Links 1/1/2023

Readers: Happy New Year, and many more of them! –lambert

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‘I had to do it to save everyone:’ Letter solves school smashed window mystery – and reveals a snowstorm hero Sky News

What if the dinosaurs hadn’t gone extinct? Why our world might look very different The Conversation

The End of Financial Hegemony? New Left Review. Well worth a read.

Pension funds must take ‘extreme care’ with liquidity risks, OECD warns FT


How do tidal marshes store carbon? Soils Matter, Get the Scoop!

Southwest Debacle

The Great Southwest Meltdown Of 2022 Seat 31B

The Shameful Open Secret Behind Southwest’s Failure NYT


Dogma, Hubris, and the Forgotten Lessons of SARS-1 (video) Mario Possamai, ISRP Respiratory Protection, YouTube. Fascinatingly, in SARS-1, collaboration between infectious disease and occupational health and safety departments led to a contained outbreak in Vancouver, BC via the application of the precautionary principle (contrasted to a debacle in Toronto). No lessons learned by Bonnie Henry! And none during SARS-CoV-2 by the infectious disease community in Canada, which clung to droplet dogma with a death-grip, there and at WHO. 57:13, but grab a cup of coffee, it’s a must-listen, and there’s much more than I’ve sketched here.

* * *

A little masterpiece of badness from the CDC (MN):

[1] Fine, fine, but the collective messaging here contradicts the individualist “if you choose” message at [4].

[2] The issue is not transmission at “large gatherings,” but, since #CovidIsAirborne, at venues that are closed, crowded, and close-contact (the 3-Cs).

[3] Has CDC abandoned its (“green map,” bad) community levels guidance, and replaced it with (“red map,” good) community transmission? Big if true. If so, “That means the CDC now recommends universal masking for **71%** of counties in the US, instead of only 9%.” However, the entire tweet is so sloppy and bad it’s hard to say, and in addition there’s no link.

[4] Great, back to “personal risk assessment.”

[5] The CDC site is down — so indicative the CDC can’t even manage a website — so I can’t read this link, but it’s not to the red map, or the green one, either

[6] Yeah, what about it?

Let’s review! We have mixed messaging, lethally bad advice on airborne tranmission, confusing guidance, a broken website, with an inexplicable hash-tag to wrap it all up. This is our flagship public health agency, the finest in in the world, the Centers for Disseminating Covid [slow clap].

* * *

CDC reports a new strain of omicron taking over in the U.S. NBC. This is XBB.1.5, which we’ve been eying for the same time. At the same time, these are CDC (“Nowcast”) projections, so “reports” in the headline is a bit deceptive.

Will the US plan for testing travelers from China help stem the spread of COVID? ABC. No. Sniffer dogs work. We had more than a year to get them into our airports. Of course, the Biden Administration squandered the year.

* * *

Woman, 36, almost passed out while walking. She was in heart failure due to COVID-19 Today. Note the source.

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Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 and its variants in wastewater of tertiary care hospitals correlates with increasing case burden and outbreaks Journal of Medical Virology. Wastewater from three hospitals. From the Abtract: “Total SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels in wastewater increased in tandem with total prevalent cases.” So, a good proxy?

Nasal Vaccines Are Here The Atlantic

COVID Vaccine Hesitancy and Risk of a Traffic Crash The American Journal of Medicine. n = 11,270,763. “Coronavirus disease (COVID) vaccine hesitancy is a reflection of psychology that might also contribute to traffic safety…. These data suggest that COVID vaccine hesitancy is associated with significant increased risks of a traffic crash. An awareness of these risks might help to encourage more COVID vaccination.”


China’s Xi says ‘light of hope in front of us’ on Covid Agence France Presse

Xi Jinping’s credibility ‘badly wounded’ as China’s Covid death toll mounts FT

Why China’s Current COVID Surge Could Spell The End Of The Pandemic Health Digest

The Koreas

Kim calls for ‘exponential increase’ of N. Korea’s nuclear arsenal Agence France Presse


Digitisation poses new risks to junta critics and is entrenching discrimination Frontier Myanmar. Yes, that’s why the junta is doing it. That’s why they’re all doing it.

European Disunion

How the West Failed Bosnia The Nation

New Not-So-Cold War

New Year Address to the Nation President of Russia

New Year greetings of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy President of Ukraine. Not sure of the provenance of this one, but nevertheless:

More on Law 8271.

Ukraine war: Zelensky tells Russians – Putin is destroying you BBC

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Patriot to Ukraine: What Does It Mean? Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Training courses for Patriot operators and maintainers normally take many months. The PATRIOT system repairer course, for example, takes 53 weeks. Others are not quite so lengthy. The fire control operator course is 20 weeks. The launch system operator course is 13 weeks. Ukraine could save time by sending trained air defenders—for example, troops trained on the S-300 system, which Ukraine has operated for many years. Nevertheless, there is a lot of learning to do before Ukraine will have a functioning Patriot system on the ground. It is possible that the Ukrainians have already begun to train on Patriot in anticipation of a possible future transfer.” (This CSIS article also seems to have a Congressional Research Service report wrapped around it.) Concluding: “The decision to send a battery to Ukraine is therefore as much an expression of political commitment as it is a boost to Ukraine’s air defense capability.” So, performative?

How Ukraine’s far-right, with NATO backing, block peace (podcast) Aaron Maté, Pushback. From December 19, still germane.

Peru: The Coup Plot Internationalist 360°. Lots of names, no links. Maybe some Peru mavens in the readership can comment.

Biden Administration

Ukraine War: Biden’s Rating Improves Rasmussen Reports


Elon Musk, eager tech salesman to the Deep State Yasha Levine

Meta set to make divisive decision on Trump’s return to Facebook FT

The Backstory of ChatGPT Creator OpenAI WSJ. Y Combinator.

Social media as an incubator of personality and behavioral psychopathology: Symptom and disorder authenticity or psychosomatic social contagion? Comprehensive Psychiatry

Alan MacMasters: How the great online toaster hoax was exposed BBC

Police State Watch

She signed her son up for a tennis program where officers volunteer. He was put in handcuffs. WTVR

‘So noble, so kind’: Pope Francis leads tributes to Benedict XVI Guardian. Case for the prosecution; for the defense.

Xmas Post-Game Analysis

Christmas Trees: Case Against Artificiality National Review

Realignment and Legitimacy

A Charity Tied to the Supreme Court Offers Donors Access to the Justices NYT (ctlieee). Commentary:

The Blind Spot Julia Doubleday. The Gauntlet

What motivated the Pacific Northwest substation attacks? Seattle Times

Moorish Americans Again Claim to Represent Morocco in Court Case Morocco World News

Activism and Apathy Are Poisoning American Politics The Dispatch

Class Warfare

Travel nurses took high-paying jobs during Covid. But then their pay was slashed, sometimes in half. NBC

Home Depot co-founder says ‘socialism’ killed motivation to work: ‘Nobody gives a damn’ NY Post

The Hopeful Dystopian Jacobin. Christopher Lasch.

A Theory of Ex Post Rationalization (preprint) (PDF) arXiv. “Classical economic theory rules out rationalization. It assumes that people make forward-looking choices according to fixed preferences, rather than adapting their preferences to rationalize past decisions. Introspection, common sense, and psychological research all suggest that the classical approach omits a key aspect of human decisionmaking.”

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

Breaking the ice for the New Year!

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. Henry Moon Pie

    The poison in American politics–

    I think these analysts of divisions in the U. S. would do well to incorporate schismogenesis into their approach. Wengrow and Graeber used it extensively in The Dawn of Everything with the archetype case being the “fisher kings” of the Pacific Northwest and the “Calvinists” of California. What we seem to have in the U. S. are two cultures, each furiously differentiating itself from the other.

    Schismogenesis may help us understand things like the initial reaction among some to masking and later to vaccination. What is disturbing to me is how the Bidenites seem to have successfully convinced their PMC supporters to switch their attitude toward masking by identifying it with deplorables who refused to “get the jab.” When the Biden administration took the position in May, 2021 that the vaccinated need not be masked, I thought they were well-intentioned idiots who stupidly thought that the new “rule” would encourage unvaccinated anti-maskers to get the shot. Instead, it may have been the case that they were using this position as a wedge to change PMC attitudes from pro-masking to anti.

    1. Mikel

      “Instead, it may have been the case that they were using this position as a wedge to change PMC attitudes from pro-masking to anti.”

      Indeed. And consider: pharma would have trouble selling boosters, more $hots, if people were finding cheaper, less risky, and already accessible ways to mitigate the spread of the disease.
      It also has to be remembered that the politcos mentioned didn’t prioritize ventilation in their recommendations.

      1. bassmule

        Here’s a thought: In Big Pharma’s eyes, Healthy Americans are not profitable Americans. So selling drugs that don’t really work is very much in their interest.

  2. QuarterBack

    Re ChatGBT,

    “It does know a lot, but the danger is that it is confident and wrong a significant fraction of the time,”

    Looks like it’s ready to go to work writing for much of the MSM.

  3. JohnA

    Passing law 8271 by Zelensky will surely lead to a big increase in fragging by Ukrainian troops.

    1. Not Again

      Fragging? With what ammo?

      I am not a soldier, but I am pretty sure that no one has ever won a war when both sides were shooting at the grunts. This won’t take long to fall apart.

        1. Procopius

          Not among the combat troops, though. By far the most fragging incidents happened among REMF and support troops — with rare and notable exceptions.

      1. Skip Intro

        And then there are the Ukrainian ‘anti-retreat’ forces from the ‘nationalist’ battalions, who help keep up the fighting spirit on the front by shooting their own troops if they try to retreat. Apparently they tried to motivate some Polish ‘volunteers’ a while back, and didn’t fare well.

        1. ambrit

          From what I have read of military history, the appearance of such “Field Police” was a sign that the front was crumbling. Usually these troops presaged a collapse and ‘managed’ the consequences.
          The Ukraine gets this propensity naturally, from both it’s NAZI collaborationist forebears, “the Banderites” and the “Feldgendarmerie,” and the Soviet Army “Political Troops.”
          Soviet political troops:
          So, as has been deployed as snarky humour on the internet, the saying, “The whippings will continue until morale improves.” is taken literally in military circles.

    2. tevhatch

      Two days earlier the Russian Military Spokesman said that 20 Ukrainian commissioned officers were killed in one battle. They didn’t say who did the killing, but this very low probability event starts to look more probable now in MHO.

      1. Greg

        Last time that happened it was because a staff meeting location got leaked, and there were unwelcome (flying) attendees. I think it’s relatively unlikely at this stage that the Russian MoD would claim scalps due to fragging.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Woman, 36, almost passed out while walking. She was in heart failure due to COVID-19”

    What if she had been driving a car when she had these episodes? Maybe traveling full speed down a crowded highway or worse, going by a school as it was let out.

