Links 3/28/2023

This humble Chilean tree could help us make better vaccines — these researchers have learned its secrets ZME Science

At last, a randomized trial on coffee. Here’s what happened. Inside Medicine

Greenland to stay in daylight saving time The Irish News

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Seeks Surgical Partner for Human Trials, Report Says Gizmodo


Want to sequester carbon? Save wild animals Grist


A Delaware River latex spill contaminated Philadelphia’s drinking water: What we know and don’t know The Philadelphia Inquirer

Second Leak At US Nuclear Plant That Sprung 400,000 Gallons Of Radioactive Water IFL Science

Glass beads on moon’s surface may hold billions of tonnes of water, scientists say The Guardian

At this grocery store of the future, 1 tablespoon of clean water costs $198 Fast Company


Functional Neurological Disorder Emerges After COVID Infection, Vaccines MedPage Today

Marburg outbreak in Equatorial Guinea spreads from rural districts to major port The Telegraph


Burying key evidence, new OPCW report covers up Douma’s unsolved deaths Aaron Mate

General strike in Israel, Netanyahu under pressure to freeze judicial overhaul Al-Monitor

US will fund Israel whether it’s a “democracy” or not The Electronic Intifada

Saudi, Iran foreign ministers to meet during Ramadan Al Jazeera

Yellen: Iran’s actions not impacted by sanctions to the extent US would like Reuters

Old Blighty

SNP leadership latest: Humza Yousaf vows to take independent Scotland into EU The Telegraph

UK government expected to offer energy companies windfall tax relief Carbon Brief

La belle France

Nearly three weeks of strikes continue to hit French refining Reuters

Ryanair slams “cancellation” of overflights in France The Portugal News

The Koreas

North Korea fires ballistic missiles after protesting US drills Al Jazeera


Senior US official’s China trip seen as ‘beneficial’ but no icebreaker SCMP

Joint Chiefs Chairman: Record military budget “prepares us to fight” China WSWS

Chinese regulation seen boosting AT1 bond prices during crisis Nikkei Asia

Alibaba founder Jack Ma makes rare public appearance in China Al Jazeera

China to stay open ‘no matter what’, Premier Li Qiang tells global CEOs in ‘first class business environment’ pledge SCMP

On America’s structural inability to effectively compete with China in Africa An Africanist Perspective

European Disunion

One-day strike hits German transport network The Loadstar

Stuck in this Nazi building’: Germany’s bickering coalition halts finance ministry move FT

New Not-So-Cold War

Conscription may be intensified in Ukraine – Zelensky ally RT

Will Pakistan Support A US Mercenary’s Plot To Recruit Afghan Refugees As Fighters For Kiev? Andrew Korybko’s Newsletter

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry calls on UN not to give “unbalanced” assessments in regards to Ukrainian Orthodox Church situation Ukrayinska Pravda


Putin compares ‘global NATO’ idea to World War II Axis coalition Tass

Sinn Féin backs NATO’s war against Russia ahead of Biden’s planned visit to Ireland WSWS

Did Ukraine funding spare the US Army from budget cuts? Defense News


Hersh: Nord Stream explosion decision possibly ‘anger’ or ‘punishment Al-Mayadeen

Russia’s Diesel Exports Heading for Record Despite EU Sanctions Bloomberg

Azerbaijani armed forces advance to close off Armenia-Karabakh road Eurasianet

Biden Administration

Lina Khan’s FTC has challenged health system mergers — but not disruptors Becker’s Hospital Review


Is ‘David’ porn? See for yourself, Italians ask Florida parents Politico

GOP Clown Car

What does Peter Thiel want? He’s building the right-wing future, piece by piece Salon



U.S. backstops Silicon Valley Bank sale to First Citizens Reuters<

Rotten Banks

Deutsche Bank Bounces as Analysts Reassure on Financial Health Bloomberg

US considering more federal support for banking industry: report The Hill

No Billion-Dollar Bailouts For Africa Consortium News

Police State Watch\

Chicago’s Mayoral Race Pits the Teachers Union Against the Police Union New York Times

Obama Legacy

Arne Duncan backs Paul Vallas in April 4 mayoral runoff election Chicago Sun-Times.

Paul Vallas’s trail of school privatization The Tribe

Groves of Academe

Big oil on campus: how US universities are ‘colonized’ by the fossil-fuel industry The Guardian

A IS FOR ABUSE The Intercept. The deck: Two Harvard Grads Saw Big Profits in African Education. Children Paid the Price. 

Norfolk Southern Chemical Bomb

Pennsylvania School District Sues Norfolk Southern Over Ohio Train Derailment Insurance Journal

Most of Norfolk Southern video leading up to East Palestine derailment is gone WSYX

Train derails, spilling hazardous materials in North Dakota The Hill

Class Warfare

EV Era Threatens UAW Clout as New Chief Faces Nonunion Plants Bloomberg Law

Disney CEO Bob Iger Confirms Start Of Layoffs, With Three Rounds Of Cuts Expected Before Summer Deadline

Amazon loses bid to toss consumer antitrust lawsuit Reuters


Portions of Twitter’s source code leaked to public, valuation plummets to $20 billion Yahoo Finance

The Bezzle

Feds sue crypto giant Binance and founder Changpeng Zhao The Verge


A Scammer Who Tricks Instagram Into Banning Influencers Has Never Been Identified. We May Have Found Him. ProPublica

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “On America’s structural inability to effectively compete with China in Africa”

    Generally speaking, if you want to get on the right side of a region you send your best people. Show them that by sending your top drawer people, that you take them seriously and want to honour them. I know that Washington thought that they were doing this by sending Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Janet Yellen, Antony Blinken, Jill Biden and now Kamala Harris but, well, did they really think this idea all the way through? And you want to know the worse? All of those people are potentially US Presidential candidates.

