Links 12/5/2022

In Mexico, endangered monarch butterflies inspire hopes of a comeback Reuters

There’s mounting evidence that some dinosaurs lived among snow and ice. How did they do it? BBC (Kevin W).

Feeling Superior Because the Heat is Still Off? You Might be a New Englander WSJ


Addressing Climate Change Will Not “Save the Planet” The Intercept

Fossil fuel industry dupes media, quietly funds non-profits to block renewable energy Popular Information

The Return of the Dialectics of Nature: The Struggle for Freedom as Necessity Monthly Review


New Zealand government suppressed COVID testing to keep infected people at work WSWS


Antony Blinken says Biden administration supports zero-Covid protesters in China CNN

Protests in China are not rare – but the current unrest is significant The Conversation

Manufacturing orders from China down 40% in unrelenting demand collapse CNBC

Apple Makes Plans to Move Production Out of China WSJ (Re Silc). Re Silc: “Tim cook gets how much to react and not anticipate?”

The dirty road to clean energy: how China’s electric vehicle boom is ravaging the environment Rest of World


Scores of Myanmar Junta Forces Killed in Three Days of Resistance Attacks The Irrawaddy

‘The worry is Russia’: UN delays Myanmar representation decision Al Jazeera


Iran morality police status unclear after ‘closure’ comment AP

European Disunion

Europe cuts gas demand by a quarter to shed reliance on Russia FT

Energy hungry Europe can’t look to U.S. shale to fill any OPEC gap Hellenic Shipping News

Switzerland plans to BAN electric cars from the roads and order games consoles turned off during power shortages in a bid to reduce energy consumption Daily Mail (BC).

Macron’s US visit tells Europe’s alienation Indian Punchline (Kevin W).

Dear Old Blighty

UK economy to shrink in 2023, risks ‘lost decade’: CBI International Business Times

World-first submarine’s mysterious fate off the coast of Rhyl North Wales Live (Kevin W).

New Not-So-Cold War

Two Russian nuclear bombers ‘are damaged in suspected Ukrainian drone strike on airbase’ Daily Mail. At Burpelson Engels-2 AFB, 600 kilometers east of Ukraine. If true maybe not so big, like other Ukrainian stunts (like the Kerch bridge, which didn’t work out so well for them). Also a transparent attempt to invite retaliation that would escalate the war into NATO territory.

Military briefing: Ukraine war exposes ‘hard reality’ of west’s weapons capacity FT. As anyone who listens to Andrei Martyanov would have known months ago.

Bayraktar TB2 in Ukraine practically doesn’t fly, no new deliveries Bulgarian Military

US intel chief thinking ‘optimistically’ for Ukraine forces AP

* * *

FT Person of the Year: Volodymyr Zelenskyy. ‘I am more responsible than brave’ FT

More observations on Russia today Gilbert Doctorow

Resentment on the Western Front Project Syndicate

NYT Has Found New Neo-Nazi Troops to Lionize in Ukraine FAIR

Biden Administration

A Trump judge seized control of ICE, and the Supreme Court will decide whether to stop him Vox


Trump’s Call for ‘Termination’ of Constitution Draws Rebukes NYT. Commentary:

House Republican sidesteps questions on supporting Trump in 2024 after call to suspend Constitution The Hill


Calgary pediatric hospice discharging all respite patients, redeploying staff to children’s hospital CBC. This video in response is well worth watching:

“This isn’t the society I signed up for.” A partial transcript:

Why did so many German doctors join the Nazi Party early? International Journal of Law and Society. From 2012, still germane. From the Abstract: “Few have tried to explain the self-selected Nazi enrollment of such an overwhelming proportion of the German Medical Society in the first place. This article lends insight into this paradox by exploring some major vulnerabilities, motives, and rationalizations that may have predisposed German physicians to Nazi membership-professional vulnerabilities among physicians in general (valuing conformity and obedience to authority, valuing the prevention of contamination and fighting against mortality, and possessing a basic interest in biomedical knowledge and research), economic factors and motives (related to physician economic insecurity and incentives for economic advancement), and Nazi ideological and historical rationalizations (beliefs about Social Darwinism, eugenics, and the social organism as sacred).” Speaking of eugenics:

Our Famously Free Press

Twitter is Fun Again! Matt Bivens. The deck: “Now, let’s have the rest: Everything in the files about how national security agencies manipulate what we get to see and hear.” A useful timeline with good detail.

The Twitter Files, Explained Gizmodo

Censorship by surrogate: Why Musk’s document dump could be a game changer Jonathan Turley, The Hill

* * *

How Web Platforms Collapse: The Facebook Case Study Ted Gioia, The Honest Broker. A brutal and entertaining stomping of Facebook.

The Bezzle

What is AI chatbot phenomenon ChatGPT and could it replace humans? Guardian. Fanboy:


And but:

No mention of US sanctions against Venezuela, how odd.

Nevertheless, already the VCs are emboldened, as another round of crapification and rent-seeking awaits:

Note that the OpenAI commenters self-select as people who are willing to give up their phone number, required for registration.

* * *

Crypto Entrepreneurs Just Spent $600,000 to Deliver a Giant Statue of Elon Musk as a Goat to Tesla’s Headquarters Artnet

Zeitgeist Watch

Walking backwards has a surprising number of health benefits The Conversation

Attack by ‘cowards’ could leave North Carolina county without power for days The Lawton Constitution. Local coverage of vandalism of Moore County’s electrical substations, with good detail. Makes you wonder if the perps lifted the tactic from the Ukraine war.

Class Warfare

More implications of Biden stiffing the railroad workers:

Combine with work-to-rule and you might have something:

* * *

Dems and GOP unite to sell out the American worker. Maybe we need a Labor Party. Will Bunch, Inquirer

Global income inequality: time to revise the elephant Branko Milanovic, Social Europe

Living Through the Revenge of Capital Charles Hudson

Bacon Bacon Shakespeare Spy The New Atlantis

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. Old Sovietologist

    ‘Two Russian nuclear bombers ‘are damaged in suspected Ukrainian drone strike on airbase’ Daily Mail

    Nuland arrives in Kiev over the weekend and, within hours of her leaving the Ukrainians attacked the Engels airbase. A coincidence? No. However, not for the reason you might suspect.

    I have long felt that London has more control over Ukrainian actions than Washington. However, Washington seems to be tiring with Ukrainian civil war and impatient that Kiev is still following the London playbook.

    There will come a day when then Ukraine will have decide between London or Washington? That day is still a bit off but its coming.

    For the Ukrainians part you can fully understand why they won’t give up on London. They don’t trust that the American’s won’t sell them down the river.

    The Engels attack which will likely have been instigated by British Intelligence means the Ukrainians have decided that hanging onto two branches remains a better option than one.

    1. Lex

      I think you’re on to something. The UK cannot financially support Ukraine though so Kiev would need to hope that the Brits can continue to keep the US on side. I see signs that the US is starting to look for an exit the way Biden tries to get off a stage. The Brit’s seem to be hoping for an escalation. Attacking what is part of Russia’s nuclear tirade looks like an attempt (it’s not enough to degrade Russia’s force against Ukraine). Ukraine’s getting the lights turned off in response. That’s not the escalation the UK would be looking for, but it’s effective.

        1. Lex

          Oh now that it is one of the better ridiculous autocorrect mistakes my phone has ever made. Thanks, Apple!

            1. Mildred Montana

              Funniest autocorrect I ever saw? Here at NC about ten years ago. The commenter was ranting about the perfidies of the bankers back then.

              S(he) wrote (or attempted to write), “The banksters should all be in jail.” Unfortunately autocorrect thought different. It corrected “banksters” to “banisters”.

              And thus his/her comment was recorded as, “The banisters should all be in jail.”

      1. square coats

        I see signs that the US is starting to look for an exit the way Biden tries to get off a stage.


    2. Polar Socialist

      I believe Mr. Lavrov just stated the Russia will engage in arms control and verification processes only with countries interested in more wholesome security arrangements. Which I understand means that if USA is interested in nuclear talks, perhaps she should dust that Russian proposal from last year off and rethink the reply.

      Can it be that Russia is offering USA a carrot and stick: for neutral Ukraine you get START III and time to catch up in the nuclear race or we can destroy Ukraine and NATO will go with it?

      1. nippersdad

        I doubt we have heard the last of those proposed security treaties. They will prolly be featured as a prerequisite for any peace talks.

        1. John k

          I doubt there will be peace talks. Who would the Russians talk to? Certainly not us, France, Germany or uk. And any deal with Ukraine would have the same value as the one they made and never intended to honor.
          But imo eu desperately needs trade with Russia… or certainly will before the 23-24 winter without any Russian gas or oil. If I were Russia I would keep it simple: no trade with any nato country. And no trade with a non-nato country if Russian energy leaks thru them into nato. Plus, of course, no sanctions. Might take at least a couple winters to get agreeable leaders. But Russia is patient, no?
          My guess is eu already realizes their ability to pay high wages and sufficiently high taxes that gov could provide great worker benefits was on account of cheap Russian energy. Like love and marriage; can’t have one without the other. Granted, the us shows you can have one and still not get the other.

      2. Yves Smith

        Andrei Martyanov has made clear Russia will not agree to a nuclear arms control deal. The US wants inspection above all, which Russia will never give since is so far ahead in missile systems.

    3. Not This Again

      My personal theory is that Ukraine could have done this for a long time and chose to do so now in order to divert attention away from the mess that is Bakhmut, which is nowhere in the headlines this morning.

      The Ukrainians (as has often been mentioned) are primarily focused on fighting a PR battle, not a real one.

    4. Willow

      As European general population (excluding Poland and Baltics) start to realise this, UK will increasingly be ostracised. Which is why Russia will be in no rush for a negotiated settlement over Ukraine. Possibly forcing a NATO ‘reformation’ to rebalance economic European interests.

    5. JTMcPhee

      If they’re worried the US might sell them down the river, what wisdom in entwining with Perfidious Albion, with a nastier and much longer track record?

      I’d say the movers and doers of Ukraine are a particularly pathological bunch of excrementalists, and their success in inculcating most of the other denizens there with their horrific notions does not say much for the nature of the species as a whole. …

    6. Karl

      What? The UK is no longer poodle to the US? Since when. Surely the “special relationship” continues, as in “bend over when US says bend over?” What makes you think “separate playbook” isn’t just part of Washington’s script?

      Do you really think Nuland lacks the motivation and nerve to tell Zelensky: Go ahead and launch. In short, the “coincidence” of her visit may well not be a coincidence at all.

      The separate playbook idea is intriguing, and I hope you’re right. It might indicate that Biden/Nuland are getting more grounded in reality. But could you share your reasons for believing it’s so.

  2. timbers


    Antony Blinken says Biden administration supports zero-Covid protesters in China CNN

    And this – “Bipartisan Group Of US Senators Warns CCP Over Quelling Of Protests”

    It’s a long video, but The New Atlas in “Protests in China, US Setbacks in Taiwan” says the Chinese police are rather gentle in their arrests of the small number of protesters, and compares how US police arrested lock down protesters much more aggressively with some hitting Americans on the head with battons. He also notes that these and other protests in China and Asia are zoomed in when taking pics to hide the small numbers actually protesting, and the fact often there are more reporters than protesters (he says BBC in particular seems to know when and where to show up for “reporting” of “protests” in China and Asia).

    This bipartisan group of senators might better spend their time investigating why Biden just forced no sick time on unions, or any number of protests in the US that were suppressed not by the gentle technique used by the Chinese but the brutality of American law enforcement.

    1. lambert strether

      > zoomed in when taking pics

      Always, always, always demand wide-angle, or better aerial. Reject close-ups

    2. nippersdad

      After years of complaining about China’s Zero Covid policy they now say that they support the protesters, and they wonder why they have no credibility.

    3. russell1200

      You wonder if this means that they do support those Canadian truckers who were protesting Covid measures after all.

    4. BeliTsari

      ‘Human rights’ of tech oligarchs to force 1.4 billion back to sweat-shops, devoid NPI to stock shelves, make just-in-time deliveries of microchips, to help mass infect other Asian suppliers and sell now useless stocks of US pharmaceuticals, mutate new strains & well… self-licking-icecream cone analogy, here? Anybody else just boost with Novavax?

    5. hk

      First, we were for Islamic terrorists.

      Second, we were for literal Nazis.

      Now, we are for actual pestilence.

      What’s next? Death? That’s the last horseman, eh?

    1. The Rev Kev

      At least when Russia talks to the global south, they can show how they exercised restraint over the past eight years which helps brings those countries either over to Russia’s side or else to stay neutral which is driving some western leaders nuts. That has helped the Russian Federation a lot all this year on the diplomatic and economic fronts. And the global south can see just what the Ukrainians are all about going by what they have done during this war.

