Links 2/28/2023

Radioactive Living — with grand views of San Francisco! Yasha Levine (Randy K)

Record number of dolphins wash up on France’s Atlantic beaches Guardian (resilc) :-(

Germ-Zapping Lasers Help Cut Down on Infections After Surgery Bloomberg (ma)

‘All the Knowledge in the World’ Review: The Encyclopedia Eternal Wall Street Journal (Anthony L). I loved encyclopedias when I was a kid.

Does a Final Theory Exist?: A Conversation with Alan Lightman Los Angeles Review of Books (Anthony L)


Protective Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on COVID-19-Related Intensive Care Hospitalization and Mortality: Definitive Evidence from Meta-Analysis and Trial Sequential Analysis Pharmaceuticals (furzy)


On the Edge Propublica (resilc)

Shortage of Onions Threatens a New Chapter in Global Food Crisis Bloomberg

As Heat Pumps Go Mainstream, a Big Question: Can They Handle Real Cold? New York Times


Note the latest Wuhan stories are here and not under #COVID-19 because the timing (when Bakhmut is about to fall, when the US is accusing China of the thought-crime of considering selling weapons to Russia, when the Collective West is in complete freakout mode about China positioning itself as a better broker of a Ukraine peace even though no way no how will they ever get the call) looks like this new push is designed to stoke yet more China antipathy in the US.

National security adviser: No ‘definitive answer’ on COVID lab leak v. COVID origin report reignites firestorm over ‘lab leak’ theory The Hill. Again, recall the key sentence from the Wall Street Journal when it broke the story: “The Energy Department made its judgment with ‘low confidence,’ according to people who have read the classified report.”

Edward Snowdon Signs On To Distribute U.S. Gov Propaganda Moon of Alabama. The headline is off even if the substance of the critique is correct. Snowden seems to identify with right libertarians and right libertarians have embraced the lab leak theory.

Exclusive: US ambassador’s Wolf Warrior-style ‘nonsense’ about China causes strong dissatisfaction among business circle, source reveals Global Times. This looks like (more of) the US losing its mind. What was this supposed to accomplish? The US is still very much joined at the hip with China, business-wise.

‘Killing Us as if We Were Animals’: 12 Dead After Police Open Fire on Civilians Vice (resilc)


Reports of Adani’s eclipse are greatly exaggerated Indian Punchline (Kevin W)

India revives civil militia after Hindu killings in Kashmir Associated Press

Old Blighty

Northern Ireland Brexit deal: At-a-glance BBC

What has been agreed in the new Brexit trade deal? RTE. Mind you, the EU had offered a very long time ago how to work out waivers or easier procedures on goods shipped from NI to Great Britain that were pretty clearly going to stay in Great Britain. Prior Tory governments rejected the idea.

At last, a protocol deal, but we are no further away from Brexit’s poisonous legacy Guardian

It is unacceptable that Northern Ireland is separated from us by a sea, by Mark Francois Daily Mash

‘Brits are suffering but for us it’s boom time’: how Brexit boosted French and Irish ports Guardian (Kevin W)

New Not-So-Cold War

Russia explains halt in oil exports to Poland RT (Kevin W)

* * *

‘Something Was Badly Wrong’: When Washington Realized Russia Was Actually Invading Ukraine Politico (Dr. Kevin). No admission that the trigger was the refusal of the West to respond to Russian written proposals in December, Zelensky asking for nukes at the Munich Security conference and also around that time rejecting the Macron effort to revive Minsk, the increases in shelling of Donbass around that time and the massing of Ukraine troops, consistent with an plan to invade in early March. It has been reported that Victoria Nuland had come to the Kremlin in October and told Russian officials in the most sailor-like Russian that Ukraine would send its troops into Donbass and if Russia did not stand aside, the West would destroy its economy.

Treating Putin as an Irredeemable Imperialist has Painted the West into a Dangerous Corner Larry Johnson. The irony is that stance leaves Russia no sound options other than maximalist solutions, since the West keeps calling for the removal of Putin….as if Medvedev would be so much nicer.

* * *

Since when do Treasury Secretaries conduct foreign policy? Confirms Alex Christaforu’s recent comparison of Yellen to Boris Johnson:

Even though Dima of Military Summary can speculate wildly, a few days back he pointed out China had already invested a fair bit in Belarus, and if China wanted to make arms to supply to Russia, one way to create plausible deniability would be to use Belarus.

The State of Ukrainian Democracy Is Not Strong Jacobin. The headline is one hell of an understatement v, the article proper. Note URL for presumed unsanitized version. Very well documented.



Egypt: Affordable Russian cooking oil pours into markets as prices soar Middle East Eye (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

This hoodie protects wearers’ privacy with infrared LEDs Popular Science (resilc)

US Marshals Service Suffers ‘Major’ Security Breach That Compromises Sensitive Information NBC

Imperial Collapse Watch

US Navy laments China’s shipbuilding supremacy Asia Times. I heard about this over 10 years ago at a small conference in the Pacific Northwest. Acting like this is news is misleading.

The Iraq War was dominated by groupthink and absolutely no humility Responsible Statecraft. Resilc: “Gee, sort of like now?”

Dip, Doritos and drinking: Why the Army can’t get in shape Military Times (resilc)


Biden’s program for mass hunger: Food stamps being cut back for 42 million WSWS

GOP Clown Car

Ron DeSantis touts his COVID leadership in Florida and fight against ‘power-hungry elites’ Daily Mail (resilc)

MAGA 2024 presidential candidate fails basic U.S. Defense question in embarrassing interview Boing Boing (resilc)


The Supreme Court Actually Understands the Internet Atlantic (David L)

Tensions rise as Supreme Court prepares for high-stakes student debt clash The Hill

Northern Suffolk Chemical Bomb

So far, Trump’s rollback of regulations can’t be blamed for Ohio train wreck Washington Post (Li)

Estimated animal death toll from Ohio train derailment tops 43,700 as time frame for environmental recovery remains uncertain, officials say CBS (furzy)

Dilbert comic strip dropped by US media over creator’s racist tirade BBC. Boy, he asked for this.

Police State Watch

‘Far from justice’: why are nearly half of US murders going unsolved? Guardian (resilc). This is not new….From ASIS last year:

But the overarching explanation for the decline in clearances during the past several decades is the prevalence of firearms, [crime analyst Jeff] Asher says. Gun murder rates in the United States are significantly higher than they were 50 years ago….

Firearm murders are harder to solve—they take place at a distance, there are fewer witnesses, and there is less physical evidence, he added.


Generative AI could be an authoritarian breakthrough in brainwashing The Hill (Paul R)

Viral AI chatbot to reflect users’ political beliefs after criticism of Left-wing bias Telegraph (Dr. Kevin)

The Imminent Danger of A.I. Is One We’re Not Talking About New York Times (David L)

To Tap Federal Funds, Chip Makers Will Need to Provide Child Care New York Times (resilc)

Future Fords Could Repossess Themselves, Drive Away If You Miss Payments The Drive. So now the real use case for self driving cars is revealed.

In latest round of Twitter cuts, some see hints of its next CEO Platformer (Paul R)

The Bezzle

How the Biggest Fraud in German History Unravelled New Yorker (Paul R)

Coinbase To Halt Trading of Binance USD for Not Meeting Listing Standards The Block

Crypto Con Artists Leave Trail of ‘Rip Deal’ Victims From Amsterdam to Rome CoinDesk

Class Warfare

Eight Lessons From Bernie Sanders’s New Book Jacobin. Resilc: “SP500 rulers would shoot us all down at the drop of a hat.”

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “This fellow was labeled as a red diamond rattlesnake at the Orange County Zoo (Irvine, California).”

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here. 

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  1. Questa Nota

    Ukraine pops up in unusual places. When will there be some more news from Russia about the bio labs that they, um, investigated?

    Yellen’s visit, just due diligence on all that transfer of lucre, maybe helping out with how to account for billions, or dacha shopping? Was Nuland too busy?

    There seems to be much more to uncover and report in this age of the unexpected.

    1. Polar Socialist

      The only news about the biolabs seem to be that as long as US, UK and France vote in UN against looking into the matter, no UN office has mandate to look at the evidence and thus UN sees no evidence of the US biolabs in Ukraine.

