Links 1/4/2023

Dear patient readers,

Your humble blogger does not feel very good. Not one of those horrible bugs, but a stress hangover. But sadly I am super stressed and no prospect of this getting any better :-(.

On film: A veteran finds healing, with help from an orphaned ocelot Christian Science Monitor

This wildlife rehabilitator rescued over 1,600 bats after they fell during Houston cold snap CNN (furzy)

Photos from space show 11,000 beavers are wreaking havoc on the Alaskan tundra as savagely as wildfire Business Insider

California braces for more ‘brutal’ flooding and mudslides as experts warn it won’t quench historic drought CNN

The politics of pain aeon

Legal Use of Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Begins in Oregon New York Times





Bodies Pile Up in China as Covid Surge Overwhelms Crematoriums Bloomberg (ma)

Kamala Harris is demanding a negative COVID test if newly-elected senators want a photo taken with her during swearing-in ceremony on January 3 Daily Mail. GM: “Testing for us. Infections for you.”

Public Health Agencies Try to Restore Trust as They Fight Misinformation KHN. Nausea-producing. No concern about the lack of data to substantiate many if not most Covid policies, above all all vax v. a layered approach.


More than half of rural California now ranks ‘very high’ for wildfire hazard Los Angeles Times (guurst). From last week, still germane.

Wildfires in Colorado are growing more unpredictable. Officials have ignored the warnings KJCT


China drone incursions drop a gauntlet on Japan Asia Times

This $67BN High Speed Railway Will Change Asia YouTube (furzy)

European Debt Defaults Seen Surging in Echo of Covid Turmoil Bloomberg

Old Blighty

Liz Truss still haunts the Tories Unherd

New Not-So-Cold War

With eye on Iran, Netanyahu wades into Ukraine war Indian Punchline (Kevin W)

Makeveyvka strikes, Israel demurs on Russia/Ukraine & is Erdogan really pulling troops out of Syria? Mark Sleboda

* * *

Contradicts assurances made directly to the Foreign Ministry if true:

Ukraine’s DEVASTATING Attack On Russian Barracks, $110 BILLION For Ukraine War Is 100% Corruption and Accusations Of CIA-Backed Sabotage Attacks INSIDE Russia! Aaron Mate guest hosting for Jimmy Dore. I wondered why Ollie North was suddenly getting some air time, since he has negative credibility. Turns out he has a book out. Even second tier publishers can get an author some media appearances for a week or two. Scott Ritter reaction: “If I were applying for a head coaching job, I wouldn’t bring up a list of my greatest defeats.”

Ukraine Keeps Downing Russian Drones, but Price Tag Is High New York Times

* * *

German lawmakers criticize gov’t silence on Nord Stream blasts Anadolu Agency

Lula halts privatization of Brazil’s state companies – media RT


Qassem Soleimani in Venezuela: The lesser known motive behind his assassination The Cradle (guurst)

Accompanied by police, Israeli settlers seize East Jerusalem land owned by Greek Orthodox Church Mondoweiss

Imperial Collapse Watch

GOP Clown Car

Kevin McCarthy loses three rounds of votes to be US House Speaker Financial Times

‘Circular firing squad’ derails GOP in new Congress Politico

Trimming Back the Speakership American Conservative

Matt Gaetz is accusing Kevin McCarthy of squatting in the speaker’s office before he’s even got the job Business Insider

SBF and the Injustice Democrats: How SBF, AIPAC and pro-Trump billionaires coordinated to crush the left Max Berger (Tom H)

Our No Longer Free Press

Twitter Files: Twitter and the FBI “Belly Button” Matt Taibbi

Musk’s Twitter to lift ban on political ads ‘in coming weeks’ Politico

Mastodon: A Social Media Platform Dominated By Pedophiles & Child Porn SecJuice (Anthony L). ???? From last year, still germane. Seems well substantiated.

L’affaire Jeffrey Epstein

Another Quid Pro Joe? Epstein-targeting Virgin Islands prosecutor is swiftly fired after Biden arrives in town The Dossier (Kevin W)

JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank seek dismissal of lawsuits by Jeffrey Epstein accusers Reuters

Supply Chain/Inflation

Falling French inflation sparks hope of end to Europe’s price surge Financial Times

Lumber Prices and Lumber Futures Menzie Chinn

The Bezzle

Joint Statement on Crypto-Asset Risks to Banking Organizations Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Ouch.

Sam Bankman-Fried Pleads Not Guilty To Federal Fraud Charges In New York CNBC

Judge orders Sam Bankman-Fried to be blocked from accessing or transferring any FTX or Alameda assets Business Insider

How The Airline Industry Became A Living Nightmare The Lever

United said it had this woman’s missing bag. She tracked it to a residential address CNN (Kevin W)

Internet Providers Warn Against EU Plans To Make Big Tech Cover Telcos Costs Reuters

Google alleges India antitrust body copied parts of EU order on Android abuse Reuters

Guillotine Watch

US Billionaire’s New Year Fireworks Start Wildfire in New Zealand Sputnik (Kevin W)

Class Warfare

Microsoft recognises first labour union in US BBC (Kevin W)

City to Pay $135K to Homeless Man Dragged Off Subway by Cops THE CITY

UK rail workers resume strikes as Network Rail declares sell-out deal within “touching distance” WSWS

Antidote du jour:

And a bonus (furzy):

And a second bonus (furzy):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. griffen

    If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Unless your first name is Kevin and the House leadership is seemingly in your grasp, within reach at last only to escape your clutches. Careful man, as that way madness lies. Just ask our fictional villain Gollum.

    My Precious. It’s mine. They stole it.

    1. The Rev Kev

      A question here. I thought I heard somebody say that in American politics that you only get four chances at a vote for that job. If true, and our Kevin has flamed out on the first three votes, would that mean that if he fails a fourth time that he is out of contention altogether?

      1. Wukchumni

        Thanks for the times that you’ve given me
        The memories are all in my mind
        And now that you’ve come to the end thanks to the caucus
        There’s something I must say out loud

        You’re once, twice, three times a loser
        And I love you
        Yes, you’re once, twice, three times a loser
        And I love you
        I love you

        When the Pachyderms aren’t together, the moments I cherish
        With every beat of my heart
        To diss you, to hold you in contempt, to not need you
        There’s 16 votes keeping you apart

        You’re once, twice, three times a loser
        And I love you
        I love you

        Three Times A Lady, by the Commodores

        1. The Rev Kev

          You read my mind. I was thinking of that same exact song too. Would you believe that Kevin is going around and saying that Trump supports him and thinks that this is a good thing in his favour? But Trump himself is trying to distance himself from your Kevin.

          1. Wukchumni

            It’s an odd situation with anti-matter embracing doesn’t matter, but My Kevin (since ’07) knows no other way up.

            1. Not Again

              I don’t understand the hullaballoo. The Republicans promised us that they would be different than the Democrats. So far, NO money has been allocated to Ukraine, the Pentagon budget hasn’t gone up and I haven’t had one Twit from AOC. And as a special bonus – NOT ONE CONGRESS CRITTER IS GETTING A PAYCHECK.

              I may vote Republican for the rest of my life.

              1. Wukchumni

                Some claim My Kevin (since ’07) is an opportunistic dullard. but I see him as more of a stalemate.

                  1. Wukchumni

                    Not really.

                    Watching the charade yesterday in the House, it reminded me of junior high student body politics, our leaders.

                  1. Wukchumni

                    I can only surmise-never having walked so much as an inch in Kev’s shoes, that deep down he wants to be voted most popular, that’s what is in it for him.

                1. JCC

                  Personally I think he is both opportunistic (Trump supporter) and a dullard, at least an economic dullard, for sure. This after receiving a letter from him explaining that monopolies were good for the US. In his opinion monopolies both keep consumer prices low and increase innovation.

                  The guy is an idiot.

                  1. spud

                    i carry no water for him, but the guy who made what has angered you possible, was not the trump supporter.


                    “Despite being described as “left,” both Hillary Clinton and her husband are closely identified with neoliberalism and privatizations.”

                    “Hillary Rodham Clinton, as the first lady of President Bill Clinton, and Secretary of State during the first years of the Obama administration, is associated with the swift imposition of globalist capitalism and the deregulation of markets.”

                    “Like her husband’s efforts to dismantle the Soviet system in Russia, Clinton’s toppling of “Islamic Socialism” and imposition of “Free Markets” have been disastrous for Libya”

                    “In the minds of many people across the planet, Hillary Clinton stands for free market policies, imposed by globalist banking institutions”

                    1. JCC

                      Spud, I’m not angry, I just happen to think McCarthy is an economic dullard. And since I don’t carry water for either Party, because I think little of McCarthy does not mean I automatically think a lot of the Clintons. Politicians from either Party, in general, don’t strike me as economically “wise” when it comes to the benefit of the General Public.

                      Some are into “the other side s*cks” in the political stadium. I’m not one of those. :-)

                  2. jrkrideau

                    monopolies … increase innovation.

                    Conventional economic doctrine for years. I had an economist (tenured academic) assure me that this was true. This was back in the early 1990s as all the Silicon Valley startups were blossoming.

                    IIRC, John Kenneth Galbraith makes the same point in one of his popular books.

