Links 12/27/2022

Winter on Mars looks beautiful in this festive NASA video

Can dogs smell time? Just ask Donut the dog NPR

Power restored to 4 Pierce County utility substations after Christmas Day vandalization KIRO


Southwest cancels more than 2,800 flights in a ‘full-blown meltdown’ NPR. Handy map of airports with flight delays from Flight Aware:

I placed a red check next to the airports in counties that have the highest “viral levels” for SARS-CoV-2 (“red dots”), according to the CDC wastewater map. The major airports that are not red dotted are BOS (no data) and DCA/IAD/BWI. I can’t find an average delay time, but one imagines what the unmasked people waiting in the airport are doing: Eating, drinking, and flushing toilets with no lids, all in close proximity with each other. I guess we’ll find out the results in a couple weeks.

Deep freeze breaks pipes, creates water crisis across South AP

Local Sports Reporter Goes Viral for Grumpy Weather Report WSJ (MR). MR: “Maybe a bit of the zeitgeist underlying the viral sympathy? He is basically complaining about his work conditions. in a public venue where that is ‘not allowed.’ People are tired of being told (via euphemistic commands) to ‘pretend to like it.’ We might be getting some great humor out of the current situation when enough people start telling it like it is. Also: russians are no strangers to such winter conditions. Why would we ever think we could dominate russia?”

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Human-caused climate change fuels warmer, wetter, stormier Arctic NOAA

All Is Calm, All Is Bright: Christmas, Climate Change, and the Dialectics of Winter Monthly Review


The Last Holdouts NYT. The deck: “What it’s like to wear masks for Covid when most others have long since moved on.” Astonishingly crude anti-mask propaganda, even for the Izvestia on the Hudson. The article provides some clues:

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll this month found that Americans making less than $40,000 per year were on average much more likely to express worries about getting seriously ill from Covid than those with higher incomes.

In other words, not the Times readership, but the people who serve the Times readership. (The article also provides a link — here — to Ipsos polling, claiming that “30 percent” of Americans “wore masks at least some of the time … with only 10 percent saying that they use masks at all times outside of their home.” But there’s nothing at the link to prove the claim. Sloppy.)

Price Of Nasal Vaccine INCOVACC For Private Hospitals Will Be Around Rs 1000: Sources Republic World. 1000 Rupees = $12.08 (as of this writing).

DeSantis’s request for COVID vaccine probe denounced by health experts The Hill


China to reopen borders, drop Covid quarantine from January 8 and China’s potentially grim Covid death toll is avoidable, new study says South China Morning Post. Here is the study: “Mitigation with vaccination, antiviral therapies, and NPIs.” Here are the NPIs:

No mention of ventilation or airborne transmission. Naturally. Meanwhile:

China scraps inbound quarantine rules in decisive break with zero-Covid regime FT

* * *

Made in China 2025 is back, with a new name and a focus on database companies The China Project

Leading 100 Chinese internet companies form labor unions Global Times

Carmakers quietly cut ties with China in supply chain shake-up FT

In Vietnam, the mighty Mekong’s banks are crumbling as illegal sand miners run riot South China Morning Post

Dear Old Blighty

UK to stop publishing COVID R number as cases fall Reuters. Whoever the memelord was who invented “living with Covid” earned every penny:

“Now that vaccines and therapeutics have allowed us to move to a phase where we are living with COVID-19, with surveillance scaled down but still closely monitored through a number of different indicators, the publication of this specific data is no longer necessary,” UK Health Security Agency Chief Data Scientist Nick Watkins said in a statement.

“Still closely monitored through a number of different indicators” [nods vigorously].

New Not-So-Cold War

The Visegrad Group isn’t shy about Ukraine’s affiliations, is it? Or its own:

Here’s another:

The original, from an Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine:

Israel helps Ukraine whitewash its Nazis The Electronic Intifada. Azov touring Israel.

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The CIA Is Using a European NATO Ally’s Spy Service To Conduct a Covert Sabotage Campaign Inside Russia Under The Agency’s Direction, According To Former U.S. Intelligence And Military Officials Jack Murphy. Big if true. Worth a read. Of course, Mandy Rice-Davies applies: “They would, wouldn’t they?” Plus, who doesn’t want to cosplay T.E. Lawrence? Or “the Resistance”?

* * *

‘Big war is back’: 5 lessons from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine FT. “‘Much of Ukrainians’ success on the battlefield depends on a heterogenous and self-confident civil society, capable of supporting soldiers,’ said Timothy Snyder, a Yale University historian.” Also Nazis!

Trapped in the Trenches in Ukraine The New Yorker. “International fighters.”

The resistance movement is being built on a scorched field. Conversation with DOXA, oppositional Russian media Commons

The War In & On Ukraine Madras Courier

* * *

Ukrainian power grid operator introduces emergency shutdowns in multiple regions Anadolu Agency

In Nord Stream Mystery, Baltic Seabed Provides a Nearly Ideal Crime Scene NYT. The deck: “As investigators piece together clues, Russia has quietly taken steps to begin expensive repairs on the giant gas pipeline, complicating theories about who was behind September’s sabotage.” ‘Tis a mystery!

* * *

Vladimir Putin answered questions from journalists (transcript) President of Russia

A Free World, If You Can Keep It Robert Kagan, Foreign Affairs

Looking back at a ‘Golden Age’ of US-Russia diplomacy Responsible Statecraft. On Lynne Tracy, our new ambassador to Russia.

Ukraine aims for UN-backed peace summit in February Guardian. The deck: “Russia can only be invited if it has faced a war crimes tribunal first, says foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba.” Dude. Come on,

2020 Post Mortem

Why I’m Glad Joe Biden Beat Donald Trump Caitlin Johnstone


ER Doctors Call Private Equity Staffing Practices Illegal and Seek to Ban Them Kaiser Health News

Big Nonprofit Hospitals Expand in Wealthier Areas, Shun Poorer Ones WSJ

The Great Big Medicare Rip-Off Ezekiel J. Emanuel, The Atlantic

Supply Chain

Explainer-How natural gas is traded in Europe Hellenic Shipping News

Our Famously Free Press

This has a bad smell:

First, I’m not familiar with Zweig, and I read a lot of Covid material. Zweig’s written all of two articles on Covid for The Atlantic, both over a year old and neither inspiring confidence. He’s an opinion-haver, not a reporter; as a reporter, he coudn’t carry Taibbi’s jockstrap. So who gave him this beat, and why? Second, “researchers” from Harvard and Stanford sound an awful lot like the Great Barrington cabal to me; like so many well-funded wingers, they’re adept at claiming to be censored while dominating the discourse (indeed, the Biden Administration adopted their policies). Call me foily, but this Twitter Files episode looks like it’s shaping up to be an effort to close the door on non-pharmaceutical interventions and the very notion of public health; a “Promontory” moment, we might call it.

Police State Watch

When the FBI Attacks Critics as “Conspiracy Theorists,” It’s Time to Reform the Bureau Jonathan Turley


I tried out a bunch of pariah state OSes to find out which is best for gaming PC Gamer. The answer may surprise you!

Xmas Post-Game Analysis

Inside the Most Cutthroat Christmas-Light Contest in Texas Texas Monthly

Rethinking the big spring clean chuck-out frenzy: how keeping old things away from the landfill can ‘spark joy’ in its own way The Conversation

Guillotine Watch

Existential Horror At Wealthy Elite Selling Off Humanity’s Future Successfully Sublimated Into Yelling At Cashier The Onion

I do bottle service for a Las Vegas nightclub and can make thousands in tips each night — but the job is a lot grosser than people realize Insider

Class Warfare

For Kaiser therapists, the strike is over but the work goes on Sacramento News Review

Did Rail Strike Threat Matter? Just Maybe… Omaha Daily Record

How to Walk (12 miles a day) Chris Arnade

Final Episode- Adieu Mes Amis (podcast) Mike Duncan, Revolutions. 368 episodes, starting in 2013 (!). I highly recommend it, even if your primary use case for podcasts is falling asleep to a soothing voice.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Vlad

    You guys are really worried about the Ukranian ‘Nazis’ and yet constantly side up with the Kremlim!

    The hypocrisy is astounding!

    1. Not Again

      Can someone translate?

      My country supporting Nazi ideologies is my concern. I have little if any impact in Russia politics. In Ukraine, my taxes bankroll it.

    2. nippersdad

      If you could provide links to the referendum on supporting lebensraum for Monsanto using Nazi proxies I would appreciate it. I not only do not remember that one on the ballot, I do not remember anyone running on a Vichy platform.

      My thanks in advance.

    3. lambert strether

      So, as a baseline, we’re agreed that Visegrad is glorifying a growing number of Nazis in Ukraine’s military?

      1. Not Again

        BTW – those pictures of Ukrainians celebrating wartime Christmas are pure propaganda for America’s benefit. Ukrainians celebrate Xmas on January 6th (as do Russian Orthodox).

          1. Polar Socialist

            One would assume most Azovites to belong to Uniate Church, if and when they’re Christians – most tend to lean towards “ancient Slavic deities”. Or maybe even ancient “Aryan” deities, when appropriate.

            And even the Ukrainian Orthodox Church still considers January 7th to be the official Christmas due to traditions, but it’s allows for “divine services” to be held also on 25th. The plan is to slowly change the tradition with a decade or so.

          2. Not Again

            Wow. If I had written a response in that tone, Yves would have reprimanded me.

            Must be nice to own the printing press I guess.

    4. LawnDart

      Admitedly, the Kremlin has yet to declare non-Russians as “non-peoples” or to outlaw the other 35 official languages used in Russia in favor of Russian and ban any of the other 100 minority languages in use there. I’m not sure that they’ll ever be able to figure out who’s a non-Russian Russian and they really don’t seem to be making any progress there.

      And Putin did make a mistake by kicking the oligarchs out of politics: this does make the goal of fascism, of business and state unity, much harder to reach.

      Russia also lacks a Stephan Bandera or a Galicia for the fascists to call home, and is missing a history of SS battalions serving in its armed forces…

      But, yeah– I’m sure that the similarities between the anti-fascist Kremlin and nazis is apt… …somehow.

      1. Col 'Sandy' Volestrangler (ret)

        There was a force of Russians serving in the German army. Note they were part of the German Army and did not serve in the SS, which only permitted few ‘associated’ formations. Also, Hitler ordered it disbanded because of how he Polish Army and state Kaiser WIlhelm had permitted turned on Germany in 1918. Worth remembering. Hitler did not share his deputy’s zeal for pan-european anti-communism. We can probably be thankful for this.

