Links 12/24/2022


Dog in UK collected more than 1,000 littered bottles for recycling Washington Post (furzy)

Giant python reunited with owner after months roaming Austin BBC

Deep Learning Alone Isn’t Getting Us To Human-Like AI Nomea (David L)

Inside the billion-dollar meeting for the mega-rich who want to live forever MIT Technology Review

‘Classifying Aging as a Disease Could Speed FDA Drug Approvals’ The Hill

Meddling Parents Hire Dating Coaches for Their Grown Children Wall Street Journal (J-LS). I have always preferred getting a root canal to going on a date. Well, except a root canal has permanent physical effects and most dates don’t.

Rear window New Criterion (Anthony L). On Edward Hopper.

Bach’s accidental masterpiece New Statesman (J-LS)



ma flags a new data site:

SARS-CoV-2 structural proteins trigger periodontal fibrosis (ma)

SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BQ and XBB subvariants show exceptional immune evasion properties (guurst)


China estimates 250mn people have caught Covid in 20 days Financial Times

China sees Trojan horse in refused US vaccine offer Asia Times (Kevin W)

‘Revive habit of using masks,’ advices ex-Health min Harsh Vardhan on COVID-19 situation Republic World (J-LS)

RTPCR Test Mandatory For Foreign Arrivals From China, 4 Other Nations: Union Health Min Republic World (J-LS)


Facts and figures about toxic chemicals in agriculture 2022 Pesticide Atlas (guurst)

EPA Tightens Rules on Pollution From Vans, Buses and Trucks New York Times

Zimbabwe Has Banned the Export of Raw Lithium Quartz


Manila hardens South China Sea defences Bangkok Post (furzy)

China sees Trojan horse in refused US vaccine offer Asia Times (Kevin W)

Japan eyes global military power status Asia Times (Kevin W)


South Africa marks holidays despite nationwide power cuts FirstPost (J-LS)

New Not So Cold War

Will Ukraine ever have enough Fire Power? Col Doug Macgregor Judge Napolitano, YouTube

Has NATO’s Strategy To Bleed Russia Backfired? Larry Johnson

Of Note. Andrei Martyanov (guurst). On Russia increasing the size of its armed forces

Bakhmut Meatgrinder & Copium Mark Sleboda (Stevelancs). Good overview.

Kiev is mulling peace plan, WSJ reports RT

* * *

The Claim That The Ukraine War Advances US Interests Discredits The Claim That It’s “Unprovoked” Caitlin Johnstone (Kevin W)

* * *

Putin, Isolated and Distrustful, Leans on Handful of Hard-Line Advisers Wall Street Journal. Neocons gotta neocon.

Sixty years on from the Cuban missile crisis, the US has learned its lessons – but Putin has not Guardian (Kevin W)

Russia’s militarization of the Arctic shows no sign of slowing down CNN (furzy)

* * *

EU price cap on gas could push suppliers to other markets – Novak Interfax (guurst)

* * *



The US Captagon Act: Tightening Syria’s siege under new pretext The Cradle (guurst)

Israel: How Netanyahu handed Ben-Gvir the gun to start an annexation war Jonathan Cook, Middle East Eye (guurst)

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Cover Your Tracks Electronic Frontier Foundation (David L)

As Long as We’re on the Subject of CAPTCHAs Bruce Schneier (David L)

Meta agrees to pay $725 million to settle lawsuit over Cambridge Analytica data leak CNN (Kevin W)


The Facts Underpinning Jan. 6 Committee Criminal Referrals (furzy). I have trouble with the claim that Trump had a plan, as opposed to some impulses.


Judge slams Trump suit aimed at blocking N.Y. attorney general probe Politico (furzy)


SEVEN THESES ON AMERICAN POLITICS New Left Economics. Robin K: “Biden economics.”

DOJ takes on ’True the Vote’ Vigilantes — finally! Greg Palast, YouTube

Judge strips Alex Jones of bankruptcy protections after he tried to dodge $1.5B Sandy Hook judgment Salon (furzy)

Our No Longer Free Press

1 big thing — Exclusive: Bloomberg eyes WSJ, WaPo Axios (furzy)

No Free PACER as US Lawmakers Exclude Proposal from Spending Bill Reuters

The Bezzle

Bankman-Fried associate admits to misuse of FTX customer funds Financial Times. Could be inferred from revised SEC filing. Nevertheless:

Ellison, the former head of FTX’s trading affiliate Alameda Research who pleaded guilty to seven criminal charges on Monday, told a New York judge that from 2019 to 2022 the firm had access to “an unlimited line of credit on” and that she “knew that it was wrong”, according to a transcript of the plea hearing made available on Friday.

“I understood that FTX executives had implemented special settings on Alameda’s account to maintain negative balances in various fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies,” Ellison said at the hearing, just days before Bankman-Fried was extradited from the Bahamas to the US.

She added that she “understood that if Alameda’s FTX accounts had significant negative balances in any particular currency, it meant that Alameda was borrowing funds that FTX’s customers had deposited”….

Ellison’s testimony on Monday afternoon was kept secret for days. Federal prosecutors had argued that revealing her plea might make it more difficult to convince Bankman-Fried, who has been charged with eight criminal counts, to allow himself to be brought back from the Bahamas to New York and be arraigned.

Bankman-Fried Judge Recused Because Husband’s Firm Advised FTX Bloomberg. Being a stickler, I had taken issue with earlier reports from a website that will go unnamed that argued the judge needed to recuse herself because Davis Polk, her husband’s firm, had represented BlockFi on a loan to FTX. Earth to base, in that case, BlockFi had interests adverse to FTX and so no conflict of interest. Apparently there was also a direct Davis Polk representation of FTX or an FTX entity too (note the conflict between the FTX and BlockFi representation was likely waived by whichever party hired Davis Polk later; it often happens at big firms. Consultants get vastly more confidential information than law firms do. In my day, McKinsey represented Citibank, Chase, Merrill, and the then Manufacturers Hanover. Different partners on each account and they did not share associates. And those partners hated each other).

How Big Tech fought antitrust reform — and won The Hill

Bank Error in Our Favor Matt Stoller (Chuck L)

FTC orders Mastercard to not block use of competing debit payment networks The Hill (Kevin W)

Elon Musk’s Finances Complicated by Declining Wealth, Twitter Pressures Wall Street Journal

Class Warfare

University of California workers approve contract agreement, ending longest higher education strike in U.S. Politico

Antidote du jour. The elk regulars lounging in Teton Time’s yard.

And a bonus (Robin K):

And a second bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Ignacio

    Aging as a disease. What about classifying ‘neocon’ as a mental disorder in need of sedation? Very much like in a Woody Allen film with a title I can’t remember now, though there the blame was put on a brain tumour.

    1. Pat

      Only if neoliberal is too. I realize practically every elected official and most top government officials would be out cold on something like a barbiturate drip but honestly wouldn’t the world be better off.

      1. ambrit

        Forget the barbies. The anesthetic of choice for politicos is money. Like other “foreign substances,” one develops a tolerance and, over time, require higher and higher dose levels to achieve the same result. All pushers, er, lobbyists, learn this early on in their careers.

        1. GramSci

          Money is just a manifestation of testosterone. They’re all fight and no flight. Social darwinism.

          Merry Christmas, all! Peace on Earth, goodwill to all.

    2. Pavel

      Woody’s character Mickey thought he had a brain tumour in “Hannah and Her Sisters” — one of Allen’s best IMO. And what a cast.

      1. Ignacio

        Though I agree with you on “Hannah and Her Sisters” the character I wrote about is the son of a liberal played by Alan Alda who turns kind of extreme neocon or something. When the tumour is removed he turns sane.

  2. The Rev Kev

    ‘Artemovsk / Bakhmut. US soldiers ‘resign’ from the military and go and fight as merc’s. It allows NATO to deny its fighting on the ground. Footage like this show NATO is very much involved.’

    No surprise this though that might have been an Irish accent from that guy. You keep on coming across them from time to time in videos but I would not be surprised to see American soldiers on ‘detached duty’ to report back to the Pentagon the nature of ground warfare and how the lessons can be learned by other formations. But being under artillery bombardment is no joke. This guy called Lindybeige has a YouTube channel on militaria and he has been mentioned on NC in the past though unfortunately he has drunk the kool-aid on this war. The past three videos of his channel he has been interviewing a British volunteer that was fighting with the International Legion in the Ukraine. The first video was on his experiences, the second on useful and useless kit to carry but the third is called ‘What it is like to be shelled by the Russians.’ He said that the basic idea is to grab onto the edges of your helmet and pull yourself up inside- (41:54 mins)

    And if you are wondering what it is like to get hit by Russian artillery, it is simple. Your parents receive a letter saying that your son is now spread over the following map coordinates. Gunna be worse in Bakhmut soon. Colonel Doug Macgregor has said that the Ukrainians are now recruiting 13 and 14 year olds as well as disabled people to send to the front.

