Links 5/11/2023

Alligator Mating Season is Underway in Florida—and Is Causing Havoc Field and Stream

Exploring a Middle Ordovician Burgess Shale-type fauna Ecology & Evolution (Sub-Boreal). Citizen science!

Warehouses Outperform in Cloudy Commercial Real Estate Environment Chief Investment Officer


Half of the western U.S. is out of drought, but not fully recovered Colorado Sun

Extreme rainfall is taking a toll on China’s rice crops, and it could get much worse Channel News Asia

Devastating wildfires engulf southern Russia, claiming lives and property The Watchers

Fine young cannibals: locust study could lead to better pest control Guardian


COVID-19 Is No Longer an Official Emergency. Is That the Right Call? The Brink, Boston University (MR).

COVID-19 Surveillance After Expiration of the Public Health Emergency Declaration ― United States, May 11, 2023 CDC. “COVID-19 is an ongoing public health problem that will be monitored with sustainable data sources to guide prevention efforts.” “Sustainable”? What does that even mean?

As public health emergency ends, pandemic-era support programs have already been fading away AP

As COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates End, a Slim Majority of Americans Still Supports Most of Them Morning Consult. Handy chart:

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A Novel Bat Coronavirus with a Polybasic Furin-like Cleavage Site Virologica Sinica. N = 112. From the Abstract: “Bats are recognized as one of the most potential natural hosts of SARS-CoV-2… Here, we performed a degenerate primer screening and next-generation sequencing analysis of 112 bats, collected from Hainan Province, China. Three coronaviruses, namely bat betacoronavirus (Bat CoV) CD35, Bat CoV CD36 and bat alphacoronavirus CD30 were identified…. Notably, Bat CoV CD35 harbored a canonical furin-like S1/S2 cleavage site that resembles the corresponding sites of SARS-CoV-2. The furin cleavage sites between CD35 and CD36 are identical…. In conclusion, this study deepens our understanding of the diversity of coronaviruses and provides clues about the natural origin of the furin cleavage site of SARS-CoV-2.” Big if true.

* * *

The Epidemiology of Long Coronavirus Disease in US Adults Clinical Infectious Diseases. From the Abstract: “We conducted a population-representative survey, 30 June–2 July 2022, of a random sample of 3042 US adults aged 18 years or older and weighted to the 2020 US population. Using questions developed by the UK’s Office of National Statistics, we estimated the prevalence of long COVID, by sociodemographics, adjusting for gender and age…. An estimated 7.3% (95% confidence interval: 6.1–8.5%) of all respondents reported long COVID, corresponding to approximately 18 828 696 adults. One-quarter (25.3% [18.2–32.4%]) of respondents with long COVID reported their day-to-day activities were impacted “a lot” and 28.9% had severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection more than 12 months ago. …


How China’s farmland-reclamation campaign is driving aggressive crop expansions and land-use crackdowns South China Morning Post

China deepens ties in Latin America with Ecuador free trade agreement FT

Capitalism with Chinese characteristics:

The whole thread is worth reading in full. AMC = Asset management company.

In Depth: Local Governments Struggle to Get On Top of Their Hidden Debt Caixin

China’s CPI up 0.1 pct in April Xinhua


ASEAN will not give up on Myanmar peace despite no progress – minister Reuters. The barrier to “peace” and “progress” is the very existence of the junta; which neither ASEAN not the “humanitarian” NGOs will or can admit. Cf. Jer 6:14-15.

Myanmar’s Military Is No Longer in Effective Control of the Country The Diplomat


Gautam Adani retreats after short-seller attack FT

Why India Should Be Worried About Chinese Army’s Plans to Recruit Nepali Gorkhas The Wire


Protesters are turning on Pakistan’s military after Imran Khan’s arrest. Here’s what you need to know CNN . Hmm:

And the nukes?

Syria’s Assad receives Saudi invitation to Arab summit Agence France Presse

European Disunion

French gastronomy facing logistical challenge for 2024 Paris Olympics France24

Dear Old Blighty

School-leavers could join NHS via apprenticeships in plan to fix staff shortages Guardian. Nurses and doctors. Why go to college? Why go to night school?

New Not-So-Cold War

Putin tells WWII event West is waging a ‘real war’ on Russia AP

Rebuilding Ukraine depends on luring private money Reuters

Ukraine’s Big Mistake Consortium News

South of the Border

News from Mexico Harpers

Biden Administration

Pondering Armageddon: What Happens If The US Defaults? Heisenberg Report. This is the stupidest timeline….

Here are the 13 counts New York Rep. George Santos faces AP

U.S. Senators Revive Bid to Form Covid-19 Commission WSJ. “President Biden’s administration didn’t support the national task force, people familiar with the matter said.” I’ll bet.

B-a-a-a-a-d Banks

Banks Are Blowing Up While the Economy is Strong. Time to Worry? The Overshoot. The deck: “There is a fundamental difference between failures attributable to credit losses and failures attributable to interest rate mismatches.” As Yves has been saying!

First Citizens makes huge gain on Silicon Valley Bank deal FT

Digital Watch

How Saudi money returned to Silicon Valley Vox

SoftBank Vision funds post record $39bn annual loss FT

* * *

Everything Google Announced About AI, Bard, and PaLM 2 at I/O 2023 Gizmodo. The future of search:

So now “search results” means a paragraph of bullshit, instead of something I can check? This really is taking putative PMC authority to new heights! Of course, the beauty part of all this is that Google hoovered up the Intertubes for its training sets — theft of intellectual property on a breathtaking scale — and gives nothing back to those who created the content it stole. No more links! (And don’t try to tell me about the little images at right; that looks like existing Google machinery, which is also crap, besides being an inefficient use of space put beside a simple list of links.) Whatever this is, it’s not search. Except for profits, of course.