        1. hk

          Well, they sort of became part of SS, because of peculiar bureaucratic infighting (the original supporters of creating the “Russian Liberation Army” were old fashioned aristocrats many of whom were sympathetic to the Czarist Russia–one of the people involved was some guy named von Stauffenberg who became known later for something else later. But Himmler wanted all foreign troops fighting for Germany under SS control to expand his bureaucratic empire and he eventually got it.). Interestingly, Vlasov and his men get totally different reactions from Russians and Westerners: to every Russian I ever met, they were evil irredeemable traitors, as bad as, or even worse than, the worst Nazis. Every Westerner who knows about their history–even Poles, as one of more sympathetic descriptions of them comes from Wladyslaw Anders, the Polish general who was imprisoned by the Soviets after 1939 before being released to Britain in 1942, where he took command of the Polish Army in the West)–make every excuse under the sun to make tragic heroes of them, in a way. Perhaps the same force accounts for the strange reactions to Ukraine today–yes, even the Poles.

      1. Val

        Would delight in more details about this. Are they buying today?

        Delightful to see the NC commentariat returning from their holiday in such fine form!

        Unsuprisingly, nippersdad and LawnDart win the internet for me this day.

        1. Bart Hansen

          What about the TV weatherman out in the cold –

          “I didn’t even realize there was a 3:30 also in the morning until today,”

      2. Kouros

        As a Canadian citizen, I would like to know the details. After all, dear Chrystia is the second most powerful Canadian official and she might get to the top position of NATO PR rep before maybe comes back to even get a premiership… And I would like to make a meme of that tidbit of history.

      1. Col 'Sandy' Volestrangler (ret)

        Yes- I got banned for criticizing Isreali policies- using language he himself employed.

    5. Tertium Squid

      All I can think is these nazis must have been pretty bad if getting rid of them really justified all this bloody horror

    6. Raymond Sim

      You guys are really worried about the Ukranian ‘Nazis’ and yet constantly side up with the Kremlim!

      Yep. You do know that’s how we handled the German Nazis right?

      1. Bruno

        Exactly. Like Roosevelt enforcing the “Neutrality Act” to ensure the victory of Hitler and Franco in Spain.

    7. Bosko

      I know the U.S. would never support “Ukrainian ‘Nazis'” because the U.S. has never, ever supported right wing nationalists 1) in order to earn a profit for its ruling classes, and/or 2) de-stabilize a country that it perceives as its enemy. To do so would be completely unprecedented.

      1. Col 'Sandy' Volestrangler (ret)

        The yanks would never overthrow a foreign, democratically elected government because it suited some long range scheme either. Unthinkable!

    8. juno mas

      Well, when these Azov’s think the Winter Solstice is the “shortest” night of the year, you should run in fear.

      (The shortest NIGHT of the year is the Summer Solstice.)

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Existential Horror At Wealthy Elite Selling Off Humanity’s Future Successfully Sublimated Into Yelling At Cashier”

    Amusing enough but for me there was a jolt of discontinuity in reading it. Just a few minutes before I had finished watching a 20 minute B&W film from Britton, South Dakota filmed in about 1938-39. In the link below it shows up as only small so you have to maximize to full screen for full effect. Or you can find colourized versions on YouTube by searching for ‘Britton, South Dakota’. Point is, if you really watch the people in this small rural town you don’t get a sense of anger or desperation that you see often in streets. In fact, the only desperation shown is shy people trying to hide their faces from the camera – much to other people’s amusements. It does give a window into the idea that how people behave these days was not always the same for different eras. And that makes you start to think why things changed-

      1. flora

        Sorry for the flippant remark. In 1938-39 people even in the nominally GOP states out on the prairie and the Great Plains knew the federal govt was trying to help them out. Even Iowa’s major news paper The DesMoines Register, a GOP leaning paper in a GOP leaning state, was endorsing that Dem fellow FDR. Even the then DesMoines Register’s editorial cartoonist Ding Darling made it clear the age of Hoover (Iowa’s favorite son) and Hoover’s Sec. of Treasury Mellon were not up to the economic task the nation faced. Maybe plain people, regular people knowing the govt is on their side and trying to lift the economic burdens they face through no fault of their own is somehow encouraging; encourages thinking you could have a better future than present conditions. My 2 cents.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Didn’t think it flippant at all. Comparing their era with ours, back then you were constantly interacting with people like friends and families. The nearest equivalent for a mobile back then would have been a newspaper as it could be carried on your person unlike a radio which people would gather around in the living room like we do for TVs these days. But whereas people these days seem to feel that it is OK to use a mobile while talking to other people, reading a newspaper while talking to somebody back then would have been seen as not alright. Something changed in the social contact for that to have that happened.

  3. Wukchumni

    How to Walk (12 miles a day) Chris Arnade
    I rarely walk in cities as concrete & asphalt have very little give compared to my usual largely dirt surface, and really never have to think about dumb things other human beans are doing, such as that all important text somebody is typing while behind the wheel, distracted.

    Sandals are indeed, the bomb.

    I’ve done many backpack trips of say 30-40 miles in my Chacos, and in particular in the spring when runoff is at its height and water crossings are such that if you were wearing boots, you’d have to take them off in order to cross, but not in sandals.

    I refuse to blister but once was quite prone to them, and here’s a few things i’d recommend:

    Soak your feet in warm but not quite hot water with Epsom salt, this will help toughen you up where it matters down under. Do this a number of times and you’ll be ready for a long traipse.

    Raw lamb’s wool is the bomb, weave it between your toes and put some behind your heel before putting on your socks. Its a trick I learned in NZ 30 years ago on the Milford Track.

    I used to hike with a Walkman back in the day and classical is the best, with Russian composers I think being the perfect fit for my surroundings in the Sierra with lots of altitude gained and lost, which corresponds nicely with the ups and downs you experience while listening. I haven’t walked with music in decades though, as I don’t want to miss any of Mother Nature’s audibles.

    I couldn’t imagine being distracted in such a fashion though while walking in a city, there’s just too much going on that you really have to be hyper aware vis a vis your senses.

    I’ve used hiking poles for just about forever and they’re great in that you transfer about 25% of the effort to your upper body, but they’d look frankly goofy walking on flat-ish concrete in a city setting with the titanium tips making quite the racket every time they hit the ground, but think of all the onlookers that you’ll have, wondering why you’re using them?

    Always try and walk with somebody, its that rare time both of you aren’t online and can discuss much.

    1. bassmule

      I walk two miles a day around town (in western Massachusetts). I’m never bored; there’s always something new or that I’ve missed even though I’ve walked past it for years. Once every other week, I take a 7 mile walk out of town, south, more or less along the Connecticut River. I dress for the weather, have comfy shoes. One thing I do not do: Wear headphones. I feel safest when I have both eyes and ears on the alert.

        1. Wukchumni

          In Barbara Tuchman’s Pulitzer prize winning book:

          Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45

          Stilwell was an old China hand who walked vast distances around the Middle Kingdom, which allowed him to really get a grasp on what made the country tick.

          Movie Tip:

          The Sand Pebbles

          Steve McQueen is amazing in this period piece where the only thing that really keeps an American gunboat going is the Chinese laborers who do virtually everything on board.

          When they vamoose things go to hell in a hurry.

          1. Joe Renter

            I read the book you mentioned this summer. Stillwell, quite the walker. He would walk from FT Ord to his place in Carmel. Not to mention we walked out of Burma in his late 50’s struggling and endured much hardship. I think he is one of most underrated generals in his time. He Loved China and it’s people. An inspiring human.

          2. Dan Berg

            great movie based on a novel of someone who rode those gunboats; the important point: we have been in China’s armpits since the 19th century – and they don’t like it. Imagine Chinese gunboats up and down the Colombia River in Oregon.

      1. Martin Oline

        Bassmule comment: “One thing I do not do: Wear headphones. I feel safest when I have both eyes and ears on the alert.”
        This is golden advice. I remember 45 years ago when I was working for Rock Island RR rehabilitating track. A train always came through the yard about noon and one day it was late. We heard the reason was there had been an accident and it came by about 3-4 hours later. My foreman and I, both being curious about the cause of the accident and concerned for our own safety, went to the site after work. It had happened at a bell crossing on a gravel road north of a small town. The road paralleled the track and then abruptly turned across the tracks. One of the first items still remaining on the tracks were some headphones covered with hydraulic fluid. He didn’t hear the bell.

    2. Lona Powell

      I find a dog is a great walking buddy. I refer to mine as my ‘personal trainer’ because he gets me out walking twice a day.

    3. Jason Boxman

      The most I’ve ever managed at a brisk pace is 7 (.5?) miles around the lake. Took around 3 hours. What surprised me the most is my glues hurt, rather than my calves. At my height anything beyond 16 minute miles becomes a trot. I use cross trainers that are padded for jumping exercises and such, so my feet were okay.

      And this was level, easy walking. I’d expected to be able to do 4 miles an hour, but not even close!

    4. Mildred Montana

      Whew! After reading that long article I feel like I’ve actually walked twelve miles! I never realized walking could be so 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥.

      As a life-long walker, I prefer the more interesting urban routes, which have the added advantage of giving one the opportunity to purchase something needed at home. For me, a walk combined with an errand is much more motivating.

      Carry a plastic bag. If discarded refundable beverage containers are available in one’s area and one is insensitive to the quizzical looks of strangers, pick them up. Those 10-cent empties can turn an otherwise hum-drum stroll into an enjoyable treasure hunt. You will be helping the environment while at the same time getting paid a few bucks for your walk. Can’t beat that and those few bucks a day do add up at the end of the month.

      Best thing about long-distance walks? The endorphin high I occasionally get at the end of them. It’s a deep relaxation accompanied paradoxically by a feeling of high energy. Beautiful.

      1. caucus99percenter

        Even more so in Germany, where many non-alcoholic beverage cans and single-use bottles may be turned in for a cool € 0,25 apiece.

      2. juno mas

        The urban environment bores me to no end. ( I live on the coast so the ocean provides enormous relief.) Too much noise and visual clutter. A walk in a nature reserve is stimulating to me. And to be able to walk in the Sierra mountains, like Wuk, is the ultimate stimulation. My background in the environmental sciences allows me recognize the complex mix of animal and plant communities (eco-tones). I love reading the landscape, especially the geology and fluvial processes that have transformed it over time.

        Learning a naturalist’s handbook for a region and then identifying the plants and birds on a walk through the forest/canyon/desert/coastline makes for a inspired challenge not unlike fly-fishing for trout in an Idaho stream.

        The quieter sounds of the wind, birds, and ground animals (pika’s calling to mate hidden in the scree slope) are what interest me. The machine rumble of the city not so much. YMMV.

          1. Wukchumni

            Nice photo!