    1. BeliTsari

      What if there were tens-of-millions, who’d vax’d, relaxed & UNMASKED with PASC hijacked immune systems, indentured into working through cytokine storms; with organ damage, fibrosis, sepsis; flying over NYC, running a huge nation or in a sub, off China? As re-re-reinfected essentials realize the depth of government, academic, media & Catastrophe Capital criminal collusion & that PMC, retired Yuppies & Creative Class CRUSHED National Healthcare, journalism, whistleblowers, timely information that could’ve saved millions (prevented Delta & Omicron waves by NPI, mucosal vaccine & prophylaxis development?) Eventually, we the peons will simply be set upon each other, like pandemic of the Bubbas rhetoric (notice: what Trump, TX, FL, AZ did to hide deaths & promote mAb & antiviral sales is FINE & beyond question, when Cuomo, then Biden does it to uppity essentials & we ALL do it to Chinese workers, who’d avoided PASC damage up till November?)

    2. pjay

      – “She was vaccinated and boosted and felt surprised by how sick she felt…”

      – “… Doctors suspected that COVID-19 caused Waddell to develop myocarditis, when the heart muscle becomes inflamed…”

      Ok, so the story simply glides over the fact that being “vaxxed and boosted” didn’t protect this woman from serious illness. But is there really *no* reason to at least *acknowledge* that *perhaps* there might be *some* chance that the vax itself *might* be related to her myocarditis?

      1. pjay

        Please ignore my comment above. I should have read on down the Links. I didn’t realize that “Coronavirus disease (COVID) vaccine hesitancy is a reflection of psychology that might also contribute to traffic safety….”
        I don’t want anyone thinking that I’m an irrational psychopath. Vax-up everyone!

        1. clarky90

          “Listen very carefully to my voice, as you slide, blissfully into a DEEP and soothing trance. You are not “hesitant “. You can never be “hesitant”.

          You do not “deny”. You will feel nauseated if you “deny” my loving suggestions.

          Listen to my voice and be happy…..

          Be happy…….

    3. AdMo West

      Funny how they skipped right past this supporting fact: “She was vaccinated and boosted and was surprised by how sick she felt.”

  5. Lost in OR

    Still reading “The End of Financial Hegemony” but these two words stuck out for me…
    Leveraged credit granted a reprieve to sluggish economies, boosting consumption beyond what stagnant real wages could afford.

    What the heck is Leveraged Credit? Debt? Money borrowed to lend?

    Oh, and have an interesting new year.

    1. griffen

      I can speak to your above question within very specific boundaries. I’ve worked for consumer finance firms, and I’ve also worked in the investment industry as a fixed income analyst. Not a CFA charter holder so take these thoughts at face value. Nearly every loan receivable on any bank balance sheet, or other financial institutions or finance lending company can be more or less a fungible asset that is or will be pledged into a financing facility. That facility can be a Special Purpose Entity, or it can be a Revolving Asset Receivable. So a grouping of assets, all of a similar kind, can or will be layered according to certain pledge agreements and loan facility agreements. Receivables with a distinct or routine set of orderly cash flows can make for a highly attractive fixed income investment to pension funds and endowments. All else equal and not including more esoteric products.

      Mortgage backed loans, one example, have functioned in this way for a long time and the process became popularized with the advent of securitization. Run of the mill, guaranteed Residential MBS issued from Fannie Mae.

      I’m both hesitant to respond and hesitant to go any further.

    2. Eclair

      Re: Still reading “The End of Financial Hegemony.”

      Me too, Lost in OR. And working on a ‘translation.’ I believe there are really great insights in this essay but I keep getting lost in the thickets of leftist verbiage. My intellectual deficiencies result in my reading entire paragraphs and saying, “Huh?” Calling Michael Hudson!

      1. chuck roast

        Don’t call Michael Hudson. Read Marx” Critique on Political Economy”. It was a revelation when I read it decades ago…short and sweet. I had completely forgotten about ‘fictitious capital.’ The problem with the leftist verbiage is that we read the western financial pages every day and become comfortable with the rightist verbiage So, we to have keep searching for the light switch when confronted left verbiage…what I did with fictitious capital.

        Anyway, Roubini opines that the various central bank authorities will capitulate when fictitious capitalists start screaming uncle at the loss of free money. I tend to agree. Altogether this was a fine piece of analysis, and another proof why the internet and NC can make a person’s day.

        1. Eclair

          Thanks for the recommendation, chuck roast. I have tried reading Capital, but simply can’t wrap my brain around it. Maybe starting ‘short and sweet’ with ‘Critique on Political Economy’ will be my necessary transition.

  6. griffen

    Curious thought exercise, what if dinosaurs had not gone extinct. I believe that safe to say, humans would not have flourished into our current population totals. Face it, we look tasty, chewy and delicious. Just like the candy bar commercial for Twix where two bears comment on either human seated within their immediate view.

    I’d also throw in the analog of running from the bear. One just need to be faster than the next person so the bear doesn’t catch me.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Star Trek Voyager did an episode where they came across a race of dinosaurs descended from Earth’s original dinosaurs- (2:32 mins)

      But could they have evolved to an intelligent species? Maybe. I have heard of the human family tree described as a once thick luxuriant bush but which has only one tiny twig remaining – us. So maybe climate change over the eons may have led to new races of dinosaurs, one of which might have had the basic building blocks to evolve to something intelligent. So it’s an open question.

      1. britzklieg

        my favorite Far Side cartoon: two dinosaurs foraging for food, on looks up and says:

        “Hey Beatrice, over here… peas the size of your brain!”

        1. Robert Gray

          That’s a good one, but …

          > my favorite Far Side cartoon: …

          ooo, how can you choose? :-)

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Presuming we make it and going with the Ole favorites, I imagine we take advantage of climate change situations and reduce the breeding population to a point where the more troublesome varieties go the way of the mega fauna. We wouldnt dare try to ice a full grown trex, but we would figure out killing the juvies cleared up plenty of problems. If they were pack hunters, the big ones might be even more manageable. I remember speculation about the t-rex sexual dimorphism and the tree line, the females and nests would be easy to locate if that was true. Places like Yemen probably still start civilization, but Egypt isn’t so popular, too many big buggers wandering through. We might even start permanent communities earlier as the proto villages probably could organize and succeed better than roving bands.

      IRL, birds get eaten all the time. This is how it would go down.

  7. Lexx

    ‘What motivated the Pacific Northwest substation attacks?’

    I took painting lessons from a woman who had a little shop in Spanaway for a couple of years, so I traveled there every couple of weeks. My lasting memory of that area is that it lacks a sense of community. There’s no commercial or cultural center to it, except maybe the military bases – Fort McCord AFB and Fort Lewis. Cheap tract housing (then), small businesses and franchises, fast food joints and bars, pawn shops and gas stations/corner stores. Commerce aplenty and lots of lower class incomes that somehow keep it all going.

    Also it seemed to me the population skews young. Not a lot of old folks visible then. There’s a concentration of active and retired military families going back a few generations. High number of foreign brides married to soldiers stationed abroad once. It’s where you’ll find the small grocery stores carrying ingredients for those traditional dishes. It I was looking to make a Thai dish, I’d look north of Olympia.

    It’s the perspective of someone who saw the area but didn’t get out of her car much; it’s just what could be seen driving around. The area made me nervous, fellow drivers were often aggressive, and the pedestrians looked scruffy. So I didn’t shop there or visit socially. The constant rain and overcast skies feels oppressive in western Washington anyway, but east Pierce County seemed particularly closed to outsiders.

    There are small pockets of wealth too, but I’d bet those extracting money from that area don’t reside there.

    Puyallup was once the fruit growing center of Washington. I was told that it was moved to the Yakima Valley when diseases threatened the orchards and crops. Maybe a long run of extra wet weather and the drier climate on the east side of the Cascades provided the solution. Probably cheap land deals too. Some of the best soil for growing anything in Washington is buried now under concrete and asphalt. So much potential laid to rest in Pierce County. When you’re driving those highways though, it’s not hard to imagine those western valleys full of trees and farm families just over a hundred years ago. There were deep mutual interests there once.

    1. Questa Nota

      Substation attacks, seen in light of the
      Fires, or ‘fires’ from a few years ago

      There are probably overlaps in those, er, communities

      What was curious about all the fires was how they were concentrated in the US as the lack of fires in BC or Alberta, for example, was more normal and quite a relief
      That appeared to demonstrate arson, and there was some video of arsonists
      So why not some similar explanation for the targeting of substations

        1. ddt

          During the Obama years, a friend’s acquaintance in Northern California, very active with the local tea party was talking about how easy it would be to throw urban centers into chaos by bringing down electricity transmission towers. Maybe they’re just testing waters? Evaluating strategy and whatnot?

        2. Eclair

          Arson vs domestic terrorism? Or maybe sabotage? Which is what happens when there is a growing class of p***ed off citizens, who increasingly have nothing left to lose.

          Maybe they don’t label their malaise as ‘deaths of despair’ or declining life expectancy, but they see their cohort dropping from substance abuse, lack of health care, lack of decent job choices, no job training, expensive education, high housing costs. If they are black or brown, they have issues with the justice system. They are beginning to realize that the upper class considers them to be expendable. Maybe they don’t want to just go die quietly. They are not necessarily right or left, just abandoned.

  8. c_heale

    I found The Conversation article on dinosaurs underwhelming. I’m not complaining about the selection of this article since it’s difficult to know on a quick reading how good articles are, but about this type of article which seems to be very common on the Internet these days.

    An article written using tenuous evidence, with equivocal conclusions. A waste of time to read.

    Maybe it was written by ChatGPT. Seriously, what is the purpose of ChatGPT? It can only “write” the most boring and basic texts. Frankly whoever made it should be ashamed of putting out such a piece of crap.

    I increasingly think that the Internet has no useful purpose. It has caused knowledge to be come centralized and is increasingly destroying diversity of views and knowledge, at a time when we need new ideas, new views, more discussion among people, because although I don’t agree with everything Roubini says, his 10 threats to the world are certainly problems we need to start solving.

    1. What?No!

      I think there are a couple of big takeaways from ChatGPT:

      One is: not to focus on the output. It’s astoundingly good at understanding what you’re saying. Technically it shouldn’t win “the” Turing Award, but it certainly does deserve “a” Turing award.

      The second thing is, as many people have pointed out, it lies like a hot damn, quickly, unashamedly, verbosely. I tried to pin it down on how Ralphie’s mom got his little brother to eat in the movie A Christmas Story, and when I got it close to pumping mud, it launched into how it was at Thanksgiving [it’s a Christmas movie], and she presented him with “roast beast” [so a Christmas movie, but not that Christmas movie].

      All that to say it got me thinking… why specifically the heavy lying? Why not just “sorry, don’t know.” ?

      So maybe two reasons: what if digesting that much western knowledge, the training set is not just an unlimited infusion of biases, but maybe it tells the story of human communication thoroughly steeped in lies and subterfuge that filter, AI-training-innocently-enough, up through the algorithms. And two, don your foil hats: because maybe it’s an experiment in getting AI and narrative-generation even better at creating lies that land more effectively, more smoothly, and produce uptake with less resistance.

      But Happy 2023 to all regardless!

      1. hk

        Interesting observation: I’d never have expected the “lying” problem. By definition, AI cannot “lie,” at least not out of its own volition. Curious if it is somehow hard coded to have “answers for everything,” on top of the problems in the training data…and how it digests it. Oddly, it sounds like the parody of PMC.