ChatGPT in medical literature – a concise review and SWOT analysis (preprint) medRxiv. From the Abstract: “Strengths of ChatGPT include well-formulated expression as well as the ability to formulate general contexts flawlessly and comprehensibly [i.e., bullshit], whereas the time-limited scope as well as the need for correction by experts [e.g., fabricated citations] were identified as weaknesses and threats. Opportunities include assistance in formulating medical issues for non-native speakers as well as the chance to be involved in the development of such AI in a timely manner [ka-ching*].” NOTE * Rarely does one see, even in a pre-print, material as openly careerist and craven as this, good job.

Artist sues AI generators for allegedly using work to train image bots: ‘industrial-level identity theft’ FOX. More like this, please. Plenty of deep pockets in Silicon Valley.

The Computer Scientist Peering Inside AI’s Black Boxes Quanta. At some point, I need to put on my yellow waders and look at the Biden Administration’s AI policies, but I would bet there’s nothing anywhere close to making proprietary algorithms transparent, let alone data.

The Bezzle

This should make Yves happy:

Our Famously Free Press

Facebook Censoring the Racket Report on Censorship? Matt Taibbi, Racket News. On grounds of hate speech. For a rather… capacious definition of hate incidents, and how to report them, see here.

Father-Son Duo in Alabama Wins Pulitzer, Bucking Headwinds in Local News NYT (Furzy Mouse).


Health Insurance Claim Denied? See What Insurers Said Behind the Scenes Pro Publica. “Learn how to request your health insurance claim file, which can include details about what your insurer is saying about you and your case.” News you can use!

Small vulnerable newborns (series) The Lancet. “The fact that every fourth baby in the world is born too soon or born too small is a concern for human rights, public health, the national economy, and development. By not addressing this priority, we are jeopardising our collective future. We can reverse this trajectory, if national leaders, with global partners, prioritise action, and invest and hold themselves accountable.”

Feral Hog Watch

In Graphic Detail: Pigs in the City Hakai

Zeitgeist Watch

The Case Against (Most) Books Richard Hanania’s Newsletter

Realignment and Legitimacy

Chi Alpha Campus Ministries in Texas Platformed Convicted Sex Offender for Decades Roys Report. This keeps happening, regardless of denomination.

Guillotine Watch

Manhattanites bring their private school blood sport to Miami FT

Class Warfare

ALEC’s State Ratings Favor Corporate Policy Wish-List Over Quality of Life Center for Media and Democracy

Soap application alters mosquito-host interactions Cell. N = 4. From the Discussion: “[B]enzyl benzoate (an organic compound found in the scent of flowers and commonly used to treat scabies and lice), γ-nonalactone (a component of watermelon’s scent and identified as a key compound of the aroma of American Bourbon), and benzaldehyde (an aromatic aldehyde commonly found in plants with a characteristic almond-like odor) were the most abundant compounds and most strongly associated with the Native [brand] soap (i.e., soap that induced the lowest [mosquito] preference indices.” So I guess we can look at the labels? The Gizmodo popularization of the Cell article says it’s a “a coconut-scented chemical” that repels the mosquitos, but I can’t find that in the text. Readers?

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

Look for the helpers!

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. griffen

    Clearly those turtles are lacking a business degree or the credentials for thriving in modern America. Hey man, in life it’s every turtle for yourself!

    Or in terms of politics.
    Republicans. That turtle just needs to bootstrap itself, to get right side up. Clearly it’s your fault.
    Democrats. Every turtle should have “access” to proper care; maybe that turtle can access the exchange and possibly get assistance.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Cooperation is not the only reason why we survived our evolution in spite of having no fangs, claws and venom but the reason that we became the apex predator. Though remarkably easy to kill individually, when we cooperated we not only survived but thrived as a species. Homo economicus is a doomed dead end but the turtles at least know what works..

    2. Jehr

      Should be JEHR

      Did you know that indigenous peoples call North America “turtle island?” The twelve sectors of the turtle’s shell refer to the 12 months of the year also.

  2. upstater

    Railway Safety Act advances out of committee (second update) Trains magazine

    >Train-length provision, deadline for DOT-111 tank cars removed in revised bill, but ail industry groups still express reservations

    Lobbyists won big, nothing about train length or make up, ECP braking, on board sensors for bearing failures. In other words, mostly business as usual with minor, marginal improvements in safety practices.

  3. Steve H.

    > The Gizmodo popularization of the Cell article says it’s a “a coconut-scented chemical” that repels the mosquitos, but I can’t find that in the text. Readers?

    >> Saturated lactones, δ-octalactone, γ-nonalactone, γ-undecalactone, γ-dodecalactone and δ-dodecalactone, were also identified in the coconut aroma produced during the induction period (12 d).

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Private schools–

    Here’s a little secret about “highly selective” private schools. The “highly selective” part for kindergartners is a lot more about the social status of the parents than intellectual ability. How could it be otherwise with children so young? These schools have a cohort of kids that attend from K or pre-school through graduation, but they’re rich kids who are nothing special on average when it comes to test scores or academic skills.

    Schools like the Big Three in Chicago–the University of Chicago Lab School, the Latin School and Frances Parker– increase their class size by a third or a half for the 9th grade class. These three schools use a common test, at least they did in the 90s, and they compete for the top scorers with full scholarships. These are the kids who max out on test scores and college admissions,.. The kids who began in kindergarten benefit in college admissions by having attended such a “competitive school” with such high test score means. With some help from legacy connections, some of the rich long-termers might even make the Ivies if the school needs, for example, a new swimming pool.

    1. griffen

      Better for that dynamic to happen in a location like south Florida, already filled with highly important individuals who wish to live quietly and would not flaunt their wealth and status. \sarc

      No seriously, Ken Griffin of Citadel (one example) made big headlines upon leaving Chicago for Miami. I’m sure his cadre of hedge fund wizards were happily following his lead, and thus the competition for academy slots is just possibly beginning. And as for finding more land in South Florida, the basic reason the place exists is that land was created just barely existing above a swamp.

