Links 2/4/2023

The magic of mother-of-pearl clouds: A stunning visual experience The Watchers

The Astonishing Biodiversity of Fungi Blooms in Max Mudie’s Macro Photographs Colossal

Gong Show Doomberg


More evidence linking air pollution to mental health problems, study finds The New Lede

GM Is Ordering a Massive Overhaul With Its EV Batteries: Report The Drive


How quickly does COVID immunity fade? What scientists know Nature. All the way at the end: “The virus is evolving so fast. What’s true today might not be true tomorrow.”

The Effectiveness of DIY Air Filtration Units NIOSH Science Blog. “DIY air filtration units can be an effective means of reducing aerosol exposure. The DIY units reduced aerosol exposure up to 73% depending on the design of the DIY unit, filter thickness, and fan airflow.” (1) The original Corsi-Rosethal Box was devised and publicized in August 2020, which would be [breaks out calculator] 30 months from when this article appeared. In the midst of a pandemic caused by an airborne virus, in which over a million people have died in the United States (we’re #1). (2) This post is on the CDC site, but buried in a (distinctly déclassé) blog. (3) Naturally, the CDC search function throws up exactly one hit:

Hilariously, this single link is not to the NIOSH blog post above, but to a professional version of the same material by the same authors, published in Building and Environment, also (4) naturally linked to at NC on January 9.

So CDC is erasing Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes from its own site, thereby denying its life-saving capabilities to populations served by those who still regard it as authoritative (people like school and church administrators, small business owners, dull normals looking to protect their families). This is entirely consistent with the Biden administrations “Ultimate Lockdown” policy of mass infection without mitigation, good job CDC.

Fluticasone propionate suppresses the SARS-CoV-2 induced increase in respiratory epithelial permeability in vitro Rhinology. From the Abstract: “Fluticasone propionate has been shown to restore the nasal epithelial barrier in allergic rhinitis to the level of healthy controls. The therapeutic potential of nasal steroid sprays in COVID-19 has recently been reported. However, further insight into the mode of action is warranted…. Fluticasone propionate pre-treatment prevented SARS-CoV-2 increased epithelial permeability, reduced ACE2 expression and SARS-CoV-2 infection, underscoring the therapeutic potential of fluticasone propionate in the context of COVID-19.” Here is a second study.

GAO to HHS: Learn from COVID mistakes in replacing drug-manufacturing program Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

Bird Flu

An Even Deadlier Pandemic Could Soon Be Here Zeynep Tufecki, NYT

Bird flu detected in mammals but risk to humans low: experts

Ecuador confirms first human bird flu infection in 9-year-old girl Reuters

‘Incredibly concerning’: Bird flu outbreak at Spanish mink farm triggers pandemic fears Science


Balloon spotted over Billings being investigated as Chinese spy airship Billings Gazette

How a Chinese Spy Balloon Blew Up a Key U.S. Diplomatic Trip Foreign Policy. Balloons don’t do that all by themselves. Commentary:


Taiwanese, Japanese firms in Myanmar staying put despite political unrest, but are laying low Channel News Asia


Adani crisis ignites Indian contagion fears, credit warnings Channel News Asia

TotalEnergies says exposure to Adani stands at $3.1bn as turmoil mounts FT

Some of Wall Street’s biggest names are exposed to the Adani Enterprises plunge CNBC

Adam Tooze: What the Adani Group’s Plunge Says About the Indian Economy Foreign Policy


Iran, Russia move to link banks to evade Western sanctions AP

The West sees Iran in a new way Indian Punchline

Dear Old Blighty

Firefighters to be paid £1,000 for an hour’s work in bid to break strike action GB News. New euphemism for “scab”: “resilience staff.”

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine SitRep: U.S.-Russia Talks, Bakhmut Retreat, Laughable Casualty Numbers Moon of Alabama. Interesting material on urban warfare.

CIA chief says Ukraine needs to puncture ‘Putin’s hubris’ in the next 6 months Insider. First Friedman Unit for Ukraine spotted in the wild.

* * *

With or Without Western Tanks, Escalation Is Coming to Ukraine National Interest

Germany approves Leopard 1 battle tank exports to Ukraine Guardian

Logistics loom large in how effective Western tanks will be in Ukraine: Experts Andalou Agency

* * *

E.U. Vows More Help for Ukraine but Tamps Down Membership Talk NYT but Negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to EU can begin this year – Zelenskyy Ukrainska Pravda

Facebook Protects Nazis to Protect Ukraine Proxy War FAIR

* * *

Russian tourist flows to Seychelles and the New World Order Gilbert Doctorow

US to use money seized from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev for Ukraine aid South China Morning Post

Putin’s Ashes “Shepard Fairey and Pussy Riot invite you to express your Proof of Protest on the blockchain to voice your rage against the fascist regime of Putin’s russia.”

Biden Administration

Biden’s handwritten notes part of classified docs probe AP

Biden Casually Tells National Prayer Breakfast He’s Been To Heaven Several Times The Onion

Supply Chain

China boosts imports of fuel oil blended from Russian barrels and ‘Russia has become India’s largest oil supplier’: Russian Envoy Hellenic Shipping News


U.S. spends most on healthcare, has worst outcomes, finds Commonwealth Fund Healthcare Finance. So both the profit-making and the eugenics are going great. What’s the issue?

A Washington woman with tuberculosis refuses treatment, so authorities got court orders NBC

Police State Watch

Family: Autopsy shows training center activist shot at least 13 times Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Environmentalist Manuel Esteban Paez Terán’s death is part of a disturbing trend Donzinger on Justice

Our Famously Free Press

Subject of Project Veritas voter fraud story says he was offered bribe FOX9. Note the source.

Sports Illustrated Publisher Taps AI to Generate Articles, Story Ideas WSJ

The Deep Frustration of Digital Media Ross Barkan

The Bezzle

The Unusual Crew Behind Tether, Crypto’s Pre-Eminent Stablecoin WSJ

Tulipomania! The Paris Review. From 2014, still germane. The bubble burst February 3, 1637.

Alert reader AH signed up for ChatGPT (see “AI = BS”). This landing page appeared:

I smell lawsuits! But more importantly, AH remarks:

If you are the dumb CEO who thinks he can replace 99% of his chat & call center reps with this tool… you’ve guaranteed a decline in customer service and likely a decline in future sales from frustrated customers. Yes on day 1 you may have provided the AI with all of your company documentation and the last 5 or 10 years of recorded customer conversations; but how are you training the AI going forward? Internal procedural documentation is full of industry/company speak! Without real live conversations from customers to real reps you will NOT have a translation layer of data for the AI system to work with. Limitation #1 will eventually go from “May Occasionally…” to routinely! Now, to me, the funny thing here is that the system is “Trained to decline inappropriate requests”, but if the system is routinely giving bad information it only seems logical real customers will increase their usage of “inappropriate” language. And now we have a vicious downward cycle that can ONLY be resolved with HUMAN intervention and could have been prevented by maintaining the original human activities.

Class Warfare

Non-Compete Agreement Leaves Workers Homeless and Jobless Labor Notes

Civilization States Are Profoundly Illiberal Noema

Is Liberalism Worth Saving? Harpers. Panel discussion, with a very narrow range of opinion.

Why Not Mars Idle Words

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. The Rev Kev

    “Germany approves Leopard 1 battle tank exports to Ukraine”

    This might be a cynical ploy by the Scholz government. They already know that any of the tanks that they will be sending to the Ukraine will be turned to scrap so it looks like they want to send a bunch of these much older Leopard 1 tanks and they may want to send them so they do not have to send so many of their Leopard 2 tanks. The thing is a museum piece and does not have the armour to survive on a modern battlefield. And there is another problem – the ammo. Germany does not make those rounds anymore. Switzerland does but their neutrality policy rules them out as a source. Brazil also makes them but a coupla days ago told the collective west that they wanted nothing to do with Project Ukraine so no ammo from them either. So this will be just another case of “being seen to be doing something.” But if I were those Ukrainian tank crews, I would keep the hatches open so as to be ready to bail out if hit. This tank will be unsafe at any speed.

    1. vao

      In related news, Greece is dead set against sending any of its Leopard 2 to Ukraine — although it is one of the largest holders of this equipment in Europe.

      The reason is that Greece needs all the tanks it has in order to counter any aggressive move by Turkey (did you notice that there has been quite some saber rattling between Greece and Turkey these past months?); and Greece has zero confidence that its allies would provide adequate replacements in numbers and in time.

      This suspicion derives from the experience Greece had during the first phase of supplying armoured vehicles to Ukraine. Originally, it agreed to transfer 100 soviet vintage BMP-1 IFV in its arsenals, which would be replaced 1-to-1 by German Marder IFV. In a first phase, 40 BMP-1 were put in order and 20 transferred in Autumn 2022; for which Greece only received 14 Marder as replacement… Needless to say, since then Greece has been more than reluctant about giving away further BMP-1 upon vague promises of receiving substitutes from its NATO partners. It is generally admitted that the delivery of the 100 BMP-1 to Ukraine will no longer take place. Especially since Germany itself needs those Marder, as the newest Puma IFV supposed to replace them has proven such a lemon in recent field tests.

      1. Irrational

        I can understand Greece’s skepticism about being resupplied and also that they are concerned about an aggressive move from Turkey. To my amateur eyes, however, Greece looks too mountainous for tanks to have much utility. I would further assume that any battles would be over the borders in the Med and would take place at sea with the need for ships, amphibious vehicles and air support. Admittedly I have zero practical experience of war (and looking to keep it that way).

    2. hk

      The ammo talk is baffling: Leo 1 has a license produced version of the L7 tank gun that has been used everywhere with Western ties during the Cold War and beyond. Maybe the fancy high tech shells may not be available, but there’s gotta be piles of the older shells lying around everywhere. (Of course, it does beg the question what good older 105mm L7 shells can do, as the development of the “fancy” shells was prompted by the fact that Israeli M60A3’s with the L7 guns could not defeat the frontal armor of Syrian T72’s (export model without composite armor) in Lebanon during early 80’s….)

    3. hemeantwell

      Mercouris, drawing on Wikipedia, characterized the Leopard I as ridiculously undergunned and armored.compared to Russian tanks. If I were a Ukronazi I would suspect Germany of using them to denazify.

    4. Kouros

      The Swiss are talking of doing something about the ammo and weapons situation, so that they can ease the pain. They haven’t yet found the perfect wording that will convince their citizenry that Swiss neutrality will still stand…

      1. square coats

        Switzerland is the 14th largest exporter of weapons in the world and Swiss made weapons had already been spotted being used by both sides in Ukraine back in March 2022.

        I don’t really understand what the point is of buying/selling military weapons if they aren’t supposed to eventually be used by militaries… (or other non-military actors I suppose)

        1. KlutchKargo

          I think the weapons are sold on a contract that obligates no re-sale. The vendor probably has different prices for different customers, and doesn’t want competition . All contract law issues.

  2. griffen

    I’d feel safer if we just obliterated the damn balloon but I guess diplomatic approaches might have to suffice. Maybe the balloon is involved in some sort of new film trailer for the next whatever nonsense film in the Captain America MCU series is cooking up soon. Captain America fights off the Red Menace. \sarc

    This balloon was the lead for several minutes on last night’s national news broadcast.

      1. John

        The latest shiny object to be held up with the demand that it be looked at. Seems like nonsense to me. If you are really concerned that it is malign, remove it. Steve Daines was concerned about it peering at missile silos that have been there for decades. He got his moment of national publicity and I am sure more in the Montana media. Is this whole kerfuffle a diversion? But a diversion from what? Perhaps something to entertain the proles. I think it is a probe by a technology unknown in the ‘free world’ to discover the essence of our ‘precious bodily fluids.’

        1. timbers

          “Is this whole kerfuffle a diversion? But a diversion from what?”

          Well, didn’t some military dude just say we have be ready for the war we’re gonna have with China very soon? Maybe it is a prep to pivot from Russia to China.

          Fixed Ukraine, now we’re gonna fix Taiwan. We can’t fix both at the same time.

          BTW shouldn’t we start planning a war with India? India is getting important.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Could be a message. It could be saying that if the US tries going to war against China as has been hinted at in the media the past several weeks, then China could send a bunch of these balloons – but of a military grade – that would be each carrying an electromagnetic pulse device. That would, uhhh, not be good.

          2. Wukchumni

            They reckon the balloon has been up there for 80 days, hopefully somebody will Phileas in.

            My Kevin (since ’07) demands a Gang-of-Eight intel briefing, helium has frozen over in Humordor!

          3. NotTimothyGeithner

            Remember Russia vs the world? As demands were snubbed, the imperialists in DC are starting to sense a problem. The world doesn’t need the US the way it once did.

            I think DC is grasping at straws. See the evil imperial Chinese who are held at bay by innocent Americans!

            We are deluded we actually asked countries we have a habit of knocking over to disarm on behalf of white people.

            On the domestic front, we are the good guys in this scenario. Syria, Libya, and Iraq have been memory holed.

            1. Carolinian

              It’s probably like that Cuba acoustical super weapon that turned out to be crickets. Ex CIA Larry Johnson says we have balloons too and always have had. Plus it may actually be a kind of super weather balloon off course as the Chinese claim.

              Meanwhile it is presumably headed toward the Southeast so if this is the last comment from here you read……

              1. griffen

                Please do not tempt fate, I speak on behalf of your southeastern neighbors! I have plenty of living and sinning to do yet. Ha ha ha

                And also, the Super Bowl in a week. So there is that to look ahead to.

                1. ambrit

                  Don’t forget that Fearless Leader speaks on Tuesday to the loyal masses! Will Zelenski be in the audience, representing the “American Treasure Islands?”

                  1. Wukchumni

                    Bet you a virtual bundle he mentions Beau (…the unfortunate Generalissimo Francisco Franco of our time…) is still dead.

              2. Carolinian

                Apparently it passed right over my house this morning. Now wishing my brother and I had finished that bomb shelter when I was ten.

                Did hear sirens around lunchtime but it was the regular Saturday tornado drill. SC can be dangerous!

            1. chris

              I think the Adani mess is to send a message to Indian companies that they better make their government behave according to US demands or else. We’ll know for sure if that is the direction things are going in if the Biden administration starts messing with visas for tech workers again.

              1. eg

                This was precisely my observation on Twitter to Adam Tooze in response to yesterday’s Ones and Tooze podcast about Adani’s role in India — isn’t it remarkable that Hindenburg Research’s very first foray beyond US borders just happens to coincide with India’s recent refusal to play ball with Western sanctions against Russia.

                Clarifying, that …

        2. Nikkikat

          This is the stupid, incompetent people in Washington. Some of them believe it is a spy ballon, some of them are using it for propaganda purposes. After the nonsense printed in The NY Times over the past few years. Russiagate, Ukraine is winning, Russia is collapsing. Etc etc. Just think of the ridiculous stories about Putin poisoning Navalny’s underwear or Boris Johnson claiming that Putin told him he would kill him with a missile. Yeah, sure this is an evil Chinese weather ballon posing as a surveillance satellite.