    1. David

      I thought it was a very good article and accords with what I have seen on the ground. High-level visits are fine as far as they go, and should be encouraged, but what the article boils down to saying is that the US (and the same is true of the EU and others) sees the relationship with Africa as about aid, whereas the Chinese see it as about opportunities. Africans have grown rather tired of being “helped” especially when they don’t control the priorities.

      1. Questa Nota

        There was a similar exercise in South America, and other places, a few decades ago. That involved the Aid-and-Control Americans and the trade-oriented Japanese. The latter wrote user manuals, specs and other helpful policy documents that built a path for more (bi-lateralish) trade and investment.

        The modern Chinese version includes more asset influences and debt-servitude controls, so that is what passes for modern colonialism progress. :/

          1. hunkerdown

            I do get the sneaking suspicion, based on Li Qiang’s promises, that what the neoliberal capitalist world order “needs” to survive is to manifest the patriarchal “world household” dynamic in two separate bodies, Father Russia and Mother China, and that this effort is well underway.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Bzzzz!! US imperial activity in Africa is only about “aid” in the sense of yoking Africans to debt, as part of facilitating looting of African resources and providing pathways for corruption. So those are the reps (in addition to the Jackals and professional destabilizers) best suited to the task. And of course there’s a large African misleadership class happy to “work with them.”

        Do the Chinese teach honest governance and comity to the people of Africa, and will the massively incompetent reps and minions of Empire step so blatantly and obviously on their d!cls and other primary sex- linked characteristics so as to complete the decolonization and building of decent political economies any time soon, or at all, given human nature? Hope is the last plague on humanity in Pandora’s mythical casket…

        1. hunkerdown

          It’s about yoking them in service to learn them some neoliberal manners, very much like the apprentices of the authoritarian Christian communities of Western Europe learned their manners.

    2. Polar Socialist

      Because in the part of the society that matters, these actually are the best people.

    3. Oh

      Is there a way we can convince them to keep ’em there. Those five can serve warm their fannies over there instead of over here.

  2. petal

    Re “Colleges colonised by fossil fuel industry” article: I am surprised they didn’t mention Dartmouth’s new Institute for Energy and Society funded by…Irving Oil.

      1. wendigo

        It just seems so strange that the plant has leaked before into the river feeding the water supply and nothing has been done about it.

  3. paul

    RE: SNP leadership latest: Humza Yousaf vows to take independent Scotland into EU.

    The media seem to be delighted that, despite being lazy and incompetent, he is the first (ethnically and educationally) minority leader of the devolved parliament. Who cares?

    Robin Macalpine sums up the continuity case pretty well here.

    I think the ‘continuity candidate’, installed by an extremely suspect process, is putting the cart before the horse there as there is no desire, let alone strategy, for an independent scotland within the SNP.
    ‘Taking the campaign into 5th gear’ is not really appropriate coming from someone who, while serving as transport minister, got lifted for driving without insurance.

    1. The Rev Kev

      During the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, joining the EU was seen as a great idea and one to be worked towards. But after the past year or two, I don’t know how many people see this as being a good idea anymore. Joining it is a bit like checking into the Hotel California and the demands on your sovereignty get to be on the extreme. Actually it is more like being assimilated by the Borg. And as unlikely as it sounds, one could argue that the class of leadership in the UK is higher that that of the EU.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        Joining the EU now sounds like a suicide wish. But, never underestimate the human capacity for stupidity.

      2. paul

        I never quite understood the linking of independence and the EU, the last thing a newly formed country needs is to have its feet nailed to the floor by the EU institutions’ perverse orthodoxies.
        The v d leyen incarnation is the worst yet, I’ll admit.

        one could argue that the class of leadership in the UK is higher that that of the EU.

        As ‘The right stuff’ in EU circles (Macron, Schultz et alia) is seen to be to govern with hostile contempt for the governed, and supine deference to the real players, I cannot see any qualitative difference.

        1. Anonymous 2

          ‘And as unlikely as it sounds, one could argue that the class of leadership in the UK is higher that that of the EU.’

          After Cameron, May, Johnson and Truss? Are you serious?

          Economically the UK is now a basket case. The EU has plenty of problems but has significantly outperformed the UK these last 8 years. The state of UK hospitals, the NHS, schools, the infrastructure and the public sector all show the damage done by 13 years of Tory government.

          Sunak may prove to be marginally more competent than his predecessors. Time will tell. But his government is trying to run a refugee exclusion policy which is causing serious commentators like Sir Richard Evans to draw comparisons with the Nazis. Otherwise it is seeking to kick other problems the other side of an election next year.

          If Scotland was now an EU member it could be like Ireland which is currently picking up substantial business from firms wanting to do business from an English speaking base inside the EU. Yes, EU membership can actually benefit a country. That is why countries are still seeking to join and there is no serious support in any of the existing member states for any attempt to copy the UK. People can see the damage the British have done to themselves. Even among the British a significant majority regard Brexit as a mistake and most would now like to reverse it.

        2. digi_owl

          I can see two reasons Scotland would want back into EU.

          First is that Scotland was perhaps a receiver of major funding from EU coffers.

          Second is that the Scottish economy has become highly oriented towards primary industries aimed at selling to EU.

      3. Bugs

        Well, it would make for cheaper trade and travel, as well as a pre-existing currency and central bank, but also a new German monarch, with Queen Ursula. So, yeah.

      4. spud

        yes, agreed rev. you could say trump was a far better president than biden, obama, and bill clinton,

        but the bar was set so low by these three, that a drunk could have stumbled over it and be considered superior. same with the u.k. leadership. bad, but look at the E.U. leadership.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “At last, a randomized trial on coffee. Here’s what happened.”

    It is not widely know but in the Galactic Community, Caffeine is classified as a Class 12 toxic chemical only superseded by the frightening toxicity of Capsaicin. Stories of humans imbibing these substances as well as drinking ethanol are dismissed as traveler’s tales as the idea of this happening is patent rubbish.