              2. Screwball

                Yea, let’s hope they never elect one. Since they won’t get paid, maybe all of them will quit and go home. Win-win.

              3. orlbucfan

                I would think twice about that. You want to vote for scum like Matt Gaetz? I don’t call them GOPukes for nothing. And the Dimocrats? Snort!

              4. spud

                what is going on with the GOP house speakership, is very very healthy. frauds like bernie and the squad should pay attention in how to exercise power, but they wont, (“TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME STANDS IN THEIR WAY”)

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        There are rules, but the speaker position and authority to name one flow from.the Constitution. Past congresses can’t restrict the power of the current or future congress.

        Beyond presidential succession, the Speaker is only as powerful as his backers permit.

    1. The Rev Kev

      To tell you the truth, when I saw that headline the first thought that popped into my mind was a US biolab located in eastern Europe somewhere. :)

  2. Roger Blakely

    “You need a better mask. Earloop KF94/KN95s won’t do”

    Respirators work. N95s with straps are better than KF94/KN95s with earloops.

    One issue is that respirators don’t fit perfectly, especially when you are talking. Unfiltered air gets in around the cheeks and nose.

    The bigger issue is what lands on the eyeballs and washes down into the eyelids. But people resist wearing masks of any kind, let alone respirators and chemical splash goggles.

    There is a dose response to this virus. The more virus you inhale or lands on your eyeballs, the worse you are going to feel. Even if you don’t get a full fourteen-day cycle or test positive, you’ll probably still feel awful. Personal protective equipment is not perfect. If you enter an indoor public space, you will be exposed to the newest variant of Omicron. Why bother getting a booster shot? Social distancing is still a thing. It’s still not safe out there.

    1. ambrit

      I wonder if there has been any research done on the efficacy of eyeglasses for protecting the eyeballs against ‘contagion?’ Those of us classes as 4Is by the Department of Deference would like to know, for our “Personal Protection Assessment” of course.
      (I ‘googled’ “personal protection assessment” and all I keep getting back, no matter how I spell or phrase it are links to Personal Protective Equipment and the rules thereof. Google has become total s—!)

      1. tevhatch

        As a retired chemical engineer I can recall that:

        form fitting safety glasses, which are much more rigorous than most eye glasses in the area they shield, provide good protection against droplets/spray (ie: someone coughing directly injecting droplets into your eyes), but minimal protection against aerosols, so regular eye glasses would be much worse.
        full size face shield does slightly better with droplets/spray better while also providing more protection to surrounding skin (sweat can induce contaminant movement), but are actually worse for aerosols (breathing in induces intake exposure to eyes).
        Well fitted chemical goggles provide much better protection against aerosols, but there is still some loading and can be problematic with sweat transfer.

        None of the above are 100%, for that a positive pressure suit is required, but all can reduce exposure/dose. There is no quantitative data in part due to too many uncontrollable variables and in part because industry simply bumps up the protection level according to ALARA principles.

      2. John

        I stopped wearing contacts when they first closed the schools in 3/2020.
        Just seemed to make sense not to put you finger in your eye during these times.
        About a year ago, saw study that found glasses wearers who self report as mask wearers were 14% less likely to be infected than non-glasses people who also self report as ask wearers.
        I wear a mask and glasses, homeschool kid (& anything else I can think of)
        Haven’t gotten COVId yet ( though kid got it) Corsi boxes protected wife & me.
        Also, LA had one weird warm day on Christmas Eve so we could open all the windows. But enough so Kid could sleep off the fever (& a bottle of expired Children’s Tylenol).
        I believe in 3Cs, Masks,glasses, saline up the nose and ventilation.

        1. John

          Here is that study:

          19166 participants – multi variable logical regression shows 15% lower odds those who self report always wearing glasses & masks for general use vs. those who never.

          Plus, the glasses tell me if my mask is leaking.
          Of course, I also mask, social distance, watch CO 2 levels, eat outdoors, etc.
          Of course,
          That’s all socialistic BS- so it must be the glasses. \\sarc

    2. Verifyfirst

      I would like to commend all of you to, for a cheap, easy hack to make any mask fit almost perfectly. I think this has been discussed before on NC, so just a reminder.

      I would also say, in response to the eyeglass question below, there has also been some discussion of that on this website–sealing goggles will obviously prevent all unfiltered air reaching your eyeballs–I do remember some study about eyeglasses helping somewhat, but I could be wrong, and I don’t have time just now to try to find it….

    1. Screwball

      Agreed. I don’t know how many follow this but I think both of us do as we’ve commented here before. This was my reading pleasure last night, and I have read all the releases.

      I don’t think any of us who follow this are surprised at what we are finding out, but it is interesting to see all the things that went on behind the scenes to make it all happen. Amazing stuff, and brings on more questions.

      For example; How much of the stuff the FBI was flagging as Russian disinformation (for lack of a better word) might have actually been setup by the FBI themselves? IOW, the FBI setup bogus accounts to look Russian, then tell Twitter, while leaking the Russia menace narrative to the press. The releases didn’t come out and say this for the record, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

      I’m not sure I explained that very well, but in the larger picture it appears to me this stuff was used to promote and provide validity to Russiagate, along with other nefarious things they wanted to accomplish. And of course the FBI had plenty of help from the various parties – crooked Schiff included.

      Amazing stuff nonetheless, but will probably go nowhere in the end.

  3. Redlife2017

    In what might be interesting as an anecdote from Covid Island (the UK), I spoke to the Headteacher at my child’s primary school today. He has “encouraged” all the teachers to open the windows again for ventilation. Thankfully since I am American, I don’t mind being honest (uh, forthright?) and said I needed him to tell my child’s teacher that she has to keep the window open due to my partner’s Long Covid. He completely agreed. He also agreed when I said the government doesn’t care since they aren’t changing their guidance. So at least the Headteacher is a thinking human.

    However, part of the conversation was him lamenting that all these diseases were everywhere so there’s not much that can be done. You can imagine the look on his face when I said my family wears masks everywhere. He certainly didn’t seem to expect that!

    1. Stephen

      In British English “encourage” from a Headmaster to the teachers would traditionally mean what you say when you use “have to”. Used to get this translation problem all the time when I did business in the US. The two languages are very different. The English are actually phenomenally direct but it is not always obvious to someone who is used to a different variety of the language.

      As an anecdote: a European consultant who was in my former team was asked by a fellow partner when she first came to the UK from New York of all places to “think about” changing a heading on a slide. Consulting gets a bit pedantic sometimes. She thought about it and did not change it. The other partner went mad at her. “Think about” did not mean “think about”……

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yup, I’m always amused to see those guides for foreign business people for dealing with Japanese customs and I find myself thinking ‘this applies for most of Britain and Ireland too!’. If anything, Irish culture is even more indirect than in Britain. As someone whose spare room is in much demand for friends staying over in my city (its small, but well located) I’ve found out the hard way I need to word refusals a little stronger for non-Irish people. My usual Irish ‘no’ – ‘I’ll help you out if you really can’t get anywhere else, but that date is a little difficult for me’ just doesn’t cut it for Americans or Australians I find.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I’ve found that the most effective way of passing on to Aussie guests that they are overstaying their welcome is to serve instant nescafe in the morning and turn off the heating.

        1. Stephen

          My US colleagues used to circulate such a guide – especially when we had appraisal meetings with Anglo American groups.

          I also agree about Irish culture, having done business there and worked with Irish owned companies.

          The use of language is phenomenally indirect even by English standards! But the various Irish executives I have met were top notch. One must never mistake their indirect approach for lack of authority and decisiveness.

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            My ex- is Irish. I think this communication gap caused a lot of issues in our relationship over time.

          2. Irrational

            One British colleague is retiring from a European institution, thinking that he has been direct with people and not understanding why they did not do what he said. Having worked for him and knowing both the British approach and the “recipients” I think he was far too polite and most had no clue what he wanted… maybe that is what led to Brexit ;-) Not that the gloves-off approach afterwards has worked well.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’m sure some other parents are quietly happy you are making this sort of fuss. My American friends here are continuously surprised at how reluctant their fellow parents are to question school policies over one thing or another (they certainly made themselves unpopular with one school headteacher).

  4. Stephen

    Scott Ritter reaction: “If I were applying for a head coaching job, I wouldn’t bring up a list of my greatest defeats.”

    I watched that video clip last night and that comment from Scott Ritter was so cutting and so true. It is unfortunately no longer shocking that corporate media interviewers never question these types of statements made by people such as Ollie North but just seem to lap it all up.

    The attached Douglas MacGregor interview just appeared, it seems. The interviewer is an ex Territorial Army officer and UKIP ex MEP. Makes some unorthodox (shall we say) comments about climate change, as well as a discourse on “cinema strategy” and has a general style that might not appeal to everyone on this site. Other than Peter Hitchens though, his seems one of the very few Anglo voices of reason in this whole Ukraine tragedy.

    The answers by Colonel MacGregor are very good. So are the questions in my view. Colonel MacGregor also shows a strong appreciation of British history (how many English people have even heard of the Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman whom he refers to in the video) and the realities of the alleged US-UK “special relationship” from WW2 that British governments seem so oddly committed to.

    He mentions the 1899-1901 Anglo Boer War, which was phenomenally acrimonious. But then refers to how South Africa ended up as staunch ally of Britain in both world wars. Leaving aside the unsavoury character of the then South African regime this does prompt the thought that a rapprochement between Russia and Ukraine, minus US / UK / EU meddling would not be so impossible.