          1. Grateful Dude

            doesn’t China have surveillance satellites? If they do, WTF does a balloon do for them? And they have a space station, right? Or soon will, IIRC. That could drop a weapon. And I’m sure Montana is an important target, after all don’t all the billionaires have big survival ranches there?

            1. hemeantwell

              Of course they do! I’m entering a state of chronic embogglement over how inane our peak imperialists have become. (Coming soon in a Diagnostic and Statiscal Manual supplement.)

            2. Glen

              The PRC currently has hundreds of satellites in orbit:


              Of those hundreds, it’s estimated that 116 are Yaogan “Remote Sensing Satellites” (Spy Satellites).


              So, yeah, I would like to see very solid evidence that this is a “spy balloon” since it’s pretty dumb for a country to put that much effort into real spy satellites and then do a “spy balloon”.

          2. Katniss Everdeen

            If I recall correctly, crack cia “analyst” john brennan “analyzed” satellite imagery and “identified” an Iraqi weather balloon station as a “mobile WMD lab” to get the Iraq war going.

            He, apparently, later wrote “apologetically” in his “memoir” that he had “seen what he wanted to see.”

            Sooner or later the refusal of americans to get a clue is gonna have real consequences.

          3. Jason Boxman

            Indeed, they seem unaware that the US surveils China in perpetuity; I guess they’ve forgotten the spy plane incident under W Bush. Now that’s a real incident. This is comical. These people really are nuts.

          4. tiebie66

            I think we are meant to believe it is a spy balloon. We are wanted to clamor for war against China soon. “…Moreover, what the populace continually reads and hears it considers to be the truth, thus “What the Press wills, is true” (p. 395) …. There is also no need for military service as the populace can be roused to clamor for weapons and war with articles, news, and images forcing them into a conflict by their own will.” Oswald Spengler in The Decline of the West.

    1. Louis Fyne

      from July…the Pentagon has its own balloons:

      makes you wonder if the CIA has been doing Francis Powell-U2 stuff with flights over China.

      Pentagon confirmed to POLITICO that the COLD STAR program has transitioned to the services. DoD would not disclose details about the effort because it is classified.

      Another initiative aims to tie all the technology together. The Pentagon is conducting demonstrations to evaluate how to incorporate high-altitude balloons and commercial satellites in an attack, known as the “kill chain.”

      1. Donald

        That’s good. For a moment I thought that we were facing the prospect of a giant balloon gap.

        Bad enough that the Russians can build workable hypersonic missile weapons and we can’t, but when you factor in the giant Chinese balloons I was worried they have us surrounded.

        1. GC54

          Bring the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade “strategic assets” out of storage, Snoopy and Spiderman will save us.

      2. Gregorio

        “Where could those devious commie rat bastards have gotten the idea they could get away with something like this?”
        “Whoops!” “Never mind.”

      3. juno mas

        … just for accuracy sakes, it was Francis Gary Powers flying that U2 spy plane. (I was alive at the time.)

    2. Stephen

      Arnaud Bertrand’s final scenario seems right. A weather balloon that got away but given current antipathy to China it has been seized on opportunistically as a provocation. Nobody has explained why they need to send a balloon in malice when satellites can take pictures and hypersonic missiles can dispense munitions.

      But, of course, NATO warships tweaking Russia’s waters in the Black Sea in 2021 was all great, as is the US Navy patrolling right up to the coast of China. Just examples amongst many.

      History will look back and wonder how such a previously great civilisation lost its mind circa 2010 or so. This will be one proof point that will be cited.

      1. Louis Fyne

        the future of very high balloons is real.

        over a war theatre, like Ukraine or 2003 Iraq, a constellation of balloons would give Panopticon-like capabilities.

        And like the Geran drone, shooting down a balloon is very hard (with current tech) and the shootdown effort will cost more than the balloon itself.

        retaliation for Taiwan Strait transits? rogue weather balloon? everyone has an incentive to obfuscate

        1. Stephen

          Yep, I can fully believe too that there have been US balloons over China. Rather than getting their own newspapers excited then the Chinese may have just done the same.

          Still, the Chinese are claiming it is just a weather balloon. If they really wanted to create drama then they might be expected to say this is retaliation for US balloons over China, I guess.

          Certainly seems like a lot of fuss that is being kicked up opportunistically. IMHO.

          Your Geran drone comment is very apposite. I recall most mainstream commentators saying that the drones attacking a Russian base demonstrated Russian incompetence, backwardness and so forth. Not many now seem to be reflecting on that, given this balloon “situation”.

      2. Coach Z

        A weather balloon carrying a payload the size of three school buses, that China never warned us was drifting our way, and that the DOD pretended didn’t exist until some random dude saw it and posted pictures? Please. “Weather research” has been the standard cover story for airborne surveillance since the 1950s.

        DOD is acting like it knows what that balloon is carrying, and maybe they do, but they’re not telling people who need answers because the freaking thing is over their houses. Do they know what its purpose is, whether it can be controlled or landed, or whether it has the ability to drop things? Chinese statements have zero credibility.

        So many questions, so few answers from people who claim to know. This is how conspiracy theories are born.

        1. Stephen

          Someone needs to explain why it can see things that their satellites cannot. Which are also effectively over people’s houses too. Just a little bit higher.

          1. marku52

            It loiters longer at a lower altitude. This would allow for more averaging of signals for a better signal to noise ratio. Ultimately should have higher resolution.

        2. Henry Moon Pie

          I’d be more worried if it were an American balloon. After all, it’s the American government’s policies that appear designed to get rid of me.

          I ain’t got no personal quarrel with the Chinese government or the CCP. I don’t agree with all that they do, but I honestly don’t feel threatened by them.

    3. FreeMarketApologist

      My workplace has TVs tuned to news stations on all the time. This story was inescapable all day yesterday, and mostly seemed to be of the “..the media, wearing their usual “China bad” hat, decide to go all-in on the scare-mongering…”, noted in the link.

      It’s unclear that equipment on this balloon could see anything more than could already been seen using Google Maps. But if the purpose was indeed to keep Blinken at home, then good. The more things that get him closer to being stashed away in a small dark closet equipped with a heavy lock, the better.

      1. fresno dan

        I’m so old, I remember when trading with China was good. And ChiMerica.
        Trade and globilazation reduce war…
        A pair of researchers with Stanford University has found via crunching economic and war data, that the more trading partners a country has, the less likely it will be to engage in a war. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the pair describes how they first attacked the problem from the reverse perspective, looking at data that showed an inclination to go to war in the absence of trade partnerships and how they were unable to find any correlations.
        Friedman explains “globalization” by recounting stories of his actual experiences in interfacing with many of the global movers and shakers.
        The book puts forward a capitalist peace theory, first published as an opinion piece in The New York Times in December 1996, called the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention; although slightly tongue-in-cheek,[1] it states:
        No two countries that both have a McDonald’s have ever fought a war against each other.[2]
        He supported that observation, as a theory, by stating that when a country has reached an economic development where it has a middle class strong enough to support a McDonald’s network, it would become a “McDonald’s country”, and will not be interested in fighting wars anymore.,interested%20in%20fighting%20wars%20anymore.

        So the smart people in politics and the media told us all the BENEFITS of trade with China. They were full of $hit then, maybe they are full of $hit now. Now all the people in the media and politics tell us all how despicable China is….
        You know what we need – a capitalist war theory

        1. Eclair

          RE: “No two countries that both have a McDonald’s have ever fought a war against each other.”

          That’s because their fighting age and class populations, after a few years of eating cheap, fatty, salty, sugary, meat and chemical-laden, breakfast, lunch and dinner, are too obese and pre-existing-condition-laden to survive boot camp.

          0f course, we still have all those nukes …..

    4. Tom Hickey

      Speculation is that the balloon may be an invite to shoot it down. Then China uses this as justification to take down all the US surveillance apparatus above its territory.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Very good. I must admit I worry about those guys. They have important fathers, but they’re getting to be quite the pain in the ass to some pretty bad people.

    5. Randall Flagg

      Yes it was the subject for many minutes on the national newscast, they had it on the map as over Kansas at that moment.
      My speculation is it’s really the Wizard of Oz trying to bring Dorothy back home…
      Gosh, we would never spy on other countries ourselves would we?
      sarcasm off

    6. John Beech

      Removing a balloon at flight level 1000 is not trivial. How do you propose to do it?

      1. Aircraft to shoot it down? Aircraft are limited to flight level 600.

      2. Missiles? They have nuclear warheads. Do you propose we use one of those?

      What alternatives does this leave?

    7. Pelham

      My guess is that we can’t shoot down the balloon. The F-22 has a service ceiling a bit over 50,000 feet, but the balloon — at least for a time — was at 60,000 feet. Air-to-air missiles might reach it, but they typically home in on the heat from jet engines. The balloon has no jets.

      I don’t know how the balloon came to public attention, but I suspect the military wasn’t the original source if, indeed, it can’t be shot down. This gets some support from the military’s admission that such balloons have transited the US before — with nary a peep from the Pentagon. Why? Perhaps due to embarrassment that our vaunted Air Force can’t handle a balloon. Remember that during the U2 flights over the Soviet Union, the Soviets were perfectly aware of the U2s but said nothing publicly out of embarrassment — until they managed to shoot one down.

      As for the intelligence value for China, the low altitude of 60,000 feet by comparison with the orbit of spy satellites may afford a much more detailed look at anything below. The erratic course of a balloon can be problematic, but remotely stationed controllers may be able to adjust the altitude to take advantage of different winds at various levels and achieve some degree of command.

      All in all, if the assumptions I’ve made here are valid, spy ballooning is a pretty clever contrivance.

      1. Pelham

        Oh phooey. The balloon was shot down. Or was it? Isn’t it somewhat curious that the Pentagon waited until the balloon had gathered all its intel having crossed the entire continent before shooting it down?

        My next guess: The Chinese balloon was out of reach, so the Pentagon sent up a dummy balloon to a reachable altitude, say, 40,000 feet carrying a simple heat signature that an air-to-air missile could zero in on. And then, having alerted CNN, they shot it down. But how can we be sure that the little white dot way up in the sky off the South Carolina coast was the same little white dot that was over Montana two days ago?

        Of course, the Pentagon’s explanation — that a shootdown over land might prove hazardous to people or property below — also makes good sense. I can go along with that — conditionally. But to automatically believe it, I’d have to also unquestioningly believe that it was purely coincidence that the entire eastern seaboard defense apparatus was executing defense drills and rendering itself largely useless on 9/11, that CNN’s presence at Roger Stone’s house during the FBI’s armed 5 a.m. raid was just fortuitous and that Operation Northwood was never seriously proposed.

      2. eg

        Is it really “spying” when everyone knows you’re there? Seems like something of a category error to me.

  3. Bosko

    That thread on the “spy balloon” was useful. At this point, one can just glance at the headlines and be pretty confident that they’re full of it. Every Secretary of State is awful at this point, one after the other, just absolute cesspools masquerading as human beings, but Blinken brings something uniquely repellent to the role.

    1. Wukchumni

      Think of all the maimed & wounded kids at birthday parties, their lives shortened by balloons blowing up in their midst, oh the humanity!

      I can see why we’re treading so cautiously on kind of the neo-Sputnik, ha ha.

      Has anything scared us so in the past 65 years on high?

      1. ChrisPacific

        Let this be a lesson to watch your kids at the annual Spy Festival and make sure they keep a tight grip on their balloons. One slip and not only is Junior in tears, but you have an international incident on your hands.

  4. griffen

    Comments at the National Prayer Breakfast, Joe Biden tells the audience he has visited heaven several times. Since this is the Onion, well if he really does see Ray Liotta, maybe Joe took a heavy nap on the couch only to wake up watching him walk out of the cornfield in Field of Dreams ?

    Added satire (for us mopes anyway). Heaven saw fit to send you back. So unfair.

      1. griffen

        Maybe this is summing up the very situation…about the only bit of morbid humor to be drawn from Braveheart and the fictional, quite fictional movie. Now that I think of it, doesn’t Joe Biden have much in common after all with the King Edward as depicted in this film ? Biden may be less brutal but just thinking of the leadership styles.

      2. hk

        Well, this is the year of Water Rabbit (for the Chinese anyways). Remember Carter’s encounter with a swamp rabbit?

    1. Lexx

      Would heaven send someone’s soul back over and over again? It’s not salvation he’s describing, it’s torture. No envy for angels and their afterlives of eternal duty and tribal fealty. More like warlords, really. In a certain light it’s hard to tell them from demons.

    2. Nikkikat

      Never laughed so hard at an Onion article. Old Joe would definitely tell a lie that big. This story was actually more believable than anything in the Washington Post or the Times. Lol

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Shepard Fairey and Pussy Riot invite you to express your Proof of Protest on the blockchain to voice your rage against the fascist regime of Putin’s russia.”

    For those who prefer older methods of donations, please send your cheques to the following address-

    Pussy Riot c/-
    The National Endowment for Democracy
    1201 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Suite 1100
    Washington, DC 20004, USA

    That Shepard Fairey character by the way. He is the guy that designed the 2008 Barack Obama “Hope” poster and which turns out to be a rip-off of a 1961 photo of JFK-

    Anyone know if it has been turned into a NFT yet?

        1. Mark Gisleson

          I had the exclusive franchise for “Don’t Buy Books From Crooks” t-shirts in Iowa. We sold them to raise money for a Democratic legislative candidate.

      1. JP

        The best Nixon graphic I ever saw was on the cover of the LA Free Press. It was of Nixon taking a dump. I have looked high and low for that image in archives but never found it.

        1. Wukchumni

          The best Nixon graphic doesn’t exist in photos, but I have a mental image of it…

          In 1968, Tuck utilized Republican nominee Nixon’s own campaign slogan against him; he hired a heavily pregnant black woman to wander around a Nixon rally in a predominantly white area, wearing a T-shirt that read, “Nixon’s the One!”

      2. LifelongLib

        Since “libs” are so unpopular these days, I’m thinking of changing my moniker to “NostalgicForNixon”. I didn’t care for him at the time, but he did propose a guaranteed annual income and a national health care system. Compare him to what we’ve had since…

  6. flora

    re: ” First Friedman Unit for Ukraine spotted in the wild.”

    That line nearly cost me a keyboard. / ;)

    1. Val

      Polling reportedly indicates the American public something something Ukraine,
      First Friedman Unit for Ukraine spotted in the wild… (a very nice catch, by the way)
      Hey look over there, a balloon!

    2. ChrisRUEcon


      Had to look that one up … ;-)

      More nosh from the moustache of understanding


  7. Jabura Basaidai

    Is it just me or does this fascination with getting away from earth to the moon, Mars or wherever away from our planet seem stupid? Maybe it’s just government financed research for the oligarchs to know how to escape once the earth is uninhabitable and their bunkers are under attack. Rhetorical assumption and question. We are a species hell-bent on extinction. Time to go prune my fruit trees now that it has become so cold in Michigan and try to not pay too much attention to enforced ignorance.
    Dylan is somebody who seems to understand.
    Here’s Richie Havens doing Dylan’s “License to Kill” – a nice version, always fascinated by his guitar work –
    Yves I hope all is going well for you and thank you for the obvious –
    your blog is an oasis in a desert of ignorance – jb

    1. Louis Fyne

      The original sin is the $1T US military-intelligence-security budget.