    1. Questa Nota

      Put a little cayenne into your morning coffee for a new taste treat. Coffee and chocolate both can be tasty with that hint of cayenne. YTMV

  5. .human

    Joint Chiefs Chairman: Record military budget “prepares us to fight”

    Could he have stated it any clearer?

    War is Peace

    1. Polar Socialist

      The man also said that the fight in Ukraine protects the system “that has prevented great power war for eight decades”.

      I wonder if he means NATO? Or US hegemony?

      1. hunkerdown

        In their academic literature, ghouls like Vindman freely use the term “neoliberal international order” to describe the object of their cultish devotion.

  6. Wukchumni

    Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old
    Sometimes I’d like to quit
    Nothin’ ever seems to fit
    Shootin’ around
    Nothin’ to do but frown
    Manifestos on Mondays always get me down

    What I’ve got they used to call the blues
    Nothin’ is really wrong
    Feelin’ like I don’t belong
    Walkin’ around
    Some kind of lonely clown
    Manifestos on Mondays always get me down

    Funny, but it seems I always wind up online here with you
    Nice to know somebody recognizes me
    Funny, but it seems that it’s the only thing to do
    Everyone who now knows my name (who now knows my name)

    What I feel has come and gone before
    No need to talk it out (talk it out)
    We know what it’s all about
    Shootin’ around (shootin’ around)
    Nothin’ to do but frown
    Manifestos on Mondays always get me down

    Funny, but it seems that it’s the only thing to do (only thing to do)
    Run and gun down the ones who trouble me (ooh)

    Assault rifle murder sprees have come and gone before
    No need to talk it out (to talk it out)
    We know what it’s all about
    Shootin’ around (shootin’ around)
    Nothin’ to do but frown
    Manifestos on Mondays always get me down
    Shootin’ around (shootin’ around)
    Nothin’ to do but frown
    Manifestos on Mondays always get
    Me down

    Rainy Days and Mondays, by the Carpenters

    1. jefemt

      Hang in there. Great effort. So many sources of disheartenment these days.

      The Manifesto by Ted Kaczynski made for interesting reading.
      Unabomber and this Mass Shooter would seem not to be analogous- at all…
      In fact, it seems like it would circle back to the great article and amazing discussion regarding labels on NC the other day…

      Anyone aware of the Nashville Manifesto being available for perusal?

      1. Wukchumni

        Well, truth be told I don’t fell like that at all and am pretty happy, but as nobody has ever done a ditty from the perspective of an assault rifle slinging multi-armed mass murderer, I felt it was time.

    2. Ignacio

      Let me give it a try Wuk (for once and never again)

      At seventy
      Vocals by J. Biden in intimate soft tone

      I learned the truth at seventy
      My roadmap was for hegemony
      to rule the world with a sadist smile
      so, I could happily retire.
      The time had come for democrats
      To shake off fears like if rats
      and show their nails as do the cats
      at seventy I learned the truth

      And those of us with wrinkled faces
      lacking diplomatic graces
      desperately flailing in backstage
      inventing enemies in the moon
      would they come and beat my tune
      murmuring rough obscenities.
      It is all it seems,
      At seventy

      A greying hair man in smart & casual
      His name you know rhymes with Satan
      Said, “pity the ones who don’t pledge
      They will get what they deserve”
      And the very rich home town donor
      who wants to flood the world
      with his earthly oily goods
      and haven for the fracking

      Remember those who win the game
      take the power they sought to gain
      In debentures of quality
      though dubious integrity.
      Their eyes will stare at you
      In full rejoice of sanctions due
      for rules that were to disobey
      At aplenty.

      [Instrumental sax and guitar]

      To those of us who knew the pain
      Of dubious treaties bound to fail
      And those that weren’t politically correct
      When calling out for our mischief
      It was long and far away
      The world was younger than today.
      When dreams of fair trade
      were all we gave for free.
      To ugly faces along the East


      And those of us with wrinkled faces
      lacking diplomatic graces
      desperately flailing in backstage
      inventing enemies in the moon
      would they come and beat my tune
      murmuring rough obscenities.
      It is all it seems,
      At seventy

      At seventeen – Janis Ian

    3. Antifa

      Hey, Wuk — we need to talk about titling your many contributions to the Naked Capitalism Songbook. Can you give Yves or Lambert a post giving permission to share your email address or a phone number with me, or with John Zelnick?


      1. Wukchumni


        Yes, I never got around to giving them a title-I can dream something up for you or JZ, hit up Lambert for my info.


        I’ve enjoyed your verses versus mine, we have different ways of going about it.

  7. OIFVet

    “Arne Duncan backs Paul Vallas in April 4 mayoral runoff election Chicago Sun-Times”

    Because of course he would, being a neoliberal privatizing “reformer” himself, and a Barry Obama pal to boot. CTU is very strong, or at least it used to be before I left Chicago, so hopefully it will manage to overcome the Chicago Machine like it did during the strike by winning the widespread support of Chicagoans.

  8. ChrisFromGA

    So, whatever happened to the “phone call” between Xi and Big Z?

    Was it canceled due to a lack of interest on Xi’s part?

    Zoom bombed by rooshian hackers?

    Technical difficulties (poor cellular coverage in the salt mines?)

    Asking for a friend.

    1. tevhatch

      Got a source where Xi promised? It is owned by NED/CIA? I believe the USA already answered, Z matters not one whit, particularly while his body guards are USA employees.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        I assume it was just typical narrative-shaping, trying to fluff up big Z and make him look important. Or bluster from big Z. Xi never promised anything is my guess.

        Hence, my admittedly snarky tone.

  9. Kevin Smith MD

    Speaking as a physician, I wonder if Audrey was having ‘RoidRage™ from testosterone and other anabolic steroids administered as part of gender transition?

    Also, maybe she was having gender issues as a girl and was bullied on account of that when she was a student?