    1. David

      The SA situation is actually even more interesting than that. After the Boer War, political power (and control of the government) was largely in the hands of the English-speaking minority of the white population. Because SA was a Dominion, it was automatically at war with Germany in 1914, and many English-speakers volunteered eagerly. By contrast, the Afrikaner majority was largely indifferent or even hostile, still feeling extremely bitter about the War. Participation in WW1 on the side of the hated British was one of the many factors that led to the foundation of the Broederbond, the secret society that organised the Afrikaner majority to eventually take power away from the English-speaking elite in 1948. (Another was tentative moves to extend the franchise to some non-whites.) SA participation in WW2 was even more controversial, and was only agreed after a bitter political struggle. Only volunteers could be sent, and a number of them were from the Communist Party, who, much later, provided the ANC with its first weapons instructors.

      Most historians are agreed that it was actually the SA involvement in WW2 that tipped the balance in the 1948 election, and brought the National Party (just) to power. The Afrikaners (who believed they had been given the land by God and that no-one else had any rights) ruthlessly purged English speakers from government and the military, before subsequently introducing the apartheid system in the 1950s. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of whites in the various anti-apartheid organisations were English speakers.

      It’s hard to say if the wounds have ever really healed. It’s recorded that when FW De Klerk visited London after the release of Nelson Mandela, he surprised everyone (including the Queen) with a strong condemnation of British behaviour during the Boer War, and the sufferings of the Boer civilian population. Certainly when I was there for the first time thirty years ago, there was still a tendency to view the British as the “old enemy.”

      1. Stephen

        Thanks. Yes, it is complex and that is deeper context I was not fully aware of.

        I spent two years living there just over twenty years ago, working with organisations that were traditionally Afrikaans and were still pretty much that way at the start of the 2000s. Friendly people but occasionally the spectre of concentration camps (one of Kitchener’s “innovations”) would come up. The animosity towards English speaking South Africans was always there too, especially if you went into places such as Bloemfontein in the old Orange Free State. Much less openly so in Johannesburg, Cape Town and of course Durban which was English speaking anyway.

        The fascinating thing too is that some (I agree not all) Afrikaner “elites” such as General Smuts supported Britain, in his case even leading troops and joining the Imperial War Cabinet in 1916. Louis Botha too. Although I realise this was not popular with everyone, to put it mildly.

        The other part of the story I was told by locals was that the power grab and creation of apartheid was heavily driven by economic factors. There were so called poor whites, who were predominantly Afrikaans. No doubt it had other catalysts but the intent was said to be to reserve jobs for them in extractive institutions such as banks, the government and the media. Even in the early 2000s the legacy of that was very clear in two organisations I worked with. I suspect it is much less apparent today.

        The relevance for Ukrainian and Russian relations I guess is that the situation is very much akin to a civil war, with some Ukrainians (stereotypically those in the west) being a metaphor for the Afrikaans and others (more Russian leaning) being a metaphor for the English speakers. Rapprochement possible with the latter but not so much the former.

  5. GramSci

    The Max Berger “Injustice Democrats” piece is my must read of the day. A compelling case.

    1. jhallc

      I agree. I was somewhat surprised by the mention of Robert “rub and a tug ” Kraft as one of the PAC billionaire contributors. Didn’t think he was in the same league as Bernie Marcus of Home Depot.

      1. Kilgore Trout

        Kraft–and Brady too–were chummy with Trump, which came out during the 2016 campaign, to much consternation in blue MA and among Boston Globe readership. And Kraft has always been a strong AIPAC supporter, so no surprise he’d support centrist Dems who voice the same views. So he and Marcus are probably not far apart on many issues, besides “support for Palestinians equates to anti-semitism”.

        1. orlbucfan

          Well, Sam Bankman Fried may end up in the great stripey hole. Glad to see some media spotlight on the “Injustice Democrats.” Robert Kraft and his ilk are human garbage irregardless of their $$$accounts.

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      I agree, excellent reporting, even if the author is far too smitten with The Squad, whose acceptance of supporting NATO/Ukraine in its crusade against Russia is a disgrace.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        “The squad and their allies in Congress have a profoundly different view of Israel/Palestine, as they do on most issues, than the prevailing consensus within the DC political elite.” If he meant “they sometimes Tweet a slightly different view, when Mamma Bear lets them” then yes, I’d agree.

    3. Partyless poster

      I agree
      It really validates the theory that democrats are a fake party that only exists to stop the left

  6. Lexx

    Recommend warm bath, soft clean bedclothes, a dark quiet room, some kind of white noise*, and several hours of uninterrupted sleep. Remove all work from your field of vision. No electronics! Maybe take something that addresses those niggling nagging aches-and-pains impulses like a shot of Nyquil; it covers a lot of bases even when the problem isn’t viral.

    Take care of you or your body will make that call for you… usually when it’s least convenient.

    *here that would be a fan, room humidifier, music, machine playing sounds of ocean waves or falling rain, and maybe the company of a cat. Cats are fantastic snoozers.

      1. nippersdad

        If Yves had anything like the thunderstorm we had last night (B’ham is about fifty miles away), that clip might engender PTSD. I still need to go outside and find where the lightning bolts landed and what has been blown over.

        That one was not restful.

      2. Irrational

        But if it is a mind-will-not-shut-down thing, none of the above works – at least for me. Tire yourself out or herbal remedies or stiff drink depending on your persuasion helps temporarily. Wish you success beating the stress, Yves.

    1. Pelham

      I also wonder whether cutting NakedCapitalism publication by a day a week would help ease the strain. I value this site more highly than any other but could manage one day without it if that would be helpful to Yves and Lambert.

      1. MaryLand

        Totally agree. We can muddle through on a weekend without new posts. It could be a time to catch up on anything we didn’t get a chance to read during the week. If it brings down your stress level it is so worth it.

      2. OliverN

        Sometimes it takes me a day or two to think or prepare a comment for the comments… but by then we’re already another cycle of links and watercooler (or two!) and everyone’s moved on. Besides less pressure on staff, a skipped day here or there might have a side benefit of letting the discussion in the comments have some extra robust back-and-forth

  7. ex-PFC Chuck

    Down-thread a ways at former House member Justin Amash’s Twitter link he throws his hat in the ring for Speaker. Is there a precedent for the Speaker not being an elected member of the House? The pertinent Article I text states only that “The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers . . .” It doesn’t say he or she has to be an elected member.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Accompanied by police, Israeli settlers seize East Jerusalem land owned by Greek Orthodox Church”

    Those settlers seem to hate any religion that is not their own. Here they are trying to steal land owned by the Greek Orthodox Church and just earlier today I saw an Israel article talking about how a group of these extremists went into the Protestant Mount Zion Cemetery in Jerusalem and started to smash up gravestones. Maybe eventually they want that land too-

    1. JohnnyGL

      Is it really about religion? Or are they really just into stealing things?

      I lose patience pretty quickly with gangster-ism being laundered through religion.

      1. Pat

        I think the post is more about the hypocrisy of showing no respect for other religions as they steal property considering the protections that are demanded for Judaism, rather than saying that the motive for grabbing the property is religious bias.

        1. jax

          We know that Israel now has a Zionist far-right government, so this fish is rotting from the head down. I expect wholesale slaughter when Netanyahoo attempts to annex occupied Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock.

    2. Pat

      Considering that modern Israel exists because a few countries got together and put it there, I really really wish those same countries clearly established a border, that there was no possibility of future expansion and then fronted a border patrol to enforce it. Oil would always have made the MidEast a hot spot, but I do think a certain amount of volatility in the region would have been tempered if Israel’s clear desire to expand had been shut down from the beginning.

      OTOH, Israelis deciding to big foot it around the region in a more equitable way is rapidly cracking the unthinking acceptance of their actions when it isn’t Palestinians, who are or support terrorists.

    3. ambrit

      These are the “True Believers” of the Hebrew faith. They are out and out religious fanatics. They observe no boundaries outside of their own religion. To be even handed about it, these particular fanatics are no different from fanatics in any other religion, be they X, Y, or Z. This is a case where stupidity is viewed as a personal and social positive.
      These groups do indeed want total control of all of what they claim is the Ancient Solomanic Kingdom of Israel. That “realm” goes as far as Damascus! Even the Israeli moderates view them as dangerous nuts.
      I tried to find a clean link to the subject of Israeli claims to Judea and Samara but came across nothing but Hasbara and malinformation.
      Stay safe moderators!

      1. Wukchumni

        I was in a pretty Jewish business, maybe 40% of numismatists were of the faith, and I enjoyed their company and did gobs of business with all of them and great fellows one and all, all pretty much secular Jews who made sure you knew they observed the high holidays, so as in to put a little something into the effort, but really they were American Jews such as most everyone i’ve come across in the USA.

        I started seeing the Ugly Israeli tourist overseas and it was never a solo traveler, these jackals often newly discharged from the IDF traveled in packs making enemies of those in the host country that were often offended by them, they were so utterly different from the Jews I knew.

        One time in Christchurch I rented a van for 6 of us, and the fellow renting cars told me, ‘thank goodness you got it instead of one of those horrible Israeli tourists’ without any prompting from me.