      As a data point, right now the Ukrainians are constantly losing artillery units due to the war. And those artillery units that they still have are seriously short of ammunition, especially if they were supplied by the west with different calibers. So they would be careful how they use their remaining ammunition to cause as much damage to the Russian military as possible, right? Wrong. Right now they are constantly shelling the civilian city of Donetsk for all they are worth because of course they are. No military value. They just want to kill the families of some of the soldiers that they are fighting.

      1. Martin Oline

        It is possible they are shelling Donetsk at a greater rate because they may have to withdraw in the near future and want to leave no shell unfired. The problem with this idea is they have been shelling the city for years so it is a standard operating procedure. Many feel they are murdering civilians in an attempt to lure the Russians into attacking a well defended position.

        1. The Rev Kev

          If the Russians succeed in encircling the Ukrainians opposite Donetsk city, I sure wouldn’t want to be a captured Ukrainian artilleryman. No doubt they will all claim that they are cooks or have just arrived at the front or something.

          A day or so ago I saw a western media team on TV talk to a Ukrainian artillery unit in this area and the guy in charge was writing messages on the artillery shells before firing them off. I wondered if that reporter thought to ask what that guy was actually targeting.

          1. Kouros

            I wonder if for the captured Ukrainian soldiers castration awaits, as a payback for what the Ukies have done – as per Doctorow’s posting (which confirms the videoclip from months ago with the Ukie chief medic at a camp hospital, describing calmly how he does it and encourages all underlings and other colleagues to do it)…

            1. JTMcPhee

              Not likely the Russians will stoop to the same barbarities, given how they have acted in the face of huge provocations. They even, if I recall correctly, returned some Mariupol Azov monsters to Ukraine in a prisoner exchange. Maybe not the best deal of the year…

          2. Joe Renter

            That area is one of the most fortified areas in the conflict. It will hold for some time, per military summary channel.

      2. Samuel Conner

        re: the ongoing shelling of Donetsk city, I wonder to what extent the Ukrainian regular army chain of command is actually fully in control of all the artillery units NW of Donetsk city. I think that plenty of the “nationalist” infantry units are in that region and it is conceivable to me that even if the regular army wanted to focus artillery strikes on actual military targets, other agendas might prevail at the level of individual artillery batteries in that region.

        It has been reported, by Dima for example, that the “nationalist” units are sometimes stationed behind the front line units to deter them from retreating. It’s conceivable to me that some of them might be compelling nearby battery commanders to fire on civilian targets, even if the higher-echelon commanders notionally preferred otherwise.

    2. nippersdad

      I still wonder if Russia would have been able to withstand the sanctions regimes and overcome the NATO Maginot Line that was being built back then. In all honesty, I think that eight years benefited Russia’s preparations far moreso than it did Ukraines’. It seems clear to me that had Hillary won the 2016 election she would have been in Ukraine faster than a dog on a cheese biscuit. Just look at how fast the Democrats in Congress impeached Trump for not arming them fast enough.

      They definitely wanted to go to war, but Putin’s original analysis was prolly spot on; they just weren’t ready for something like that back then.

      1. Raymond Sim

        Russia’s had a lot of unwelcome military suprises, historically and recently. In the past few years their military exercises seemed to be getting more and more realistic, particularly in terms of logisitics. And of course this was happening in the context of wholesale reform of their ground forces. This got my attention because, while in general bureaucratic imperatives may work for or against ‘reform’ depending on circumstances. Military-bureaucratic resistance to, and prevention of realism in military exercises, operates almost with the force of natural law.

        To my eyes it looked like the Russians understood how hard it would be to impose a military solution, and were in earnest about being able to do so.

      2. Not This Again

        It seems clear to me that had Hillary won the 2016 election she would have been in Ukraine faster than a dog on a cheese biscuit

        Remember that the US was struggling with Iraq, Afghanistan, and to a much smaller degree Syria at the time–I don’t think any administration would have felt comfortable getting too involved in yet another front against a foe that could make its life a living hell in all of those countries.

        Ukraine was rally only possible, I think, because the US withdrew. I am actually beginning to wonder if the US withdrew in order to give itself freedom to maneuver in Ukraine, Iran, and China…

  3. Lexx

    ‘This isn’t the society I signed up for’

    There’s a sign-up sheet?! They gave me a name tag and some swag, but I don’t remember signing anything (or reading the fine print). See what happens when you get in the line that looks like it’s moving the fastest?!

    Appreciated the way the ‘Healthcare’ articles were ordered, Lambert.

    1. Questa Nota

      Remember to carry that chipped tote bag everywhere, too.
      They hand those out just after the retinal scan and cavity search.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Attack by ‘cowards’ could leave North Carolina county without power for days”

    There has been talk lately of a possible second Civil War in America due to the collapse in political and social norms. And most people have seen a map of the US showing islands of blue Democrats in a sea of red Republicans. Biden himself has mocked the possibility of “his ” side losing as he said he has all the tanks and the jets but this article made me wonder. We have seen how the Russian Federation is taking apart the Ukrainian electrical grid not by destroying the actual power stations (including the nuclear ones) but by wrecking all the transmission infrastructure. So if there was ever a Civil war, perhaps this is what will happen. All that gear that transmits power to the islands of blue Democrats could get wrecked and when that happens, it’s all over red rover. And if I am thinking about this possibility based on what I have seen with the war, then you can bet that a lot of people in America itself are also thinking about this too.

    1. Lex

      There’s another possible explanation for this situation. Ground breakers at substations are a barrel with a huge copper coil inside, filled with oil. Sometimes people break in and drill a hole in the breaker. Once the oil drained out the breaker activates and then they cut out the copper.

      That said, huge amounts of critical infrastructure are easily accessible and often in the middle of nowhere. It’s not hard to find oil/gas pipelines. The maps are published and in many cases they can be excavated with a shovel. I’ve seen places where they’re basically on the surface. Way out in the middle of nowhere too. I’ve always been thankful that terrorists aren’t serious about attacking the US because it would be ridiculously easy.

      1. MT_Wild

        From reading a few of the sources it seems like they just shot holes in the critical parts so they’d overheat.

        No mention of copper theft, but they may be leaving that part out. Pretty risky theft if you ask me, but meth is a hell of a drug.

        My suspicion is home grown culprits. But those dastardly Russians could recruit and train some grudge bearing Spanish speakers from Central or South America. Some carpentry skills, power tools, and a beat up van and they could roam the country side without a sideward glance.

        1. Lex

          It’s super risky. I learned about the process from an old linesman who was giving me the mandatory training for entering substations and switchyards to perform work. The reward is pretty high though, those coils are can be +2″ thick of high grade copper. Yeah, methheads are the only ones crazy enough to do it. Minimum arc flash distance in most of those yards is 13′.

          Shooting from a distance is more than enough to make things go bang and then burn down.

          1. Charger01

            If they are describing millions in damages, they shot up the power transformers. The attack at the Metcalf substation back in 2013 was a wake up call. Even with a medium powered rifle, you can poke a lot of holes into transformers very quickly. Bonus- the lag time to replace a 115kv (or 230kv) power transformer 2 years. Utilities should have some spares or you could be in serious trouble.


        2. MT_Wild

          Feel that I should add that there are plenty of disgruntled Americans they could recruit and train as well. But might be more difficult here than abroad.

        3. vao

          Which reminds me of something: about two months ago, railway communications lines in Germany were cut off simultaneously on two distant points. This led to a few hours of traffic interruption in the whole of Northern Germany.

          Has the real reason behind that incident ever been elucidated? It seems to have completely disappeared into the infamous memory hole.

          1. C.O.

            Yes, and October 19 the internet cables for the Shetland Islands and Europe were messed with, causing service disruptions and outages. No updates or elucidation on that either.

      2. voislav

        A couple of indication that this was a coordinated event. Several substations went offline at the same time, while leader of the local right-wing group Emily Grace Rainey posted “the power is out in Moore county and i know why” followed by a post that says “god is chastising Moore county…”. Apparently it’s related to the 18+ drag show that a local establishment was hosting that night.

        1. Wukchumni

          The evangs seem to despise anything trans with a burning anger that has no quit, and as they were losing Roe vs Wade, the woke focal point of the Donkey Show became trans rights-which infuriated the hard right as if by design.

          Having the country ripped apart by a fringe group that wants to be somebody else and is tiny in numbers, isn’t really what I thought would bring us down, and the goods are odd, but odds are good.

        2. jo6pac

          This is a good thingy in that if there’s a few copycats then congress and friends can pass more laws removing more our rights and increase budgets of fbi, mls (mother land security), and other 3 letter govt. clowns.

          1. Joe Renter

            You nailed that on the head. There is a curfew in affect currently or was, 9PM to 5 AM. It would not take much for martial law to be in place these days. Cuz freedom!

    2. griffen

      The county itself is curious location, a mere 35 or 45 miles from nearby Fort Bragg. It serves as a mini-oasis for the travelling golfer and in particular the Pinehurst resort is renowned for it’s offerings. Aside from golf or tourism, I can’t pinpoint any one industry aside from military and military adjacent services that serves a backbone to the county. It is a pleasant place to visit.

      The variety of the crazy pants people will find their particular niches, especially in less populated regions. The crazy may not be involved here but the outages seem very odd.

    3. Dan S

      I work in the utility regulatory world with one area of focus being emergency preparedness and homeland security issues. We have been warning our electric distribution companies (EDCs) for over a year about the threat from home-grown groups, primarily right-wing fringe groups. There has been lots of chatter and active reconnaissance activities from those groups for several months. Those center on hitting the energy infrastructure in the U.S. to cause disruptions. The E-ISAC, NERC, and CISA have been sending out the alerts. The problem is that, while EDCs may be cognizant of the issue, you really need the local police to understand the threat. We’ve had incidents in our state where that was an issue. Serious activities near/on EDC infrastructure and the local PD fluffed it off as random vandalism when it clearly had more to it. My greatest fear is an industry insider that has sympathies and lets folks know where key substations and/or transmissions line are that could cause cascading failures to a much larger area if taken out. With insider knowledge, it doesn’t take much to take those things out if properly motivated and equipped. Saw some chatter about the NC incident perhaps being motivated by a local drag show. If that’s the case, then you will likely see copycat incidents.

      1. upstater

        Security could be greatly improved by simply putting plastic lattice in the chain link fencing around substations which could greatly obscure the targets within the fence. One sees this occasionally, but it is the exception and not the rule.

        Much of the south uses 230kv as a load serving transmission. This is stepped down to ~12kv distribution feeders that run down our streets. The 230kv lines are very efficient for transferring a lot of power and allow for easier expansion in high growth areas. But the downside is expensive transformers, breakers and switch gear. The high voltage transformers, as discussed re. Ukraine are not mass produced, off-the-shelf items. Duke Energy certainly has many spare transformers and mobile transformers (i.e., on transformers on trailer chassis for easy transport in emergencies), but they are a huge utility operating in maybe 7 states. The incentives are to minimize inventory Point being, it wouldn’t take much to cause a whole lot of hurt.

        Selecting targets isn’t rocket science engineering either. Any substation fed by “big steel towers” from multiple directions with “big gray steel boxes” is a ripe target. Substations fed by wood pole lines with a few tatty looking black cylindrical transformers is not. 30 caliber armor piercing rounds, for some reason, are easily obtained at gun shops. No industry insider information is necessary, unless the goal is to take out an entire region.

        When NY State forced sale of utility owned generation in the 1990s (resulting in major firings of workers), step up transformers at a few small hydro dams had oil plugs loosened. Oil flowed out and the transformers shorted out and were ruined. Stuff happens…

        Lastly, I seriously doubt the coincidence of a drag show is the cause, as silly as Naomi Dix from the Durham house of Coxx is… stealing copper isn’t the reason, either. This is terrorism, pure and simple. By whom and why? Look out for copycats.

      2. Raymond Sim

        I seem to recall incidents here in California a few years ago that seemed pretty damned serious. Gunfire at transformers, and perahps severing of a data link? I’d forgotten about it till the news from North Carolina.

    4. Carolinian

      Can’t link the source but the attack happened just as a much opposed drag show was taking place

      There’s widespread speculation that the attack was intended to cut
      power to a controversial drag show. Last week, organizers of a
      Saturday night “Downtown Divas” show in the sleepy Moore County town
      of Southern Pines claimed they’d received violent threats.

      Which frankly seems a lot more plausible than that they would puncture oil filled equipment in order to steal copper. There are surely easier ways to do that. These substations are gated and they bashed down the gate.

      1. Aumua

        I read several threads accusing the armed groups who showed up to disrupt a drag show of doing the power stations, but I didn’t see anything close to conclusive evidence that they did. Not that I would put it past them, but I’m just going to wait and see if anything does surface.