      2. Acacia

        So-called AI has no consciousness, ergo self-awareness of what’s happening in the algorithm, and this app is no different (it may not even qualify as AI). Thus, it’s not “lying”. It’s just spitting out “information”. The operation is like a query against a vast database. Your statement or question is the query.

        As always, the rule “garbage in garbage out” applies.

        1. jsn


          It doesn’t know what is or isn’t information. It outputs whatever its incomprehensible “learning” algorithm has determined best fits its selection criteria, whatever those are and however they were created.

          Interpreting its outputs as information is like a cat chasing a laser.

      3. ArvidMartensen

        AI is an electronic instatiation of us.
        It is created by us, trained from our written thoughts and preferences and weaknesses. On steroids. And guided and owned by those who have, via manipulation, greed and aggressiveness made it to the top of the heap.
        So how can AI be other than an automatic and evolving engine of lies, greed, hubris, manipulation, aggression, psychopathy and self-destruction?
        To expect otherwise would be delusional imo

    2. Empty Ideas

      Until proven wrong I consider ChatGPT a modern crappified version of the Postmodernism Generator.

      Read and laugh your head off:

      ChatGPT is a crappified version of this because of its mundanity. It is mainly used for discussing job cuts in an economy that doesn’t produce any intellectual products at all – just watch the blather in the West regarding the Ukraine-war, the absence of spirituality on modern arts or why not the music-version of ChatGPT, American Idol and similar karaoke shows. Just imitation and propagation devoid of spiritual power. ChatGPT can do well in such an environment.

      The Postmodenism Generator helped expose the intellectual fraud large swathes of the postmodenists were engaging in.
      It was a positive intellectual intervention.
      I don’t see any improvement coming from ChatGPT.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Y’all are missing the point. ChatGPT is the free, public, chatbot AI trained on a (relatively) small (but still vast) dataset. The AI that should concern you is plugged straight into the internet backbone and uses acres of processor arrays (NSA Utah Data Center).

      2. semper loquitur

        This is delicious, thanks. Here is the link to the PoMo generator, just click it and a Hunter College English professor is summoned into your machine:

        and a bon mot from the Wiki link:

        “Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes about “Monte Carlo generators” in his 2001 book Fooled by Randomness as a real instance of the reverse Turing test: a human can be declared unintelligent if their writing cannot be told apart from a generated one.”

        And you are spot on with this:

        “Just imitation and propagation devoid of spiritual power.”

        I was recently in NJ and was subjected to FM radio on the “pop” stations while riding along with a family member. Literally, the same eight? ten? songs were played over and over again. In the recent past, I’ve heard pop music that consisted of old songs that had been slowed down or amped up, not even remixed or sampled or whatever, just slightly altered and $hat out. Others borrowed lyrics from other popular songs, as if referencing them somehow injected authenticity.

        My partner and I watched Black Adam last night. There was some eye-candy but the narrative form could have been lifted from any number of superhero movies. We live in an age where the Machine’s $hit is heat-pressed into another form, then sold as $hit.

        1. hk

          Chances are that playlists on pop radio stations are literally generated by AI. Heck, we’ve had Pandora for a while, no? It does a fair job when dealing with conventional music…up to a point, but becomes unbearable after a little while because, I suspect, it doesn’t know how (or if) to go off the beaten path and start adding variety.

    3. Jeff W

      “An article written using tenuous evidence, with equivocal conclusions. A waste of time to read.”

      I thought so, too. Just about the only interesting insight, relatively speaking, was that mammals “did big brains well,” and dinosaurs not so much, which warrants maybe a paragraph.

      The article does say that birds—which are dinosaurs (not just “are descended from” but are)—developed complex brains but it doesn’t mention that corvids seem to rival primates in intelligence—albeit with different neural wiring—so maybe “big brains” per se, in terms of absolute brain size, are not all they’re cracked up to be.

    4. Tom Bradford

      I must disagree with your final paragraph. With a press and broadcast media now almost entirely prostituted to TPTB it is only via the Internet that one can find dissenting views and, perhaps, the truth – or at least be exposed to news and reports not in line with the official story that can trigger doubt and critical analysis of what one is being sold.

      It is only thanks to NC which put me onto the likes of Alexander Mercuris and Brian Berletic – all only available on the Internet – that I haven’t swallowed, hook, line and sinker the whole official narrative of Russia = Evil, Ukraine = Innocent Virgin in Peril of Ravishment.

  9. chris

    Re: Rasmussen poll in Biden

    About 1/3 of likely US voters believe Ukraine is winning the war against Russia??? Are they high? I didn’t think it was possible for my opinion of the typical US voter to decrease.

    1. Pat

      chris, it infuriates and pains me to say it, but if you got your news in 45 second bites from the television or a brief glance at a newspaper what would you think? Most Americans don’t know or understand military tactics, so would be unlikely to have any unease with media coverage that subtly implies that Russia’s missile attacks are acts of desperation. Scrappy small nation holds off huge evil country.

      Propaganda can be very effective.

        1. Ignacio

          More to it, it is impossible to argue with such ‘conscientious progressives’. Impossible. They are in the possession of the Sacred Truth. They reckon the ‘natural’ evil in Putin and his muppets.

          1. johnnyme

            And they will excommunicate you as a heretic in a heartbeat if you challenge their doctrine of faith with inconvenient truths.

            Hopefully burning at the stake won’t make a comeback.

          2. wilroncanada

            They carry their stone tablets, the ones they carried all the way down from the mountain top, proudly.

        2. Eric Anderson

          What’s a progressive? Other than a nebulous term that is imminently subject to being co-opted, that is.

          The sooner leftists ditch the term the sooner we can get back to distinguishing ourselves from (family blog) libs and winning elections.

          We are #Leftists, a term no (family blog) lib ever dare wrap themselves in.

    2. Ignacio

      Totally unsurprising, IMO. Lot’s people really don’t pay attention and only get bits of info/disinfo by chance when hearing music from some radio station, passing by a TV screen somewhere in an airport, railway station… If one does that, the impression will be that Ukraine is defeating those malignant idiots. Unsurprisingly, propaganda works.

      (when i started writing this Pat’s comment above wasn’t there, I swear)

    3. juno mas

      Putin has noted that our MSM is the greatest propaganda source in the world. I believe it. And it’s not hard for approval ratings to go UP when you start at 38%.

    4. Janie

      Only 1/3 of likely voters believe Ukraine is winning? Truly, everyone I have talked to or overheard is sure that Putin is a madman and that the ukrainians are winning. I have not been able to talk anyone I know, even my children, into reading this website or watching any of the analysts that I watch. I don’t even bring it up; nobody wants to talk about it, and if they did they just think I’m losing my marbles in my old age. Have I really reached the point where I think I’m right and everybody else is wrong??

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Pretty sure every reader on thus website has had the exact same experience.

        I certainly have.

        And no, you’re not losing your marbles.
        Just the opposite.

        1. wilroncanada

          Fiery Hunt
          Two quotes from Thomas King, I think:
          A lot of people need somebody who’s got all his marbles because, God knows, a lot of them don’t.
          There comes a time when you have to stand up to reality and deny it.

      2. Eclair

        Janie, thank you for your comment! You mirror my experience exactly. During the summer, when friends and family (including my beloved children) would remark on that evil war criminal Putin and his plans to take over the world, I would carefully and respectfully do my little Socratic spiel: what countries colonized and exploited Africa and India? How would you feel if Russia installed missiles in Canada. Or Cuba. Oh, wait…. How many military bases does the US have across how many sovereign nations? One friend insisted that the US had no naval base in Bahrain because her sister had lived there and told her there was none. We googled.

        I have noticed in the last few months, no one mentions Putin or Ukraine or Russia.

      3. jan

        Yup, same here. I just wonder what will happen once it’s clear Russia is winning. What will happen then in the MSM. Though I doubt there will be a reckoning.

        Or maybe I’m wrong and everybody else is right :-)

        One observation though, pretty much all my African/Indian co-workers also think MSM reporting is bad and Russia has the upper hand.

        1. Eric Anderson

          Nothing happens. We distract further by opening up a second proxy war somewhere like Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan. The U.S. just keeps turning up the volume on the proxy wars forcing Russia to continue to commit more, and more, and more resources to the fight until, like the Cold War, they are truly destabilized.

          It’s a war of attrition and Ukraine is just Act 1.

          Same as it ever was.

      4. greenfire

        Ditto. Had a call recently from the son of my best friend looking for a book for his father for Christmas. His Dad is dying of pulmonary fibrosis that had a recent onset during COVID. As an example of his Dad’s complete neoliberal brainwashing, he resolutely denies that this could have come from COVID or the vaccine. Anyhew, the son was looking for a book for his Dad that would clarify why watching Morning Joe on MSNBC and reading a few legacy print media was insufficient. His Dad is firmly convinced he is well informed and making his own mind up on what is revealed to him. I had nothing to offer his son, and told him I am now just steering clear of politics, and Ukraine in particular, since these discussions just get his Dad fired up, angry, and out of breath. I just want him to focus on the positive, and hopefully he’ll get set up with a lung transplant. Sadly, this was a guy who was a lifetime Deadhead and was likely opposed to the Vietnam War. He was intelligent and I enjoyed discussing politics with him, but now I’m afraid the slow starvation to his brain by lack of oxygen is taking the edge off his intellect – a fate I suppose we all have awaiting us. As we discussed his Dad’s general lack of media awareness, I broached the Ukraine thing – how the sanctions were destroying Europe and the upper hand Russia had on the battlefield, the unacceptability of old men potentially destroying the planet, and so on. The son hadn’t even heard of the Nord Stream bombing, and he politely disengaged. It is odd to be in the distinct minority of thought on Ukraine, but I do believe American hubris knows no bounds. My dying friend makes no bones about the fact he embraces American exceptionalism. I really don’t understand why sharing the planet in a multi-polar way is such an anathema to so many. It does not suggest we will be able to tackle the climate emergency, since that will require cooperation, rather than competition.

        1. kareninca

          I wonder if you might want to read this study about pulmonary fibrosis: (“Conclusions: Serracor-NK and Serra Rx improve symptoms, as well as mental and physical wellbeing and HRQL in patients with PF.”) You can buy natto serra online; I take it for another purpose, and so does my mom (with her doctor’s okay). This is not medical advice; I do not have any medical training.

          I think a lot of people are now developing pulmonary fibrosis due to covid. I’m sorry about your friend’s father.

    5. John k

      I’m surprised it’s not 2/3 given the level of propaganda.
      I wonder how that 1/3 is split among the parties.