            I’ve been on top of Triple Divide Peak, it was in the midst of a memorable 10 days out 20 years ago and we started our long walk from the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead and went over New Army Pass to Rock Creek (had the only black bear ever growl at us, after a foiled attempt to get our food hang, we were a bit freaked and packed up and walked 3 miles to a campsite with bearbox @ midnight, ha!) and swung by the Miter Basin en route to Crabtree & Junction Meadows and then headed up the off-trail Kern-Kaweah basin towards Pants Pass.

            We were only a mile from the approach to Pants Pass and…

            Sheila was in front and I was about 15 feet behind her when she turned around and twirled her hand and pointed to a Sierra Nevada Red Fox scurrying 25 feet away, with tail tell white tip. Our buddy Widget saw it too, we all got a good glimpse. This was the southern most sighting in the Sierra as it turned out, lucky us.

            Coming down Pants Pass to the Nine Lakes Basin and then connected to the High Sierra Trail going by Precipice & Hamilton Lake to Bearpaw Meadow and finished @ Crescent Meadow.

            1. juno mas

              I just knew you would have a memory to share about trekking in the Sierra!

              That photo was taken by Jan Nachlinger with my Nikon in August 1980. The previous day I was atop Triple Divide Peak. It was part of a week long trek that began with a climb into the Rae Lakes Basin from the eastside; I lost the trail going up Dragon Pass and ultimately had to scale the scree slope and cliff with a 60lb pack.

              I love the backcountry.

    5. JP

      In high school I race walked and ran cross country. We had an exceptional walker on our team. Now I hike a lot mostly on very rough and rocky terrian. Flat ground is a piece of cake. I know Wuk and Mildred pushed back when I wrote that 50 miles at 4 miles per hour was doable. That’s about 12 hours. Olympic walking is for a 20 and a 40 k walk but there is also a 50 and 100 mile competitive walk. The record for the 50 mile is 7 hours and 23 min.

      The trick to speed and distance is relaxation. Learn to loose the hips, extend the gait and make sure the knees and the bottom of the forward foot are perfectly relaxed as it hits the ground. Walking can be extremely beneficial and healing. Humans are made for walking but very few do it correctly.

      In China the story of Li Ching Yuen is widely know. He is purported to have lived to the age of 230 but by his own count only age 187. He was a walker. The walkers in old China were legendary. They mostly gathered herbs and sold them in the town markets. One story, as told to me, was that when Yuen was already old he met another walker who was much older. Yuen was considered an exceptional walker but this guy was much better. So Yuen set himself to learning his technics.

      The story of Li Ching Yuen is pretty much unknown in the west and even less believed. But respect for longevity of the walkers and the story of the oldest man is well accepted in China.

      1. Wukchumni

        Like you, almost all of my miles walked involve uneven ground and i’m in the midst of gaining a whole bunch of altitude, only to give it all back.

        For me, it’s quality-not quantity.

          1. Wukchumni

            I’m presently in my jammies with a coffee i.v. drip…

            From the Sequoia NP District Ranger:

            Good news/bad news – rain and snow.

            I’m sure everyone is watching the weather and seeing the very large storm that is about to beset the community. I know it will be tempting to be in Mineral King to see the beautiful deep snow over the holiday. Please don’t.

            If the weather forecast holds out, we’re looking at a potential of 9 inches of RAIN around Lookout Point, where the high severity burn occurred. I anticipate our maintenance staff is going to be engaged in emergency actions surrounding Lodgepole, Ash Mountain, and Grant Grove where full time residents live. We are preparing for our residents to potentially have to shelter in place while we clear mudslides that have become so much more common since the KNP Complex. With the forecast going for days with little break in precipitation, if you should find yourself in Mineral King and stuck because we lose the road, it may take a week or longer to find a way to extract you.

            Worst case scenario, we lose a portion of the road entirely. Vehicles behind the road will not be accessible for months. People left behind may have to walk out. With the rain, clouds, and fog, we will not be able to bring in a helicopter. They cannot lift off from Fresno when it is foggy. Rescue staff is likely to be engaged in other operations.

            Do yourself (and park staff) a favor – stay out of MK until after the event. We’re going to be very busy.

    6. square coats

      My dad takes immunosuppressants so since covid began we’ve only been able to spend time together outdoors (and masked), which means that when it gets cold we can’t spend time together for several months, despite living about a 15 min drive away (I realize for many/most people with living parents they might go most of the year not interacting much though).

      I’m not much of a phone talky person but I discovered that calling up my dad and then going for a walk in my usual rather dull sub to semi urban environment makes a typical walk much more enjoyable. I also used to quiet judge people walking past talking seemingly into the air with their hands free blue tooth headsets or ear buds or whatever but have found that for a long walking phone conversation it’s most comfy to use over the ear headphones with a mic in the cord.

  4. griffen

    Life of a Las Vegas bottle girl. I was expecting a little more, likening the work to digging coal a few feet underground. Rich people like to spend their money, and do so with flair.

    I can only wonder if those clubs have a policy that permits the employment of bottle boys? \sarc

    1. Mildred Montana

      >”I can only wonder if those clubs have a policy that permits the employment of bottle boys?”

      I guess that would depend on the club. ;) I’ll be waiting for the tell-all of a “Las Vegas bottle boy”.

    2. Eclair

      Regret to admit, griffen, that I also ruminated on the possibility of ‘bottle boys.’ But the power imbalance would be all wrong.

      My main concern, after reading this piece, (which I did only because a long conversation with my 21 year old college student granddaughter this fall, involving possibilities for part-time work, brought up the existence, previously unknown, of ‘bottle girls,’ and I thought she might find the article of interest,) was wondering if I could justify another shower this morning, to wash off the ickiness. The women do what they must to survive (and they’re unionized!) but the portrayal of the debauchery of the uber-wealthy is Bosch-ian.

    3. Art_DogCT

      ‘Bottle boys’ do indeed exist, as do ‘exotic’ dancers, private dances, et. al. I will not be surprised to learn there are a few establishments in the world where all tastes are catered, but from what I’ve seen there are a portion of gay men who behave essentially the same in gay clubs as some straight men do in their venues, given the means and opportunity.

    4. EGrise

      We’re a union property, and there are some perks that come with that. I get a pension, I have health insurance, all of that. There’s someone who has my back.

      Well I’ll be damned.

    1. Martin Oline

      I probably speak for many other readers in saying thanks Rev Kev for providing these links. I will be sharing these with others.

      1. John Zelnicker

        Martin – Yes, indeed.

        I am constantly amazed at Rev Kev’s ability to find interesting, topical, useful, and funny videos.

        Best wishes to all for a healthy and prosperous new year.

        Stay safe out there, y’all.

  5. flora

    Power station vandalizing.

    Last year saw the destruction by accidents of many food processing and producing plants. Some of the nation’s largest commercial poultry and egg production plants were closed down. still not rebuilt. We all know what happened to the price of eggs this year, for example. Supply and demand, less supply and higher prices. Big Ag continued to make enormous profits even selling sell foodstuffs.

    Several oil and gas refineries shut down earlier leading to much much higher gas prices. Supply and demand. Big oil made huge profits even so.

    Now electrical substations are being vandalized? Will this translate into higher electrical prices? Inquiring minds,etc. / ;)

    adding: Getting rid of “excess” generating capacity in favor of just-in-time electrical generation capacity is a really, really bad idea. Can you say “rolling blackouts”? See the Midwest last winter when the entire Midwestern electrical consortium didn’t have enough power to keep the lights on in Texas when the Texas grid went down and keep all the lights on in the Midwest at the same time. Rolling blackouts in the Midwest. I’ve noticed a few shuttered power plants in the Midwest have come back online. Good idea.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      It won’t have an immediate rate impact, but probably has already set in motion an expansion of the industry’s CIP standard to substantially harden substations’ physical security. Unless they’re in an urban area the vast majority of them are protected by a chain link fence sometimes topped with razor or barbed wire. The main purpose of which is to discourage stupid and/or drunk people from electrocuting themselves. The vulnerable equipment is out in the open. A working group is probably being formed as we speak to beef up the CIP standard sections applicable to substation physical security. When that is in place it will require utilities collectively spend $Bs upgrading the thousands of substations accordingly. Eventually our rates will reflect this.

      1. Wukchumni

        Videos I saw had chain link fences with the top having v-shaped barbed wire to stop somebody from climbing over, but all you needed to access the area was a $9.98 pair of bolt cutters from Harbor Freight.

        It strikes me as similar to the issue with purloined catalytic converters, all an aspiring thief needs is a battery powered reciprocating saw and a floor jack-also available from HF, and you’re in business!

        1. LawnDart

          HF is good for disposable, one-time use power-tools, which works well for burglaries when you can offload the tools and load-up the loot, or for monkey-wrenching when you might need to scoot-off quickly. Aside from those exceptions, buying stuff there is usually just burning-up cash as none of it lasts more than a few uses.

          1. Bosko

            I was going to say, the idea of trusting a jack from HF–I’d recommend thieves not crawl under a car held up by something that costs $7.

          1. John Wright

            Harbor Freight is interesting from the financial structure standpoint. A lot of borrowed money and large dividends paid to the owner over time.


            “Harbor Freight—which sells discount tools such as $7.99 wrenches and $8.99 pliers sets—has tapped the debt market five times since 2010, raising $6.8 billion, including refinancings and has paid about $2 billion of dividends, according to Bloomberg calculations.”

            While HF customers may be getting tools that don’t last too long, the financial industry may be getting risky HF securities that won’t work too well either.

            And the owner (Eric Smidt) can walk away from his leveraged stores with billions

            Smidt can run his business the way he wants without worry about takeovers as his company is so loaded up with debt.

            It is amazing, the HF customers might be getting a better deal than the supposedly sophisticated holders of HF securities.

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        It’s a good example of how it’s more expensive to do almost anything when social cohesion breaks down severely. All the money spent on private security is another. A Home Depot employee having to escort me across the store from where the product was located to the check-out is another. What’s next? Transport trucks forced to operate in convoys to prevent hijacking?

        1. ex-PFC Chuck

          “It’s a good example of how it’s more expensive to do almost anything when social cohesion breaks down severely.”


    2. Boomheist

      Whether this be terrorism (domestic or foreign) or vandalism or theft may not be the issue, exactly. Maybe this is a (further) sign of a general social decay and collapse, whereby people’s rage is expressed in destruction, emerging all over the place, all the time. This may be something that has been happening for a long time, gradually increasing, but not reported as such (airplane misbehavior, keying cars, Karens, tent cities of homeless in the urban core, all appearing as rising but maybe simply always there and now being captured by videos), or this may be, as some are starting to argue, the beginnings of a nationwide conspiracy of domestic terror, now beginning to coalesce. I actually live in Tacoma but not in a part of Pierce Country affected by the substation damage. I can easily imagine, now, reports of damages to small local dams, or even larger dams, expanding from substations to other infrastructure elements. I was working in Bellingham Washington about ten years ago and a main line railroad trestle caught fire, for a short time halting rail traffic north into Canada, believed at the time to be either an accident or destruction caused by anti-coal train activists. Point being, whether a conspiracy or not, these sorts of things might just start growing in and of themselves, as people copy things. Kind of like some kids start egging houses somewhere and then the egging spreads throughout the town…..