    1. Polar Socialist

      On the Russian TG channels I’ve seen claims (by Ukrainian POWs) that the Polish Krab self-propelled artillery pieces are operated by Polish volunteers – who after firing a salvo from the thing skedaddle to safety and it’s for the Ukrainian “crew” to get the gun out of the counter-battery fire.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Did you see the bit where it said-

        ‘Just before their 50th reunion in 1992, the AVG veterans were retroactively recognized as members of the U.S. military services during the seven months the group was in combat against the Japanese.’

        That confirms something that I read. Pappy Boyington from that group was saying that the regular services initially did not want to know them after they got back from China and left them spinning their wheels.

      2. Not Again

        The second thing that came to me was The Logan Act. But I guess we only prosecute Trump officials for those violations.

        Logan Act
        The Logan Act (18 U.S.C.A. § 953 [1948]) is a single federal statute making it a crime for a citizen to confer with foreign governments against the interests of the United States. Specifically, it prohibits citizens from negotiating with other nations on behalf of the United States without authorization.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Is there any evidence that it wasn’t? No doubt if you had access to the right resources, that you would be able to pinpoint exactly where that firefight was from those houses shown. It would be more surprising if there weren’t videos coming out of that part of the front.

        1. Cetra Ess

          What strikes me about the video is how they seem suprised they’re being fired upon. They’re exclaiming that they’re under fire, uttering profanities, like this is a new experience for them, not the routine. They’re not merely saying “contact 6 oclock, 3rd building over from the right” then formulating a plan. They’re saying “look at the impact damage on that house, they’re actually firing on us.” At some point doesn’t being fired upon become not worth commenting about, adds unecessary and useless noise to the communication bandwidth? These are not cool operators. Not acclimatized to being under fire. So I dunno why David is wondering about the location, I see no reason to dispute that, but I’m certainly wondering who these panicky newbs are who aren’t really communicating effectively or helping with their squad morale with these exclamations, I don’t get a sense they’re trained.

      2. vao

        Why do you ask? Has something in that specific video raised your suspicion?

        By the way, a few times I found videos about the fighting in the Donbass (from the Ukrainian side) where some of the participants spoke French, usually with a foreign accent. I cannot remember exactly, but the last time must have been during the summer. On the other hand, videos with Georgians and native English-speaking fighters continue to trickle.

    2. timbers

      I would like to think the reported Polish troop build up is to take a few provinces in western Ukraine and absorb them. This would after all contribute to diminishing Ukraine as a future threat. But it is also possible the US has designs to make Poland the next battering ram against Russia. Have seen many comments that nuclear war between Russia and the West is inevitable or at least the planned intention of the neocons who have no intention of stopping including nuclear war. Getting Poland into a fire fight with Russia might do the trick.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I figure Warsaw has done the math and given up on dreams of absorption as its just too costly. This is just for show. The Russians don’t have the air shield to invade NATO, and they all know this. Western Ukraine really doesn’t have anything worth seizing even for private concerns. Otherwise colonies are cash sinks. Since they probably want at least the men to go home, they aren’t going to open up the border to properly assimilate.

        The current White House spin is Russia isn’t open to negotiations. Im not sure about expectations in the WH, but i suspect they have heard “agreement incapable” quite a bit recently. So I’m sure they are going to the Clinton play book of accusing foes of what you are doing. The plan of London based oligarchs tsking Putin was never a viable plan, but it was the plan. It’s projection on the part of Western politicos who worship at the altar of oligarchs. Too many politicians are too invested to back down, but I’m sure plenty are looking for an off ramp. The Cuban Missile article is interesting because Khruschev promised to keep the del secret. This is probably what the West wants as if Putin doesn’t have an electorate or remembers what happened to Khruschev.

    1. semper loquitur

      I grew up in the mountains of Pennsylvania in the early ’70’s. Three feet of snow in mid-October wasn’t uncommon. After the snow plows would come through, the piles of snow on the sides of the road would reach 8′ to 10′. We would burrow into them, making tunnels and turrets for some epic snowball fights.

      On occasion, it would rain and then a cold snap would hit. I would wake up to find the forest around my house coated in a centimeter of ice, tree branches bowed to the ground forming arches and tunnels, and the sun blazing through it like countless sparkling diamonds. Those were good days.

      1. Glen

        We’re “recovering” from freezing rain in the PNW. Yesterday it was as bad as I have ever seen, a thick layer of ice on everything. Luckily, we didn’t have to go anywhere except taking care of our critters and out to the wood shed to get firewood (but even those short trips was slippery as all get out). It started raining this morning and now even most of the snow is gone.

        Here’s hoping everybody is warm and safe getting through this storm.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        Thanks. And thanks for the link to Art Cullen’s website. Back in the mid-20th century my dad had a mfgr’s rep business and one of his customers was in Storm Lake. We lived just across the border in southern MN in a town of similar size.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That chart was totally unexpected. I would have guessed that the Cubans ranked very high but I thought that it would have been the Chinese on top. I find it hard to understand how the US, UK, Germany and Japan are so low in rankings here. Unless it is a cultural thing where men are more likely to get the scientific resources over women and that might make sense. After all, look how women were pushed out of computing in the early days until you had a bro culture in place in Silicon Valley.

      That doctors chart that you linked to Lexx had Qatar and Monaco as the countries with the most doctors per capita. I wonder how many of them are ‘native born’ doctors.

      1. Lexx

        Same. I would have thought the Chinese ranked higher. Every time I read an interesting scientific paper and check the names of the authors, they are inevitably Chinese. Better funding? Also wondered if physician candidates were all native born. Students seeking a medical education are traveling the world to whatever medical school will have them at a price they can afford.

      2. vao

        I am not surprised about Germany. At heart, it is a very conservative society and women have it hard when it comes to staking their claim in traditionally masculine, typically German fields such as engineering. Japan is probably not a surprise either.

        It has been reported that since its turn to capitalism under Deng Xiao Ping, the much vaunted equality between genders imposed by communism has been progressively and partially supplanted by a return to a traditional subaltern position for women. So the figure for China is only a half-surprise.

        However, the graph is for “selected countries” and probably organized to maximize the “wow” factor. Other countries that produce a lot of patents (especially relative to their population) are Sweden and Switzerland, but they do not appear in the chart.

        1. anon in so cal

          Used to be the case that Germany had more traditional norms in the sense that women were encouraged to care for their own infants and toddlers, rather than dashing back to work and placing the children in whatever daycare was available. May be part of the patent dynamic.

          Within the US, patents are contentious and apparently have significant up-front costs.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        In the US, we don’t have a strategy of any sort beyond relying on colleges to found medical schools. In the past, the American Bar Association controlled the number of attorneys, and a little college looking to grow could either found a law school or a med school for relatively similar upfront costs. Medicine advanced beyond the need for a copy of grey’s and the occasional cadaver (people died all the time), and the Supreme Court said the ABA couldn’t control the number of attorneys. A bunch of law schools opened or expanded without corresponding medical schools because it was simply cheaper. A laws school needs a library.

      4. digi_owl

        The computing thing was an artifact of it early on being seen as secretarial work.

        After all, before and during WW2 computer was the job title of a young lady sitting around doing math by hand all day.

        Much of their early task was to take notes from the professors and enter them onto the punch cards and paper tapes so they could be fed to the mainframe by the lab coats over night.

        Video terminals and timeshare/multitasking was what brought the boys in, though early on they were the “nerds” that used the computer lab as a refuge from the jocks and their entourage.

        The bros really invaded with the dot-com, smelling money.

      5. Oh

        The inventions by women in the countries low on the list have probably been swiped by men who put their name on the patents! Who knows?

    2. Mark Gisleson

      My narrow window into the world of academia of decades ago would suggest that perhaps the USA is not quite this backward, simply that the current seniority system lets older (mostly male) inventors and scientists grab all the credit.

      I suspect we have more than a few Einstein’s Wifes out there, doing the hard work while others put their name first on the patent application/journal publication.

  3. Mikel

    “SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BQ and XBB subvariants show exceptional immune evasion properties”

    From the headline, I thought that it must be about the virus and the immune system.
    But no…
    These are non-sterilizing shots. “Immune” is not happening with the shots.
    So what am I missing about this study?

    Why are officials still using the marketing term “break through infections” in relation to the shots? The shots never prevented infection, so how is any infection “breakthrough?”

