Links 3/30/2023

Scientists create Liquid Trees; a tank full of water and micro-algae that could be an alternative to trees in urban areas YUP

Strange Acceleration of Mysterious Interstellar Visitor Finally Explained Science Alert

What Was She Thinking? An Investigation Defector

Some Guy Bought the Flatiron Building and Didn’t Pay for It HellGate


Abyssal ocean overturning slowdown and warming driven by Antarctic meltwater Nature

Whether you’re a snorkeller or CEO, you can help save our vital kelp forests The Conversation

Global population could fall to six billion with ‘unprecedented investment’ in tackling poverty, researchers say Sky News. The Club of Rome’s Earth4All model.


LDS environmentalists want their institution to address the Great Salt Lake’s collapse High Country News

Barge loaded with toxic methanol partially submerged in Ohio River after 10 vessels break free from tug

As More Chemicals Spill, More Questions Arise The Brockovich Report

Philadelphia Residents Avoiding Tap Water After Catching Horrifying Glimpse Of Hairless, Wheezing Gritty The Onion


Real-World Effectiveness of the OBERANA02 and SOBERANA-Plus Vaccine Combination in Children 2 to 11 Years of Age during the SARS CoV-2 Omicron Wave in Cuba: A Regression Discontinuity Study (preprint) The Lancet. Cuban vaccine. From the Abstract: “Immunization of 2 to 11 years-old with the SOBERANA-02+SOBERANA-Plus scheme provided strong durable protection against symptomatic and severe disease caused by the Omicron variant. These favourable results contrast with observations in previous real-world SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness studies in children. They may be explained by the type of immunity SOBERANA’s conjugated protein-based platform induces.” “Effectiveness did not wane over time.”

Covid cases rise by 75% in 11 days driven by spring socialising and waning immunity iNews. The UK. Nobody could have predicted…

The growing evidence that Covid-19 is leaving people sicker FT

COVID-origins report sparks debate over major genome hub GISAID Nature


Aukus subs deal firms China support for Asean nuclear weapon-free zone South China Morning Post

AUKUS gets awkward Down Under Pearls and Irritations

From war to peace: Cambodian goldsmith turns bullet casings into jewellery Reuters. Maybe get a product endorsement from Henry Kissinger?


India’s Boom Is a Dangerous Myth Project Syndicate

European Disunion

A Long Weekend in Paris London Review of Books

What US Social Movements Can Learn From France’s Pension Protests Jacobin

Dear Old Blighty

London loses sole lead as world’s top financial centre FT

Exclusive: Mass food fraud and safety scandal engulfs sector Farmers Weekly

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy is ‘ready’ for Chinese leader to visit AP

* * *

Preliminary Lessons from Russia’s Unconventional Operations During the Russo Ukrainian War, February 2022–February 2023 Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. RUSI authored that interesting study on industrial warfare.

What Frederick The Great’s Army Can Tell Us About Russia’s Private Military Company War on the Rocks

Agile Ukraine, Lumbering Russia Foreign Affairs

* * *

Mark Hamill lends ‘Star Wars’ voice to Ukrainian air-raid app AP

South of the Border

Elián González, known in US for international custody fight, now an elected official in Cuba USA Today

Biden Administration

Biden Kicks Off “Summit for Democracy” With Netanyahu and Modi The New Republic

Biden declines to veto GOP-led measure to end COVID-19 emergency The Hill

B-a-a-a-d Banks

Credit Suisse whistleblowers say Swiss bank has been helping wealthy Americans dodge U.S. taxes for years CNBC (Rev Kev).

A Rapid-Finance World Must Ready for a Slow-Motion Banking Crisis WSJ

Stability Breeds Instability Investor Amnesia. “The night they reread Minsky.” –Paul Krugman (reference).

Supply Chain

Group: Oil tanker tied to US-traded firm receiving Iran oil AP (Re Silc).


A misleading open letter about sci-fi AI dangers ignores the real risks AI Snake Oil. Much good perspective: “Companies building text-to-image tools have used artists’ work without compensation or credit…. One way to do right by artists would be to tax AI companies and use it to increase funding for the arts.” Or — hear me out — we could nuke AI from orbit and increase funding for the arts.

The GPT-x Revolution in Medicine Eric Topol, Ground Truths. “The book starts with a brief and balanced Foreword by Sam Altman, CEO of Open AI.” Dude. Come on.

What happens when your AI chatbot stops loving you back? Reuters

How to track the protests posing a risk to your company’s assets with Feedly AI Feedly

Regular Old Intelligence is Sufficient–Even Lovely Bill McKibben, The Crucial Years

* * *

US hands China easy PR win with TikTok show Asia Times. Is TikTok allowing the FBI to censor its videos and eliminate accounts in wholesale lots? No?

TikTok bills could dangerously expand national security state Responsible Statecraft

Rand Paul: Do Congressional Republicans really want to emulate China by banning TikTok? Courier-Journal

* * *

Wearable Brain Devices Will Challenge Our Mental Privacy Scientific American. “We need the individual power to shutter this new view into our inner selves.” No, we need the collective power to halt the madness entirely. I mean, “you do you” for brain devices? Really?

Dumb phones are on the rise in the U.S. as Gen Z looks to limit screen time CNBC


The US Supreme Court Just Legalized Private Corporate Prosecutions. Activists Beware. Donzinger on Justice

Realigment and Legitimacy

Republicans Push Anti-Trans Rhetoric In Response to the Nashville Shooting Teen Vogue and Here’s what’s known about the Covenant School trans-identified killer and her 6 victims The Christian Post. “Audrey Elizabeth Hale, 28, who attended the school years ago.” Atypical. If I am correct in my speculation — underline speculation — there’s a lot more going on at The Covenant School than an occasion for a grudge match between Republicans and Democrats.