    5. Eclair

      Multiple areas around Seattle lost electrical power last week during a storm bringing high winds and wet snow.

      Our tiny condo unit had no heat, no lights, no cooking facilities. (Good idea to get rid of those gas stoves!) The coop grocery store across the busy main north-south artery had power …. and hot coffee! But, crossing at the major intersection, in the dark, without the help of traffic lights and walk signs, was an adrenaline-generator. Many drivers just don’t get the 4-way stop idea; two smashed cars were already pulled off to the side.

      The dentist’s office called to cancel my appointment; their power was restored at the end of the day, but no phones or internet for 48 hours.

      Describing the situation, not to whine, but at the time I thought, a major US city, deprived of electricity, and all its goodies, for a week or so, would result in chaos. Just the caffeine withdrawal alone (especially in Seattle) would turn half the population into raving psychos.

      1. Wukchumni

        Statistically, every person in our country owns 1.2 guns…

        A gun, holster & ample amount of ammo would set you back around $500, here’s what you could have spent it on instead:

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

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

        4x hot water bottles

        12x Freeze dried meals & coffee, lots of coffee.

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

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

        1x cord of firewood

        1x box of 300 matches

      2. JM

        You’re exactly right, I took part in an Emergency Management tabletop about what to do in case of a long-term (more than one week, up to a month or two) outage for about a third of our state. What I came away with was: those able to relocate would do so within a few days, everyone else would suffer immensely especially if it was winter time here. Society would basically collapse in the outage area, with no heat, no access to food after a couple days, etc.

        You can bring in fuel, but will have a hard time bringing in enough gas to do much more than run a handful of critical back up generators at things like hospitals, and even with that it gets much harder as time goes on. It was an eye opening experience.

    6. eg

      I for one was astonished that this episode didn’t immediately turn into the latest instalment of “Russia dun it!”

  5. herry

    RE: Censorship by surrogate: Why Musk’s document dump could be a game changer Jonathan Turley, The Hill

    “Censoring communications on Twitter is more akin to the telephone company agreeing to cut the connection of any caller using disfavored terms. And at the apparent request of the 2020 Biden campaign and the DNC, Twitter seems to have routinely stopped others from discussing or hearing opposing views.”

    Why even air this braindead garbage, written by a Republican hack, running defense for a billionaire?
    Twitter is more like a constantly updating “letter to the editor” service. It’s not a utility, it’s not an open protocol, the user doesn’t own it, it’s a privately owned publisher, where nearly all users are unpaid writers, being subsidized by ads. They get to editorialize, just as every newspaper doesn’t have to publish every letter.
    Why even spill so much ink saying that moderation is arbitrary and opaque, if not to highlight that moderation has gotten even more arbitrary and opaque, and, additionally, inconsistent and finite.

    1. caucus99percenter

      You seem to be unaware of the sharp distinction federal law makes between a publisher, legally liable for content, and a platform, with a broad exemption from liability (provided certain conditions are met) by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

    2. hunkerdown

      Why do you believe you should be able to waste others’ time with your mythical talking points, emotive posturing, and appeal to childish abstractions and capitalist phantasy without consent or risk of personal recourse? Serious question.

      1. pjay

        Re “talking points,” I couldn’t help but notice herry’s use of the “running defense for a billionaire” phrase, some variation of which (e.g. “PR for a billionaire”) is used by almost every MSM hack attack on Taibbi… as per the memo, I’m sure.

    3. Carolinian

      You are really (deliberately?) missing the point which is that these companies are quasi monopolies that actively suppress competition as when Parler was denied funding sources through yet more “private expression” by powerful Silicon Valley companies. And further when members of the sitting government are secretly telling Twitter to suppress speech (Berenson’s claim) then it is no longer about private companies but rather Constitutional violation using those companies to foster government suppression of speech.

      The free speech clause of the Constitution was always meant to promote diversity of political opinion and not to serve as an excuse to suppress it. Indeed the notion that state licensed corporations are “people” entitled to equal Constitutional rights to citizens is itself highly controversial in that their state sanction entitles them to many privileges that citizens don’t enjoy. One might almost say it’s the fascist nose under the tent of democracy.

      Since you approve of the right of billionaires to be running their own companies as they see fit then surely Musk has that right just as much as the previous owners. So these current objections to what Musk is doing don’t even have the virtue of consistency.

      1. JP

        Had cause to look up the dictionary definition of fascism last night. Almost every one defined it as a dictator driven authoritarian social control system. Only Wikipedia gave the original meaning as a bundling of gov’t and corporate resources for society management.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          I think fascism as used in most modern discussions really means “supporting some coercive measures that I do not support”. It fits nearly every usage I encounter.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      You really don’t have a problem with the US government using private companies to censor for them as an end run around the Constitution?

      If twitter wants to ban people, I suppose that’s their prerogative, just as it is Yves’ here. But banning people and removing what they’ve said at the behest of the government is a completely different situation.

      I suspect you understand the difference and are perhaps being deliberate obtuse.

  6. zagonostra

    >Censorship by surrogate: Why Musk’s document dump could be a game changer Jonathan Turley, The Hill

    The political and media establishments generally are unstoppable forces — but they may have met their first immovable object in Musk.

    This is how the article ends. Are they Serious?

    First of all it is not the “political and media,” it’s the political media establishment. And since the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 (SMMA), which was buried in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, and even further back to the CIA’s “Operation Mockingbird” and of course the Snowden revelations, the informed citizen knows Musk is not a “game changer.”

    I don’t see billionaire Musk as a free speech knight in shining armor. Indeed his purchase of Twitter fits like hand-in-glove with his “neuralink” venture, with all the computing power it won’t be long before the algorithms know what you are thinking before you do and if you don’t think the “political media establishment” will make good use of it I have some FTX stock to sell you.

    From the SMAA

    our government is also now allowed to create propaganda tailored specifically for U.S. public consumption, using any media as it sees fit, while remaining anonymous as the source of the material being reported.

    1. lambert strether

      > I don’t see billionaire Musk as a free speech knight in shining armor

      Do you want a cookie? I don’t know anyone here — certainly not Yves or me — who thinks that.

      However Taibbi got the mail, it’s good he wrote the story. To the extent Musk facilitated Taibbi’s piece, or was a source for it, that’s good too. That has literally nothing to do with whatever straw person is being set up with “shining armor.” Why is this so hard to understand?

      1. John

        Musk? Taibbi? A host of angels? Does it matter who is responsible for confirmation of what was quite apparent in 2020 has come? Who benefited from the suppression of the “Hunter’s laptop” tale? Why Dad, of course? Is that election interference? You need to ask? The meta question, in my mind, is why Joe… and his campaign … were not digging up everything they could find on Hunter and burying it deep while “minders” looked after Hunter?

      2. pjay

        I agree with your observation in general. But here the Bivens post seems relevant. I don’t trust Musk. And I share Bivens’ discomfort about what was – at least so far – missing from Taibbi’s expose: “Everything in the files about how national security agencies manipulate what we get to see and hear.”

        I welcome and support Taibbi’s work here. But the first installment lends itself to a partisan framing: liberal Democrats and their friends behind the scenes at Twitter rigging the system against conservatives and Republicans (at least the pro-Trump kind). As it is this is a limited hangout, as Bivens suggests. The censorship issue, and the information being censored, transcends “Democrat vs. Republican” or even “Hillary vs. Trump” theater. Hopefully there will be more coming. Bivens notes some obvious starting points.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > But the first installment lends itself to a partisan framing

          The Democrats were going to say what they say regardless of whatever Taibbi writes. No point in Taibbi trying to anticipate and “write around” a Democrat dogpile.

      3. zagonostra

        Lambert you need to get out more often or take in a more diverse media diet. You’ve seriously not seen/read people on social media refer to Musk as some kind of free speech savior ( I know it’s a private company and not subject – directly – to the 1st Amendment.

        Maybe I just read too many/varied blog comments…

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’m not responsible for creating the liberal Democrat anti-Musk dogpile. Nor am I responsible for creating the libertarian/Musk fanboi pro-Musk dogpile. Not only am I not responsible for creating them, I have no responsibility for propagating them; in my view they obscure the central issue in what Taibbi reported. I don’t see why I should make a gem hidden by shoveling garbage on top of it, only to then recover it by shoveling the garbage off again.

          As for my media diet, it’s quite extensive, thanks for asking. Most dogpiles get in the way of adding value for readers, so unless they some sort of institutional or political interest, I tend to ignore them.

          NOTE Don’t tell me what I “need to” do. It’s offensive. Don’t do it again.

      4. fresno dan

        Why is this so hard to understand?
        I think because politics has morphed into religion. On one’s own side are the angels and on the other are the demons. No half angels or half demons or ANY fraction thereof. You are immoral and stoopid for even listening and trying to understand the demons’ perspective, and if you don’t recognise the demons, YOU are a demon.
        Is preventing a realistic view of politicans a conspiracy to prevent compromise and any useful legislative accomplishments? Perhaps

        I don’t see billionaire Musk as a free speech knight in shining armor
        It is remarkable to me that this is the first time in the last 20 or 30 or 40 years in my memory where a billionaire’s motives come under CONCERTED approbation BECAUSE of being a billionaire. Funny that…

        1. fresno dan

          Construct Tweet: [Say formerly respected or once great, etc.] Matt Taibbi [call it PR or comms or like that] for the [world’s richest man, the richest person in the world, so on]. Quote tweet thread.
          Wajahat Ali
          Matt Taibbi…what sad, disgraceful downfall. I swear, kids, he did good work back in the day. Should be a cautionary tale for everyone. Selling your soul for the richest white nationalist on Earth. Well, he’ll eat well for the rest of his life I guess. But is it worth it?
          you can read the 27 tweets that are essentially identical (i.e., Taibbi’s fall from grace working for the world’s richest man) and it sure seems to show group think and an agenda. The example above adds white nationalist, but I expect racist, homophobic, and anti semite to be a bridge too far…but we will see

          1. Daniil Adamov

            Back when I followed Taibbi’s twitter feed semi-regularly (in the Trump years), he seemed to get this sort of message every day. “What happened to you?!” It is of course much harder to consider the possibility that little or nothing happened to him (as seems to be the case to me, for better or for worse) and something happened to the reader.

        2. Keith Howard

          Exactly. I have noticed that my old friends who read nothing but NYT and WaPo react with a kind of pious horror if I express doubts about the official version of, for instance, the conflict in Ukraine. It is as if I have become an heretic — a person who is being manipulated by the devil and must therefore be shunned. I’ve been meaning to write Lambert to suggest that the term ‘narrative’ be dropped in favor of ‘dogma.’ ‘Narrative’ as now used is a word that nobody can quite define, like ‘access’, and which serves to confuse the conversation and mislead the listener. Personally, I’m quite allergic to dogma.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > a billionaire’s motives come under CONCERTED approbation

          I wrote:

          To the extent Musk facilitated Taibbi’s piece, or was a source for it, that’s good too.

          I defy anyone to show who this imputes motive to Musk.

          1. fresno dan

            ? I defy anyone to show who this imputes motive to Musk.
            I’m not sure what you mean.
            I was referring to the 27 tweeters who are now in an outrage that, according to the tweeters, Taibbi works for a billionaire (Musk), even though these tweeters don’t seem much concerned about all the evil done by all the other billionaires in the US (of course, the tweeters work for billionaires directly or indirectly too). I think the tweeters ALL saying that Taibbi works for the “world’s richest man” was meant to both disparage Musk AND Taibbi. I think the tweeters are insinuating that Taibbi is writing what Musk is telling Taibbi to write (about Hunter Biden), something that I reject – Taillbi is writing about hunter Biden from the standpoint of how biased the MSM is. Musk has simply provided to Taibbi Tweeter internal communications that show there was a lot of contrived rationalization to prevent discussion about Hunter Biden.

        4. Lambert Strether Post author

          It has occurred to me to outlaw political parties altogether, but I don’t know if that’s even possible (unless a 100% sortition-based system were adopted).

      5. Carolinian

        For the Deep State the problem with being so completely fos is that you set up the opportunity for people like Musk or Carlson to take shots at you. In other words their problem is “too much power is never enough.” Trying to make it better by strapping on a halo doesn’t work with older people who have a bit of experience although many of the young seem more than willing to be gulled as long as they can still be “safe.”

        If they were smarter our elites would take a more subtle approach than cramming crooks down the public’s throat and then pretending that they didn’t. Here’s suggesting that ultimately the downfall of people like Biden and Hillary tends to be that raw power isn’t enough. Machiavelli wrote a book about it.

      6. Raymond Sim

        Why is this so hard to understand?