        I ran across that sort of vibe all the time.

        1. ambrit

          I had a few minor run ins with Junior JDL types in my High School. The “observant” were the “worst” when it came to “assertiveness.” (I had committed the cardinal sin of being obviously English. These people still carry a grudge about the Balfour Declaration and it’s ‘betrayal’ by subsequent British Administrations.)
          It took me some time to separate the ‘racialist’ component of my thinking from the ‘class’ component. This problem affects many subjects where inequality is a main driving force. ‘Racialism’ is all too easily used to ‘turn’ people against some particular sub-culture of the Terran human species.
          Angels we are not.

    1. Mookie

      Great piece, thanks for the link. I too was a humanities university student in the 90’s and well remember the impact of zizek on the theory jocks on my social circle. Endless logorrhea, Lacan references, idiotic jargon, and nearly nothing of substance to say at all. This coke-addled clown has been held up as a sort of philosopher emperor of the left for decades, and truly, this particular emperor has never worn a single stitch of clothing, while being constantly feted for his fashion sense

      1. Kouros

        Hear, hear!

        A debate between him and Jordan Petersen turned out to be the biggest philosophical fizz ever. They both dropped the ball. Watching a goat and a sheep bleating at each other would have been more entertaining and illuminating.

  9. timbers

    Ukraine’s DEVASTATING Attack On Russian Barracks

    Supposedly this was a public school building, so I’m looking for this story of Ukraine bombing a Public School and committing a war crime, but can’t find it in the MSM.

  10. LaRuse

    Yves, I am sorry you are feeling pretty run down. May I recommend an herbal tea that I find very helpful when feeling the way you describe? Mountain Rose Herbs makes a tea blend call “21st Century Tea” and it has some of the most nourishing herbs you can consume that still make a lovely flavored tea (unlike their Blues tea, which I use and find quite bitter, if also very useful). The tea is restorative, caffeine free, and very refreshing. You might need to check drug interactions – not everything plays well with certain herbs, but otherwise, it is affordable (as tea goes) and helpful.

    1. LaRuse

      I apologize because only after the recommendation was made did I realize MRH is currently out of stock. Worth waiting for but not timely enough to come now, while you need it.

  11. Vit5o

    Take care of the stress, there’s plenty to do in the future, the year is just starting. Some time with reduced work and increased rest & fun should restore your sharpness and well-being.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks for the kind thoughts but utterly impossible.

      Mother died Christmas 2021. I have to empty her house, in which I now live due to moving down in 2019 to take care of her. Various events conspired to allow me not to deal much with the estate but that phase is ending.

      There is some stuff of minor value so I have to figure out what those items are and get experts in for rough valuations to make sure one heir does not accidentally get unfair share in distribution of stuff (I spent my nominal holiday on an inventory) and sell it with no help from one brother and a threat of litigation from the other. And it is not as if much of money is at issue here (example: only car is 2003 Buick) but difficult brother is engaging in a grudge match.

      Oh, and learning estate attorneys are terrible. And Birmingham, despite having a very affluent pocket, is very thin on the sort of services I could have used in NYC to outsource some of my executor donkey work. And some readers were very helpful! For example, after a wee open house where visitors could take away (many) excess books, someone volunteered to take the leftovers to the NYC library.

      That means I have to evict myself by May-June.

      I have no idea where to live. I don’t have roots anywhere. I like NYC but too expensive to go back given rents and taxes, including the horrible New York City Corporation Tax.

      Plus it is clear the US is going the way of Russia in the 1990s: elite looting, dramatic fall in lifespans. We also have bad Covid and collapsing health services. If you are in a community and have a good personal support network and enough dough, or alternatively, a weak network but a lot of dough, you might ride it out OK here. I am in neither category.

      Malaysia looked like a really good option but they JUST made their visa rules impossible except for the borderline rich. So now I am looking at fallbacks but have time to check out only one.

      So I am having to look at an international move w/o time or $ to explore alternatives. I have to hope a rifle shot works.

      On top of that I have many decisions re my possessions regardless, what to get rid of, what to take.

      And I hate decorating. I’d rather get a root canal. So moving is even more stressful for me than for most.

      And I am having trouble walking, which adds to stress and unhappiness as well as making for a very concrete impediment to moving and resettling.

      I have had orthopedic issues as soon as I started walking. Never any good answers and the issues have gotten worse with age and fitness enthusiasm. Basically subclinical issues with every joint system ex upper body. Joint by joint it looks not so bad but my hip replacement surgeon lit up and agreed that collectively all these anomalies put me way out of bounds (oh, and in keeping he had to model 100 different joints to find one that sort of worked and still modify it…and he still could not fix one problem he wanted to remedy due to what he found during the procedure).

      And yes, I have seen tons of alternative practitioners too. I have done a huge tour of those modalities to limited benefit. So please do not offer well-meaning suggestions about treatments. Odds extremely high I have tried them in over 30 years of looking for help.

      I know some readers are facing dire problems, like Long Covid, cancer, pain, death of spouse or children or parents, bad autoimmune issues, degenerative diseases, dire economic problems….so my list may seem like a pity party by comparison. I apologize if my whinge seems insensitive to those in serious need.

      1. The Rev Kev

        If I may be so bold as to suggest something (it’s a guy thing). Perhaps it might be wise to try to find a rental in your area for a 3 or 6 month lease. Knowing that it is there will take some of the pressure off in moving allowing you time to concentrate on other more pressing matters. You are already very familiar with your area and its services and if I recall correctly, you wrote once that Birminghan had excellent medical facilities. This rental would then become your ‘staging area’ where you would have more time to sort out where to make your next move to and wrap up any lingering legal affairs. As for what to keep and what to get rid of, that is always a very personal process. In my own case I have adopted a line from a favourite book of mine that gives clarity in how to choose and it is this – ‘We must not think of the things we could do with, but only of the things that we can’t do without.’ It’s sorta like a parable. Simple, memorable and really powerful when you take the time to think about what it is saying.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Looks like we were both thinking along the same lines aka great minds think alike. But I like how you worded it better.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Actually I THOUGHT Birmingham had excellent medical facilities. Then I saw the ER care my mother got. And IM Doc confirms the Deep South very much devalues post reproductive age women in medical care. I am flying to NYC for all my doctors stuff save dentistry.

          The problem is I can barely afford the time for one move. Local furnished rental options here non-existent. Moving always entails buying stuff like curtains, oddball lamps, side tables..

          If I have to stay in the US, it would make sense to keep a fair bit of furniture. If I move overseas, probably not even though some items are really fine and it would pain me to give them up. So this problem is a bit circular, I can’t cull my stuff until I know where I am going.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Hmm. Sounds like maybe a move to New York State, if you can, might be in order. Much more closer in travel time for medical appointments to NY city. Maybe you can travel by train between the two here. Yes, moving more than once is akin to root surgery but by doing so, you will only be taking essentials with yourself making the second move down the track much easier. Think Japanese minimalism. And if it works out that you choose another country, it might be one where it might be worth your while shipping some of your best furniture there. But at the moment, it sounds like you have too many unknowns for comfort.

            1. S.D., M.D.

              Avoid the VAMPIRE state at all costs. Out of control taxes, unhinged, unrestrained, corrupt, one party rule, economic devastation everywhere outside of metro NYC(urban areas are small scale versions of Detroit, rural areas are Appalachia with more snow and cold).

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              I don’t think you get it. The entire US is collapsing medically and otherwise. Any non-city area = a car, which is another cost. Most in the world are doing better on Covid, and particularly most of SE Asia due to high levels of masking.

              And NY also means snow. I can’t do snow with my joints.

              1. agent ranger smith

                If the US is collapsing medically and otherwise, then the US will become physically non-survivable for many of us here. Since I am here for the duration regardless, I will either survive in place or die in place.

                If I were going to attempt to assure my survival by moving to another survival-possible place, I might be prepared to give up on that other place being enjoyable or even livable, as long as it could be assuredly survivable.

                How would I choose where to go assuming I could only move once? I would look at the places which are never in the news because so few bad things happen there that they are not considered newsworthy. Then I would look at those places to see which would offer minimum assured survival. Livability or even enjoyability would be even nicer, but may not be possible.

                Hungary is in the news only when its government offends the PMC type people. Otherwise it is hardly written about at all. The tiny glimpse I got of it once made it seem physically attractive and interesting. Any decent railroad-station village would have rail-connection to all the relevant bigger towns and the major cities. I have read that Hungary has an American ex-pat community.

                When Joe Bageant couldn’t take living in America anymore, he moved to Belize and wrote glowingly about how nice he found it. I should think that as long as air travel exists, Belize would be within reach of medical care complexes in Mexico and/or Cuba.

                Botswana is almost never in the news. I wonder if that means that bad things almost never happen there. Would a car-free life be possible in Gaborone ( the capital city)? Would it be close enough to the medical care complexes of South Africa to be useful in that regard?

                If survival is the goal, maybe livability and enjoyability will just have to fall by the wayside.

          2. Lexx

            (You could do worse than Colorado. Loads of east and west coast transplants here. The mountains are your home base and the coasts become great places to visit, maybe for months at a time. It’s good to have options. That said…)

            … I can’t tell if the medical community here is any more or less inclined to treat older women as less than worthy of their full attention. Do they fair better overseas? If yes, based on what evidence? Mostly they seem increasingly incompetent to me, all the more so for having so little time with patients, until it just becomes a pattern, the habit of a low bar.