What the Republican Push for ‘Parents’ Rights’ Is Really About Jamelle Bouie, NYT

Class Warfare

Why Starbucks got roasted on Capitol Hill Politico. “Hearings like the one today have negligible material consequences, at least for now.”

Chocolate Factory Blast Highlights Combustion Risks

The Wages of Mother-Work Compact

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. zagonostra

    >What US Social Movements Can Learn From France’s Pension Protests Jacobin

    The kind of gobbledegook I’ve come to expect from Jacobin. Why not provide a structural analysis of the collusion between MSM and transnational interest in blacking-out of months of millions of people taking to the streets?

    The distinctions that Garza draws here, between “mobilizing” and “organizing,” a “supporter” and an “organizer,” a “constituency” and a “base,” will be familiar to many readers — indeed, they’re a core part of organizing lingo

  2. griffen

    Star Wars tinged app to alert the Ukraine citizens of an air raid alert.

    No love for James Earl Jones? “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

  3. Jeff Stantz

    RE: Scientists create Liquid Trees; a tank full of water and micro-algae that could be an alternative to trees in urban areas

    Liquid trees are not trees, they are geo-engineering and I want nothing to do with it. And nano technology is technology so small I cannot see it, so I want nothing to do with that either.

    1. semper loquitur

      I was confused by that article. It says these may be an alternative to real trees in urban areas but the article just describes industrial uses. I know that I personally wouldn’t find a dirty aquarium a great alternative to a real tree.

      1. jsn

        I clicked through the link at the bottom: they’re a carbon capture tool for human environments too toxic for actual trees. The linked article is persiflage.

    2. Martin Oline

      Odd, that. We have algae-choked canals in Florida and no one has said they are beneficial. Is it the smell and the health fears from near-by residents? Maybe we only have low class algae and we need to get some Yankee algae. Fort Myers headline: Carpetbaggers conspiring to coat Cape Coral canals covet quick cash.

    3. anon in so cal

      Gad, who are these malevolent morons? The urban tree canopy makes cities habitable for
      people and is crucial for biodiversity.

      1. JBird4049

        Malevolent, yes. Morons, no. Planting an urban forest does some effort, but most of the investment is
        a tree, a shovel, some water, and time. I assume these algae forests offers a greater chance for successful grifting.

  4. Toshiro_Mifune

    Dumb phones are on the rise in the U.S. as Gen Z looks to limit screen time can’t afford
    new smart phones
    Stop trying to pretty up a bad economy CNBC.

    1. hunkerdown

      They’re prettying up the bad economy and the infowar against the American people at once. That’s the trick of successful propaganda: touch lots of constituencies with the same stroke.

    2. Phenix

      Ahh, smartphones are as cheap as dumb phones.

      Flagship phones are way too expensive but you can by a smartphone for 150 or less. You can get a solid smart phone for under 300.

      1. digi_owl

        Never mind that even today’s “dumb” phones are far smarter than they were in the past. And even back then there was j2ME “apps”.

        I “enjoyed” browsing the web on a Sony-Ericsson phone for years using Opera Mini. a proxy browser that would pre-render the site on a Opera run server and forward the result to my phone. Could even save copies of the result locally if i wanted to.

        Never mind that there are phones out there that have the appearance of a dumb phone, but that runs Android.

        1. ACPAL

          My dumb phone costs me about $25 USD at WalMart and about $10 USD/month. Some people send me e-mails but sending them out is hard so I just call the people back, if I feel like it. So no, dumb phones are not expensive.

  5. Terry Flynn

    When based in Sydney I worked with a Mormon. He was, to paraphrase Trey Parker of South Park fame, always nice and never preachy. So I (& others) never brought up religion.

    This guy wasn’t the archetypal “evangelist” and seemed to accept all the hard science we used. We got on well and I can fully imagine there are people like him who are trying to save the great salt lake. I am fully aware of “less enlightened” people but I’m hoping that via religion or science, people like my colleague can “call the shots” in preserving key environments.

    1. Wukchumni

      Nobody takes the ‘growth prosperity’ gospel quite like the Mormons.

      It would take some doing to have them back away from their more is merrier stance.

      1. aleph_0

        Matt Christman of Chapo has remarked a couple of times about the Mormons being the ones who finally managed to square Chistianity with American capitalism, and that ‘growth prosperity’ is the crux to it.

        1. petal

          Yes. I agree with that statement. My ex’s brother converted after being hooked in college(where he was love-bombed by them). He’s been modeling himself since on Mitt Romney. After being in the vicinity of him, you feel like you desperately need a shower.

  6. Jeff Stantz

    On Smart Phones, 5G, and surveillance. I was helping a friend find 5G towers on a main street in North Carolina because she said she was having panic attacks walking down a street and this was new development for her.

    But in my search what I found was this document form the NC Department of Transportation on how they want to use 5G and “GPS in Automobiles” to track how much people drive so they can institute “User Based Driving Fees” and the plan is being pushed by Verizon.

    So not only will the Government know where you are all the time, but so will Verizon and they will sell that data to the highest bidder.

    The document is a PDF and the relevant part starts on page 321. Take a look, it is gross.

    1. griffen

      State government and a potentially lucrative contract for Verizon, with an offering to track and know all things at all times. Haven’t we seen this movie at least once or twice? I believe we have, whether it’s Minority Report or anything by PK Dick. The technology to track and bill for your license plate on updated tollways (I have used the hwy74 Tollway, southeast of Charlotte) is nothing new, so this is a proposed expansion.

      And while Verizon isn’t the fictional Weyland Yutani of the Alien films, but it’s a sturdy substitute.

      1. digi_owl

        Yeah the only thing “new” here is using what i suspect is the high density of devices pr channel of 5G signaling to avoid the expense of installing toll road detectors at intervals.

        It is a repeat of a pattern these days, where computer tech is enabling surveillance
        and policing that was deemed too expensive and/or invasive a generation ago.