        It’s not. But is this passive-aggressive style, pretend obtuseness intended to convince anybody who doesn’t already believe?

        I think it’s akin to preaching to the choir. Preaching in public (while maintaining the proper pretense of truly concerned propriety) but where the choir can see you. It probably helps the preacher keep their mind right too.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its a good article, although the advice doesn’t go much beyond Michael Pollans ‘eat food, mostly plants’.

      I think the inability of the public health system to embed clear untainted advice to the public on healthy eating and exercise was a good forward indicator on its inability to deal with covid or other health issues.

      1. LilD

        Big broccoli does not have much lobbying power

        I like

        Dr Greger reviews studies and does some metastudies

        Nutrition is key to health

        As a side benefit, global plant based eating will drastically reduce carbon emissions

        1. chris

          Not unless it’s localized plant based eating using arable farm land. The type of plant based food we produce in the west could very well increase carbon emissions if we increased its scale.

  7. Lex

    Well the response to the attacks on air bases was fairly quick. Missiles flying across Ukraine. Already reports of significant power and communications outages.

    1. ambrit

      Want to bet that the base commander and his security chief are being reamed by the Kremlin about now? There have been drone attacks against Russian bases in Syria for quite a while now. Why weren’t the security protocols developed in response to those attacks in place at bases inside Russia already?
      Anyway, this could be viewed by the Kremlin as just an ‘incentive’ to ramp up infrastructure attacks inside the Ukraine ahead of schedule. Winter is here in the Ukraine. Cut off the power and keep it cut off.
      “Eiskrieg” anyone?

      1. timbers

        “Cut off the power and keep it cut off” – Indeed. Why does Russia not shut down the electric grid and keep it off…permanently? Why are decision centers barely touched in Ukraine? Why haven’t bridges and rails been taken out? Why can Ukraine still move resupplies to it’s front lines? Has the gas line Ukraine siphons from been turned off? If not, why?

        Nuland reportedly was in Kiev over night. How gracious of Russia that she does not seem to fear doing that.

        1. Yves Smith

          Um, do you like Andrei Matryanov have an advanced degree in prosecuting war? What is your basis for second guessing Russia? That they are going too slowly for your appetite? This is your inability to handle uncertainty. Russia made clear they have no timetable and they intend to grind down Ukraine which = slow, at least until the military has collapsed.

          Russia would lose big time by killing Nuland. Russia is already creating a humanitarian crisis there. The mayor has told citizens to evacuate. She stayed overnight and that was apparently a stunt to show Kiev is OK. It’s become controversial that the power company has been prioritizing rich neighborhoods in trying to keep the lights on….although wherever she was could have had a generator. And in fairness, power was out for a week+ in 40% of the country. That alone is enough to kill the economy independent of the effect on citizens.

          Russia will eventually have to build Ukraine so it is in its interest to be surgical in how it breaks the country. That is why it is going after the grid piecemeal. It is taking out transformers and transmission lines, which are easier to replace than generating capacity.

          Temperatures dropping will lead to more energy demand which will break the gird more without Russia wasting missiles. It’s pretty sure to hit the grid more times but when they are damned well ready and not to please you.

          Russia may want to use those bridges to move troops to take Odessa in a later phase. For now, as Brian Berletic pointed out, it suits Russia for Ukraine to have extended supply lines and keep bringing the war to Donbass. Russia needs to finish the job in Donbass before it can turn to the rest of the country. At that point, it can take stock of how depleted the Ukraine military is and how to go about finishing the job.

          I don’t expect the big winter strike before early Jan and it could be as late as late Jan. The ground looks like it won’t freeze in Zaporizhzia until then, and I would assume completing the liberation of that oblast is high on the priority list. But they could instead go for Kharkiv and possibly other oblasts in the north. And Russia can and likely will take out the grid.

          1. midget

            Yves, could we please drop once and for all the canard that the Russians will be able to use the Dnieper bridges to cross? We have seen both Russia and Ukraine consistently blowing up bridges after they retreat over them (using demolition charges placed at critical supports instead of missiles), and the probability that (1) Russia will attempt another lightning advance across the Dnieper, and that (2) the Ukrainian retreat will be too disorganized and hurried to rig the bridges to explode, is too low-probability to seriously entertain.

            1. Raymond Sim

              Go look at how Russian ground forces are organized. Look in particular at the airborne elements, then get the distances by air from the big airbases in Crimea, Belarus, and western Russia clear in your mind.

              A lightning Russian attack across the Dnieper capable of establishing crossings for a large force has been a live possibililty almost every single day for months. Arguments against them ever doing so are in the same genre as the “Russia will never invade.” arguments of this Spring.

              On the other hand Ukraine’s seemingly reckless offensives take on a somewhat saner appearance if they were intended to forestall or delay such action by Russia.

          2. Willow

            Russia’s attack on Ukrainian also has the aspect of reversing flow of electricity between Ukraine & Europe. Ukraine was a large net exporter of electricity to Europe and now is a large net importer at the very time Europe has a critical electricity/energy shortage. Ambiguity and uncertainty over electricity supply creates more havoc with Europe (& markets) than certainty of none. Russia is playing for Europe and Ukraine is a means to that end.

        2. Lex

          Because degrading the grid this way puts a huge amount of stress on Kiev. Ukraine has spent 2 weeks furiously working to patch things back together with only partial success. No missiles flew so people in Ukraine started getting pissed at the authorities. Now all that hard work has gone up in smoke in a few hours and the next round of repairs will be more difficult, less successful and more upsetting to the population.

          Because the “decision centers” aren’t where the decisions are made and blowing up a bunch of politicians in Kiev is exactly what the West wants Russia to do. Russia does blow up the decision centers of military command near the front.

          Because as the power goes off, the civilians will need a way out. If the civilians can’t be evacuated, the Ukrainians will use them as human shields as has been shown already. So leave the bridges, make civilian life almost impossible and then it’s an open field for military operations.

          Because it’s not as simple as that, but Ukrainian supply lines are severely constrained at this point and since Zelensky has taken a “not one step back” approach, it generally makes more sense to let that stuff come to the front and be put into the meat grinder. Not necessarily ideal from the Russian perspective, but the enemy gets a vote in war and so it’s always a matter of action and reaction.

          Because it supplies other nations that are relatively friendly to Russia, but the gas doesn’t do much good with all the other energy infrastructure problems. Besides, Russia has attacked some gas facilities. Ukraine previously shut some down.

          Maybe, killing an undersecretary of state is a dangerous escalation? Again, some of these things are things DC/London wants Russia to do because they benefit from uncontrolled escalation (at least theoretically). Russia not doing these things is problematic for DC/London, or, restraint has a quality all its own. None of this is to say that Russia has done everything perfectly or been mistake free. That’s not how any of this works except in the media presentation of American wars while they’re happening.

        3. Skip Intro

          Do you suppose the extra costs, privileges, and security required for Nuland’s visit made Zelensky more popular?

        4. Raymond Sim

          Why does Russia not shut down the electric grid and keep it off…permanently? Why are decision centers barely touched in Ukraine?

          You’re sure they’re not shutting the grid all the way down?

          And you know where these decision centers are? And know for sure that more confusion and disorder would be a good thing?

          Destroying the grid the way they are makes outcomes predicable for the military planners, one benefit of that is the ability to anticipate enemy actions. Killing the guys who would give the orders you were anticipating risks screwing things up.

      2. MT_Wild

        At a certain point there is only so much you can do. They send 20 drones and you get 19 of them, good job overall but something still blows up.

        I belive the term of art is “leakage”.

      3. midget

        In other news, Ukraine is reported to be finishing up work on an analogue of the Shahed-136 drone (AKA the Geran-2). Although it is always possible that the Russian MoD will decide to seriously prepare for potential mass dronings from Ukraine, the fact of the attack on Engels suggests a more depressing probable future.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          Only article I could find on Ukraine building Geran-2 like drones was in the Eurasian Times, “[e]stablished in 2014 as an Indian-Canadian digital venture, EurAsian Times has a strong editorial (online) presence…”

          A strange article that does not even hint at how exactly Ukraine is reverse engineering Iranian-Russian tech while in a war zone:

          Ukrainian arms manufacturer Ukroboronprom reportedly revealed that the development of a kamikaze drone with a 1000-kilometer range and 75-kilogram warhead is almost complete.

          There is no doubt the Ukrainian technical ability to put together such a drone in a quick time, keeping in mind that it could get all the help it needed in developing and manufacturing the drone from Turkey, the US, or any other NATO country.

          …Most likely, Ukraine will use its long-range kamikaze drone to strike at infrastructure targets deep within Russia, leveraging the 1000-kilometer range of its drone. How well the Ukrainian kamikaze drones fare against Russian Pantsir & Tor systems remains to be seen.

          — Vijainder K Thakur is a retired IAF Jaguar pilot. He is also an author, software architect, entrepreneur, and military analyst.

          Quite honestly, this reads like someone took a pro-Russian analysis of Russia’s use of drones, and then rewrote the script to say that Ukraine would do the same to Russia. Many remarkable claims but all asserted, no proof of any sort offered.

        2. Raymond Sim

          Back when the Doritos first showed up I did some googling of “thick, non-narrow, round leading edge delta wing” coupled with terms like “subsonic aerodynamics”, “low-speed aerodynamics”, “fuselage effect”, “waked vortex drag”, and “separated flow control”.

          Judging by the relatively recent dates of many of the scholarly articles that came up, and the frequent references therein to the various subjects having been little studied, I think the design of the Doritos probably involved some non-trivial original r&d and a lot of flight testing for optimization.

          Expedient drones are one thing, but I’m inclined to think a Shahed is not something one is likely to be able to just throw together. Maybe you could copy one exactly?

      4. midget

        Perhaps. On the other hand, the reamings that the base commanders at Khmeimim, Saki, Veretye, and Shaykhovka (Tu-22 base, by the way) undoubtedly received don’t seem to have translated into action elsewhere.

    2. Polar Socialist

      I have a nagging feeling that the “attacks” could well have been accidents while preparing the aircraft for today’s attack. That would be much more plausible considering the timing of events and the distance to Ukraine.

      I other news, I saw a picture claiming to be V.V. Putin himself driving a car across the Crimean bridge along the third lane that was opened today.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Well, the Russian MoD, right on cue, announced that they indeed were attacks by Soviet era drones and while both were shot down damage and loss of life happened.

        Days missile attack proceeded regardless, they also said.

        But I stand corrected.

  8. Amfortas the hippie

    Pre-Links rambling:
    I still refuse to vote for Ted(Reptile) Cruz.
    all this is sounding less and less like some rightwingnut conspiracy theory…(still wont vote for Cruz)
    hafta wait for beer-thirty to think coherently about this.
    (still wont vote for Cruz)

    and i wound up coming across this again…and find that i’m still pretty well aligned with the sentiments therein:

    now off to links, after i go let the critters loose.

    1. Revenant

      Amf, with respect, I think that Dark Mountain website is an uncanny thing. Cross / warding-sign-of-your-choice yourself before reading.

      It looks archly erudite verging on smugly twee but, bluntly, it could be critically read as satanic and fascist. Look at the imagery in that poem of the dark mountain. Look at the origins section:

      “For me, it suggests the deeply radical perspectives which open up when you step outside the city limits, beyond the pale of ‘political reality’, and recognise just how different the world looks with other sets of assumptions. This ‘stepping outside’ is associated with the shamanic figure evoked by Alastair McIntosh, identified by Garner as the “mearcstapa” or boundary-walker, echoed in Illich’s description of himself as a “zaunreiter” or hedge-rider (an old German word for witch) and an “extravagant” thinker, literally one who “walks outside”. There’s a rich, outlandish set of associations here.”

      Indeed – stepping outside society beyond the pale of political reality is all of a piece with declaring an ecological state of exception and eradicating the lebensunwertes lebens….

      I know that we are not allowed to set assignments but I would like to think Lambert and the commentariat would have some fun with that site. Those pro-Russian twitter threads and Vineyard of the Saker, which post about Ukrainian Nazism and then argue about the satanic in Western life – I am beginning to wonder, in my atheist way, if they are not right!

      Full disclosure: I looked through the contributors and lo and behold I went to college with one of them….

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        only “fascist” or “leaning towards” in the current parlance of PMC Twitter Agonists.
        ie: not fascist at all,lol.
        Paul Kingsnorth cordially discourses with Rhydd Wildermuth.
        there are more points on the multifoliate political spectrum than Team Blue and Hitler.
        and Woke is not “Left” at all..let alone “Far Left”.
        see: Front porch republic, Wendell Barry(sp-2), Al;do leopold.
        Ghandi slept naked with young girls, and jefferson owned people.
        lets keep our eye on the prize, and dispense with the narrow, self-serving and manichean perspective of our betters.
        some pagans/heathens/astratu/on and on…are right wingers and/or actual fascists.
        so are most of the protestants ive ever known, at least in embryonic form.(due to the overtly reactionary, revaanchist and rightwingnutjob propaganda soup they were subjected to for 40 years….as well as the absconsion of the demopcrats over the same period to the coasts, and to academia…and frelling wall Street.)
        Orthopraxis is much more elucidating than Orthodoxy…which Orwell called “unconsciousness”.
        so watch that space.