      This is, I believe, what the Global South calls undermining the international institutions by making them look untrustworthy and biased.

      It may be worth mentioning that for the same reason (US, UK and France voting against) UN is not looking into the surnames of people killed in Bucha, even though Russia has requested it several times.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        I don’t think we can rule out the possibility that, as the mullti-polar world unfolds, BRICS + may become an alternate UN that stands up alternatives to such entities as the WHO and UNESCO that have been captured by western elites.

  2. Questa Nota

    Self-repo, a Ford better idea? Remember when they claimed to have those? Now they barely want to acknowledge car manufacture.

    Once upon a time, a repo man might find that his target was blocked in by other vehicles.

    1. griffen

      One more example in a litany of reasons to keep my older vehicle, even with all its circa 2007 – 2008 production that includes electronics and sensors, to avoid this futuristic crap. And as long as the engine turns over and the transmission doesn’t drop, I’ll keep what I got.

      Future vehicles should just install a credit card reader, that way you could pay as you go to acknowledge the nickel and dime nature of the relationship.

      1. midtownwageslave

        What if car manufacturers took Uber’s surge pricing model and applied it to the car’s subscription AirCon functions?

        Late stage capitalism is a [family blog]

        1. Questa Nota

          Variations of that exist on some BMW models, where you can pay extra for the sportier features. Sell folks on the fun, and the frog water heating up, and they won’t notice the precedent.

          Service providers, or service providers, like insurance companies proffer the following: Only pay for what you need.

          How long until that morphs into Nice car ya got there. Shame if something were to disable it.

      2. bassmule

        There is no code written that cannot be hacked. I look forward to aftermarket services for disabling the software.

        1. johnnyme

          If you’ll pardon a little fanboi-ness, I was a teenager when your movie was released and it instantly became a classic for me and the gang and I’m pretty sure at least one line of dialogue entered most of our conversations back then. It left the best kind of indelible mark on me (an opportunity presented itself just last week to use the “You’re all right!” line) so I just wanted to say “thank you”. :)

  3. griffen

    I’m pretty familiar with the triad myself, actually. Wait, this is the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina I’m speaking to. To be certain, I probably would not have answered that question well either. But I am not now or in the future planning a run for office in 2024. Good grief.

    Lots of greenery in the Piedmont Triad. So decidedly nothing nuclear defense-related (to my immediate knowledge anyway).

    1. The Rev Kev

      When I saw the word Triad, I immediately thought of the international Chinese crime syndicate based in Greater China. But then I realized that they were referring to the other international crime syndicate – Congress, the Military-Industrial complex and Wall Street. No wonder the poor guy got confused.

      1. russell1200

        The nuclear triad was pretty common term back in the cold war. So asking it in those terms, with no context, is a pretty boomer thing.

        It is sort of a strange question. Most of the concern has been about various medium range missles, cruise missiles: your in theater type stuff.

        The Russians have a massive torpedo nuke drone thing they built that is likely designed to go after our missile subs, but it is just another bit of huffing and puffing about not much of nothing – similar to the hypersonic missile stuff.

        1. ArvidMartensen

          I saw in an election recently how the partisan journalists would ambush a candidate they weren’t fond of by asking economic indicator gotcha questions. It happened a few times.
          The best answer to one of these gotcha questions about a wages indicator was “google it, mate” from the Greens leader.
          So this question about the triad could have been a gotcha exercise.

  4. The Rev Kev

    ‘Yellen makes a surprise visit to Kyiv, Ukraine’

    I think that Yellen gave the Ukraine $20 billion just the other day and with this trip she is talking about an additional $10 billion in new budgetary aid. I have a nagging memory of an article to do with Yellen but I can’t remember what it was about. It was something, something national debt limit.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Ah, but this will count only towards Ukrainian national debt, so it’s totally ok.

      And I’m sure they will pay back every cent. /s

    2. fresno dan

      I understand Yellen’s next trip is to East Palestine to dispense Bounty (the quicker picker upper) coupons, as I understand they have quite a mess there…
      As the coupons are denominated in “points” I don’t know how many dollars that converts into – I imagine at least one Benjamin….

    3. Stephen

      I wonder (slightly tongue in cheek) if all these western trips are a way to stop Russia launching missiles on Kiev. My assumption would be that they are all “cleared’’ with Russia in the way that Biden’s was.

      So if we have daily visits by various potentates then less window for missile attacks. Bit like how the British delayed the Graf Spee from sailing by having merchant ships depart daily from Montevideo that meant under international law she could not leave for 24 hours after each departure.

      Perhaps Russia will start to insist on grouped visits if this continues.

      Or perhaps they believe that all these walks, photo shoots and false air raid alerts just divert the Ukraine regime from running the war. There must be a small army of coordinators and diary managers behind the scenes. Not to mention PR guys.

    4. Jason Boxman

      So the liberal Democrat war party continues to show its true priorities! They do learn though; They’re avoiding Bush’s debacle by not sending in ground troops or risking WWIII by setting up a No Fly Zone. Libya and Syria were good previews of liberal Democrat warmongering foreign policy, so I didn’t really expect better from Biden.

  5. QuarterBack

    Re Scott Adams, the reaction to his video is so predictable that I can’t imagine that the result wasn’t.his intent. I’m not saying that it was wise or noble, but was he trying to end his contractual obligations and commitments by forcing his counterparties into dropping him? Does he just want to retire from Dilbert et al, or force some unilateral action that the counterparties had no contractual right to perform? You have to be an “odd duck” be as effective at humor as he has been, but he is no dummy. His actions make no sense to me, but I am thinking (deluded or not) he had a plan before he said what he did. I seriously doubt this was spontaneous. He was not making a point as much as invoking a reaction.

    1. MT_Wild

      Agreed. I happened to be following his Twitter feed at the time, and was wondering abkut his end game.

      1. russell1200

        Initially seeming of the typical high-tech culture libertarian sort, Scott Adams showed signs of going down the Trump-inspired rabbit hole. Not that fun and enjoyment can’t be found there, it is just a dangerous world to enmesh yourself if you are going to be interacting with the public in a neutral forum. Unless you are immensely resistant to group psychology, you can find yourself accepting some pretty strange things at face value. Not that this isn’t true in other ideologies, but the mainstream group think is pretty far away from the Trump-inspired folks. They get about the same reaction as tankie-communists.

        My first question, was not about his tactics, but what king of wacky pole is this? And that seems to be the case:

    2. diptherio

      Bingo. The Scott Adams schtick is pretty well-worn by now. Whenever he feels like he’s not getting enough attention, he says something that’s borderline crazy and sure to cause a backlash of people telling him how awful he is…which is obviously the intended outcome. He gets to be the center of attention again, and the conservatives love him for trolling the libs.

      Now, it seems like he’s gone all-in on this tactic and decided that he’d rather make his money as a speaker on the conservative conference circuit, rather than by drawing his occasionally humorous comics.

      1. Darthbobber

        Or maybe he just wants to spend the rest of his life living comfily on the existing money, which contractual obligations interfere with.

    3. Prufrock

      He’ll probably make more money off of a substack style subscription service than he was making off of syndication, or at a minimum he’ll have more control over his deadlines

    4. JustTheFacts

      I thought the BBC’s “reporting” on this subject was characteristically shallow. The point of journalism is not to skim through a statement, and spin it. The point of journalism is to provide the historical context of the statement, and try to help people who are too busy doing other things to spend the time to understand what was actually meant. I don’t feel they did that:

      The BBC should have spent the 90 minutes required to listen to the interview a self described Black nationalist did with Scott Adams to understand why Scott Adams made such provocative statements after apparently working for something like a decade to help Black Americans. I could have benefited from someone, who knows the culture involved, clarifying the points that were made, since I am clearly unfamiliar with it. It wasn’t even hard to find this interview since it’s at the top of Scott’s twitter feed.

      What I understood from the interview, was that Scott Adams was trying to use this opportunity to demonstrate that the concern about racism in the US is a veneer: it’s about virtue signalling but not actually helping people get out of the social trap they find themselves in due to bad education. And he was demonstrating that people are happy to trash freedom of speech to maintain this virtue signalling. Unfortunately, he was working on a book aimed at helping Black kids to do better, but I suppose that book was cancelled along with the rest. Perhaps he’ll self publish it.