    2. fresno dan

      So not only will the Government know where you are all the time, but so will Verizon and they will sell that data to the highest bidder.*
      So I just got back from a 3 day sojourn in Monterey (CA) for my wife’s birthday. So I wanted to see a little news in the morning and turn on the hotel’s TV. It runs for about 3 seconds and than this screen telling me to register and use an app to run the TV. I really didn’t want to go through that rigamarole, but finally my wife (she carries her phone, I do not – I finally gave up my flip phone) said let’s just do it. Well, neither one of us could do it.
      The world is maybe getting worse, and certainly getting more annoying. What used to be simple and easy is now always getting to be a big pain in the a$$. Don’t get me going about using apps at restaurants instead of having a paper menu….
      * so yeah, I assume this is to track what I watch, as well as sell our telephone numbers so we can be incessanlty texted

      1. Questa Nota

        That TV app requirement is depressing. What next?
        My longtime concern has been that financialization is a type of hydra extending wherever it can.
        Once there were people like Wright Patman to provide a sword to cut off the head counterweight.
        Now there are empty suits with haircuts providing soundbites that have been market-researched.
        Life, where people pay borrow to maintain rent convenience.

      2. Mikel

        Everything being described here by everyone: Fintech.

        They are “finna” put a middle man collecting a fee in every aspect of life and tell you that you can’t live without it.
        Generations coming up are going to be too have adopted so many products that essentially treat them as physically and mentally handicapped, that they may as well be.

        I think back to the SVB bailout and the huge number of fintech companies that were clients and we were told were “systemically important”.

        This is the kind of BS dystopian mess they are involved in.
        All of it makes my blood boil.

    3. Dalepues

      And they can’t even spell vulnerable, unless of course I am
      wrong, unaware that vulerable is a word.

      1. ambrit

        Snark alert/
        Could it be ‘vulerable’ from ‘vulpe,’ a fox? As in, “Put a fox in the henhouse?”
        So, for example; “We were vulerable, and soon paid the price for it.”
        /Snark off.

    1. fresno dan

      where do lions walk….anywhere they want to.
      At the end, that lion gives the photographer that look like you may be a good snack…

  7. zagonostra

    >Rep. Matt Gaetz Gets Commitment From Gen. Milley To End Military Base Drag Queen Story Hour

    Wow what a great victory for the Republic, for a minute I thought Milley might commit to ending the lies about the U.S.’s role in provoking the Ukraine conflict and the likelihood of another military debacle on the scale of Afghanistan and Iraq.

  8. griffen

    Credit Suisse proves the maxim about the US elite and wealthy. It’s a big club and you ain’t init.

    Lying as$holes deserve to lose their phony jobs. Go work for Tony Montana. Drug dealers are notorious, and unscrupulous, but I’d bet you might think twice, once they start chopping off limbs. But work for a large global, cheating bank in the US, and voila your job is important and safe.

  9. LawnDart

    Re; Exclusive: Mass food fraud and safety scandal engulfs sector

    Time to revisit Upton Sinclar’s, The Jungle.

      1. JBird4049

        Yet, some would claim that the FDA is bad government even though its existence is due to the conditions described in the book The Jungle, and its purpose is to fight them.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “AUKUS gets awkward Down Under”

    It took somebody with the stature of Paul Keating to get people to realize that the whole deal is crap. The government is doing a lot of hand-waving to justify it but won’t be able to keep it up for the next twenty or thirty years. Would you believe that there are talks to get New Zealand signed up for this craziness. Neat trick that with their nuclear-free policy-

    So not so much AUKUS as an Anglo-Saxon Alliance. That should really go down well in an Asiatic Pacific. Just a side note – where it says “They were dreaming” near the end, that is a cultural Aussie reference from the 1997 film “The Castle”- (49 secs)

    And yes, our political elite must be dreaming.

    1. nippersdad

      Great movie! We use a lot of references to that film here all the time.

      “What did you do today, dear?”

      “I dug a hole!”

      Highly recommended.

        1. nippersdad

          You know, “powerlines are a reminder of mans’ ability to generate electricity.”

          That truly is one of my favorite movies.

          1. Danco

            What an utterly charming film. Never heard of it before, but just watched it courtesy of youtube. Thanks all for the heads up. You Rippers.

    2. KD

      Would you believe that there are talks to get New Zealand signed up for this craziness. Neat trick that with their nuclear-free policy-

      Not a stretch at all, look at the US and their NATO partners, all signatories to nuclear nonproliferation treaties (NPT) stating they will not give other nations nukes or receive nukes, with NATO partners training for nuclear runs on NATO planes with US nukes.

      I don’t know where the Russians get off claiming the NATO allies are not agreement capable.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      At this point it is clear that this is systemic fallout from the big Bezzle.

      Must keep those trains screaming down the tracks at unsafe speeds to keep the spice flowing.

      Uncle Sam wants you dead so that the supply chain can stay happy.

      1. Charger01

        Nah, I believe this is a choice that the railroad MBAs were sold. Precision scheduling is just flowery language for crunching your workforce and ignoring maintenance. The beatings will continue until morale improves.

        1. ChrisFromGA

          I think we’re just arguing about what form the Bezzle takes.

          Whether it is a grand evil plot or just garden variety greed or PMC rat like behavior, the real world effects are the same.

          Destruction, government agencies that work for corporate interests, and mo’ money for the wealthy.

    2. The Rev Kev

      The only way that you will get the main stream media to pay attention to a train crash is if one train was loaded with Coca Cola while the other one was loaded with a consignment of Mentos.

      1. Lex

        I mean this is pretty close. Mixing ethanol and corn syrup together and lighting them on fire is like Iowa napalm.

    3. Kael

      As my home schooled 8 and 11 year-olds can tell you, “Precision” means getting the same wrong answer over and over again. Since precision scheduling is now the mechanism for controlling the operating ratio, we can expect to see the same failure modes over and over.