    1. ambrit

      It’s all propaganda. The “Powers” need to promote the idea that the shots are proper vaccines so that they can then ‘ignore’ any other useful treatments. This creates the perfect monopoly profit situation. If, “officially” only “vaccines” work, then insurance companies can only be expected to foot the bill for “vaccines.” All else will be the ‘consumer’s’ responsibility. Secondly, most effective treatments other than the “vaccines” are generic, and thus not high profit items for Bigg Pharma. The rest of that plot writes itself.

    2. Ignacio

      Immune evasion is defined there as reaction against existing antisera from previously vaccinated/infected individuals with different infection/vaccination histories. Defined almost certainly as neutralizing antibody titres, so a fairly quantitative trait as such. That is it. Don’t mess with immunity/non immunity it is about potential protection in general (against infection, severe infection, blah, blah, blah).

    3. marku52

      DR Been discusses a zinc study. Zinc as a treatment for covid was a statistically significant treatment vs placebo, improved % to ICU and time to recovery.

      25mg elemental 2X perday, which is a lot. Also, the positive effect increased as time went on, up to 30 day end of study.

      Dr Been points out that it’s mechanism of action is independent of variant.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      The immune evasion also applies to the short-term immunity conferred by infection. You have the construct seriously wrong. Omicron was similarly immune evasive.

  4. timbers

    China sees Trojan horse in refused US vaccine offer Asia Times (Kevin W)

    Trojan horse now that’s just silly. The Trojan is not Trojan it is in plain sight and it’s not a horse it’s a snarling rabid Pit Bull.

    Lindsay Graham the other day on FOX – “We need to break Russia and take out Putin and then do the same to China”

    1. Screwball

      Lindsay Graham the other day on FOX – “We need to break Russia and take out Putin and then do the same to China”

      Somebody give Graham a gun and a credit card and tell him to go have at it.

      How can anyone this insane be in office this long?

      1. Carla

        I think you mean, “How can anyone who is so stunningly obvious in his insanity be in office this long?”

        They are all just as insane, or close to it, but most of them play-act some semblance of PMC “normality.” And they’re livin’ the good life!

      2. skippy

        Yet its the same cable network that has Tucker saying just the opposite … so it can continue spewing monkey goo regardless of the latter day outcomes .. Cha-Ching .. and everyone one is more ignorant than before …

  5. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Sixty years on from the Cuban missile crisis, the US has learned its lessons – but Putin has not

    Um, back in the 60s it was the Soviet Union trying to sneakily place weapons within striking distance of the US. Fast forward 60 years and it’s the US sneakily trying to place weapons within striking distance of Russia. Kennedy got Russia to back down without starting a larger war. Putin tried to get the US to do the same bit the US refused and a larger war has ensued. So who exactly didn’t learn the lesson here?

    Does the author of this Grauniad piece have any understanding of history? Does he think the public is so pummeled by propaganda they’ll just swallow this tripe? Or perhaps he’s just another neoliberal psychopath.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I think its important to understand the playing field and the rules of the game in journalism. Those in the media enter the field and play by the rules to get a paycheck. Although my experience is not vast I’ve seen enough to have seen people “believe” in the narrative that is a requirement for employment and therefore start from premises (Putin/Russia/Iran/China bad) and work their way into an analyses based on faulty assumptions that these people not because they are stupid but because they are smart. People in the game only associate with people who believe in a false narrative and have forgotten that to arrive at truth we have to question our assumptions. But the news industry is an industry and at this historical time-frame in the West its job is propaganda not news as it was once thought. I’ve seen this in the Washington/NYC milieu.

    2. ambrit

      A revisionist comment.
      The Russians back in the 1960s were responding to America placing early ICBMs in ‘forward positions’ in Turkey and Italy.
      See (Check Service History):,these%20plans%20were%20later%20canceled.
      As for propaganda, I observe that Elites of various sorts always believe their own propaganda. When non-elites refuse to believe the propaganda, they are demonized and ‘punished’ for “lack of faith.”

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Yes, thank you for the extra history. I considering mentioning that Kennedy also agreed to withdraw some US weaponry in a larger deal with the Soviets to keep the war cold, but went for succintness since I sometimes have a tendency to ramble on…

        And thanks for the note on propaganda – I often forget that some of the pushers are high on their own supply. It boggles my mind that supposedly intelligent people believe this stuff, yet they do.

        1. TimH

          Just try pointing out a few anti-the-people actions (AT&T, banks, MERS…) that Obama took on entering office, and see how angry true blue Dem voters get.

          Similar with pro-Brexiteers in UK.

          People do not want to be told that they were fooled, and they certainly won’t change their viewpoint.

            1. skippy

              Jamie got prez cuff links and a traffic fine without any guilt attached … oh and who were the policy experts on Basel again – ???? – took on lmmao … lest we forget the state Ag barn ride …

            2. lyman alpha blob

              I think TimH is saying that the Dem true believers don’t like hearing that St. Obama was so pro-bank (anti-the-people) as it doesn’t fit the Obama=hero narrative, but nonetheless he was.

        2. ambrit

          Your rambles are usually interesting and informative. No problem there.
          I know not about the generality of the NC Commenteriat, but I have been increasingly encountering the “demonizing” response to my stating ‘non-official’ viewpoints. The societal stress seems to be increasing. When it finally snaps……

      2. Don

        Thanks for your post — few seem to know that the quid quo pro for Russia was the removal of US missiles from Turkey and environs.

    3. Stephen

      I agree with your overall take.

      To be fair though, I think the Soviets were at least in part responding to US missiles being placed in Turkey. Love the way the article simply refers to them as “obsolete” (in what way exactly, and if so why put them there to start with) and fails to talk of them as being in any way provocative. It also seems not to mention the Bay of Pigs, unless I missed it amidst my blood pressure going up as I read this gibberish.

      I am not in any way an expert on the historiography of the Cuban Missile Crisis but if an alleged professor of history misses out such facts then it must be deliberate. Will continue to avoid the modern Guardian and the modern day LSE. This guy seems to be into one sided analysis. Not worth spending too much energy picking apart all the other holes in the propaganda, such as Ukraine “relinquishing the nuclear status” that it never had as a country to start with. Shocking. No doubt it influences the propagandised western masses and reinforces the narrative. He has earned his fee.

      Probably best reread by substituting Biden in every place that refers to Putin. The article might work then.

    4. Bruno

      Most of not were not alive, or not politically alive, in 1962. Some of those who were, though, remember that the Bay Of Pigs Boys and the Dulles Cabal were putting Kennedy under extreme pressure to reactivate the Invasion of Cuba Operation. By staging the Missile Crisis Kabuki, it seemed to me at the time and has been quite confirmed ever since, Khruschchev, Kennedy (who paid for his good deed with his life), and Castro permanently secured Cuba from invasion and removed a primary threat (the “Jupiters” in Turkey) to Moscow. Since (as Fidel immdiately said to Jean Daniel on 22/11/62) “It’s all over now”) the real story has disappeared from the pages of what is called “Diplomatic History.”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Since they are mentioning the missile crisis, I figure the behind the scenes is for a deal the Russians promise to keep secret. Of course, Moscow knows how it turned out for Khruschev. He didn’t get to be a winner.

    1. lambert strether

      Should be clarifying.

      I hope Taibbi does release the story on Chistmas morning. Give the family something to talk about.

      1. Craig H.

        Competing trends on twitter:

        Taibi is just a conspiracy theorist


        Taibi is just a professional character assassin.

        You cannot argue with a person whose career depends on denial maintenance. : (

    2. KLG

      And this at the end of Taibbi’s update:

      “Sometime in the last decade, many people — I was one — began to feel robbed of their sense of normalcy by something we couldn’t define. Increasingly glued to our phones, we saw that the version of the world that was spat out at us from them seemed distorted. The public’s reactions to various news events seemed off-kilter, being either way too intense, not intense enough, or simply unbelievable. You’d read that seemingly everyone in the world was in agreement that a certain thing was true, except it seemed ridiculous to you, which put you in an awkward place with friends, family, others. Should you say something? Are you the crazy one?” (emphasis added)

      My PMC peeps think I’m the crazy one, among other things because I have never been afflicted with TDS!

      Happy Holidays to all of NC!

      1. Screwball

        My PMC peeps think I’m the crazy one, among other things because I have never been afflicted with TDS!

        Mine too. Wait until they figure out they are the ones that have been wrong about just about everything for the last 6 years. Oh, wait, that will never happen.