            I went to Urgent Care again just before New Year’s eve, waited forty minutes to see a PA who took one look at my index finger and told me the swelling was due to a ‘felon’, my repeated infections were due to my “diabetes” (no numbers to support that diagnosis), and wanted to prescribe antibiotics . I explained that my body wasn’t responding well to antibiotics, the infections weren’t defeated as in the two MRSA infections I’ve had in the past three years. He asked if the infections were cultured, I said I didn’t think so, so he said they weren’t MRSA infections, because apparently he’s not just a PA, he’s a time traveling superhero. Said he’d send in a script for doxycycline hyclate to my pharmacy and walked out the door. Took them against my better judgement, they did no good whatsoever. Finger still hurts and no pus produced after burying a needle in it five times.

            A felon, indeed.

            Did his treatment of me have anything to do with my age (65)? If a forty year old woman had walked in with the same complaint with the same information about her in their database, would she have been treated differently/better? I’m not sure and if the medical services are the same all over the U.S., is one state to take up residence any better than another? Or one country over another?

          3. Chet G

            I believe that some motels have short-term leases by week or month (a friend lives in such a motel), so you wouldn’t have to decorate. I’d recommend to put what you want to save in storage and relax. It would be a nondecision decision while you figure out where you want to live.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              I don’t think you get that the what to save problem is circular. It depends on where I might move. What clothes depends on if I move to a hot climate or not. I have a weight set. If I can afford a good sized apt. I should keep that. Etc.

              A second move involves stress and time costs. It’s a total waste.

              And it is not as if it actually would free up more time for me to explore options. I chronically have no time. I barely have enough time to do minimal exercise and pay bills. I have zero leisure time. Ten minutes is a lot of time for me.

              This is not a relaxed decision.

              1. JustTheFacts

                One option to give you more time Yves, would be to put your stuff in storage, and consider the UAE. Heat is not my cup of tea, but I have family there that seems to love it. It has low taxes (5% IIRC) and apparently easy to get into (lots of Russians are moving there). Lifestyle seems to be something more like a couple of decades past. Many expats, so you’d probably get away not knowing the language. No idea about healthcare though…

          4. aletheia33

            as others have said, yves, please, no comparisons of one’s own straits to others’ supposedly worse. we all face the disaster of aging, whether in the USA, where it is getting so much worse, and harder, or somewhere else, and it is real, punishing, and worthy of one’s asking for and receiving sympathy. at any and all times.

            i would remind you:
            first: ironically, the time when one is least able to assess what is most healthy and self-preserving for oneself to do is when one has reached a certain level of ongoing stress/burnout. it’s individual, so no one’s limit is quite like another’s, or even necessarily understandable to others.
            because stress, at a certain level, will mess with your mind. bigtime.
            stress will kill you.
            so please listen to your friends and loved ones if/when they say they are concerned for you and they push you to act radically to preserve your health and your life. eventually there does come a point where soldiering on, privileging all the usual and unusual business of living over simply keeping oneself alive and well, is a really, really bad idea.
            i say this from recent personal experience over the last few years.
            obviously i have no way of knowing when you might reach that point or if you have already. to repeat, if/when you have reached it, i say–based on my experience and those of others with whom i’ve compared notes–you may well not be able to see it/know it. however smart, resourceful, wise, etc. one is–all of which you are to the max–cannot necessarily prevent you from letting your stress progress too far and running smack into a serious health condition or worse.

            second: i imagine you’ve got a very deep bench of friends. you may not have much of a social network on the ground where you are. but you’ve got a lot of friends here at NC. all you have to do is ask for whatever help you need and it will be given. please, please do not hesitate to ask. i have complete confidence in our collective resources to get you through anything. that is what friends are for.

            PS i am simply taking the liberty of saying here what i sometimes wish at least one caring friend had said to me a couple of years ago (assuming i would have/could have “heard” it). i do not mean to suggest or prescribe any particular action in the present.

        2. earthling

          Agree with Rev also. I’m also hunting for a home base this year, and may wind up doing a rent near the old place, much as I would like to ‘clear out’ from where I was based.

          But, it’s a tough market out there, all over the country. The investors and 2d,3rd,4th home buyers have locked up a lot of the good stuff and now they want to rent it for more than it’s worth. They still have plenty of customers from the millions who don’t want to or can’t buy in this interest rate environment. The decent little house to rent for a year from a kind rational landlord is more elusive than it once was.

          1. earthling

            Just saw that Yves really wants to leave the area asap. So, never mind.

            In the ‘what if’ department, there are people who rent furnished homes in The Villages in Florida. Not where I want to be permanently, but might be a safe port in a storm for a year’s lease, and not that far from B’ham. Instant ‘community’ while you need it.

          2. griffen

            I relocated in mid 2016 to what is colloquially labeled as the Upstate region of South Carolina, and I enjoy the location. Broadly speaking, this is Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson. It’s relatively convenient to family on either side of the state borderlines (Atlanta to the south, areas east of or north of Charlotte) and no one are 4 hours away. The regional airports are practical and nearby, within the hour’s drive. Charlotte is the biggest airport and it’s 75 minutes to drive there.

            I am not terribly sharp myself on medical centers and healthcare in general. Possibly some well trained, high value / high dollar specialists. I had corrective eye surgery in 2022 and it was highly convenient to me. I can not speak to the real estate for sale, and demand for apartment rentals have increased the rates.

            Textiles left the region, and auto manufactures and suppliers have filled the void. Lots of change.

      2. jefemt

        The stress will amplify and exacerbate things. Eliminate the root causes.
        It’s all stuff.
        I seriously suggest renouncing your Executory Powers and let the Man’s World brothers deal.

        I wish I had a way to help you with stress, physical pain, and the stark reality that we are not Citizen’s of The World. Not all issues are between our ears! And, there is a lot of suffering, everywhere… the veneer thickness of Delusional Cognitive Dissonance varies for each of us.

        Have you looked at Andorra? It seems like a trivial minute stepping-stone few would ponder as a place to step.

        I wish you (and I am sure all here do) a lot of peace, grace, and improving health this and all years.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Trust me, I would love to resign as executor.

          Brothers would kick me out of the house, so I’d have to move sooner. Difficult brother not talking to us. Lambert has met both my sibs and says I can’t give it to next in line brother, he can’t handle it for health reasons and neither of us trust the difficult one.

          1. tevhatch

            Not familiar with Alabama, or even USA estate / probate, but have you contacted accounting firms to see if any offer such services? It’s the thing in much of common wealth and Asia, accounting firms that specialize in receivership often have specialist.

                1. tevhatch


                  A combination may be best, my father-in-law’s solictor put my wife into contact with an accountant to clear up financial state before doing final probate, at a significant savings in both money and time over using his own clerks. Again, this was in Hong Kong, but is carried out in the Common Wealth, and the accountants can do more and more of the work, but it’s still best to have a law firm to the final conveyance of the settlement if this is even possible in the USA.

          2. skk

            I suggest you don’t give up the control you have – if they are being difficult now, imagine the possible difficulties they can cause you once THEY have control.

          3. Alex Cox

            If you are to be an expat, you must speak the language! Otherwise you will be a burden, associating only with the dire expat crowd.
            So, if you are a linguist, go thither!
            And if not, try Medford in Southern Oregon, or Tucson.
            Especially Tucson! Best city in the US by far.

      3. flora

        Forgive me offering a suggestion here. (It’s worth exactly what you paid for it. ha.)

        It sounds like you have one hard and fast deadline about vacating the house. To that deadline you have the question of where to move. The second question is presented as a ‘where do I move to spend the next several years of my life’? Maybe that part – years of my life – could be reconsidered as where do a I move for the next year or so only while I figure out longer term and better living locations and options. I guess it seems like you have two enormous demands, maybe the second demand could be lightened a little by creating some time and space around it . Not sure this makes sense. And yes, it would mean two moves and possibly putting some things into storage for a year or so. But it might take off some of the pressure of the moment.

      4. Boomheist

        Yves, over the years I have avidly followed your NC and you have occasionally referenced personal issues, your mother’s health, your own, yet still you have maintained, in my view, an enormously high standard of reporting and analysis throughout, for which all your readers have greatly benefited. When I was younger I would hear elderly people say things like, “Life is difficult,” “Getting old is not for sissies,” “Health is the only thing of value,” and all of us who eventually must accept the years are passing come to realize how true such statements are. At least I do. Thank you for carrying on with this NC effort despite your personal situation. I admire you, greatly.
        As regards becoming an ex-pat, if anyone can do the research to find the best solution, I imagine it is you.Tough decision. I have some classmates from 55 years ago who chose warm places, Costa Rica, for example, and they seem to it, but it is also clear they fly back to the States all the time. We’re out in the PNW, Tacoma, mild climate, great air, great scenery, good medical facilities, but I dream of moving to Vermont despite the snow, high taxes, and distance to assistance. Maybe we will. Probably not. Having moved a few times, I know we always, always, underestimate the stress of the move, the years to plug in to new normal life services and tasks – doctor, laundry, car repair place, food shopping, etc etc. These days, at this age (almost 76) that is a huge disincentive. Things become especially challenging when a parent dies, there is an estate to be settled (especially if the heirs fight), which always takes longer than anyone wants or expects, and then on top of that there are financial and health issues. Settling an estate, dealing with health issues, AND moving, all at the same time, is huge. I would say, absolutely no need to apologize. If it were me,I would try as best I can to handle the immediate stuff first and hold off the big moving decision as long as I could, but then again, I was never the brightest bulb in the room.