  9. GramSci

    Re: A Trump judge seized control of ICE

    “if you’ve ever been pulled over by a police officer for a minor traffic violation, then let off with a warning, you have benefited from prosecutorial discretion passing for white.”

    Fixed it.

        1. paul

          Robert ryan always seemed perfect for those sort of parts.

          He was very good at the broken,bad and compromised.

          He was great in his swansong,’the outfit’, far better than his old pal ronald in ‘the killers’

  10. DJG, Reality Czar

    Bacon Bacon Shakespeare. Here we go again. It is the original conspiracy theory, that the young man of Stratford who went out into the world, with a decent education at a local school, could not have written the lofty plays.

    Many nobles and wealthy people are set up as plausible authors: Except that a basic fact is that nobility has produced little literature to speak of. The well-to-do aren’t good at theater either. Check out the class backgrounds of Dante, Boccaccio, the murdered Marlowe, Arthur Miller, and so on.

    This quote: “The preponderance of double meanings, the widely-observed lack of biographical information about the author — all of this makes sense if the plays were written collaboratively, focused on universal themes, and if the secret of their authorship were a matter of life and death.”

    Sheesh. So much of this speculation was disproven by Stephen Greenblatt in Will in the World, in which he marshals every available document and sighting of Will.

    Greenblatt interestingly speculates, with some proofs, that Shakespeares family were recusants–hidden Catholics. Shakespeare’s occasional mysticism and sometimes commentary on religion are more Catholic than Protestant.

    And there’s this in Bacon Bacon: “There was something else about Delia that spoke to me — her conviction.”

    Sheesh again. And the “conviction” of Hillary Clinton and Sam the Fried Bankman speak unto me…

    What I find especially peculiar about essays like these is that there is no knowledge of how writers write and no knowledge of how one would learn stagecraft.

    And I am reminded that the timeless Colette was born in a small village in the “poor” part of Burgundy (meaning not wine-producing), had about eight years of schooling, and went off to Paris with a rakish husband to seek her fortune. Oh, wait, no, such things don’t happen to writers.

    1. lambert strether

      In my reading, the article did not actually buy the theory, which, is you point out, the original CT, at least in English, which is why it’s interesting.

      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        Lambert Strether: Indeed. He finally admits that that her ideas don’t hold together.

        Then there are some paragraphs about learning to write–and that it isn’t all pulled out of one’s convictions. So he does drop the idea of conviction as a motivator.

        But the Western intellectual schism of 1600? What was that?

        There is much in the essay that I am highly skeptical of. And without a doubt, The Tempest was not written by committee.

        1. lambert strether

          From the article:

          around 1850, there was something in the water, and several people, completely independently, came to the same novel conclusion: Francis Bacon, the statesman, man of letters, and founder of modern science, was the literary genius behind Hamlet and King Lear, The Tempest and Henry V, and all the rest.

          The test of independent invention (Liebniz, Newton; Bell, Grey). For CT! Why?

          1. DJG, Reality Czar

            Gentlepeeps, as Shakespeare would have written, I submit that this monologue of Prospero was not written by committee (or by some English dukeling or princeling):

            spoken by Prospero.

            Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
            And what strength I have ’s mine own,
            Which is most faint. Now ’tis true
            I must be here confined by you,
            Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
            Since I have my dukedom got
            And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
            In this bare island by your spell,
            But release me from my bands
            With the help of your good hands.
            Gentle breath of yours my sails
            Must fill, or else my project fails,
            Which was to please. Now I want
            Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
            And my ending is despair,
            Unless I be relieved by prayer,
            Which pierces so that it assaults
            Mercy itself, and frees all faults.
            As you from crimes would pardoned be,
            Let your indulgence set me free.

            [[“Spirits to enforce, art to enchant”:
            Only some foolish boy or girl from the provinces could believe that language is this seductive.]]

            1. Anonymous 2

              And as Claire Asquith points out IIRC, the last line of this speech, often seen as Shakepeare’s farewell, uses the word indulgence, which echoes the start of the Reformation. Why do that? Supposedly, the Tempest was Catholic Code for the Reformation.

              1. Steve H.

                The four-foot verses at the end of the play were generally for the first couple of performances. If the audience did not respond there would be no performances beyond the first few. Meaning the actors (and the Author) would not get paid.

                So begging for indulgences, ie applause, had a concrete material benefit.

        2. BillS

          The Tempest was highly likely influenced by the essays of Michel de Montaigne, translated into English by Giovanni Florio in 1603 and almost certainly read by Shakespeare. An interesting New Republic piece discusses this. He appears to have lifted a passage from Florio’s translation of “On Cannibals” nearly verbatim. IMO, there is no need to look to other writers to explain the quality of Shakespeare’s work. There was much copying and borrowing going on – intellectual property was not yet a thing. ;-)

        3. David

          I had much the same reaction, though I didn’t have the patience to read to the very very end. If the author had stuck to talking about Delia Bacon, the essay would have been interesting enough, but he keeps getting dragged down pointless blind alleys, probably because he’s not actually an expert on the plays or the period. There are plenty of things in the essay which are clearly puzzles to him, but which anyone who’s done a degree in English Literature in the last, oh, century, could have set him straight about. For example the suggestion that:
          … this is a perplexing detail for the orthodox theory of Shakespeare authorship — there were several plays that appeared in the 1590s and the early 1600s with the name “William Shakespeare” or the initials “W.S.” proudly on the cover, which have been deemed to be of inferior quality and kept out of the canon. The most natural explanation for how A Yorkshire Tragedy, The London Prodigal, or Thomas Lord Cromwell came initially to be attributed to Shakespeare is that the name served as a kind of clearinghouse for playwrights who, for whatever reason, wished to remain anonymous…

          No it’s not. In Shakespeare’s time plays were made to be acted, not printed, and the companies were quite fierce about protecting the texts. There was a brisk trade in pirated editions made from actors’ memories (the Q1 of Hamlet for example) but authorised texts were only released if the company specifically decided to do so. Shakespeare was one of the most popular dramatists of the day and a printer hoping to make a quick profit might well have attached his name to any old text that came his way, or just made a broad hint that it was by Shakespeare.

    2. John k

      As I understand it, the William doubters began doubting centuries after the plays were written, meaning the locals were completely snowed, including those that granted the gentleman title. We’re so much smarter now as the events further into the mists…

    1. Pekka Oksa

      This has been circulating here in Europe for quite some time. I changed the temperatures to Fahrenheit for you Americans. :-)

      +50 Spanish wear caps, gloves and winter coats. Finns are sunbathing.
      +40 French desperately try to get their central heating on. Finns plant flowers.
      +32 Pure water freezes. Water in the Helsinki River thickens a bit.
      +20 Italian cars won’t start. Finns drive with convertibles.
      +10 First people are found frozen in California. Finnish midsummer festival ends.
      0 Scottish turn the heat on in their houses. Finns start to use long-sleeve shirts.
      −10 Swedes stay indoors. Finns are having last barbeque before winter.
      −20 Half of the Greek people have frozen to death. Finns start to dry their laundry indoors.
      −40 Polar bears evacuate North Pole. Finnish army starts its winter training.
      −70 Siberian people are moving to Moscow. Finns are furious since the vodka can’t be stored outdoors anymore.
      −273 Absolute zero. Finns admit that it is cold outside.

      1. vao

        That must not be the original that was circulating in Finland. I remember it had an entry where your Volvo volunteered to help you plan vacations to the Canary Islands when the temperature reached a really low point.

        And forget about those Fahrenheit, miles and gallons — we live in a globalized world.

    2. John Zelnicker

      That was fun, Rev. And, very spot on.

      During the summer down here on the Alabama Gulf Coast we get pop-up thunderstorms almost every afternoon. While one might think that would cool things off, it doesn’t. After the storms all of the wet concrete and asphalt steams up and just increases the humidity.

      Fortunately, old houses were built for the heat with broad porches, big windows to open for cross-ventilation, lots of ceiling fans, and were usually built under a canopy of trees.

      Now, most buildings are air-conditioned. It’s the laborers outside who have it the worst, along with the poor folks who can’t afford air-conditioning.

    3. Wukchumni

      Lets face it, we of the Cali persuasion weren’t meant for humidity-oh the humanity when awkwardly placed in such a hell whole.

      Humordor & Houston have tried to do away with me on multiple occasions, but I couldn’t get the DA to make it sticky, er stick.

    4. Jen

      Conversation with a California cousin on my deck in NH some years ago;

      CC: it’s been so humid, we can’t stand it

      Me: you know nothing about humidity

      Me: we’re having a drought.

      CC: you know nothing about drought.

      Moved here in the late 90’s and the first sign that I was going native was when I started using the words “only” and “5 below” in the same sentence.

      1. Pat

        I grew up in the Southwest but heat has always done me in, add humidity and I make wet dishrags look crisply ironed. I run hot and always have. I may not be like my neighbor who walks around in shorts in the thirties, but I do drop the suggested temperature range for outerwear by twenty degrees to determine when I would wear it. So I do get shocked by the Californians I know digging out the parkas when it hits 50 degrees (although looking around NYC this week it applies here as well.)

    5. eg

      My mother, a Haligonian by birth who married a country boy from the St John River Valley who grew up in a house with neither indoor plumbing nor central heating and who was allergic to seeing the thermostat raised, would archly greet winter guests to our chilly home with, “step in out of the wind …”

      New Brunswickers will be taking no back seat to Mainers where equanimity in the face of winter is concerned.

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    FYI, in an interview on cnbc this morning, jonathan greenblatt, “CEO” of the anti-defamation league, informed the hosts in an offhand, how-is-it-that-people-don’t-know-this way that the word “globalist” is “code” for jewish.

    And so the gauntlet has been thrown down. Disparagement of “globalists” is anti-semitic “hate speech.”

    Critics of one world government or the WTO and WHO making “rules” that override national sovereignty have been warned.

    1. hunkerdown

      It’s long past time we recognized imperialism and capitalism as world religions, and demanded they subordinate themselves to their role as mundane, boring opinions, mere pretensions of self-identity that are in no factual way sacred or valorous or special.

    2. GramSci

      Because, ever since the Free World(TM) liberated Auschwitz, we’re all Zionists now, dedicated to the protection of Suez, Bosporus, and the Empire upon which the Sun never sets.

      1. ambrit

        You are behind the times there GramSci. The ‘dastardly’ Soviets liberated Auschwitz. Even back then, the Soviet claim to be a part of the “Free World” was a matter of contention. (For some definition of “Free World.”) For reference see the “book,”: “Steel and Lace: Churchill’s Interior Design Plan for Europe Post WW-2.” The chapter on Iron Curtains is most informative.

    3. John

      Globalist? I always thought it was “rootless cosmopolitans.” There is a war-on-language-I-don’t-like or that I shall use to further my political agenda. Nothing like whipping up yet one more dollop of outrage to muddy the waters and replace thought with emotion.

    4. flora

      King Charles is a globalist and sponsor of WEF.
      Klaus Schwab.

      They all go to temple on Friday?

      Who knew? / ;)

    5. fresno dan

      I very soon expect that railing against billionaires, greed, the rich, increasing the tax rate, etc., will be asserted to be anti semetic…

  12. PlutoniumKun

    The dirty road to clean energy: how China’s electric vehicle boom is ravaging the environment Rest of World

    While this is a good overview of the horrors of mining in Indonesia, and the dangers of countries for inviting in too much unregulated Chinese investment, the headline is weird. Nickel is a very minor component of modern batteries, and declining all the time as Ni-cad and nickel hydride batteries fall out of favour. Less than 4% of nickel use worldwide is in batteries, and there is no indication that this will increase as Ni is a minor component of most modern designs. There is far more nickel used in the chrome exterior of a modern car than in its batteries. Ni is also a key component of most steel’s used in ICE cars. If anything, a focus on EV’s will reduce, not increase nickel use.

    1. John

      Is there a road to clean energy as long as our high tech civilization proceeds unabated? Is there a road to the continuation of our high tech civilization that does not include “unacceptable” climate change and the damage it is and will continue to create? N.B. Climate change and damage to “them” is not unacceptable.

  13. Rob Urie

    Re: ‘German doctors early to join Nazi Party’:

    The functional leadership of the Nazis tended to be very highly educated.