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Is ‘David’ porn? See for yourself, Italians ask Florida parents’

    This sounds kinda like when Facebook started to censor images of classic nude statues and paintings because they were, well, nude. Turns out that when you outsource value judgements of cultural works to Mrs. Grundy that things don’t work out so well. The fact that this sort of story happening talks more about modern culture than it does on the aesthetics of a world cultural work like the David. Turns out that calling cultural works pron is like calling the Ukraine a democracy.

    1. Carolinian

      Those objecting parents (there were only three of them) just expressing their own childhood repression no doubt. This isn’t a new story down here in the land of the Baptists. Dancing used to also be out.

      But see my comment below about whether there might be a tad bit of hypocrisy in suggesting that art and beauty are not about the erotic.

      1. digi_owl

        Not sure if it was here or elsewhere, but it may well be that the real problem was not the statue as such but that teacher failed to notify the parents ahead of time. Something they were obliged to do according to school rules.

        1. hunkerdown

          That classical Western cultural heritage could, or ought to be seen as “controversial” is a product of the exact same self-ignorant Puritan impulse that drives woke sensitivity culture. Diderot was right: we need freedom from religion so as not to encourage such pathological pietisms.

  11. LaRuse

    Holy moley, the most important thing I read in the Norfolk Southern lost video article had nothing to do with the lost video, but came from the State Legislative Director for the transportation division of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation union – here’s the quote:

    Instead, train companies want to keep their trains moving even if possible problems are spotted, he testified.
    “Several days after East Palestine, we almost had a similar incident in the Cleveland area on Norfolk Southern,” Whitaker told the senators.
    “The train dispatcher (in Atlanta) came on and said, ‘Hey, we have a report on the trending defect detector on the train. We need you to stop and inspect it.’
    “Immediately after that, the chief dispatcher – which is the person that controls the whole railroad – told them to keep going.”
    How did the crew discover there was a problem?
    A train going the opposite direction on a parallel track radioed and said, “Hey, your trains are on fire. Wow, stop your train,” Whitaker testified.

    Even the East Palestine incident and potential liability associated with that accident isn’t enough for railroads to ease off the precision scheduling. And schedulers are overriding even basic safety measures. This means it doesn’t matter how many hot boxes the RR companies install, they aren’t willing to stop their trains even when problems ARE detected.

    1. upstater

      I think the NTSB has been pretty much independent and progressive when it comes to rail safety; it can only recommend things and not mandate. The failure occurs because FRA and Congress fail to respond to NTSB recommendations. Positive Train Control is a GPS dispatching and control system design to avoid collisions by not allowing violation of safe trackage rights. It can automatically stop a train that misses a signal or restriction. NTSB recommended in 1990, 2008 Chatsworth California headon killing 25, resulting in Congressional legislation. Target installation complete 2015, actual end 2020.

      This time the catastrophe has became political. JD Vance put on a good show, Trump visits before Pete and Joe doesn’t bother. Schumer partially salvages the Democrat’s wreckage by requesting NTSB study all class 1 safety practices. Many of the legislative proposals are anti-PSR. It will be interesting to see if there are major loopholes. Obviously there will be carve outs for small or industrial railroads.

      Beating up on railroads was a thing 120 years ago. Hopefully this time, too.

      1. Wukchumni

        ‘The Octopus’ by Frank Norris was set in the Central Valley a couple of turns of century ago, and its wheat farmers versus the railroad.

        1. Procopius

          The Octopus was assigned reading when I was in high school. The tragedy that ended the book was about a farmer who had planted hops, as I recall.

    2. Rod

      Wish the other people–besides the Union Official– that have names would have been called out.
      Losing the video, well, because it just got lost because nobody minded to it, was almost expected.
      But the off hand anecdote, really drives home the disregard NS fosters within their organization.
      By the number of national derailments NS has been having since EP–you’d think it was cheaper for them to recover the wreckage than to prevent it.
      So why isn’t the US DoT ‘Standing Down’ the whole thing.

    3. digi_owl

      Sounds more and more like USA is returning to the “gilded age” of work and environmental safety.

    4. Henry Moon Pie

      The system works the same way every time. At the top stand the billionaires who demand that their money “work for them” at the highest possible rate 24/7/365. Failure to meet the billionaires’ standards as a company means the company’s stock price will fall, and its creditworthiness will suffer. For the executives of that company, it means the value of much of their compensation will drop. If that continues for long, they will lose their jobs too.

      So petal to the metal. Screw safety. Screw the customer. Even screw the company’s reputation from one corner of the world to the other. Meet those numbers. Buy back that stock. Pump up those dividends.

      Can’t afford to displease the billionaires for even a moment. The Pharaohs never had it so good.

  12. johnherbiehancock

    That instagram scammer story is amusing… found myself rooting for the scammer. He’s like Robinhood.

    Hard to feel sorry for “influencers” getting their accounts banned… net gain for society having less “content” from plastic people pumped into the ether constantly.

    As I’ve read on NC, “If your business relies on a platform…

    1. Jason Boxman

      These are the people in the top 1-5% of social media accounts making huge bucks. I agree, cry me a river. Maybe they should get day jobs like most people?

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Hersh: Nord Stream explosion decision possibly ‘anger’ or ‘punishment”

    The planning and the preparation for those bombings was months in the making. But when Biden made the decision, it may have been because he was in his cranky grandpa mood. We saw an example of this during Biden’s last State of the Union speech when he suddenly went on an angry rant against President XI of China and said ‘Name me a world leader who would change places with Xi Jinping! NAME ME ONE! NAME ME ONE!’

    Considering that this speech is watched by the whole world, why would you do something like this unless you just lost it and were out of control.

    1. Rolf

      AFAICT Biden seems to be shouting, “Name me a world leader who changed places with Xi Jinping!”, which makes even less sense. Angry, paranoid, incompetent grandpa on the world stage.

    2. Carolinian

      If the Dems are unwilling to put up a serious primary challenger to this guy that just confirms their uselessness.