      5. curlydan

        Yves: I am sorry everything is so stressful for you. Feel free to share as much as possible.

        Maybe find an easily accessible park bench to sit each day. And one crazy idea that sometimes works for me… Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn told the story of a famous Sutra Master who was stumped by a question from a young monk. Seung Sahn advised at the end, “Go ask a tree. The tree will answer for you.”

      6. Callie

        “There is some stuff of minor value so I have to figure out what those items are and get experts in for rough valuations to make sure one heir does not accidentally get unfair share in distribution of stuff”…

        Been there, done that. Just give it away on Craigslist, with brothers offered stuff the day before. You will lose out on some money, but will gain what’s more valuable, time and energy.

        1. Irrational

          This. Had to clear my uncle’s house in another country in a week. Ruthless. Admittedly, I was sole heir.
          Yves, find a way of making this part your brothers’ problem, not yours. Concentrate on your needs! Not that I am a good one to advise…

          1. orlbucfan

            Yves, this Floridian wishes you the very best of luck in settling your mother’s affairs. I thank cosmic law that my sis and I had no problems probating my mother’s will, and carrying out her final wishes. My father died decades before. The most important thing you have is your mental health. If you need to give yourself a breather from NC, do it! We, your staff and loyal commentariat, will understand. In fact, we insist on it! Please take good care!!

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          No, will requires me to divide in roughly equal shares and distribute to them.

          And I don’t have time to deal with people calling about stuff, wanting to come and have a look, photos, etc.

          1. Noh1

            Good luck, Yves. You might consider the Hawaiian Islands. Rentals aren’t cheap, but you can get a room in a shared house for a reasonable rate. The price of food is high, but you don’t need to pay for heating in the winter. It sounds like you’d be able to navigate the no-snow terrain pretty well with your joint problems. The sense of community that’s eroded in most places is still present in Hawaii. Good health care.

    1. davejustdave

      One of Seung Sahn’s American students was Jon Kabat-Zinn, who got a Ph.D. in molecular biology at MIT with Salvador Luria. Luria was disappointed when Kabat-Zinn abandoned molecular biology and went on to develop Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – MBSR. At some point Yves may have a chance to look into whether there is something in this approach for her.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    This $67BN High Speed Railway Will Change Asia YouTube (furzy)

    I love HSR and I think we need lots more of it, but the SE Asia plans are lunatic. Its little more than a scam for the construction and finance industries to lay on a lot of debts on governments in the region. The Bangkok to Chiang Mai line is a case in point – they wanted to build a close on 500 mile HSR to link Bangkok to a tourist city of 120,000 (with few if any stops on the way) for around $7 billion. Thankfully, it seems this link is being dropped.

    But the overall Kunming to Kuala Lumpur/links are just as much white elephants. HSR just can’t compete with airlines over these distances and the lines as currently being built/designed are of little use for anything but high speed trains. For a variety of technical reasons (mostly the cambers at transition curves), HSR lines are very bad at facilitating goods trains, even if that is the intention (it can be done, it just means a lot of extra cost and compromise in design).

    What the region needs are big high capacity goods railways, which can benefit inland cities hugely and potentially benefit the SE Asian region if they link it up with the inner Chinese cities, although as always with infrastructure you need to be careful that they don’t become a way of just stripping inland areas of raw materials (this is possibly one reason why Argentina’s railways did more damage than good to its early industrial development). As for moving people, old style sleeper trains using the goods lines at night are potentially more useful for most people than high speed trains. For example, a 12 hour 7pm to 7am city to city sleeper is more practical for most tourist and business people alike than a 5 or 6 hour HSR journey, or even a 2 hour flight (taking into account time getting to and through airports).

    Unfortunately, goods trains are not seen as a sexy form of development anymore. Politicians, and many arms of the development industry, plus the construction industry, prefers a combination of HSR and ever more roads.

  13. Wukchumni

    California braces for more ‘brutal’ flooding and mudslides as experts warn it won’t quench historic drought CNN

    First of all: Book Tip

    Storm, by George R. Stewart

    Written four score ago, its the saga of a very similar atmospheric river starting in Japan and headed east, something wicked this way comes.

    Stewart could write, and although the methodology of tracking the weather of back then was rudimentary compared to our know it all gee-whiz knowhow now, its funny that this storm will take oh so many in the Golden State down who knew nothing, nothing.

    The incoming storm is truly one for the ages and the timing is really shitty in that we’ve had all these wildfires you might have heard about, and these weren’t like them old school wildfires that came through and that was that, these ones create lunar landscapes in a torched earth gig.

    We’re gonna see a veritable shitlode of ‘Ashalanches’ as the storm is a fortnight long express train barreling down the tracks.

      1. Wukchumni

        The flood of record here was in 1955, and I had lunch with an old timer who passed away just BC (Before Covid), about a decade ago and asked him to tell me about the flood as he was 24 when it hit, and at least half of the river frontage in homes and businesses of today would be flooded out in a similar surge, people forget and the lure of something on the river is of obvious appeal.

        It’s that fourth turning, there’s been 4 generations since our best attempt @ emulating Noah around these parts, with a few much smaller floods before and since, but nothing like that one.

        My favorite tale of woe way back when was old man Jenkins who lived in a cabin by the river, narrowly escaped with only the clothes on his back as the flood swept his cabin down the Kaweah River, and caught on fire rapidly drifting downstream, to add insult to injury.

        I have a visual of that in my mind…

        Recipe for a flood:

        Have an amazing amount of snowpack in the higher climes, and add a pineapple express that melts it all off in a jiffy.

          1. Wukchumni

            Funny, that.

            This could well be the storm of a lifetime, but Utah beckons where plural lives are outlawed in a few ski resorts there, and i’ll be watching it unfold from afar.

            The models show it not really wavering-the XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXL fire nozzle letting loose mainly over Central to Northern California with one storm after another, it’ll be oh so soggy soon.

            1. JBird4049

              Which means that the Petaluma, Sacramento, and especially the Russian Rivers will all be overflowing their banks. Then there are the various creeks. It has been about thirty years from the last series of floods and I don’t think anyone, aside from those residents who remember the flooding in the 80s and 90s. For a while, people renting or selling along the Russian especially in towns like Healdsburg and Sevastopol would show just where on flood zone they were with the most exposed places getting steep discount.

              I vaguely remember helping some people digging out from the 1982 floods in Marin and being told that they were told by a lifelong resident that it hadn’t flooded were they were since the last major floods in either the 1920s or maybe 1930s. Say, fifty years. With the exception of not as severe or widespread flooding about a decade later, there hasn’t been any real problems. So, thirty years.

              Rains, droughts, fires, and floods with side of mudslides. That’s California.

              If the rain season lasts for the regular three months and the state gets the very rough average of thirty inches and a good snowpack, the drought, at least for California, will be over. That doesn’t say anything about the rest of the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest or the Mississippi, Rio Grande, or even next year, but at least my water will be much more drinkable. The local reservoirs were getting a little bit muddy.

    1. nippersdad

      And the earthquakes they have been having cannot be much help. Someone on high is not very happy with Northern California.

    2. Revenant

      I read an odd little novel, “The Rains Came”, about an end-of-the-Raj-era Indian town populated by the usual stereotypes and their collective and individual responses to a catastrophic flood. It was gripping and feverish. I’d recommend it. It was written by an American author, Louis Bloomfield, who was an early proponent of sustainability and organic farming. Apparently Hollywood made a rather less nuanced film of it.

      It is surprising rain doesn’t have more of a literature. One chapter in the bible and a couple of potboilers….

  14. Amfortas the hippie

    re the aeon thing on pain:
    since that big wreck, 32 years ago, i’ve been in more or less constant pain…less early on, increasing with time…as well as with various conscious and unconscious compensation strategies.
    (if ya cant lift with yer knees, yer back will suffer)
    in addition to the pain that is easily attributed to, say, digging a ditch…there’s teh damned weather pain…which current medical science continues to dismiss and/or ignore.
    i reckon that all of it flows from the injury and the consequent compensatory strategies.
    but i don’t have a data port like a car that the doctor can plug in to to objectively determine my “pain level”…it is entirely subjective.
    this should be enough…”listen to the patient”, etc.
    but it ain’t…as the article says, there’s a whole raft of sociological, psychological and political aspects to how we treat folks in pain.
    in my experience, when the pain got to be too much to continue cooking for a living…not only did the Disability Machine actively deny my assertions of terrible pain(excused by lack of running to the doctor all the time, and thereby assembling a document trail(in a world where running to the doctor is de facto rationed by income level, no less)…i was shocked to learn that the humans all around me were fully on board with denying my subjective reports.
    its like everyone had gotten the memo that such pain must be denied, in order to protect civilisation, or something.
    50 years of Righty mindf&ck about welfare queens and hanging from the gooberment teat have done their work, it seems…pressing already extant buttons in the psyche regarding “toughness” and other assorted machisme.
    default assumption of Fraud is rampant…not just in the social insurance apparatus(that we’ve all paid the premiums on with every paycheck)…but in society at large.
    add in the periodic hysterics around pain management/opioids…wherein my doctor will get a bulletin about “drug seeking behaviour” or whatever, and freak out that he hasn’t dotted all the i’s with my management program(vicodin for 15+ years, with periodic drug holidays to reset the receptors to ensure this drug keeps working).
    given my experience with Disability, i worry a lot about what’s coming with Long Covid…the disability System was already fubar before covid.
    add in millions of people, without the medical records to “prove it”, attempting to get “on Disability”, and things look pretty dire.

    and, the author scatters a lot of Greek words around…my favorite is Agon…as in Amfortas Agonistes….”Struggle”.