  5. Greenebj

    > Gizmodo: agree that this new AI crap might suck, it looks like the are links luckily:

    “Users can click to expand that view, where each line of text gets its own set of links exploring the topic in greater detail. The company said this can act as a “jumping off point” for users and their searches while still giving them access to official sources as well as users’ blogs.”

  6. zagonostra

    >Ukraine’s Big Mistake -Consortium News

    …there were the criminal networks that had always operated within Soviet society, but that now found their prospects multiplied. In the last years of the U.S.S.R., the rule of law became weak or non-existent. This created huge opportunities not just for theft and fraud, but also for criminal stand-over men. If you were a business operator and needed a contract enforced, the way you did it was by hiring a group of “young men with thick necks.” This criminal activity produced nothing, and stifled productive investment. But it … gave a start to more than a few post-Soviet business empires.

    Tell me if that reminds you of another country?

    By now everyone has seen the recent CNN clip of “townhall” of Trump responding to question of whether he wants “Ukraine to win” and his skillful answer. When the questioner was trying to frame the topic as win/lose, Trump answered he just wanted the killing to stop. If Ukraine made a “big mistake” it was in aligning itself with the corrupt Dem/DNC security state protected oligarchs.

    1. Screwball

      My PMC friends are so outraged at CNN they are going to turn it off. They might actually become smarter for doing so. Ah, probably not, MSNBC will become the go to propaganda site.

      Related to 2024; I thought the coverage of the House Committee findings of the Biden family corruption was pretty slim. Not much coverage anywhere. I haven’t read the report, but is this just another nothingburger, or has it become a rule nobody’s allowed to talk about the Biden corruption?

      I thought it would be big news but apparently not. Sure seems like some things aren’t right with all that money moving around.

  7. Carla

    Re: COVID — I just sent a letter composed by the People’s CDC to my Senators. The letter states that Medicare should track hospital acquired COVID and prevent it by requiring masks. If you want to send it too, here’s the link:

    There was a good tip in the instructions for sending the form letter: make minor changes to the subject line to avoid having it flagged and discarded as spam.

    I always change the text of these form letters somewhat, but of course it makes sense that the subject line is a red flag.

    1. Lee

      In other Covid news, KQED Forum, a morning talk and and call-in radio program at out local NPR station, recently addressed the question, What Did We Get Right With the Pandemic?


      Jennifer Nuzzo , Professor Epidemiology, and Director, Pandemic Center, Brown University School of Public Health

      Dhruv Khullar, Physician and assistant professor of Health Policy and Economics, Weill Cornell Medical College – Khullar is also a contributor at The New Yorker. His most recent New Yorker article is titled “Ending the Covid Public Health Emergency Isn’t All Good News” (54 minutes)

      Funnily enough, much of the commentary by the the guest experts and those who called in addressed what we got wrong and what we are still getting wrong and challenged the current official narrative. For just one of many examples, the first caller adamantly supported the continued use of masks.

  8. KLG

    Regarding Hanania, yes, we have all read books that weren’t worth the effort, but that is also why it is possible to close a book and never touch it again, except to sell it for $2 at the used book store. But Steven Pinker, the author of this, is his exemplar who makes (some) books worth sitting in your chair for hours? Whatever floats your boat…And I cannot believe I missed the Mark Zuckerberg Book Club!

      1. Craig H.

        Since he refers to Sam Bankman-Fried as “great moral leader” in the first paragraph I’m pretty sure (p~.9) that the article is satire. Nevertheless this sentiment can easily be found.

        I just started reading Kennedy’s Fauci book. The margins on the pages are about a quarter of an inch and the print is small font single spaced which minimizes production costs but no human who wants the book to actually be read could have approved the design of it. I bought it two months ago and it has sat on my to-read stack all this time because I groaned when it was first delivered and I opened it up and looked inside.

        My eyes can only stand to absorb around 15 pages of it at a go but it is a tour-de-force. The man has no judgement on the issue of books but his arguments on the topic are strong and straight.

        I downloaded it off libgen and it looks much better on a computer screen. If your book looks better on a computer screen than the bound copy I can only wonder what must be going through your mind.

    1. tevhatch

      “…and I have trust in his judgment and intellect.” I bet the blogger is a proud owner of a Clinton 2016 yard sign, and a “Yes We Can” bumper sticker.

    2. pretzelattack

      wait violence is declining? well I’m certainly glad to learn that the US Leviathan is making the world safe for everyone!

      1. pretzelattack

        I did a little background reading on Hanania and Pinker, and I’m not quite sure how Hanania squares the premise of his book on foreign policy–that is it better explained as a result of competition/cooperation among interest groups–and Pinker’s assertion that the state monopoly on violence (Leviathan) is one of the factors that have exponentially reduced violence in modern times, but I know little about public choice theory, which sounds like the misbegotten offspring of economics and political science.

        1. A

          Public choice theory is the brainchild of James M. Buchanan (Jr.), a Koch-funded economist who got his university chair thanks to their generosity, and a pseudo-Nobel to boot! You can read all about him in Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains. He gives intellectual respectability to the Koch’s libertarian philosophy.

          As NC readers know, you can expect the truth from economists as often as you would from your opponents in a poker game. Bluffing and lying is all part of the deal.

    3. Bosko

      There are plenty of takedowns of Steven Pinker to be found online, and at some point it starts to seem like shooting fish in the barrel. I guess he appeals to contrarian-types. For the claim that the modern world is “less violent” than it has been in the past, Pinker cites data that claims fewer people die in wars. If you dig into this claim, you will find a) that one of the reasons fewer people die in wars is that many of them have their lives saved by advanced battlefield for victims of trauma; fewer dead, but more disabled, maimed, cognitively impaired, etc; and b) Pinker doesn’t count civil wars as “wars” in his calculation, which is rather suss.

      With respect to Hanna’s general point… well, here in the US, there is certainly no shortage of people complaining that books are too long and people take too long to say what they want to say and any book-length idea must be pruned into a sentence or two at most.