      1. Wukchumni

        We T-P’d and egged a house last month and it went all wrong, you see with the price and availability of those 2 items, the homeowner was ecstatic and went about collecting yolks and streamers, and seemed to be in a gleeful mood.

        1. Displaced Platitudes

          Years ago I worked at a suburban high school; the annual Halloween prank almost always involved TPing the trees around the building. As I was first onsite each day, I would, in anything other than a very dry Fall, take a torch to the TP and prevent the kids joy on arrival to the building. I’d also pick up the partial rolls for my custodians, as the kids bought much better TP than a school could afford.

          One year a group of them expended considerable energy building a papermache sculpture on the canopy at the main entrance to the building. I noticed it in time to get a 20′ ladder to remove it before everyone started arriving to the building. It wasn’t until I tried to disassemble it that I discovered how well built a structure they had made. My only recourse was to grab hold off the thing and drag it to the edge of the canopy to toss it down and let the fall break it up. The principal arrived just as I was attempting this. I believe she still has the cellphone picture she took of me wrestling with a 12′ penis on the roof of the canopy. At least no parent or student filmed this activity!

        2. Eclair

          Expensive T-P and eggs ($11/doz at our local coop last week!) vs. cheap wire clippers and bolt cutters at Harbor Freight: well, there you are! Economics dictates that it’s cheaper to have fun sabotaging local substations than papering and egging the neighbors’ houses.

          I laugh, but with a growing sense of unease, as Boomheist writes. The US is possibly the only country in the world with more guns than people. We have the largest per capita number of incarcerated people. We are the only ‘developed’ country where life expectancy is declining. And that trend began before the CoVid deaths. Plus, income inequality is increasing. So, a repressive justice system, addiction, ill health, awareness and resentment of a growing gap between the very rich and the rest of us. Guns everywhere. And just in the past few days, thousands of really angry middle class travelers stranded at airports all over the US by the predictable meltdown of SouthWest Airlines. Icing on the cake.

          1. Boomheist

            Not to mention a very likely explosion of covid all around the country after all those stranded people, jammed together and breathing on each other, get home and then fall ill after infecting their neighbors…..

            1. Wukchumni


              For all the reasons you pointed out of a culture in much decay with depravity and so much despair, think Schrödinger’s Scat.

              Its all forming perfectly this USSR-USA Bizarro World collapse where everything is reversed, with Covid being our Chernobyl, a slow action time bomb set into motion the changing of the guard.

              Here we are, the almighty buck being at the very pinnacle of its value versus all other currencies on a historic basis, take a bow!

              The Soviet Ruble was in theory worth a buck fifty in the west, but like all Communist bloc party countries, their currencies weren’t really convertible in the Capitalist countries.

              So, you could buy them in the west at banks with big discounts* from the official rate, but since there really wasn’t anything to buy and taking stuff out of the country problematic, their currency union was an in-house affair where it didn’t matter what the west thought of that, as long as the exchange rate between East German Marks and Rubles remain constant and crisscross with the other Marx druthers.

              It inspired some interesting alternatives, with my favorite involving Kent cigarettes being ad hoc cash of the realm in Romania!

              When the USSR dissolved it was more like 1,000 Rubles for one Dollar.

              Oh, and lookie here, the USSR had very strict gun laws…

              After the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, the USSR saw a small wave of liberalisations for civilian gun ownership. Soviet civilians were allowed to purchase smoothbore hunting shotguns again, even without mandatory submission of hunting licenses. However, this lasted for not more than six years. The buyer again had to pre-register in the Soviet Society of Hunters since 1959. With the introduction of the new Criminal Code in 1960, penalties were significantly reduced for illegal possession of firearms, down to a mandatory two years of imprisonment, while the possession of melee weapons was no longer prohibited in the Soviet Union.

              Fourteen years later, the punishment for illegal purchase, keeping and carrying of weapons was increased again to five years’ imprisonment. However, unregistered rifles that were voluntarily surrendered were met without responsibility or punishment. (Wiki)

              * My dad was all about arbitrage, and he and my mom are in Vienna in the mid 70’s and the official exchange rate for Czech money was 12 = $, you could buy the for 20 = $ in Vienna banks there, and daddy-o senses the sweet swell of success and buys like $300 worth.

              They get to his sister’s flat in Prague and show them the fistful of Koruna and my aunt just about has a conniption fit as what they did was illegal and she could get into a lot of trouble if we were caught by the secret police, asking for proof you exchanged these at the official rate!

              My mom told me that she was nearly demanded by Aunt Jarmila to stash the bankroll in her vagina!

              …mom ixnayed the request

              The joke was on mom & dad though, the only thing to buy was heavy lead crystal, and they found themselves often the subjects of foreign exchange attempts, where Czechs wanted to get rid of their good for nothing currency, so they could go to Tusex, the one place that had a variety of things for sale, but only for western currencies. You could get 30 Koruna for a $ on the black market.

              My mom told me she’d get hit up dozens of times each of their 7 or 8 trips over the course of the Communist era.

          2. vao

            We are the only ‘developed’ country where life expectancy is declining.

            I seem to have read that in the UK life expectancy had started to decline (very slightly) a couple of years ago (pre-Covid).

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Yes, the UK showed a slight decline pre-covid, although the US is the only developed country on an unambiguously downward path over recent years. It should be said that over a few decades the UK has always been a bit of a laggard relative to Europe – from having among the highest life expectancy in the world in the 1960’s it has gradually fallen back in relative terms, even while life expectancy has increased, although to what extent this is due to other countries catching up, or the UK falling back, is open to question. But undoubtedly the recent fall is entirely due to policy post 2010. Whatever you say about Tony Blair, his Labour government did at least maintain social services for the majority.

              My guess is that this will accelerate as the damage caused by the Tories will take a decade or more to feed through to the figures.

    3. playon

      There were so many food processing plant incidents that it’s hard to believe they were all accidents. (removes tinfoil hat)

      1. Wukchumni

        The 200 foot long roll of Reynolds Wrap is the same price but is now 150 feet, so be judicious when making headgear.

  6. MP

    The only way I can interpret the Twitter Covid Files, in structural terms, is that it is the capitalist class’ retaliation for Twitter being one of the sole places you could, if you tried hard enough, get practical information about Covid and it’s actual implications and spread, and it allowed doctors and medical professionals who knew the real truth to organize. Now, it’s bound to be a cesspool of misdirects, misinformation, and junk science to water down the information pool and to scatter the good scientists and citizen researchers to mastodon and other platforms. Truly horrifying.


      That cesspool happened the second epidemiologists acquired celebrity status in March 2020.

      Since then it’s been a race to capture the current zeitgeist on Covid in a tweet and very rarely anything more.

    2. Screwball

      First, I’m not familiar with Zweig, and I read a lot of Covid material. Zweig’s written all of two articles on Covid for The Atlantic, both over a year old and neither inspiring confidence. He’s an opinion-haver, not a reporter; as a reporter, he coudn’t carry Taibbi’s jockstrap. So who gave him this beat, and why?

      Just a guess; because the rest of them don’t want to touch this part of the Twitter Files.

      I’ll go back a couple of years when the debate about the drug that cannot be named was trending (until it wasn’t) on the web. Nobody wanted to touch the topic. IIRC, Crystal and Saager had Matt on their show and it seemed to me like none of them wanted to touch the subject (this might have been just after Rogan used it that made such a big uproar).

      That is only one small example. As bad as the virus was handled, and resulting battle for the truth – it is a very toxic subject – and pokes all the wrong bears. Big pharma and .gov might not like the real truth to come out, and how dare anyone say something bad about St. Fauci?

      So this guy is the patsy.

      I would go as far as saying I hope they have good security. But maybe I’m way to cynical.

      1. MP

        I mean, I agree that the claims of efficacy were off-base, from Fauci claiming we’d get to herd immunity or the WH vax-and-relax strategy. But this current effort from the right-wing is not to use this as a guidepost towards strengthening public health and awakening; they would happily pillory Fauci while at the same time letting thousands still die per week. There is a valid critique here, one that centers how the vaccine was one too-heavily-relied-upon mitigation in a world stripping away NPIs. And as this site so thankfully stresses, the role of aerosol transmission and its downplaying is “the real scandal” of the pandemic. And something tells me the future of Twitter under Musk is talking head after talking head criticizing the vaccine while aerosol scientists get the Twitter algorithm boot.

      2. Val

        When former embarrassed NYToadie, “an opinion-haver, not a reporter” was given the second tranche of the twitee admitees…

        There are a number of psychological barriers to effective hypothesis testing regarding systems, structures and membership, let alone describing the underlying phenomena.

        Impossible to be too cynical at this late date.

        But like the nuclear pore complex, data is available for the non-hypnotized.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Every year, the soldiers of the Azov Regiment gather on the shortest night of the year to honor their fallen brothers-in-arms”

    If people want to know more about modern Ukraine, what better person to listen to than Retired Colonel Andrew Milburn of the Mozart Group mercenary firm who spent months in the Ukraine training soldiers and was with his group at Bakhmut. I think that the Colonel just got himself red-pilled- (2:19 mins) – language alert!

  8. DJG, Reality Czar

    Jack Murphy: The CIA is using an ally’s spy agency (is that you,Poland?) to carry out sabotage.

    First, he asserts all kinds of methods for ensuring plausible deniability. The byword of the U.S. elites. President Biden, Master Spy and Plausible Denialist, as well as Plagiarist, is perfect for such a role.

    Then, Murphy tells us that the Russians captured an operative. So the Russians know.

    Then, he asserts that the Russians know and that the CIA and the allied nation’s spy agency (is that you, Poland?) want the Russians to know.

    So: there’s a campaign of sabotage, although Murphy doesn’t mention any damage that hasn’t been covered in the press and here at Naked Capitalism. How extensive is this campaign?

    And Murphy ends with several paragraphs in italics in which he details the office politics of getting the thing published, although it isn’t clear to me (or to him?) what his reasons are.

    Slava Office Politicskyy!

