates, Russia’s ability to do so will be diminished.

        But there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that Bakhmut is going to still be contested a year from now…

        1. nippersdad

          Mercouris’ breakdown of Putin’s latest speech featured a part in which he said that Russia was going to massively increase the size of their military. Sounds like they are looking to the future and preparing for it accordingly.

          1. Joe Renter

            Dima yesterday on his channel explained the expansion of RU military. It’s increasing by 3x.
            A good defense.

            1. nippersdad

              Speculation is that Medvedev was in China to talk about that. If China does the same thing it is just going to be fortress Asia. Our neocons have just managed to open Pandora’s Box, and it looks like it is full of all kinds of things they never had the imagination to envision.

              I hate to say it, but if something like that is going down it is good that it is being done by the adults in the room.

          2. Not This Again

            This would be an interesting development if they could pull it off (I imagine it would need to be done over a period of years).

            I guess that means that Russia is now going to be on a permanent war footing for the next generation…And that Europe is going to need to re-institute a draft…and that the MIC is now going to be the dominant influence in all countries for the foreseeable future…and there is no longer an off-ramp…

            What a mess.

            1. nippersdad

              We were already hearing a few months ago, July?, that Russia was nationalizing its’ MIC; they are already off to a running start even as we are running down our stocks. Short of doing something like that, which is incompatible with the neoliberal paradigm, I’m pretty sure we are just going to be onlookers.

              Those RUSI people had it right, we are just not in the same league.

            2. skippy

              “Europe is going to need to re-institute a draft”

              Currant economic agenda will provide heaps of low socioeconomic boots for willing[tm] enlistment IMO …

              Its the Conquistador template …

              1. vao

                At least Sweden (2017) and Lithuania (2015) already reintroduced conscription after abolishing it, and Latvia intends to do likewise in the next few years. A few countries (notably Estonia, Finland, Switzerland) never abolished conscription.

                1. skippy

                  Most of the E.U. military is just so perfunctionary, as are their monarchs, with little MIC sectors in each nation sucking GDP away from better social investments.

                  Only the elite units have any combat utility albeit that is a very narrow application.

                  Here is what makes me giggle considering all the Western antics of late. The West had to forge the Coalition of the Willing just to fight Iraq and then to do that aggressively attack its infrastructure for a substantiated period post air superiority. Even then it was not in the bag and when the military did capitulate suffered a long and costly insurgency battle.

                  Afghanistan – wheeeeee …

                  So my point is the idea that the E.U./NATO could deploy an offensive mission against Russia a huge joke, logistically impossible from the get go.

                  So basically they can draft or rely on enlistment and it won’t make any difference to the fundamentals underpinning any military action against Russia.

              2. Richard

                “Europe is going to need to re-institute a draft”

                And all the guys are going to declare themselves girls.

      2. John k

        Imo this favors Russia in at least 2 ways:
        First, the obvious one, Ukraine losing men at far higher rate while Ukraine has far smaller pop,to draw on than Russia… I read somewhere Russia had 25 million reservists, which might be about the Ukraine current pop.
        Second, as the front line remains static and Russia is not gaining land, the west can delude itself Ukraine has fought Russia to a standstill, so they deserve more money and arms but, as tying down Russia endlessly is a west objective, simply maintaining status quo is acceptable, no need to escalate. Boiling the frog…
        Third, the current Ukraine exodus will put enormous pressure on eu as its winter emergency continues, and as eu realizes next year they will get no gas at all. Macron seems a little fed up with us machinations, and he’s a banker. Likely other leaders maybe wilting, too. But as russias position improves wrt eu, Russia might decide not to trade with any nato country. And perhaps baltics/Scandinavia will decide it’s better to make nice with Russia.

        1. Karl

          RE: Boiling the Frog

          This could well be Putin’s strategy. Stretch it out. This seems to be what’s needed to shake Ukraine and the West free of their illusions about “full spectrum dominance” in Europe and Asia. But the pain, grief, and carnage will have to be long and sustained for the cognitive defenses against reality to come down.