    4. Detroit Dan

      I liked the Hanania piece. It fits what I do (read and follow links on the Internet), although I do listen to books on Audible. In my experience, Hanania is right. When listening to an Audible book, my mind often wanders and then I sometimes think that it doesn’t make a big difference since my goal is just to finish the book. The best results come from following up on the Internet when I get home, chasing facts and concepts from the book until I get better context and understanding.

      And the comments about the great old books ring true also. Clearly, Hanania appreciates history and he acknowledges the value of knowing the classics in that sense. So it’s not like his essay is over the top. And obviously he was joking about Sam Bankman-Fried being a great moral leader.

      For the record, I also am a fan of Stephen Pinker. His book “The Blank Slate” was insightful and worth reading in full. Pinker has also had some interesting things to say about language.

    5. semper loquitur

      I was cruising through it thinking “Oh, this guy is just some a$$hole.” and then I bumped into the Steve Pinker bit at speed and that notion was confirmed. It tells you a lot about someone when they find Pinker “a pleasure to read” and that they “have trust in his judgment and intellect.” And it doesn’t take long for the Pinker-Think to show up:

      “If old thinkers do have insights, the same points have likely been made more recently and better by others who have had the advantage of coming after them.”

      Right, cause Progress© just keeps on piling up as time goes by; our thoughts grow clearer, our science purer, our morals higher. Informed by new voices that have set aside the leaden mutterings of by-gone days, books too painful to read and old white men too uncool to bear, we are shedding the verbiage-laden shackles of the past for the clear skies, verdant fields, and free pep talks of a Pinkertonian Utopia:

      Just the thing if you haven’t had a solid meal in days. But enough about Pinker and his wanna-be Einstein hair-do. Hanania has plenty of dumb things to say too. The author of this waste of pixels seems to be confusing the publish or perish rat race of modern academia with some kind of lens through which to critique all of letters. That’s a condemnation of academe, not long form writing.

      And sure, there are a lot of bad, inflated books out there. But isn’t that part of the brave new world he sees crystallizing all around him? More bad books = more people writing, more literacy. Not everyone can write like a Pinker, you know.

      Then this nugget of gold for a finish:

      “but since a major point of this article is that intellectuals tend to go on for too long, I’ll stop here”

      Holy Hannah, the comedy writes itself. He should have stopped after the first paragraph, if his claim above is correct. Per his vision of the craft of writing, one paragraph should have been enough to summarize his idolatry of ignorance and smug dearth of imagination.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Why India Should Be Worried About Chinese Army’s Plans to Recruit Nepali Gorkhas”

    An interesting development. The British thought so highly of the Gurkhas that when they left India, they split the Gurkha battalions between themselves and the Indian Army and I believe that there are still two battalions of Gurkhas in the British Army today. During the Falklands war I was in Germany and when some friends saw pictures of them in newspapers with their baggy shorts, they were much amused until I told them who they were. I read one account of a fight between a large number of British soldiers in a bar in the 80s where there was a table of Gurkhas sitting around. When one soldier was asked why they were not getting stuck into or were being disturbed, the person was told that fighting was fun but nobody was going to take them on as they would end up on a meat tray in Sainsburys the next day.

  10. CallMeTeach

    “The Case Against (Most) Books”… I have so many thoughts on this, the vast majority unfit for a family blog. The author (I really loathe giving him that designation.) is the poster child for everything I railed about when I was told to teach a curriculum that subscribes to his way of thinking. His fundamental lack of understanding about the place of books–great or otherwise–shows how vapid, shallow, and incapable of critical thought many of Hanania’s ilk are. To wit: he begins by saying that SBF is right. Anyone who believes SBF is a role model cannot be rational and his arguments summarily dismissed.

    1. SocalJimObjects

      I actually thought he was writing some kind of parody. So many gems there like this one:
      “It’s like how one reason to read the NYT is that everyone else is reading it. So not only do you get the value of the news itself, but also insights into what’s considered culturally and socially important.”

      1. Diogenes

        If you do read it as parody, it’s actually pretty good.

        “I’m not mad at people who want to read old books. The problem is that I get the sense from some of them that they think they gain more wisdom than others by doing so.”


    2. Carolinian

      I agree that the author comes across as some college student spouting off during a dorm bull session but I don’t necessarily disagree with his attack on Academia’s reverence for the old and for Philosophy in particular. Is Plato really the be all end all of human thought or someone constrained by the very limited knowledge horizon of his time? The truth is our materialistic era is very much at odds with the speculative thought of past generations where religion–whatever it may have been–played such a central role.

      However where the author seems silly and immature is the failure to understand that while science has changed and come to dominate our lives, humans have not changed or at least not very much. And on this level long centuries of experience may matter more than modern fadish speculations about human behavior that are themselves a kind of religion. Thus you have someone like SBF who is science smart but ethically idiotic.

      “Books” are not an active thing but mere containers of knowledge that we, with out own minds and experience, can make use of. A failure to read therefore is not so much a defensible position as evidence of a profound lack of curiosity–the thing that gave us all that science not to mention civilization itself.

      1. chris

        “Is Plato really the be all end all of human thought or someone constrained by the very limited knowledge horizon of his time?” The beauty (what is beauty?) of Plato is in his posing fundamental questions, a kind of laying down (some of) the foundations of philosophical inquiry.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          And that’s arguably easier without all the clutter of modernity rattling around your head. The question remains whether Plato had all the bases covered from our perspective, going to Carolinian’s point about the “limited knowledge horizon.”

      2. semper loquitur

        “Is Plato really the be all end all of human thought or someone constrained by the very limited knowledge horizon of his time?”

        That’s a fascinating philosophical, not to mention historical, question. One of the tricky things about philosophy is that when you question it’s value, you are doing it. Philosophy is inescapable. It’s hard-wired into our reflective consciousness. You considering yourself is it’s elemental framing through which all other questions flow.