      Notice how people argue about $100B spent over 10 years for X-non-military program (Mars), but the F-35 or another aircraft carrieris ignored even by ostensibly “progressives”

      Plenty of money for everything, the priorities are wrong.

      Pelosi, Bernie and AOC/the Squad are just as pathetic as any GOP, but at least Lindsay Graham is honest about his imperial shilling.

    2. Stephen V

      And Mush believes in ‘consciousness’-who knew? And the same for astronaut offal as a mission constraint. There’s food for thought.

    3. Nikkikat

      Jabura I also think this interplanetary nonsense is just that, nonsense. However, thank you for the Richie Valens music. He is one of my all time favorites. Saw him once in concert. One of the best. I love the guitar work as well. Have loved the guy since Woodstock. His remarks on playing there make for a great read.

    4. hunkerdown

      The point of these grand projects is to give the people a futile activity to collect “surplus” time and effort that might otherwise go into personal use-values with little or no exchange-value. Usually, these activities are designed to represent, schematically, the core values and virtues of the society as conceived by its current elites, so are also seen to have an “educational” value.

      In a word, yes. Or, to use Ratbert’s word for it, “Stupid!

      1. Jabura Basaidai

        Damn, i sure miss newspapers with comics and Sundays were the best with color – now that I think of it i miss Rocky and Bullwinkle too – certain comics and cartoons seemed so wonderfully subversive – haven’t had a TV since 1967 –

        1. The Rev Kev

          Same here. When growing up in Sydney we had three Sunday papers, each with a thick cartoon section which we grabbed out of the papers as soon as our dad got home. Now, no more as the papers have been amalgamated and cartoons gone I believe due to a cost cutting measure. Loved Rocky and Bullwinkle but if you think that they were subversive, you should think back on Bugs Bunny or Super Chicken.

          1. Wukchumni

            My mom gets 3 dead tree fishwraps a day, and its weird the feel of a newspaper in your hands when you so seldom do it.

            In my mind the LA Times* on Sunday is 3 inches thick and a morning’s worth of reading including a big comics section, but the reality now is the paper has gone on an extreme diet after all of the advertising got raptured.

            * we also had the LA Herald Examiner-a Hearst rag which was an utter pile compared to the LAT, it mercifully went away in 1989.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Had the same in Sydney. The dailies were the “Sun”, the “Mirror”, the “Daily Telegraph” and the thick “Sydney Morning Herald” (still going strong). First the “Sun” and the “Mirror” were amalgamated but that did not matter as they were both rubbish anyway. Then that amalgamated with “The Daily Telegraph” which was several kinds of awkward as they were so very different. Then whatever was left went on a hard diet but by then I had given up on newspapers as they kinda left out, you know, the news. Still, being a guy, I do miss the Sunday papers of my youth. The “Sun” featured topless ladies but whose modesty was protected by a long thin black strip. Later, that was eliminated and cartoon flowers were substituted instead. Since the 90s we have gone corporate prudish so you won’t see that in newspapers or on TV these days. Sigh!

              1. Wukchumni

                Newspapers taught me how to read between the lines, the important news was often on page 9 of the first section, and you had to go through a minefield of ads to get to the goods.

                America is ok with wanton murder sprees, but has always drawn the line on exposing flesh in the press, it being little wonder when 1/2 of a Page 3 beauty’s high end assets were shown during a Super Bowl Halftime Show as Janet Jackson shocked the nation, by doing something that happens 5 days a week elsewhere in the world.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  Even as a kid I found that the best way to go through a paper was to start at the very back page and go from there to the front. Still do. One Sunday paper featured nutsy stuff in the 60s. Like the Chinese army was marching together in one direction to influence the rotation of the earth. Stuff like that. It also had the only-in-America type stories like the woman that was buried in a nightdress in a Corvette when she died. One story I remember was these murderers that were caught on a ranch after killing a Hollywood starlet. And this story evolved in the years to come as the infamous Manson murders so that taught me to watch for the little stuff.

                  1. ambrit

                    Manson and his henchbeings were “not prosecuted” for whatever was found or not found on the Spahn ranch and released pronto. Evidently, someone was keeping very close tabs on Manson and his cult. The Manson Family was eventually arrested at a remote location in Death Valley.
                    The police had several chances to take Manson off of the street before the Tate-LaBianca murders happened. Every time, he was somehow released. An ex-con out on parole for a Federal felony conviction is caught with dope, underage girls, and automatic weapons and skates, not even charged.
                    Manson and his group also killed at least one other person in a separate incident.
                    It is what the papers did not print that is interesting. Operation Mockingbird was alive and well back then. What would be a good name for a covert program of subversion and censorship of the Internet? Meta Pulse? Babylonia Invicta? Operation Witchiepoo?
                    Stay safe, and unobtrusive.

  8. dftbs

    The Ukrainian defense minister is quoted in the story on Putin’s “hubris”, and displays the standard Western technique of projection

    “We think that, given they live in symbolism, they are going to try to attempt something around February 24,” Reznikov told French TV station BFMTV.

    Throughout this conflict there’s been a common refrain that despite all that’s happening on the battlefield, Russia is losing the information war. A year on I think that this is distinctly not the case, and the belief arises from a misunderstanding of what this arena and its contest actually entail.

    Certainly the Russians have a very limited reach to state or clarify their position within the West. There is no combating the power of the Western media on its home soil. Westerners have certainly been whipped up to a frenzy of jingoistic bloodlust and Russophobia. But I would contend that this doesn’t matter. First Western public opinion is irrelevant, Western regimes are going to do what they want regardless, ask the Yellow vests. Or if you need a clearer example reconcile why, despite its overwhelming popularity for the better part of a decade there is no M4A. Second, the Russians aren’t contesting Western public opinion, they don’t see it as important.

    Instead the Russians see “information war” less as a resource draining propaganda facade and more as a way to shape the physical battlefield to their advantage. How many T-90s is one Anderson Cooper worth? Through this lease the Russians appear to have manipulated that Western bloodlust to express itself via the most piecemeal and ineffective policy of military support. We send weapons the way a bad guy in a Bruce Lee movie sends henchmen, and the Russians get the same results that Bruce Lee gets.

    At this point I almost think the Russian “warnings” about “red lines” are meant to encourage us in our stupidity. “Please don’t send f16s”, should read as, “Please don’t send f16s as we’d feel bad shooting them all down”.

    You even see some effective Russian infowar in the Ukrainian defense minister’s quote above. The West and its proxy have elevated the importance its domestic propaganda landscape so far above the physical battlefield that the Russians have not only ceded it; in fact they actively support Western “dominance” there. I mean the Russians know when and where their next move will be. By giving a timeframe the Reznikov tips his hand, either he too knows or is clueless, and all for a little screen time on French TV.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      If you do not live in an information bubble, it’s impossible to see the world as Western leaders do. It’s as if they had a Corsi-Rosenthal box for filtering out unwanted facts.

      In my personal opinion, political leadership in the West is extraordinarily second-rate. These are not our best people, and they do not seem to actually be in charge. Which, if the western world is being run by oligarchs, would make sense. Second-raters have no trouble with not being in charge so long as they get all the perks and accolades.

      I’m less sure that the oligarchs intended to degrade our civilization to the extent that they have but this was inevitable given that second-rate narcissitic leaders have a penchant for hiring third-rate suckups who insert an super-dense layer of incompetence into the hierarchy to assure that even an accidental good idea has no chance of proper implementation.

      As proof, look at Biden’s cabinet. Incredibly, it would be a step down to go from Senile Joe to any of his underlings, none of whom are fit for higher office.

      If I ever vote again, I think I’ll write in Putin.

      1. hunkerdown

        Meritocracy is a utopian religious myth used to keep the rubes down and happy about it, in return for false promises of future reward. It’s not intended to be taken seriously by people with actual power, and nobody else should, either.

        According to Ehrenreich, the Progressive/PMC movement’s object is the establishment of a “‘rational’, reproducible social order” that is self-driving and self-healing. The PMC are in the process of reshaping the world so that rule and the ruling class give way to administration and bureaucracy, and that rational, reproducible social order is being constructed around us by the usual managerial machinations. To them, piety and every other emotion is a weapon, not a duty (and on that much they are finally being honest about the real state of things).

        Whatever problems competitive morality theater was intended to solve, it fails to do so while spreading more disease than it has ever cured. Let’s grow out of Adam Smith’s apologetics and shut down all the stupid games until everyone has eaten their fill.

        Right there with you on the write-in though.

    2. semper loquitur

      “given they live in symbolism”

      This is rich. I think the claim could be made that the West lives in a-symbolism. Symbols have meanings. Increasingly, what I hear from the mouths of our leaders is devoid of content, semiotic chaff.

      1. EricF

        “semiotic chaff”


        An excellent watchword for the post-future.
        (Which would be now)


        1. semper loquitur

          Thank you. I trace it, as I do so many problems in our times, to the foul influence of postmodernism. Derrida with his corrosive deconstruction, Foucault with his reduction of everything to narrative, and that consummate bull$hit artist Butler and her reduction of human social activity to performativity. Of course, when you turn any of these claims back upon their authors, their positions melt away. Of course, they would likely claim they have no fixed positions, but then why should I listen to them?

          1. hunkerdown

            Why wouldn’t you blame the neoliberals instead like Ronald Coase, George Stigler, and Milton Friedman, who were dissolving Truth into a market long before 1968?

            I disagree that we are in a-symbolism right now. Nothing that comes out of the mouths of the ruling class has anything to do with the concrete world. It’s emotional direction in the style of kabuki and religious cant. Gardens, values, it’s all onanistic emotivism.

            Ontological security might be a little rough for people right now, especially white guys, and I feel that, but those three authors were absolutely correct on the facts. There’s no inherent reason to play anyone’s game over any other or to respect any undesirable social component beyond material necessity. We can, and I argue should, philosophically and socially cancel the PMC wokeologists the very same way.

            1. semper loquitur

              You misinterpret my use of the prefix “a-“:

              a- also an- not, without “atheist”, “anaemic”

              I mean it as being non-symbolic. As in having no meaning. A symbol, by definition, does. The things the Powers That Be say have no meaning, no anchor in reality, it’s all “narrative control”. Self-referential and self-serving. But I won’t disagree that there are others to blame, no sir. I just find the postmodernists particularly ludicrous.

              1. hunkerdown

                semper, is your a-symbolism similar to non-cognitive meta-ethics? If so, I think we’re on the same page. I’m a bit poorly rested today but it seems to me that the clerisy finds Meaning in the systematic production of judgment, and (according to the Protestant understanding that everyone is a minister now) expects the whole world to recognize the results of their acts as valuable. It’s basically meaningless to those who aren’t particularly sensitive to the Christian ideals of total human unity and followership.

                1. hunkerdown

                  Adding, I have just begun to read Greer’s weekly, and found that Owen Barfield’s notion of final participation is a close match for the sense I’m describing, and the Übermensch is maybe even closer. Another familyblogging book…

                2. semper loquitur

                  No, nothing that involved, I was simply trying to come up with a word for something that is supposed to be symbolic but is actually devoid of meaning. Perhaps anti-symbolic would have been more on point. But thanks for the reference, I’m looking up non-cognitive meta-ethics.

          2. korual

            You are shooting the messenger. There is no such thing as postmodernism. Try defining an ideology of postmodernism. As you say they have no fixed position. The attempt to fix a position and hold onto it no matter what, is perhaps what Derrida wants to deconstruct?

            We have been living in a condition of postmodernity since 1968. Much of our narratives are bull, right? They can be because they are performative. The lesson is that the rules have changed, even though they are not fixed laws, so we can change them. Narrative, like power, can be malign or beneficial.

            1. semper loquitur

              Bull$hit. This claim is false. Postmodernists claim this because the opposite reveals a flaw at the heart of their claims. I just listed three of their positions: all can be deconstructed, all is reducible to narrative, all is reducible to performativity. Are you claiming these aren’t claims?

              And a question for your precious Derrida: if all can be deconstructed, what happens when we deconstruct that claim? Is it true? If so, how does it survive being reduced to linguistic rubble? If it’s falsified, then why bother? If it’s neither, if it cannot be framed as true/not-true, then why the fu(k bother?

              The same goes for those other two clowns. It’s all navel gazing in free-fall. The world is more complicated than they claim, even more complicated than the garbled word games of Butler, if that’s even possible.

              Democracy, for example, exits, in greater or lesser degree, it’s not merely a narrative. There are objective realities that anchor it. There are real ideas that conceptualize it. Freedom and enslavement, alienation and connection: pick your human condition. Human interactions have a performative element but orbit about objective, consensus realities as well.

              The fact that we live in a time when narratives have grown paramount, when any notion of truth can supposedly be deconstructed, when all activity is purportedly performative, is at least in part a product of the postmodern ideology. There is an intrinsic authoritarianism in these notions. When nothing means anything, power will define meaning.

              1. korual

                “…all is reducible to…”

                This is a straw man fallacy. A false caricature. None of those 3 have been claimed, to my knowledge. No-one has denied scientific reality. All narrative can be deconstructed, though, including both yours and theirs and science too.

                “…clowns…navel gazing…your precious…garbled…” Ad hominem fallacies. Mere adjectives, but a nice performative narrative!

                “There are real ideas.” That’s a logical fallacy. Ideas are imaginary, expressed symbolically.

                “power will define meaning.” Well that’s what we learnt in 1968. Winning the argument in your precious democracy is useless. By 1990 there were 1 million marching in London against the Iraq invasion. They were totally ignored.

                1. semper loquitur

                  “This is a straw man fallacy. A false caricature. None of those 3 have been claimed, to my knowledge. No-one has denied scientific reality. All narrative can be deconstructed, though, including both yours and theirs and science too.”

                  What scientific reality? You just claimed it’s narrative. If that is the case, and if as you claim below that ideas aren’t real, there what is there to your “scientific reality”? Where does the rubber hit the road? It doesn’t, ergo navel gazing in free-fall.

                  Camilla Paglia has an interesting talk she gave on Foucault and narrative. She calls him a fraud, in addition to his reducing knowledge to narrative:


                  and here’s a discussion about the book Material Girls by Kathleen Stock, within which she describes Butler as the “Harry Potter of philosophy” and her Froot-Loop claims as “broadly anti science”, in other words as preempting consensus reality with notions of performativity:


                  Finally, here is Paul Austin Murphy on the problems with self-reference intrinsic to Derrida:


                  Derrida claims that every concept deconstructs itself. How then, pray tell, can he be said to believe in the concept of “scientific reality”? It’s just another narrative, amongst a million others, that crumbles when examined. Unless your claiming Derrida didn’t hold a concept of reality in his head but rather some sort of “Gods-eye view”. Rubbish. As Paglia points out, everything is reduced to wordplay.