      2. fresno dan

        So we had a zoom holiday meeting – old co-worker friends from 20 years ago. And the woman who was by far the most liberal, most vehemently anti Iraq war is no 1 thousand percent PRO Ukraine war. I just wonder how someone who could see the Iraq nonsense so clearly has now been so sucked into the anti Putin fervor. I think the most likely explanation is that the zeitgeist says Putin supports Trump, and therefore Putin is as bad as Trump. And of course Trump is all bad because that is all you are permitted to believe, elsewise excommunication. Easy to see how there is so much group think when only the “right thinking” liberals are allowed on MSNBC and CNN, and even FOX and the major networks hew to the party line when it comes to Putin – no independent thinking allowed.

      3. Lambert Strether

        > You’d read that seemingly everyone in the world was in agreement that a certain thing was true, except it seemed ridiculous to you, which put you in an awkward place with friends, family, others.

        Some in the Blue Check Twittersphere are ridiculing Taibbi for this statement. Proving his point!

        I would like to be able to draw a line more precisely than the last decade. Bush made the political class cray cray with Iraq WMDs but it seemed like a one-off. The Obama did some fancy tap-dancing during the Great Financial Crisis, and did seem to see PR as an answer to all problems (as Yves has pointed out), but the scale and scope of this effort seems new.

        I think the fuse was laid when Obama didn’t prosecute anyone for torture. That cemented the Democrat alliance or “emblobment” with the intelligence community (without that alliance RussiaGate doesn’t happen, nor turning social media into one of the organs of state security). In class terms, this “emblobment” is all (hegemonic) PMC, including very much those who work “in government” in the extremely wealthy Northern Virginia suburbs, the executives and moderation-policy makers in extremely wealthy Silicon Valley, intelligence community chiefs (the 50+ who signed the Hunter Biden laptop letter) who make bank on books and media appearances, well-paid coastal media luminaries, as well lower-level salaried spear-carrier assets in the press (name the journanimalist).

        I think the fuse was lit the morning after Clinton lost in 2016, when RussiaGate was initiated. That is where I would draw the line. 2016, perhaps not coincidentally, is when I think the PMC achieved class consciousness, as a reaction to Clinton’s loss. As I wrote 2020:

        The worst of it is that the PMC, the press, the intelligence community, and the Democrat Party have all tasted blood; I don’t see how, even under a Biden Restoration, the PMC or any of these institutions will revert even to their decadent conditions of 2016. In consequence, we have a professional managerial class that is, both in geopolitical terms and the daily cut and thrust of conversation and retail politics, unmoored from reality; flat earthers. And who’s to say what ___Gate will be cooked up next, since the first one worked so well? And if our politics are driven by hate and fear, projection and denial — all strategized and gaslit by well-paid experts, also from the PMC — how does “our democracy” continue to function? I find this a very painful prospect to contemplate.

        I think today we have our answer to the question I posed in 2020: Ukraine (and all it signifies).

  6. Wukchumni

    ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
    No movement was stirring, no one using a mouse
    The votes were added up with care
    In hopes that St. Kevin soon would be there

    The Congressmen were nestled all snug, team red
    While visions of drawn out drama danced in their heads
    And the Freedom Caucus in their disbelief not wanting to back
    Had issues settling for a ho-hum political hack

    When after the new year there arose such a clatter
    I sprang to my laptop to see what was the matter
    Away to the screen I flew like a flash
    Tore open new windows, did they do something rash?

    The sudden departure of the new-fallen Pelosi
    Gave the luster of imprimatur to objects below following closely
    When, what to my wondering eyes should appear
    But the Freedom Caucus, bearing their usual fear

    With a retired wrestling coach, so lively and quick
    I knew in a moment it must be Jim Jordan dashing the pick
    More rapid than eagles his coursers they came
    And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name

    “Now, Boebert! now, Gaetz! now, Gibbs and Norman!
    On, Goode! on Gosar! on, Biggs and Rosendale!
    To the top of the dais! to the top of the Congress hall
    Now dash away Kevin! dash away! dash away all!”

  7. diptherio

    Well, I guess we must be doing something right over on our cooperative Mastodon instance,, as we’ve now got VCs now stealing our branding.

    You may have read about an entity called “The Social Coop Ltd” acquiring several popular Mastodon instances. This entity has no relation whatsoever to Due to the risk of confusion, we have reached out to them to discuss the situation.

    We ( are a co-operatively run Mastodon instance that was founded in 2017. Read more about us here:

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Has NATO’s Strategy To Bleed Russia Backfired?”

    An excellent article this which gives some hard truths. You won’t find stuff like this in the main stream media and just yesterday I saw a video of a CNN crew accompany a Ukrainian team to visit – wait for it – Snake Island! Seriously? I guess that it is easy to encourage Europeans to throw everything into the Ukraine that they have when you have an ocean between you and where the action is. Just a few hours ago I thought of an analogy for this war – the Sicilian Expedition. Two and a half thousand years ago you had two major powers going to head to head when one power launched an expedition on the other side of the Mediterranean. The whole thing was a mess but the Athenians kept on doubling down again and again until they lost the lot and never recovered from this defeat-

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Well, it’s kind of that way but I think this war provides many silver linings to Washington that the Sicilian expedition did not have. We have to understand the attitudes and ideologies of those making policies in Washington. Their goal is, to be blunt, complete world domination and has been that for some time. A powerful and prosperous Europe is not in the interests of Washington–they don’t want allies they want servants and the European leaders are glad to comply. This war will create two solid camps the “free” world and the “bad” people who hate our freedoms etc. This sharp delineation is made to order for the martinets in Washington and elsewhere who hanker after a New Roman Empire (consciously or unconsciously–we have to remember this has been a dream in the West since Charlemagne–look at the public buildings in Washington).

      The hope of the imperialists, also, is to galvanize the populations of the West to see themselves heroically involved in a grand crusade to save the world and rid us of the world of evil. Yes, foreign policy types actually think that way or have to think that way in order to keep their positions both socially and in terms of career and they will and do work tirelessly towards the goals of the Empire. We’ll see if these policies will last but these true-believers won’t go quietly.

      1. Dftbs

        I agree with your description of how Washington’s elite see the present situation. The problem with their perception is what Larry Johnson is trying to highlight. All those “silver linings” exist solely within the narrative those elites have spun in their imagination.

        In the real world they are fast becoming Lords of the flies. They can only exert an ever more limited influence over decaying polities with economic, productive and moral deficits.

        They may succeed for a time in galvanizing “the populations of the West to see themselves heroically involved in a grand crusade to save the world and rid us of the world of evil.” But those populations lack the productive and moral capacities to exert any agency beyond deciding what to watch on Netflix (sometimes even this choice is too burdensome).

        Controlling the narrative is all well and good, so long as that narrative isn’t tested by reality. And unfortunately reality isn’t on the side of DC

        1. Chris Cosmos

          As T. S. Eliot wrote, “humankind can not bear very much reality” and this is doubly so for Americans and perhaps three time so in Europe. The cultural reality today is that we live in an aggressively post-rational and anti-enlightenment era both for the body politic and tragically in the realm of the intelligentsia. Reality, which you and I might agree on has no place in Washington if you remember the famous quote by Carl Rove which applies to all Washington regimes:

          We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

          Ukraine like Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq will simply disappear down the memory hole and anyone bringing those subjects up will suffer in their careers. If Russia truly “wins” (whatever that would be) it will be spun out of recognition. The West can truly shape reality in whatever form it wants–our job is to wake up and help others to do the same.

          1. dftbs

            “The West can truly shape reality in whatever form it wants–“ I think that’s where we may disagree slightly. The power apparatus of the “West” certainly seems to spend the largest portion of its treasure in the pursuit of narrative control, from the morning paper to the grand (ultimately flimsy) philosophical architecture of post-modern liberalism. But this is a fools errand.

            As the fine print says: Past results are not indicative of future performance. That the West was able to do this wasn’t a consequence of the strength of its propaganda or the quality of its philosophy. It was the result of its relative material prosperity due to its overwhelming productive capacity.

            It was easy to think our system was the best because we appeared to have the most. Of course the fact that our previous historical competitor had survived nearly a half a century of continuous warfare, most of it in its home soil, and lost nearly 15% of its population to a genocidal invasion never factored into our notions of why we had more than they did.

            This isn’t the case anymore, the vast portion of the worlds productive capacity resides outside the US and more specifically within the borders of our antagonists. We can throw all the money we want at the machine spinning our fictions, but the return is non-existent. Sure the bright lights of the stadium will shine on the Tennessee Titans, but the rest of the state is freezing on Christmas eve due to rolling blackouts. Alas, we must hold the narrative of prosperity firmly in our frostbitten hands.

            I don’t know what Russia truly winning looks like. I’m sure the capable people at the Kremlin have their own metrics for success. But look around and see what us truly losing looks like. Lowered quality of life, shrinking life expectancy and the illusory palliative of the metaphorical and literal brain candy thrown our way.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Good article from Johnson, but the best part was the joke at the end RE: Zelensky’s sartorial choices – funny stuff!