  11. Not Again

    Biden Kicks Off “Summit for Democracy” With Netanyahu and Modi

    Coming next week: The Kardashian sisters’ summit on the benefits of sexual abstinence.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I read a coupla days ago that both Türkiye and Hungary were deliberately not invited. It could be that they were not democratic enough for old Joe but more likely the fact that they did not fall in line and give Sweden and Finland the green light to go into NATO.

    1. hunkerdown

      There are exactly two great gods in the American political cosmos of moral persuasion. There, third parties are abominable heresies. It’s always interesting to see when church and state stop pretending at separation.

    2. fresno dan

      The rule is that any promise the politician makes, the politician will do the opposite…

    3. LifelongLib

      Here in Hawaii the Libertarians get more votes than the Greens, so arguably the Democrats benefit more than the Republicans from third parties (not that it matters because the state is solidly Democratic anyway). I don’t know how votes for third parties split elsewhere.

  12. Wukchumni

    Then from 32,674 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
    It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
    It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
    For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

    There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
    There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile lit Casey’s face.
    And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
    No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

    65,348 eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
    32,674 tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;
    Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
    Defiance flashed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

    The pitcher took his time, waving off one sign after another
    And before you knew it, 16 seconds had elapsed-ball one
    Casey readjusted his batting gloves, tapped his bat on the plate
    As 9 seconds transpired when the umpire called a strike, too late.

    The infield shift for the day remained motionless, unmoved
    If a lefty the likes of Casey should hit it where they aren’t
    A man on larger bases he’d become, running each 90 foot part
    The crowd was restless, the organist too-a fellow named Bart.

    Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
    The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
    And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
    But there is no joy in MLB, the pastime taking too much time out.

    …play ball!

    1. lyman alpha blob


      I heard some sports radio types talking about how not just baseball games, but movies were too long now too and who had the time, only to later admit they they had a hard time not checking their phones every ten minutes or so, not that they were really so busy they couldn’t free up a couple hours.

      If thekidstheezdayz want their 15 second twittoks and snapfaces, let them have at it, but give me a sunny afternoon at the ballpark any day, no matter how long it takes. The fact that it’s not timed is part of the beauty of the game. Isn’t that right, Nomaaah?

      Now get off my diamond! ;)

    2. LilD

      Went to a PadresPhillies game maybe 40 years ago, Randy Jones v Jim Kaat. Full 9 innings in about 1:20. No dilly dallying from those guys

      Last mlb game I watched was 3:15 for 9 innings. I’m in favor of the speed up…. And I love big bases, I cannot lie

    1. Carolinian

      Seems a bit over the top. If smartphones are a danger then perhaps it’s more the way we use them and then do to ourselves rather than big brother. After all if phones become the mechanism of control then easy to go off grid by not having one active. Just tell the cybercops you forgot to charge your battery. Oops.

      1. flora

        I have an old flip phone, not a smart phone, and a small digital camera. That’s enough for me. ymmv. / ;)

        adding: 117 and Belgrade (without using a computer. heh)

        1. Chris

          The inability to perform elementary arithmetic in one’s head is a consequence of faulty education rather than smart phone use.

      2. pretzelattack

        still have a flip phone, perfectly adequate for most of my needs, I have a smartphone I rarely use.

    2. fresno dan

      And, within the next few years, smartphones will become the digital wallet through which the Bank of England will have complete control over how much, on what and where we spend its Central Bank Digital Currency.
      The truth is, we don’t programme smartphones and we don’t use them. They programme us, they change how we use them. They use us.
      There is another post today about how the Federal Reserve bails out the rich and oppresses the less than rich. It will get easier and even more subtile how they do that…

  13. Lexx

    ‘Global population could fall to six billion with ‘unprecedented investment’ in tackling poverty, researchers say’

    I wish Sky News would make up their minds. Pick a side and commit!

    I’d be interested to know where all the potable water is going to come from, in those same parts of the world where population is expected to increase most.

    The take away here for me was if women are given a choice, they have fewer children (or none). It was the Boomer’s legacy – a choice – but not everywhere in the world, not yet by a country mile. It represented a break in the continuity of ‘tribalism’, and bad news from those institutions who depend on it. You could put ‘choice’ next to Easy Credit in its global effect, although access to credit probably came first. Credit helped level a bit the class playing field. Women able to support themselves and accumulate wealth could choose not to be handmaids to their tribes. Their future wasn’t dependent entirely on men or their parents. Their ‘success’ in life on motherhood via their children. This was huge and while I still live, I’ll be interested to read how it plays out around the world.

    1. c_heale

      I think the global population is going to fall anyway, but mainly due to reduced sperm counts.

    1. Terry Flynn

      This is becoming a trope!

      In UK if you pass driving test in an automatic you’re not legally qualified to drive a manual. Yet a non-Brit flying into (for instance) Heathrow who got their licence in an automatic can hire a manual. WTF?

      (though am willing to be corrected if things have changed….. This example was uppermost in my mind in 90s when American relatives of ours visited). I don’t recall NSW, Australia paying any attention to type of licence I held from UK before granting me Aussie driving licence.

      1. Carolinian

        I used to watch TV’s The Amazing Race and USians would race around the world and struggle with those manual transmissions after landing in Europe. You can’t really blame them since manual is so hard to find now in the US–in part for efficiency reasons as more gears mean better mileage and a six speed manual is getting to be a lot of work.

        I’ve always driven manual in the past and when trying to buy one a few years back the young salesman asked me to drive it to the front lot because he didn’t know how to do it. In the end I got a better deal on an automatic and am happy to let the car’s computer change all those gears for me.

    2. flora

      Try finding a manual transmission car or truck on any US car lot. Good luck. At most smaller dealerships they have to be special ordered in by the dealership, if I remember correctly.