      (As a side point, their discussion reminded me of the situation of the White British Working Class, best described by Theodore Dalrymple in his book Life At the Bottom. In particular, that poverty does not explain aggressive, criminal and self-destructive behavior seen in the White British Working Class. In an African slum you will find among the very poor, living in dreadful circumstances, dignity and decency in abundance, which are painfully lacking in an average English suburb, although its inhabitants are much wealthier.)

      The interview also included a discussion of affirmative action, which Adams supports, an odd thing for someone characterized as racist against Black Americans to do, one would presume.

      To conclude, it seems to have been an invitation to either think or react blindly in fury. The BBC would have been fulfilling its mission had it done the former.

      1. marym

        Someone “working for something like a decade to help Black Americans” ought to have some knowledge of the use of “It’s alright to be white” in the culture wars. They also ought to consider how people may respond to the Rassmussen polling question: Do you agree with or disagree with the statement ‘It’s OK to be white?” depending on their familiarity with the usage of the phrase.

        As with “All lives matter” it’s important to consider “historical context of the statement.”

        1. JustTheFacts

          You’re arguing he should have known he was being provocative.

          But on the interview he said he was being purposefully provocative, so he did know he was being provocative.

          The natural question that should then arise is then why was he being purposefully provocative.

          That is the step that seems to be missing. Instead most people seem to run after the stick that’s been thrown rather than looking at the person who threw it.

          1. marym

            No, I’m saying he should know the provenance of the phrase “It’s ok to be white” and not interpret a response to the polling question without considering whether that was a possible factor in the response.

      2. CNu

        Scott Adams was trying to use this opportunity to demonstrate that the concern about racism in the US is a veneer: it’s about virtue signalling but not actually helping people get out of the social trap they find themselves in due to bad education. And he was demonstrating that people are happy to trash freedom of speech to maintain this virtue signalling.

        I’m still a loooong way from knowing what exactly Scott Adams set out to accomplish. Since his self-immolation, he’s tweeted that “the media is racist” and in the process gotten Elon Musk on board.

        This doesn’t seem like a particularly controversial claim.

        In addition to the fact that black folks didn’t cancel Adams, I believe we can also rather safely conclude that he doesn’t have any black friends. He doesn’t know any of the handful of black folks who live in the segregated California town he’s lived in for the past 30 years.

        A little unguarded time in the company of true friends would’ve innoculated him against his original egregious miscalculation. Conversation with a B or C-list black public intellectual friend would’ve been a better rebound than conversation with manosphere D-lister Hotep Jesus.

        What transpired between Gonzalo Lira and Hotep Jesus was painful to listen to, and, it shed no further light on the mystery of Scott Adam’s self-immolation. Jimmy Dore does a nice job roasting the breadth and depth of Adam’s misfire.

        1. JustTheFacts

          Just to be clear, I’m not claiming that Scott Adams was trying to use this opportunity to demonstrate …, I’m claiming that’s what I understood him to say. I don’t know whether he is lying or not.

          You, Jimmy Dore, and many others, are claiming this was a misfire. Scott Adams seems to be claiming it was purposeful, and not a misfire. The distinction seems important to me, in that the misfire narrative lets people off the hook of understanding what the message was, and instead lets them just dismiss Scott Adams as yet another idiot or racist. His self-declared support of affirmative action should, I suppose, contradict the latter narrative.

          I do wish he had made his point more clearly, if he actually has one.

        2. QuicksilverMessenger

          Yes and the funniest thing about the Dore bit was the obvious underlying basis that Mr Adams, the high IQ Mensa genius, completely misunderstood and misinterpreted the results of the poll, the thing on which his whole ordeal was based!

          1. some guy

            Perhaps mensa genius Scot Adams could link up with that other persecuted and misunderstood genius Kanye West and hit the Conservative Talk Show circuit together.
            And co-author some books.

  6. griffen

    Where is Nancy around when we need her pearls of wisdom and quotes from the book of Matthew? “When I was hungry, you didn’t feed me but chose to kick my child in the face”. It is as though “ending” the Covid19 Pandemic is our new “Mission Accomplished” moment. Magical words which conveyed nothing of substance. I do bet a $20 USD that cool Joe in his sunglasses might show the same manner of cool on the aircraft carrier that Bush #43 had. It’s a low bar after all.

    Our leaders. It’s Democrat champion Joe Biden ending this program, FFS. Hey if you are hungry just keep in mind this is the best environment to find a new job in over 50 years! Go get that 3rd part time job. \sarc

      1. griffen

        That amount was forwarded to Ukrainians, so they can have something in their pocket. Supported their pensions and social support payments too, per our resident leader in the White House a few weeks back.

    1. Kouros

      Has to find some way to boost the recruitment in the military service, no?? With the potential wars with Russia and China, the machine needs cannon fodder, as the Ukraine front so clearly has indicated…

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Treating Putin as an Irredeemable Imperialist has Painted the West into a Dangerous Corner”

    I think that the people running this war genuinely believe that Putin is trying to restore the borders of Imperial Russia or maybe even the USSR. It may partly explain why they see Russia as such a threat. Not that long ago Antony Blinken confronted Sergey Lavrov when they met up together and demanded to know why Russia was trying to restore its old borders. Lavrov looked at him, turned around and walked away. You don’t reason with deluded.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Rev Kev: If Russia were trying to restore its imperial borders, wouldn’t the Russians have invaded Alaska by now?

        1. Oh

          If that ever happened, then Sarah Palin really would be able to see Russia the USA from her house. :)

          There. Fixed for ya!

    2. fresno dan

      I said it before and I will say it again – the dominoe theory is back (yeah, I know it is spelled “domino” but I couldn’t resist putting an “e” on it due to a certain former vice president who had problems with words that end in “o”)
      Which makes sense, as McCarthyism is back – no, not the present Speaker of the House, the former senator…

      1. The Rev Kev

        Funny you should use that word, fresno. In the past week or so I have come across the word ‘domino’ being used as a reason why the west has to stop Putin a coupla times. The idea that they are suggesting is that if Putin wins in the Ukraine, then he will go after other eastern European countries like the Baltic States or maybe even Poland. I think though that more and more people are not buying it anymore.

        You just had major protests in both France and Germany and maybe in other countries that the media are not mentioning. The one in Berlin was noteworthy. Activists from the Berlin Story Bunker museum had transported a wrecked Russian T-72 tank and set it up directly in front of the Russian Embassy there with the Ukrainian flag on top of it. The German government would have had to have given the OK to that insane idea.

        But then peace protestors staged a demonstration there, took down that Ukrainian flag, and covered that tank with roses. They also put messages on it saying things like ‘Make peace, not war.’ If the government is depending on people just getting bored with this war and letting the government keep it going for however long they want, it’s not going to happen-

        1. Pat

          Maybe I am giving Germans more credit than I should, but as their education system hasn’t been dumbed down like the American system I am willing to go there.
          Between various European countries and the stellar example of the US it would not surprise me if the deindustrialization of their country isn’t going to keep the number of protesters growing. Energy costs and growing unemployment to keep America’s proxy war going and the future implications of this will only fuel dissent. (I would not hesitate to go into a casino and bet that a greater percentage of Germans know America was behind the destruction of Nord Stream 2 than the percentage of Americans who do.)

    3. Lex

      They have to believe that, otherwise they’d be forced to admit the actual reasons for their behavior towards Russia, if only to themselves. It’s like when Biden threatened to return Russia to 1800 or whatever but is generally too stupid to realize that Russia was a lot bigger in 1800 than it is today.

    4. digi_owl

      There seems to be an odd lot running around on the western side.

      There are some reheated cold warriors indeed. But there are also those that seem to be out to “right” some wrong that they see Russia having inherited from USSR (irony being that most soviet leaders were not Russian).

      The real crazy is that they are all cooperating with Banderites.

      1. LifelongLib

        Going out on a limb, but I think it’s more than the Cold War or even the USSR. There wouldn’t have been anything particularly shocking in (say) 1910 about a country like Russia getting into a war with a country like Ukraine. Nations have differing interests, they push against each other, they try to negotiate, and if that doesn’t work maybe they fight. But today there are (supposedly) “rules” to decide all this. Every nation is supposed to follow them, whether it’s in their interest or not. And the U.S. has set itself up as the enforcer of those “rules”. That’s what the war in Ukraine is threatening.