      RE: the Sicilian expedition – just goes to show what happens when war is waged for one’s own fun and profit. Alcibiades is one of the more interesting characters from ancient history, and he was also a self serving oligarch.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        One other thing about the Peloponnesian war – not only was Athens’ power greatly diminished as a result, but Sparta ceased being historically important at all. Athens at least remained a cultural center if not a military power. Within a few decades of the end of the war, Thebes was the most powerful state on the Greek world, although that didn’t last long either.

        Analogies can only be taken so far though – I don’t see a rapid decline for Russia whether they achieve their objectives in Ukraine or not. Spartan oligarchs basically bred themselves out of existence whereas Russia has embraced diversity in its population to a much greater extent.

        1. DJG, Reality Czar

          lyman alpha blob: Epaminondas defeated the Spartans by freeing the helots, which ruined Sparta’s demographic experiment. Freeing large populations of slaves will do that,

          Yet Thebes’s preeminence hardly survived Epaminondas.

          The ancient Greek world was too fragmented to give us many lessons in this regard: The idea of a nation-state didn’t even exist back then.

          I blame it all on scoundrelly Alcibiades and his involvement in the desecration of the herms. Don’t mess with Hermes.

    3. fresno dan

      Will Ukraine ever have enough Fire Power? Col Doug Macgregor Judge Napolitano, YouTube
      One overlooked snippet of this podcast is that Napolitano notes they had 93 viewers a week last year when they started, now they have over a million a week. Slowly, the truth is becoming available.
      What is happening to our MSM reminds me of what is happening to Ukraine – both refuse to acknowledge reality, but Russia will pound them until they accept it.
      In Pravda (Truth) there is no news (Izvestya) In Izvestya (News) there is no truth (Pravda). We can now officially replace Pravda and Izvestya with the WP and NYT…

      1. Old Sovietologist

        Strikes need delivered directly to high-ranking representatives of the Ukrainian leadership and the bridges across the Dnieper have to be destroyed.

        Ten months to late but better late than never.

        A continuation with half-measures and the war will go on for at least another year, and the losses on both sides will be colossal, and the infrastructure, including in the annexing territories, will be destroyed.

        The Russian Govt is till captivated by illusions and hopes for reconciliation with the West and therefore there are no decisive and tough actions. Russia is not at war, yes, the army, but not the country.

        The country is preparing for the New Year, holding Christmas corporate parties, relaxing and many still moaning about the blocking of Instagram

        Even after 10 months, the Kremlin hasn’t decided what it wants from the NWO and there is definitely no strategy for Victory.

        1. Cine Tee

          There were a couple of months in early summer when Putin waited for more people at home to start calling for him to get more aggressive, but once the public opinion came along, he switched Russia to a full war footing and has been on a steady and methodical plan since then.

          Russia is fighting a war of resource attrition while Ukraine is trying to fight a land map war. Russia’s “meat-grinder” has reduced the Ukrainian forces significantly while the reservists from the Russian mobilization have been getting ready.

          Also, Russia wasn’t going to advance while the mud season was still on. They seem on track for Ukrainian de-militarization by the end of summer.

          If you follow Mercouris, Brian Berletic, Scott Ritter, or Douglas MacGregor, there doesn’t seem to be any indecisiveness. In fact, Surovikin is looking like a dominant strategist so far, though, the big fights are up ahead.

        2. Tom Bradford

          The Russian Govt is till captivated by illusions and hopes for reconciliation with the West

          Alexander Mercouris’ lengthy examination of a recent speech by Putin* refutes this claim utterly. Putin’s fury at what he regards as the West’s contempt and rejection of Russian overtures towards inclusion in Europe and ‘the West’ since the ‘fall’ of the Soviet Union was palpable. He even went so far as to apologise to the Russian people for sticking with the attempt even after ‘the West’ betrayed the intended settlement of the Ukraine problem via Minsk II, as Angela Merkal has so bluntly revealed was always the intention.

          No, the Russian Govt. no longer has any illusions and hopes for reconciliation with the West. The boat has sailed, bridges have been burned on that one, and the world’s direction has fundamentally changed with an expanded BRICS and Asia gathering speed on the runway for the future while the US and Europe sink into third-world poverty in the ruins of Empire.


    4. Bruno

      Wikipedia, as usual, merely restates false conventional clichés. At the time, Athens and Sparta were *not* “going head to head”–they in fact were at peace with each other (“The Peace of Nikias.”) The project of Alkibiades and his friends (Sokrates!) was directed against Carthage–it’s goal was to unite the Greek world of eastern Sicily (replacing the regional hegemon, Syracusa) with an Athenian-led coalition against the Carthaginians who were dominant in western Sicily, the Balearics, and Spain. It was overwhelmingly supported by the Athenian working class (the sailors!) and just as strongly opposed by the aristocrats who effectively sabotaged it by putting their man, Nikias, into joint command with Alkibiades and then recalling Alkibiades to Athens (his supporters being aboardship) on entirely specious “blasphemy” charges (centuries later, the Roman Senate failed ludicrously when it tried similar tricks against Caesar with first Bibulus and, later, Pompey).
      The Persian and Carthaginian empires (Rome did not yet matter) had a strong interest in the failure of the Alkibiades enterprise. Thucydides, of course, in his brilliant anti-Alkibiades slanders, makes no mention of such influences in the Athenian debates.

      **on Nikias, see Plato’s dialog “Laches.” on the Sicilian Expedition, see “The Last of the Wine” by Mary Renault.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Inside the billion-dollar meeting for the mega-rich who want to live forever”

    It’s kinda sad reading about these people. They all want to cheat death, even if they take stuff that might actually kill them. But supposing that they work out how to live until 120 years old. A lot of people are so crippled and beset by pain by their 90s that they would actually like to have their ticket punched. Imagine living like that – but for another thirty years. There is another way. SciFi author Robert Heinlein wrote about the Howard families in several of his novels. The gist was about a man who made his fortune in the US Civil War-

    ‘Because Ira Howard, a self-made Victorian era millionaire, finds himself dying of old age while in his mid-40s, his Will institutes a foundation to encourage discovery of a means to prolong human life. To this end the Howard Foundation contacts people whose grandparents live to be 100 or more and encourages them to marry. For each child born of such union, it awards the parents a monetary bonus. Offspring that intermarry receive the same incentives, and their descendants eventually achieve a natural lifespan exceeding two hundred years.’

    They could go that way but then again, in the novels it did not work out well and they were all forced to leave Earth because everybody wanted to kill them after torturing them for their secret about long life because they were cheating death.

    1. Wukchumni

      Was talking about dying with my mom yesterday, and she’s managed to outlive all of her lifelong friends and there’s only 4 seniors left in her assisted living place who were there when she moved in 7 years ago.

      She’s lost 30 pounds in the last 6 months and although I hesitate to compare her to cats, thats what happens when their swan song comes calling.

      I’d imagine if I asked her if she wanted to live to be 120, she’d probably look at me askance.

      1. JP

        The final wasting. Pretty common for death by aging. The dying body wants to fit in a smaller coffin. My exit fantasy is that I will just stop eating when it is my time. I hear it is the best way to go. I prefer my mind to leave my dead body. Not the other way around.

        1. Wukchumni

          My sister just informed me that our mom just tested positive for Covid, not so ho ho ho on the home front here, but it wasn’t as if we weren’t rolling the dice and knew the risk of an xmas get together.

        2. aletheia33

          it is possible to do this under medical supervision (with hospice, to treat as need any painful mental or physical developments during this process) depending on what US state you are in. in VT it is formally referred to as VSED–“voluntary stopping eating and drinking.” starvation is generally thought to be one of the easiest ways, if not the easiest way, to end one’s own life when one decides it is “one’s time.”

      2. vao

        In “Gulliver’s travels”, Swift describes an island where people may randomly be borne as immortals — and the inhabitants of the island universally consider this “gift” as a terrible curse. For while immortal, they continue to age, so that they degenerate completely, both physically and mentally, living a miserable life — treated as freaks and utterly neglected by their mortal fellow countrymen.

        1. Joe Renter

          My Mom will turn 91 in a couple weeks. I moved in with her last summer as her husband went into assisted living. Good timing on my part as she fell 3 months back and had a couple weeks in the hospital. Watching my mom and stepfather at this age is interesting. My stepdad is sharp as a tack, my mom, not so much.
          I will make sure I bail out before I reach their age. I plan to ride my bike more and, perhaps that will take care of the old age issue. Just have to make sure it’s a terminal impact. Nursing home would be a hell more than I could handle.
          As a positive ending to this rant… Happy Holidays!