      I’d rather drive a manual than a modern CVT. Old school. / ;)

      1. Wukchumni

        When I bought my manual transmission truck 186,451 miles ago in SoCal, the salesman mentioned how they were only a couple percent of total sales, and behind him on the wall was a list of the top 10 locales for stolen vehicles in the USA, with Bakersfield being #1, I rested easy knowing that, and with a $32,500 MSRP knocked down to $28k, a bargain.

        That said, i’d never want a car like that in a Big Smoke with stop & go traffic, I got stuck for hours on an LA freeway a few months ago, and it was tantamount to ‘car-robics’

        ‘Give me 1,432 more foot pushes on the clutch-feel the burn!’

      2. JohnA

        When I first went to rent a car in the US, the guy on the phone said they only had a stickshift available. I asked what a stickshift was (having no idea) and he said a manual. At the time, I had only ever driven manual cars and so said yes. And got a discounted rate. After that I always asked for a stickshift and the discount. A win/win. Incidentally, they never asked to see my driving licence, only a credit card.

        1. Airgap

          My first trip to OZ, Melbourne, the rental car I had was a Holden with a V8 and a manual tranny. The stick was fine by me in that I drove a manual back home – and still do. But what was confusing was driving on the wrong side and having to shift with my left hand rather than my right. I missed a number of shifts but really enjoyed the V8.

          1. Wukchumni

            I was too young to rent a car in Aussie in the early 80’s in Melbourne, so I fixed that by buying a 1968 Renault 10 with a manual transmission, and being a French car it just had to be different, in that the windows opened side to side, not up and down like every other car.

            The tricky part aside from the gearshift being on the wrong side, was negotiating all those street trams.

            1. Vandemonian

              …and did it have the wiper control on the right of the steering column, and the indicators and the lights on the left? Mine did.

      3. Terry Flynn

        Hehe me too…. Generally.

        I drove automatic in Sydney which for the huge amount of stop-starts on my commute made it worthwhile. Otherwise, gimme a manual to ensure maximum control anyday.

      4. Lex

        My wife got a Bronco with the manual and the salesman was trying to show her how to use the manual transmission, except he didn’t really understand it. He was particularly confused because the Bronco has an extra “crawler” gear below first. It seems he thought she ordered one without being able to drive it. Her previous car (a Fiesta) was also a manual and I always cringed taking it to the dealership because the porter kids clearly didn’t know how to actually drive a manual.

      5. lyman alpha blob

        Our mechanic told us a year or so ago that our 14 year old car with manual transmission wouldn’t pass inspection without $5k in repairs or so. Asked him what he had on the lot for $5k or less that would, and we wound up with a 10 year old car of the same make and it had not a 5-speed transmission, but the whole six pack! Never even knew that existed before. And it also had a CD player – what’s not to like?!

        I’ll never drive an automatic if I can help it. Now get off my lawn! ;)

    3. B24S

      My wife’s first car was a little Italian car, an 1100c sedan, called a Lancia Appia, with four on the tree. In the late sixties, in Philadelphia, it was stolen, but found only a block away. Even back then they couldn’t figure out how to drive it. A few years ago, before she retired, she bought a new Fiat Abarth, our first ever new car. She put up with a few years of rowing the 5 speed through commute traffic, so as to reap the benefits later. Not so good off-road, but miles of smiles on backroads, say, through Seq/MK.

      My two work vehicles, a pair of ’93 Volvo Turbo wagons, are automatics. They’re great for hauling stuff and driving in the congested Bay Area. The other fun ones are older Italians with manuals. The B24 is original, not restored, with chipped paint and torn leather. I’d never taken a car to a real car show before, but one year I got a phone call asking us to bring it to a local show. Despite being amidst cost-no-object restorations, they even gave it a prize. I figure my part in it was I didn’t family-blog it up by trying to restore it, and I dedicated it to all those who do their own work, rather than writing checks. You can see the Lawrence Radiation Lab parking sticker on the bumper:

      And the short story-

      We have TWO rotary phones in our home, as well. It was a lot of fun when our kids friends would be over, and need to phone home. “How does this work…?”

  14. Wukchumni

    In first remarks to reporters on Nashville shooting, McCarthy says he must see ‘all the facts’ before backing gun control measures

    I’m not sure if there’s a IHOW in Bakersfield, but oh how My Kevin (since ’07) can waffle, and in regards to flooding now & later, he’s been quiet as a church mouse-which is a pity for Bakersfield, as its gonna get slammed when 7 million acre feet of water inundate the town as the High Sierra melts out in the next few months.

    Knowing Kev, he’ll rename flooding and call it ‘prosperity’, yeah that’s the ticket.

    1. fresno dan

      Basically, the argument will be that the woman was nuts. The obvious follow up question of should you prevent nutty people from getting guns will never be asked by our illustrious media. And our representatives believe that the sacrifice is worth it – the tree of liberty is watered with the blood of school children…
      But let us be real. After the massacre in Las Vegas, every survivor I saw interviewed about the shooting still did not believe in gun control…

  15. paddy

    plucky ukraine!

    8 years of gifts of weapons and ordnance and they hold their own, if you watch cnn!

    adapting the us’ permanent war, for profit military doctrine from whole cloth!

    regardless that doctrine has no teeth, is running out of ammunition and spare parts and has lost every adventure since 1945.

    a military w/o doctrine lavishly propped by the west.

    and the comedian says he must have 20 patriot batteries!

    i am aghast he really ‘needs’ 25 thaad batteries…..

    funny field marshalls!

    the thingie about fred the magnificent and pmc’s is ‘on the rocks’ navel gazing!

  16. antidlc

    Today’s links:

    Biden declines to veto GOP-led measure to end COVID-19 emergency

    The growing evidence that Covid-19 is leaving people sicker

    We are condemned to living in the “Twilight Zone”.

      1. will rodgers horse

        one can NOT be too cynical. Impossible.
        And yes, that was likely a goal. without it, liability issues would emerge.