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      And this gives me a whole lotta confidence:

      The overlapping nature of the various covert action campaigns behind Russian lines has created problems for the Western spy services running those missions. Over the summer, it became clear to CIA officers that there was increasingly a need for deconfliction amongst their own surrogate forces in Russia, according to two former military officials. Numerous incidents took place in which rail lines or power lines were cut that unintentionally interfered with other missions, one of them said.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Certainly the US was not amused by the extensive German sabotage operations during WW1 which culminated in the Black Tom Island explosion. And they were doing stuff like this before war was even declared. Von Papen was actively helping these teams and he was mentioned in Links yesterday for helping you know who to get to power in Germany in 1933-

      And just a day or so ago, another sabotage team was wiped out trying to enter Russia-

  9. Noone from Nowheresville

    My neighbor had a cat who could tell time or rather I think she listened for the sound of my neighbor’s car. We lived near a busy freeway at the time. The street outside was busy for a neighborhood street during rush hour. Otherwise moderately quiet compared to nearby road arteries during the rest of the day. White noise traffic all day long from the freeway. Even in the overnights.

    Did the cat smell the time? Maybe. Would not have crossed my mind at all. But I did watch her on a number of occasions when I was working on a project for my neighbor. I’d say she heard the engine of the car. It wasn’t that different than the other vehicles that went by but there was a difference. I could hear it right before my neighbor turned into the shared driveway. The cat started moving toward the door the moment she heard the car (before me) even if she appeared to be sleeping. At a guess, once the car turned the corner to come down our neighborhood road.

    My neighbor came home at different times depending on whether or not she stopped off somewhere after work or how long she got stuck in rush hour traffic. Also didn’t matter to the cat whether or not the windows were open. She lived up on the third floor of an apartment building.

    1. Screwball

      I think my cat tells time, or at least her internal clock is quite calibrated.

      I was amazed how she would jump into bed on a daily basis about 5-10 minutes before the alarm clock went off. Of course that was also the time she expected to be fed.

      She would also, in the afternoon, right about the time the mailman came, go into the living room and sit on the back of the couch so she could look out the window and see him put mail in the box. They were buddies. He came about the same time every day so she knew – without looking at her watch. :-)

      1. playon

        Cats are extremely habitual creatures, and they dislike having their routines or territory changed, which is one reason that cats hate moving to a new home.

      2. Randy

        Our recently passed cat not only knew what time it was, she knew what day it was as does our remaining kitty.

        My wife worked Monday – Friday and I worked Tuesday – Saturday. We both started work at 7am. Our cat would come into bed just before 5:30 (our usual wake up time) and walk across us. The person she knew had to go to work got all her weight on 1 of 4 feet, the other one got the cat’s weight distributed on 3 feet. When she walked across you distributing her weight on 3 feet you would hardly know she was there. On the 1 foot weight distribution you knew it. When she got done trodding heavily on the wakee she would lay down on their chest, purring loudly and wait for the alarm to sound off. It was a great way to wake up.

        Our cats also got their wet food treat at 5pm daily and if it wasn’t in the bowl at 5pm they let you know.

        1. Screwball

          Ours did that too, like clockwork. Only difference was she would walk ON me, but walk around HER. Not sure why.

          It was funny when the time changed. We could change the clocks, but it took a few weeks for the cat to get back in sync.

  10. Brian Beijer

    How to Walk (12 miles a day) Chris Arnade

    This is easy.
    1) Buy a wolf-dog
    2) Make the choice between having a house with holes chewed through the walls and destroyed furniture OR walking 12 miles a day
    My wife and I unknowingly got a wolf-dog almost three years ago, just as the pandemic arrived. It was the best mistake we’ve ever made. We’ve been forced to walk between 10-15 miles a day, everyday since then. Everyday come rain, sleet, snow or heat we’ll be walking. I truly believe his insistence on these walks helped to save our lives during the worst of the pandemic. Oh, and you’ll never get bored walking a wolf-dog in the woods, so no need to worry about what podcast to download.

    1. The Rev Kev

      They certainly are a very beautiful dog to look at. Who knows? That wolf-dog forcing you and your wife to walk so many klicks a day may end up giving you a healthier and longer life – if it doesn’t kill you first with all that walking.

  11. Lex

    “The trouble with Americans is that we see everything in black or white, but there’s a lot of gray in diplomacy.” ~Llewellyn Thompson from the Responsible Statecraft link.

    Tracey’s entire DoS career has been in the heart of regime changey, destablization areas going back to the mid-90’s. Famous for time in Pakistan in 2008, but she’s technically a Russian specialist (by BA degree) yet spent almost her entire career focused on the central asian states, including being attached to the NSC leading the Central Asia desk in 2011-2012. The RS link is too kind; she’s most like a pretty severe hawk.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Rethinking the big spring clean chuck-out frenzy: how keeping old things away from the landfill can ‘spark joy’ in its own way”

    Unmentioned is the idea about just not hoarding so much stuff. I read a survey several years ago which said that when people went out shopping for hard goods, some 95% of anything purchased is no longer in that home within only six months. Hard to account for that. Shopping for fun and therapy? Too much stuff made is only crap production? Either way, 95% is a lot so maybe the way to go is to stop buying stuff simply because you can.

    1. Art_DogCT

      “Shopping for fun and therapy?”

      I call it ‘Acquisition Therapy’. I’ve known many who use this approach to navigate their world, even indulged in it myself for a period. Growing up, I came to understand that my father used buying things as his mechanism to demonstrate his feelings. If he was happy, he’d go shopping. If he was angry, he’d go shopping. No matter the emotion, his preferred mode of expression was buying stuff. He was a Greyhound bus driver most of his working life, born of KY coal miners and dirt farmers, so it wasn’t familial wealth that resulted in his acquisitional approach to interacting with the world. Much of his therapy was found in the menswear department at Sears, Penney’s, and Monkey Ward. Sometimes it would result in gifts/tokens/offerings to my mother, my sister, and me. I never did gain much insight into how he came to ‘be like that’. It took conscious work on my part not to emulate him, in this and in other aspects of life. Sometimes resemblances are other than physical.

    2. Carlotta2

      What you bought yesterday is garbage

      Today you’ll borrow to buy something new

      Tomorrow you’ll repay with interest

      Today’s Garbage that is tomorrow’s due

      From an entirely useful site (and not one ad either).

      1. Gonzales

        HA! We’ve been doing this forever in our condo’s pool room:

        *Salvage and gather reusable screws, bolts and fasteners from wood or other item being recycled or discarded. Place them in a large clear container. Soon you will have a readily available collection of fasteners that are visible through the sides. Except for large projects you may never have to buy another screw or fastener.

        *Do the same for larger items by catagory. For example, in a box marked “electrical” , we place lengths of wire, adaptors, extension cords, switch-plates, fuses etc. Some items are surplus to our home, others are garbage-picked or just found. Whatever the source, they inevitably get used. The larger the number of people, as in a nighborhood, or apartment house, that contribute to these stashes, the greater the variety and more money and material preserved. Consider catagories such as hardware, plumbing, garden, car etc.


        * When sending greeting cards, write your message on a post-it note placed into the card instead of on the card itself. This allows the similar reuse of the card by its recipient.

        *Cut out the graphics from greeting cards that aren’t reusable to decorate your packages. Glue them down to avoid reading of the messages on the opposite side.

        * Instead of buying gift-wrapping paper, use old maps, especially from National Geographics, posters or foreign-language newspapers. Hallmark makes billions because people haven’t thought of these things.

        *Get all the writing, computer, drawing paper or envelopes that you will ever need free from your school’s computer lab or printing room garbage/recycle bins. There is usually plenty of paper with both sides blank as well. Recylcle bins behind print shops often have missprinted envelopes by the hundreds for the taking. Cross out the printed address and use them to mail letters-remember those things?

        *Start a compost heap for coffee grounds, eggshells and vegetable scraps. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can add these materials to a nearby green area that will benefit from having its soil enriched. Just place the organic matter around and under plants. A gallon plastic jug with its top cut off at 45 degrees opposite the handle makes a good kitchen storage and carrying device. Or, a half-gallon milk carton with the top opened up.

        *Coffee houses and juice bars are ideal places to get all the grounds and or juice pulp you might want for large scale composting. Places that use hardwood to roast food can be a great source of fireplace ash that, when used carefully and in small amounts, can neutralize acid soil and add nutrients. Also, sprinkled around the base of live oak trees, it prevents sudden oak disease by mimicking fire that deacicdifies the soil.

        Only add ash to your compost heap in tiny amounts sufficient to dust the surface and in alternate layers with other materials. Apply it directly to soil or lightly scatter around plants. Clumps of ash become caustic lye when wetted, so you want it to just be a dusting-and do not breathe the dust.

        Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…please turn off your Christmas lights before the 6th.

        1. playon

          Among other things, we take mistakes & obsolete pages from our home printer and cut them down to note-pad size. Haven’t bought any note paper for years…

  13. Joe Well

    I still can’t bear to listen to Mike Duncan’s last podcast episode. I also can’t believe how many years it’s been since The History of Rome podcast.

    1. Kouros

      Actually I am looking forward for a History of China and a History of India by Mike Duncan. 600 episodes each?

  14. eg

    The Chinese volte-face from Covid Zero to Maximum Covid is an astonishing experiment. Predicting all of the outcomes beggars the imagination, but it would seem to be a recipe for an increase in variants at the very least.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Three years ago we were talking about how the R number for the original Wuhan strain might have been as high as 6-7 but for the one in China, they are talking about an R number of 17-18. Incredible.

      By the way, does any know what the Chinese is for ‘let ‘er rip’?

      1. Kouros

        It is possible (Peter Lee) that it started to rip before the restrictions were removed. Seeing the wave, the leadership removed the useless controls (people were not obeying anyways). There will be a different type of blame for getting Covid because no measures than getting Covid despite all those measures…

    2. PlutoniumKun

      There seems to be an inbuilt assumption, both within China and among western observers, that they are in for a really bad couple of months, and then it’ll be fine, or as fine as endemic covid can be. But there is no reason to believe this to be certain at all – there is every reason to think that China could be facing a big series of waves both of past variants as they enter and future ones that will cook up among a previously untouched population.

      The only one ‘new’ thing we know about covid in China is that Naomi Wu seems to have been right in highlighting the problems with Chinese residential buildings and how they allow the spread even among people who are isolating. This seems to be a core reason as to why its spreading with such astonishing speed. It may be that this means their waves will be shorter, but more intense.

    3. Jason Boxman

      And bizarrely, the NY Times seems to be concern trolling over it. No paper was more ferocious in its call for mass death and suffering (in the ‘news’ stories, no less, in addition to op-eds), because markets.

  15. Henry Moon Pie

    Chinese plumbing woes–

    Interesting diagram. What’s shown is an apartment building in which there are traps. They’re the U-shaped portion of the sanitary piping filled with blue, i.e. water. These traps block gases emanating from the lower portions of the plumbing system where decaying fecal matter releases methane and other gases. You can’t really live in a building with no traps.