      3. Kouros

        Gore Vidal has provided a fictionalized answer to this in his novel “Creation”, where the main character is a grandson of Zoroaster, who travels in his time to India (Buddha), China (Confucius), and ends up an old and blind man in Athens (Socrates) and provides some delightful comparative analysis on the ideas emerging from this axial age… It is really worth a read.

        1. witters

          It is worth a read and more. I read it every five years. Up to number seven next year. Almost as many as The Long Goodbye.

      4. Roland

        During the first year of the pandemic, I began re-reading my library of Roman and Greek classics. I think they still form a very good basis for political education.

        I’m finally getting around to what I enjoy least: philosophy and drama. I’ll blame these dislikes on the bad memories I have of some over-rushed undergraduate courses, and the pressure I was under at that time to keep my scholarship funding.

        I used to hate Plato, but reading the Phaedo again, after over thirty years, has changed my mind. The Symposium used to exasperate me, but now I find it impressive. However, I still can only read the Republic if I begin randomly somewhere in the middle.

    3. Wukchumni

      Anything by Robert Caro is certainly more than a modest proposal not to mention Michener when it comes to being a burden, er book.

  11. Jeff Stantz

    Glad to see the Roys Report featured here. She is doing great work to help rebuild the Church. I am Franciscan and I am doing my best to bring us back to living the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi and stop the apologists who are teaching people it is possible to live a secular Franciscan life, a life that directly opposes St. Francis’s teaching. I feel it is because we allowed this materialism to creep into the Church it opened the door for all the abuse as well.

    The Rule of St. Francis is simple to understand but difficult to practice:

    “The rule and life of the Minor Brothers is this, namely, to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without property and in chastity.”

  12. Geo

    Google: “taking putative PMC authority to new heights!”

    The newest modification to their UI of adding “search suggestion boxes” is bad enough. Not only is it assuming I don’t know what I am searching for it offers an endless array of vapid self-help and opinion pieces in the suggestions. Their search is abhorrent anymore. This new AI monstrosity they’re offering up looks to be the end of any usefulness for anyone with an iota of interest in actual research and only seems useful for those who prefer hearsay and grocery store magazine racks for their info sources.

  13. Wukchumni

    News from Mexico Harpers
    One thing always missed in the summation of blaming everything on NAFTA is the plummeting of the Peso from around 1980 to 1993, going from 12.5 to the $, to 3,300 Pesos to the $, before the New Peso (1,000 of the old = 1 of the new) was introduced the year before NAFTA.

    So, they wiped the financial slate clean after a dozen years of hyperinflation which reduced the value of a Peso against the Dollar to 1/264th of it’s previous value, yikes!

    Sometime in our future as inflation rages (er, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet) we’ll run into the same issue that forced many a Mexican to come here, in that no way-no how did local wages keep up with the burgeoning cost of everything in Peso terms, thus the remittance economy-which didn’t really exist before hyperinflation came calling, and still persists today.

    In exchange rate terms it is about 17.5 Pesos to the $ now, and that equals 17,500 old Pesos, and to give you an idea of how the Peso has fared against the almighty buck over the last century or so, in 1910 a Peso was equal to a Dollar.

    Now, where exactly would Americans go, if our currency came a cropper and we had to go somewhere else to eke out a living, while sending back much of our pay to keep a family going back in the states?

    1. ChrisFromGA


      Though I suspect, “take off, you hosers, eh!” would be the welcome committee response.

    2. Procopius

      Ever since I downloaded and viewed The Treasure of the Sierra Madres, I’ve realized that during the Great Depression Americans were going to Mexico looking for work. I’m thinking that in a couple of decades that might happen again.

    3. Adam Eran

      JFYI, Mexican real, median income declined 34% in the wake of NAFTA (says Ravi Batra’s Greenspan’s Fraud). That’s about the decline the U.S. experienced in the Great Depression.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Syria’s Assad receives Saudi invitation to Arab summit ”

    As the boys at The Duran said, this signals the official end of the Syrian war as far as this part of the world is concerned. Well, maybe not Qatar but they always did support the terrorists. But what this means that all those US soldiers sitting on Syrian land are now seen as occupying Arabic land which is a whole new kettle of fish. It will leave them there sitting like a shag on a rock.

  15. jefemt

    A I, Bryce, Arches, toddlers and a dog…

    Anyone who has travelled to Ute-ahhh and done the parks and monuments knows that dogs are not well received, for their own good– heat, cars laden with goodies hence locked. Leave rover at home.

    AI missed that common thread —omitted completely– significantly.

    “We” are running ahead with AI, as fast as our monetizing little hearts, minds, and wallets will allow.

    There was an informative, telling, chilling (in my mind anyway) deeper interview on Amanpour a couple of nights ago…

    “… if humans survive, and are not replaced with super computers in a a couple hundred years…”

    Singularity? Singularly sad…

    The list of Existential Threats is formidable!

    Put in the key, start the motor, turn off the brain, turn on the gizmo, put the vehicle in Drive to head to Oblivion.

  16. Geo

    “At some point, I need to put on my yellow waders and look at the Biden Administration’s AI policies, but I would bet there’s nothing anywhere close to making proprietary algorithms transparent, let alone data.”

    Kamala is on it: “I shared today with CEOs of companies at the forefront of American AI innovation, the private sector has an ethical, moral, and legal responsibility to ensure the safety and security of their products. And every company must comply with existing laws to protect the American people. I look forward to the follow through and follow up in the weeks to come.”

    There’s so much to unpack from this my brain doesn’t know where to begin. Ethical and moral?corporations? Maybe someone should explain to her fiduciary responsibilities of corporate entities and the Friedman Doctrine that seems to be the law of the land? I’m an art school dropout so my understanding of that stuff is about as deep as the side of a cereal box but… wow. Same old “stern talking to!” they gave the airlines, bankers, and anyone else who causes trouble but donates heavily.

    Anyway, I guess with the Keystone Cops on the case we should start making friends with our soon-to-be AI overlords.