    6. tegnost

      The TDS made PBS, NPR, NYT, and MSNBC the only reliable news sources and now there’s essentially an iron curtain preventing the penetration of any contrary view. I’m at mom’s now and the news hour is the most infuriating thing I wind up having to deal with. Capehart and Brooks is just mind bending, last friday it’s the “liberal” talking up how we have to “pay for” (from a seat in front of a fireplace in italy…really? This is the working class guy vacationing in italy for the holidays? Shields would never ever have done that, imo) which to me is a poorly aged archie bunker style argument, while at family gatherings it’s enough to say “but DeSantis” or reference the MTG as if the world is perfect but for republicans. Zero self reflection. Friday was also Woodruff’s last night as anchor and the montage of accolades came almost exclusively from PMC, but for one t shirt over a long sleeve with a funny beanie that could have been either a working class or techie. When I’ve lost my ability to be silent (always a mistake) and said something like russia is winning she looks at me like I’m insane. POO TIN!
      Best Wishes to all for the new year, Thanks be to NC, and try not to let the stress get to you…

    7. jrkrideau

      About 1/3 of likely US voters believe Ukraine is winning the war against Russia???

      I am surprised it is so low. Look at some of the articles referenced here in NC. The MSM and supposedly respectable journals such as Foreign Affairs discuss such topics as Ukraine taking Crimea by spring. Was it the WSJ or the NYT who had that article about an isolated and misinformed Putin more or less hiding is some bunker in the Kremlin? [He probably also is dying of polio. cancer, athelete’s foot… /s]

      We have been reliably informed (for the Nth time) that Russia is running out of missiles and drones. The West is sending huge stocks of weapons and munitions to Ukraine including’ are you ready for it, a Patriot Battery!.

      What I find amazing and scary is that those people writing in the NYT or various think-tank publications or the Guardian seem to believe that Ukraine really is winning. I wonder if Baghdad Bob was also a true believer?

      1. hk

        Baghdad Bob was a minister level official with access to all the available information: of course, he didn’t believe. He just had the professional obligation to earnestly repeat the official government line no matter ludicrous it got and I personally admire him for doing that until the end with a straight face.

        The problem is with the people who actually believe Baghdad Bob.

        1. rowlf

          Well stated. Bob had a job, a position. He was a pro.

          Look at the US White House spokespeople who can’t carry the ball…

      2. tevhatch

        “I am surprised it is so low. ” I would bet decent money the other 2/3 don’t know there is an Ukraine, much less that there is a war going on there. Binary answers don’t lend to discovery. Then there is the problem with polling organs where the polling questions, data, etc; are kept behind curtains. Polling seems mostly a tool of manipulation, not of discovery.

    8. David

      It’s not, unfortunately, limited to the US: it’s at least as virulent in Europe. People have recently tried to convince me that the Russians suffered half a million casualties in dead alone. But if anything it seems to be more virulent among people with education. I read and occasionally contribute under another name to Scott Alexander’s Astral Codex Ten site, where everyone prides themselves in being extremely rational and data driven. I made a couple of attempts to lay out some basic facts and figures about things like arms deliveries a few months ago, and was essentially chased off the site as some kind of Kremlin stooge. I haven’t tried since.

      I’ve written about this elsewhere, but i think that essentially people don’t know how to understand <hat they are seeing, and are frightened by it, so they take refuge in fantasy. Heroes of Kiev is much more satisfying and less frightening than real life.

      1. Maxwell Johnston

        I visit Astral Codex Ten on a weekly basis but have never dared to post a comment there, not out of timidity but because I regretfully expect the same result that you encountered. The regulars there are much like my MBA classmates, but with an added dose of Silicon Valley self-assuredness and non-self-awareness. As one of my Indian classmates complained to me after one particularly unsatisfactory case discussion: “We have some people in our class who think they know everything.”

        Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away—as per Philip K. Dick. Lots of people have trouble accepting this fact.

      2. hk

        Honestly, I think chatGPT is really an unintentional (?) parody of the modern PMC. Not actually “understand” things? Check. Able to regurgitate vast amount of information in very “conventional” packaging? Check? Feels that it must answer everything? Apparently, check. Resorts to lying when it doesn’t know? Apparently, check, too.

      3. Stephen

        I agree with your comments about people of education. Contrary to myth, most education seems to encourage conformity with narratives rather than questioning and skepticism. You give the professor what they want to hear in order to pass their course. Questioning and challenge are allegedly welcomed but are not in reality.

        For the vast majority of educated people who are then also paid up members of the PMC, this pastes across into their careers and whole approach to life. Organisations tend to claim that they welcome challenge but in reality to climb the pole you need to conform.

        Your observations therefore make perfect sense. You may have read Cialdini’s “The Psychology of Persuasion.” He makes it very clear that data and rationality do not drive people’s decision making, whatever they may claim. The Empire propagandists fully understand that, which is why the whole Ukraine topic is framed as an emotional narrative defending “freedom” and opposing “tyranny”.

        1. digi_owl

          Because until they have to do original research as postgrads, people are trained to regurgitate “facts”.

      4. A1

        Dear David

        The attitude of Scott Alexander and his site is why use 1 word when you can use 50? They had a recent post defending the MSM about lying and the argument is that if you use a credentialed source then you are not lying. The occasional person tries to rebut this but they use every debating / semantic / word definition trick in the book to win the debate.

        Scott Alexander seems to want to win the debate more than explore insights into how the world works. Find the thread on polyamory for a naive approach to how groups work (The commenters believe in polyamory and think that because they are so enlightened it works for them and it is the future) Good for you in trying to comment there.

        1. David

          Thanks. Saw the piece you mention and debated whether to intervene. But for a group of highly educated people they seem impervious to stuff like facts and logic, and, as you say, often take refuge in semantics. It might have something to do with age, but also with extreme narrowness of focus and frankly naivety about the world. (One commentator, oh, I think back in April, asked why the Russians had to invade Ukraine when they could just have raised their concerns at the Security Council. I don’t know how you even begin to answer that). In this case, I could have written a couple of hundred words on how, in practice, the MSM do tell lies of different kinds (both suggestio falsi and suppressio veri) based on my experience in government … but what’s the point, in the end? Life is too short and you can only bang your head against the wall so many times. It’s a while since I’ve commented there.

    9. hk

      Same people who still deny the results of 2016 elections, I imagine–I’m always surprised at the number of people whom I meet at work or elsewhere (mostly academic or academic adjacent) who buy into a soft denial version (they don’t openly “deny” it, but dismiss it as unimportant because the elections were somehow tainted.). Between 2016 and 2020, I would not be shocked if a majority of US voters (that is discounting those who don’t care enough to vote) are election deniers of some kind. In this environment, who’s to stop people from believing convenient lies that don’t affect their lives and makes them feel good?

    10. jan

      Actually I’m a bit surprised it’s only ⅓. Glancing at MSM i would have guessed a majority thought that Ukr had the upper hand.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Well, it’s 1/3 of the likely voters, which would be about 20% of the adult population. Given that only 36% (according to Pew?) in USA trust mainstream media, it’s actually interesting to notice that the number of people believing in Ukrainian success is much smaller than that.

    11. Gumbo

      66% not believing that Ukraine is winning, given the onslaught of propaganda, is a little bit encouraging to me.

    12. Don

      I’m surprised, and impressed, that it is that low — judging from the comments threads on CBC and the Globe and Mail, I think that people must be stupider/more gullible here.

      1. Keith Newman

        @Don, 6:04
        I subscribe to the Globe and Mail. I stopped commenting because the responses were idiotic. Now I strongly suspect many of the comments were by AI trolls. I realised this recently after The Saker discovered that a large number of the comments he banned were by AI trolls.

      2. eg

        Canadian media coverage of the war is abysmal — it’s no wonder that public opinion on the subject for the most part is also utterly deluded.

        It’s emotion substituting for analysis.

          1. Keith Newman

            @The Rev re abysmal media coverage, 11:08pm;
            Watched your video excerpt. Remarkably bad, ejecting the person pointing out the Russian side and a considerable part of the crowd clapping. However, at least he did get to say his piece on live TV without interruption.
            I would be stunned if he was actually able to say any of what he did manage on Canadian TV. So I win the hand!!! (hahahaha!!)

    13. ArvidMartensen

      Everyone is marinaded in a 24 hour stew of correct “liberal’ thinking as we head towards totalitarianism. The only way people can break out of this is to be so desperate that they take a good look around and see they are being slowly bled to death economically and socially and healthwise.
      Until things are very bad, most people, especially educated people who love the system that pays them well, will continue to be resistant to logic and the realities of the world.
      Have a couple in my family and am not even going there due to the relationships being more important than being right at this stage.

  10. timbers

    Travel nurses took high-paying jobs during Covid. But then their pay was slashed, sometimes in half

    I wonder about this sort of thing, might it happen to related areas of Covid/Medicine but on a lesser scale?

    I blinked (didn’t pay attn to the market for about a year) and noticed medical manufacturing pay in the Northeast suddenly $10/hour higher, creating reason to “job hop” to higher pay. Moderna was especially aggressive in hiring for their new Covid factory in southeast Massachusetts. Which generally entails you suit up in a space suit like manner, work with a vial processing machine emitting robust ambient noise. That makes for uncomfortable, robot like work with challenging communication due to covered ears, ambient noise, and co worker heavy foreign accents. If you look at what Moderna has in the works pending FDA approval etc, it’s heavily Covid related.

    What happens when the Covid booster bubble pops? I passed on Moderna and went elsewhere.

    How long is big pharma expansion going to continue in high cost areas like Massachusetts?

    1. petal

      timbers, have been wondering about that, too-how long can pharma expansion continue in MA. It just seems to keep going. You’d think between housing costs and space, something would finally give out. It’s so concentrated. Is anyone thinking ahead to when the gravy train peters out? Novo Nordisk has been expanding up here, pouring a lot of dosh into their facility. They are running into the problems of a lack of housing and day care.
      Best of luck with your new gig!

      1. JBird4049

        >>> You’d think between housing costs and space, something would finally give out. It’s so concentrated.

        One can make a similar argument about Silicon Valley, aka the Santa Clara Valley/County. Every since the San Jose city council started to bury all the farms, orchards, and ranches under concrete and asphalt back in the sixties affordable living space has been disappearing. They have long since moved all the chip factories overseas, or in a few cases just out of state, but the concentrating of wealth and poverty continues. The descriptions of parts of the Pacific Northwest where all that fantastic farmland was buried under concrete and asphalt reminds me of the South Bay as well. As long as some can continue to make enough profit, it will continue.

    2. Bart Hansen

      I am currently undergoing physical therapy for a knee and one of the techs was a traveling therapist who has now moved on to another site.

    3. Mikel

      I didn’t expect that pay situation to last because the overall trend in healthcare cost cutting never stopped.

  11. Steve

    The End of Financial Hegemony is a good read. I get the policy response to inflation “dilemma” for the industry. I also see the increased role of the “national security paradigm” in weaponizing international economic policies towards the EU, China, etc, as sources of shocks for the industry.

    1. Robert Hahl

      Yes, I thought it was going to discuss international de-dollarization, but no. My question is, if we rely on “keyboard money” to pay for imported goods, aren’t such goods essentially free? If so, then the deindustrialization trend in the US is not just about moving production to low wage countries to lower costs, but about getting stuff for free. In other words, it’s not that our factories cost too much, it’s that they cost something, and something costs more than nothing. True?