    This point is made in the documentary: Einsatzgruppen: The Nazi Death Squads, as well as Carl Brecher’s The German Dictatorship.

    The current Americanism that Nazism represented the rise of German deplorables misses that it was German (and American) industrialists who allied with the Nazis to perpetuate their economic power.

    Likewise, American liberals had a racist aversion to the Russians from the time (1919) that Woodrow Wilson sent the American Expeditionary Force to battle the Bolsheviks.

    Wilson and leading soon to be German Nazis viewed the Bolsheviks as genetically inferior Slavs.

    This became a major theme of the German Nazis until they were defeated by their alleged racial inferiors in WWII..

    1. David

      Lots of (perhaps most) professionals joined the Nazi Party as a way of keeping their jobs and advancing their careers. (Heidegger is the classic example.) It was the equivalent then of putting a Ukrainian flag outside your house today. The ambitious, or even the prudent, will always pay lip-service to the ideology of the day, whatever it is, and as you say there were as many educated people at the top of the Nazi Party as anywhere else.
      Nothing to see here.

      1. hunkerdown

        I mean, other than the existence of a middle class, which has always been a reliable driver of historical drama and authoritarian “unity”.

      2. Carolinian

        It was the equivalent then of putting a Ukrainian flag outside your house today.

        Maybe not “equivalent.” Only a couple of my neighbors have increasingly forlorn looking Ukrainian flags. But yes the Nazi model of social control seems to have many echos of late.

    2. Mildred Montana

      >”The functional leadership of the Nazis tended to be very highly educated.”

      For a highly-educated bunch, they seem to have produced little (nothing?) in the way of literature or art.

      As far as doctors joining the Nazi Party early, I would speculate that as members of the intelligentsia their security, health, and very lives were in peril if they didn’t fall in line 𝘴𝘤𝘩𝘯𝘦𝘭𝘭. The question is, Were most of them 𝘱𝘳𝘰 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘢 Nazis or active participants in the later atrocities? We’ve all heard of the Mengeles, the practitioners of eugenics and euthanasia, the camp doctors. What about all the rest?

      One of my uncles was an educated man who compiled a German-Lithuanian dictionary. He died in Dachau before the war. Unfortunately the details of his death are lost to family lore, but it was a dangerous time to be intelligent.

      1. ambrit

        As to your last point, I would amend it to say that: “…it was a dangerous time to be intelligent and independent.” That can be seen to describe almost all eras of Terran human history..
        The cynic in me sees this particular piece as being a stealth criticism of the present state of play in our culture. The message looks to me to be; Watch out for what is coming next. Past history shows that it will be very bad.
        In many ways, Terran human societies are predictable in the long term.
        Stay safe and prepare.

        1. Mildred Montana

          Your amendment is, of course, correct. As for the predictability of human societies, it seems that human nature is timeless and immutable and doomed to repeat its mistakes.

      2. Daniil Adamov

        Being educated, especially highly-educated, has little to do with the production of literature or art. I don’t think there are many modern politicians who have been especially productive in that respect, though many of them are highly-educated.

        What’s interesting about the doctors specifically is that they apparently outnumbered all other professions. I think that suggests something other than mere intelligentsia self-preservation (as a descendant of Soviet intelligentsia with some relatives that followed a similar trajectory with a different regime a decade or two earlier, I know that phenomenon well). Nazis and doctors had a shared love of public health as they understood it, I suspect.

        1. Mildred Montana

          >”Being educated, especially highly-educated, has little to do with the production of literature or art. I don’t think there are many modern politicians who have been especially productive in that respect, though many of them are highly-educated.”

          You’re right about the lack of correlation between education and literary or artistic ability. But at least many modern politicians still write books, forgettable as they might be. We’ve got a veritable wealth of tomes by Obama, Hilary, Newt, Ronnie, Nixon, etc. etc. etc. (I am making the risky assumption that these books were not ghost-written).

          The Third Reich? Hmm…𝘔𝘦𝘪𝘯 𝘒𝘢𝘮𝘱𝘧? I can’t think of anything else.

          1. hunkerdown

            The Triumph of the Will might be counted among their “greatness” output, as could practical neoliberalism.

            1. anahuna

              I remember taking my son to the Museum of War in London some time in the mid to late 70’s. We were both struck by the fact that the Nazi posters were brilliantly designed in emphatic colors, memorable, striking, while the British equivalents could best be described as prosy and cozy.

              It made for a interesting conversation.

          2. hk

            There’s the work by Carl Schmitt. Robert Michels, famous for having coined the term “iron law of oligarchy” was (although German-born and a Swiss-resident) a prominent advocate for the Italian Fascist Party.

          3. Daniil Adamov

            Risky assumption indeed…

            I would add that many of those modern politicians’ books were written when they were out of power, but still members of the elite. The Nazis were only a ruling elite for a measly 12 years. I suspect they would’ve drowned their grateful subjects in literature if they had the time, after winning the war. Alas, alas.

            That aside, I know Goebbels left some works, including a three-part novel of which parts I and III survive, and a couple of plays. He was not a successful writer, though.

      3. Polar Socialist

        At least there’s that monumental Berlin center that Speer was preparing to build as soon as the war was over. Even if many of us would consider it more dystopian than artistic.

        And I’ve been told that the German uniforms, especially those of the SS, where indeed designed for impact and panache.

        1. Mildred Montana

          I will grant that the German SS uniforms had a certain panache. And then they went and ruined them with the thuggish, grisly, gangsterish 𝘵𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘬𝘰𝘱𝘧. Bye-bye panache, hello revulsion.

      4. ArvidMartensen

        As eugenics takes off in the US, and you look at the specimens that think their genes will create a new master race (Musk for one), you can only shake your head.
        I knew a gifted man who topped his classes through university. He said, self-effacingly, he was just good at taking exams. Not from the US of course.
        Being the first of my lot to go to university and then have a professional job, I got to see the working people and then the “intelligent” people. The “intelligent” people with educated families were just good at taking exams. And had a good memory. And some of them were pushy and/or connected so of course they did well.
        But more intelligent than honest working people? Nah, not in a million years. Having sat through hundreds of meetings with the otherwise brain dead “intelligent”, it was pretty clear that they lacked intelligence of all sorts – variously emotional, social, analytical, moral etc.
        Our rulers and business “betters” and (self-named) elites are just con artists who were in the right place at the right time eg Gates.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Could be the same “reasons” that recently led american doctors to embrace inadequately tested “vaccines,” ventilators and remdesivir while shunning and even criminalizing ivermectin.

    4. Wukchumni

      At around the same time as the doctors flocked to the Nazis, damned near every American businessman joined the NRA, it was popular with workers, etc., and i’d imagine most of you have never heard of this particular NRA…

      The NRA, symbolized by the Blue Eagle, was popular with workers. Businesses that supported the NRA put the symbol in their shop windows and on their packages, though they did not always go along with the regulations entailed. Though membership of the NRA was voluntary, businesses that did not display the eagle were very often boycotted, making it seem mandatory for survival to many.

      1. Alex Cox

        Fascinating! And around this time General Smedley Butler started getting invitations to run things from the du Ponts…

  14. flora

    I read T’s original statement/question. Maybe my reading comprehension isn’t up to par, but I did’t see any call to ignore or suspend or whatever the Constitution. I saw a a question asking (paraphrasing) if it’s ok to do this (bad or questionable) thing, then why wouldn’t also be ok to do other bad things like : list of bad things … ignore laws, ignore the Constitution, etc.

    At least that’s what I think I read. It was a rhetorical question to make a point. The point was that it is not ok to do whatever bad thing. Of course the MSM like CNN and NYTs wouldn’t take part of a rhetorical argument out of context and present it as something else entirely… would they? I’m sure they never did that sort of thing when reporting on Bernie’s campaign in 2016. / ;)

    (I am starting to worry about the MSM’s projection of their own secret wishes. / heh )

    1. Screwball

      I read it kind of that way too, but I didn’t give it much thought because of all the things Trump says. I just kind of ignore him. But the media focusing in on that part did what I think they really wanted to accomplish – make this about Trump (which is easy to do for their base) as to direct the conversation away from the more important things – like Joe’s 10% or covering up a story to win an election. From the reactions of my PMC friends it worked, and worked well. It is now all about Trump and the Biden’s are a clean as fresh snow. Mission Accomplished.

      1. ArvidMartensen

        Orwell had astutely observed that if you want to band people behind you, then you must create a common enemy.
        The oligarch layer and their security detail that runs the country have taken this to heart. The Democrats had ‘#metoo’ and “#black lives matter’ to band their supporters into mindlessly voting for them without question. And once these movements had done their job? Blown away like dust.
        Who serves this purpose of being an enemy in the past few years? Well Trump is a big one. Musk has been thrust into the job lately.
        But underneath it all the top Democrats know that they can get the middle class, and the entitled young by the you-know-whats by flattering them as the genetic gift to the world. More Intelligent, more refined, more caring and more moral. The velvet puppet was the epitome of this.
        And to cement voters in, they tar the Republicans as the opposite – crass, immoral, stoopid, lazy, selfish and stoopid.
        Working a treat.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      There’s nothing wrong with your reading comprehension. I read it that way too.

      The partisan press has been getting away with this ever since they turned Trump’s comment on Charlottesville–“There are good people on both sides”–into a manifestation of his flaming, toxic, deadly “racism.”

      They would take offense at the sentence “The sky is blue” if it came out of Trump’s mouth.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “I saw a a question asking (paraphrasing) if it’s ok to do this (bad or questionable) thing, then why wouldn’t also be ok to do other bad things like : list of bad things … ignore laws, ignore the Constitution, etc.”

      Here is Trump’s statement again:

      If that is indeed what Trump meant, he was pretty sloppy about it. But then Trump is sloppy. That reference to the Founders….

      1. Daniil Adamov

        “”Founders”” as opposed to “Founding Fathers”, maybe? Very sloppy how ever you look at it.

        It doesn’t make sense to me that he would openly call for the termination of all rules either. The reading that he’s imputing this to his enemies makes a lot more sense to me, but like with many other things Trump says, everyone who already hates him would hardly think twice after seeing something that is apparently this juicy.

      2. Janie

        For me, it’s “if the laptop story hadn’t been deep-sixed I’d have been elected”. Maybe I’m projecting, but it may be accurate, which is why I may never vote for either party again.

        1. Yves Smith

          Biden would at least have had to explain re Burisma and Ukraine and Biden gets super pissy when put on the defensive. It would have been instructive and it would have been harder to put that country on a pedestal.

          1. Pat

            While this might be the most egregious example and certainly of deeply questionable legality, the whole 2020 election is littered with examples of large elements of society banding together to protect a deeply flawed candidate who would have imploded otherwise.

            But there is another aspect of this that cannot be forgotten, any credible accusations of influence peddling would destroy the illusion of Biden’s superiority to Trump regarding ethics and norms for much of that 10% of voters who were undecided and unhappy with both choices, in other words the hold their nose voters. And while our political class may not admit it out loud I think they might agree with my belief that segment of the population, those who have not given up voting or gone third party but vote for who they think is the least problematic candidate, is the determining factor in close elections. Losing an advantage there could have been disastrous. They could not allow any chance that what was a legitimate story to be seen as such, even as they controlled access to Biden in general.)

            (You do not want to know about my growing conviction that lockdowns were allowed to continue even as haphazardly as they were for as long as they did only to allow Joe to campaign from the controlled atmosphere of his basement.)

      3. Don

        This is the first time I have seen this, and I read it as Flora, Screwball and Katniss do. And I don’t find it to be particularly sloppy. I am actually (naively?) surprised that it was so successfully (mis)represented to be a call to abandon the Constitution — if anything, I read it as a call to defend the Constitution.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I read it as a call to defend the Constitution.

          Can you explain why? (I also wonder how Trump’s base took it, which nobody seems to be looking into, oddly, or not.)

    4. Carolinian

      There’s a new French version of Balzac’s Lost Illusions out on DVD. I watched this last night and it’s pretty obvious why the filmmakers thought this story–which I read decades ago–to be especially relevant for our modern times. It’s about the anything goes world of post Restoration 19th century French journalism and at one point the editor sits down with the central character and gives instructions on how to spin your opponents words into anything negative you like.

      Our own media have been doing this for years now with Trump. Which is not to say Trump is a good guy or in any way noble but merely that no matter what he says they are going to frame it in the most damaging way possible and then use their own echo chamber to drive that perception home. It’s straight out of Balzac and that great if cynical social critic seems increasingly relevant to our current times. His theme might be “expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed.” The filmmakers try to put their slightly softer spin on the story but the point still comes through.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > no matter what he says they are going to frame it in the most damaging way possible and then use their own echo chamber to drive that perception home.