      1. Geo

        And then I double posted. Sorry. All my griping about our tech deities has cursed my phone. :(

    1. semper loquitur

      “so my understanding of that stuff is about as deep as the side of a cereal box but”

      Stealing this.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I thought one of the long-time problems with neural network A.I. — besides training set design and selection — was the inherent opacity of the algorithm’s basic operation and the “learning” that resulted. I believe Bayesian network A.I.’s might be a little more easily understood. I believe their complexity is comparable to or a little more complex than understanding the operation of classic expert systems designs.

      I am ignorant of what great advances are driving the current A.I. mania and claims, and I have not taken a close look at the guts of A.I. design for a couple of decades. Some years ago, I concluded that A.I. was yet another effort by DARPA to stoke the development fires for their high-performance computing [HPC] initiatives. Are there some Earth-Shattering new advances that leave neural networks, Bayesian networks, and expert systems in their dust?

      The big problem of the earlier decades was language acquisition and understanding. The universal grammar approach seemed to grow mind-bogglingly unwieldy complexities while the statistical learning approaches seemed to arrive at tentative successes — largely the result of considerable brute force heuristic tweaking. Both approaches fell far short of my own desire for an understanding of the workings of human language acquisition and understanding. What resulted, feels like a brute force answer. It falls far far short of what I felt might be a pleasing — esthetic and fully satisfying — answer. It is like the computer proof of the four-color problem.

      I believe that present A.I. efforts have become directed to goals other than understanding learning processes or genuine efforts to understand the nature of Intelligence.

  17. Jabura Basaidai

    Thank you Lambert and Yves – each morning after reading the different stories of interest and the links i go outside and plant things and look at dirt and prune and watch a stream – that handbag heading to Hades is always full – bless my luck of birth and circumstance every day – and outside now to commune with a compost pile and 60 spruce transplants – the bonus antidote really worked for me today – thanks again for your island of sanity –

  18. anon in so cal

    >Yesterday, Alexander Mercouris criticized Prigozhin’s continuing, almost daily, video rants and suggested the RF needed to do something or would do something, and that P needs to be removed. New P rants today discussed RF retreats in a couple of crucial locations in the B area, such as the Chasiv Yar road. Apparently, W PMC then enters to try damage control. My understanding, based on several accounts, is that W and the RF forces in that area have had serious challenges coordinating their actions and communications, and there is apparently tension between the two groups. Today’s P rant leads me to think P, himself, resents what he may view as encroachment by RF forces.

    Britain has supplied Ukraine with long-range “Storm Shadow” cruise missiles and is purportedly discussing transfer of “nuclear weapons” to Ukraine.

    Borrell admitted the war could be over in the blink of any eye but the West does not want peace.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Rebuilding Ukraine depends on luring private money”

    It might be prudent to wait until the war is over to see what the Ukraine’s borders will look like and I think that you will find that the bulk of reconstruction will be on the Russian side of the border. But as this is merely an operation in graft that really does not matter. It is all about the flow of money into the Ukraine and who gets their own personal cuts both in the Ukraine and in the west.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Perhaps the Wall St banks can sell futures contracts on the rights to own parts of whatever remains of Ukraine.

      If a sucker gets stuck with the Donbas, and finds out the hard way that possession is 9/10ths of the law, at least the skimmers will have banked some coin off of it.

      No doubt Jamie Dimon would approve.

    2. digi_owl

      Meh, the contracts will have massive stipulations regarding that in favor of the companies vs USA and EU.

      Head, they win. Tails, we lose…

  20. Ed Green

    Does “soap that induced the lowest [mosquito] preference indices.” mean soap that mosquitoes like least?

  21. Screwball

    A little hospital story for those who might be interested. A buddy of mine has been fighting a swollen knee for about a month. Originally diagnosed as arthritis but kept getting worse. Finally he went to the emergency room at the local hospital.

    This hospital is a local small town hospital but affiliated with a large one in Toledo, Ohio called St. Vincent’s/Mercy (yes, I’ll name names). They found a blood clot in his leg. To make a long story short, they ran a “thing” up his veins and removed the clots. He had a picture – 2 pieces about 7 inches long – so about 15 inches of clot. Unreal! At least they got it and he is fine.

    Here’s the part that got me (other than the fact it took a month for them to figure this out). He called me to take him home as he couldn’t drive. No problem. So I go to the hospital. Right on the front door there was a large sign that said “masks required.” No problem, I brought mine.

    I entered through the emergency room as I was instructed because he was not far from there. The room was full of people – not a mask in sight – other than me. I proceeded to the basement where they told me to go. He was in a step down room with two nurses who were prepping him to leave – no masks on either. I sat there for about 20 minutes with mine on while they worked on him.

    We then left through the hallways, to the elevator, and though the emergency room and still not one person with a mask other than me. In a hospital.

    Once again thought – healthcare is an oxymoron.

    1. Daryl

      Really, feels odd when you encounter some vestige of covid-19 response at this point. Restaurants talking about how they sanitize tables. More often than not, low-paying businesses blaming covid for their mysterious staffing problems. That sort of thing. All theatre and mostly no longer practiced.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was at the post office in Visalia and they have these quite tall plexiglass ‘walls’ still at the counter, with plenty of room in the gaps for Covid to maneuver around, very much Cone of Silence stuff, chief.

      2. tegnost

        . More often than not, low-paying businesses blaming covid for their mysterious staffing problems

        Not to worry, there’s a bounty of asylum seekers chomping at the bit…little do they know it’s the insane asylum that they’re trying to get into….

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      …To make a long story short, they ran a “thing” up his veins and removed the clots. He had a picture – 2 pieces about 7 inches long – so about 15 inches of clot. Unreal!

      Hmmmm…..Seems to me I’ve heard about these long, stringy blood clots somewhere before. Can’t quite recall what’s supposedly causing them, but whatever it is, I’m pretty sure it’s misinformation.

      1. Screwball

        That’s exactly what they looked like.