      1. JTMcPhee

        See, eg, the MIC dollar cycle. So far, one has to use dollars to buy petroleum in a lot of the market. The dollars taken in by Saudis et al are turned into weapons purchase deals with nominally “US” corporations (actually, supranational entities with zero “loyalty” or homeland). Used to fund serial development and sales cycles of “superior” US McHardware. Bond sales as I understand it complete the loop. Almost like perpetual motion, so yes, stuff for free as long as dollars are the master currency.

    2. spud

      the article misses the point though. this is not a retrenchment of globalization, that is here to stay, it came about in the early 1500’s.

      what this is is the inevitable collapse of free trade. which is a debt based policy, with no way to pay the debts back.

      2008 was not a result of the housing collapse, it was the collapse of the american workers wages that were gutted by free trade. that is the american worker could no longer support their debts with cheap money, that bill clinton said was a good substitute for wages.

      that crank policy was embraced all over the west.

      as long as we have fossil fuels, wind, or what ever comes that allows flight or sailing, globalism is a fact of life.

      free trade is not natural, globalization is. free trade drives down wages, increases debts and poverty. the debts become unpayable, the poverty under cuts consumption, yet free trade raise prices and inflation when the only real “COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE” is human and environmental degradation, concentrates manufacturing in countries that have those “COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGES”.

      those countries become super buyers of commodities sending prices skywards of said commodities.

      then the slightest vibration, sends the dummies supply chains into chaos, raising prices even more, depressing wages even more, the cycle is wash, rinse, repeat till it collapses.

      1. JTMcPhee

        I’d say wise nations take only small rations of “free trade.” Wiser is to be as autarch-ic as possible, so as not to be locked into shipping all kinds of foolish stuff from one place to another. And to remove as much vulnerability to greed-driven behaviors to smart-asses who figure out how to bend the trade in their favor. And don’t be so free with “regulatory relief” and “innovative financial tools.”

    3. spud

      the article misses the point though. this is not a retrenchment of globalization, that is here to stay, it came about in the early 1500’s.

      what this is is the inevitable collapse of free trade. which is a debt based policy, with no way to pay the debts back.

      2008 was not a result of the housing collapse, it was the collapse of the american workers wages that were gutted by free trade. that is the american worker could no longer support their debts with cheap money, that bill clinton said was a good substitute for wages.

      that crank policy was embraced all over the west.

      as long as we have fossil fuels, wind, or what ever comes that allows flight or sailing, globalism is a fact of life.

      free trade is not natural, globalization is. free trade drives down wages, increases debts and poverty. the debts become unpayable, the poverty under cuts consumption, yet free trade raise prices and inflation when the only real “COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE” is human and environmental degradation, concentrates manufacturing in countries that have those “COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGES”.

      those countries become super buyers of commodities sending prices skywards of said commodities.

      then the slightest vibration, sends the dummies supply chains into chaos, raising prices even more, depressing wages even more, the cycle is wash, rinse, repeat till it collapses.

    4. Keith Howard

      I also found the Cedric Durand essay highly interesting and relevant. I’m short of time now, but I’ll re-read it. Many thanks to NC for pointing it out.

  12. sandy

    We tend to hate it when mainstream media can’t verify their sources and post thinly veiled propaganda, and yet here we are posting anti-Zelensky videos without any idea of the providence, but at least it fits the agenda.
    Might as well be a Russian soldier dressed in a Ukrainian uniform he found, then had someone post it to twitter.

    1. JTMcPhee

      And posts like this do their bit to make it impossible to get a clear view of anything in the world. Lots of FUD choking the channels of discourse, lots of pretty well substantiated observation that global actors and special interests generate a lot of the fog of FUD. It helps to spend some time on Telegram and other places where a lot of different voices seem to end up saying the same or very similar things.

      And is it so hard to accept that the anomie-immersed men drafted into the Ukrainian Army might be unhappy at the behavior and “policy” of Zelensky and his corrupt mob? Where it does seem to e shown by multiple provenance that the “nationalist” elements of the Ukrainian Army are stationed behind the killing fields where Ukrainian conscripts are dying in hundreds of thousands, to shoot any who dare to try to opt out of the foolishness?

    2. lambert strether

      Lambert: “Not sure of the provenance.”


      The mention of Law 8271 made the video interesting to me, which is why I linked to it. I also felt readers might be able dig into the provenance themselves, as they in fact did

      Honestly [sighs, shrugs, “what can you do.”]

    3. Acacia

      yet here we are posting anti-Zelensky videos without any idea of the providence

      And then there’s the video of Zelensky himself dancing in BDSM leather and stilettos, sticking his tongue out, etc.

    4. Yves Smith

      I first saw a supposed soldier video critical of Zelensky about 10 weeks ago. I do not go looking for that sort of thing. There are a lot out there.

      Given that Ukrainian is a different language, and there are apparently strong regional accents too, one assumes this had to have been done by a bona fide Ukrainian of service age. They are all supposed to be mobilized save for ones working in critical positions….like trying to keep the electrical grid functioning. There has been aggressive hunting down of military aged men to press them into service. So if he was faking it, he’d be marking himself to be hunted down, conscripted, and sent to the front ASAP.

  13. SteveD

    I used my imagination to rewrite CDC’s tweet, if they were competent

    [1] COVID is Airborne
    [2] Infection is the product of the Concentration of the virus where you are and your length of Exposure to it
    [3] Masking reduces your Exposure. Venues can reduce Concentration with ventilation and filtration
    [4] Outdoor air is generally very low Concentration and unlikely to lead to Infection
    [5] Avoiding Infection is the best defense

    1. hop2it

      Happy New Year to all @ NC.
      Well said, someone needs to tweet this and Lambert’s CDC take above.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Home Depot co-founder says ‘socialism’ killed motivation to work: ‘Nobody gives a damn’ ”

    Bernie Marcus was born in 1929 so he spent his 20s during the 1950s. Does he imagine that the same conditions that he grew up with in the 1950s still apply? Here is a page with stats on the cost of living in this era-

    Think too that this guy has been retired for some twenty years now. Does he seriously imagine that if he had been born in say the 1980s, that he would have made a billionaire again? The guy might be lucky to get a job sweeping the floors at Home Depot if he had.

    1. begob

      In yesterday’s linked interview he put his success down to destiny. So none of those factors you cite matter. At least in his world.

    2. spud

      i do not remember if the “LIBERTARIAN” spoke out against this,

      home depot wanted federal bailouts for the real estate market, so that socialism could subsidize their profits:)

      “Shares of Home Depot and other home-goods companies rose 5 percent or more on hopes the U.S. Treasury’s plan to take control of Fannie and Freddie, which together back about half of the country’s mortgages, might put at least a temporary floor under troubled financial markets and help ease the credit crisis.

      “I think it was a necessary step,” Blake said after a breakfast speech before the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta.

      Home improvement leader Home Depot and industry rivals have been hit by the U.S. housing slump and credit crisis that have forced consumers to cut back on spending.”

    3. Mikel

      I clicked on the article, hoping for the long shot chance his complaint was about the misspent fortune dished out to the 1% from the Fed for well over a decade now.
      That “pivot” socialism they crave now.

    4. Glen

      Interesting about the 1950’s – country was way more “socialist” back then:

      Peak union membership in US was 1954.
      Much higher taxes on rich and corporations. (Top tax rate 90%, corporate tax rate was over 50%.)
      Colleges and universities practically free. (Student debt was not a thing.)

      And this is just scratching the surface. He could not be further from the truth. The Reagan Revolution never really stopped (but one could argue that even Reagan would be appalled at where we are now). In fact, the Democrats grabbed the ball and ran with the Reagan Revolution even harder with deregulation under Clinton. What’s going on now deserves serious discussion, but Marcus seems to be living in the billionaire bubble (or what, who knows.) Can someone just ask him that given that billionaires like him run the country – when will they acknowledge that they’ve run the country into the ground?

  15. Michael

    Happy New Year all from San Diego.
    I have been curious for a while if others when they open NC, me in Firefox, have a past date page and list of links populated below the current offerings waiting to be clicked. Then it disappears when one chooses their first story. Mine is from 12/2/12. Anyone else or know why?

    10 years ago my choices were:
    The case for drinking as Much Coffee as You Like
    The Scent of a Building
    Goldman: The Economic Crisis Ends in 2013
    Julian Assange: Cryptographic Call to Arms
    DIA Sending Hundreds more Spies Overseas
    No the Social Security Trust Fund Isn’t a Fiction
    and then 89 comments! We’ve come so far in 10 years and we still aren’t there yet.
    Thank you to Yves and her hardworking staff and all of the excellent contributors here.
    Have a great 2023!

    1. cfraenkel

      From the description, it sounds like you have bookmarked a link with the date in the URL.
      The URLs look like:

      The home page with the most recent items:
      The links page from two days ago:

      In other words, your bookmark is 10 yrs old. If you want to see the current set of articles when NC opens, go to the bookmark manager (in FF, you have to drill down to the “See All Bookmarks” level, which opens up an editable browse dialog) and remove everything after the ‘….com’ in the Location URL.

  16. Craig H.

    She signed her son up for a tennis program where officers volunteer. He was put in handcuffs.

    Maybe he got into too many line call arguments? The current video posted by Wimbledon might be doctored but it sure looks to me like McEnroe had a legitimate beef that one time.

    You cannot be serious.

    Caravaggio who was more nuts than McEnroe supposedly stabbed a man to death over a tennis line call argument but it eludes my search engine skills at the moment to find a good citation for this.

    1. juno mas

      Singles tennis is an intense athletic event; like boxing, but separated by a net. No other athletic event like it. (Bowling doesn’t count). And, yes, McEnroe was right. The line call was wrong.

        1. Glen

          I ended up playing badminton against a gal who was on the Israeli Olympic Badminton team while in college. She mostly whupped my a$$, but it’s an incredibly fast and fun game.

          I was no stranger to competitive tennis either having played competitively while in high school. I also enjoy racket ball except for the “tennis reflexes” that still have me crashing full speed into the court walls.

  17. Carolinian

    Yasha Levine and his straw man

    The people at Twitter are assholes for trying to put their thumb on politics. That shouldn’t even have to be said. But anyway, what did people expect? But the rest of it…this is how you know that the outrage around the Twitter Files is mostly tribal bullshit engineered for our Perky Pat news cycle. To those given access to the files, it’s fine that Musk is running a privatized military outfit helping kill people around the world. True evil is getting banned by libs on Twitter.

    Of course this is the party line against Taibbi as well even though he has said that Musk personally is a side issue–perhaps to be dealt with later. The critics are attacking a straw man–Taibbi as ideological advocate–rather than accepting the reality of Taibbi as a journalist with a story that transcends ideology. In fact they are the ones who see everything through a tribal lens and attack Musk for aiding the hegemon while passively accepting the hegemon itself under “what did you expect?” It’s all about who’s in and who’s out rather than larger principles or opposing out of control power that endangers us all. Everything is personal.

    Without a doubt Musk is an opportunist and a first amendment opportunist as well. But at least he’s rich enough and far enough outside the box to shake things up and that above all is what we need. Meanwhile the MSM and people like Levine stand on the sidelines and fling poo.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Yeah that article read like sour grapes on Levine’s part which is too bad since he has done some very good work and I’ve read him for years, just like Taibbi. If Musk had offered Levine the files, given his great interest in the topic, I doubt he would have refused on the grounds that Musk was too Deep State-y. But perhaps Levine has better sources for his work on digital surveillance than the rich horse’s own orifice. I will leave it for readers to decide which one Musk is talking out of.