          One other big advantage of stretching it out as long as needed: what meat is the meat grinder grinding? It’s grinding up a lot of nazis (along with many fine decent soldiers). Between refugees and war casualties, Ukraine is being sterilized of these baser elements. When the sterilization is near complete, Russia will then be able to take over a fully exhausted Ukraine militarily and politically. With reconstruction, it will take it over economically.

          And the EU and NATO–they will be profoundly weakened. Again, this will take time, which Russia has a lot of.

          For Putin it will be mission accomplished.

          1. vao

            Not so sure about the sterilization of neo-naughties.

            While some of their battalions are fighting on the front lines (e.g. Kraken, Aidar, Donbass), many, like Azov, are not part of the army but of the national guard and are reputedly on second line “motivating” the front-line grunts to fight on with not a step back. Other battalions, like Sich or Dnipro, are special police forces, hunting down “collaborators” and “traitors” in the “liberated areas” — once again, not front-line troops.

            I am afraid these naughties will persist in whatever rump Ukraine remains — except if the Russians sweep through all the territory to eliminate them.

  10. Lex

    3M is just one manufacturer of PFAS and, IIRC, not nearly the most significant producer at this point. The EPA regs are only for a small subset of the family of compounds. One of the issues is that new compounds in the family are constantly brought on line, they differ only in the number and arrangement of atoms at the compound’s tail. Manufacturer’s claim that these changes make the compounds safer but there’s no evidence that’s the case.

    The STAT article is important. Those are huge issues and the cost of managing PFAS (et al) at water treatment is going to be tear inducing for anyone who has to pay for water treatment. Additionally, the regulations are going to be a mess to enforce. The limits of detection are incredibly low which makes analysis expensive, but more importantly, the risk of contaminating a sample is very high. My state has a requirement that includes “a disposal ‘tyvek’ suit should be worn which does not contain PFAS”, except the state hasn’t determined if there is a brand/model which doesn’t use them and the manufacturers don’t make this clear. A coworker probably has 40 hours in this last month attempting to find a verifiable PFAS free coverall to meet the state requirement.

    1. Jason Boxman

      From our horrid legacy of all chems are good!! unless proven otherwise EPA stance. Sigh. Anyone with two operating brain cells could deduce that this can’t possibly be so.

      1. Kouros

        The Precautionary Principle has been banned from the North American risk assessment toolbox long ago, as an explicit policy (it is the law of the land).

        Look even at Covid and proper masking, before knowing precisely the mode of transmission…

      1. Luckless Pedestrian

        My thought as well. Call it a “c******y t***y” to try and short-circuit any further discussion.

    1. Not This Again

      I am increasingly wondering how the public will react once it is revealed that one of the three-letter agencies wrote Zelinski’s speech to Congress and that Congress (inevitably) gives Ukraine more cash on the basis of that speech.

      I don’t think this is going to go over well…And I don’t think any of those agencies will be able to offer legal defenses…

    2. mary jensen

      It was Mandy Rice-Davies, not Keeler, who responded: “Well he would, wouldn’t he?” when counsel stated that Lord Astor denied knowing her in the biblical sense or otherwise.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “‘Hugs, screams and cries’: Afghan women anguished at university ban”

    When the US left Afghanistan, old Joe made sure to swipe $7 billion of their money sitting in the New York Federal Reserve branch. And since then half of it has been swiped to give to 9/11 families on some pretty spurious legal reasoning. Whatever. Maybe they could make a deal with the Taliban. Tell them that if they let women take part in universities again, not only will the US pay for it from the remaining funds, but that they will also deposit two dollars into their account for every one dollar spent of women’s education. This would be easily verifiable through international institutions but I would see this as a win-win deal. Those women get that uni education, the country benefits by having more trained people leave uni, they also slowly get their own money back again and the Biden regime can claim a win by pointing to be responsible for those women returning to the unis again.

    1. tevhatch

      … but I would see this as a win-win deal. …

      So does Washington, which is why it can’t happen. Washington can only accept “we win, you lose” optics. It’s fine even if The American People lose in the long run from blowback, wealth lost to MIC-IMATTs, etc; as long as appearances are kept up.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Considering the fact that Washington was paying, training and equipping Al Quada terrorists only about a decade later, I don’t think that for them that it was ever about revenge. Those 3,000 dead were more of a convenient excuse for smashing countries one after another for economic gain.