  17. Alice X

    >The US Supreme Court Just Legalized Private Corporate Prosecutions. Activists Beware. Donzinger on Justice

    The potential for private corporate prosecutions now moves into the prospect. Chilling!

  18. antidlc

    Can someone please, please, rescue me from Obamacare h*ll (family blog)?

    I’ve been helping a family member with referral requests.

    Letter comes in the mail — referral request denied. Reason: out-of-network

    We checked and the insurance company website for the plan. Both show the doctor as in-network.

    After an HOUR on the phone, insurance company admits it was a mistake, the doctor is in network, but the insurance company will not OK the referral. The PCP has to re-submit the referral request.

    Round and round it goes.

    1. Wukchumni

      I mentioned the other day, my $4,070.56 billing for ekg & blood tests @ a hospital in Park City Utah…

      My cost was a couple hundred bucks under Obamacare, and it got me thinking, what if we used the hospital billing method on everything?

      A Hershey’s chocolate bar would have a retail price of $21, but you could beat them down to a buck. (as long as you have cocoa insurance, that is)

      1. Polar Socialist

        Do I dare say that in the world I’m living, ekg and blood test on a private clinic would be around €100. Without insurance.

        On a public healthcare it would be around €20, because you would have to see a doctor first. If you already had a referral, it would be free.

        That said, would there be a beer or whisky insurance in this world of yours?

        1. Wukchumni

          I’m sure a decent portion of that $4k was on account of reprehensible people who having no insurance, simply didn’t pay their $4k bills for an ingrown hangnail or other malady, but Park City is tantamount to ‘Tony’ Montana, so the gouge factor must be high.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “London loses sole lead as world’s top financial centre”

    I do believe that FT is trying to do a bit of creative history re-writing here. They put the blame of London’s decline on Brexit and the fact that the US is seen as a more attractive place. I think that it goes deeper. If you are going to invest big money in a foreign country, then you want t know that they respect the rule of law and won’t play funny buggers with your money. The UK used their reputation on the safety of people’s investments but the bright sparks decided to throw all that away for political expediency. First there was when they stole Venezuela’s gold and used their legal system to say that it was all legit. That gave a lot of wealthy people pause for thought that. But then people have seen how they went nuts over Russia and seized anything Russian that was not nailed down. It may be Russia today but if you were from China or Türkiye or Saudi Arabia, you would have to wonder if that you might be perhaps next. This also had knock-on effects in the insurance of shipping as a lot of shipping companies gave their business to other players, ones not located in the UK. In the end, I think that the UK will just become another treasure island rather than at the centre of this network.

    1. Terry Flynn

      Yeah similar thoughts occurred to me. These new skyscrapers are half empty and I will bet there are landlords/owners who are worried that they can’t ever fill them.

      It leads to potentially dodgy dealing and the wealthy of which you mention are probably wondering if it’s worth the risk, given the clear lack of political “cover” and stability the City used to offer.

  20. jhallc

    “The US Supreme Court Just Legalized Private Corporate Prosecutions. Activists Beware.”

    The Donzinger appeal rejection by the SC is not good. Apparently a Federal judge (Lewis Kaplan) can now decide to “deputize” a corporate friendly private lawyer, of his choosing, to act as Federal Prosecutor and be paid by taxpayer funds. All three Obama and Biden appointed SC judges sided against Donzinger. Only the two Trump appointed judges thought this was a bad idea, go figure.

    1. hk

      They really are trying very hard to turn me into a Trump supporter, however reluctantly, aren’t they?

    2. flora

      How is this any different from the odious ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) private courts (heavily tilted toward big corps because financed by big corporations) ? I don’t see much difference. Shocking the SC abdicated its responsibility.

    1. Crocus

      I’ve often wondered if during clinical trials for antidepressants and other drugs participants are asked about homicidal ideation.

  21. Mikel

    “London loses sole lead as world’s top financial centre” FT

    If you focus, you can hear the world’s tiniest violin playing.

  22. Mikel

    “Dumb phones are on the rise in the U.S. as Gen Z looks to limit screen time” CNBC

    NGL…I’ve been eyeing the socket in the wall for a landline.

    1. digi_owl

      Around there landlines are being replaced with desktop mobile phones as the aging exchanges break down, because it is cheaper for the telco that way.

      If you want a “landline” these days, it will most likely be a VOIP setup.

    2. digi_owl

      Around there landlines are being replaced with desktop mobile phones as the aging exchanges break down, because it is cheaper for the telco that way.

      If you want a “landline” these days, it will most likely be a VOIP setup.

      1. Pat

        Yup here in any Verizon actively ignored needed repairs on the copper land lines and when problems could no longer be ignored installed fiber optics. This during the period between when the law protecting such lines was passed and when its provisions were to begin. I am not saying that the elected officials were having their cake and eating it too, but if you really wanted to protect landlines you wouldn’t normally give a several year period before it took effect.

        1. digi_owl

          Just giving you the reality of the situation as i seen it happen.

          I do lament the loss of the landline though, in large part thanks to its decentralized nature.

          Some over eager backhoe taking our a trunk cable somewhere still allowed us to place calls to others hooked to the same exchange.

          But mobile towers are virtually useless without a connection to the central servers matching numbers to SIM chips.

  23. JustTheFacts

    Although I find his claim to be widely regarded as a founder of the AGI field to be ridiculous (Turing is), Eliezer Yudkowsky wants large scale AI research stopped. He’s right that consciousness is irrelevant to the dangers, as any effective virus demonstrates.

    1. Hazelbrew

      We have passed through a one way door with AI I think.
      There is simply too much value to be had with them. Pause in one location or geography and others will continue.
      It’s game changing.

  24. hk

    I’m confused: what good does Mark Hamill do announcing air raids in Ukraine if, presumably, he does not speak the local language? One should think that the announcements are for the locals so that they could follow the instructions?