      Taibbi has been very good over the years in refusing to participate in the circular firing squad those on the left so often revel in

    2. flora

      One of the funniest things Walter Kirn said on the latest Taibbi/Kirn full weekly update episode is this: (paraphrasing) Now we know that for years the intel communities have been reading all our emails (letters) and recording our phone calls, but we couldn’t read their emails and letters. Opening up the twitter files has been letting us read their emails and letters, at least the ones on twitter.

      1. griffen

        I really like that, including the angle of course that now “we the people” can follow along and watch those who’ve been watching us for so very long. Sunlight is a wonderful disinfectant, isn’t that what real journalism used to be?

    3. Daryl

      Overall the article would have been fine without the shots at the Twitter Files. There is space in the world both for Elon and pre-Elon Twitter’s motivations and behaviors being extremely suspect.

    4. Gulag


      Couldn’t agree more with your take on Taibbi, Musk and Levine.

      This is another reason why what is left of the left is on terminal support in the intensive care unit.

      The only hope is some serious self-reflection on their own ideological rigidities–something they love to demand only of their tribal opponents.

  18. Dftbs

    Happy New Year to our hosts and the whole NC crew.

    With respect to financial “hegemony”. I feel that thesis is formed around the notion of the universal west, that is the West = the world. A sentiment which we often see on display around the propaganda narratives of the Ukraine war. Where it acknowledges Russia and China and decoupling it sees this as an incidental hurdle to the power of financialization rather then the major force for its dethronement.

    There was/is an inevitability for the debt-leveraged shenanigans that we begun two generations ago to come back and bite us in the posterior. But the introduction of both Russian resources and Chinese industrial capacity allowed us to live beyond our means for far longer than Reagan supply siders thought possible (remember those ghouls still worried about the deficit). It’s their removal, and the inflation constraint their exit is introducing, that will end financial hegemony. Consequently what the “Left” wants is sadly irrelevant. There is no Western Left. Fortunately there are hierarchical political structures in other nations that institute policies and govern in a manner that is beneficial to their populations. Some of these political structures call themselves communist, others don’t. But all would, at best, laugh and at worse think it an indication of our immaturity if we called them “left”.

    I know there are mixed feelings about a certain Hungarian bank analyst here. But I’m going to post a tweet that links his output for the month. I would say the piece from Dec. 27 is very clarifying.

    The key here is not that Zoltan is saying what will happen, he is describing what is happening. Much of the criticism to this piece is along the lines of “money men” saying that they wouldn’t trust Russia or China, BRICS, etc. This inflated ego driven criticism is funny, the Russians, Chinese and BRICS aren’t asking for the trust of Western money men. The latter aren’t invited. The old game ended, the new game already started, the table was set and there are no spots for the western money men. They can be in the joint but have to hang by the bar, I think there’s a drink minimum.

    I’ll throw a final two cents w/respect to the Perú coup. The article seems very clear and believable. The one thing that is missing is the upside for the US. It seemed the US coup machine was running like a dog to a whistle as soon as it heard Castillo was a leftist. It helped adjudicate an internal Peruvian political conflict that is as old as the nation itself: Corruption vs a glimmer of hope of progress. The Peruvian elite is amongst the most disgusting and pathetic to ever walk the Earth. These were the people that thanked Bolivar for his contributions by running him out. They’ll sell themselves years in advance. That’s why the US really shot itself in the foot, because if it can’t back up it’s political gambit with corrupting lucre it won’t get any favors back. Now the US has lots of dollars, heck we print them; but to refer back to Zoltan the Chinese have more “dollars”.

    1. MaryLand

      I would appreciate a discussion of the Wonk Monk’s prediction of BRICS+ moving towards dedollarization and the consequences for the West. He hints that we would get bad inflation. I have not heard of him before and wonder if he is just a sensationalist or what.

    2. Gaianne


      Thanks to the link to the links.

      Creating an alternative to SWIFT would be hard. But if it is being done, nonetheless, in real time . . .

      If we lack of news that it is happening, that is not news that it is not happening.


      1. Yves Smith

        SWIFT is not the hard part. It’s just a messaging system.

        You need a payments system behind it. That means regulated financial institutions (oh, by whom? How do we agree on minimum standards to be hooked up?) And you need a central bank to guarantee settlement of intra-day open balances in the chosen currency.

        1. dftbs

          This is all very true. I think the key is that we aren’t part of that we. The system is being built and agreement is being established beyond the visibility of our existing Western institutions and beyond our imaginations. The end of USD hegemony doesn’t mean some other dominance by a new reserve currency, but probably bifurcation. Materially this bifurcation will mean diminished prospects in the West, but necessarily for humanity as a whole.

  19. Wukchumni

    Happy New Year from Tiny Town…


    Unscrupulousness becomes so common that Congress changes the name of the country to United Skulduggery Associates, mistakenly thinking perhaps they were merely renaming a post office or some other Federal building… there were 267 co-signers.

    The War On Cash® goes into overdrive, and with banknote percentages being a measly 4% of all transactions, obviously low hanging fruit for the digiteratti forces bent on Visaraum. Partisan movements holding folding meet clandestinely to conduct fake transactions using the real thing, so as not to be rusty when cash is once again triumphant and in widespread use.

    HeirBnB becomes a thing. Want to be a spoiled rotten trust fund adult never wondering where the next almighty buck is coming from?

    Rent to own a Rockefeller~

  20. timbers

    A new New Atlas video (brief 7 minute) about Polish troops being a possible next battering ram against Russia and/or NATO pretext to officially enter the war. He thinks it is the most logical way to escalate if that is what USA decides and adds this may be one reason why Russia is spending so much effort building dugins for defence.

    1. All Ice

      In my worthless opinion, that is approximately what Russia expects. Its missile & drone attacks are destroying not only Ukraine’s grid and railroad system but now it’s air defense system too. Meanwhile Russia has kept its ground forces mostly in fortified defensive positions.

      But Russia has a massive air force that it has barely used. The start of the destruction of Ukraine’s air defense system may mean that the NATO offensive will be attacked mainly from the air. Escalation by NATO countered by massive Russian bombing escalation.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Not that it matters much, but the Russian Air-Space forces claim to fly between 100 and 200 sorties per day in Ukraine. This doesn’t include the helicopters, which are under Army Aviation.

        It’s not the Gulf War Air Campaign (only half of it), but I don’t think it’s “barely used”, either.

    2. Robert Gray

      I can’t find the link now but Scott Ritter was saying weeks ago that Polish troops wearing Ukrainian uniforms (and, with Polish officers commanding) were already in combat. (He said they call the uniform change ‘sheepdipping’ or something like that.) I seem to recall that he gave the number of ‘up to 30,000’.

    3. David

      I have a lot of time for Berletic, but on this occasion, as he admits, he’s basically speculating. I think the two questions I would need answers to are, What For? and Where?

      What missions would the Polish forces have? From the Polish border to the area around Bakhmut, is over 1000 kilometres. How are you going to move a reasonable force (a couple of brigades, say) over a distance like that, not to mention keeping them supplied? (It’s useful to look up any good history of the German problems in Russia in 1941.) Even if you could, I’m guessing it would take weeks, by which time the front line would have moved anyway. What I can, see, on the other hand, is some kind of token deployment into an area, perhaps around Kiev or Lvov, where there is no fighting, to act as a trip-wire force. NATO would perhaps believe that such forces could deter the Russians from moving further East, and so claim a kind of victory when, indeed the Russians didn’t move. We’ve discussed this before, and I think it’s the only logically possible option.

      But it would be hugely difficult politically. If this were presented as a purely bilateral arrangement, with the Poles intervening on the side of the Ukrainians, it might be just about manageable, though I’m not sure whether the Poles actually have an HQ which would be capable of commanding such an operation: many nations haven’t. Even then, you’d still have problems of deconfliction with NATO activities. But if this were a “NATO Operation” it would be a political nightmare, with the involvement of the North Atlantic Council, the massive NATO bureaucracy, arguments about whether SACEUR, as a US General, should have command over a mission where no US units were deployed, and a range of other things that could use up months of time. (Think of the delay and chaos of the NATO mission in Afghanistan.)

      My feeling is that the video identifies the problem, and that it’s not impossible that some of the crazies in Washington actually want to send Polish or other troops in. But I don’t see how it can happen in practice.

      1. timbers

        True and he (Brian) does say he is speculating. But I’ll play devils advocate even though you may be correct…Why/what for? Because it appears Poland is crazy enough to go along and become the next battering ram, though she may not all of Washington’s true intent. In contrast for example German IMO would not. What/why? That long strip of land next to Moldova has a lot of artillery the UAF is short of. Finally USA doesn’t need to give answers these questions (!) because prolonging a war against Russia is what it’s all about. It’s not as if Washington actually cares one iota about Poland, after all.

        1. Stephen

          Right. Ukraine’s elites have been crazy enough to wreck their country as mercenaries for the US. So, it is not beyond plausibility that Poland’s elites are just as crazy. So far, there has been very little evidence to suggest they are not crazy enough to do this.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Those elites are not crazy, I would speculate. What they are fomenting, from the distant rear and their overseas dachas, is converting their nominal homeland into a huge cocaine high of looting. The Elensky faction is selling off big chunks to Blackrock and Monsanto and other supranational parasites,, billions are flowing through the DNC’s favorite money laundry with large slices being carved off to enrich those elites. It’s just business, except for the Ukrainians assigned to the Eastern Front Meat Grinder and left without electric and other utilities. These are financial people with no loyalties to anything but their own pleasure and enrichment. Just like the elites who conspire and act to rob America. Must be why Biden gets along so well with Elensky, the man who banned “z” from the alphabet and has a unique way of playing the piano…

            1. Stephen

              I should have put “crazy” in quotes. From a personal perspective they are being highly rational in a selfish sense. They clearly do not care at all about the broader Ukrainian people.

      2. John k

        Poland might be motivated to enter with the hope Russia won’t interfere with ‘taking back’ that chunk of west Ukraine they want. Imo us won’t object, they want to prolong the war; if us doesn’t object the rest of nato won’t object, either. And I think z has already passed laws allowing Poland to ‘help’ and maybe even run the western bit.
        But what would Russia do? If nothing it would be letting the camel’s nose into the tent, bringing nato closer to Russia. My guess is they will treat them as Ukraine troops and take them out with artillery etc.
        But I think Poland has most of nato troops west of turkey, so seems if polish troops get ground up it will just provide more evidence nato is useless. If that’s true us should nix it, but there’s not much evidence the west learns from mistakes.

        1. Kouros

          I am always amused by this easy take on Poland taking back Galicia, as if it is empty of Galicians, who are the ones presumably the instigators of this present Russophobia, in Ukraine and in the west.