        That’s the very first thing I noticed about media coverage of Trump in 2016 when I started taking him seriously as a candidate: You absolutely could not rely on the press to quote him accurately. You always had to go find a transcript. True all the way to the “bleach” episode where Pelosi did the same thing and was instantly amplified. Her lie persists to this very day.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Bayraktar TB2 in Ukraine practically doesn’t fly, no new deliveries”

    A coupla days ago I saw an article about the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 and it was saying how they were making Putin’s life miserable and how great it was. It made me realize that I had not heard about them for months now but this article was remarkable in its own way trying to boost them-

    1. vao

      Early in the war, the Ukrainians composed an hymn to Bayraktar mocking the Russians. I wonder how often it is performed nowadays.

  16. Amfortas the hippie

    re Bellamy-Foster:
    “…Marx’s theory of metabolic rift, which was first developed in the context of the rift in the soil nutrient cycle caused by the shipment of food and fiber to the new urban centers—where the essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, ended up as pollution rather than returning to the soil—constituted the most advanced attempt in his day to capture the human-ecological relation. All subsequent ecological thought, up to ecosystem theory and Earth System analysis, was to be rooted in this same essential approach, focusing on metabolism.”

    having grown up in the nascent organic movement, i’ve known about this forever…but you folks here have reminded me of it the last couple of years.
    and in thinking about local ag…and Autarky…, this comes more and more into my thinking about the “business model”, etc i’m going for out here.
    only a few people IRL have gotten the whole thing…and it’s taken, for each of them, years of allowing me to ramble on(including voluminous footnotes in a spoken narrative is hard,lol)
    but this handful…beginning with Wife…have all ultimately….and reluctantly!…come to understand the problems i’m attempting to solve, as well as the solutions i’ve at least tentatively come up with.
    the export off farm of nutrients is one of the shockers/Koans, once it penetrates the cloud of assumptions and mythology.
    i admit that i didn’t expect(if i had expected anything at all,lol)for this one bullet point to have such an impact.

    1. Samuel Conner

      I’ve occasionally mentioned this problem in my own thus far incompetent and inconsequential “backyard food production” efforts using delicately-phrased expressions about the importance of “closing the nutrient cycle.”

      My interlocutors generally “get” my meaning, and they are either amused or disgusted by it. I don’t think most of them actually take the concept seriously.

      Thank you, Amfortas, for bringing it up again and again.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Marx’s theory of metabolic rift, which was first developed in the context of the rift in the soil nutrient cycle caused by the shipment of food and fiber to the new urban centers—where the essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, ended up as pollution rather than returning to the soil—constituted the most advanced attempt in his day to capture the human-ecological relation.

      I wonder if this could be applied to other metabolic processes. That link is even better than I thought. (I wonder if the concept of “metabolic rift” somehow interferes with or, er, contradicts or aufhebens the concept of “ecosystem services” (which I argue is bunkum, although from a position I’d be the first to admit is not rigorous).

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        if long lived trees are decent carbon sinks, removing nutrients from their environs is long term detrimental…and for that matter, a “Forest” is really one big superorganism…so the effect is even worse.
        while resilient in it’s diversity…and if left alone, a rather stable chaotic system of intertwined nutrient flows….you modify one or more of those flows, and it will have a effect…likely cascading…whether we’re aware of it, or not…might take a long time to become visible to our senses, but it’s there and ongoing.
        once was dryland cotton on this place…60 years ago.
        and you can tell. hence all the native grass and manure ive spread.
        and even digging up clump grass from the hillsides/under ancient oaks, where there’s never been any farming(for to reintroduce mycorhizzae, so roots can speak to each other)

        there are ecosystem services…as in an ecosytem does things that are beneficial to us, and everything else…but i dont reckon its monetizable…or even all that quantifiable…nor should it be(yeah, “Is/Ought”).
        that’s just the high preists of Moloch trying, as always, to shoehorn all of reality into their damned equations.
        the “services” part is more applicable in aggregate, anyway.
        my trees/grassland/built wetlands, etc can’t do it alone, in other words.
        and another thing the high priests forget, is that we are a part of the system, ourselves….rather than outside or above it

  17. KD

    Trump’s Call for ‘Termination’ of Constitution Draws Rebukes

    People may go hard on him here, but whatever his gifts, it was pretty clear he never figured out how the “law” thing worked. If there is a “law” in your way, you just hire enough accountants and lawyers until it goes away. Its not clear why an election wouldn’t work the same way.

    1. John

      Trump today is no different than Trump and Daddy Trump for the last 50 years or more. KD has it right. Obstacles are for other people.

    2. fresno dan

      it was pretty clear he never figured out how the “law” thing worked.
      respectfully, I would disagree and say that Trump understands how the law ACTUALLY works very well…
      My view has come to be that the US legal system from the get go was designed with the idea that wealthy people could evade and manipulate laws for their own benefit. Equal justice under law is just an advertising slogan.

      1. Karl

        We don’t see perp walks of Oligarchs very often. Elizabeth Holmes wasn’t yet a full-fledged oligarch, but it took years for her to be convicted. She doesn’t start her prison sentence until April 2023, if she does. Appeals and all that, perhaps.

        For Oligarchs, “beyond a reasonable doubt” is a much higher bar of proof than for regular folks.

        I mean, look at Trump. His tax returns have been “under audit” forever,he’s been out of office for two years, and they can’t seem to get around to indicting him for anything yet.

  18. Craig H.

    Walking backwards has a surprising number of health benefits

    This comes from Knee over Toes guy, very popular you tube promoter of dozens of less usual maneuvers. One of his videos has a 70 year-old (or so) woman pulling a weight sled backwards. Of his dozens of less usual maneuvers I have found one that is very useful for me. He has made it to Rogan but I would not recommend a two hour conversation between Rogan and Knee over Toes guy.

    Every body is different. Knee over Toes guy is very different. Walking backwards requires a smooth flat clear path!

    1. Wukchumni

      I ski backwards occasionally, but never walked backwards.

      It’d be a lot of work as i’m typically traipsing on uneven surfaces which must have some health benefits, as your feet couldn’t get a more complete workout switching from dirt to protruding rocks and back and forth.

      1. JP

        I hike backwards sometimes but gotta lift the knees high to avoid stumbling on rough ground. Same with running off trail at night. Can be done but gotta really get the knees up or you’re gonna take a header.

      2. eg

        I can skate backwards, but running backwards is confined mostly to occasional moments during Masters touch football league games.

        Skiing backwards is something I would never attempt on purpose — I was badly out of control as it was going forwards.

    2. curlydan

      Great point, Craig, on the smooth, flat path. I once broke a wrist jogging backwards at a soccer practice.

  19. chuck roast

    Military briefing: Ukraine war exposes ‘hard reality’ of west’s weapons capacity

    The FT piece mentions the Royal United Services Institute and links to a 69 page piece by four authors about lessons from the Ukraine war. There is no mention in the FT piece about the earlier Alex Vershinin’s June 17 RUSI article titled The Return of Industrial Warfare. Vershinin’s piece was short, accessible, ground breaking and (ahem) explosive. Astonishing how these so called journalists can avoid the obvious.

    1. eg

      I took the appearance of this article to be among the increasing number of cracks appearing in the facade that passes for the approved narrative.

  20. Wukchumni

    Crypto Entrepreneurs Just Spent $600,000 to Deliver a Giant Statue of Elon Musk as a Goat to Tesla’s Headquarters Artnet
    Oh sure, the $600k large was spent before the meltdown of anything other than Bitcoin, but the Crypto Illionaire Boys Club is still flaunting an escaped goat.

    1. MaryLand

      Besides promoting their crypto coin, they are worshiping the golden calf of Musk’s wealth/influence with the fawning moniker of GOAT, greatest of all time. NC songwriters might have fun with this one.

    2. cfraenkel

      KLF did it better.

      (using their own ££. Although burning investor $$ does have a bit of cachet, it’s not like everyone else hasn’t been doing it already, just not so flagrantly.)

  21. semper loquitur

    re: The Twitter Files, Constrained

    Am I detecting a trend in the coverage of all this from the liberal establishment? It brings to mind this scene:

    The author writes:

    “I’m still not clear what the actual stakes are in the Hunter Biden scandal.”

    and a scant few lines later writes:

    “And on that laptop were videos of Hunter Biden naked, smoking crack, cavorting with prostitutes, as well as emails about introducing his father to a Ukrainian businessman who worked for a oil company Hunter served on the board of for $50,000 a month? And then Joe Biden urged officials in Ukraine to axe a prosecutor investigating that company? And they did? The throughline of the story seems to be alleged corrupt business dealings on the part of the Biden family, yes?”


    “That throughline is of no matter, anyway; the discussion has moved far beyond it now. ”

    The author is struggling to understand why the criminality of the president is a big deal of some kind. What are the stakes here, people?! And the Biden crime family’s shady dealings with foreign governments, incidentally one we are now using as a sock puppet in a war with Russia, are commensurate with a fail-son smoking crack with prostitutes? Neat trick there.

    But that discussion has moved on. Come on, man, still flogging the “Biden corruption” dead mule? But it actually hasn’t, though, it’s at the very heart of all of this. Pre-Elon Twitter suppressed news of the corruption of Biden to enhance his chances at the polls. This was suspected but now it’s confirmed.

    The author relays that his head is “spinning”. Yeah, so is mine, trying to compensate for the spin in this article. Anyone with eyes to see can quickly dismantle this bit of fluff but, for the blue-check PMC, I’m sure it’s sustaining. And the article didn’t explain a thing really, even the writer claims he is more confused than he was before. High on his own supply, I believe.

    1. fresno dan

      But that discussion has moved on.
      Poor people’s crimes are never forgotten – rich people’s crimes get flushed down the memory hole.
      Crimes always occur in the past – if the police or prosecutor was there, viewing the criminal activity in real time, the crimanal the vast majority of the time wouldn’t commit the crime. The other main difference between the rich and the poor is that the rich have the chutzpah to suggest that their past crimes, by virture of being in the past, are not worth any attention.
      even the writer claims he is more confused than he was before
      Well, if your dogma or religion is that dems are universally and always virtuous, one is not going to be able to understand that the Bidens most likely committed acts that at the very MINIMUM warrant a special prosecutor.

    2. marym

      Taibbi said the Biden campaign and the Trump WH asked for and got tweets deleted. The higher volume and alleged greater sympathy of twitter staff on the Dem side may condemn the Dems to a greater extent, but the WH being the government at the time adds some condemnation points on that side.

      The thread is mostly about how the decision to suppress the Post story was made, not at all about the providence of the laptop or the credibility of its contents. So whatever anyone who has followed the story closely (not me) thinks of the degree of likelihood, degree of evil, and degree of unacceptable suppression of the matters “a scant few lines later,” the twitter thread itself doesn’t add or subtract any substance.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        1) The thread is mostly about how the decision to suppress the Post story was made

        2) the twitter thread itself doesn’t add or subtract any substance

        These two sentences contradict each other.

        Also, I’m too busy to check the thread, but does not Taibbi, give a D/R ratio of something like 8:1? Hardly “both sides” here.

        It really does seem that for some, it’s completely unproblematic that the Democratic operatives and platform content moderators merge into a single network (the platform being one that most journalists use daily, even hourly). There’s no issue at all. It’s very easy to see how this mindset would lead quite quickly to election-rigging, as indeed it did in this case.

        1. marym

          The thread doesn’t add or subtract information about the credibility of the claims in (what I take to be the contents of) the Post story or maybe other reporting — no emails, reports from other named sources, etc.

          I don’t think there’s no issue with propaganda efforts – what’s disseminated or what’s suppressed. Where the line crosses from SOP to election rigging I don’t know. I don’t think election rigging in those terms justifies Russiagate or “terminating” the constitution. Neither side good ideas on that topic.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > I don’t think election rigging in those terms justifies Russiagate or “terminating” the constitution.

            An in-group of Democrats, some in Twitter’s content moderation team, some in the Democratic Presidential campaign apparatus, suppressed a major breaking news story (on Burisma, not Hunter’s proclivities) that would have hurt their candidate, on the eve of an election. They made it impossible even to distribute a link to it on the platform that most journalists use. How is that not election rigging? All this is new in Taibbi’s thread, and well documented. It’s not only not a nothing “burger,” it’s an extremely toothsome steak.

            Further, if you’re a believer that Comey’s late remarks on Clinton’s emails lost Clinton 2016 — I’m not — then this is an exactly parallel case, and you should believe that Hunter’s laptop would have cost Biden 2020.

            I agree that RussiaGate is worse, because RussiaGate denied the legitimacy of the 2016 election entirely, and those who acted upon that denial were high officials who had the power to cripple an elected President, and attempted to do so. Election theft is something the United States is well acquainted with. A post-election seizure of power by those not elected is not.