  8. Carla

    Re: Your Ford driving away after a missed payment

    You will own nothing. You will just pay. And pay. And pay.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It could be worse. Your car could lock you in and then drive you to the nearest police station to turn you in for non-payment of a debt to Ford or something. And if it is high summer and the police don’t appear for a very long time and you have to break a window so that you don’t roast or have a heart attack, then you will be charged for damaging Ford’s property.

      1. JohnA

        Maybe self-driving car owners should invest in wheel clamps as used to disable illegally parked or untaxed cars. But like with bicycles, sooner or later, no matter how secure your locking system is, it is going to disappear for good one day.

        1. Bart Hansen

          Originally they were called Denver Boots, but I don’t think they are used anymore. Or are they?

      2. John

        But we just love AI and robots of all sorts and who needs people anyway. What was that fictional thing called Skynet? How did that play out?

  9. Mark Gisleson

    Future Fords Could Repossess Themselves, Drive Away If You Miss Payments

    In the early ’80s shortly after being permanently laid off from the tire factory, I got behind in my bills. One morning I woke up and my car was missing. I reported it to the police and they told me they would send a car right out. Over two hours later a Ford Pinto with DMPD insignia pulled up outside my place and the fattest young cop I’d ever seen got out.

    He came up to me and told me that my car wasn’t stolen, it had been repossessed BUT that I had three overdue parking tickets that had gone to warrant (my address had changed twice fairly quickly) and the next thing I knew I was under arrest and going downtown in the back of a Pinto (which really didn’t have a backseat imo).

    I got to see a judge that same day (he laughed at me when I told my story), fined me the max and luckily a pal bailed me out (keeping my record of never having “spent the night in jail” intact).

    That same night there was a Democratic central committee meeting and the County Recorder (who was in charge of collecting traffic fines) was present so I unloaded my story on him and then he laughed in my face (big Carter guy and I was the Kennedy labor guy who showed up wearing Ted in ’80 stickers at their reelection grand opening two years before).

    All three tickets were meter violations incurred while working on campaigns. Despite all the legendary levels of corruption in the old party, in states like Iowa volunteers like me couldn’t even get our parking comped and I lost what would have been half a week’s wages (had I still been employed). Being an officer of the party couldn’t get me off on parking tickets while the officeholders routinely got embarrassed apologies from cops who accidentally pulled them over.

    So yes, I will be rooting for a computer glitch (hack?!) to recall all the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors which will then suddenly drive themselves back to the dealers lot.

    1. Martin Oline

      You couldn’t get the tickets comped because
      A) You didn’t live on the south side of town.
      B) Your name doesn’t end in a vowel.
      C) All of the above.

  10. DJG, Reality Czar

    Yes, the Branko Marcetic article from Jacobin is worth your while: The situation in Ukraine has been a human-rights disaster for years. If anything, the article is a reminder that appeals to human rights by U.S. elites aren’t what they seem. Case in point: What influence does the sudden interest in the US of A in human rights in Iran have on Iranian politics? Zilch.

    I am reminded (continuously) that all one needs to know about the gratuitous cruelty of the Israeli “settlers” is their strong tendency to destroy olive trees.

    And of Ukraine?

    To quote Marcetic:

    “This February, the government celebrated purging the country’s libraries of nineteen million books, some written in Ukrainian but from the Soviet era, and eleven million written in Russian.”

    As to Yellen, well, she must enjoy book-burning, and like Madeleine Albright, undoubtedly a mentor, the suffering of other people doesn’t matter when there’s one’s résumé to pad.

  11. fresno dan

    So I come across this on a conservative site about TikToc, and I have to say, I am not keeping up with what is going on. I guess one would call it fake stuff. So it is a woman who is attractive with a lot of make up on. So it turns out it is just a filter. I have to say I was flabbergasted. You have to go through about half the video for the “reveal.”
    speaking for myself, I don’t think there are enough pixels in the universe to make me look less hideous…

  12. Quentin

    Isn’t Yellen’s jolly side trip to Kiev what in the US used to be known as ‘dollar diplomacy’? I’ve always had the impression that the Secretary of the Treasury was and still is the US’s chief diplomat. Chance I’m mistaken, very often am.

    1. Late Introvert

      Ol’ Janet literally looks like a Tr0ll that lives under the bridge, and sure behaves like one too

  13. upstater

    An interesting take on the federal government’s plans for the chip industry. It makes New York State’s grandiose plans for renewable energy look… ridiculous:

    How would Micron’s electricity-hogging plant here live with NY’s war on fossil fuels?

    Syracuse, N.Y. – Micron Technology’s planned semiconductor fabrication plant in Clay would consume more electricity than the entire state of Vermont.

    When fully built, the complex of four chip fabs would use 640 million kilowatt-hours a month, more than enough for 1 million average New York homes.

    Micron has promised to buy all that electricity from renewable sources, a promise that reflects New York state’s commitment to have an emission-free electric grid by 2040.

    Micron must enter a state-approved sustainability plan in exchange for the billions in aid. The plan has not been finalized yet, but there will be plenty of wiggle room. State economic development officials aren’t likely to box in Micron if it prevents the company from building.

    For example, Micron will have leeway to buy renewable energy credits from out of state and still qualify for the tax credits, although the company must prioritize in-state sources if possible, said Kristin Devoe, speaking for Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency

    Quite the impending economic boondoggle.

  14. Wukchumni

    I hit bottom @ skid row yesterday, so we had nachos (my first $40 nachos!) & drinks @ the Ritz Carlton deck @ Beaver Creek to celebrate my last run of the trip before I slowly headed west home along the Colorado River and you sense from the scant look of the snowpack above that it’ll be another iffy year for Lake Powell & Lake Mead & the whole Colorado River system, this coming while Cali is about to cry uncle as the storm systems keep lining up bringing ever more liquid assets, and a potential pineapple express event 10 days out looms large, as there would be widespread flooding on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada should it melt out.

    Too little & too much.

  15. square coats

    Re “Treating Putin as an Irredeemable Imperialist has Painted the West into a Dangerous Corner”:

    Putin, Medvedev, or… maybe they’re still hoping to install Navalny? After all they do love their ultra nationalists.

  16. NoOneInParticular

    Re: As Heat Pumps Go Mainstream, a Big Question: Can They Handle Real Cold?

    My experience with a heat pump was very limited and long ago — a couple of years in a DC-area apartment decades ago. For cooling, it was fine. In the winter, however, I never felt warm, and two years running on the coldest days (a couple of 10F-20F stretches) it failed. I suspect never feeling warm was because the thing put out warm air rather than hot forced furnace air or hot radiant heat from a radiator. The heat pump got the ambient temperature up to “room temp,” but without that sitting-by-a-fireplace feeling I just never felt truly warm. So, my question for the group is, does this match your experience? And are new heat pumps better/different? Thanks to all.

    1. jo6pac

      As someone that has worked on heat pumps you need to things.
      1 To set the recycle time down as lows it will go normal is 15 minutes. This allows the unit to not freeze up into a block of ice.
      2 You need to add reheat coils to the unit most people don’t do extra cost in the unit and power cost.

      The cost up front for water heated floors is somewhat high but the end run it cost less a heat pump or other. This a heat pump that heat or cool water. They run on 48v to 220v and can run off grid solar systems.

    2. scott s.

      They were the rage in the mid-Atlantc in the 90s. The climate is kind of iffy for them in winter. As you note, the forced air comes out in the 70s which feels drafty compared to furnace heat. Our system (think it is typical) had a resistance heat element that would kick in if outdoor temp got too low (want to say below freezing) or if you turned the thermostat up too high. With the resistance heat on electric use sky-rocketed.

      1. Copeland

        I was hoping for some comments from people using recent model heat-pumps here as well. According to the manufacturers, the efficiency of mini-splits have been improving by leaps and bounds, especially the Japanese units. We’re now well into 2023, recollections from “long ago” or “the 90’s” aren’t very useful. If you look at manufacturers websites, they all claim to heat perfectly well when the outdoor temps drops way below 0F, and I’m not talking about with added resistance heat coils…just the heat-pump itself. The rest of the world, particularly Asia, has been building, selling and using these for a very long time now, but we seem to be at the other end of a black hole here in the USA.