        1. digi_owl

          Heck, CIA was in close cooperation with Bin Laden back in the 80s as well. When they supplied stingers by the truckload across the Pakistan border. Wonder if he used the same smuggling route to get out of there when ISAF rolled in, perhaps with the help of Pakistan military.

    2. Lex

      Both Massoud and Hekyamater (when they were still friends) cut their teeth doing acid attacks against female university students in Kabul. They were already associated with CIA then.

      1. pjay

        Yeah, well progressive modernization under the Soviets doesn’t count. And anyway, those guys may have been brutal jihadist war/drug lords, but they were *our* brutal jihadist war/drug lords — I mean “freedom fighters.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      By the sounds of it, Michael Hudson is very pessimistic on Japan’s future and more so if they are seeking to be the Ukraine of the Pacific.

      1. leaf

        from what I recall about what he said about Japan is that it has to import all of its food and energy which might make supplying it even more untenable then supporting Ukraine. Also the Chinese have a lot of missiles and anti-Japanese sentiment for the Japanese elites who continue to worship their own war criminals

        1. Lex

          DPRK missiles are primarily pointed at Japan, not the ROC. This includes both US bases and Japanese targets. That’s not to say that Kim would never launch conventional missiles at the south (especially US military installations), but it is to say that a great many S. Koreans wouldn’t be that upset if Kim did shoot at Japan. I once had an 8 year old tell me that he loved the USA and when I asked him why, he immediately responded “because the USA nuked Japan”.

          1. Acacia

            As long as Japan is in ANPO, any attack by the DPRK will likely be suicide.

            LDP just voted to double the Japanese defense budget, which I gather will bring it to third largest in the world. However, instead of using this added strength to try to become independent of the US Empire, probably they will do pretty much what Michael Hudson describes.

  12. WobblyTelomeres

    In the FWIW category, I asked ChatGPT to “Explain MMT like Yves Smith” and got this response:

    Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is a macroeconomic framework that emphasizes the role of government spending and taxation in managing the economy. It argues that, because governments have the ability to create and issue their own currencies, they do not face the same financial constraints as households and businesses. This means that governments can fund their spending by creating new money, rather than relying on taxation or borrowing.

    According to MMT, the primary constraint on government spending is not the availability of funds, but rather the capacity of the economy to produce goods and services. When the economy is operating at full capacity and there is not enough labor or resources available to produce additional goods and services, increasing government spending could lead to inflation. In this case, MMT suggests that the government should use taxes or other tools to reduce demand and prevent inflation from rising too high.

    MMT also emphasizes the importance of maintaining full employment and argues that the government has a responsibility to ensure that all willing and able workers have access to jobs. To achieve this goal, MMT advocates for the use of targeted government spending programs and policies such as job guarantees or infrastructure investment.

    Overall, MMT advocates for a more active role for government in managing the economy and promoting social and economic stability. It has been controversial and has faced criticism from some economists who argue that it could lead to unsustainable levels of government debt and inflation.

      1. cfraenkel

        Yep – it’s got a huge corpus to pull from, and in particular there have been many similar blobs of text on this site over the years.

        We’re at the “OMG, Google results are so good!” stage (circa 2002ish)

        I wonder how long before we humans poison this well, a la ‘SEO optimization’?

        1. digi_owl

          Just need to find a way for the bored tweens to access the training side of things, and it will be a raging fascist in no time.

  13. The Rev Kev

    ‘Arnaud Bertrand
    Wow, didn’t expect it to happen so soon. If that’s true, it’s basically game over for US semiconductor sanctions…
    Also extremely bad news for Dutch company ASML, because that makes them largely irrelevant.’

    The US has been forcing Taiwan to house chip production facilities in the US to reduce risks but I believe that the chips made there will be more expensive than the ones manufactured in Taiwan. But if China will be able to manufacture all the chips that they need, then they may flood the world market with their chips which would undercut those of the US and the EU. But I don’t think that it will work if the US tries to threaten any country buying those chips as chips are too important in the world economy. Don’t know where this will leave Taiwain in the long run.