        2. aletheia33

          doesn’t sound so far off from the experience and treatment of many old people in america today.

          of course, swift saw very well the natural outcome of many of the new ways of governing people of his day.

      3. Jen

        My mom’s oldest sister hung it up at 96 after her brother, the oldest of the 10 siblings died. She had always been vibrant, but it was clear she did not want to outlive her two remaining brothers. My cousin sent me a picture of her taken about a month before she passed and it was clear that she was done.

    2. Mildred Montana

      That article is long but well worth the read for those interested in the delusions and hubris of people with too much money. Whenever I read something like this I am so dumbfounded I find myself unable to put together a few articulate paragraphs so bullet points will have to suffice:

      1. The money quote: “A 67-year-old man took to the stage to tell us that, since he’d been taking his own supplement, his biological age had reversed, and he was now biologically only 49 years old. He pointed at his gray hair and unconvincingly claimed it was turning brown. The scientist next to me chuckled under his breath.” LOL.

      2. These narcissists who believe they are such ornaments to world that they are worthy of a much longer life than the rest of us have clearly not thought things out. A wise person once said, “If we live long enough we die two deaths; the first is when our last friend or relative dies.” I don’t expect any of them to have read that or even considered it.

      3. Furthermore, if great-great-great grandpa outlives all his contemporaries and thinks his great-great-great grandchildren are going to be happy to see him, he will be sorely disappointed. To them, he will be a freak from another time and only an object of creepy curiosity.

      4. The quest for extreme longevity (or even eternal life) is a sign of faithlessness in anything higher than physical life and disbelief that the laws of nature are as they should be. But then, who would expect the ultra-rich to have a faith or belief in anything but money and their own importance.

      5. Too bad NC doesn’t cater to essay-length comments, because these fools are worthy of a prolonged shredding.

      1. jsn

        DeLillo’s “Zero K” is a nice pen portrait if the pecuniarily embubbled class, though I prefer Borges’ “The Immortals”.

      2. tevhatch

        J. Swift gave us the example of the struldbrugs, people who are immortal to learn. They do not have the gift of eternal youth, but suffer the infirmities of old age and are considered legally dead at the age of eighty. This also use to be the case with corporations and trusts, something we need relearn.

    3. Samuel Conner

      A physical therapist who has seen a lot of people in the course of decades of home visits told me that she never encountered a centenarian who hadn’t been a backyard gardener earlier in life. Her interpretation of this is that the functional strength that one develops/maintains in the course of gardening (by digging, perhaps) is useful or protective (perhaps against fall risk) later in life. Perhaps there are also mental health benefits that promote longevity.

      This isn’t a promise of longevity to gardeners; “if A, then B” does not imply “if B, then A”, but it might be an incentive to take up a “hobby” that has multiple benefits.

      1. Keith Howard

        I would hypothesize that gardeners are more likely to eat well, having worked to produce vegetables and fruit, not to mention trees and landscape planting. The produce of a home vegetable garden is likely to inspire cooking and food preservation, and to develop a taste for a wide variety of healthy food. Two rules of eating I learned early in life have stood me well: Moderation in all things, and Eat a variety of foods.

        1. Samuel Conner

          Agreed — my initial impetus to take up gardening was “lower-cost veggies”. That hasn’t worked out well yet, but I’ll keep at it.

          1. ambrit

            Considering the patchy aspect of our local grocery produce sections now, “any veggies” will be the optimal outcome. You are “ahead of the curve.” Keep gardening!

          2. edwin

            Early on we sold some rhubarb to a local store. Got $50. My wife said to the owner, I don’t know if this is the easiest $50 of my life or the hardest. More recently we were having major problems with our corn being eaten. My wife contacted a farmer she knew who was growing 4 acres of corn. Asked him if he had problems with raccoons eating his corn. Yes was the answer. And what do you do about it? Nothing was the answer. The low down was he lost an acre to raccoons and harvested the rest. We don’t grow corn any more.

            Lower-cost veggies depends on the crop. Onions, Carrots, Cabbage, Lettuce, Potatoes – we probably pay more than double what they cost to buy if we are lucky. Food preservation is even less cost effective, though we do that too. Admittedly we are breading & seed saving so that decreases the effective yields.

            Blueberries, Strawberries, Black Berries, Asparagus, Sweet Potatoes (out of zone) definitely are highly cost effective. With the current price of Lettuce perhaps it should move to this column as well.

            The joys of spending three months wandering out into the garden and harvesting enough for a nice helping of blueberries each morning is more than worth any hassle to make it happen.

            I’m not counting on finding the fountain of youth any time soon. That conference in Switzerland sounds like it was just the modern equivalent.

        2. chris

          Two critically important functional skills that you need as you get older are getting up from a prone or kneeling position and falling safely. I can imagine working outside gives you familiarity in both.

          I know the older martial artists I train with are much more physically and mentally with it than those who don’t have that background. In weather like this, they know how to safely fall and get up without injury. That can only help with longevity.

      2. Mark Gisleson

        In northern climes, owning a shovel but not a snowblower is also an Rx for longevity. Not saying I’m that old, but people who know me are amazed I’m still around ; )

        A merry and a happy whatevs to all the NC crew and comments habitués.

          1. Late Introvert

            I tell people shoveling is my exercise during the winter. Just don’t have a heart attack, that snow can get super heavy.

        1. ArvidMartensen

          And in non-snowy climes where I am, all of the lawnmowers have been replaced by ride on mowers to cut grass on small front and back gardens.
          And when I have gone out to mow our large front garden, kind passers-by have offered to bring their ride on mower along to save me the trouble. I tell them its my exercise and am mostly disbelieved. And some are insistent to the point of obnoxiousness. Because older people doing anything physical is just plain irresponsible, or so the subtext seems to be.
          I forecast a lot fewer people growing older in these parts.

    4. semper loquitur

      If they are insatiable now, what do they think extended lifespans would bring them? It won’t be happiness. How many yachts can you float around on? How many dancing girls/guys can you canoodle? How many enormous houses that you cannot begin to actually use? How much fine food and wine before it loses it’s luster? What happens when it all becomes boring? These creatures are spiritually dead, husks with appetites, true zombies constantly consuming but never refreshed.

      I’m glad I’m heading into my mid-fifties. I’ll be good with ten more years if things don’t go completely amok, which it looks like they will. I’m curious to see what lays on the other side.

      1. Joe Renter

        So, it was just a long minute ago it when I was in my mid fifties, or so it seems. Fastest 10 years of my life. Now in the mid sixties and am thankful for a lot of the things we take for granted.
        My advice to anyone is to invest your time in the what you can bring with you in the after life. And if you don’t believe in that concept it is still good reflect on Socrates advice, “man know thyself”. You can’t take life from life so, we will endure through the ages.

      2. Polar Socialist

        Maybe these folks believe in the form of afterlife where their deeds are evaluated and they get the reward they deserve. So they try to put it off as much as they can.

        There’s no religion of philosophy that promises an other side where you can keep on stepping on other people with impunity.

        Wait a sec, I just came up with a business idea!

  10. Lexx

    ‘Inside the billion-dollar meeting for the mega-rich who want to live forever’ and ‘Classifying aging as a disease could speed up FDA drug approvals’

    I can see metformin and rapamycin used together to diminish inflammation and clear out the debris of aging. I might add one other: bio-identical hormones in low doses for their immune protection.

    Six weeks of metformin at 1000 mg. per day only lowered my A1C by .1, from 6.3 to 6.2. Morning fasting glucose dropped from an average of 146 to 115. The goal is still an A1C of 5.7 (or lower) and fasting average below 100. There’s an ongoing conversation I’m having with my providers about whether 70 – 100 is reasonable for women 65 and older, so I’d be interested to know what yardsticks these longevity studies are using measuring their successes should they achieve any. Is there a control group and if so, who is in it?

    My local endocrinology PA considers 1000 mg. of metformin low; my NP agreed. So the next phase (post-holidays) is to increase from 1000 to 2000 a day, while maintaining a high protein/low carb diet over six months. Given my family history of kidney disease I expected to see some evidence of negative effect on my kidneys in the battery of blood tests she ordered, but those numbers actually improved. Huh.

    One of our sweet little-old-lady neighbors brought over a ziplock full of homemade sugar bombs yesterday… I didn’t have the heart to tell her, just smiled and gratefully accepted.

    1. Vandemonian

      Good news, Lexx!

      The modest drop in your HbA1C, relative to fasting glucose, is understandable. During the 90 day lifespan of a red cell, glucose progressively binds to haemoglobin, forming a glycosylated version (HbA1C). The HbA1C gives a longer term measure of how high your blood glucose has been over the last 90 days. Following the drop in your fasting glucose your HbA1C will continue to fall, as the older red cells are replaced.