                  “Ad hominem fallacies. Mere adjectives, but a nice performative narrative!”

                  But then, their opposite are also “performative narratives”, by these lights. To call them “intellectuals”, “broad-sighted”, or “clear” is merely another narrative. What’s your basis for denying my criticisms? Just your preferred narrative…

                  “That’s a logical fallacy. Ideas are imaginary, expressed symbolically.”

                  Only if you constrain “real” to the “physical” world. Materialist bunk. Ideas exist, ergo they are real. What’s that rattling around in your head at the moment? Consciousness, of which ideas are a sub-set. In fact, it’s the only real thing you actually know with unassailable certainty. Although in the case of the postmodernists, I’m willing to entertain your claim….

                  “Well that’s what we learnt in 1968. Winning the argument in your precious democracy is useless. By 1990 there were 1 million marching in London against the Iraq invasion. They were totally ignored.”

                  Here is a straw-man indeed, both in the general and in the particular. You constrain my definition of democracy to a specific level of it, whereas the concept of democracy runs the gambit from votes being tallied at a church meetup all the way up to national politics. Here’s a definition from Britannica:

                  democracy, literally, rule by the people

                  and the definition of rule:

                  Governing power or its possession or use; authority.

                  Where people have authority, there is democracy, the scale notwithstanding. But your pantheon of bozos would claim that the concept in all it’s permutations is invalid.

                  Your particular example is what I was alluding to in my exchange with hunkerdown above. I certainly don’t think we live in a democracy at the moment and I’ve definitely never lived in a pure one. Doubtless no one ever has. Our leaders wave that empty symbol around but it means nothing. But there is such a thing. It exists, on multiple scales and often in fragmentary form.

                  1. Korual

                    You agree with Descartes. You disagree with Kant and hence misunderstand philosophy after Kant. We’re regressing centuries here.
                    There is no direct connection between reality and ideas. Even scientists are trying to change the narrative about what is real. Progress they call it.

                    1. witters

                      “There is no direct connection between reality and ideas.”

                      From where do you say this? To whom are you saying it? Why should they listen to you?

    3. Late Introvert

      “We send weapons the way a bad guy in a Bruce Lee movie sends henchmen, and the Russians get the same results that Bruce Lee gets.”

      Well said, and also very funny.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “A Washington woman with tuberculosis refuses treatment, so authorities got court orders”

    There is historical precedent here. About century ago you had the case of Mary Mallon aka Typhoid Mary who eventually had to be sent to live in a cottage on North Brother Island in New York as there was no other way of stopping her infecting other people wherever she went-

    Speaking of TB, this disease is getting to be a problem for the Ukrainians in their trenches. Ukraine has the fourth-highest tuberculosis (TB) rate in Europe and the war is only serving to spread this as medical services break down. You think that the NATO countries will volunteer to help those guys with medical treatment?

    1. griffen

      If she is going to wander this world and spread her influence, and also her TB, can we send her to Washington DC ? \sarc

      Just seems like a wasted opportunity, limiting the scope of infections to the pacific NW and specifically Tacoma. This does seem like a headline ripped from an old X-Files episode.

      1. John

        You mean the authorities are not respecting her privacy and her sacred right to unlimited individual freedom. I am shocked, shocked.

    2. IM Doc

      For the readers who think this is the same thing as COVID vaccines – I feel I need to make a few statements about this process in the USA. How this is done in the rest of the world, I have no idea.

      TB is a very contagious disease – especially among those who are homeless/drug addicts/alcoholics. Because of their status, they are especially prone to this disease.

      First of all, the antibiotics for this problem are NOT M&Ms. They have the potential to be very toxic. One has to also be placed on certain vitamin supplements while on them. These agents can have all kinds of interplay with other medical issues and other medications the patient may be taking. But a key difference is these agents have been out for more than half a century. Tried and true as for demonstrated efficacy and known side effects and problems. Trained physicians know the problems, know the early warning signs of problems, and are constantly doing surveillance. Contrast to the COVID vaccines which had never been fully tested, and the side effects have become apparent only after wide distribution.

      Secondly, these TB patients are already sick. It is a much different ethical issue to force treatment on a sick individual than a completely well person. Vaccine trials and research have ALWAYS until now had that issue front and foremost. We are injecting patients who are completely well. That is a MUCH different ethical equation. The comparison to Typhoid Mary is apples and oranges to TB. Typhoid is a much different disease process which fortunately we do not have to deal with much at all in the developed world. The treatment for it is MUCH less toxic – and the issue with Typhoid Mary in her time was there WERE NO ANTIBIOTICS – causing the social issues that she and people like her had to endure. That is no longer the case.

      Thirdly, in every single case in multiple states I have been involved in TB therapy – numbering into the 100s, there was a due process. Competency was assessed. It went before a judge. Judges took into consideration all the issues – and I have seen before several times DENIED the public health intervention and made other arrangements with family members, etc. As has been the case my entire career as a physician until the past 2 years, patient autonomy was paramount. Taking that away from someone was a big deal and handled that way. We often observe the patients daily to make sure all is going well. A common acronym in these cases is DOT – direct observational therapy. No such due process, observation, or safety/status monitoring was ever done on any COVID vaccinee.

      Fourthly, TB therapy involves a very miniscule percentage of patients compared to COVID vaccines involving the entire population. COERCING non-ill people at pains of job loss etc for something that PROTECTS NO ONE in their workplace. This is completely different than TB therapy which absolutely decreases the risk for everyone in society.

      There are other issues as well. But these are the big ones. There is no comparison whatsoever as far as medical ethics between these two issues.

      1. Eclair

        Thank you, IM Doc. For the edification of younger commenters, when I grew up in a north-eastern mill town in mid-century, all school children were given yearly tuberculin tests. Our arm was injected with a small amount of fluid and covered with a band-aid. We each anxiously waited for a few days for the dreaded skin rash/bump that indicated we had been infected.

        In the late fifties, when I was off to college, my ‘elite’ woman’s school required a negative chest X-ray, (as well as a recent small-pox vaccination, which my physician uncle waved aside as unnecessary and signed the supporting documentation.). My mother and I drove a few towns over to the county TB sanatorium for the no-cost X-ray. This facility, opened in the late 1920’s, was subsequently closed down as the number of TB cases, and deaths, declined. A ‘public health’ triumph.

        1. flora

          adding as an aside: some years ago a student of mine, a foreign national, confided to me her uncle from another country had come to visit her and her husband and, as it turned out, had an active case of TB, and that’s why he was coughing so much during his visit to her. She wanted me to know in case I experienced anything of respiratory distress. I appreciated her telling me, alerting me to the possibility. She and her husband fortunately didn’t contract TB, nor did I. I don’t know what this anecdote says about anything. Probably nothing.

          1. IM Doc

            It tells me that you are probably not homeless, drug or alcohol addicted or starving to death and have a healthy functioning intact immune system.

            Those are the ways that the vast majority of patients get TB.

            It is like so many other things in life – eat well, sleep well, de-stress, surround yourself with family and friends, exercise like there is no tomorrow, laugh out loud multiple times a day, hug your kids, get out in the sun, grow things, take in the beauty of our planet, engage constantly with animals, do not hold grudges or hate in your heart, do not smoke, do not do brain-damaging drugs, and drink sparingly, enjoy an active sex life but not risky behavior, do not even touch much less eat any kind of processed food, and above all HAVE A PURPOSE.

            I would lose more than half of my patients in a month if we all started down this road. And I would be thrilled. It works to make you a healthier person and makes infectious disease that much more difficult to take off in your body. Not to mention diabetes, obesity, sleep apnea, and so many others.

            A little more than a century ago, our forebears made a fateful decision. In medicine, we call it the miasma theory vs the germ theory. The miasma camp held that physical and mental health were paramount, while the germ camp held that life was much better through chemicals. The germ theory eventually won out, and I think we can all walk through any Wal-Mart, much less a homeless camp, and see the results.

            The older I get, the more this is burned into my soul with the heat of a thousand suns.

            1. Art_DogCT

              Your sage advice reminds me of a passage from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass:

              “All beauty comes from beautiful blood and a beautiful brain. If the greatnesses are in conjunction in a man or woman it is enough…the fact will prevail through the universe…but the gaggery and gilt of a million years will not prevail. Who troubles himself about his ornaments or fluency is lost. This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…”

              I have known and been inspired by this passage in a ‘condensed’ version for a number of years (most of the text between ‘This is what you shall do:’ and ‘your very flesh shall be a great poem…’) This is the most complete quotation I’ve read yet since pre-Internet times. I find it much better in this more complete except.

          2. flora

            and adding, and to go on too long, (apologies): when my student confided this info to me she was deeply, deeply apologetic to think she might be a vector of disease even if she could not have known it at the time. She was a great young person and a wonderful student.

            Her uncle only received a diagnosis after he returned to his home (3rd world) country and then afterwards let her and her husband know his condition as soon as he knew.

      2. Carolinian

        Thanks Doc. Some of us see the whole episode as an experiment in authoritarianism as much as medicine. Which doesn’t make the Republicans any less authoritarian in their way, but now both sides are doing it.

      3. berit

        Investigation for tuberculosis (TB) on arrival in Norway.
        Everyone who comes to Norway as an asylum seeker or refugee must be tested for tuberculosis (TB).
        Other migrants require testing if they come from a country where tuberculosis is widespread.
        The test consists of an X-ray of the lungs (a chest X-ray), and a blood test or skin test. … If you have tuberculosis, you will be treated free of charge in Norway. You will be entitled to remain
        in Norway until you have completed the treatment.
        Remember that tuberculosis can be cured! For more information about tuberculosis, go to

    3. Noh1

      In Texas, patients with XDR-TB have been jailed to “protect the public,” despite having committed no crime.

      Man With TB Locked Up To Protect Public

      Also, Andrew Speaker was not allowed to fly:

      Andrew Speaker

      This disease can still get you quarantined

  10. flora

    re: Alert reader AH signed up for ChatGPT

    I’ve never played with this thing or anything like it because I don’t want to enlist myself as a beta tester for something designed to eliminate real jobs for people or designed for the creation of “better bots”. / my 2 cents

    1. griffen

      Related, the article about the SI publisher enlisting the AI tech to establish possible topics and even articles. Sports journalism is a sea of hyperbole and nonsense, so why not add a little more “artificial” nonsense into the mix. Added there are precious few that can actually write long form columns and even write excellent books. Nonsense happens all the time, just watch ESPN debate professional leagues or positions, such as the NFL quarterback.

      My humble submission into the fray follows. “In the history of man’s time playing the NBA professional leagues, no comparable athletic endeavor was accomplished prior to what we just witnessed. It was a dunk from the 3 point meridian holding a 15 kg toddler !” See, nonsense. Or authentic gibberish, for Blazing Saddles fans.

      1. Wukchumni

        When I was pushing old metal, not all coins age the same and the ones that are the most valuable never got used, or as we said in the trade: uncirculated.

        Coins are kinda like diamonds in a different set of the ‘4C’s’ (cut, clarity, color & carat weight) and for an aged metal disc to be worth the big bickies it had to be uncirculated and to make it trickier, there are 10 different grades of uncirculated from mint state-60 to mint state 70, and silver coins oxidize typically over time but not always, and the result is what is called ‘toning’ in numismatic circles, er coins.

        Toning can be really dark and take away from the look and value of a coin and on the other side toning can sometimes be utterly spectacular and greatly add to its value, and of course every kind of toning in-between worst and best case scenarios.

        How many ways can you describe toning?

        I could probably almost write a book on it, as for a time I did auction descriptions for major numismatic auctioneers, and about half the silver coins are toned, and you didn’t want to be repetitious, so you’d dream up the most florid color schemes imaginable-based on the look, all with the intention of making old money seem more desirable to collectors and/or dealers.

        “Vivid multicolor toning forms concentric circles around each side of this satiny mint state example.”

        “This premium gem displays vivid sea-green, violet, gold, and rose hues across the obverse, with a crescent of more traditional sky-blue, gold, and amber in the left reverse margin.”

        Coulda used CoinGPT, ha!

        1. The Rev Kev

          You ever thought of writing down your experiences as a seeker of old metal? Maybe deposit it with a university in California somewhere. There are lots of professions which no longer exist but which people would like to have know more about. Certainly some of the stories that you have mentioned would be worth preserving on paper for future historians among others and just in this comment you were talking about some of the factors and details that might one day be lost.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Good title that. Maybe the next step would be a list of the chapters as related to parts of your career plus other stuff like a dedication page and a glossary of the terms used in your former trade. I had a great grandfather who was a “bullocky” and I sometimes wonder what his life would have been like. Your career would make a good read.

              1. Wukchumni

                It was so fun before the internet came along, as fortune favored not so much the brave, but those most near sighted with good mental retention skills, information was king.

                And i’d have to say it was also fun towards the end when the internet kind of took over, the last time I bought or sold anything being almost 20 years ago.

                There were precisely 4 ways to buy and sell coins, own a coin shop, go to coin shows (there’d be one every couple weeks-my favorite was the ones held on the Queen Mary in Long Beach) go to coin auctions or advertise in a weekly coin newspaper.

                They were all really expensive ways to get to your tiny audience (the coins-not the amount of interest) and to give you an idea, in a brick & mortar coin store, we paid 2x what the rent cost, in yellow page adverts-as not only was it the only game in town, but we had an advantage over most every other business in that buying was just as important as selling, and what prompted that little old lady with pronounced ‘purse droop’ as she was walking through your front door, was the power of bigger ads means you’re more substantial, crazy how it used to go.

                Coin shows required travel sometimes and if you had a table, it cost anywhere from a few hundred bucks to a grandido for a major coin show.
                A big coin show might attract 10,000 people.

                Ads in coin newspapers were around $1,000 for a page, and there’d be no photos, it was all word descriptions and grades. And it was stale within a week or so.

                For better coins, auctions were really your best way to go, physical catalogs with photos were sent out months ahead of the auctions, which were well attended.

                The catch with auctions, is the time lag from when you consigned something, to when the auction went off and you got paid was often 6-12 months, things were glacial, man. Fees were typically 20%

                Around the turn of the century I got turned on to eBay, and i’d accumulated lots of interesting things that needed a certain audience that none of the other methods could really get to, and there you have it, I don’t need to go anywhere, and I can take as many photos and write as long of a description as i’d like, and eBay wants 10% from me for an audience of millions and millions of customers?

                I became a big fan of the 10 day auction, always starting on Wednesday or Thursday and ending on the weekend, and a good many times i’d be out on a backpack trip for a week inbetween, with say 135 ‘fishing lines’ of which 83 would have bites on, upon my return.

                I’d guestimate that 80%+ of what I sold went to locales other than Big Cities and their surrounding area, you’d get RR4, Box11, Nowheresville, Illinois, that sort of thing.

                A nice gig, this remote control life.

                But eBay did what it needed to accomplish for me, in ridding me of everything in coins, all gone.

                Which was the impetus to retire, but that’s another chapter.