    The problem illustrated is that one of the traps is no longer filled with water. This implicates another aspect of waste plumbing. Even if you have traps, the water in them, which is what is blocking everything from methane to Covid viral material from escaping from the kitchen drain into the house, can be pulled out of the trap by a loss of air pressure as water travels down the drain. The normal air pressure in the room pushes the water out of the trap as the water rushing down the lower drain pipe pulls air with it and lowers the air pressure.

    American plumbing requires air vents to prevent this from happening. Whenever the pipe run from the vertical stack is longer than a specified length (determined by pipe diameter), the pipe must be vented so that air is pulled into the “vacuum” created by the rushing water, thus keeping the water in place in the trap. If the Chinese do not add these air vents, then their traps are frequently waterless and ineffective.

    Let me note that I am far from a professional plumber. I have managed to put five bathrooms and two kitchens in these two old Cleveland houses, and other than the washing machine drain, we have no trap problems. (The washing machine pumps water out of the tub, and this force sometimes removes the water in the washing machine trap because I didn’t make it long enough initially.) I’ve also had the misfortune of living with ineffective European-style traps in an otherwise beautiful old stone inn overlooking Croatia’s Mirna valley. It’s a little more complicated than having no traps.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        That kitchen sink is pretty atrocious. I’m not sure how the author knows there’s no trap under that shower drain. Nothing tells you from above.

        Pretty shortsighted. I wouldn’t light a match in a poorly ventilated half-bath. Maybe we should be measuring the methane for climate purposes.

    1. Greg

      Incidentally, this effect of running water creating a vacuum is also how you get suction on tap in a basic lab setup. It’s neat.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “DeSantis’s request for COVID vaccine probe denounced by health experts”

    Of course DeSantis is just saying this as Republican talking points to score votes with…..however. This article says the following-

    ‘Physicians and public health experts say his request betrays decades of established procedure designed to ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, and only serves to stoke further immunization fears.’

    Decades of established procedure designed to ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccines dictate that you spend years testing the safety of a brand new vaccine based on new science, especially if it is of the shake’n’bake variety. But instead it was mass released under an emergency decree with it being made mandatory in many places and the vaccines-manufacturers could never be held accountable for any deaths or injures that resulted nor could the doctors and institutes administering these new vaccines. Oddly enough, those physicians and public health experts are silent on this subject.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      I don’t know where you’re getting your info, Rev, but, according to “Brian Castrucci, president and CEO of public health group the de Beaumont Foundation,

      “These vaccines have been tested and scrutinized more than any other vaccine, and they continue to save lives….”

      Also too, in the “decades of established procedure” category, no mention of the fact that the long agreed upon definitions of “vaccine” and “immunity” were changed so that the covid shots could qualify.

      Just wondering where the if-you’ve-done-nothing-wrong-you-have-nothing-to-worry-about cohort is hiding on this one. How can DeSantis find anything if there’s nothing to find? Could it be that he’ll find something like this:

      German Pathologist Presents Autopsy Results of “Sudden Adult Death” Patients Post-Vaccination

      “Blood brain barrier is crossed by the vaccine…These Brain Cells are Supposed to be Helping us to think Rather than Making Spike Protein” – Prof. Arne Burkhardt

    2. Screwball

      They don’t want people to figure out who the real “lab rats” are.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t one of the boosters approved on the data from 8 mice?

      You want me to take what?

      1. anon in so cal

        Back in 2021, when the vaccine was rolling out, it was apparently not 100% certain that it would not trigger antibody-dependent enhancement of immunity (ADE) (if I read this article correctly):

        “Why ADE Hasn’t Been a Problem With COVID Vaccines

        — Even with new variants, it’s unlikely antibody-dependent enhancement will be an issue”

        by Veronica Hackethal, MD, MSc, Enterprise & Investigative Writer, MedPage Today March 16, 2021

        “So far, there have been no reports of ADE with COVID-19 vaccines. But the concerns about ADE with COVID-19 vaccines have resurfaced with the emergency of virus variants.

        Scientists say that ADE is pretty much a non-issue with COVID-19 vaccines, but what are they basing this on?

        …scientists sought to target a SARS-CoV-2 protein that was least likely to cause ADE. For example, when they found out that targeting the nucleoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 might cause ADE, they quickly abandoned that approach. The safest route seemed to be targeting the S2 subunit of the spike protein…

        …Scientists designed animal studies to look for ADE. They looked for it in human trials, and they’ve been looking for it in the real-world data for COVID-19 vaccines with emergency use authorization. So far, they haven’t seen signs of it. In fact, the opposite is happening, Lowe noted.”

          1. anon in so cal

            This paragraph from the article? They are unsure of the direction of causality, but if it’s high IgG4/IgG1 ratios > poor disease outcome, then, yikes.

            “”There are very few reports on the induction of IgG4 after natural infection with SARS-CoV-2. The dominant subclasses were mostly IgG1 and IgG3 (54–56). Nevertheless, a Brazilian study during the early phase of the pandemic correlated an early onset and high levels of anti-spike IgG4 antibodies with a more severe COVID-19 progression after SARS-CoV-2 infection, which might indicate a less effective antibody response (56). Additionally, Della-Torre et al. reported on a significant association of high IgG4/IgG1 ratios with poor disease outcome (57). However, in the case of a primary immune response, the causality is difficult to address, since it is also possible that a more severe infection leads to an IgG4 response and not vice versa.””

        1. Bugs

          Thanks for this. Interesting and clearly explained. I was wondering why we were hearing nothing about it for quite a while now.

  17. Wukchumni

    Its raining now here as the forefront of the atmospheric river begins to bear down on us. NWS says the freezing levels are close to 10k, and winds aloft are close to 100 mph along the Sierra crest up north, so although i’m content to hurry up and wait to see what happens, i’d imagine a whole bunch of dead pines will be falling but with nobody there to hear them hit the deck, did it really happen?

  18. Sutter Cane

    Covid may have been a contributing factor to the Southwest Airlines fiasco but it was primarily due to their crew-scheduling software going down:

    Was the software overtaxed due to having more crew scheduling changes than it could handle, because of covid? Probably.

    Also probably it has been inadequate for a while but SW didn’t want to spend the money to improve or replace it because that would cost a lot up front and capitalism doesn’t look at anything beyond short-term profits.

    I suspect we’re going to see a lot of stories like this going forward: crapification meets covid

    1. earthling

      Recently met a guy out camping his way around the country (for six months). He has been one of the guys ‘keeping the trains running’ for a decade or so; the go-to tech guy for some prosperous company. Tired of being on call, tired of no ‘bench’ of apprentices to carry part of the load, tired of being cajoled by ‘managers’ to do more with less. Walked away. Let the accountants who are so proud of cutting costs and maximizing revenue figure out how to make the trains run.

    2. Screwball

      Between stories like this, the TSA goons who seem to enjoy their jobs way too much, skepticism of air frame and terminal maintenance, and the general experience of airports and flying – I will never get in one of those flying tubes ever again.

      I’ve never had what I would consider a pleasurable experience, even when things went right. So screw it, I’ll drive.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve been in training (actually car’ing) and have only 4 domestic flights under my belt since 9/11, about 1 flight every 5 years.

        You don’t miss something you don’t do…

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          “You don’t miss something you don’t do”

          aye. ive been on a plane all of 4 times in my life…last time 30 or more years ago.
          hated it every time.
          hated the flying part, of course…big metal tubes rattling ominously.
          but hated the airport even more…long before 9-11 and the rsulting security theater.
          after my last flight, i landed a gig delivering lost luggage…so i had to actually enter the austin airport every day.
          i’ve always been idiosyncratic in my appearance….ie, i should be easy to remember.
          i quickly learned to recognise the security people and cops there…but they always treated me like it was a brand new day, and they had to shake me down to determine what kind of criminality i was up to.
          i’d rather ride a mule, frankly.

          1. Wukchumni

            My first flight was from LAX to JFK in 1969, and I remember the aroma of spent jet fuel @ both airports was intoxicating like a spendy perfume as far as this then 7 year old was concerned.

            I logged well over a million miles in the 80’s including a number of ‘around the world in 80 days’ trips where you could go to a lot of countries-but you couldn’t backtrack-had to pick a direction to start and either go west or east and then slowly circumnavigate your way back home.

            …they used to trust me with cutlery

  19. Craig H.

    The CIA Is Using a European NATO Ally’s Spy Service To Conduct a Covert Sabotage Campaign Inside Russia Under The Agency’s Direction, According To Former U.S. Intelligence And Military Officials

    Stephen Dorril’s MI6 book is very long and mostly boring but there are some golden nuggets in there. According to Dorril Russian counter-intelligence is three orders of magnitude above ours and CIA &c. covert action in Russia record is approximately zero for one hundred thousand.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      RU counterintelligence has long been excellent. During WW2, Beria (dreadful human being, competent spymaster) did a good job rolling up Nazi efforts inside the USSR. But now RU has a problem of its own making: by issuing loads of passports to UKR nationals since 2014, it has enabled UKR saboteurs and sleeper cells (admittedly only a small % of the passports issued, but it only takes a small % to cause a mess) to infiltrate RU. These UKR agents can blend seamlessly into RU, speaking the language fluently and idiomatically, and looking just like the locals. Even accounting for the usual RU penchant for flouting fire safety regulations and workplace safety rules, there have been an unusual number of unexplained fires and explosions on RU territory in recent weeks. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, and I do think the RU counterintelligence gang has its hands full. Much as western nations have learned the hard way, RU will have to become more careful about dishing out passports and residence permits.

      1. hk

        An interesting and important lesson that a US administration that actually cares about American security should heed.

  20. Lexx

    ‘Can dogs smell time?’

    He knows when it’s 4:30 a.m., give or take a minute – breakfast! He knows when his mid-day snack is due and when it’s time for dinner. When my husband used to commute two hours a day, he knew when Husband would return and was waiting in the hallway for him to step in from the garage. I knew too by watching the behavior of our dog.

    A medication our dog had been taking for a few years had been taking its toll on his body and we found out in September when it escalated to crisis level. The path to healing was not via his veterinary care, but his nose. The medication had damaged his gut lining. Anything hard (like kibble) made things worse. He became leery of all food. I would stick a forkful down in front of his nose and watch him check his catalog of scents. Anything ‘old’ was rejected, anything ‘new’ he’d try… once. I thought it was about the content, but no, it was about the form. He couldn’t break down hard food without pain and he couldn’t tell me why some foods were acceptable and others not.