    3. johnherbiehancock

      COVID brain, maybe? COVID rage?

      wasn’t there just a link on this? He’s already presumably pretty feeble-minded, due to age… seems the brain damage due to COVID would be enough on top of all the chemicals they’re pumping into him to occasionally cause things to go haywire like that.

      Though at this stage, it’s hard to imagine that a presidential impulse like a momentary tantrum could have such an effect as blowing up a Russian pipeline though, unless everyone around the president or with influence at that level also wanted it to happen.

      I mean, Trump was supposedly telling them to get out of Syria, and look how much of an impact that had.

  14. Wukchumni

    Been watching the he slid-she slid ski trial over a run-in @ one of toniest ski resorts i’ve ever plied my traits, and for once it wasn’t a snowboarder running into a skier, as Deer Valley doesn’t allow their kind to slide on the premises.

    The thing about both boarders and skiers though, like 97% of us wear helmets and goggles, making us all pretty much look like Jeff Goldblum in the remake of The Fly, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    1. Janie

      And Stein Eriksen was the toniest skier ever. I watch videos of him every winter. A girl could get a crush on him just watching on a tiny round TV screen in a big console, way back when.

  15. Carolinian

    Re Michelangelo’s David–porn, no, but isn’t it disingenuous to suggest that nude statues have no erotic aspect? J. Edgar Hoover’s house was full of them not to mention Rock Hudson’s. In one of her books Mary McCarthy made a joke about the David and the size of his nether regions. Plus the Catholic church, and not just those boobs in Florida, must have thought genitals were off limits given all those fig leaves.

    Just asking.

        1. LaRuse

          I swear I remember seeing graphics in the classroom as a schoolkid in Virginia where Liberty was completely covered up…

    1. Wukchumni

      We’re prudes when you get right down to it, ashamed of our bodies.

      5 of us were walking the High Sierra Trail about 5 years ago and got to Hamilton Lake and dropped pack & trow and into the drink we went, so refreshing after a big-ish uphill with a full 45 pound backpack.

      I got out and there was a Swiss couple who were backpacking, and they asked me ‘We thought nudity was pretty much forbidden in the USA?’

      And I explained that its only allowable in the far reaches of nature’s realm, and relieved of their prior burden of not knowing the lay of the land, they too stripped down to their birthday suits and in they went.

      1. Carolinian

        Maybe because I did grow up in the South I think this is a complicated subject, not simple. For example there’s a big deal now about “body shaming” but wouldn’t there be less of a deal if less display of bodies? Maybe that’s why Victorians (yes you Victoria, you height challenged butterball) led an age that covered up from the bust down and liked to fake shapeism with corsets etc.In the artform I know more about, movies, sex has always been job one, often accompanied by violence. Critic Pauline Kael got this by having all her book titles be some kind of double entendre (example: I Lost It at the Movies).

        Of course art is about sex as well as idealizing the human form. Man may or may not be the measure of all things but we do have a zeal for making more of them.

        1. herman_sampson

          It is rich that the name of the school is Tallahassee Classical.
          There is a world of difference between ‘inappropriate’ (arguable) and ‘pornographic’.

        2. wilroncanada

          Not just the south, Carolinian. Up here in the frozen north, Baptists have always tried to ban sex because it might lead to dancing.

        3. Wukchumni

          I think the preoccupation with nudity & sex, is because that’s the only time there is nudity in the USA, but its nothing like that in my experiences in the buff, outside

          From what i’ve seen @ various hot springs, if anything shedding all clothing rips away the last thing separating you from the person sitting across from you or next to you.

          @ Saline hot springs if there are 10 people soaking in one of the tubs, 8.5 of em are naked, and if anything the one with a suit on feels a little conspicuous.

          I’ve never seen sex break out due to wanton lust of all the gear showing, instead its all scintillating conversations that last for hours.

      2. mrsyk

        Why would anyone wear clothes while taking a dip? Yet I wear one except in private settings. That’s clearly not about swimming.

  16. Wukchumni

    Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe freezing over is very unusual, and it happened in a year that had massive snowfall from April 19th-23rd in the Sierra, around 15 feet of snow fell in a 4 day span, stay tuned.

    Antonucci shared some archived newspapers that covered freezes in the past. The Sacramento Daily Union reported March 22, 1880, that the bay had entirely frozen over for the first time since being “settled by the whites.”

  17. jsn

    So, is Deutsche bouncing like a check?

    Or like the goon at the front of the line?

    Value can’t really be going up…

    1. Wukchumni


      [denying an official of the German National Bank entrance to the casino]

      Rick: Your cash is good at the bar.

      Banker: What? Do you know who I am?

      Rick: I do. You’re lucky the *bar’s* open to you.

      Ugarte: Heh, you know, watching you just now with the Deutsche Bank, one would think you’ve been doing this all your life.

      Rick: Oh, what makes you think I haven’t?

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Yellen: Iran’s actions not impacted by sanctions to the extent US would like”

    Considering the fact that Iran has been sanctioned by the US for over forty years, what else is there that can be sanctioned. I suspect that at the moment that the number of countries, entities and people that are being sanctioned would read like the Los Angeles Telephone Directory. Give a few more years and we may see a Coalition of the Sanctioned arise as there will be more sanctioned countries than unsanctioned ones. Come to think of it, we are already seeing this with the power blocking of Russia, China and Iran so we may be on the way there already.

    1. Judith

      Yellen reminds me of the Grand Inquisitor, tightening the screws more and more on the unrepentant heretical Iranians.

      1. johnherbiehancock

        Kinda like the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition gag, except they WERE expecting them, and had prepared for them and everything…

    2. pretzelattack

      Russia negotiating/helping negotiating a deal between the Sauds and Syria. South Africa invites Putin to visit.