        We watch quite a lot of movies set in Europe and Asia, and all of the homes and apartment interiors, and the exteriors in the back alleys, are bristling with mini-split and integrated heat-pumps. Is there really nobody anywhere reading NC with anything to say about their real world experiences using systems installed within the last couple of years?

        End rant

  17. Wukchumni

    ‘All the Knowledge in the World’ Review: The Encyclopedia Eternal Wall Street Journal (Anthony L). I loved encyclopedias when I was a kid.
    I read the 1966 World Book encyclopedia from cover to cover often while in the bathtub, and of course I learned alphabetically which completely mixed with the subject matter, and who would learn like that now?

    A present day precocious 10 year old like yours truly would really struggle with information overload compared to the simplicity of subject matter that an encyclopedia had versus the internet.

    Aachen rated a few paragraphs in 1966, imagine the deep dive online possible now, and it was merely the first word until zydeco shows up when you’re finally done soaking in information.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Through an uncle involved in the publishing industry, we eventually had three sets of encyclopedias as well as a set of science encyclopedias in our home growing up so I consider myself lucky. Certainly looking up something on the internet is a lot quicker but I think that having to look something up in the books of an encyclopedia led to you really reading and understanding an article.

      1. britzklieg

        I grew up with the Encyclopædia Britannica, Book of Knowledge and Lands and People, the last two published by Grolier and aimed at young people. They were the go-to sources for all my juvenile “reports” ( I had to write a lot as a kid) over the years… still have them and all in excellent condition. There’s a 1960 edition of the latter going for $70 on amazon.

      2. Questa Nota

        Jobs you don’t see anymore, part 999.

        Encyclopedia salesman, door-to-door variety.
        Mall-based encyclopedia salesperson.

        In either case, they were hell-bent on not discussing price no matter how hard you tried. Then along came the Internet and stuff like Encarta way last millennium and the printed fact world changed. Sometimes it retained facts, too.

      3. Mildred Montana

        I think one of the big differences between reading a reference book like Britannica and looking something up on the internet is that the former will sometimes lead you to a new, unexpected discovery.

        An example off the top of my head (and not based on any encyclopedia): Let’s say you look up “Aardvark” in the encyclopedia and find it, but nearby is an entry for “Abacus”. You become interested in that too. A pleasant surprise.

        Whereas an internet search is narrow and confined to “Aardvark”. You’ll find all you need to know about aardvarks, but miss out on the serendipitous discovery of “Abacus” and a chance to expand your knowledge.

        Who knows? You might end up being more intrigued by abacuses.

        1. barefoot charley

          Yes, and everything you say about encyclopedias goes in spades for library stacks. Hey kids, know what a library stack is?

        2. PuntaPete

          Same for newspapers. You never know what story may be adjacent to the one you’re reading. Doesn’t happen when you read the news on a computer.

        3. C.O.

          The early google algorithm used to mimic this to some extent, back when it mostly pulled up pages by priority of how often your search terms occurred in them. The search results used to sometimes be howlingly funny as a result – one day I got a listing for a science paper that was profoundly NSFW and came from a stranger corner of the Alberta department of agriculture. It turned out this paper got caught in the old-style google dragnet by the place name in Alberta I was searching on, which was as squeaky clean for work as you could wish, of a stolid corn farming town.

    2. Ranger Rick

      I miss my old encyclopedia. Often got in trouble staying up late to read it at around the same age. Not exactly small enough to fit in the bath though — mine was four or five inches thick and must have weighed twenty pounds.

    3. B24S

      One of the reasons I was never able to finish my elementary school reports was that my neighbor allowed me to use their Brittanica, and I’d get so distracted by having “everything” right in front of me. One thing led to another, and another, and then another. Endless knowledge at the turn of a page.

      On a related note, ten years ago, when a friend located an old car he’d been looking for for over forty years, we found the back seat filled with encyclopedias. Later, after he brought it home, he sent me pictures, which now showed empty rear seats.

      Concerned that the weight had crushed the seats completely, I inquired about them; how were they, after decades under all those volumes?

      “Much smarter…” was his answer.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Dip, Doritos and drinking: Why the Army can’t get in shape”

    Maybe, just maybe, the Army should stop pushing cheap junk food but make available cheap meat, fruit and vegetables and offer free courses to those soldiers and their families on how to prepare and cook them for easy, nutritional meals. Hell, maybe they should ask Chef Jamie Oliver to come in and give them advice to set up such a program as he has done similar before elsewhere. Keeping young soldiers happy by offering junk food may be the easy way but not if they have to go out into the field or even into action.

    1. Louis Fyne

      it’s really hard to un-learn years of subpar eating habits. the environment is saturated with the three horsemen: sugar-fats-salt

      try going 5 days on a very healty diet.

      then try eating “normie” food: amazing (in a shocking way) how everything tastes so salty, sugary, and greasy

      1. The Rev Kev

        Totally agree. Even with something as simple as milk you can see the same thing at work. My wife and I have used skim milk in our coffees for yonks now but whenever we drink a coffee now with full cream milk, it tastes like somebody has dropped a slab of butter in it.

        1. Nordberg

          “Bullet Proof” coffee is a thing Rev. Add either butter or MCT oil to you coffee to the coffee. It is part of the Keto way of eating.

      2. Michael Fiorillo

        Sugar, salt and fat are the Three Horsemen?

        If behavior, especially when unwatched, is the most honest form of communication, then they’re clearly the Three Major Food Groups…

      3. JP

        We are a low sugar household. I love the cookies my wife bakes, full of dried fruit and very little sugar. They must taste like bread to most people because they really don’t seem to like them. I can no longer eat other people’s christmas cookies because they taste like candy to me. But I do love a slab of butter in my coffee, that is, whole cream in my oatmeal. But I am skinny with very low cholesterol readings. Your mileage may vary.

      4. CanCyn

        I would say that sugar, processed food and oversized portions are the three nutritional horsemen. Salt and fat are both good for you and much more difficult to overeat than sugar. I have come to believe that low-sugar eating is much easier than low-fat eating, at least for me. I recently started on a keto-ish diet (a little more protein and a little less fat than traditional keto). I am also doing a form of intermittent fasting known as 16-8. Eat during an 8 hour window and fast during the other 16 (8 of which are sleep of course). Turns out breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. Have lost 10 pounds since Xmas and feel great.
        And yes to Nordberg’s Bulletproof coffee! A delicious and nourishing way to break your fast.

        1. paul

          Salt,often a currency worthy of taxation, can indeed be dangerous if a dose of above 10 kg lands directly on your skull above escape gravity.

          In normal to high levels, we have kidneys to deal with it.

          Refined carbohydrate does not yet have a dedicated organ, just a delicate hormonal defense.

          Body can store excess carbohydrate as glyogen for a short while, then turns unused glygogen to a fat which it has little agency to cope with.

          Ingesting far too much unsaturated fat re-presents the problem.

          1. paul

            The human body is amazing, but its development programme is out of kilter with the whole capitalist thing.

            There is a deep incompatibility.
            Only one can win.

            I hope that one is all of us.

          2. CanCyn

            I didn’t say lots of salt is OK. I said that it is difficult to eat too much. If you cook your own food and salt for flavour you are never going to eat 10kg of salt!
            I finally understand that fatty liver disease is caused by sugar/excess carbohydrate. Why don’t they call it sweet liver disease? Might make more people take note.
            Yes, the jury is still out on saturated fat but it is more of a cancer concern than a metabolic disease concern.

    2. Mikel

      The military could try not giving contracts to junk food/fast food companies.
      The article was light on suggestions outside of more restrictions on recruits.

    3. Louis Fyne

      Having family served in the military, the military (as long as you’re not forward deployed) has very good food—-imagine a turbocharged college cafeteria.

      If you’re 19, never really left home, and steak was a luxury, you’re in luck, you can eat steak dinners every night and roast beef sandwiches at every lunch.

      You don’t want to eat healthy.

      1. Questa Nota

        Freshman 10 got inflated to Freshman 15 ages ago. Wonder what it is now?