    I figured out what was going on by listening to his nose. His snack biscuits had changed at the manufacturing plants in the last year of ‘shortages’. I tossed one of his favorite snack biscuits into a glass of warm water to see how long it took to become saturated (about half an hour, always floating on top of the water). I started to toss it out and then thought I’d stick it on a plate to see what he’d do. I thought it would be rejected as ‘old’, instead he sniffed it for a bit then gobbled it down. The problem had been the hardness, the form. He didn’t have anything like 8 ounces of liquid sloshing around in his stomach; it was why he was drinking so much water. The scent helped in that he would have had long experience of it as something he hunted down for the pleasure of ‘nose work’. The last round of pain had been due to me giving him those same snacks in their unsaturated form. I can only imagine his ambivalence as he ate them again…

    … I had been holding my breath. After an hour when they didn’t come back up and he didn’t run for the patio door, with diarrhea, I put two more biscuits in water and when they were softened tried the experiment again. Same response, he nommed them down with gusto. A breakthrough at last! What he may have been sniffing for was water content or something that would tell him he could pass the food out of his stomach, all the time driven by hunger to eat something. The addition of digestive enzymes was tried, but seemed to create more of a problem.

    It’s never too late to teach old dogs new tricks. Thankfully he hasn’t given up on us yet in our increasing decrepitude and senility.

    1. Nikkikat

      Good for you and your pup. Glad you were able to sort it out and help him. Most vets these days are clueless. As well as never listening to what you are telling them about your pet. I had one that crossed his arms and told me that “he had gone to school, was a highly paid professional and who was I to question him?
      I found a new vet who actually believed that I did indeed know something about my dog.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I don’t find anything professional about refusing to listen to someone who lives with their pet 24-7 and saying what they see. Humility is the first step in professionalism after all so I am glad that you ditched them.

    2. semper loquitur

      I slice sweet potatoes really thinly then dry them out in the oven until they are crispy. Our pupper cannot get enough of them. Also helps with her regularity.

      1. Lexx

        He’s back to his Super Pooper self. We have a bag of powdered pumpkin we keep for those times something is giving him the runs. It didn’t help us with his latest problem, but it’s a terrific supplement to keep around. There’s a fragility to him now that didn’t used to be there and it makes us cautious of trying anything new.

        His resident internist might be the most caring I’ve taken my dogs to these many years but she is a product of that institution. Not inclined to color outside the lines and frankly, I’m not sure they know or recognize how the medical needs of older dogs change and how to adjust with them. CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital is one of top such schools in the country. Even the most credentialed have their blindspots.

  21. Roger Blakely

    fecal aerosol transmission

    Let’s talk about the office building. Most large modern office buildings have a centralized heating/ventilation/air conditioning system. The restrooms are not exhausted to the outside. Restroom air is mixed with the rest of the air in the building. (A certain fraction of indoor air, like five percent of it, is exhausted to the outside and replaced by fresh air at the unit on the roof.)

    We have seen how commercial toilets in office buildings generate aerosols. The building’s ventilation system is distributing SARS-CoV-2 throughout the building. That is why I put my respirator on before I enter the building, and I don’t take it off until I leave the building.

    1. jsn

      Not quite all true.

      Office building restrooms are kept under negative pressure with a dedicated exhaust fan that exhaust toilet room air to the outdoors.

      The toilet exhaust is a dedicated riser that doesn’t recirculate. As I understand it, historically this has been done to control odor, but has the benefit now of exhausting fecal plumes of COVID from the water closets at least. These exhaust vents are generally located above the back of the open top toilet stalls.

  22. Jason Boxman

    The Great Big Medicare Rip-Off

    By cracking down on this and other kinds of waste, the government could save Medicare anywhere from $20 billion to $35 billion a year. That’s enough to fully fund vision and hearing benefits for all seniors enrolled in traditional Medicare ($12 billion a year) and have money left over to extend the life of Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund, which is headed for insolvency in 2028. Or it would more than cover free community college ($9 billion a year) or 12 weeks of universal paid family leave ($15 billion a year, not including medical leave) for all Americans. Democrats and Republicans might disagree on how to spend the savings, but reforming Medicare Advantage should have bipartisan appeal—for conservatives who decry government waste and for liberals who decry dishonest business practices.

    It’s always otherworldly to read passages like this, because we can actually ‘fund’ all these programs today, the same way we funded the Iraq War or our endless ‘aid’ to the Ukraine: By simply doing it. There’s no ‘funding’ required, as the government doesn’t need to collect dollars from anywhere. As the sole issuer of dollars, we can provide for the public commons to whatever extent we have the real world capacity to do so.

    The real con is the belief, a fiction, propagated by our political class, that somehow we need to find dollars to pay for social programs. (But hilariously never military spending.) We can’t have people understanding that the real reason you can’t have nice things is because our political class is a bunch of thugs.

  23. Skip in DC

    Re: New Not-So-Cold War

    Please Dear God don’t let me be accused of coddling Nazis, or of averting my gaze from atrocities, when pointing out something that might slightly ruffle a narrative.

    Much is made of those in Ukraine who supported Nazi Germany over the Soviets in WWII. Generally left out is mention of the Holodomor, a 1932-1933 holocaust famine perpetrated on Ukraine by Stalin. Many scholars believe it was by design to damp down feelings of nationalism and a separate culture. Stalin viewed Ukrainian peasantry as counterrevolutionary and seized their grain, forcing them to slaughter their livestock to eat. Years ago I saw the Holodomor Museum in Kyiv, established in 2008, and I was convinced. Estimates of those who starved or died from related causes range from five to ten million Ukrainians, including some with Cossack heritage. It was brutal for the survivors, so harsh that some chose cannibalizing corpses over starvation. The Soviet government called for the harshest punishment for “those who keep for themselves even five stalks of grain.” It was a license to kill.

    Family histories like that tend to linger in the mind.

    Soviets even stole swaths of Ukraine’s valuable topsoil, loading it on trains. Germany did that as well.

    There’s a Ukrainian Holodomor Memorial on the National Mall in DC, authorized by Congress in 2006, a sculpture depicting a field of wheat.

    None of this is a cheer for Nazis. Please don’t go there. But for what it’s worth, perhaps a bit of perspective on how Ukraine views Russian efforts to liberate it, and on the roots of extremism that linger. Which Zelensky, who is Jewish, seems to have reached accommodation with. Is that as alarming as reaching an accommodation with a chunk of extremism that’s slipped into the US military?

    Here’s hoping for a rapidly negotiated settlement, and a curb on corruption that has long bedeviled Ukraine. But the notion that extremism in Ukraine gives Russia a bone fide claim on that country is akin to wishing that fate on Idaho.

    1. Yves Smith

      Sorry, this is a Ukraine narrative that has become widely accepted in the West. The Soviet famine of the early 1930s was not directed at Ukraine. Millions of people in other areas of the Soviet Union died too. The famine was a tragedy for Ukraine but did not target Ukraine.

      Archival records from that period substantiate that:

      The overall Soviet population losses by 1933 [from the famine] are estimated as 6–7 million, with approximately 3.5 million famine-related deaths in Ukraine….

      A most authoritative Russian expert on these topics is Viktor Kondrashin. He has continued the projects started by Danilov and published several archival documentary collections. The first is Famine in the USSR 1930 – 1934 with almost 200 facsimile archival documents. A larger archival publication by Kondrashin in four volumes (2011–13) expands the empirical basis for researchers. Of particular interest are those on the famine in various parts of the USSR. Kondrashin’s recent monograph The 1932-1933 Famine: The Tragedy of the Russian Countryside (2018) outlines his interpretation that the grand famine was the unexpected result of the collectivization. It struck in many regions of the Russian republic. It was not directed specifically against any ethnic group. Grain collection from the kolkhozes in 1931 and 1932 was brutally enforced. The Soviet leadership lacked information in 1932 concerning the real harvest. Only when the famine grew catastrophic in the winter of 1932/33, did the authorities change their policies: lowered grain requisition quotas, sent seed grain back to many regions, tried to evacuate suffering children from famine-struck regions. In short, that millions of people in Soviet Ukraine as well as in Russia died during the famine years was an unforeseen effect of a policy. In other words, it was not an intentional, genocidal policy directed towards the Ukrainian or any other people but a tragedy for all the peoples of the USSR.

      In the West, major research on Soviet agriculture was done by Robert Davies and Stephen Wheatcroft. Their monograph The Years of Hunger (2004) is translated into Russian. It provides empirical data on all agricultural branches. Their conclusion is that “the Soviet leadership was struggling with a famine crisis which had been caused by their wrongheaded policies, but was unexpected and undesirable”. Davies and Wheatcroft emphasize that the changing policies in 1932/33 (lowering of grain collection, redistribution back to the peasant and shelter for famine-stricken youngsters) indicate that there was not any intention to “apply famine as a terror-weapon” as Conquest and many Ukrainian historians have stated. Stalin and other leaders made concessions to Ukraine in procurements, and were clearly trying to balance the subsistence needs of Ukraine and other regions. They cut down grain exports in 1932 to a minimum. But they did not acknowledge the famine to the West, asking for relief as Lenin had done in 1921–22, for fear of losing further in credibility worth. Also important to consider is that the Soviet leadership was particularly worried over a possible further Japanese expansion towards the Soviet Far East, after the takeover of Manchuria in 1931-32. This factor precluded any more use of the state reserves of grain (for the armed forces in case of war), to alleviate the situation in the starving areas.

      1. skippy

        “wrongheaded policies” I posted long ago on how this was influenced by the fashion/rage at the time of Lamarckism, said policy was formulated on this theory from onset and carried out by the state e.g. it had no sociopolitical/ideological groundings. Although due to the fervor at the time it was automatically ascribed such and since then been a well worn truism used to refute any notion of socialism i.e. redistribution of one toil outside market forces …

        As you have noted as soon as the failure of this theory became apparent it was abandoned post haste, but the damage had already been done and as we all know once capital destruction sets in it takes manifold the effort and time to get back to the starting point again.

        Anywho it curious some never consider how many are killed and maimed by Food Inc past and present …

      2. anon in so cal

        A large scholarly literature supports the view that the famine was a tragedy but not directed at Ukraine.

        Many in the West, however, (especially Conquest) adopted the problematic Ukrainian viewpoint expressed in Ukrainian publications.

        “In 1990, a negative response to these publications came in the form of an article in Slavic Review by Mark B. Tauger, which maintained that the famine could be explained by the fact that the harvest of 1931 was much lower than initially thought and that grain reserves in the Soviet Union were very low (Tauger 1990).”