  19. Tom Stone

    A few days ago I was accosted by a young Man who wanted to know if I was “Churched”, which I am not because I am allergic to organized Religions.
    We ended up having a nice conversation and parted on good terms.
    What made the difference was two things, not reacting with fear or contempt and having some knowledge of the Bible.
    If you are going to interact with believers in that syncretic mediterranean death cult peacefully it is very helpful to know James and the Sermon on the Mount.
    Pick up one of those bibles that has the words of Jesus printed in red ( About 500 words) and you are armed with all you need to part on a basis of mutual respect from all but the most fanatic of Xtians.

    1. Wukchumni

      I get it, we all pick up a bible (making sure we acquire the ‘right’ version) and carry it always on our person in case a fervid dogmatist is packing, makes sense,

      1. digi_owl

        Depending on where on one’s person it is carried, it may help when they are packing in other ways as well…

        1. Wukchumni

          How am I going to be able to hold a grappling hook with 100 foot length of rope, an old movie prop cutlass from a swashbuckler and a KJV bible at the same time, if i’m really going to be ready for something wicked this way comes?

    2. semper loquitur

      Sounds like good advice to me, Tom. I’m an amateur practitioner of “Gray Man” tactics and that sounds like a great way to maneuver around the Southern states. As a counterpoint, when I lived in the West Village, I had a couple of rainbow buttons I kept in my drawer. When the Pride Parade came, if I had to leave the house I’d pin a few on to help blend into the crowd. It can get….rambunctious.

  20. Mildred Montana

    >Is ‘David’ porn? See for yourself, Italians ask Florida parents Politico

    For reasons mysterious to me this is filed under “2024” but nevertheless I will forge on with a comment on this delicate topic.

    I read the entire article. So three parents of a private school in Florida (out of how many total?) complain about a showing of a picture of the iconic statue “David” to their sixth-graders and succeed in getting the principal fired (although, as the article admits, there might have been other reasons too). Which only goes to show how ridiculous things have become. In this age where everyone’s opinion is “valued” and must be “respected”—no matter how outlandish—three gripers with nothing better to do managed to have the head of the school dismissed.

    The rest of my comment is addressed to them:

    1. No, stupid people, “David” is not porn. I know it when I see it, as a judge in a famous pornography trial once asserted.
    2. If you’re really worried about your kids and porn, go after the internet.
    3. When you’re finished there go after movies and mainstream TV—yes, mainstream TV—where you’ll find an abundance of what I like to call “veiled” pornography, growing every year as media continually push the boundaries. It might look relatively harmless to you but I was young once and know how it can fire the hormones and imaginations of teen-agers.
    4. Finally, go after the so-called “sex-educators” and “sex-therapists” like Sue Johannsen* and Ruth Westheimer* who not so long ago were plying their trade on television, advising watchers on how to engage in various sexual practices (safely of course; that was the “educational” part). Again, that is what I call veiled pornography, just a way to pretend it isn’t, skirt the rules, and sexualize children as soon as possible, to the delight of corporations and consumerism. But it is, imo, equally harmful to young, growing, and impressionable viewers.

    *Just to end on a light note, here’s something good about pornography, at least the veiled variety: It appears to contribute to longevity. Johannsen is still alive at 93, Westheimer 95.

    1. jsn

      As William Safire summarized your first numbered point, “It’s not the teat, it’s the tumidity.”

    2. britzklieg

      give me smut and nothing but
      a dirty novel I can’t shut,
      if it’s uncut
      and unsu-btle

      I’ve never quibbled
      if it was ribald
      I would devour
      where others barely nibbled

      As the judge remarked the day that he acquitted my Aunt Hortense
      to be smut it must be utterly without redeeming social importance…

      -Tom Lehrer

    3. hunkerdown

      Demanding one’s opinion be respected is very much a class property.

      On the other hand, we who see no reason for the Western cultural matrix to exist or be respected would rather abolish the sex taboo, which predatory societies tend to adopt so as not to drive away the prey.

        1. hunkerdown

          jsn, thanks, this is gonna be good if the intro is any sign. “The main job of the economy at the moment consists in preventing people from doing something useful.”

          1. jsn

            It gets to sexual norms as one of the primary selection criteria individuals will use to decide which communities they want to participate/live in, holding open the possibility that some may choose predatory relationships, but even these would be free to change their minds.

            So far, this is my favorite anarchist target set.

            1. hunkerdown

              Thanks again, jsn. Lots of care and thought went into that book’s vision, which I didn’t intent to spend the evening reading. It’s the best I’ve seen so far. I’m particularly pleased that the author accounts matter-of-factly for endings of all sorts involving individual humans, their communities, and relations between and among both. The material commitment to creating conditions for hospitality, and to the ability of anyone to leave a bad situation and avail themselves of that hospitality, is laudable.

              It occurs to me that the Leather lifestyle’s actually existing house system could plug right into the bolo’bolo today, were they so inclined.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        That URL really had me going. I thought, “What kind of lawyers do they have in Oregon?”

        1. semper loquitur

          Some choice bits:

          “With all the charm and sweetness of a bowl of sugary cereal,” the child “is here to brighten up your morning with all her drag talent,”


          “In one video, she performs for a crowd in a midriff-baring outfit and at one point is handed dollar bills from an audience member.

          A Venmo page operating under the child’s stage name has accepted several payments from users who appear to be adults for her drag show performances.”

          1. flora

            Stage parents of very young children can be the worst. Desire for wealth, fame, importance, displaced vane approval, at the expense of their child’s welbeing. (For those that don’t know the term’s usage in the US, look up the term ‘stage parent’. ) (noting: not all parents of child actors, for example, are ‘stage parents.’)

            1. digi_owl

              Ugh, i have heard about so many examples of the sports variant of that over the years. Around here soccer seem to be particularly affected. To the point that i swear referees have been forced to tell some particularly bad examples to vacate the field.