      Have you looked at 16 hour fasting as an adjunct to this intervention? I’ve been skipping breakfast, eating between 12 and 8, for years, and seem to be doing well on it. One school of thought has it that this gives the pancreas a break from its insulin production task.

      1. Lexx

        AKA, ‘intermittent fasting’? Yes, it’s been my norm since high school. Just can’t face eating for several hours after waking but by mid-morning I’m hungry and breakfast is the one meal I always eat. We are not evening eaters around here either. Dinner is usually something small and early, so there’s a big window of time before eating again.

        Your info is heartening, thank you!

  11. Wukchumni

    I’m reading the dead tree 25 page San Diego Union Tribune which sports an unusual cover price of $2.77 which is a bit spendy as they plead with you online to buy 6 months worth of newspaper for the princely sum of 1 almighty buck.

    Can somebody put this fish-wrap out of it’s misery?

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Biden admin lawsuit forces Arizona to remove shipping containers along border”

    Saw this on the news tonight and thought that this was quite ingenious on the part of Arizona. But of course now that the Biden regime is forcing Arizona to get rid of them, I am going to guess that the Democrats in most of Arizona will be as welcome as a fart in an elevator for opening up that State to illegal emigrants. If I was Arizona, I would pack everyone of them on a coach bus with fifty bucks, a meal pack and a one-way ticket to DC or Martha’s Vineyard or where Nancy lives. It’s only fair.

    Just logging off for the night here and as it has just gone into Christmas day here, I wish every one of you a very merry Christmas with high hopes for the New Year.

    1. Not Again

      Right back at you RK.

      And yes, you don’t have to worry about Biden winning AZ in 2024. The only thing that saved Mark Kelly were his ads telling people to re-elect him so that he could explain the border to “wrongheaded” Biden.

  13. Carolinian

    That’s a good Larry Johnson.

    They are pinning their hopes on getting rid of Vladimir Putin without taking a moment to consider that Putin’s replacement would likely be more nationalistic and less inclined to negotiate. We are living in an historic, epochal moment that likely signifies the beginning of the end of American dominance in world affairs.

    They include my grotesque Senator Graham who has once again suggesting killing Putin as a solution to US goals. Perhaps a better solution would be to take out Graham. We don’t have to drone Lindsey but there used to be a large state mental hospital on Bull Street in Columbia.

    1. britzklieg

      Seems to me that the “west” (especially the msm) would love a more nationalistic, less inclined to negotiate leader in Russia to keep the forever war going and the hatred of other acceptable. It fills their coffers.

    2. tevhatch

      Maybe they are hoping to replace Putin with a more nationalistic and agreement incapable leader, hoping that this will cause Russia to unwind. Putin has done a masterful job of putting both regionalism in a bottle (still there, but under control) and directing Russian ethic chauvinism into a national identity. A bigoted hard nose would undo all. Beyond the ethnic republics, Russia contains more minorities enclaves than China’s South West.

  14. hemeantwell

    The NLR article by Dylan Riley and Michael Brenner is very useful, and among its strengths is the way it tackles the concept of the PMC. They rudely — at least as far as the narcissism of the credentialed is concerned — identify the PMC as a fraction of the working class. Forget about “cultural capital,” they don’t own the means of production and so into the WC they go. Still, they do have relatively distinct interests in gaining access to the resources assembled by a regulatory state struggling to maintain a low/no growth capitalist economy. There’s much else, including a good analysis of the shift in the DP base to the credentialed WC. I’ll throw in a long sampling from the end of the article.

    Thesis Seven. Bidenism’s natural ideology is progressivism, not social democracy. There is one specificity of Bidenism that we have not yet emphasized sufficiently: its distinctive ideological profile. In direction and tone, the Administration’s policies represent the interests of the educated fraction of the working class within the context of political capitalism because that is the party’s obvious base. In this, Bidenism most strongly resem¬bles late nineteenth-century ‘Progressivism’. The Administration’s social ideal is a market economy undistorted by monopolies and managed by an open, meritocratically recruited and diverse elite. The tool used to implement this vision is the regulatory state, including a metastasizing diversity, equity and inclusion bureaucracy which has the side benefit of providing well-paid perches for members of the educated working class itself. The watchwords of this project are ‘fairness’ and ‘justice’: terms which do not describe a social ideal at all, but a state of affairs among individuals.

    All of this is worlds away from the notion of democratic control over the social surplus. We need a language to describe the new Bidenist project; ‘neo-progressivism’ is perhaps the best term. In content and intention it remains as far from socialism as its social-democratic and neoliberal forebears; but it is nevertheless a distinctive historical formation which must be theorized and studied on its own terms.

    1. jsn

      There is an inherent ontological atomization in the “individualism” of this vision.

      This “individualization” of all values and things outside “the market” will over time systematically erode all non-market social structures and institutions. It is a vision that excludes all caring, cooperation, empathy and collective action: all the secrets to our success as a species.

      To my mind, this makes Aurelian’s name, “Liberal Nihilism” the term you may be looking for.

      1. hemeantwell

        The hat trick pulled off by neo-progressives, to try out the term, is that they profess to be full of concern when someone is not able to be meritocratically recognized. In that sense they can claim to have avoided nihilism, there’s still something fair out there as opposed to just the exercise of raw power. Nancy Fraser and others have gone over this recognition vs. redistribution question pretty well.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I thought “Seven Theses on American Politics” might best have begun and ended with section I. To me, these statements:
      ” Under political capitalism, raw political power, rather than productive investment, is the key determinant of the rate of return.”
      “All these mechanisms of surplus extraction [Bush’s Prescription Drug legislation, Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Trump’s cares Act, Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the Infrastructure and chips Acts and the Inflation Reduction Act] are openly and obviously political. They allow for returns, not on the basis of investment in plant, equipment, labour and inputs to produce use values, but rather on the basis of investments in politics.”
      — constitute the deepest insights contained in this essay.

      The remaining 18 pages of tortured efforts to fit current sociological and political structures into an increasingly dated glass slipper of Marxist class analysis left me cold. I make exception for the final page and the final sentence: “Time-worn shibboleths and old patterns of thought will be inadequate to navigating whatever is coming next.”

      After Bidden’s many bate and switch initiatives I can only wonder how to regard statements like: “Bidenism’s natural ideology is progressivism, not social democracy” and “Bidenism most strongly resem¬bles late nineteenth-century ‘Progressivism'”. Am I supposed to believe Veblen would put his arm around Bidden and say Joe Bidden is ‘A Good Friend of Mine’?

      1. hemeantwell

        Marxist class analysis tends to look dated in a period in which exploitation is not directly challenged, but instead fuzzed out by gestures at government policy-based redistribution given to people who are organizationally bereft due to successful repression. To the extent people orient to government policies, their almost infinite malleability in both programmatic and ideological terms makes it very easy to continually re/disorient. Still, we can and should talk about potentials.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I believe you are referring to the oft bemoaned lack of class consciousness and the — to me — surprising effectiveness of media manufactured consent and dissent — manifold Kabuki theater and team loyalty exercises. If so, that is not what I believe dates Marxist class analysis. We live in a world of Global economies where exploitation is an export commodity. We live in a world where the capitalist class largely consists of inhuman Corporate entities that act through human surrogates. We live in a world where exploitation has assumed new forms, where human labor contributes smaller and smaller portions of the profits extracted from automation and Corporate monopoly and monopsony power. This is not the capitalism of Adam Smith’s pin factory. Now capitalism exploits nations and regions of the world, not just workers. Workers and capitalists are no longer so easily defined as classes as evidenced by the lengthy and contorted efforts at such definitions in the linked essay. I see a much more complex and nuanced world than Marx’s world of textile mills and coal mines where mining was done by double and single jacking hand-held steel drills and the miners had to buy their own candles for light. The structures of political economic power are more complex and their effective analysis requires correspondingly more complex and refined analytical tools. I look to G. Willam Domhoff — rightful successor, I believe, to C. Wright Mills — for this new analysis. I hope I might soon discover who will become his successor as he grows older.

      2. anon in so cal

        Honestly, this is a disappointing article. Moving through it, the one point it gets right is the Weberian insight that there is “a new regime of accumulation: let us call it political capitalism” characterized by “raw political power, rather than productive investment.” Otherwise, it is bereft of any genuine political or class analysis and seems to amalgamate msm takes on current dynamics.

  15. Wukchumni

    The Titans game is supposed to kickoff at 10am, reports the city of Nashville has asked the Titans to reschedule, not due to the extreme cold, but the pressure the game will put on an already maxed out power grid in the area.

  16. playon

    When I tried to repost the article about Ukraine war crimes on twitter, this is the message that appears:

    “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful. Visit our Help Center to learn more.”