      2. flora

        Here’s a fun little test for those playing with Chat. Ask it to write a poem praising B’s leadership. Note results. Ask it to write a poem praising T’s leadership. Note results. / ;)

        1. What? No!

          I had asked ChatGPT to write a poem on “Mass Layoffs”. It was a little long so I asked it to shorten it and add something about pigs.

          Here is the new opening it provided:

          Pink slips pile up, dreams shattered fast,
          Families torn apart, the hurt will last.
          But pigs don’t panic, they keep on trying,
          Inspiring us to keep on surviving.

          And concludes:

          Just like pigs, let’s stand together,
          In this time of hardship, now or forever.
          For even though the road ahead may be rough,
          Together we’ll overcome, rise up and show our stuff.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        Chatgpt will ever be able to equal the sublime hyperbole of John Updike’s description of Ted Williams’ final home run in his final game – Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu

        After giving Williams’s career history with comparisons to Achilles, Hamlet and Donatello’s David thrown in, we get the climax (pun intended for Updike fans [or haters]) –

        “Fisher, after his unsettling wait, was wide with the first pitch. He put the second one over, and Williams swung mightily and missed. The crowd grunted, seeing that classic swing, so long and smooth and quick, exposed, naked in its failure. Fisher threw the third time, Williams swung again, and there it was. The ball climbed on a diagonal line into the vast volume of air over center field. From my angle, behind third base, the ball seemed less an object in flight than the tip of a towering, motionless construct, like the Eiffel Tower or the Tappan Zee Bridge. It was in the books while it was still in the sky. Brandt ran back to the deepest corner of the outfield grass; the ball descended beyond his reach and struck in the crotch where the bullpen met the wall, bounced chunkily, and, as far as I could see, vanished.

        Like a feather caught in a vortex, Williams ran around the square of bases at the center of our beseeching screaming. He ran as he always ran out home runs—hurriedly, unsmiling, head down, as if our praise were a storm of rain to get out of. He didn’t tip his cap. Though we thumped, wept, and chanted “We want Ted” for minutes after he hid in the dugout, he did not come back. Our noise for some seconds passed beyond excitement into a kind of immense open anguish, a wailing, a cry to be saved. But immortality is nontransferable. The papers said that the other players, and even the umpires on the field, begged him to come out and acknowledge us in some way, but he never had and did not now. Gods do not answer letters.”

        Sportswriting perfection that no chatbot will ever match.

        1. Omicron

          Yeah, I was in Fenway that day, also sitting behind third base. Updike captured the moment perfectly. It seemed clear to me at the time that Fisher was grooving his pitches; Williams skied out very deep on one of his earlier at-bats. The Sawx let Williams take the field in the top of the ninth and then sent out a substitute. As he trotted back to the dugout we were all screaming hysterically, but Teddy kept his head down, did not crack a smile, and disappeared into the dugout forever.

          I paid something for my devotion, though. I cut a graduate seminar in Byron (part of an otherwise superb course in English Romantic poetry) to attend the festivities. Ever thereafter, when I taught the Romantics I always got rave reviews except for my lectures on Byron. So it goes….

          1. lyman alpha blob

            I bet grooving pitches happens a lot in situations like that. If you’re an otherwise forgettable pitcher in a meaningless game, why not go down in history as the one who facilitated an historic tater?

            I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but late last season when the beloved Sox were playing the hated Yankees and Aaron Judge had been stuck on 60 homers for a while, I did find myself wishing one of the Sox pitchers would just put a nice 88mph fastball right down the middle for him. Still can’t stand the Yankees and will root against them forever, but I do like Judge.

    2. Ignacio

      The potential for crapification of AI is as high as any expectation on its functionalities. One of the cleverest comments about AI apps I have read was here at NC. Don’t remember exactly if it was Yves’ comment but it followed more or less this line: first it will be a consumer/user service. If it consolidates it will turn to be a service for the corporate clients (as advertising machine etc.) and finally it will turn to be crap of which only the app owner will profit. The typical business model we are already experienced with.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > first it will be a consumer/user service. If

        BSaaS (“Bullshit as a Service”) hat tip [anonymized]

        The three stage cycle you outline is “enshittification” as described by Doctorow (akin to but not equal to crapifcation, which focuses more on the quality of products and services).

      1. britzklieg

        exactly that! everyone wants a phone number these days and it’s almost always a deal breaker for me.

    3. Max

      “If you are the dumb CEO who thinks he can replace 99% of his chat & call center reps with this tool…”

      Before buying a product or service, call the company’s help line-often listed on the package or found online- and see how long it takes to talk to a human being, preferably a native English speaker in the U.S.

      “When doing business on the telephone, avoid automated phone systems in favor of talking to humans. Try punching “0” for operator as soon as you are in the system. Often “00” or “000” or other multiples of this will save you from languishing in ‘Voice Jail’. Sometimes swearing or screaming gets you to a live human being. Another trick – and this is Really hitting corporations below the belt -is to call their “New Businesses” number, or “sales” number which are usually answered by helpful stateside people ready to take your money. Tell them you are a “business customer and love their company, but you have a little problem to fix and could they please transfer you to repair or customer service, and stay on the line until connected” etc. “But first, could you please give me that direct number?” Write it down and use it.”

  11. John

    If, as we have been told, satellites can read a newspaper on the ground, why is a balloon necessary?

    1. Not Again

      The Acme Pin Company just got a trillion dollar order from the Pentagon. It will be fulfilled by their Chinese subsidiary.

    2. digi_owl

      Because one is for watching while the other is for being seen?

      I’m only partially joking, as the same dynamic plays out with submarines and carrier groups.

    3. Carolinian

      As explained elsewhere satellites are traveling at high speed around the earth. Balloons are traveling at wind speed and can loiter. There are geosynchronous satellites parked over one spot but they have to have relatively high orbits.

    4. David

      A balloon has certain theoretical advantages over satellites. The latter generally have to be in Low Earth Orbit to detect anything useful, which means they circle the Earth roughly once an hour. You can calculate from that how much time they can spend over any given target. In addition, their field of view (“swath width”) is very limited if they are to detect anything worthwhile. Satellites are also pretty limited in the orbits they can follow because changing the orbit requires using fuel, and most of them don’t carry very much. They are best for observing things that don’t change very quickly and where you need high precision information. It’s conceivable that you could fit a balloon with sensors and let it drift over the US, spending much more time in any given place, soaking up, for example, communications information. (I don’t know whether the Chinese have a capability to acquire that by other means: it depends where their listening stations are.) But I’m inclined to agree that this is probably just a lot of fuss over nothing.

    5. Louis Fyne

      satellites are much easier to shoot down;
      ballòons are very difficult to detect and aren’t stuck to predictable orbits;
      balloons are essentially disposible;
      weather data and weather prediction tech make balloons much more manueverable;

      balloons are a potent asymmetric tool.

      balloons are cheap, cheap, cheap

    6. Skip Intro

      Because there aren’t enough newspapers on the ground.

      But seriously, we should probably flip the question. If a ballon could read a newspaper on the ground why would we need a satellite.

  12. Rui

    Zeynep Tufecki is a sociologist who is a covid minimizer responsible for the harrassment of people doing important work. She routinely insults, does character attacks and calls her many followers to follow suit, resulting in the silencing of covid awareness voices. Not someone whose work I would advertise or take seriously.

    1. Mikel

      “An Even Deadlier Pandemic Could Soon Be Here” Zeynep Tufecki, NYT

      You know what I saw in that article? Something very serious indeed.
      It was a call to dump previously researched, studied, approved, and manufactured vaccines for H5N1 and instead introduce a mutating H5N1 to non-sterilizing mNRA therapeutics on a mass basis.

      While you may not want to take her seriously, she’s being given a platform to promote that idea. At least, be warned.

    2. britzklieg

      I’m not sure I agree. It’s not that she is a covid minimizer, she (and many others) are vaccine maximalists and if you’ve read my comments over the years you’ll know I have very little faith in the mrna vaccines, so understand that as the POV that motivates my thinking. I could be wrong.

      Here’s a link (which I’m sure I found here on NC a few days back) to a panel with her, Jon Stewart and two vaccine specialists (MD’s). She (and they) don’t come off as minimizing the virus, imho. But what they all do is focus the entire discussion around the mrna vaccines, defending it with all the familiar statistics (in my opinion hard to verify) used to “prove” its effectiveness against “severe” disease. There are few, if any, words from them about developing therapies or alternate vaccines (such as nasal) and towards the end we are told that years from now everyone will be vaccinating yearly against corona viruses. It seems the only answer they are willing to consider.

      Yet today we discover that the otc allergy spray “Flonase” may very well stop the virus before it can invade systemically. The decision by TPTB to give up on stopping the virus is unforgiveable.

      Of all the panelists, Tufecky’s language about the mrna vaccines is full of adjectives like “incredible” miraculous” etc. In this regard she comes off as far less “scientific” (and more judgmental) than the others. Indeed, there is even the occasional pushback against her rhetoric.

    3. Heraclitus

      I like what little I’ve read of hers. She published one article about covid transmission in late 2020 that addressed the differences between flu transmission and covid transmission. In it were important facts: covid is generally less transmissible than flu, but there are times when it is extremely transmissible, and 6,000 people can get it at a gathering (as happened in Korea). We don’t know why that is.

      Besides that, she’s highlighted the reality of airborne transmission, and has been a big proponent of indoor masking, which is interesting, in that Cochrane has just come out with a review of 78 studies that apparently didn’t find masks were very effective in reducing spread of flu or covid. Their confidence level in their conclusion was low to moderate, for what it’s worth. They also concluded that there was no difference between surgical masks and N95 masks in preventing transmission.

      1. Realist

        Their conclusion was that we needed to do better designed studies to find out what’s really going on, because the studies they looked at were rubbish.

        “The high risk of bias in the trials, variation in outcome measurement, and relatively low adherence with the interventions during the studies hampers drawing firm conclusions.”

  13. Henry Moon Pie

    The dialogue on liberalism–

    I enjoyed this discussion among Fukuyama, Cornel West, Patrick Deneen (Notre Dame law professor) and hardcore libertarian, Diedre McCloskey. They’re getting at a core issue in this exchange:

    Deneen: If you want to make it an empirical question, I would begin with this: Is our society succeeding or failing in terms of empirical measurements of relationality? For example, how is our society doing when it comes to the formation and flourishing of families? We can define families in many ways, but on any measure, we’re not doing very well. How is our society doing when it comes to the development and flourishing of friendships, of communities, of a sense of duty? In other words, how much and how well is our society flourishing?

    I come from the social science world, so I can tell you that in nearly every one of these areas, we are doing rather poorly. We’re flourishing in terms of autonomy, disconnection, the sense of being liberated from one another. But it turns out that the more free, autonomous, and disconnected we are, the more miserable we become. We’ve overshot the mark.

    McCloskey: I don’t want to be interpreted as saying that all that matters is national income. We all agree there are other things that matter to ordinary people. But it matters more to them that their income is about twenty-five times higher in real terms compared to 1800. And their free time for the transcendent has vastly increased. People are working forty-hour weeks instead of eighty-hour weeks, as some farmers did then. They have an extended childhood, and a long retirement.

    It’s an enormous change. It’s the second most important secular event in human history. The invention of agriculture is the first, and the great enrichment since 1800 is the second. And there’s no reason why it can’t become everyone’s gift in the next fifty or one hundred years. But if we go down Patrick’s path, we’ll stop economic growth, and it won’t be the case. If we throw away this chance for a full human fulfillment, that would be tragic.

    Beha: I take you to be saying that the economic returns that liberalism has delivered over the past few hundred years can continue indefinitely at more or less the same rate?

    McCloskey: I’ll make you a bet. By the year 2100, income per head worldwide will be two or three times higher than what it is now in the United States.

    West: But the one thing that our dear sister is presupposing is that there’s still a planet.

    McCloskey: That’s true. We’re still able to shoot ourselves in the foot.

    Deneen: It may not be up to us. The natural world is giving us feedback. This explosion of prosperity coincided with the age of fossil fuels. And the consequence of our binge is that now we have to confront the limits of the world and we need to begin to think about how we can live in a world in which we’re respectful of the natural order. And that may entail a kind of dialing back on travel and forms of transportation that might seem cheap but turn out to be extremely expensive.

    McCloskey: Global warming is already on the way to being solved by technological innovation, by the very capitalism that you think is so bad.

    Libertarians have been driven crazy by Covid and the climate catastrophe. Their combination of Pollyanna-ish faith in the wonders of capitalism combined with what seems to be a complete inability to think in empathetic or communal terms renders them incapable of dealing with such issues that necessarily require solidarity with their fellow humans. Maybe we should consider libertarianism (really Propertarianism) as some virulent by-product of neoliberalism.

    1. Carolinian

      We’re flourishing in terms of autonomy, disconnection, the sense of being liberated from one another. But it turns out that the more free, autonomous, and disconnected we are, the more miserable we become. We’ve overshot the mark.

      The House just passed a resolution praising our sacred US individualism. Meanwhile conformity is making a big comeback as the better off PMC segment clings to mass psychology and canceling any dissidents. Clearly the correct social setting is somewhere in the middle but a society that is cracking up finds itself unable to adjust the dial. We’ve divided and conquered ourselves.

    2. pjay

      Well, as was pointed out in yesterday’s WC, Ro Khanna, supposedly one of our most “progressive” members of Congress, considers himself a “progressive capitalist” and proudly added his vote to the large majority of House members supporting the Resolution condemning “socialism” in “all its forms” yesterday. I’d say our neoliberal path is set in concrete. It was chosen for us long ago. Future generations will get to see if McCloskey’s John Galts can save us.

      Bet they don’t.

      1. ambrit

        Alas, our modern John Galts will only “save” the ‘Elect.’ Everyone else pays cash. Hmmm…. Thus, another reason to crush cash; it facilitates the depopulation of the globe.
        Yet another cunning plan.

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        I also learned from a NC link that Khanna was the first to “go public” in his support for voting for the Bipartisan Billionaire Bonanza Bill without demanding a vote on the reconciliation bill that included the Child Tax Credit along with other items that gave some money to poor people.

    3. JohnA

      “But it matters more to them that their income is about twenty-five times higher in real terms compared to 1800. And their free time for the transcendent has vastly increased. People are working forty-hour weeks instead of eighty-hour weeks, as some farmers did then. They have an extended childhood, and a long retirement.”

      And yet their ‘real’ income is way less than it was 20-40 years ago, working hours per week are creeping up from this mythical 40 hours, especially in the new ‘gig’ economy, and as for long retirement, pensions are getting relatively poorer, and the pension age is creeping up, while longevity is falling.
      Did these panellists even think to compare quality of life/living standards between now and 20-40 years ago? Life is getting worse for all except the top bracket(s).

      1. fresno dan

        I agree.
        the invention of agriculture is the first, and the great enrichment since 1800 is the second. And there’s no reason why it can’t become everyone’s gift in the next fifty or one hundred years.
        John Maynard Keynes: Let us, for the sake of argument, suppose that a hundred years hence we are all of us, on the average, eight times better off in the economic sense than we are
        to-day. Assuredly there need be nothing here to surprise us.
        Now it is true that the needs of human beings may seem to be insatiable. But
        they fall into two classes –those needs which are absolute in the sense that we
        feel them whatever the situation of our fellow human beings may be, and those
        which are relative in the sense that we feel them only if their satisfaction lifts
        us above, makes us feel superior to, our fellows.