        I wondered about that too, as did my other buddy who helped us. He had at least one Moderna I am sure about, and maybe one booster. He has never had issues before with any clotting. I’m not saying they had anything to do with this, as I am no doctor and don’t have all the data.

        The cynic in me thinks, IF, in fact that might have something to do with it, we will never know. Some things are just not allowed to be talked about or blamed.

        The doctor with the drill told him this was dicey. If part of the clot broke loose it could go to his heart and it would be all over. They did put in a filter that will supposedly keep any residual clots from doing so. This will be taken out at a later date.

        He’s feels pretty lucky today, and I don’t blame him.

        1. kareninca

          I wonder if he could find a doctor who would be willing to discuss nattokinase or nattoserra with him. I surely wouldn’t take it without a medical okay in his position, but maybe he could find out if a doctor thinks it would be okay.

  22. digi_owl

    Orney gators, trigger happy neighbors, snakes, hurricanes and floods, hedge fund families, i really can’t see what is so attractive about Florida given all that (and more).

    1. Wukchumni

      Did some mountain climbing in the Florida Alps, and you want to slowly adjust to the altitude changes by having a base camp and 5 or 6 more camps along the way to the summit, in order to acclimate.

  23. Katniss Everdeen

    So, interesting covid “discovery” highlighted on Rising yesterday.

    It seems that, in May, 2020, actual scientists at Stanford invented a test to determine whether “asymptomatic” covid “superspreaders,” as identified by the grossly misused PCR test and on whom fauci’s theory of the covid “pandemic” heavily depended, were actually infectious, or had actively replicating, disease producing virus present.

    Turns out not anywhere near what “we” were led to believe.

    Unsurprisingly, the fda, cdc, and niaid knew all about it but declined to implement this important biological test, preferring instead to make “policy” based on their speculative, GIGO mathematical “models.”

    So now that “we” are becoming more heavily invested in the narrative of “long covid” by the day I’d ask again, “Exactly what are the parameters for definitively determining that a person actually “had covid” in the first place?”

  24. Jason Boxman

    On “search”, Microsoft now includes ChatGPT-based search results, but to access it you must install Microsoft’s Edge browser, which you’re redirected to if you try to use chat search without Edge! But it’s bulls**t because if you fake your user agent to Edge, you can still use it. Confirmed on Safari on OS X.

    The search results do include links, but because it’s Bing Search, the results are absolutely garbage. So it’s Bing, but slower, because the AI results take much longer to generate (you watch while it fills out the chat box, slowly).

    In any case, I had the same thought; How is this useful at all? I type a query and get back human readable text that’s mostly useless. How does this help in any way?

    This really is the stupidest timeline.

      1. flora

        Adding: for a 16 minute sum up of UK Post Office – Fujitsu scandal you can search on Rumble for an episode, title below, where the first 16 minutes are about this disaster. It’s jaw dropping, and at the same time unsurprising. The second half of the talk is about an entirely different topic. So click off after the first 16 minutes.

        title on Rumble.
        Andrew Bridgen: The Decline of the Empire – Political Landscaping

    1. Jeff W

      “I type a query and get back human readable text that’s mostly useless.”

      My issue about it is that, even if the text were some entirely accurate distillation of some information online, it’s not what I want from search. I don’t want some large language model’s CliffsNotes® version of whatever it thinks—or, rather, “thinks”—I’m looking for. I want, amazing as it might seem, links to relevant sources so I can read what people have to say in the original context and be able to assess it and, possibly, link to it.

  25. Jason Boxman

    So our “COVID-19 Variant Dashboard – USA” update for today. XBB1.16.* is up to 14% collectively. XBB1.9.* is up to 13% collectively.

    Enjoy your completed Pandemic, which is obviously over now.

  26. rusell1200

    “Ukraine’s Big Mistake”

    The Peace of Westphalia is pretty well known . Being the necessary agreement of the monotheistic religions to stop killing each other over hair splitting differences.

    But for the English speaking world, the English Civil War, Cromwell’s Dictatorship, and then the Restoration are also pretty important. Coming ~100 years ahead of the American Revolution, it was what brought on the general sense that government should be more than just about the people in charge.

    Various other places seemed to have picked up the notion through their own experiences, osmosis, or whatever. But the States that came about after the fall of the Soviet Union seemed to have had a particularly bad time relearning this. Obviously, the Soviets themselves understood this – it was a major part of their ideology.

    So when the article starts off with Capitalism being the fault, you just wonder. Certainly Capitalism can turn into cronyism pretty quickly. But what system can’t? Brad DeLong did a study way back that showed that municipalities that did best in the Renaissance were those where the power of the local prince had been reduced.

    So my point would be that a Rule of Law accountable to the general public is the primary ingredient to success in any system.

    1. JBird4049

      >>>So my point would be that a Rule of Law accountable to the general public is the primary ingredient to success in any system.

      This should be emphasized. Even when the laws give different legal standards for different classes, so long as they are applied consistently and openly, with prosecutions and punishments giving to everyone, the public will usually accept this. In different past societies, different levels of accountability and punishments were often the norm. In the European past, harsher punishments were imposed on the lower classes, but were accepted so long as the rules applied equally to everyone. It is usually when the elites escape all punishments from any misdeeds and/or the punishments were completely divorced from any proportionality or fairness that trouble happened. England’s Bloody Code or IIRC, the Russian Empire’s own harsh punishments slightly later historically although Parliament was responsible for the Code at the behest of the business class.

      Steven Pinker is an ass, but his theory’s use of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan looks to be good to me: essentially, it’s I have the soldiers, the knights, the cannon, I will maintain the King’s Peace and you will obey or suffer the horrible consequences, but I will also impose the law on everyone, more or less, and anyone I catch breaking those laws, which include those on murder, rape, and theft, will also suffer the horrible consequences. Come to me and my courts. Depend on my system. Remember, it is not just a strongman’s rule, but any system of government that this can be applied.