    1. semper loquitur

      I’ve seen that jive in kitchens. Lot of tough talk about working through being sick or hurt, bragging about working back to back nightmare schedules, putting up with abuse, and sneering at those who balk or complain. I don’t miss that scene.

    2. Offtrail

      I hear you, brother.

      The kicker is that the heavy labor types most likely to get hurt often have the most resistance to complaining, because about all they have is the pride that they can take it. Then when they can’t take it, and the doctor doesn’t believe them, the failure feels all the worse.

  15. PlutoniumKun

    Mastodon: A Social Media Platform Dominated By Pedophiles & Child Porn SecJuice

    Hard to know whether to laugh or cry at this. A lot of the usual liberal crew, plus a lot of very well meaning people are claiming to be moving to Mastodon (I note that very few have actually closed their Twitter accounts). It would not surprise me at all if the MSM turns a blind eye to this story if it suits the current ‘Twitter is evil and doomed anyway’ narrative.

    1. semper loquitur

      They don’t seem to mind a child-sniffing president who showered with his teenage daughter, Lolita Express Air Marshall Bill Clinton leading a conference for young women in Democratic politics, or children slipping dollar bills into the g-strings of drag queens. I don’t expect there to be too much of a fuss.

    2. hunkerdown

      Kamala supporters trafficked enough in the stuff to post some on Sanders campaign pages. It’s what priests do I guess.

    1. Wukchumni

      Kamala is obviously readying us for ‘Harristroika’ when Kid Chernenko gets knocked out.

    2. semper loquitur

      I’d respond “Sure, if the Madam Vice-President KaBabble can score a positive on a reading comp exam…”

  16. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Chinahand (Peter Lee) tweet on US/Japan

    For as long as I’ve been vaguely following Japanese politics (since around the early 1990’s), nearly every Japan watcher has been predicting a near-future profound shift in Japans policy stance away from its quasi neutrality (in reality, the Yoshida Doctrine was a lot more subtle than it appeared at first glance). It was always assumed that, as usual with Japan, any shift would be slow to emerge, but rapid to occur once the change of direction occurred. Everyone has their favourite metaphor about Japanese politics, but probably the best is that its like a plate of peas – once there is a pronounced tilt in the plate, all the peas rush together to one side.

    Anyway, I think that very quietly, this rapid switch actually did take place sometime in 2022 (possibly more specifically, in the weeks following Abe’s assassination), although as usual with Japan, it may take years to work out in which angle all the peas have run off. Superficially, it looks like a much more strongly militaristic stance (an effective doubling of the defence budget) along with what seems like a more overtly pro-US political stance.

    But, as always with Japanese politics, there is probably a lot more going on than appears at first glance. My suspicion is that if the US thinks it has a poodle on its hands with Tokyo, it may get a rude surprise sometime in the future. Time will tell.

  17. diptherio

    That story about Mastodon is pretty f’n dumb, actually. Anybody can set up an instance and post whatever they want on it. So, of course, you are going to have people doing that for untoward purposes. Duh. And guess what, as soon as some Nazi, or CP instance pops up, it gets defederated from everyone else (except the other instances run by other terrible people, I suppose). So no, Mastodon is not full of CP and it is not “dominated by pedophiles.” That is some pretty unhinged CT, right there. And Mastodon is not a single platform like twitter. It’s more akin to email than Facebook, so this headline is just as silly as if someone were to write that “email is now dominated by pedophiles” because they found out pedos use email.

    I had a look at the instances he is referring to and let me say this: the two big instances he refers to are both based in Japan (and owned by the same guy); if you are at all familiar with Japanese culture, especially anime, you will probably be able to guess what this author is freaking out about. Age of consent laws are a little different over there. These are instances that have a higher than average amount of anime art posted to them, that’s all. And the guy who owns those instances has said that the reason he is in Japan is specifically so he can get away with letting people post fan art that would get them in trouble in other countries. But I did go look at one of the instances and it’s not at all the cesspool that the author would lead you to believe. I mean, the headline alone should have been a tip-off that this guy is just a tad hyperbolic.

    I’m on Mastodon everyday, and let me tell you who we’ve always had more than our fair share of: techies, furries, and LGBTQ+ people. Pedos, not so much.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That is all well and good, but you are glossing over a key point: You do not know what you do not know. There are verticals or whatever they are called in Mastodon you don’t see and can’t find unless you made a concerted effort to get to them. The fact that your Mastodon is hunky dory does not disprove his claims about communities you cannot even visit w/o what I infer is some sort of special route in.

      1. cfraenkel

        It’s not that you cannot, it’s that there’s no convenient search. The platform doesn’t spoonfeed content like twitter or facebook. diptherio’s comparison to email is a good mental image.

        Tim Bray (ex senior Amazon engineer) has written a few posts lately about Mastodon from a developer’s perspective. Private and Public Mastodon from last week specifically talks about the community’s resistance to full search. It’s doable (and so has been done, by someone, somewhere), but search is a double edged sword. It has been used more often to dox marginalized communities (gamergate, puppies, etc… think 8chan) much more than to uncover seedy dark corners. (where law enforcement has more than enough resources to track down anyone it bothers to get off it’s collective duff for)

        I think a more illuminating framing would be should a moralizing community group be given the tools to make it easy to see what the kids in their area are writing in what looks to be a private space?

        1. lambert strether

          Call me old-fashioned, even moralizing, but if a federated platform without search turns out to be optimized for ped0philia (as the article shows), and the platform’s leadership knows this and shuts down (technically do-able) search development to preserve growth (as the article shows), that’s a big problem. That, to my mind, is the appropriate framing (though it is delicious that TDS led the Blue Checks to stumble into a cesspit. Couldn’t happen to a nicer braying mob of vengeful pinheads).

          Between consenting adults, I’m pretty much an “as long as they don’t frighten the horses” type of guy. Underlining those two words, “consenting” and “adults.” If that be moralizing, so be it.

    2. hunkerdown

      Any distributed communications technology is going to be tendentiously coded by the tendentiously insinuative PMC as a den of iniquity. Their future as a class depends on it. Remember Cuomo v. Usenet? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

        1. hunkerdown

          I got about as far as the author spelling W3C the “WWWC” before I withdrew his benefit of the doubt. It’s not credible that a professional in the industry who has filed for patents related to secure web browsing would misspell that acronym in that way. The rest of the article reads very much like highly engineered political rhetoric, smoothly shifting its emotional tone and judgments over the course of the piece from a position of high dudgeon. (And what the hell is a “harbour”?) He’s an infosec blogger, so why emote?

          Welp! The nature of our author is salient to the evaluation of this work. It turns out he’s highly active in the Ukraine info op and generally endorses cyber vigilantism in alignment with nation-states, which obliges me to consider the possibility of an action against unbossed social networking, a known urgent priority of Western rulers. He has the means/motive/opportunity to employ a cherished taboo as an “empathetic trigger” to build a networked swarm under inflated pretenses against a potential dissident tool. (I seem to remember that Kamala’s social media activist arm stands accused of posting CP on pro-Sanders pages.)

          It strikes me as a terrifically convenient and interesting time and place for so many threads to come together: US “national interest”, Ukraine, the bodily integrity of children (is something about Ukrainian organ harvesting about to drop?), dominating the information space, OSINT/OSOPS, PMC moral performance. Is it ClownStrike 2.0?

          3/10 would not click again without a security proxy (not one he wrote, either)

  18. The Rev Kev

    “German lawmakers criticize gov’t silence on Nord Stream blasts”

    People here may remember the John Cleese skit in Fawlty Towers making famous the phrase “Don’t mention the war!” when talking with Germans. Looks like in Germany itself you are now hearing the catch phrase “Don’t mention the Pipelines!”

  19. Tom Pfotzer

    Just read a piece by Victor Shvets, dated mid-2021, where he’s saying inflation is transitory.

    While he got timing and magnitude wrong, he makes some very interesting points about underlying econ fundamentals, about monetary policy (central banks will fund investment) and about fiscal policy (gov’t can’t allocate (no idea what and where to spend), has to get buy-in, therefore paralysis and yo-yo commitment).

    But best of all, he talks about capacity. About capital and labor, supply constraints, the nature and drivers of next-gen economy, and that’s really worth the read.

    The link below is a transcript, it’ll take effort to get through, but some sacred cows are going to get chased around the pasture, and it’s worth it to hear someone with Schvet’s background doing the commentary.

    Here’s the link.