        So Keynes was a pretty smart fellow. Yet he didn’t understand that no matter how rich some people got, it was not enough. Men are not content to be lords over their bank accounts alone. There was no reason (only fake reasons) for us to be in Vietnam, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and the myriad other places we have injected ourselves into. There is no rational reason for the debt limit debate, other than to pretend we can’t fund housing, health care, retirement, etcetera.
        We have the resources to feed, house, provide healthcare, protect the environment, and educate while still having plenty of rich people…but we don’t. Keynes was right economically (I have linked many times to the Federal Reserve and show the increase in GDP and productivity and yet the stagnation in wages). Its not an economic problem. It is a political problem. The problem is not the gays, the Mexicans, the Russians, the Chinese, or even the lazy. Its the wealthy – they are not satisfied with being rich, you have to be poorer, much poorer. You have to be desperate. Dare I say it, the reserve army of the unemployed
        That is why, even with the most popular government laws ever, social security and medicare, the Congress declares that socialism is bad, terrible, and evil. Astounding, actually…

        1. cfraenkel

          Agree^2. Worse, as was pointed out by the senior Galbraith 65 years ago, the wealth and income of the rich is generated by production of *more* than we need or want, to the point where a large fraction of said production is now spent in generating the demand for all the crap we don’t need and didn’t want.

        2. Don

          Yes, it is astounding, actually…

          So astounding that I cannot help but look for other explanations. Haven’t found one though, except, possibly, “It’s not an economic problem. It is [not] a political problem. It is a pathological problem.” Is it possible that this whole show is orchestrated by a malignant coterie of psychopaths?

      2. semper loquitur

        Yeah, this smacks a bit of the argument that iPhones and flat screen TV’s are markers of the paradise that the consumer inhabits. One little problem. They are all on credit card or lay-away.

        1. hunkerdown

          Furthermore, those digital devices are often mandated or expected by others. For example, “Access to” most of the gig economy is predicated on owning one and paying for the data service. Remember when “reliable transportation” wasn’t a particular part of job requirements because nearly everyone had feet and a built environment one could drive them on?

          1. semper loquitur

            Yes, and there is a “cultural” expectation as well. I’ve been teased for using Android phones in the past. I’ve been teased because I have an older iPhone model now. I’ve heard it expressed by iPhone users that they wouldn’t ever jump ship because they would be embarrassed to be seen with a non-Apple product. Once, at a family gathering, I asked if anyone had an Android charger because I needed one for a phone battery I carry and everyone laughed and teased me. Someone said “We’re iPhone people.”

            1. fresno dan

              till a few months ago, I used a “flip” phone. One would have thought I engaged in public pooping.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Maybe you should have said in a slightly loud voice ‘Kirk to Enterprise. One to beam up. No intelligent life found.’

            2. eg

              I will never use an Apple phone. As a recovering Crackberry (Blackberry) addict, I’ll stick with the cheap and cheerful Android phones for which some Blackberry software is still available and whose battery life is far, far superior to those in the Apple devices.

    4. Lexx

      There are probably libertarians out there who don’t belong to a church… usually evangelical… but I haven’t met one yet. I’m just allowing for the possibility, betting the odds. And if not the church, then some other tribal umbrella of an institution. They do think in ‘communal terms’, just not of a size you and I might objectively think of as community, loosely cohesive groups of ‘strangers’ who don’t look or talk or believe as they do, yet still equally human and legit. Worthy of resources, opportunities, and respect for the life they’re living.

      (‘Flotsam, Jetsam, now I’ve got them, boys. The boss is on a roll!’).

    5. semper loquitur

      Libertarians are fun. When a young student, we had a small contingent of them in our Poli-Sci department. Every fifth word out of their mouths was “Liberty!” “Competition!” was a close second in frequency.

      I asked them once what would happen to their precious liberty if they got their wish and society became an unregulated free-for-all. The current wealthy and powerful would of course have a distinct advantage in this melee. When they consolidated all power unto themselves, the first thing they would do would be to utterly compromise the “Liberty!” of everyone else around them. Honest “Competition!”, if such a thing ever existed in human affairs, would be sharply constrained if not totally disappeared. I argued that even a cursory glance at human history bears this out.

      They never had an answer for me. I realized then that they all assumed that they would somehow be at the apex of the high, skinny pyramid of their vision of Utopia. It was either that or they were comfortable with the notion of being at the base of it if they failed. So I came to think that Libertarianism has an intrinsic hubristic element to it. It also has an intrinsic self-contemptuous element as well.

      1. fresno dan

        Most of human history we have had far, far, FAR fewer laws, and no regulation to speak of. And it was called the dark ages. And we had things like slavery.
        Our sports teams, often used as an example of unbridled meritocracy, is in fact socialism, with the proceeds divided up to assure equity in the talent available to the teams. Even the most superficial examination of what a totally “free” unregulated sports league would soon become reveals a sports league very much different than what we think of as “sports.”
        The richest team, the New York Yankees with all the talent (remember, NO RULES so the Yankees, with no mandated sharing or revenues, and NO RULES on how many or which pitchers or hitters they can contract. And the umpires? NO RULES about them being impartial (probably ineffective rules about impartiality). And some would say, but that is ridiculous! No one would participate/ Uh, I would, if the market, i.e., the Yankees, paid me enough – I would pretend to compete if paid enough. Which is my point. But the people who say NO RULES are the people who believe men are angels…

        1. semper loquitur

          Exactly. I don’t know where they think things would go. The fact that they are sitting in a classroom, with it’s structure and disciplined discussion, belies their “anything goes” ethos. Richard Wolff has always had some pithy things to say about libertarians, in essence that they never consider the logical outcomes of their ideological claims.

        2. George

          Funnily enough you come pretty close to describing the professional soccer leagues in social democrat Europe. Well, except for the umpires who are expected to be impartial.

      2. Karl

        Excellent analysis. I was one of those rather hubristic Libertarian objectivists until, in my mid-20’s I stumbled onto exactly your point: that the distribution of wealth and power would become more unequal. Also I read Garrett Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons and realized without “mutual coercion mutually agreed upon” (i.e. laws to protect the commons) humans would kill their host (the natural world or, without nuclear arms and other treaties, each other). Also, I always remembered a “discussion” I had with my Aunt, when I was about 17, when I advocated against being forced into paying Social Security taxes (I saw the witholding on my summer job) and she said: then how would your Grandmother and uncle Herbie live? I was struck speechless.

        The neocons have been dismantling the nuclear arms treaties with Russia and refusing stringent treaties on CO2 emissions. How’s that “liberty” for all working out?

        1. fresno dan

          I had a very similar experience. My eye opening awakening was the Great Financial Crisis. Just like Allen Greenspan, there was a flaw in my ideology. All those ninja loans. But shouldn’t the bankers, IN THEIR OWN SELF INTEREST, not make loans to people who can’t pay them back? Well, self interest told them it was some one else’s problem. While the music is playing, you gotta keep dancing. And when it stops, instead of going bankrupt, the government bails the bankers out (the rich have to be bailed out…to protect free enterprize…and the free markets… Bailing out the poor DISINCENTIVIZES them, which would hurt the FREE markets and capitalism, so you can’t bail them out!!!!)
          And remember rating bonds? The free market will value the bonds correctly! Led to exactly what a system of self interest would rationally lead to – rating bad bonds highly if someone pays you enough to….which OF COURSE junky bond sellers did…

    6. hunkerdown

      Libertarianism™ is the trade name for the generic neoliberalism. Ask your doctor if Libertarianism™ (neoliberalism oxalate) is right for you.

  14. Katiebird

    I’m trying to understand what the story on Fluticasone propionate is saying. I take this twice a day (as an inhaled powder) but I inhale through my mouth – not nose.

    So has it been helping me evade getting covid? Or not….

    1. Anonymous in Oregon

      It’s flonase. I use it for allergies. Nasal spray that’s otc. I too wonder after reading this if it’s helped me to avoid contracting Covid?

    2. Nikkikat

      Fluticasone propionate is the main ingredient in Flonase spray, for allergy sufferers. I have used this on and off in particularly bad pollen seasons. I also would like to know what this article was about too. May need to go down to CVS and get a bottle. It is sold over the counter.

    3. boz

      Also known as Flixotide here in the UK.

      Routinely prescribed for long term control (not acute) of asthma symptoms.

      1. britzklieg

        Does it define “inhaled”?… because if they were inhaling through the mouth into the lungs it wouldn’t work in the nose where the problem starts.

      2. Milton

        Over 60% of NIH funding is from ginormous pharma. I’ll bet this study has the same lack of objectivity as the rest of the pile of vaccine-propping papers that have come before.

      3. SES

        Well, that study was of acute use of fluticasone for treatment; the linked studies are about long-term use of fluticasone for prevention.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That gambit — arguing that a drug is ineffective because it does nothing in hospitals, when the use case is prevention — does seem familiar, doesn’t it?

          I didn’t do deep research on fluticasone (maybe in my next nasal roundup).

          At a higher level, I think what’s going on is that we have a lot of medication out there that can affect or strengthen the epithelium of the nose, and maybe even mucus production or transport. So this is the “repurposing” debate we had in 2020, but with a better understood mechanism (as described here).

    4. will rodgers horse

      the study is so preliminary as to be useless. One can find all sorts of spurious associations like this is one wants to.

    1. Carolinian

      They are ubiquitous where I live, or are if no feral cats are prowling around. Guess you don’t have them in Australia.

    2. YuShan

      I think they are stunning! But I’m not from the USA.
      Many US based birders think they are thrash birds :(

    3. Nikkikat

      In Kentucky the cardinal is every where. I have average of about 30 at my feeders all day. The male is just spectacular! In fall they molt, leaving them bald headed and rather sad looking. When they get their feathers back toward winter. They are incredibly bright red.

      1. John Beech

        Central Florida here and cardinals are not exactly rare, but not common as dirt, either. Mostly see pairs. Both are beautifully shaped and graceful fliers, the male getting all the attention.

        If we can be said to have a common bird, it would be a toss up between the sandhill crane and the turkey buzzard. They, along with a fair number of bald eagles, are the birds I most frequently see.

      2. LifelongLib

        They’re here in Hawaii too (introduced). In the ones I’ve seen the red color isn’t quite as rich as it is in photos of them from where they’re native. Different diet maybe.

  15. KD

    Civilization States Are Profoundly Illiberal

    . . . or the not-so-great contradiction between concepts and geography. Concepts are universal, or from a Platonic perspective, we might even say that concepts are transcendental. Physical science is certainly universal, irrespective of particular location. Machine guns work the same everywhere because the physical principles they are based on are the same everywhere (granted, they may require different levels of maintenance and different levels of reliability depending on factors such as climate).

    Justice we suppose is universal, if not transcendental, but its enactment, the law, is foundationally geographical. This is an interesting point, because it is almost impossible to imagine something like law actually serving as a functional social institution without associated, foundational concepts like jurisdiction and venue (as well as particularized and historical judicial precedents). A law without jurisdiction has no court to enforce it. On the other hand, war is by its nature particularistic. A world war is not actually fought by all states in the world, or in all locations in the world in it, but only by the nation-states deemed important in the “world” and seeking claim over it–suggesting the “world” itself is not universal. Ironically, as hard as it is to imagine a court of law not limited to a particular jurisdiction despite dispensing universal justice, it is difficult to imagine a particular army fighting a particular war confined by its nature to a particular jurisdiction. Granted, a unit may be assigned to duty in a location, but if France move an Africa corp to Poland, it is not deprived of it ability to fight the way a court is deprived of its ability to decide by virtue of acting outside of its jurisdiction.

    Further, war, by its nature particularistic, is in fact the engine of destruction of particular borders, as well as particular peoples, and sometimes particular regimes, particular cultures and in its most horrific visage, particular nationalities. It brings death and chaos where-ever it lands, erasing the old borders, the old laws, the old regime, creating a vacuum where a new order might, or might not, be established. The universal liberalism of the West that has come to replace Christendom, with its Catholic character, is in many ways the ideological successor to Medieval Catholicism, which was used as an ideological justification for the super-national use of force and power in the geopolitical realm in the Crusades.

    If liberalism is in its essence at war with the particular, not a particular, but the Particular, then it is clearly an ideology intended to justify total warfare, struggle of all against all. Unlike a state, which can only be conceived as a particular defined by geography and historical institutions, universal liberalism is the ideology of World Empire, a Catholicism so Catholic that it loses even its Roman character as nothing exits within the desert of its conquests to give rise to differentiation. . . it promises to operate as a court of law not defined by jurisdiction and not constrained by precedent (historical particular), it is not the universalization of the rule of law, rather, it is the universal military tribunal. On one hand, true liberalism claims to be a revolutionary Bonapartism without a Bonaparte, but we all understand that there can be no Bonapartism without a Bonaparte and a French Army, it is rather the ideology of a Bonaparte who denies being Emperor of the French, who recognizes no boundaries and claims to be Emperor of All, akin to the ancient gods of war.

  16. Carolinian

    Re AJC and shot thirteen times

    The GBI says it has tied the bullet that struck the trooper to a gun found at the scene, and provided documents showing Teran, 26, had purchased the same gun in Sept. 2020.

    Perhaps the whole story needs to come out before cranking up the martyrdom. There were no cameras but there were other witnesses presumably other than the police. Many were expelled from the property.

    1. JBird4049

      Looking at the activities of the police for the past few decades, I am not sure that we will ever get “the whole story.”

      Police reports when compared to video, autopsies, and eyewitnesses commonly are more fictional works like those on Tyre Nichols or Breonna Taylor than any attempts at honest writing; it is not a problem of slanted views or a difference of interpretation, which is normal, but of outright lying. This includes official physical evidence including autopsy reports although not as often. Fortunately.

      Since we are told there is no footage and only the word of the shooters, it is convenient for them. As for the gun: was it tested to see if it had actually been fired recently? Did they try to compare the bullet to the gun? This is not as easy as it sounds especially after the damage cause by impact and the hit is said to be “in the pelvic area.” IIRC, the pelvis is the strongest bone in the body. Finally, is the caliber similar to, or the same to any gun the police were using?

      However, even the police’s own report said that he was inside a tent at the time he was shot thirteen times, which does does suggest it was the Breonna Taylor shooting. Apparently, the police did not identify themselves or at the very least did not make a good faith effort, acted just like a home invasion, which is a thing, and blindly fired many times because of a single shot.

      If Manuel Terán was hit at least thirteen times while being obscured by a tent, just how many times did they shot and did identify themselves? Based on many accounts over the years, I would have to say that extremely rapid, inaccurate, massive number of shots were probably fired, and it is very, very likely they did not clearly identify themselves, and behaved in an extremely aggressive, even violent way. There is also the fact that the police have shot each other and blamed the victim for the deed in other shootings. More than once. This is what happens when groups of people fire wildly and often blindly.