              1. flora

                ooohhh.. True story. A standard and not particularly important junior high school ( US grade 7-9 ) soccer match between schools was being refereed by high school age refs, mostly high school girls and boys who were competent in the sports rules. A particularly obnoxious dad kept rising in his seat and screaming at the refs. Obnoxiously and vulgarly screaming at the refs. ( We’ve all seen those parents.) At one point, (true story) one of the young high school aged ref girls stopped play, walked up toward said dad in the stands, crossed her arms. looked square at him and told him to cut it out or they’d call that soccer match as it stood. (Said dad’s daughter’s team was losing at that point. ) Suddenly all eyes, alll eyes in the bleachers were on obnoxious dad. For minutes. The high school girl didn’t back down. Not an inch. Said dad sat back down and remained quiet (mostly) though the rest of the game. (Makes me smile to remember it. )

                1. flora

                  Edit correction: the young high school girl ref didn’t say they’d call the match as it stood, she said the game match play wouldn’t resume until obnoxious dad sat down and shut up. ( A young relative reminded me of this point just now. )

            2. semper loquitur

              I’d say this goes a long ways past stage parenting. Adults are sticking dollar bills into the child’s belt. The parents should be investigated, along with the bar.

  21. Mikel


    “Jeff Thomas, a model and social media influencer who was recently in a long-term relationship with billionaire Peter Thiel, said he spent much of his time with the tech mogul working to persuade him away from his increasingly aggressive pursuit of a culture war — a war that Thomas warned was blowing back on their community.

    “I don’t side with him on a lot of political things, but I understand him,” Thomas told me in an interview last November. “I’m trying to influence him in ways to show him my heart, and show him how it affects myself, certain individuals, himself…”

    So he was trying to teach Thiel empathy.
    Peter Thiel: Asperger’s can be a big advantage in Silicon Valley

    “I think society is both something that’s very real and very powerful, but on the whole quite problematic,” Thiel said. “In Silicon Valley, I point out that many of the more successful entrepreneurs seem to be suffering from a mild form of Asperger’s where it’s like you’re missing the imitation, socialization gene…”

    “…According to Medical News Today, Asperger’s is a mild form of autism where people have “difficulty responding to the body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice of others.”

    On its website, the nonprofit Families of Adults Affected by Asperger’s Syndrome says that “many people with Asperger syndrome have difficulty in understanding how others think and feel which may lead to naive, or socially inappropriate behavior…”

    The people in charge of “social media.”
    And Me: looking sideways at “AI” (among other things)

    1. hunkerdown

      Lol, no, Thomas is trying to teach him pragmatism. Middle Liberals and their self-flattering “empathy” ideology are better off canceled.

      1. Mikel

        “ways to show him my heart”
        Whatever you think about it, that kind of thing is the definition of empathy.
        Nothing self-flattering about empathy.
        How about we cancel Social Dawarinists and other BS exceptionalists thinking while we’re at it?
        I’m game.

        1. hunkerdown

          OK, that’s pretty empathetic alright.

          I’m with you on canceling supremacist ideology. That sounds like a fun and useful project. May the sword of blue pencils and the shield of Wite-Out™ always protect us.

    2. digi_owl

      I can’t help wonder if America has deeply confused aspergers and sociopathy. Or if many of these “aspies” have adopted a kind of learned sociopathy via Gordon Gekko style peers.

      1. Mikel

        “many people with Asperger syndrome have difficulty in understanding how others think and feel”

        That’s not really calling them sociopaths.
        But it doesn’t make them prime “social leaders.”

      2. hunkerdown

        Dr. Asperger named the condition autistic psychopathy, when the word was slightly less freighted than it is today. For that, not long ago Dr. Asperger was cancelled and the eponymous syndrome reclassified into high-functioning autism.

        b) sounds right. 4chan’s yellow boards couldn’t be better configured to teach predatory behavior without becoming a formal business school.

        I don’t think those precisely answer your questions but I hope they provide some helpful insight.

  22. Wukchumni


    Lace up your 4,000 characters and we’ll get the low down
    To the who what & where on the edge of online town
    There’s an eight buck combo that just won’t quit
    Keep payin’ ’til you get a monthly blue check tick
    Fall in there and we’ll see some sights next
    At the house of blue checks
    There’s news and gossip and the usual outlandish fibs
    But the treat of the tweets
    Is when they serve you all those fine eight buck bleats
    You’ll want to spend time with the rest of the nervous wrecks
    Down at the house, the house of blue checks
    We’ll have a time and we’ll cut down some mug
    While we dig those blue ticks like they should be dug
    It’s a real home comin’ for all the Twitteratti cats
    Just wander down a path of $96 a year welcome mats
    Fall in there and we’ll see what happens next
    At the house of blue checks
    There’s news and gossip and the usual outlandish fibs
    But the treat of the tweets
    Is when they serve you all those fine eight buck bleats
    You’ll want to spend the rest of your time next
    Down at the house, the house of blue checks

    House of Blue Lights, performed by Chuck Miller

    1. ChrisFromGA

      The story in the watercooler the other day, about the off-duty pilot who stepped in when the pilot had a medical emergency, made me think …

      Leaving on
      Out on the road
      I’ve been down before
      Riding along on this big old jet plane,
      I been thinkin’ ’bout funeral homes
      Cause Mayor Pete neglects the FAA
      And I feel like they might be owned
      Somebody’s tryin’ to make Wall St. smile
      You know the pilot is all alone


      Big old jet aeroliner
      Don’t carry me to the grave
      Oh oh big old jet airliner
      Cause the bean counters got their way

      Goodbye to all my friends at home,
      Goodbye to safe transportation
      Redundancy’s gone, so just hope for the best
      I’d better put time in the pilot playstation
      But my heart’s good, blood pressure’s steady
      As I get on the 737
      Ridin high, I’ll give it the old college try,
      You know it’s just like Microsoft sims
      Before you get to heaven

      Big old jet aeroliner
      Don’t carry me to the grave
      Oh oh big old jet airliner
      Cause the bean counters got their way

      Touchin’ down in a cornfield, wow!
      Feel the heat comin’ down
      I’ve got to keep on keepin’ on
      You know the red light keeps on spinning around
      As we landed with some hesitation
      Thanks to the guy over in seat 7B
      Now I dont want to get caught up in all that
      Paperwork goin’ down when the cops show

      oh oh,
      Big old jet aeroliner
      Don’t carry me to an early grave
      oh oh
      Big old jet aeroliner
      Cause the bean counters got their way

      oh oh
      Big ole jet aeroliner
      Carry me to my home
      oh oh
      Big ole jet aeroliner
      Cause the odds just got sketchier, homes!