    1. hunkerdown

      1. With AI vocal resynthesis, anyone can say “bread” in Ukrainian with a perfect Keeeeev accent.

      2. Local language, how droll. We are all Anglo-Saxons now. Ein Bißgurn Friedman…

      (Dilemma: I’m not enough of a German speaker to put a sentence together, so those who are might consider picking up and finishing the thought for the songbook. On the other hand, a Google Translate vibe might do the parody song greater justice.)

  25. digi_owl

    Today’s antidote is as beautiful as it is deadly.

    Seriously, those are mothers with cubs. Stay well away.

  26. Pat

    So Schumer lets the Democratic Senators know Biden won’t veto the bill ending Covid provisions immediately. I love the unwinding claim, but beyond being utterly idiotic financially and based on the lie that Covid is over from the details in the article, this has become a pattern. Biden gives permission for Dems to side with the GOP in the Senate after the House has already voted.
    I don’t care about Democratic unity but Do either of these twits realize that they are actively undercutting party unity in the House? It’s the most minor part of this, but still adds to the clown car aspect of the party.

    1. JTMcPhee

      There is plenty of party unity. All to the Monoparty of Great Wealth Minions. Politics is pretty much dead, it’s nothing but stage managing the Kayfabe and Kabuki, with sporadic special performances to keep the money flowing to the

  27. Wukchumni

    I’ve been reading about the fallout in the growing marijuana biz in the northern far reaches of Cali, and the problem is essentially price.

    At the turn of the century an ounce of the kind was $300-400, now it’s $50, old school growers can’t make money so there’s quite a bit of abandonment of grow ops all over the place, pretty messy from what i’ve heard.

    1. fresno dan

      how many mj plants can someone have? Google says
      6 plants
      Up to 100 square feet grow area per residence. There is no limit on the number of plants grown for medical use, as long as the total canopy area does not exceed 100 square feet. Non-Medical: No more than 6 plants.
      I understand that mj is pretty easy to grow. I don’t know how productive a mj plant is – enough to go flying every day???

      1. Wukchumni

        Three Rivers here used to have a reputation as where a fair amount was grown, but this would’ve been 10-40 years ago, and it wasn’t hard to pick out the grow houses late in the game before harvest, just follow your nostrils.

        It supplied probably dozens of people with $50-75k a year livelihoods, all pretty much replaced with AirBnB’s that in the past provided hundreds of people with gross rentals of $50-75k a year, and so it goes.

        Its not as easy as you might think to grow good weed, a friend seemed to put in a lot of 10 hour days getting there, and being an indoor grow, the electricity bills were up there.

      2. B24S

        In 2020 I grew my allowed six plants. I spent a lot of time with them, took great care of them, but I could have grown them bigger.

        I’m still working on that harvest, it’ll be three years by fall.

  28. semper loquitur

    A friend’s friend has been F’ing up at work lately. This lovely young lady can’t seem to get stuff done and is always sick. My friend and another friend were talking about it last night and concluded that the young lady has to get her $hit together. No mention of the fact she has had COVID twice.

    I’m getting closer to the day I hear “Oh, sure, it’s COVID. Likely story.”

  29. Jason Boxman

    Hearings like the one today have negligible material consequences, at least for now. There is little legal incentive for management to negotiate with union leadership. While it’s illegal to refuse to negotiate with a union in good faith, NLRB violations carry only small financial penalties. And after a union is certified by the NLRB, if they can’t agree with management on a contract within a year, employees can vote to decertify their union after 30 percent of employees sign a decertification petition. At companies like Starbucks or Amazon, workforce turnover is large enough that a sizable chunk of the workers who voted to certify a union in the first place are gone within a year.

    Yep, as I’ve been thinking (saying?) for a year, Starbucks has no reason to negotiate, and they will not. And ultimately many of these unions will simply cease to exist. Storm weathered, Starbucks and other employers carry on.

  30. Chris Smith

    Re: What the Republican Push for ‘Parents’ Rights’ Is Really About

    What an awful opinion piece. I spent the time to read the (federal) bill, and I agree with almost all of it. I see no reason why schools should not be transparent in their curricula and materials they make available. If that leads to parents complaining about what is being taught or made available, well, that’s democracy isn’t it?

    Yet Mr. Bouie wants to argue both that (1) public education is important to the “democratic system of education”, but (2) doesn’t want all that democracy putting pressure on educators. I’m being generous by using the word “argue” as well. There is little here but pure speculation about the bad motives of the supporters of the bill.

    1. OwlishSprite

      I see a lot of people getting into office these days to make immutable policy for those below them. So-called DEI partisans trying to force a monolithic system of their devising and criticizing people who don’t agree because they are ‘against diversity’ is the most insulting thing I have seen come along for a long time. Schools have an academic scope, but now social engineering has taken over. Not like social engineering was not present in the 50s and 60s as I remember, but it did not delve into peoples’ intimate lives at the cost of a solid grounding in academics. I have seen some Tik-Tok vids made by teachers who are so, so angry that they can’t let their freak flag fly with their students. It’s not about THEM, of course. It’s so students can be ‘free and fulfilled.’ To do what?

      1. OwlishSprite

        There is elite big money in the push for DEI in schools also. Money pushing against money, with the kids being the losers right now in the chaos. Why not just institute national boarding schools and exclude parents, like the Indian Schools no one seems to remember–is this a solution? Or do you let parents have a voice in schools?

      2. semper loquitur

        You wield a fine scalpel. There are a lot of Astro-turf initiatives afoot these days. On both the Right and the other Right.

        1. marym

          I do try to remember to add “both sides” but had moment of “both sides” fatigue today.