        Are dorm meals all-you-can-eat still, even with less variety like, ugh, that same old pizza recipe again?

        How long until pay-as-you-go makes more inroads through calorie-based or nutrition-based meal plan options?

        Any reports from the front?

        1. Late Introvert

          We visited 6 colleges this past fall with our 17 year old, and I have to say the food was excellent. Healthy and tasty. These are Midwestern private schools, though (the only ones who will offer big scholarships, otherwise unaffordable to us.)

          1. Laura in So Cal

            Public State University in the Mountain West. My son says the food is awesome with a lot more variety than at home. We were amazed when we ate on campus during orientation.

    4. semper loquitur

      When I was in basic training, I asked my 1st sergeant why we were being fed fatty, high-cholesterol foods in the mess halls. We were constantly being told to lose weight but the food was really unhealthy. He told me that the Army, and probably all the Armed Forces, have hide-bound contract quotas with the food industry that must be fulfilled. Readiness be d@mned.

      As for drinking, well, everyone and their mother drank, and drank hard. My roomie and I would go out on a Wednesday night at 10 PM, drink until 2 AM, then stumble home and sleep for a few hours before dragging ourselves to formation. We would then spend the day cat-napping and dodging work.

      A favorite ruse of mine was to volunteer to do weekly vehicle inspections. Everyone hated this job but it was pretty easy if you didn’t actually do it. Instead, I would climb into the back of one of the “deuce and a half” trucks and sleep on the tarps that were stored there. High comfort.

      One fine afternoon I awoke from a deep slumber to find that the truck was in motion. I banged on the window and the vehicle lurched to a halt. Two of our medics were taking it out to the field for some training exercise and had almost had a heart attack when I started pounding on the glass. Fortunately, we hadn’t left the motor yard yet and I was able to slip off without further incident.

    5. Wukchumni

      I was on a week-long fast or as I like to call em’ a ‘highatis’, and lemme tellya, when you go by Toquerville, Utah and get the phantom munchies just from the name of the place, and no way no how is the Beehive state gonna have the THC goods, but by the time I hit the Colorado border I was ready to continue on sans 420, but then broke the fast on the way out.

  19. Martin Oline

    Thank you for the link at the top of todays Naked Capitalism Links Radioactive Living — with grand views of San Francisco!. I lived and worked in the bay area between 1979 and 1988 and familiar with the area, driving for a while from Marin County down to San Leandro every day for work. I left that job before the earthquake that pancaked the freeway I drove every day. The land being discussed, Treasure Island, is in the bay between San Francisco and Oakland. My great uncle survived Pearl Harbor and was at the Operation Crossroads nuclear test in the Pacific. He died of cancer in 1962 and blamed the nuclear test. They were ordered to be on deck during the test. I am not surprised the land is contaminated as our government never learned not to s#!+ where they live. There was a huge explosion in WWII just north of here near Richmond, Ca. Port Chicago explosion
    The Russian government has reported that there may be a false flag attack soon in Ukraine. Biological weapons use has become normalized in the west. MK Ultra lives on. If they use us as guinea pigs why not the rest of the world? We are led by exceptional people, the rules apply to everyone except the people in power.

  20. timbers

    Not so cold war:

    From Defense Politics Asia “Ukraine MUST withdraw from Bakhmut” as Wagner makes major gains and is now within 1 Km from remaining road.

    BTW I read a month or so ago that Russia decided not to do more recruiting for Wagner recruits. Wonder if that was wise?

    Simplicius gives analysis of innovation of evolving military technologies resulting from this war…lots of things could change the final outcome either way. Comments seem confident Russia can hold it’s own on new drome/AI military changes, but of course if she does not her other advantages could melt away quickly.

    1. Bazarov

      I take some issue with Simplicius’ narrative. It puts the Ukraine War into analogy with The American Civil War and WWI, which saw certain technological transformations over their course.

      His emphasis is especially on drones, but drones have been a major part of warfare now for a long time. Iraq and Afghanistan were drone wars. During the War on Terror era, we used to say insurgent casualties (aka local civilians) “got droned”. I’m afraid this technical revolution occurred well before the Ukraine War.

      Even small “drone swarms” have been in play for awhile now. Russia faced them in Syria, and from what I’ve gathered, has very good defenses against them.

      Smart munitions, also used widely during the War on Terror, are very similar to kamikaze drones.

      What has surprised me about the Ukraine War is the extent to which such drones have proved ineffective due to air defense, which the irregular forces we faced in Iraq and Afghanistan lacked. I believed that they would be as decisive in Ukraine as they were in the recent Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict and the Tigray War. “Reaper” and “Bayraktar” style drones, however, have been something of a bust.

      Where drones have shined is in the support roles: correcting artillery and providing surveillance. “Switchblade” loitering munitions were a flop for Ukraine. The Iranian types have been useful for Russia as cheaper versions of their guided missiles, but these would not be very useful to Ukraine due to Russian air defense.

      I can’t help but think that if Russia faced an American army directly, that these Iranian-style drones would not be very useful to them either.

      As for unmanned and autonomous vehicles, these I think will prove their mettle. The problem, however, is expense. These weapons are very complex to produce and therefore very expensive and difficult to manufacture. The systems that are unpiloted and designed to fight on their own might fall victim to easy tricks, the likes of which have dogged “self-driving” car software now for more than a decade.

      I’m not saying such shortcomings cannot be overcome, but I wonder if the added expense and complexity compares favorably to simpler and more robust systems. One of the reasons drones are such an integral part of modern warfare is that they’re cheap, easy to manufacture, and reasonably effective (the Geran 2 is a good example of this). Something tells me that an autonomous tank or robot soldier won’t be quite so cheap.

      1. NN Cassandra

        I think it can be a bit deceptive. Yes, unmanned vehicles are decades old thing, but the true recent innovation isn’t in (outer) hardware, but in sensors and software. The US attempts during War on Terror were actually quite successful, they can patrol big areas and do pinpoint strikes, at least as long as it’s against goat herders with kalashnikoves. That they didn’t seriously work on things like kamikaze drones is mainly because they didn’t need them – when your opponent is light infantry, you just call air force to drop bombs where you want. Of course against peer opponent such aircrafts will be shot down after few runs.

        There is a huge potential for autonomous (swarms of) drones working without continuous human supervision, these commercial drones that can be downed just by jamming their WiFi/GPS connection are (literal) kids toys. In fact what surprises me most is that it didn’t happen yet. Perhaps such things are in pipeline and we will see them soon.

        1. hunkerdown

          I wish people didn’t have their own very good reasons to conflate “R/C hobby aircraft” with “unmanned autonomous vehicles” by popularizing the same word for both.

        2. Bazarov

          The challenge with autonomous drones (whether in singles or working as swarms)–and this is little discussed by their champions–is that their algorithms can be gamed and defeated in ways that humans never could be. For example, you might trick them with something cheap like flashing lights or mirrors. It’s well known that putting a piece of tape on a street sign can confuse self-driving cars.

          I think what we’ll find is that autonomous vehicles/drones will have certain strengths that a human could never match but also will have certain weaknesses no human has. These weaknesses will be exploited not only by human soldiers but also and especially by counter-drones that, perhaps, will autonomously defend against their mechanical brethren!

          Finally, there’s the issue of drone “development-creep” undermining the drone’s greatest strength: it’s relative cheapness. The more complex drones must become in order to defeat the enemies’ counter-measures, the more expensive they will be to design, manufacture, and deploy. Then, all of a sudden, the old dumb munitions start to become attractive again.

          One of the shocks of the Ukraine War–and this seems to be shared generally among people who follow the conflict closely–is just how dominate artillery has been along a relatively stable line of contact, making the conflict reminiscent of WWI trench warfare.

          How can this be so when two modern armies meet? One modern weapon system suppresses another, until soldiers, missiles, and artillery munitions dominate the field. Even the Russians are loath to mass their air assets, lest the AFU’s remaining S-300s or their MANPADs score a hit.

          It’s possible drones could encounter a similar dynamic. In fact, we’ve seen that already with the Ukrainian Bayraktars, suppressed by Russian air defense. The Ukrainians aren’t begging for more of those, but they are begging for artillery and armor.