        1. ChrisFromGA

          Thanks for that feedback.

          I find that if I can make fun of it, my own blood pressure benefits.

  23. Rolf

    So three parents of a private school in Florida (out of how many total?) complain about a showing of a picture of the iconic statue “David” to their sixth-graders and succeed in getting the principal fired …

    Enrollment estimates are something over 500 students in this public charter (not private) K-12 (or 10?) school, on their 3rd principal in as many years.

  24. Not Again

    Conscription may be intensified in Ukraine – Zelensky ally RT

    So what are they going to do next? Set up a recruitment station at the Ukrainian version of Chuck E. Cheese? “Hey kid, how would you like to play “Pokemon” in real time?” Since we are down to Ukrainian tweens at this point, will they make 3/4 size caskets for the war dead? If I was 80 years old and a so-called practicing Catholic, I wouldn’t want a quarter million dead Ukrainians greeting me at St. Peter’s gate. But I guess Beau is telling him it’s all good.

    1. flora

      adding: The IRS made a house call to Taibbi’s home. odd.

      The IRS Makes a Strange House Call on Matt Taibbi
      An agent shows up at the home of the Twitter files journalist who testified before Congress.

      “House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan sent a letter Monday to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen seeking an explanation for why journalist Matt Taibbi received an unannounced home visit from an IRS agent. We’ve seen the letter, and both the circumstances and timing of the IRS focus on this journalist raise serious concerns….”

      1. Carolinian


        Will Biden Nordstream Taibbi? After all Taibbi started out the Twitter coverage talking about Hunter and “nobody f*cks with a Biden.”

    1. flora

      shorter: There’s a ‘shortage’ of cheap labor, as the company defines ‘cheap’. / ;)

  25. NorD94

    Masking Still Required in About Half of Medical Offices, Poll Finds — But that percentage is down from a year ago and is expected to continue dropping, MGMA says

    Nearly half of medical groups continue to require masking even as local public health officials have dropped mask mandates, according to a recent poll from the Medical Group Management Associationopens in a new tab or window (MGMA).

    Of 859 respondents, 49% said their office still has a mask requirement in place, while 51% said they do not. Among the medical groups that reported not having a mask requirement, nearly three-fourths (74%) said they had one in place at this point in 2022 and removed those rules within the past year, while the remaining 26% had either previously removed such policies or never had one, the poll found.

    The 49% of groups that still have mask requirements varied in how they were enforced, with 72% saying they applied to everyone — patients, staff, and visitors. Another 20% said they applied only to symptomatic patients and the staff members working with them, and 8% said masks were required for staff but optional for patients and visitors.

    1. semper loquitur

      Great article, thanks. It’s confirming what has been said around here many times by many voices: Woke is liberal authoritarianism. Whatever it’s origins, it’s metastasized into something foul. Kill it with fire.

  26. Tom Stone

    To those bemoaning the violence in the USA the causes of violent crime are well known and undisputed.
    1) Poverty.
    2) Inequality.
    3) Corruption.
    “Sensible Gun Laws” disarm the Law abiding but unworthy poors, the rabble.
    It’s class warfare and pretending that it is about reducing crime is pure hypocrisy, WE HAVE THE DATA.
    The poor are the ones who pay the price, the weakest and most vulnerable.
    Which makes the hypocritical virtue signalling especially repugnant to me.

  27. Wukchumni

    Just got an itemized bill from a hospital in Park City, Utah from January, insurance paid most of it. The total was a little over $4,000!

    I’d probably gotten Covid a 2nd time over xmas, and on the slopes had a tightening of my left chest and labored breathing that I thought might be a Long Covid situation or maybe I had pneumonia?, and that is so not me, so I went initially to the health clinic and they did tests, chest x-ray & ekg, but found nothing wrong with me, and advised me to go get a blood test @ the Park City hospital, which I did.

    So this is America, where a stupid blood test is worth $4k of billing to the insurance company?

    The largest expenditure was a little over $1900 for an ED Visit Level 4 to the emergency room.

    1. Carolinian

      They’re giving you the Robert Redford rate.

      Story here the other day about challenging medical charges. It said non profit hospitals in particular put out the fictional rate to see who will pay, then negotiate. Of course if you are out of state that might be harder.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m looking at the invoice and it included an EKG, so that’s a blood test and and EKG for 4 grandidos.

        I was out of pocket a few hundred bucks…

        What if real life operated along the same lines as hospital billing?

  28. flora

    Rhinoserous horn.

    Wildlife Watch

    China legalizes rhino horn and tiger bone for medical purposes

    The materials have no proven medicinal value in humans, and conservationists call the move a major setback for wild populations.

    What won’t some men, some ignorant men or some anthing-for-a-buck men kill in a misguided effort to sell an enhancement to their buyers’ belief in that mythical enhancement? / oy

  29. anahuna

    This.actually isn’t a reply, just a comment on the Supreme Court’s refusal of Steven Donziger’s petition for a rehearing of his case. Only Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were in favor, Gorsuch quite vehemently. Would any of the well-informed legal minds here care to comment?

    I have a foggy memory of Yves opining that Donziger had brought some of his troubles on himself, and that he could have avoided jail without betraying his clients. Apologies if my memory is betraying me and misrepresenting Yves.

  30. Kouros

    “A labour dispute that has no effect is a toothless labour dispute.” A Labour leader to my own taste…

Comments are closed.