    1. tevhatch

      Manufacturing costs are not the primary cost in chips, it’s patent (IP) fees. Unless China convinces buyers to run the risk of sanctions over violating IP of Intel, Apple, etc, in which case the Washington is going to have even bigger problems concentrating it’s hive mind, then the production in China is more about not having it’s military and domestic sovereignty undermined by having to import chips (with built in NSA bugs, etc).

      1. vao

        Well, the initial CAPEX is a formidable barrier to entry, and one must absorb the depreciation of the fabulously expensive plant in the cost of products sold. I am not sure how much of that CAPEX is really IP cost.

  14. Wukchumni

    How Water Cycles Can Help Prevent Disastrous Floods and Drought Scientific American
    Interesting article with beavers eager to help out…

    Mountain man Jedediah Smith was the first American to see the 5 forks of the Kaweah River and pronounced it one of the finest rivers for beavers he’d seen, along with other rivers emanating out of the Southern Sierra to the west. Like all trappers of the era, he was all about beaver pelts, so he knew a thing or two.

    There are no beavers around these parts now, and why not reintroduce them, as Sequoia NP being the 2nd oldest NP established in 1890, there’s really just about nothing that has been altered in the wilderness as everything is protected.

  15. Alan Roxdale

    No conclusive evidence Russia is behind Nord Stream attack WaPo

    Of all the credulities, this one is the most bizarre.
    Believe all the narratives about Russian motives you like. But even still to suppose they blew up their own pipeline, the greatest leverage they have over the European continent, beggars belief and sense both.
    It’s not groupthink. It’s an omerta. An terror at suggesting the pipeline emperor has no clothes. We’ve entered the twilight of rational public discourse for certain.

  16. flora

    It’s -3F (-19C) here in the central Midwest with snow, 30 mph winds, and -26F (-32C) windchill. Hope everyone got to the grocery store yesterday.

    1. Wukchumni

      We’ve got a classic pineapple express coming in on the 27th right through new years with 5-6 inches of rain in the foothills, and it’ll be a warm one, similar to the 1955 model also around xmas that caused the flood of record here, along with many other locales in Cali.

      It might melt all the snow up to around 9,000 feet initially and there’s around 5 feet so thats 5 inches of stored rain coming down all at once.

      Could get interesting around here and i’ll be busy the rest of the day rounding up mating pairs of various species to put on the rent-an-ark I got a good deal on from U-Haul of all places.

      So far, all I can get my mitts on are fixed cats and the hair’m isn’t keen on car rides, let alone ark rides.

  17. Daryl

    Checking in from Texas. Gov. Abbott and ERCOT, one of the most ironically named government agencies in the US, are confident the power grid will hold up to what will be mild temperatures and weather compared to most of the country. I have taken this as a sign to batten down the hatches and this year, am a bit overprepared with a propane heater (& carbon monoxide monitor), mobile battery and plenty of shelf stable food+water to hang out for a few days. Stay safe and warm everyone!

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      cousin in houston said much the same,lol.
      but more worrying for him was that they werent saying anything until last night.
      ive been getting ready for a week.
      and cut off and drained all the water lines at 6am today, as the final touch.(post-freeze emergency plumbing when its still in the 40’s is one of my least favorite things)
      front is apparently stalled out at Brady, 20 or so miles to my north.
      43 here, 23 just north of brady.
      winds just picking up.
      dog and cat aren’t even looking at the door, just settled in on either end of the couch in front of the main woodstove.
      and…learning from the last 2 februaries…i’ve wrapped the little greenhouse in blankets. only the translucent roof is uncovered, for when the sun comes out again after the front passes.(and i couldnt figure out what with and how to cover it anyways, what with the expected 40-50 mph wind)
      “charged” the house/greenhouse with heat since yesterday…easier to keep it warm than to warm it up.
      i hate winter….and i wish montana would take its weather back.

      1. Randy

        Wisconsin would be a much nicer place to live if we could just keep our own air and didn’t have to put up with summer heat from Texas and winter cold from Canada.