    So much for Musk’s “free speech”…

  17. Wukchumni

    I’m probably done pontificating about the drought in Cali, a pair of atmospheric rivers are soon to bear down on the Golden State with a unimaginable fury for well over a week, we’re talking 10-15 feet of snow in the higher climes of the Sierra Nevada, wow!

    1. JP

      Unfortunately it’s a warm rain and that snow will all fall over 8000 ft.There is many times the area of mountains above 6000 ft as above 8000. So most of that rain will run off to water cotton and nuts to enrich Boswel, Resnik and a lot of almond growers.

      Of course in California when we get a good snow pack at lower elevations, we then get a warm spring rain that melts all the snow at once and removes bridges.

      1. Wukchumni

        There’s only a few feet of snow on the ground @ 8,000 feet and it’s more the bounty up top beyond that i’m interested in, but if say it was a warm storm that melted off everything from 10,000 feet on downwards, yikes~

  18. Dean

    Classifying aging as a disease:

    Keep eating what you’re eating America. We’ll treat the symptoms of aging by selling you a miracle pill instead.

    I wonder if the pharma lobby is pushing for this classification change of aging as a disease? After the Covid vaccine windfall, new markets must be created.

  19. Wukchumni

    {lifted from a Reddit thread}

    Here in Ecuador, our mail system just vanished. Gone. The President one day, at the peak of the pandemic, said it cost too much, and ended it. Then, it was pointed out that it put us in violation of international treaties if we had no mail at all. So he brought it back…by hiring 25 mail carriers for the whole country. There are millions of pieces of mail in total limbo. Last April I asked my sister to send me a test letter, to learn if it would disappear or return to her. It has not arrived, it has not returned to sender, it is just…gone, into the void. Today, I walked past the Post Office, in the third biggest city in this country, and there was moss growing on the steel door. Funny thing is…no one seems to care.

  20. juno mas

    RE: Bach’s accidental masterpiece

    The article is pay-walled and I didn’t read it. But the headline is likely deceptive.

    J.S. Bach’s “Well Tempered Clavier” treatise was developed in the year before the pianoforte was conceived by B. Christoferi (ca 1700).; a broad range keyboard with soft and loud tonal sound available. And it wasn’t until the 1800’s until the “escapement” mechanism was invented; which allowed rapid repetition of tonal sounds. These two improvements over a clavichord is what makes Bach’s masterpiece sound better (accidental?) 300 years later on a modern piano.

    1. Carolinian

      A more accessible piece on Bach and Gould

      Gould was the most famous—or perhaps infamous—Bach interpreter of my youth. Before I received the recording of the Inventions, I had already watched Gould on television, my parents getting me out of bed to watch the broadcasts. Before the advent of YouTube, seeing a great pianist at his instrument outside of live performance counted as a rare occurrence. That these programs on public television aired after my usual bedtime increased the feeling that they were special occasions. The broadcasts emanated from somewhere far away in Canada.

      The cameras would pan over the control room and its countless dials and knobs. It looked like the capsule of a spaceship, the illuminated piano locked in orbit on the other side of the glass in the otherwise darkened studio, its walls as black as the night sky.

      The cover of my Inventions LP showed the dark-haired, handsome head of Gould hovering, disembodied above a white background. (It was the work of the Columbia Records photographer Don Hunstein, who made celebrated images of many other famous musicians—Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis.)

      Unlike the cover, the television broadcasts from Canada proved that Gould did have a body after all. It sat on a low chair and hunched over the keyboard, the hands often lifting off the keys to gesture, conduct, or even flail. The mouth opened and closed and hummed and sang. The sounds made, sometimes hardly audible, were an uncanny commentary, a de-tuned ghosting of what the fingers played on the piano.


    2. Late Introvert

      The Bach Cello Suites are magical. I vote in favor of JS Bach the Time Traveller, the Magician who transcended time itself.

  21. Wukchumni

    I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

    The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

    Carl Sagan, in 1995

  22. Kouros

    Russia’s militarization of the Arctic shows no sign of slowing down

    So it is a big problem of what Russia is doing on its own territory and on increasing its ability to use its natural resources, ship them and defend said resources as well as controlling who goes through their waters.

    But I liked this:
    NATO has also become increasingly concerned about the potential sabotage of Norway’s oil and gas infrastructure. Now Russian energy is subject to sanctions, Norway’s natural gas makes up more than 20% of Europe’s supply, according to some analysis.

    “Since the sabotage in the Baltic Sea,” Stoltenberg said, “we have doubled our presence, with ships, with submarines, with maritime patrol aircrafts in the Baltic and North Seas, partly to monitor, to have better situational awareness, but also to send a message of deterrence and readiness to protect this critical infrastructure.”

    As if the NS1&2 destruction was carried by the Russian, despite an extremely heavily monitored Baltic Sea.

    Norway likely is nervous because the Americans might sabotage them as well for market share. US would have no problem selling 10x more expensive LNG to its allies.

    The continuous theme of US complaining about countries that make it hard or impossible to be attacked and bombed by the US with impunity as an act of aggression continues in this article.

    1. petal

      Our local army base a mile up the street has been boasting over the past year about working on adapting US military vehicles for use in cold weather/winter conditions.

  23. molon labe

    Re: Judge recusing herself from SBF trial because her husband works at Polk Davis, which worked against FTX–smart move to avoid handing him one cause for appeal.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Stop the misinformation. She recused because Davis Polk represented FTX. Representing a commercial counterparty would never give rise to a need to rescue.

  24. semper loquitur

    Ho Ho Humbug

    In New Jersey for the holiday. Did a little shopping, the discount stores are packed with tired and generally unhealthy looking people picking through the remains of the sales racks. Tons of trinkets and (rap for sale, singing Xmas trees and electronic doo-dads like battery operated mini-whisks, Harry Potter board games and Batman clothing, sugar and fat for miles. The clerk greeted me wearily, I asked her how it was going and she deadpanned “Jingle Jingle.”

    Outside, the parking lot is filled with glaringly bright new vehicles, lots and lots of SUV’s and those ridiculous monstrous pickup trucks that never looked used. The garish geometries of fast food joints, auto service shops, and mini-malls. A squirrel popped out of a McDonald’s trash can as we walked by. Overhead, Mother Nature contributes a bit of grim holiday humor in the form of enormous buzzards that are constantly circling, circling…

  25. fresno dan
    Of course, the main stream media blame Putin and Russia, based on 50 former CIA and FBI intelligence officials stating that the radar, satelite, and photographic imagery as well as oxen, lambs, shepards, angels, and wise men all attesting to eyewitnes views of the yellow and blue missiles with Ukraine printed in giant letters on the fuselages, as well as a laptop discovered in a NJ computer repair shop containing videos of President Zelensky saying “shoot Santa’s sleigh down, and blame the Russians!!!” while downing a fifth of vodka (Russian) and snorting cocaine off a hookers belly was ALL Russian disinfomation.

  26. Jessica

    “Sixty years on from the Cuban missile crisis, the US has learned its lessons – but Putin has not”
    The author of this piece, Vladislav Zubok, recently released a book titled “Collapse” about the fall of the Soviet Union. The Guardian opinion piece above, which could have been written by the domestic propaganda wing of any US intelligence service, is a powerful argument against taking Zubok’s book seriously. Chris Miller’s “The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy” is much better.
    Zubok may have been on the scene and have read the Russian sources, but he works for a US think tank and it shows.

  27. Matthew G. Saroff

    I’ve had fun on dates, but that is because I see a date as something fun to do. I never viewed it as a way to find a life partner or even a partner for the evening.

    Never seen it as like a root canal. (Full disclosure, I’ve never had a root canal)

    I remember “talking” on Usenet (Remember that?) to a woman who was looking for a Jewish husband in the Montreal, and I said, “Just have fun,” and she asked, “How can you do that?”

    People take dating too seriously, and take their serious relationships not seriously enoug.

  28. VietnamVet

    Being a bi-coastal American, this is the coldest I’ve been on Christmas Eve.

    Times are changing but they still rhyme. The shock that will ring in the New Year is that China is just as end-times capitalistic as the rest of the world. Global pandemic illnesses and de-population have re-commenced. They are profit opportunities for businesses.

    The Ukraine proxy world war resembles WWI in its 10th month. Humans must believe the propaganda of those who control the energy that provides food and warmth. But it is clear that the oligarchy run contemporary corporate-state is too corrupt and incompetent to win wars, control pestilence, or avoid famine. 2023 could well prove the thesis that intelligent life in the universe has not been found because advanced civilizations always destroy themselves, like bacteria in a petri dish.

    Acknowledging reality, giving peace a chance, and sharing resources are the only way for humans to have a future on earth.

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