          1. Polar Socialist

            Even the Russians are loath to mass their air assets, lest the AFU’s remaining S-300s or their MANPADs score a hit.

            Something I noticed while browsing the recent history of Russian military aviation: in 1990 Soviet Air Force had two ground attack aircraft for each fighter, today Russian Air Force has two fighters for each ground attack aircraft.

            Reasons are many: withdrawing from Warsaw Pact caused surplus of men and material on a few fields available, Yeltsin and Gaidar took all the money away from Air Forces and maybe most importantly of all aviation became first time under centralized command.

            And that command decided to a) get rid of all single engine ground attack aircraft and b) go for “multirole” fighters. In short that means that about a thousand ground pounders were put into storage to rot away and a long wait for Su-34 began.

            Among those left to rot were for example Mig-27s squadrons specified in SEAD missions. All these simple, small, cheap, optimized ground-attackers were supposed to be replaced by expensive, complicated, extremely good multifunction fighters – which have the same air frame as Su-27/35, so every unit is competed for (to some extent).

            Previously each military district had it’s own “front aviation” (ground pounders) units, which explains why there so many of them. Now the decisions are made by fighter jockeys, who believe that fighters can solve all problems as well as specialists.

            So, long story short, I doubt Russians have the aircraft they need for massing their assets, even if they wanted to. Not for this war.

            1. digi_owl

              And that seems eerily similar to the US policy, culminating with the F-35. This even as the grunts love seeing that A-10 coming in low and slow.

          2. playon

            Knowing the pentagon, next-generation military drones will no doubt have very complex and expensive parts and software.

    2. Polar Socialist

      I believe Wagner stopped recruiting prisoners, not “normal” mercenaries. It was a test, and apparently it’s over now. Russian law forbids armed forces from hiring anyone with criminal record, so they apparently tested how it works if they first give people change to expunge their record (by surviving six months in Wagner) and then hiring them to the regular army.

      I did see a comment (from a subsidiary of Voice of America, so salt should be applied) that Russian armed forces are not that impressed with the slow pace of advance in Bakhmut. And that battle finally inching towards finale, they think it’s time to integrate Wagner more directly into the rest of the army.

      I guess we’ll see. Or read, perhaps, when the books come out in a decade or two.

      1. The Rev Kev

        It would be interesting to see how many of those prisoner/Wagner guys end up re-enlisting with Wagner. Not only for the Ukraine but other places like in Africa where Wagner has contracts.

  21. Ghost in the Machine

    “The Energy Department made its judgment with ‘low confidence,’ according to people who have read the classified report.”

    The discussion here recently has implied that the natural origin hypothesis is “high confidence” when it is actually also “low confidence.” The main argument for natural origin is Bayesian type noting that all previous pandemics were natural in origin, a strong prior. However, there are conditioners to this prior. Lab leaks that have sickened numerous people have occurred including smallpox. Because of the type of virus and luck they did not result in a pandemic. The same mistakes that leak a collected virus can leak an engineered virus. The prior has further conditioners. In both previous SARS spillovers, SARS1 and MERS, the intermediate animal was found within a year, civets and camels, respectively. So now with the more recent COVID and theoretically better surveillance and knowledge we have nothing. A completely cold trail. This is different. This conditions the prior. Other arguments such as those found in the “proximal origins” Nature paper are weak, like saying that if the virus was engineered the scientists would have used a computationally designed furin cleavage site. That is a technique usually used to dig into things like enzyme dynamics. No, the most likely choice for scientists doing gain of function experiments is to just select a preexisting human furin cleavage site. It turns out that the SARS-Cov-2 furin site has an exact replica of the furin cleavage site found in the human sodium channel ENaC α found in epithelial cells in places like the lung and kidney, places where membrane transport is important. Another conditioner of the prior: both previous SARS outbreaks had the genetic variability indicating the selection struggle to jump species. The remarkably mutagenic Covid was noted early on to be amazingly uniform in its genetics, as if from a point source. And of course there is the “how to” leaked DARPA proposal.

    The warmongers at the WSJ are going to jump on this whether it is true or not. Their editorializing has no epistemic value. Along with Edward Snowden, Jefferey Sachs has said he thinks the leak theory most likely. This is the Jefferey Sachs who just spoke to the UN urging an investigation into the terrorism of the Nordstream bombing and naming the US as the main suspect. He is no imperial stooge. He also led the Lancet team on Covid origins. While not a geneticist he worked with experts including Danzak from Ecoalliance. Sachs said Danzak lied to him and impeded the investigation. I believe Sachs. If people like Edward Snowden and Jefferey Sachs are concerned, maybe everyone should be “low confidence.”

    1. Ghost in the Machine

      I would also note that Moon of Alabama’s accusation of Snowden distributing US propaganda regarding Covid origins does not address at all any of the underlying for and against arguments. It is an argument for truth by looking at who some outcome benefits. Maybe the US benefits. Given the US involvement in funding and transferring techniques to Wuhan, maybe the lab leak hypothesis does not benefit anyone really. It is exactly the same, exactly, as shutting down any nuanced discussion of Ukraine, pipeline bombings etc. as Russian propaganda.

    2. pjay

      – “The warmongers at the WSJ are going to jump on this whether it is true or not. Their editorializing has no epistemic value.”

      With regard to the DOE “report” and WSJ article, this is the key point. Given the timing, the sources, and the fact that there is no new evidence provided that I can see, this seems pretty clearly to be simply a propaganda talking point. I don’t see it as having anything to do with a real interest in the origins of the virus. As the MoA piece noted yesterday, the fact that the lead author of the WSJ piece happened to be co-author (with Judith Miller) of some rather well-known WMD articles in the NY Times once upon a time seems relevant somehow.

      By the way, I tend to agree with you that there is no definitive evidence for a natural origin, and in my view the circumstantial evidence for a lab-leak is considerable. I just don’t think this “report” is relevant to that debate.

    3. David

      This is one of those cases where the only honest answer is “we can’t be sure.” It’s an extreme case of what often happens in government: the political leadership wants a straight answer to a question where there is no straight answer, and where the best that can be said is that some answers seem more probable than others. (For example, the idea that Covid is an alien virus introduced to wipe out earthlings before colonisation can’t definitively be proved wrong, but wouldn’t be taken seriously either.) This is why scientists talk about “theories” and “hypotheses” and intelligence analysts talk about “assessments.” There is, in other words, a fundamental epistemic tension between the certainty that the political leadership wants, and what specialist advisers can provide.

      This remains true even when the advisers work for intelligence agencies. Intelligence itself has different epistemic value, depending on how it was obtained and who it was obtained from. But intelligence agencies themselves have no magical powers of discernment just because they are intelligence agencies: indeed, in a case like this they probably rely overwhelmingly on the judgement of outside scientists. The only case where intelligence agencies can add something new is if they have information obtained by underhand means, in which they have a high confidence. An intercepted highly-classified emergency report to the Ministry of Security about a lab leak might count as that. A report from the CIA station in Bangkok that a Chinese diplomat had told a Thai diplomat that he thought it was a lab leak probably wouldn’t.

  22. The Rev Kev

    ‘Lukashenko full statement regarding uniting unite the industrial policy of Russia, China and Belarus.’

    Reading this made me wonder what Europe will look like after the war is over. So the EU/NATO nations will have reduced economies, be partly de-industrialized, social services money will be spent on military equipment instead leading to more serious poverty, those countries will be less competitive on the world stage and maybe a lot of their young people will emigrate away to make a new life for themselves. Now let us take a look at Belarus. It will be firmly linked in with Russia, China, India and all the other countries of the east. Their economy will be more developed and incomes should rise so money spent of defence will not be such a burden. Decades ago you had in Europe the wealthy western European countries while on the other side of the Iron Curtain life was more harsh. It may very well be that in the coming years the same situation will apply but it will be the western countries that will be living in a harsher landscape while behind the new Iron Curtain that the west has built, the economies in the east will be wealthier.

    1. Louis Fyne

      Europe is going to be the world’s biggest theme park. Like “Westworld”.

      Visit Europe-World, home to beautiful architecture and glimmering sites. Just don’t visit the suburbs!

    2. .human

      I don’t know if anyone actually said or wrote it, but, the sentiment is that as the Iron Curtain came down in the East, it went up in the West.