          The good old times Galicians would disembowel and burn and torture their Polish neighbours…

          What will make it different this time? As if those Galicians cannot have two hates at the same time in their hearts, for Russians and for Poles…

          1. Polar Socialist

            I saw some images today about the celebrations of Bandera’s birthday with very, very few people attending – it seems the remaining banderistas are already either dead, on the front or afraid of being being mobilized.

            Even if they have any fight left in them, all their weapons and other supplies come trough… yes, Poland. So it could be a relatively short fight, especially so assuming Polish security forces already know all the Ukrainian and Belarusian ethno-nationalist by their real names and bank accounts.

            That said, I don’t think Poland will go for it. I assume it’s more of being seen doing “something” than really planning to redraw the map of Europe.

      3. hk

        And if Poland is sending its forces in overtly, they almost certainly will want to have someone else to pass the buck to–ie it’s not just us: all of NATO is behind us.

        Admittedly, I am still confounded over where Ukraine is getting its trained troops from, as it clearly has not run out of them yet.

    4. vao

      I already alluded to that, but here it is again:

      The Poles make a lot of noise, but I would turn the attention towards the other neighbouring area that has been a flash point ever since the USSR collapsed, but that has been either surprisingly quiet or studiously ignored in the past months: Moldova and Transnistria.

      During the first part of the Russian offensive, there were troop movements, border closures, and explosions in those territories, as well as speculation about Russia engaging in a pincer movement against Odessa from its positions in Southeastern Ukraine and in Transnistria.

      Romania has been substantially reinforced with NATO troops (from the USA and France), and would really like to reincorporate those territories (frankly, with much better justifications than Poland annexing Ukrainian-speaking, Pole-hating-to-genocidal-frenzy Galicia).

      A military operation there at the behest of the Moldovan people, eager to return to their Romanian motherland, would neutralize the Russian contingent in Transnistria (and capture an entire arsenal there to be given to the Ukrainian army), make Romania happy, redress the credibility of NATO, extend NATO’s reach, and all that without infringing Ukraine’s integrity. I fear some neocon “strategists” are salivating at the prospect.

      1. Kouros

        Nah, I haven’t seen much if any appetite for reunification in Romania this past summer in my visit there. Even more so for having Transnistria, which was never a land of Romanians. One would be damaged in the head to want some hundreds of thousands of Russians and Ukrainians brought under Romanian jurisdiction. As they don’t have enough headaches with the Hungarian minority.

        The past re-union with Bessarabia (R. of Moldova) wasn’t that nice and had some bad memories. The Moldovan peasants, incensed of the land redistribution spearheaded by the soviets, would want nothing to do with the latifundiary regime from Bucharest, regime that less than 10 years prior did not hesitate to kill 11000 of its own peasants for want of land and better life (like not dying of hunger).

        As soon as the present president’s term expires, more common sense will likely return in Romanian foreign policy.

      2. The Rev Kev

        The President of Moldova – Maia Sandu – may think this a good idea but the woman actually holds a Romanian passport. There would be too many people in Moldova that would want nothing to do with this idea and are not keen on being sucked into NATO. That is just an invitation to have a conflict with Transnistria with which they have nominal relations. It would be an invitation to militarize the place and to have all sorts of NATO bases and forces there.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I saw that mentioned in another article and thought that it probably indicates a population that is very mixed. If Romania tries to force Moldova to be a part of their country, there would be plenty of allies to be found. But the numbers of people that would not want this to happen would be even larger. Add in the EU and NATO with their own designs and it could get messy there.

            1. Kouros

              The population is not very mixed. About 70% are Moldovans and they are the same as the Moldovans west of the River Prut and living in Romanian region of Moldova. It is the rural/urban division that likely explains the numbers.

              It is only if the US forcing Romania or Moldova to do something that problems will arise, not something that Romanians would do on their own, to endanger their peace.

      3. tevhatch

        Duran has covered Moldova and Transnistria issue during the early part of the SMO. Moldovans at best are trying to angle for the money laundry business that Ukraine use to provide, the stealing opportunities NATO bases and personnel provide, the drug and prostitiution activities, etc; but they are not interest in dying for anyone, even for themselves.

    5. Kouros

      Mercouris was speculating that all this Polish mobilization might be a preparation for when the Ukrainian front collapses and all these defeated and on the run troops might want to find safety in Poland…

  21. Lex

    The end of financial hegemony seems to dovetail tightly with the recent UN vote in favor of a new, international financial order. The beneficiaries (loosely) of the current order were in favor of keeping the status quo while everyone else indicated a desire for change.

    The discussion should then veer to neo-colonialism because in many respects the current financial hegemony is just that. My question would be to what extent the beneficiaries of the current financial hegemony are dependent on it. That’s where we’ll find the relative danger to them and their willingness to use violence to maintain the hegemony.

  22. Wukchumni

    Czechoslovakia: Czechs and Slovaks mark 30 years since Velvet Divorce
    My father was Czech and my mom is of Slovak heritage, and its a tricky thing, in that the Czechs tend to look down on the Slovaks*-not too dissimilar to the American-Mexican relationship-if you’ll allow me to stereotype a bit, and think of what a country that would be, if you combined the 2 of us in somewhat of a shotgun marriage?

    Which is why the divorce came about 30 years ago, they were really polar opposites in some ways, with hockey in common.

    I reckon I get my brand of humor from dad and my hillbilly from mom.

    * My parents belonged to a Czech-Slovak organization in LA, and even away from the old country at get togethers, the bias was obvious to me.

    1. Kouros

      The Romanian adstratum is Slavonic, while the main filling is Latin. As such we have Pula (dick) Lat, and Pizda (vulva) Slavonic. They seemed to have gotten handsomely along…

  23. Kengferno

    Christopher Lasch article was really interesting. I’ll have to check out his writings. The title is a bit misleading. I wouldn’t necessarily call him a hopeful dystopian. More like a realist. Seems like he boiled economics and society down to their essence and usually found them lacking. Also not a fan of the PMC.

  24. Tom Stone

    I’m glad December is over and done with.
    Lost a friend of 64 years standing and another case of whiplash on top of the existing damage, Xmas get together cancelled because too many were ill ,but at least I have a referral to a neurosurgeon in May.
    I started that process in July…

  25. Medbh

    The article “COVID Vaccine Hesitancy and Risk of a Traffic Crash” notes that “Unvaccinated individuals accounted for 1682 traffic crashes (25%), equal to a 72% increased relative risk compared with those vaccinated (95% confidence interval, 63-82; P < 0.001)." I wonder if this difference represents the underlying cognitive harm of covid infection.

    The people I know with multiple covid infections have something obviously wrong with them, but they can't seem to see it. I have a friend who has had three confirmed covid infections. She frequently repeats herself and will retell a story she told within the last hour. She complains that she can't remember where the supplies are at work. It reminds me of when my grandparents became senile. I talked with her about it and she meet with her doctor, but he said she was fine because she knew what day of the week it was and who was president. She seems ok when you talk to her for 5 minutes, but there is something clearly wrong when you interact for a longer period of time. Whatever testing the doctors do is not picking up on the type of memory issues I experience with my friend.

    Along the same lines, twice someone has asked my mother if they should call an ambulance because her breathing was so loud and labored in the grocery store. She's visibly panting, yet she says she feels fine. It's not normal for strangers to ask if they should call you an ambulance! That's never happened before in her life. Shouldn't that be a clue that your body requires medical attention, even if you feel ok?

    I suspect the cognitive implications of covid could be the most dangerous aspect of infection. People can see someone struggling to breathe, so it at least registers that the person is sick or in trouble. What will happen when we have millions of people who can't think appropriately anymore, and the sick don't even recognize that they're impaired?

    1. Mildred Montana

      >”The article “COVID Vaccine Hesitancy and Risk of a Traffic Crash” notes that “Unvaccinated individuals accounted for 1682 traffic crashes (25%), equal to a 72% increased relative risk compared with those vaccinated (95% confidence interval, 63-82; P < 0.001)." I wonder if this difference represents the underlying cognitive harm of covid infection."

      Not necessarily. People who are conscientious about their health are also more likely to be conscientious about their driving.

      1. tegnost

        It could be demographic.
        Working class/essentials may have jobs that require more driving both at work and on the way to work. You’re not going to crash when you work at home. Better public transport in urban areas which also have higher vax rates, that kind of thing……

        1. Yves Smith

          Yes, this could completely be an artifact of total miles driven. One could hazard that truckers and delivery drivers have a high representation of unvaxxed.

    2. cnchal

      > I wonder if this difference represents the underlying cognitive harm of covid infection.

      No. The study is saying that Ontarians that got the shots have fewer collisions that required medical care than those that didn’t, attributing that variance to anti social behaviour by refuseniks. At the end it is recommended that those that refused the shots ought to pay higher auto insurance premiums.

      I kept looking for analysis regarding distance driven and that was addressed near the end but in my opinion hand waved away.

      What happened here is that the first groups to be shot were older, the older the earlier and “goo” availability was the limiting factor. The “study” was done about one month after the goo was administered and for the most part people were scared shitless by the authorities into getting shot and for a considerable time afterwards. Now they want people to get boosted so that we can breathe an airborne pathogen into each other’s faces for the economy’s sake.

      The ones getting into crashes were the essential workers, lower income and pressed for time out on the road. Old people sat at home. Tough to crash a car from the couch.

      Studies ought to be required to disclose exactly who funded it and the price paid for the results.

      I expect the roads to become more hazardous going forward for the reasons you bring up. The denial that covid can do long term damage is clearly evident, even in my family. My dad got it, a gathering in a church basement, and is now complaining of breathing difficulties, but blaming that on dirty construction work from breathing in asbestos fibres more than half a century ago. There were no complaints before he got covid. The mask mandate and prohibitions on gatherings were dropped in Ontario just in time for the Easter spread.

      The Goverment of Ontario is run by assholes, all the way down.

    3. LawnDart

      What will happen when we have millions of people who can’t think appropriately anymore, and the sick don’t even recognize that they’re impaired?

      This is very much a thing, and I’m glad that you have mentioned this.

    4. marku52

      That paper was the stupidest thing since “Umbrellas cause rain”. That it was peer reviewed tells you all you need to know about the “value” of peer review. Its’ like those love notes authors write to each other on the back of each other’s books.

    5. IM Doc

      I am certain it will be no time for there to be cries demanding that the unvaxxed have higher car insurance premiums than the vaxxed.

      That will teach ‘em.

      I am afraid this is where this kind of thing is leading us. This study has now been placed in the “so abysmally done that we pull it out when the students need a laugh” pile. There are days I simply cannot believe the absolute trash that is being published.

      1. rowlf

        How is the performance of unvaccinated aircraft pilots? Not all US airlines mandated Covid vaccinations for all of their employees. Some offered exemptions and waivers.

        I’m pretty sure the airlines have some data.

        1. flora

          With the exception of the group life insurers who sell to corporations/govts as part of the employees benefits package… thinking of all the companies/govts that mandated vax as a condition of keeping the job with no or almost no exemptions granted. Wonder if the group life insurers will be raising those insurance premiums given the unexpected increase in deaths in working age population. Ed Dowd has some thoughts.