      While my conclusion might appear at least hyperbolic, I have to follow what I know of the past and not what the police say today. It is normal for police as group to cry wolf and without any supporting outside eyewitness testimony or physical evidence, why should I believe them?

      1. Carolinian

        Your conclusion sounds exactly like what you accuse the police of doing–shoot first and ask questions later. First of all please see my very plain as day quote from the article which says that the bullet that critically wounded the officer has been matched to “a gun found at the scene” that was previously purchased by “pacifist” Teran. Of course at this point we don’t know very much even about that but it doesn’t sound like a good talking point for the accusers. Also please note that the officers doing the clearing were Georgia State Troopers and not the much criticized and possibly corrupt Atlanta Police. A few days later a presumed subset of the same protest group conducted a riot on Peachtree St in downtown Atlanta, broke windows, did other damage, burned a police car etc. These are the ones–I believe a half dozen or so–who are now being charged as “domestic terrorists.” City officials have said those arrested in both incidents were from out of state.

        Frankly I can’t accept your eagerness based on past incidents to jump to conclusions re this one. Atlanta–where I spent half my life–is not Portland and I dont think attempts by Antifa, or whoever, to turn it into that are going to succeed. But above all else justice demands facts, not speculation.

          1. JBird4049

            Do not American police have a habit of disinformation and violence?

            While it is possible for Manuel Terán to decide to get into a gun battle with multiple heavily armed police, as people do amazingly stupid things all the time, why would he and what would be the point? Are there not frequent examples of poorly done raids and wild, almost uncontrolled shootings?

            As for the domestic terrorism, if the damage is no worse than after a sports riot, with no injuries and damage only to cars or buildings, just how is it terrorism? Why would the regular charges of arson or destruction of property not be suitable?

            To me, it looks like the creation of new broadly defined laws with enhanced, draconian penalties are being used to suppress any demonstrations.

            Unless the government has any evidence beyond “trust us” as well as an explanation as to why these demonstrations or riots are any different from what has been common in American protests since before there was a United States, I really can’t believe them.

            Please do not forget that they serve us. We do not serve them. They have a responsibility for giving us a full and honest account, which is what they have failed to do.

  17. YuShan


    Yesterday on the CoolWorlds YouTube channel (highly recommended if you like astronomy), this professor let ChatGPT do the same astronomy exam that he gave his students.

    While ChatGPT made a few ridiculous errors, it passed with a score only just below the median student. I thought this is seriously impressive, especially given that the errors were simple math errors and not the (imo much more complicated) stuff how to translate a more complex problem described in text form into a math problem. So I have little doubt that within a couple of years, AI will easily beat the median student in an exam.

    Btw: I’m talking about hard science here. Of course AI has been defeating simple economic writing etc for many years already. I suspect most stock market commentary on Bloomberg etc is AI generated.

    Of course this doesn’t mean AI won’t occasionally make catastrophically bad decisions of Tesla self-drive quality…

      1. skk

        Yeah I saw that so earlier today I asked it what the distance between Chicago and Tokyo was. It said:

        “The approximate air distance between Chicago, Illinois, United States and Tokyo, Japan is 6,600 kilometers (4,100 miles).”

        Which is quite wrong ( a wayy better answer is 6300 miles).

        This is a question I’ve repeatedly over the last 15 days and it STILL gets it wrong. You’d think it could at least say something like:
        “Jeez, how many times have I got to tell you, damnit ?”

  18. wendigo

    Try asking openai the difference between Chinese balloons over US and Starlink satellites over China.

    The first response was Starlink is only consumer communications from a private company but the balloon has military implications.

    Downhill from there, ending ( for me ) with the “I am sorry my responses are not to your satisfaction…”

  19. Ignacio

    RE: Ukraine SitRep: U.S.-Russia Talks, Bakhmut Retreat, Laughable Casualty Numbers Moon of Alabama. Interesting material on urban warfare.

    IMO, MoA is doing the hell of a job on Ukraine reporting.

      1. Stephen

        He’s teeing up the CIA and MI5 to get on with creating the evidence. They are probably a bit busy on other things and have deprioritised this. He is therefore upset and feeling unimportant. They may now get into gear and sort things out. That nice man Christopher Steele may have some time.

  20. Lex

    The balloons are the best thing of 2023 so far. Beneath the thin veneer of an expensive suit, the United States reveals itself as weak and fearful of literally anything. Could China be using this for intelligence purposes? Why sure. Would it matter? Probably not.

    It’s much like 2001 when a terrorist attack on the east coast made people in Kansas fearful to leave their homes in case the evil Muslims might be targeting their favorite shopping mall or widget factory or elementary school. US media and politicians fan these flames of course, but they wouldn’t be successful if the latent fear (and dare I say cowardice) wasn’t tinder. I admit, this may be a chicken or the egg situation where Americans wouldn’t be so fearful of literally everything without the intervention of propaganda and politics. But the end result is the same.

        1. Wukchumni

          535 red & blue buffoons
          Floating panic in the winter sky
          Panic bells, it’s red alert
          There’s something here from somewhere else
          The war machine springs to life
          Opens up one eager eye
          Focusing it on the sky
          The 535 red & blue buffoons satisfied

          1070 decisive feet
          535 law ministers meet
          To worry, worry, super scurry
          Call the planes out in a hurry
          This is what we’ve waited for
          This is it boys, this is war
          The President is on the line
          As 535 red & blue buffoons go too far

          535 kinds of human despair
          Ride super high-tech election campaigns
          Everyone’s a political superhero
          Everyone’s allowed to amount to zero
          With orders to identify
          To clarify and classify
          Scrambling in the South Carolina winter sky
          1 red balloon goes bye bye.

    1. digi_owl

      Best i can tell, USA suffers from a sociopolitical autoimmune illness.

      Even the most minor of threat gets a complete overreaction that is liable to make the situation escalate to a dangerous level.

    2. semper loquitur

      “It’s much like 2001 when a terrorist attack on the east coast made people in Kansas fearful to leave their homes”

      In the days after the Towers fell, I opined to a professor of mine that if the forces behind the attack had really wanted to push the terror to the nth degree they would have coordinated a bunch of smaller attacks around the country coinciding with the big one. He nodded in agreement. Then he advised me not to mention the idea to anyone else. It was going to be, he said, “witch hunting season” or something to that effect.

      1. digi_owl

        I seem to recall quipping, in response to news soon after the attack that FBI would be tracking anyone making big purchases of diesel and fertilizer, that it would be a big list of farmers.

        Witch hunt was an understatement. Domestic flights around there, that didn’t have any sort of security checks before, suddenly implemented what was demanded for flights into USA. this so that a few people could walk right on to international flights.

        Then again since then the local airport has gotten all kinds of international flights, thanks to improved range and reliability on twin engine jets.

    3. Joe Renter

      Ballons and cold war propaganda. I really didn’t to the extent that balloons were used in war in the WW1 era. I am reading “The Good Solider Svejk”, by Jaroslav Hasek and the character Svejk made a comment that as soon as Franz Joseph put up a Balloon he would be ready to fight.
      I think the many here in comments would enjoy reading Hasek. Full of sarc. Interesting fact that he started a political party called ‘The Party of Moderate and Peaceful Progress Withing the Limits of the Law’. It was a hoax.

      Wiki link of Hasek…

  21. JTMcPhee

    What has me worried these days is when Real Naked Capitalism gets railroaded offline by the imperial spooks, and smoothly replaced by a ChatGPT construct. How would us mopes even be able to tell it has happened, in a few more iterations of the code and some intense “learning” from the NC archives?

    I’d add a sarc tag but how will we know the Matrix has actually gone on line?

    1. ThirtyOne

      Control Voice: There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: There is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits.

      Control Voice: We now return control of your television set to you, until next week at this same time, when the Control Voice will take you to… The Outer Limits.

      Apologies, I couldn’t control myself.

  22. Wukchumni

    My (21 mile long) driveway is worse for wear, check out the photo.

    I’m looking into renting a hot air balloon for the summer to get access to my cabin, I hear you can get deals on Chinese ones.

    We still have a lot of winter to go, and there is 10 miles of Mineral King road where there is burn scars above and often below the road, some of it looking like lunar landscapes as the fire didn’t miss a thing.

    We have been receiving assistance from two of our former maintenance employees in a rented back hoe working their way up toward Mineral King. Below Slapjack Creek, we found a significant washout that will need additional inspection before we are able to determine if the road will support even one lane of traffic.

    With the weather prediction for this weekend, I’m not clear how this will shake out. Our crew has cleaned out the culvert the slide that was primarily responsible for this damage so hopefully we won’t lose any more, but I’m afraid we’ll have to wait and see. It looks like about ¾ inch of rain is predicted prior to some snow at this location.

    1. fresno dan

      make sure you’re wearing an American flag lapel, because the impetus for shooting down unknown balloons has reached a fever pitch.
      And just to be extra safe, a MAGA trucker hat would be prudent.

      1. Wukchumni

        The only ones at first wearing their country’s flag on a lapel were the Soviet leaders. I think Brezhnev got the ball rolling, here’s Andropov sporting a hammer & sickle flag lapel pin…,_Chairman_of_KGB.jpg

        You wont find a picture of Tricky Dick wearing an American flag lapel pin, thats something Commies did!

        So, at first a few years ago I noticed that all of the NFL commentators on certain networks were all wearing old glory lapel pins, and now I see all sorts of people on tv doing it, the weather guy on a tv channel, etc., greatly cheapening the message that once only General Secretary’s were allowed to display in such a manner.

        1. ambrit

          Look for American flag ties next. Old Glory as a phallic symbol. It is bipartisan though, incorporating both Blue and Red. Thus the old adage comes true: “The ties that bind.”

          1. Wukchumni

            Politics still plays dress up, one of the last of the holdouts-there being no such thing as casual Friday attire on assorted Joe Friday’s writin’ the laws and laying down the largess.

            And i’ve never liked ties because they’re stupid, in that all it served to divide you into 2 spheres and learn the hard knocks by way of knots. The only boy-scouty thing in a man’s wardrobe, there ought to be a merit badge for it.

            In theory in days of olde you were supposed to use said tie to sop up excess food off of your mug, but who’s gonna do that with a pure silk monogrammed beauty that cost in the mid double figures?

            1. JBird4049

              I am one of those weirdos who do like their ties. It is a good way to add style to a boring suit, but I can understand why some would not like a noose around their neck, especially if person first teaching you about ties insisted on semi-strangling you. Let’s make it look really neat and tidy, aacck…

    1. Stephen

      Many German songs of that era that were big in the Anglophone world were about peace, it seems.

      This one by Nicole won Eurovision hosted by the U.K. in 1982. She is also asking for peace, “a little peace”.

      Never been more relevant.

  23. Wukchumni

    Book Tip:

    The Great Dirigibles: Their Triumphs & Disasters, by John Toland

    About this time a century ago, lighter than air ships were going to conquer the world!… read all about it.

    1. Martin Oline

      Hey, hey, slow down. I’m still reading House of Rain by Craig Childs. To paraphrase Mr. Zelinsky, “Tanks a lot.”

      1. Wukchumni

        Errant potentially rogue balloon opportunities only come so often to plug a worthy tome of the same subject matter… ha

        What do you think of House of Rain so far?

        1. Martin Oline

          A wonderful read that is informative and well written, with gems such as A cow elk moves under the applause of aspen leaves. It also confirms my impression when I was traveling on the Navaho reservation: if you don’t know where you are then you aren’t supposed to be there.

  24. TimH

    “If you are asked to provide cover for one hour in a 24 hour period you will be paid a full £1,000 lump sum.”

    Classic selective reporting. So what are they paid on standby? What are they paid for 59 minutes? Does the 1 grand pay the time for a whole shift, being of at least an hour?

  25. spud

    the Tooze article misses the fact that the Adani group is par for the course world wide under free trade, and that targets like that group are everywhere, including in america, so i am suspicious of the timing of why Adani now, and indias stance with trading with russia.

    the free traders only know money, they threw away almost all our productive advantages on a bonfire of ideological stupidity.

    now they have only financial shenanigans at their disposal. i am sure there is more to come for india, or anyone else that dares to challenge free trade.

    1. Mikel

      Tooze does a delicate dance with the subject. He’s not about to disrupt his access to the PMC of India.

      1. eg

        If nothing else the fellow is thoughtful. I find him worth listening to once a week, but can’t follow him on Twitter — his output is prodigious

  26. KD

    I’ve met probably hundreds of libertarians, many involved in libertarian politics and the libertarian movement generally, and almost none of them have been evangelical, almost all secular. If anything, I’ve probably interfaced with more Heathens identifying as libertarian than Evangelicals, and there are serious Catholic thinkers who have tried to assemble Thomistic defenses of Libertarian political philosophy (Edward Feser comes to mind). Ayn Rand was a Jewish Russian refuge, and her acolytes like Alan Greenspan were not “Evangelicals,” and Rand was the intellectual source of the Libertarian movement and the Libertarian Party. . . not that Rand was in any observable way influenced by the Jewish religion, and her chosen name:

    (A ___Y___N

    suggests a low-level of ethnic identification, no real evidence of any religious influence on it as political philosophy. . . more just Social Darwinism along Spencerian lines.

    The Evangelicals I have had political discussions with have been 10-1 Conservative, Capital C, and did not identify with Libertarianism. In addition, most Evangelicals that identify as Libertarian tend to be “soft” Evangelicals in my estimation, and while there is not a necessary direction of causation, identification with libertarianism tends to be a marker of lower religiosity in my experience. Libertarianism seems to have greater acceptability in PMC circles (for whatever reason) than Conservatism, and Conservatives historically have been skeptical of Libertarians, so maybe PMC and PMC adjacent Evangelicals flock to it for respectability purposes. (That being said, “Conservativism” post-Obergefell v. Harvard has become more squishy than a rotten banana, so maybe the ground has shifted.)

    1. Joe Renter

      My best friend from childhood went from being a Libertarian to an Evangelical. He seems to be happier nowadays with this flavor of Kool-Aid.
      Myself, I will stick to being a parttime to fulltime Contrarian.

      1. Wukchumni

        Here in Godzone its heavily evangelical and they tend to lean so hard right politically that one of pews in the upper deck of a meg-a-church tipped over-but luckily nobody was hurt, praise Jesus.

    2. Karl

      I was a rather naive and committed Objectivist-Libertarian myself in my adolescence, and I attend church now regularly. Many of my fellow travelers took our cue on religion from Ayn Rand who said to very Catholic Wm. F. Buckley in the ’60’s: “Zu are too intelligent to beleef in Gott.” Yet, even Ayn Rand had a God, or rather idolatry, in the form of Aristotle.