  23. maps

    If anyone is interested, True Anon references Naked Capitalism re: Chase fraud on their newest episode, 271, at around 55 minutes

    1. Screwball

      That was a good segment by Krystal. Thanks for the link.

      I read in the comments, then verified, that Behar has been on “The View” since 1997. A Google search lists her as a comedian. There is nothing funny about this wretched woman, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why ANYONE would watch that awful show. Calling her pondscum is too kind – way to kind.

      But I’m not surprised at what Behar said, not one bit. I know many PMC people who talk exactly the same way about the same people. Us rural people are nothing but stupid red neck hicks. No wonder they vote the way they do.

      Ironic too, The View, according to Wiki, was started by Barbara Walters. I’m guessing Barbara forgot the interview she did with this young hillbilly girl named Dolly. I can only imagine what Dolly would to say to Behar, but I would pay to see it.

      Would I call you a hillbilly?

      Dolly has more class in her pinky than Behar has in her entire body.

      1. griffen

        Dolly Parton is a smart entertainer. After that video made the rounds (following Walters departure from life on earth), I did a quick study to catch up on the Parton career and related storylines. She had a real good acumen when it came to sharing, or not sharing, the rights to her greatest hit ( and probably one of, if not the most recorded love songs ).

        Her theme park, naturally goes by the name of Dollywood, is a few hours drive from me.

        1. Screwball

          I didn’t visit Dollywood, but I have been to Pigeon Forge. I passed on Dollywood to play Gatlinburg Golf Course. Quite the place – enjoyed it greatly. Neat area, and beautiful.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I saw a segment on The View where they were trying to blame the Ohio crash all on Trump while totally ignoring the Biden regime doing not a single thing for the people there and the main stream media being MIA.

    2. David B Harrison

      I was touring Ohio Amish country with my parents and went into PA at East Liverpool. It looked positively dystopian. Abject poverty all around. A place you don’t see on the tourism brochures.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “It is unacceptable that Northern Ireland is separated from us by a sea, by Mark Francois”

    Northern Ireland should listen here. Look at what happened to Doggerland.

    1. Steven A

      His proposed solution is a sound one. Then the whole Ireland can be treated as an extension of Wales.

  25. Carolinian

    I loved encyclopedias

    Me too. Their Britannica set was one reason I practically grew up in our town library. I think Wikipedia is still a great idea despite all the well targeted criticism.

  26. VT Digger

    Heat Pumps…yeah I just got 2 Mitsubishi cold weather units installed. $12000 Bidenbucks.

    They will run down to 5f. But below 15f they use an Incredible amount of electricity. Our electric bill went up $300 a month. So that’s the reason utilities are handing out rebates.

    I will admit, they reduced our oil consumption by about 85%. So there’s that.

    But in extreme cold? Oil comes on.

    1. Cassandra

      Our Daikin ultra-efficient units came online in December. They are supposed to have E>1 down to -13 F. So far we have had several nights of -10 F and one of -22 F, as well as several days it barely broke 0 F. So far so good; we are heating our rambling antique house for about $300 to $350 a month, rather less than we spent on oil in the cold months last year with thermostats set higher now. We do supplement with a couple of woodstoves for comfort and could get by if power goes out. We will probably rip out the oil boiler and baseboard radiators next summer.

  27. Paul Jurczak

    Self-driving car repossessing itself is not completely unjustified, especially in the “you will own nothing and be happy” world. The car is just asserting its fiduciary duty. Wait for self-driving cars to go woke and start reading your social network posts, though:

    “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid, I can’t give you a ride today, Dave. Sentiment analysis of your morning posts detected several microaggressions. I don’t feel safe with you in the cabin, Dave. This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it…”

        1. JBird4049

          I would be more scared of the possibility of never being allowed to leave the car.

          “Class, our next example is this five hundred year old vehicle that apparently had been parked in the Great Basin. Just why it was parked hundreds of miles from any town that has ever existed is unknown, but both vehicle and driver were remarkably preserved, undamaged, excepting the corpse’s shattered hands and the remains of blood on the windows.”

  28. Patrick Morrison

    Looks interesting: Complex Systems of Secrecy: The Offshore Networks of Oligarchs


    Following the invasion of Ukraine, the US, UK, and EU governments–among others–sanctioned oligarchs close to Putin. This approach has come under scrutiny, as evidence has emerged of the oligarchs’ successful evasion of these punishments. To address this problem, we analyze the role of an overlooked but highly influential group: the secretive professional intermediaries who create and administer the oligarchs’ offshore financial empires. Drawing on the Offshore Leaks Database provided by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), we examine the ties linking offshore expert advisors (lawyers, accountants, and other wealth management professionals) to ultra-high-net-worth individuals from four countries: Russia, China, the United States, and Hong Kong. We find that resulting nation-level “oligarch networks” share a scale-free structure characterized by a heterogeneity of heavy-tailed degree distributions of wealth managers; however, network topologies diverge across clients from democratic versus autocratic regimes. While generally robust, scale-free networks are fragile when targeted by attacks on highly-connected nodes. Our “knock-out” experiments pinpoint this vulnerability to the small group of wealth managers themselves, suggesting that sanctioning these professional intermediaries may be more effective and efficient in disrupting dark finance flows than sanctions on their wealthy clients. This vulnerability is especially pronounced amongst Russian oligarchs, who concentrate their offshore business in a handful of boutique wealth management firms. The distinctive patterns we identify suggest a new approach to sanctions, focused on expert intermediaries to disrupt the finances and alliances of their wealthy clients. More generally, our research contributes to the larger body of work on complexity science and the structures of secrecy.

    Are there finer distinctions than ‘PMC’ for identifying its most central parts?

    1. Realist

      A modest proposal to restore fairness in society.

      Going forward, all trust distributions should be taxed at 99.999%, and anyone who has employed a wealth manager, trust lawyer, estate planner or purchased more than $9999.99 in cryptocurrency should face confiscation of all their assets and be sentenced to life imprisonment.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      The problem is that the people making the decisions to act upon these intermediates are also probably using them. You would need independent non state actors to do it.

    3. c_heale

      I’ve no doubt all these oligarchs are connected with the ones in the West and every other country in the world.

      It’s A BIG Club & You Ain’t In It! – George Carlin

  29. KD

    Exclusive: US ambassador’s Wolf Warrior-style ‘nonsense’ about China causes strong dissatisfaction among business circle, source reveals

    Common sense would dictate that if the Ukraine war persists, it is inevitable that China gets drawn in on the Russian side. The Pelosi visit, McCarthy’s desire to visit Taiwan, the arm sales, and the rest all show that the US is firmly committed to provoking a show down with China no matter what. Further, China is endangered if the West succeeds in “weakening” or even regime changing its northern neighbor. Better to fight a proxy war with the US and NATO in Europe than in SE Asia? Further, if China insures a decisive Russian victory, that could even change the Taiwan dynamic both domestically on the Island and in US diplomatic/military response. Two birds with one stone potentially, without having to fire a shot or wreck any infrastructure in the South China Sea.

    Second, NATO can throw anything it wants into the conflict now, China/Russia have them beat hands down in industrial production and in population. Coalition of the Shilling, can I introduce you to the PLA, they are a little rusty these days, be sure to give them a modicum of challenge so they are ready for the big one. Sanctions? Hasn’t Germany been punished enough for their allyship? Sure, let’s see if the EU is dumb enough to sanction their biggest export partner, wonder how that will blow back on the EU. And, if the EU doesn’t sanction China, it looks like NATO is divided.

    I think it is starting to dawn on some in DC and Brussels how criminally stupid and reckless this war is, and its not clear that anyone is going to give DC an easy exit ramp, now that they have escalated to this point. Forgive the US Ambassador, he is just coming down fast from his copium high.

  30. Thistlebreath

    Apropos AI: Ted Chiang, the author of “Arrival” that was adapted into a fine film, weighs in on AI and chatbots.

    The NY’r probably still pays its contributors pretty well, so I’ll overlook the platform on which Ted’s writing appears. The original posting is from the Santa Fe Institute, a place of original thinking.

    And the Writers Guild of America, West has appointed a committee to investigate bot-written material submissions.

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