    A few choice bits:

    Shvets: … between 2000 and call it 2018 or 2020, it was a world dominated by what I describe as a digit manipulators. They’re basically company manipulating digits of information, whether it’s a social media, or downloading videos or trading stock exchange, or getting information, or whatever that might be. Now, those companies become incredibly powerful.

    Now, what we’re going to do for the next 20 years is studying, much more manipulating atoms and physical methods. So in other words, this is the age of manufacturing, logistics, different alternative energy platforms, transportation platforms, green energy. This is the period of robotics, automation. This is the period of infotech and biotech.

    Now this new era will be much more capital intensive than the previous 20 years. But as I said, early on about Biden [infrastructure package, fiscal remedy] , where you spend the money is different. So there is no long-term cycle for oil. There is no long-term cycle for coal or iron ore or steel, because we won’t be building a lot of factories, or a lot of roads, a lot of machinery.

    But there will be a massive continued upscaling of some commodities. So for example, if you treat semiconductors as a commodity, which I do, I think they’re going to have a long run. Similarly, if you think of copper, nickel, cobalt, lithium, silver.So there will be part of the commodity cycle which will be in a bull run.

    The other thing that will happen is that, you know, the likes of Amazon or Facebook, they’re not very good at physical stuff.

    And so if you want physicality, a lot of capital goods companies actually will come through the woodwork. And instead of being value, could actually become thematics. You know, your Mitsubishi Electrics, your Honeywells, your Rockwell’s potentially your GEs, your Siemens. Those sorts of companies potentially could become more critical. There is also a new third generation of tech companies coming up, your Teslas, your Nios … Whether it’s robotics automation, new energy, there is a lot of startups.

    So one of the interesting things that is occurring, not only the policy mix is changing, but the winners among thematics are also starting to change.

    Another one from Shvets:

    And so going forward, because we’re mixing fiscal and monetary policy together, we are not going to have such a consistent trend. Over the last 15 years, if you did not realize that we live in a disinflationary world, if you didn’t realize that both labor and capital is losing pricing power, you’re probably no longer managing money.

    Last one, lest this get too long, from Shvets again:

    [I’m] arguing is can we create a consistent long-term fiscal strategy that doesn’t rely on revisitation of Covid, doesn’t rely on revisitation of wars or major financial dislocation.

    Can we reach the stage that we also will be managing our investment without reliance on the bond market, and directly funded out of central banks as we go forward. And so my argument was that that will be the ultimate destination, but it’s probably at least five, 10 years out.

    And the reason for why it is five, 10 years out, is because clearly in every country you could think of, there is a degree of polarization — not a degree, there is a very high level of polarization.There is no consensus agreement.

    No consensus yet on the role of fiscal policy, or where the funding of the policy should come from. “Things move slowly” and “change comes one funeral at a time”.

  20. Jade Bones

    Re: The Beavers and the Tundra. While mention is made of the carbon release due to the beaver ponds warming the permafrost, which seems will likely happen eventually anyway, nothing is said about the carbon locked in the boreal forests predicted to rise.
    It would, admittedly romantically, seem to me that the Earth is directing a mitigation program. The time scale is global not human…Watch and learn. Peace

    1. thousand points of green

      It seems to me that the article is confusing cause and effect. Global warming allowed the woody plants to move north into the former tundra to begin with. They predated and preceded the beavers. The beavers did not bring the woody plants with them. The beavers only came when they found enough woody plants already there to be able to support beavers.

      “Tundra” means no woody plants. The fact that woody plants are following the greater warmth northward means that wherever they grow, it already isn’t entirely tundra any more. If we could somehow reverse the warming and refreeze the ex-tundra so that all the woody plants died off and it became true tundra again, the beaver would run out of food and retreat back south. If we can’t fairly suddenly re-chill the ex-tundra back into tundra, the beavers and the thawing ex-tundra will probably do a positive feedback loop dance with eachother, each helping the other thaw the permafrost even faster.
      Just as excess wintertime heat and water shortage weaken trees in parts of the West and make them more subject to bark beetle attacks, which kills them faster and allows them to flood the sky with the oxidised carbon of their dead burning corpses. Which warms the west even faster, especially in winter, which weakens yet more trees and invites yet more bark beetle plagues and outbreaks, which prepares even more trees to burn, which raises the atmospheric carbon level even more, which stresses even more trees, and round and round we go.

      Blaming and accusing the beavers of causing all this will probably prime parts of public opinion to call for a massive beaver extermination program throughout all of the beavers’ newly discovered and developed ex-tundra range. I won’t be surprised if that very thing gets suggested.

  21. Wukchumni

    Legal Use of Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Begins in Oregon New York Times
    I don’t know about having a minder who’s a stranger, man.

    That’s not the way it works.

  22. Wukchumni

    More than half of rural California now ranks ‘very high’ for wildfire hazard Los Angeles Times (guurst). From last week, still germane.
    Our home insurance nearly tripled in Tiny Town as on the face of it, we’re in a hazardous zone, but it takes all kinds of forests for the trees, and there are no pine trees or few to speak of in the oak savanna we inhabit, and when was the last time one of those burned up?

    Our abode dates from the Saturday Night Fever era (had to remove a mega-mirrored disco ball from the ceiling when we bought the all cats and no cattle ranch all those years ago) and if our home insurance were to double again, i’d consider going without it, as the aces up my sleeve are a couple of wildfires that took out much of the combustibles above, gad Zeus!

    1. Wukchumni


      Lit up the 3 big burn piles of downed wood and lower dead branches and whatnot collected come what May last year, and I haven’t exactly been Johnny on the spot in getting more done, but every year’s reprieve from a fire allows me ever so much more to hack away at the underbelly, with my Lorax being this 6 foot wide oak about 100 feet from the river, easily double the width of all other upright standing citizens.

      How it pulled it off, who knows, but some of the massive branches died decades ago, others are living but drooping like hunchbacks. On a terrace 30 feet away and 30 feet up is a perfect flat camping spot, especially nice when the Redbud is blooming, a misnomer of a name as it trends more violet.

  23. Stephen

    A short 6 minute video from The Times in London just appeared. By Professor Michael Clarke. Titled: “Russian troops told they’re fighting Poland….”

    Presents no evidence for that assertion. Then goes on a lot about the incompetence of the Russian military given the recent missile strike and criticism from The Telegram channels. Compares Putin to a Tsar in his behaviour, pandering to UK prejudices of course, and claims that he avoids discussing all bad news. “Professor” Clarke clearly does not read his speeches or hopes that his listeners do not.

    I normally avoid any mainstream UK commentary because it is so bad. This video includes zero context of course on Ukraine but just criticizes Russia. Maybe all UK mainstream commentary is like this. If so, am very happy I avoid it.

    Clarke is former director of RUSI and clearly a paid for member of the UK propaganda machine. As is The Times. May be of interest to readers here as evidence of how deranged the UK mainstream is. The supposedly first true war correspondent in the world worked for The Thunderer in The Crimean War and made his name by opposing the military narrative of the time. The Times today is just a hollow shell compared to what it was.

    1. Kouros

      I thought that all the British media of the time was whipping the population into a frenzy to demand action and go to war against Russia.

      1. Stephen

        He opposed the military narrative by exposing the incompetence of the British Army once the war broke out, which even helped to bring down the Aberdeen government.

        I think the true anti Russian media frenzy actually came a bit later in 1877-8 over the Russo Turkish War. Literacy rates were also higher by then. That era even led to the phrase “jingoism”, defined by an anti Russian music hall song.

        But I agree that Russophobia seems endemic in the UK establishment and The Times has always been the voice of the establishment.

        1. Kouros

          Why was 1877-78 war so dreaded by the Brits? Because Russian army came so close to Constantinopole? But Romania gained its independence and Bulgaria became autonomous and on the pathway to independence. Or in British minds, only the Greek deserved their independence?

          1. Stephen

            I have no idea! The British reaction was just as irrational then as why we are now supposed to condemn Russia but ignore our own role in aggressive war mongering over the past two decades.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Technically we don’t have any in spite of the best efforts of our politicians. Every time a country wonders about making us an enemy, somebody points out the sky-high costs of just traveling here which is off-putting for most countries. Tierra del Fuego uses the same strategy I believe.

      2. bwilli123

        This will prompt 2nd thoughts for anyone thinking of invading Australia (see map for coverage) particularly those who might have otherwise snuck through the Torres Strait on their way to the Gold Coast.
        As the Australian coastline is at a minimum 25,000 kilometres long we will need about 50 of these (plus spares)
        Unfortunately, as the map shows we will only be able to lob shells into various bits of PNG and Indonesia, or open water (of which we have lots) so the plan is to mount them on the bows of our (soon to arrive) ‘nucleer’ subs.
        This will give us a great deal more strategic flexibility in support of NATO East.

  24. The Rev Kev

    Kevin lost a sixth consecutive vote for speaker in spite of – or maybe because of – having Trump’s Caps Lock support. This article says that ‘The nation’s legislative process is at a standstill: Members cannot be sworn in, adopt rules or vote on bills until a speaker is chosen.’

    They say that as if it was a bad thing-

    And it sounds like that those Republicans are forcing the vote on this debacle. They won’t give him their vote unless he actually does stuff that they want. In the olden days, this was known as ‘politics.’

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