        Craig Whitney, however, disagreed with the theory of genocide:

        “The eyewitness testimony may be reliable, but far more debatable is the thesis that the famine was specifically aimed as an instrument of genocide against the Ukraine. The clear implication of this book is that the author has taken the side of his Ukrainian sources on this issue, even though much of his evidence does not support it well. Mr. Conquest’s attempts to document the claim that while people were starving in the Ukraine they were being well fed just across the border in Russia fall far short of a rigorous standard—a few citations from ‘The Black Deeds of the Kremlin’ and other exile sources do not make the case. (Whitney 1986, p. 12)”

        “Similarly the late Alec Nove, in a generally positive review of Conquest’s book, advanced one major caveat:

        There is one matter on which one must disagree with Conquest. It is what could be called the Ukrainian aspect. That the majority of those who died in the famine were Ukrainian peasants is not in dispute. But did they die because they were peasants, or because they were Ukrainians? As Conquest himself points out, the largest number of victims proportionately were in fact Kazakhs, and no one has attributed this to Stalin’s anti-Kazakh views … Yes the Ukrainian countryside suffered terribly. But Conquest seems prone to accept the Ukrainian nationalist myth. (Nove 1986, p. 37)”

        “The most notable work in the school of writing that maintains that the famine was not genocide is that by R. W. Davies and Stephen G. Wheatcroft (2004). It is a weighty volume, replete with tables and statistics, and not always easy to comprehend. Nevertheless, it now serves as the main source in English of those who reject any specific Ukrainian factor in the famine of 1932–1933 and, as the title indicates, the authors neither accept the limitations of those two years nor the geographical restrictions of the borders of the Ukrainian SSR.

        Davies and Wheatcroft summarise their views in an article in Europe-Asia Studies. They comment that the USSR suffered two disastrous harvests in 1931 and 1932, which negated efforts to build up grain stocks. In May 1932, the government reduced targets for the Soviet harvest from 23.5 tons to 19 million tons, and an even lower figure was actually gathered. In Ukraine, they comment, the harvest collection plan was lowered from 5.83 million tons to 3.77 million, with the actual collection being 3.53 million. Once it was aware of the scale of the famine, the Politburo issued 35 ‘top secret decisions’ that provided small amounts of food relief to Ukraine and the North Caucasus. These measures were insufficient to prevent mass starvation but they demonstrate the government’s efforts to reduce the hardship (Davies & Wheatcroft 2006, p. 626). They continue by stating that Stalin declined to seek grain relief from abroad because of a crisis in foreign exchange rates and also because of reluctance to expose the real problems in Soviet agriculture. Nevertheless, they state ‘we have found no evidence, direct or indirect, that Stalin sought deliberately to starve the peasants’.”

        Unfortunately, the famine is used a a propagada weapon:

      3. Scylla

        The thing that really puts the lie to the so-called Holodomor, is when we read history and discover that famines were cyclical in this region, occurring every 3-4 years, going back many, many decades, if not centuries. The Soviets actually broke this terrible cycle. Instead of being celebrated for it, they are blamed for the final famine. The whole thing is ridiculous, and it blows my mind how many people buy into this nonsense.

    2. Maxwell Johnston

      My studies of the awful UKR famine of the 1930s led me to the conclusion that it was largely due to breathtaking bureaucratic incompetence and bad luck, and less due to anti-UKR machinations. A tragedy, yes. A genocide, no. BTW Stalin was not an ethnic Russian, and neither was his henchman Khrushchev (a Ukrainian, actually), so I don’t see any Hitlerian anti-UKR emotions here.

    3. pjay

      – “Years ago I saw the Holodomor Museum in Kyiv, established in 2008, and I was convinced…”

      – “There’s a Ukrainian Holodomor Memorial on the National Mall in DC, authorized by Congress in 2006, a sculpture depicting a field of wheat.”

      Ah yes, the “Holodomor.” This has become quite a staple in the anti-Russia propaganda campaign. It has also been central in the accepted dogma of certain elite “Russian Studies” academia in the US. But as Yves points out, that “narrative” leaves out a number of inconvenient facts and has been successfully challenged, at least in its simplistic form. I sincerely hope you are not “convinced” because this story is supported by museums or memorials in Kyiv or Washington.

      This is not to say that some Ukrainians might not have historical reasons, or “family histories,” to be wary of Russia (or vice versa). But the “Holodomor” story is old hat in the propaganda mill. Also, I don’t believe Putin is much of a fan of Stalin either, so there’s one common denominator for agreement and negotiation. Yay!

    4. Kouros

      There are other points of view, beside what the west and recently Ukraine has propagandized:

      However, for a famine that was not mitigated in any way, because markets, you can go and see the National Famine Museum in Ireland:

      And that was left to grow to its maximum extent because of racism:

  24. Wukchumni

    This George Co(Santos)tanza saga is right out of Seinfeld, he admits to lying about everything, but now that he’s come clean, he’s still looking forward to hanging out in the House.

    It’s not a lie if you believe it.

  25. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: The Great Big Medicare Rip-Off Ezekiel J. Emanuel, The Atlantic

    So, from none other than the “renowned” american medical “ethicist,” zeke emanuel, on the benefits of Medicare Advantage vs. “traditional” Medicare, a debate that rages in this comment section from time to time:

    Medicare Advantage has important patient benefits. Compared with seniors enrolled in traditional Medicare, those in MA health plans are more likely to have a consistent primary-care physician and to receive preventive services such as flu vaccines, colon-cancer screenings, blood-pressure screenings, and cholesterol management. MA patients also have lower rates of hospital readmission and preventable hospitalizations. And MA patients generally face fewer hassles in obtaining prescription drugs and getting information about drug costs. Because the government pays MA plans a flat fee to provide all care, those plans have an incentive to reduce unnecessary and inefficient care and promote preventive services and care management.

    Importantly, from a policy perspective, traditional Medicare has serious flaws. Its fee-for-service structure inherently encourages less preventive care and the ordering of more—and more expensive—tests, surgical procedures, and other treatments. And it de-emphasizes managing patients’ care, resulting in fragmented services from multiple physicians, which is particularly challenging for patients with serious chronic conditions. Fortunately, it is possible to lower Medicare Advantage’s costs in a way that also would help keep Medicare as a whole solvent for future generations.

    If there is a government funded program that private contractors don’t find a way to game and ripoff, I haven’t seen it. congress’ refusal to police the scams, punish the scammers and strengthen the rules in return for campaign “contributions” should not be a reason to disparage or scrap a system that benefits actual patients.

    The question should not be which Medicare plan is “better,” but why congress won’t fix a system it is entirely within its power to fix.

    1. Carla

      Thank you, Katniss. That article is a duplicitous sham, and exactly what I would expect from Ezekiel Emmanuel, who sure should know a rip-off when he sees one.

      I’m very surprised that Lambert posted that link without a warning comment.

      And of course the real question is, why don’t we have actual healthcare for every actual person in this actual (?) country.

      Are we even a country anymore, or just a giant multi-national corporation masquerading as one?

  26. Matthew G. Saroff

    If you link to the husband of Victoria Nuland (Robert Kagan), you should note just who, and what he is.

    This man has advocated for every misbegotten military intervention by the US in the past 30 years, at least.

  27. NorD94

    kind of long, interesting read:

    Three years on, the pandemic — and our response — have been jolting. Here’s what even the experts didn’t see coming

    ** a few things I thought were interesting, a lot more in the article **

    How quickly people could be reinfected

    “Anecdotally, I know several instances where infections occurred, the infection resolved clinically, and then the person became symptomatic again with SARS-CoV-2 positivity a few weeks after the initial infection,” said Stanley Perlman, a longtime coronavirus researcher at the University of Iowa.

    Human coronaviruses, which cause colds, don’t trigger long-term immunity after infection. But studies suggest reinfection occurs on average about a year after a previous infection; one study suggests the interval is much longer. So how do we make sense of intervals of mere weeks?

    The biggest surprise, hands down: How the virus has evolved

    Coronaviruses don’t change very quickly, they aren’t as mutable as, say, influenza viruses, those experts said. In fact, the spike protein on the virus’ exterior, the one that attaches to human cells and triggers infection, cannot change too much without losing its ability to infect, they assured the rest of us.

    That was the dogma. Then came the variants: Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron, with its mind-boggling array of mutations. Since it emerged in late 2021, Omicron has splintered into a seemingly endless succession of subvariants, which continue to mutate and evade immunity induced by prior infection and immunization.

    Michael Diamond, a viral immunologist at Washington University, scoffed when he recalled the early proclamations about the virus’ inability to mutate much. “At some point we’re going to run out of mutational space. Well, we haven’t run out of that yet, which was surprising to us, I think, that the virus is still flexible enough to be able to accommodate these mutations. And not only do that, but increase transmissibility and increase immune escape concurrently.”

    Bieniasz was surprised by the role immunocompromised people — people who, once they contracted Covid, could not shake the infection for weeks, sometimes months — played in driving evolution of the virus. That phenomenon is believed to be responsible for another of the surprises about SARS-2 evolution.

    The Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Omicron variants of concern are examples of this type of evolution, called saltation, Thomas Peacock and colleagues wrote in a preprint article posted in late November.

  28. Mikel

    “The Last Hold Outs”

    “….Kaiser Family Foundation poll this month found that Americans making less than $40,000 per year were on average much more likely to express worries about getting seriously ill from Covid than those with higher incomes…”

    This is beyond BS anti-mask propaganda.

    It’s not only about Covid. It’s probably not really about Covid at all. The hope is still that by not talking about it too much, the death and illness can be ignored for the benefit of the global rat #$%@ and death cult economy.
    With a bit more critical thinking about their anti-mask propaganda, they would also see that they have a study about who can afford to get sick.
    It’s an indictment of unaffordable healthcare.

    Other than that, the article should be offensive to anyone that has to have contact with people with health issues – which Covid would especually aggravate.

    And every day, I believe less and less about any claims made about the shots.
    But this is known:
    They’ve only been around about a year.

  29. Mikel

    “Call me foily, but this Twitter Files episode looks like it’s shaping up to be an effort to close the door on non-pharmaceutical interventions and the very notion of public health; a “Promontory” moment, we might call it…”

    I don’t think it’s “foily.”
    Musk also owns other companies. Think of when Covid first hit and the issues at Tesla. Non-pharmaceutical interventions included regulations for businesses – masking, possible ventilation requirements (infrastructure investments), and better sick leave benefits to name a few. Of course, it needs to be considered that an extremist (a fitting description of anyone who thinks they need billions) would want to use their new megaphone to promote their ideology.

  30. Bart Hansen

    On the “Blood and Soil” flag: On the night that Z was speaking to our nation, “Judy”, anchor of the PBS News Hour, at the very same time, was wearing a new outfit consisting of a black jacket over a bright red top.

    I went to their Contact Us site and left a sarcastic comment but did not receive a reply.

  31. Adrian D.

    “Big war is back’: 5 lessons from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” – paywalled at the FT (Not-So-Cold-War). The Timothy Snyder quoted is the author of ‘Bloodlands’ – a shoddy piece of propaganda given a comprehensive review recently in the WSWS (which made it to NC’s Links, but well worth the re-upping for anyone reading this comment) – Snyder has a massive axe he’s happily regrinding now.

    The WSWS review:

    It also got a right drubbing in the London Review of Books from the scholar Richard Evans which is well worth a read:

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