      On reflection, I believe Objectivists would subscribe to some form of “virtue ethics”, i.e. virtue — enlightened self interest — is its own reward. I think many would subscribe to the rational Stoical virtues of Courage, Justice, Humanity, Temperance and Wisdom (as do I). Wisdom is the chief good to the stoics, and I don’t think the Libertarians would quarrel with that. Where the Stoics fell short in their pursuit of wisdom is due recognition of Humility as a virtue. I think that is a big reason for the importance of Christianity to Western ethics (and the Achilles heel of most Libertarians). A good modern description of Jesus’s radical ethics can be gleaned from Tolstoy’s spiritual writings, who had a great influence on Gandhi and MLK. In a libertarian world, we’d still have Southern Apartheid. It’s why Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Acts of ’64 and ’65.

      I think if Libertarians had a more complete theory, grounded in reason, that included such ideas as Prisoners’ Dilemma, the logical fallacy of composition, the Free Rider problem and the Tragedy of the Commons, and they practiced a bit more humility in the pursuit of Wisdom, they might start going to Church more.

      Evangelical Christianity wouldn’t appeal to Libertarians. The Charismatic aspect would repel them. Progressive mainline denominations could well appeal to them. I started out with the Unitarian Universalists and grew from there. But I reject creeds, Christology, Atonement and all such as forms of idolatry. I think, ultimately, the Jews had it right: God is beyond all understanding, naming, imaging…. Therefore, I firmly believe we can learn from all faith traditions, not just Jesus. For me, Buddhism is a necessary ethical complement to Christianity.

      We might as well ask: have you ever met a Buddhist Libertarian? I wonder!

      1. semper loquitur

        “God is beyond all understanding, naming, imaging”

        This is interesting. I assume you are referring to exoteric Judaism. My readings of esoteric Judaism, Kabbalah, are filled with exactly the things that you list. The Tree of Life, for example, encapsulates all three: Ten concepts referring to God projecting himself into the world, symbolized in the multi-hued Sephiroth divided into the four nested layers of reality, each with ten names of God at the center. There are certainly “known unknowables” in the form of the Supernals, and then beyond that there is ein sof, which can only be named but never approached beyond that.

      2. Wukchumni

        I got cornered in the pet food department @ Wal*Mart by a couple of proselytizing evangs who seemed content on saving me, but little did they know i’d go to the Zoroastrian card which is a couple thousand years older than AD/BC, and turn it around on them. I’d lured them over to the suntan lotion section as I was dropping the word on my deity, that big orange ball in the sky.

        Where’s yours? I asked-knowing that they couldn’t come up with the goods like yours truly, by merely walking outside the store and pointing upwards.

      3. skippy

        Having spent a rather large fortune in time on the above I came too the conclusion that – breathing properly – was vastly more important ones health and cognitive wellbeing/function.

  27. Lee

    Dear Old Blighty (Excerpted Amanpour and Company interview)

    “AMANPOUR: I mean, it is dramatic. And let’s just be absolutely clear, the poverty is showing up in peoples’ homes and households where there are two

    workers in the household.

    FLANDERS: Yes.

    AMANPOUR: It’s not people of benefits.

    FLANDERS: And this is what’s changed — I mean, the nature of poverty has changed. You talk about the late ’70s, early ’80s. The predictor of whether

    you were going to be poor in this country then was if you were old or if you were unemployed. Now, a majority of poor households do contain at least

    one worker, because of the way that wages at lower end, which also has been the case in the U.S., have fallen down relative to others.

    And I think, it’s striking, you know, we say we’re a rich country, where a G7 country, but the poorest fifth of the population are now much poorer

    here than most of the poorest countries in central and eastern Europe. So, we’re not — there is a big chunk of the population for whom that is not

    the case, that they do not live in a rich country. They actually would be better off, even as a poor household, they would be better off in quite

    poor countries in European Unions.

    So, that is a growing issue, which is — predates Brexit. But it was hurt by the years of austerity. Money was taken out of, particularly, the areas

    in the north and the parts of the country that have now been suffering…”

  28. Jessica

    “We send weapons the way a bad guy in a Bruce Lee movie sends henchmen, and the Russians get the same results that Bruce Lee gets.”

    Nicely put

  29. Karl

    RE: GM is ordering a massive overhaul of its EV Batteries.

    Yes, the new 4360 form factor batteries are the great new thing. It has approximately 4x the mAmp-hr capacity for 2x the volume, and are reportedly safer.

    But can GM afford to keep playing catch-up with Tesla? It needs to start getting volume production (e.g. the Bolt) up and economies of scale. GM’s cancellation of a new LG plant is troubling. OK, sell the cheaper older battery types, and offer discounts on new form factor batteries (with a promise of upward compatibility forever) in five years.

    Now I’ll explain what may really be at work: GM is anticipating a Republican President in 2024 when it can safely shelve all EV production, as it did with the Volt in 2018 (Trump) and the EV1 in 2003 (Bush).

    An analogy of GM mal-adapting to new developments is Japan in the battle of Wake Island. The Japanese thought they had time to switch from land bombs to torpedoes, and they didn’t. GM does not have the luxury of time to capture market share from Tesla (Bolt is now a dismal #5 in sales or so). But maybe GM has no intention of continuing to fight, but turning around and going home to ICE production, the way it retreated with the EV1 and the Volt. The way it retreated from its vision to compete in small cars by closing down the Saturn plants in 2009 (Obama should have said, in exchange for Fed loans, absolutely NOT!).

    The highly mechanized Saturn vision + EV technology is the future for GM, Ford and Chrysler. Cancelling the LG battery plant to wait for “the next big thing” just sounds like an excuse to extend the ICE era a bit longer. And that delay in EV capacity will mean fewer cars eligible to receive US-made EV credits in the IRA. Sad

    1. spud

      but, but the hedge funds that obama put in charge of G.M. in 2009, know how to be efficient and run bussiness so well, so well in fact that they killed the volt, the cruz, and the impala for trucks, because they understand market conditions so well, like trucks sell well with high fuel prices and collapsing wages, and people don’t care about a high priced gas guzzling truck compared to a lower priced high millage volt, cruz, or a 4 cylinder mid sized impala, they would rather have the truck.

      seems that chevy lots are full of sitting trucks, can’t find a decent car, and they think that they are going to get some sort of volume on the bolt alone/sarc!

    1. griffen

      It is our American military at their finest! USA USA. We didn’t just shoot the thing it got obliterated into tiny balloon bits. Okay, it’s a supposition and a sarcasm combination.

      To quote Aliens…”nuke the site from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure…”

    2. wendigo

      It was filled with socialism.

      Very important event, first ever shoot down of an aircraft by the f22.

      Can’t wait to see the ceremony painting the balloon on the raptor.

      1. JTMcPhee

        And what will the medal and ribbon the pilot gets look like? Maybe clown colors?

        Will us mopes ever get to know what the balloon’s payload was? Looked like solar panels were part of it, no surprise. But what else?

        So now I guess it’s okay to knock speeding Blackbirds and prying-eye satellites out of the infinite airspace above our sacred homeland, which by symmetry means the Chinese and Russians can do the same.

        What we mopes are learning is that there are no rules and no limits to anything any more. Power and force are all there is. Looking at the stuff in twitter and TikTok, that sure seems to be the case.

  30. Jason Boxman

    So this seems worth a read.

    Women Have Been Misled About Menopause

    All of those statistics were accurate, but for a lay audience, they were difficult to interpret and inevitably sounded more alarming than was appropriate. The increase in the risk of breast cancer, for example, could also be presented this way: A woman’s risk of having breast cancer between the ages of 50 and 60 is around 2.33 percent. Increasing that risk by 26 percent would mean elevating it to 2.94 percent. (Smoking, by contrast, increases cancer risk by 2,600 percent.) Another way to think about it is that for every 10,000 women who take hormones, an additional eight will develop breast cancer. Avrum Bluming, a co-author of the 2018 book “Estrogen Matters,” emphasized the importance of putting that risk and others in context. “There is a reported risk of pulmonary embolism among postmenopausal women taking estrogen,” Bluming says. “But what is ‘risk’? The risk of embolism is similar to the risk of being on oral contraceptives or being pregnant.”

    And I distinctly remember when that news came out. I knew nothing about relative and absolute risk at the time, and the media portrayal very specifically said flatly that hormone therapy was dangerous as I recall.

  31. ChrisPacific

    Yes on day 1 you may have provided the AI with all of your company documentation and the last 5 or 10 years of recorded customer conversations; but how are you training the AI going forward?

    Just to compound this problem, you can’t generally train the AI on customer conversations in which it has been involved itself. That creates a feedback loop, which can easily go unstable and/or generate weird, harmful and/or nonsensical outcomes.

    Some organizations do it anyway, like Facebook with their recommendation engine, and it’s responsible for some of the pathological things about their platform, like weaponized echo chambers for profit.

  32. Daryl

    Checking in from a cross country road trip. Passed through Navajo land and interestingly, mask usage there was very high, probably over 50%. Guess they didn’t get the memo from big chief Biden that covid is over. Once I passed out of Texas, have seen much less political signage, bumper stickers of any kind. Though I’ve been out in the sticks.

  33. Jason Boxman

    Walmart in western NC today. Cold stuff still really wiped out in pharmacy. Same at Ingles. Kids stuff out. Been this way since December.

    This society has committed collective suicide.

  34. skippy

    Amends if this has already been posted …

    Dr Satoshi Akima FRACP 『秋間聰』
    The unspoken assumption of “living with COVID” is that it is in the economic best interests of the nation to allow the self-regulating forces of competition to liquidate the uncompetitive for the sake of net economic gain. Sacrificing lives to the gods reaps monetary rewards

    Dang you Yves for setting the domino effect wrt moving. Same here now whilst doing two job sites, second is for mate across the roads house for this 60th B-day bash, Sydney friends coming up, and at the same time eldest son is off to Japan with GF for 3 weeks so its just me and the huge young son to cart everything to new digs and then me to clean up the old place …. arghhhhh …

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The unspoken assumption of “living with COVID” is that it is in the economic best interests of the nation to allow the self-regulating forces of competition to liquidate the uncompetitive for the sake of net economic gain.

      Sadly, Xi seems to have bought into this. So Rules #1 and #2 really are global, and globalism and globalists are a thing.

  35. Wukchumni

    We did what was pretty much a pretend lockdown during Covid, you were still free to move around on airplanes all you’d like, and don’t get me started on masks.

    If H5N1 hit would we be capable of doing a proper lockdown, or would the (for many) ‘Y2K’ like hysteria of Covid not being all that, blind everybody to the seriousness of a genuine plague?

    1. agent ranger smith

      No. If a multi-megadeath Neo-Spanish BirdManPig Flu hits, there will be no lockdown, and no attempt at lockdown. There will be no mask mandate and no attempt at a mask mandate. There will be no ventilation mandate or anything else.

      Was your question rhetorical or did you really want an answer? Because if you really wanted an answer, your answer is : no. no lockdowns, no mandates. no nothing.

      There’s your answer, if an answer was really what you wanted.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I did some cursory research on H5N1. There’s certainly zoonotic transmission, bird to bird, bird to other animal. The Spanish case is wild bird to mink farm.

        I was trying to figure out if “H5N1 is airborne.” This is complicated because a lot of the data comes from chicken and mink farms, where thousands and thousands of animals are packed together on an industrial scale that makes a wet market look like a blip, and there much of the transmission will be via fomites (fecal) or touch (small cages). So airborne could get “lost in the noise.” It’s also complicated because there are different species, different conditions, different variants, etc.

        So to say “H5N1 infects the respiratory tract in mink” — leaving out upper and lower for the moment — isn’t the same as saying “H5N1 infects the respiratory tract in humans” and that’s not the same as saying “H5N1 is airborne.”

        However, recent consensus seems to be that a mutated H5N1 might very well become so; after all, that would be adaptive. But no worries, it’s not like we’ve created a vast evolutionary experiment to find out if that very thing can be done.

        Reader comments welcome; after all, I have strong priors and I thought the same thing about Mpox. And it is true that we’ve dodged a bullet on an avian flu pandemic in humans, so far, although very much not so in birds.

  36. agent ranger smith

    If the Biden covid policy is an . . . ” t “Ultimate Lockdown” policy of mass infection without mitigation . . “, deliberately and on purpose with malice aforethought, and Welensky is Biden’s political commissar placed in charge of CDC in order to make sure the CDC carries out the mandated deliberate pro-infectionist deliberate plague-spreading policy deliberately and on purpose, why would anyone expect the CDC to disobey its orders to spread the covid plague everywhere by publishing anything or linking to anything would would weaken or counter its official mandate which is to propel infection as fast and far as possible, and spread the plague everywhere?

    Should we blame the CDC for that? Or should we blame CDC Commissar Welensky and Democratic Party First Secretary Biden?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Because institutions have vast, vast inertia*, there also factional conflict, and of course fear of accountability by the perps. There are also exceptional PMC in addition to hegemonic PMC. But if I look at the actions taken by the Biden Administration, and I look at the results, and I consider cui bono, it’s almost impossible for me to believe the actions were taken unwittingly. (Sadly, we need also to make the assumption that the decision-making process is, well, not democratic. I want to say opaque, but it you talk to the right people, it’s not. That’s what makes Biden Covid policy a SCAD, and not — if this is your point — CT.)

      * For example, plenty of scientists are out there doing “normal science,” some of it even good. The rot in the elected and political appointee layer doesn’t necessarily reach them. This isn’t like Nazi Germany, where Gleichschaltung reached down to numismatic clubs.

      1. agent ranger smith

        Well, it certainly is not hidden, so it can’t be Konspirisi Theeree. It is obviously quiet official policy, even if it doesn’t have neon signs and loudspeakers all over it.

        That’s why I spoke of “political commissars” and “First Secretary Biden” rather than of hidden plotters and secret Konspiritirs.

        But the fact that the quietly official policy makers and executors do not have a StaliNazi level of thorough penetration all the way down to the numismatic clubs means that covid caution realists still have room for freedom of action, freedom of sharing and offering advice, freedom of making corsi boxes, etc. This freedom may help a self-saving remnant make it alive and healthy at the other end of Mankind’s Long Forced March through the Valley of Selection.

  37. upstater

    Ross Douthat, NYT opinionator… reality is setting in with the elites.

    The Costs of a Long War in Ukraine

    It starts out with this:

    The Ukrainian hope for how this escalation ends was sketched out by Mykhailo Podolyak, a key adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a recent interview with Bruno Macaes for The New Statesman. “Russia will embark on some minor offensive actions in a short period of time,” Macaes summarizes. “A lot of manpower will be lost. After that, it will face a series of significant defeats.” This will lead to Russian unraveling: Major cities will be lost, some kind of military collapse will follow, and then there will be “uncontrolled political transformation” within the Russian Federation itself.

    It ends this way, after discussing the RAND Long War paper:

    But if the next phase of war suggests that such a compromise is required for peace, better to seek it sooner than after many more seasons of suffering and death.

    We need resources to defend against Chinese baloons.

    1. britzklieg

      I’m usually on board with your posts, flora, and it’s good to hear even the smallest pushback to the “war is peace” narrative but, sadly yet unsurprisingly, it only took a few minutes before Krystal Milquetoast was calling Russia’s SMO an “atrocity” and that western support for Ukraine is “just.” I couldn’t listen any further…

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