            As for the former guy on termination, a perhaps overly charitable construction of his remarks is, “If we’re this [family blogged], what’s a Constitution for, anyhow?” (given he apparently respects the framers’ original intent. It’s interesting to think that none of the big institutions involved in this — political parties, platforms, or the intelligence community — were envisioned in (Montaigne and) Madison’s original balancing of legislative, executive, and judicial branches. I wonder what he would think if he were to write the Federalist Papers today).

      2. semper loquitur

        You do know that Trump isn’t the president anymore, right? Is anyone really talking about what “side” is at fault here? Taibbi noted that both sides were manipulating the news to tap off some of this “both-side-ism” that has risen like a puss filled zit a few moments after his article hit the screen. It’s hardly the point.

        And it takes a rather fine scalpel to dissect the fact that Twitter suppressed the story from the fact that the Biden’s dealings in the Ukraine were rotten to the core. I don’t follow these sorry tales that closely either but is anyone disputing that the genetically incompetent Hunter was deemed an expert on energy, of a sudden, and given a choice no-show job? And that his father used his political clout to stymie an investigation? Which leads to the question: why? What’s that bit about how corruption on the part of public figures isn’t just about not being corrupt, it’s about avoiding the appearance of corruption as well?

        It seems the same kind of “nothing to see here” logic is at play. The fact that Twitter suppressed the story lends weight to the suspicions of chicanery on the part of the Bidens. It’s not d@mning evidence, but boy, does it look shady.

        By the way, this kind of babble-gab may fly in the Blue-Check Identi-Left PMC’s vapor shrouded mind but no one else is buying it. The broader public’s trust in the mainstream media is only sinking lower and lower, for one. Pair that with the goofy antics of the Biden Legion of Dumb, whose reelection effort they will doubtless support full-throatedly, and I see a lot of heartache ahead. If Trump is still giving people b!tch’n hangovers, what will they do if DeTrumpis decides to run in ’24?

        1. BeliTsari

          Trump’s NOT president, a lotta-whole-buncha us un-TV addicted types have NO idea, as we tiptoe past sadly deluded, delusional loved-ones & the first 15-20 minutes of EVERY WBD, Comcast, FOX, Disney infotainment diatribe consists of the fat little fuck, doing BADNESS to Our Democracy™ & Biden picking thermonuclear war and hiding a SECOND million COVID corpses, MAGA nazis don’t even carry?

  22. Mark K

    Lanbert: “Combine with work-to-rule and you might have something.”

    Canadian customs agents have used work-to-rule effectively on at least two occasions, the most recent being just last year. They start inspecting every truck and asking detailed question at every car. Citizens and businesses start screaming about the huge lines… and, voila, a contract is reached within days. No illegal strike involved, just doing their jobs the way they are “supposed” to be done.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there are opportunities for the ralway workers to do something similar.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And what if American train engineers started using their horns the way Canadian truckers did? Especially while rolling through the Washington, DC area? That would add an especially festive touch.

    2. Vandemonian

      Aaah, the ‘Santa’s railroad’ version of train safety procedures – making a list, checking it twice…

  23. Wukchumni

    Feeling Superior Because the Heat is Still Off? You Might be a New Englander WSJ
    It has been colder than a witch’s teat in the wee hours here (think 36 degrees) in SuperCalifragilisticexpialidocious, but i’m cool with the temp as I can adjust by having a 4-cat night with the Lilliputians laying on top of the bedspread in a mutual warmth society gig, you dig?

  24. Tom Hickey

    “Dems and GOP unite to sell out the American worker. Maybe we need a Labor Party. Will Bunch, Inquirer”

    Maybe we need a Democratic Party rather than two Republican Parties. Bill Clinton “triangulated,” following GOP strategist Dick Morris’s advice, ending the party of FDR and establishing the Democrat Party of Donor Interests. There is no longer a party that represents worker interests in reality but only with empty rhetoric when it comes time to take action.

    Obama and Biden are a continuation of the Clinton era.

    And as result of adopting distractive issues rather than representing worker interests, the Democrats have lost a lot of blue collar workers to the GOP while making donors happy.

    The blame does not fall entirely on the Democratic Party, however. This is a result of a system that is based on adverse incentives owing to the cost of campaigns and the arrangements for financing them that lead to legalized corruption. Now the political process has become corrupt at the core.

  25. Wukchumni

    Less than a year now to the finish line, 364 days, 14 hours, 33 minutes and 27 seconds, but i’m not anxious or anything, knowing that my annuity will be there for me, and Congress wouldn’t have raised the minimum age for that first payday to when i’m 64 and/or the almighty buck has the buying power of a kumquat.

    1. Jokerstein

      I have a desktop timer set for my retirement – currently showing one year, three days, four hours. Very excited…

  26. Li

    About the GPTchatbot. Tried it out and found that it does best at answering factual questions about scientific concepts as long as only surface level information is requested. This is not to say that it doesn’t make factual errors. For example, it said that the most commonly used symbol for representing the spin-orbit coupling constant is “lambda” and not an uppercase “A.” When asked about the appropriate syllabus order for an undergraduate thermodynamics class it put topics you’d usually see at the end of the course at the beginning. It also misused the word “entropy.”

    I think it performs as well as a highschooler vomiting words onto a science essay the night before due date; it knows, vaguely, how an essay should be constructed. It knows that some words go together, just like a highschooler might recall that the teacher kept mentioning two interrelated concepts but doesn’t know what each means. It also knows just enough about sentence construction that it seems like it is making sense. It breaks down when you start digging for specific details. For example when asked how to test for lead levels in a surface glaze it mentioned the use of home-test kits or a lab test. It refused to give any details on how to actually perform a test. This might be due to the safety filters, but this also happened with apparently harmless issues such as: “How do you use a compass and stright-edge to study geometry?”

    It also does significantly worse with the humanities were there is much more disagreement on definitions. And it is wholly incapable of producing media analysis. Asking: “What does Taylor Swift represent in modern American culture?” pretty much got me the headings under which the term “Taylor Swift” must be categorized: she represents pop-culture, modern american celebrities and music. Gee thanks. Excellent answer.

    On the other hand… Well, the chatbot does indeed represent a huge advance with respect to previous technology. It is fairly impressive to even get to this level of coherence. It’s just not quite there yet, and it definitely cannot be confused with a real human being.

    1. Bazarov

      This was exactly my impression.

      It’s also terrible at basic arithmetic. I input a list of sums for the chatbot in this fashion:





      I asked the system to output the addition, and then to add up all the resulting sums into one total. While it solved each individual sum correctly, its final summation was off by a lot.

      When I tested the system the same way you did, I came to similar results. Basic stuff it did pretty well with—but in this respect, it was no better than when I last played with Siri. Much of the output was wikipedia level but with more errors and contradictions. Sometimes it even sounded corporate-y or PR-y, like it was trained on an HR dataset. The sentences, like you mentioned, generally “sounded good” in the manner of a bullshitting high school student.

      The system is good at reproducing text in a variety of tones. So, for example, you might past in a thank you note and then ask it to rewrite it in a less or more formal register.

      When I confronted it on its contradictions, the system has a tendency to annoyingly repeat itself.

      For example, on one topic, it kept insisting that X was not a physical object, but then in its description of X, it said it was located within a physical object. Then when I would mention that it must therefore part of a physical object, it would again insist that it wasn’t a physical object but then immediately explain that it was part of a physical object.

      1. caucus99percenter

        Sounds ideal for performing the duties of White House press secretary, as understood and deemed acceptable in 2022.

        1. eg

          Or a text-bot responding to “help”-desk queries for monopolists like cable companies or oligopolists like wireless companies.

      2. Li

        Yeah. I think it might be producing mathematical output from memorized information, not actually performing computations. For example, i fed it an introductory qm chemistry problem with a known solution (based on a simple approximation). It gave me a different but plausible answer that is commonly found online. I don’t think it did any calculations even though it attempted to explain the “process” it had taken to solve the problem. This process was a bit nonsensical so I doubt it actually did anything of the sort. Most likely, it simply searched the database for the most common answer and spat it out.

        1. MarqueJaune

          Worth a reading this piece by Gary Marcus

          The algos don’t do meaning, they just find (cor)relations between phrases, sets of words and so on

          The churros surgical instrument is really something… maybe from Monty Python

        2. hk

          I am curious. The breakthrough that madeAI-assisted translation work was that it was driven by exactly this: it compiled data on all supposedly “equivalent” translations and found patterns that fit the input to produce translations, without actually understanding either input or output language. Actual “understanding” is mostly beyond AI, or so the logic goes. But if the “right answers” are plentiful and processing lots of data is easy, you can approximate an appearance of “erudition” by digesting a lot of “stuff.”

          But isn’t this how a lot of “conventional wisdom” works? Esp the conventional wisdom that drives the PMC? Actual understanding of the science, the goings on around thd world, the dconomy, whatever is sorely lacking. But they think they “know the truth” because they have access to plenty of “digested data” (or, rather, extracts based on “plenty of pre-digested data.” Of course, modern information environment artifically amplifies the appearance of plentiful data via echo chamber effect: if everyone says Ukraine is paragon of whatever, even if you know nothing firsthand about the “truth,” you have “plenty of data” that Ukraine is the bestest.

          In a universe where “quanitity of ‘facts'” trumps “quality of ‘understanding,'” it seems only reasonable that AI should be the thing.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > But they think they “know the truth” because they have access to plenty of “digested data” (or, rather, extracts based on “plenty of pre-digested data.” Of course, modern information environment artifically amplifies the appearance of plentiful data via echo chamber effect: if everyone says Ukraine is paragon of whatever, even if you know nothing firsthand about the “truth,” you have “plenty of data” that Ukraine is the bestest.

            Evidence-based bullshitting.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > like it was trained on an HR dataset

        100% believable, especially if you want the entire world to be run like HR.

        > generally “sounded good” in the manner of a bullshitting high school student.

        “bullshitting” is the exact word here, given Harry Frankfurt’s definition of bullshit: “It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth—this indifference to how things really are—that I regard as the essence of bullshit.”

        In fact, that seems like a pretty good high-level specification for ChatGPT’s “language model,” and AI generally.

        I thought bullshit was already sufficiently monetized, but Silicon Valley is out to prove me wrong!

  27. Karl

    RE: Addressing climate change won’t save the planet (Intercept)

    The article, I thought, got off to a good start by saying:

    Overshoot is a product of both excessive numbers and rising affluence.

    The basic idea of the article is that by trying to save the planet for humans they are ruining habitats for all other living things. But nowhere does it mention the root cause of “numbers” of “humans”, i.e. population. I see this as a huge blind spot in the environmental movement generally. Our numbers recently passed the 8 billion mark, and there was hardly a ripple of discussion about this in the MSM, as though the human tsunami on this planet is simply a given, eliciting a global shrug.

    Then the Intercept article went on to rail against habitat loss due to solar farms in the Mohave desert. So many species at risk!!! — foxes, hawks, badgers, rabbits, and, most prominently, the desert tortoise!

    Look: if we can’t locate solar farms on the Mohave, we are truly toast. This seems to be just “Enviro Virtue Signalling”. Enviros will complain about humans’ impacts — “Please notice how very aware I am!” — without the taint of talking about root causes — having too many babies. And the obvious solution: deciding, on ethical grounds, to have fewer of them. Or, in the extreme (I fear it may be coming): mandating having fewer of them, as China has done. In 25 years we’ll be at 9 billion. We can’t discuss that!

    1. eg

      Don’t worry about human overpopulation. The Klept, er our oligarchs, uh, leaders will repeatedly employ Jay Gould’s solution when the Jackpot comes …

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the root cause of “numbers” of “humans”, i.e. population.

      Eugenics is, I believe, an unspoken and perhaps even unconscious policy choice by elites on climate. A world with a lot fewer people (but naturally with the same number of elites). China is doing this with the birth rate, the United States with life expectancy, although we are trying to get China to do it with life expectancy.

      1. Daniil Adamov

        I doubt very much that they are concerned with the genetics or the physical fitness of the people who survive as opposed to their social status… unless that is the latest word in eugenics – selecting for those who had the sense to be born into the right families.

  28. spud

    Jonathan Turley just made the same argument i did about censorship on twitter.

    “Censoring communications on Twitter is more akin to the telephone company agreeing to cut the connection of any caller using disfavored terms. And at the apparent request of the 2020 Biden campaign and the DNC, Twitter seems to have routinely stopped others from discussing or hearing opposing views.

    I had just testified on private censorship in circumventing the First Amendment as a type of censorship by surrogate.

    As I have previously written, the administration cannot censor critics and cannot use agents for that purpose under the First Amendment.”

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