  31. Tom Stone

    Since this is an economics blog and mass shootings are once again in the news I thought I’d lay out what you’d need to manufacture 5 good quality 9 MM submachine guns per week with 5 30 Rd magazines each.
    1) sturdy table that can be leveled. $100
    2) One low end 3D printer $1,000
    3) Enough printer material for 6 submachine guns $100.
    4) 5′ of high pressure steel tubing.
    5) 1 Nine Volt battery.
    6) 1 Sturdy 5 gallon bucket.
    7) 4 Gallons of water.
    8) 1 Hacksaw with blades.
    9) Vices to hold the tubing
    10) Copper Wire.
    11) a roll of electrical tape.
    12) Standard size springs.
    13) a reliable source of household electric power.
    14 1 Lb Kosher salt
    If you can download and open a program and have minimal mechanical skills, you are in business.
    Why Kosher salt?
    Because something involved in this project should be Kosher.
    Capital outlay @ $2,000 for 5 weapons that will retail for $1,000- $1,500 apiece.
    There is the small matter of a $25K fine and a decade in the Federal pen if you get caught…

    1. Wukchumni

      Why make them from scratch when you can just go out and buy 7 assault rifles and the like easy peasy in Nashville, as the mass murderous did?

      1. flora

        Please explain the difference between an AR- body style rifle that is classified as an assault weapon and one that is not classified as an assault weapon. There are very specific legal definitions differentiating them. (And no, it isn’t “anything you use in an assault is an assault weapon.”) Please describe the differences. Thanks.

        1. Wukchumni

          Assault rifles use a military round that destroys bodies, notice how there weren’t any wounded people in Uvalde or Nashville, all dead.

              1. flora

                Wrong. You still haven’t answered the question.

                “Purists claim” and “WaPo reports” is not an answer.

                It’s important to be precise and correct in highly politicized arguments, hand waving won’t do.

                1. flora

                  adding: how many (deliberately?) imprecise public political arguments have resulted in bait-and-switch legislation I wonder.

                2. Wukchumni

                  Its a popular term and the AR-15 and variants are essentially M-16’s with semi-automatic triggers-you can only fire incredibly high velocity rounds as fast as your index finger will allow, and often in the aftermath of mass murders, local police departments will sometimes call them something less odious, such as ‘long rifles’ or other terms, softening up the language.

                  This is what they do:

                  The AR-15 fires bullets at such a high velocity — often in a barrage of 30 or even 100 in rapid succession — that it can eviscerate multiple people in seconds. A single bullet lands with a shock wave intense enough to blow apart a skull and demolish vital organs. The impact is even more acute on the compact body of a small child.

                  “It literally can pulverize bones, it can shatter your liver and it can provide this blast effect,” said Joseph Sakran, a gunshot survivor who advocates for gun violence prevention and a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital. (WaPo)

                3. wendigo

                  Are you conflating assault rifles with assault weapons?

                  In some ways, it is hand waving to use the exact definition of assault rifle in arguments to dismiss the argument.

                  I mean, when do people defend child pornography by stating the pictures clearly show the kid has obtained puberty so even though 12 years old it is not child pornography.

                  But for now semi automatic weapons are legal and are never not going to be legal.

                  The question is when will fully automatic weapons become legal.

                  1. wendigo

                    I should be more precise. Automatic weapons are legal with a special license, when will they be legal for anyone.

                  2. flora

                    I believe fully automatic weapons should in most cases not be legal for the general public. As you note, they are not now legal for the general public without special background checks and special licenses difficult to get.

        2. marku52

          I don’t see why we can’t just legislate:
          “any firearm with a barrel longer than 8″ shall only have a non-detatchable magazine of no more than 5 rounds”

          Problem solved.

        3. cfraenkel

          The difference is one looks like what C.O.D. / Fortnite trained wanna be killers *think* a military gun looks like, and another looks like something your dad would take deer hunting.

          It’s all marketing, and your trying to turn it into a legalistic word smithing exercise just puts kids’ blood on your hands.

  32. Mikel

    “Stability Breeds Instability” Investor Amnesia.

    Whatever economic belief system subscribed to, the Investor Amnesia site has a way of putting things in perspective. And that may be comforting or not.

    “..Nevertheless, so ready are even the keen-witted men who work the great machine of our credit system to accept an artificial state of things as normal if it only lasts long enough, and to forget in a couple of years the mental habits of a lifetime…”

    I wonder if the writer from that time could imagine how much more artificial it would get?

  33. anon in so cal

    Col Douglas MacGregor:

    “Everything is about Bakhmut. It’s seems to be the most important and final battle of the war. After that Ukraine will collapse, ask for ceasefire and start negotiations as a best case scenario – worst case their army gets totally defeated in an humiliating way.”

    Also MacGregor:

    “”The Russian Sledgehammer is Falling in Ukraine”

    “I think the Russians are going to have to demonstrate conclusively that Ukraine’s position is hopeless.”

    “sweep out of southern Ukraine, sweep north and west, ending up across the river from Kiev…until that happens, this will drag on indefinitely”

  34. JTMcPhee

    About that facile explanation for the erratic acceleration behavior of Omuamua, that possibly interstellar visitor, maybe the “asteroid fart” theory has a bunch of holes in it? The Angry Astronaut thinks so, with some authority,,. But then in this stupidest and most disingenuous of all time lines, where the organs of state security, financial strictures, science researchers and government oracles all coalesce to ensure that nothing the American public believes is actually true. And so many of us are fully trained to Pooh-Pooh anything the Narrative tells us to…

  35. viscaelpaviscaelvi

    In my conversations with friends about the Ukraine war, I often refer the RUSI report on industrial warfare. I reckon that it is not going to be the same with this one.
    Opening words: “RUSSIA’S FULL-SCALE INVASION of Ukraine on 24 February 2022…”.
    At that point, I stopped reading.

    1. Late Introvert

      No justice, no peace. Americans are going to have to start acting like the French or nothing will change.

      I don’t even like Trump at all, but lordy lordy, look at what our so-called leaders are doing. And no mention in the Paper of Record /s regarding Hunter’s laptop, or Hillary’s secret server. Demrats sure do fight dirty. Witness the SC crew voting against Donziger.

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