  26. Rolf

    Christopher Lasch remains one of my favorite writers, and his withering criticism — including that published posthumously — seems to me to become ever more current with time. Christian Lorentzen’s “Hopeful Dystopian”, cites from Lasch’s essay, “Populism against Progress” (The True and Only Heaven: Progress and its Critics, 1991). It seems we would do well to heed Lasch’s skepticism about “progress”, and distinguish mere optimism from true hope — as the latter is not extinguished by aligning ourselves to the limits of the world we live in:

    The same developments that make it impossible for those who believe in progress to speak with confidence and moral authority compel us to give a more attentive hearing to those who rejected it all along. If progressive ideologies have dwindled down to a wistful hope against hope that things will somehow work out for the best, we need to recover a more vigorous form of hope, which trusts life without denying its tragic character or attempting to explain away tragedy as “cultural lag.” We can fully appreciate this kind of hope only now that the other kind, better described as optimism, has fully revealed itself as a higher form of wishful thinking. Progressive optimism rests, at bottom, on a denial of the natural limits on human power and freedom, and it cannot survive for very long in a world in which an awareness of those limits has become inescapable. The disposition properly described as hope, trust, or wonder, on the other hand— three names for the same state of heart and mind—asserts the goodness of life in the face of its limits. It cannot be defeated by adversity. In the troubled times to come, we will need it even more than we needed it in the past.

  27. DGL

    The Blind Spot by Julia Doubleday is the best succinct Covid article I have read in a long time. Tied in with the effective propaganda on Ukraine, finances, etc. is the erasing of Covid as a cause for any problem. Ms. Doubleday ties political analysis ignoring Covid as a factor and mentions many other industries in crisis with no mention of Covid and a million dead. Finally, the “Back to Brunch”, as she calls our public health policy, attitude feeds the fury of the anti-vaxxers. When you sow confusion, your reap chaos.

    This one article ties in many other links and comment expressed today – societal schism, propaganda, breaking of finance, pharma, and destruction of our over priced medical system.

  28. Sin Fronteras

    OK the Hitler Youth pope is DEAD!

    But check out the Guardian article: leads with a series of saccharine obits from our corporate/political masters. NOT ONE of them rejoices that “the wicked witch is DEAD”. Then at the very end:
    “He went as far as to define the act of seeking women’s ordination, an excommunicable offence during his time as pope, as a grave crime equal to clerical sexual abuse.”

    This from a fuller quote at the very end:
    “The Catholic Women’s Ordination was more critical. In a statement the group, which seeks to ensure women are equal with men within the church, said: “Pope Benedict sadly represented an exclusive male clerical, hierarchical church that forbade women even to discuss women’s ordination. He went as far as to define the act of seeking women’s ordination, an excommunicable offence during his time as pope, as a grave crime equal to clerical sexual abuse.”

    CWO said it would pray for repose for his soul, but that “we pray too for all victims of clerical abuse for whom his death will be a trigger and for those women, throughout the world, whose vocations to the Catholic priesthood continue to be dismissed and blocked”.”

    You could compile a list of worthless politicians from this article. Who either believe the BS they spew; or DON’T in which case why would you believe anything else they had to say.

    Pope Francis gets a bit of a pass (from me at least) because the intense persecution of left wing liberation theologians under Benedict has moderated. Plus he is part of the hierarchy, and I cannot comment on the constraints he might be under.

    But the rest of them? Is neutrality too much to ask for? Do they HAVE to gild the reputation of a bad man? And the Guardian is just as bad, maintaining their “even-handed” reputation among The Libs, but putting the negative stuff at the end. Pretty clear prioritization on their part.

    1. Jen

      I just had to scroll back and take a look. Yup. Can’t unsee. Gifted myself the live at the Filmore CD set for Christmas. TP was brilliant, and he and the Heartbreakers were the best damn cover band ever.

  29. LawnDart

    USA, Ukraine, Russia, China and the fate of the dollar: this is an Arab perspective– two of several important take-aways from the article:

    •The war in Ukraine and the collapse of Europe augur the loss of the US and its dollar primacy. Unlike twentieth-century wars that caused the retreats of Europe to the benefit of the US, the current regression of Europe vis-à-vis Russia and China, also weakens the US.
    •With 65 trillion dollars in off-balance sheet debts, and a CDO and Repo market rife with moral hazard, the chances of a major collapse are all too ominous. The transition will be gruesome given the fragile financial architecture. A smooth US debt workout is a must since the US is a huge net debtor in its own currency, which happens to be the world’s savings medium.

    De-dollarization: Slowly but surely

    1. Yves Smith

      Anyone who is talking about CDOs in 2022 as a current issue does not know what he is talking about.

      Oh, and BTW Europe is a huge customer of China, and China, unlike the US, is a big exporters. so now that I think about it, the economic destruction of the EU will hurt China more than the US.

  30. Don

    Slightly belated best wishes for what might be a very bad year but, more likely, I think, will be a good year. This community might be a significant factor. Cheers!

  31. Thomas Wallace

    Regarding Southwest:

    It is interesting comparing the WSJ coverage with that of the NYT.
    From the WSJ:

    “Southwest spent decades building one of the most loyal followings of any airline. Many people don’t just fly Southwest, they love it. Doing more is about getting that love affair back with their most loyal customers who helped make the airline in the first place.”

    I would estimate that this will cost them upwards of $1 billion to resolve. Southwest is a $20b market cap firm, so 5% of its value.

    And let me add that Southwest doesn’t charge for luggage, and has historically been considered pro consumer. Furthermore, it is the one large US carrier that hasn’t resorted to bankruptcy to cut costs.

    There is no reason to think they won’t fix this. But the NYT’s readership was in a vindictive mood. All they could come up with is regulation of corporate software and punitive fines. Anyone that remembers the government’s Obamacare software debacle might think twice about these proposals. Like it or not, the primary thing consumers have going for them is competition.

    Yes it was a mess. The immediate cause was weather, no one died. So maybe let the markets sort this out before piling on. Normally, I wouldn’t comment on the rather obvious, expected biases of these newspaper’s readership. But the vindictiveness of the Times comments directed at a relatively consumer friendly company was striking.

    1. Realist

      Consumer friendly? Do they still have unassigned, first come first serve seating? I flew them once and it was like that, very stressful boarding process, especially when you’ve got a family…. never again! One of the many reasons they are known as “Southworst” around here!

      1. curlydan

        My experience is that if you want to be seated among the first 60 passengers, you have to pay for that privilege. Otherwise, it’s C or D boarding for you!

    2. rowlf

      A lot of airlines are trying to jump over operational obstacles if they can. While some airlines think everything is god’s will, more progressive airlines are trying to be ahead of events and minimize the effects. The EU Flight Compensation Regulation would help a lot of US consumers if implemented in the US.

    3. Anthony Noel

      “So maybe let the markets sort this out before piling on.”

      Hahhahahahahahah… Phew thanks, first good laugh of 2023.

  32. Wukchumni

    If you’re a skier in the west, xmas just keeps coming with more gifts, my usual stomping grounds @ Mammoth is sitting on a 10 foot base, remarkable for so early in the year and probably another 5 feet will fall in the next 10 days, amazing.

    The Dartful Codgers descend on Utah next week with 8 days spread out between Alta, Snowbird & Deer Valley.

    2 out of 3 of these ski resorts don’t allow snowboarders, so its like your back in 1979, which was my first year of purposely plunging down steep embankments over and over again…

    1979, by the Smashing Pumpkins

    1. JBird4049

      Linking vaccine hesitancy and road crashes? What a bogus effort. I looked at the twitter link and she chopped the study up. I’m not good with statistics at all, but some of these recent “studies” reminds me of the saying that there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

      It appears that reputation is unimportant, but following the approved facts, whatever they are, and trying to jam them over reality’s face is what is important.

  33. Jason Boxman

    From “The Blind Spot” in links today, this study: COVID-19 Surges Linked to Spike in Heart Attacks

    Fun times.

    The spikes in heart attack deaths have tracked with surges of COVID-19 infection—even during the presumed less-severe Omicron phase of the pandemic. Furthermore, the data showed the increase was most significant among individuals ages 25-44, who are not usually considered at high risk for heart attack.

    “The dramatic rise in heart attacks during the pandemic has reversed what was a prior decadelong steady improvement in cardiac deaths,” said Yee Hui Yeo, MD, first author of the study and a Cedars-Sinai physician-scientist. “We are still learning the many ways by which COVID-19 affects the body, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or race.”

  34. Wukchumni

    One of the day hikers in our coterie d’feet has thrown down a 1,000 mile challenge for 2023.

    All 7 of us are game, and it’ll be a worthy goal, as I walk quite a bit in the summer, but always a lot less the rest of the year. This amounts to 20 miles a week, week in-week out.

    Part of her reasoning is that the areas burned by the KNP Fire in 2021 will probably only be accessible another year before sprouting groundcover makes the going tough or even impossible in formerly forbidden terra firma.

    1. Yves Smith

      Before I busted my hip, I walked a minimum of 3 miles a day, every day, in Manhattan FOR DECADES!

      Of course you may argue your outdoor walking is more strenuous, but I have found out lots of mere walking on concrete makes for unhappy joints.

      1. Wukchumni

        I rarely walk on concrete as it has so little give compared to my usual largely dirt surface. I’ve walked in cities a few times in the past month and it reminded me just how much I don’t enjoy it.

        In the summer virtually every hike I do requires a few thousand feet of elevation gain only to give it all back on the way down.

    2. griffen

      That’s a high water mark, lofty goal to set. And a goal that is generally easier to gear up for, so to speak, in better climates. Here on the east coast, the walking takes a hit when the temps are under 40 degrees but that is just personal preference. Fortunately for my location, the western mountains of NC are not far and state parks in SC are quite convenient.

      Or you could knock it out in a completely diabolical method, in two 10 mile hikes per week. I’ll mention this to the avid hikers I know.

  35. kareninca

    I am hearing people say that they have very recently woken up hurting all over. And that that state lasts for a day or two or even a week. No other symptoms. I wonder if it could be XBB1.5. I guess it could be some other virus.

    1. rowlf

      My immediate family get together for a late Christmas was canceled due to my mother saying she had a long lingering cold. Quite a bummer due to the good weather in the east US after standard Christmas for traveling by car equipped with an autopilot (Eldest son).

  36. Thistlebreath

    I cancelled my sub to the NY’r the day after John McPhee retired, he being a nature writer of phenomenal talent.

    So I don’t read Remnick’s (he took a writing class from McPhee at Princeton) rag much. A chance glance today yielded this gem

    I’d reckon it’s concern trolling and patronizing wistfulness that combine to try and discourage people from actually expecting our public institutions to be, well, public.

    As soon as I saw the term “lefty” casually used in a sentence, I got a whiff of the slant.

  37. JBird4049

    >>>A Charity Tied to the Supreme Court Offers Donors Access to the Justices NYT

    Same old, same old, but I think that the Founding Fathers would have been most unhappy. I suggest Corruption in America by Zephyr Teachout Funny how gunz, abortion, and IdPol sucks all the air out of the room, but gross political corruption of the kind that the Founders obsessed over is ignored, isn’t?

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