        Our trees are still coated with ice from our recent ice storm and 40-50 mph winds from the north and the ice coated trees could raise havoc with our electric utility (Weak Puny Services Corporation). My power hasn’t gone out lately but my luck will probably run out this weekend.

      2. Daryl

        I don’t mind the cold, just the apocalyptic feeling of living in a society where basic stuff is increasingly falling apart. Right on cue, the water is already out and it’s only 50 degrees here lol. Water company is “working on it.” Be interesting to see what happens over the next night or two.

    2. Wukchumni

      America has really gone on a fear binge, so many weapons purchased in the last decade…

      Statistically, every person in our country owns 1.2 guns…

      A gun, holster & ample amount of ammo would set you back around $666, here’s what you could have spent it on instead in anticipation of a behemoth the likes of Elliott…

      7×7 gallon water containers, to keep about 50 gallons on hand

      1x Coleman 2 burner stove & 10x 1 pound propane canisters

      4x hot water bottles

      25x Freeze dried meals & coffee, lots of coffee.

      2x headlamps (much more useful than flashlights, as you’re hands free)

      1x multi-band am/fm weather radio dual battery/hand crank powered

      1/2 cord of firewood

      5x 100 hour candles

      1x box of 300 matches

  18. Jason Boxman

    And the bats**t crazy lies continue apace:

    ‘Tripledemic’ Rages On: Fever-Filled Weeks Lie Ahead

    Scientists are hopeful that next winter will be better, noting that this brutal season is an unfortunate, and not entirely unexpected, byproduct of several years of pandemic precautions, such as masking and social distancing. These measures shielded many people from routine winter infections and may have spared overburdened health care systems from even bigger surges.

    But many children and adults also missed out on the opportunity to build or bolster their immune defenses against flu and R.S.V., leaving the viruses with an unusually vulnerable population this fall.

    (lies in bold)

    Whatever liberal Democrats gotta do to believe hard, I guess.

    I can’t wait to get TB so I can bolster my immune system against TB!

    This confuses, perhaps very deliberately, the effect of mass infection, which is some short term population level immunity, with an unalloyed good, rather than the needless devastation of individual human beings as it happens to be.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      There’s some thought being given to reclassifying elementary schools as Immune Booster Facilities. Three weeks in a 3rd grade classroom are said to leave our children’s immune system in tip-top shape. One father explains, “Just like you need to get to the gym to keep those abs flat, so our kids need time together maskless in poorly ventilated rooms. After that, their immune systems will be ready for anything. Bring on ebola, baby! My kid can take it.”

  19. Ghost in the Machine

    SARS-CoV-2 Spike triggers barrier dysfunction and vascular leak via integrins and TGF-β signaling Nature.

    The spike glycoprotein (I wonder if the glycosylation is the same for the mRNA vaccine spike production ) alone causing these effects is likely the cause of the vaccine side effects. Maybe it would be better to make a vaccine to the nucleocapsid proteins. We do make antibodies to them. My sister was in a study where they drew blood and tested for nucleocapsid antibodies to determine COVID exposure independent of vaccine exposure over the course of a year. Still wouldn’t solve the fading vaccine effectiveness over time presumably.

    1. Daryl

      The Nature article goes on to claim the amount of spike circulating in the body after a dose of vaccine is too low and that severe covid infection is required.

      Well, draw your own conclusions I suppose.

    1. Michael King

      Thank you. We live in BC and are sick, weary and tired of the ghouls running our health care system. Nikiforuk has been doing great work since the pandemic began.

  20. TimH

    On Missouri

    limiting access to contraceptives

    If you accept that restriction of any specific birth control is acceptable, then the end of the road for that thinking is that only sex that results in sperm seeking eggs is acceptable.

  21. Amfortas the hippie

    dont know if this has been linked, but Putin’s second utterance is worth it:

    as usual, these guys’ exhibit maturity and seriousness…and their narrative of the history of all this comports with what i remember of the last 30-40 years of USA/Russia relations….which the official USA! narrative does not.

  22. steve2241

    Perpetual Broth – Constant boiling of food (45 years!) is a good way to naturally produce monosodium glutamate, MSG. I notice a difference in the effect of meat cooked in a crockpot for 6 hours versus meat sauteed for 5 minutes. One will often find hydrolysed vegetable protein in processed foods. It’s a flavor enhancer and is frequently marked as “hidden msg”.
    “High temperature hydrolysis (at 160 °C for 45–60 min, at 170 °C for 30–45 min and 180 °C for 30 min) is recommended for those who would like to hydrolyse the protein for short times…but do not wish to use enzyme hydrolysis”.,wish%20to%20use%20enzyme%20hydrolysis.

    1. Al

      Many food vendors in SE Asia have recipes which they pass on to their children and a lot of places specialize in a single dish which they have perfected over time. When living in Thailand in 2012 we often ate at our favorite soup joint on Changklan Road which was near our apartment in Chiang Mai. The broth, which they made in a giant stock-pot appeared to have been simmering for years, perhaps for generations. It was some of the best soup I have ever had.

  23. Parker Dooley

    It turns out there is a “There” there. Unfortunately, this link only shows the “Here” side. I don’t know if I can attach an image to a reply or I would include the other side.

  24. Karl

    RE: No one will win a long war in Ukraine (Foreign Affairs)

    Actually, Russia will “win” a long war, even if it is costly, if by winning one means it will have accomplished its objectives. I see those as 1) the neutrality of Ukraine without the need of untrustworthy “Security Guarantees” from the US and the West; 2) deNazification (via the cleansing of refugees and war casualties); 3) (although not explicit this is probably a 3rd or at least a bonus): the weakening of NATO.

    The problem with the Foreign Affairs essay is it makes the fatal yet crucial assumption the West is “agreement capable”:

    ….but some elements are obvious [for a negotiated outcome]. First, a pledge that Russia’s sovereignty and integrity will be respected after a peace settlement with Ukraine. As unlikely as it may sound today, a framework, other than NATO, should be convened to ensure Russia’s place in Europe’s security architecture.

    Because the West has PROVEN itself time and again to be untrustworthy, I can see no end to this conflict that accomplishes Russia’s objectives unless Russia achieves control over all of Ukraine. This is also Gonzalo Lira’s strong belief.

    While some may say that Russia lacks the military capability to do this (and it may not right now) it may have this capability by virtual of the progressive atrophication of Ukraine’s ability to resist: loss of soldiers, equipment, munitions, logistical infrastructure and ultimately, political support at home and abroad. Every day that passes, As long Russia gets weaker less quickly than Ukraine, eventually it’s game up. This may take months to happen, but as I see it, this WILL happen.

    There is simply one necessary and sufficient condition to make this outcome a necessity for Russia: the West cannot be trusted to adhere to any security guarantee. If anyone knows how the West could make such a guarantee ironclad (as it would need to be) that would be well worth knowing.

    Even the de-militarization of the Rhineland in the Versailles Treaty turned out to be inadequate as a guarantee for France. It would be much harder to craft such a guarantee today, imho. If a guarantee is not possible, there can be no rump independent Ukraine that could become a future member of NATO.

    So Foreign Affairs (and folks like Henry Kissinger) are dreaming if they think meaningful negotiations can occur at this stage, it seems to me.

    1. juno mas

      Yes. Russia Has Already Won. By showing the mendacity of the West in all things geopolitical and economic. Putin has shown the BRICS an alternative future. The reserve currency used by the US to run a 30 Trillion deficit will slowly degrade for lack of Trust in its institutions.

      As i said back when the SMO started: we are watching a “Waterloo” in realtime.

  25. The Rev Kev

    Oh dear. Michael Beschloss, American Presidential historian, got absolutely triggered by those members of Congress who did not bend the knee to Zelensky-

    ‘Michael Beschloss
    For any Members of Congress who refused to clap for Zelenskyy, we need to know from them exactly why.’

    Then half an hour later tweeted-

    ‘Michael Beschloss
    How many Members of Congress refused to attend tonight’s speech because they do not support Zelenskyy’s Ukraine? Important to know this and why.’

    Dissent is verboten.

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