      The rates of murder, of violence, in the European past makes the current American ones look like nothing. The English were heavily armed and willing to use their weapons to settle any perceived injustice. A sword or a large knife tends to be more deadly than a gun. We are talking about humungous meat cleavers capable of gutting a person, splitting a skull, or taking off a limb. The relatively small holes of a handgun or even many rifles inflict less damage. However, over centuries, the population became less violent, or at least less murderous across Europe. We can suggest that it was the control of the central government, but I would say that much of it was the population domesticating themselves because they put their faith in the government.

      If you want to see what happens when the government becomes too weak, incompetent, or mistrusted, just look at some American cities. These communities want the police because they are not safe, which is one of the reason that the slogan “defund the police” is a bad one, but the police are often a reason why they are not safe. If you cannot trust the police to protect you and the justice system to give any justice, just what can you do? The community is trapped between violence in the community especially by gangs and the police’s own violence and corruption. People don’t use swords anymore, but guns are readily available. Just who protects us, the average, common person in this world, today?

      W. B. Yeats poem The Second Coming especially the first half does describes what happens well:

      Turning and turning in the widening gyre
      The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
      Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
      Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
      The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
      The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
      The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity.

      Surely some revelation is at hand;
      Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
      The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
      When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
      Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
      A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
      A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
      Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
      Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
      The darkness drops again; but now I know
      That twenty centuries of stony sleep
      Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
      And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
      Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?/blockquote>

      1. Kouros

        Which Europe are you talking about. I was reading years ago the memories of a German traveler who was impressed that while the market days in German towns in Transylvania always led to much crime, including homicides, that was not the case in Romanian communities/towns market days…

        1. JBird4049

          Primarily England, IIRC more violent than the rest of Europe, and what I remember about France and Germany, from 1100-1700s.

  27. Maxwell Johnston

    “Ukraine’s Big Mistake”

    This is an excellent summary of the post-Soviet economic history of UKR (and RU). I would add a few points.

    UKR was part of our sales territory when I was working in Moscow in the 90s. My RU colleagues had a high opinion of UKR technology and economic prospects in general and often urged me to pay more attention to our sales efforts there. I duly traveled there for the first time in early 93 (to Dnepropetrovsk/Dnipro, partly to visit the Yuzhmash plant). Even then, I was stunned by how backward everything seemed compared to RU. The locals were delighted to accept my rubles as payment for goods and services; I never had to spend any cash dollars during my trip, because for them the ruble was so much more valuable than their UKR currency. In retrospect, I think my RU colleagues were wrong about UKR’s alleged prosperity: in reality, UKR had been enjoying massive subsidies from RU throughout the Soviet era (as were the other Soviet republics, but UKR was an extreme example). Once the subsidies stopped, its economy imploded.

    UKR had two other big disadvantages vs RU. First, RU had vast natural resources that UKR simply lacked, and these provided a cushion that enabled deeper structural reforms to be carried out there. Second, Putin’s arrival in 1999/2000 ended the oligarchs’ wild feeding frenzy and the neoliberal shock therapy consensus that had led to disaster in 1998. UKR’s economy is an example of what RU might have become without natural resources and without the oligarchs and neoliberals being (at least somewhat) tamed. UKR never really progressed beyond the 90s.

    The EU Association Agreement was a cynical and one-sided agreement. Yanukovich was right to hold off on signing it, although his decision was politically disastrous. UKR would have been much better off playing RU against the EU and maintaining its trade links with RU, as it had been doing. Now it’s too late. Eventually the current war will end, but I don’t think UKR will ever recover. Depending on its post-war orientation, it will either be a permanent ward of the EU (and I doubt membership is in the cards anytime soon) or a provincial backwater of RU. That’s assuming it even survives as an independent state.

    If anyone thinks I’m being too pessimistic re UKR, here is a recent apolitical take on Black Sea grain shipments and fertilizer exports:

    The money shots: “Add it all up and Russia emerged as a big winner amid all the post-war shifts in the agribulk and fertilizer trades.” And “The damage to Ukraine’s role in global markets has already been done…..All in all, it could take years for Ukraine to regain its previous place in global agricultural markets should the conflict come to an end.”

  28. Mikel

    “U.S. Senators Revive Bid to Form Covid-19 Commission” WSJ

    I wouldn’t have any high hopes for that commission. It will probably be stacked with authorities that have trouble saying the word “airborne.”

  29. Mikel

    “Artist sues AI generators for allegedly using work to train image bots: ‘industrial-level identity theft’ FOX.

    I’m wondering, for example, how much creative work using something like Adobe’s online subscription service, exposes someone to theft of works and ideas in progress?

    1. vao

      There might be hints about that hidden in small print within the terms of service / licensing agreement / conditions of utilization — the document that almost no-one ever reads and that is often made difficult to access anyway.

      The dangerous paragraph typically starts with something like “Adobe Inc. [or whatever corporation] reserves the right to use information about Service usage and about data produced by the user to [follows a long list of what the firm intends to be able to do, including a weasely “to make improvements to the Service”]”.

      If the terms include something like “The user grants Adobe Inc. [or whatever corporation] a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive license to [follows a long list of all derivative works the firm is allowed to produced based on the works of the end-user]”, with the addendum of the assuaging “The user remains sole owner of the copyright for the works it produces with the Service.” — then plundering of one’s work, while not certain, is definitely envisioned.

  30. Mikel

    “French gastronomy facing logistical challenge for 2024 Paris Olympics” France24

    I forgot about the Olympics being in France in 2024.
    No wonder they are sticking it to workers there with the policies that have caused so much protest. Every country that hosts an Olympics seems to turn the screws tighter on worker rights.

  31. Expat2Uruguay

    Re: The second link under the covid-19 heading, document from the CDC.

    “COVID-19 is an ongoing public health problem that will be monitored with sustainable data sources to guide prevention efforts.” “Sustainable”? What does that even mean?

    Indeed. It seems to me that the word is used to imply that we shouldn’t expect much, and that a side purpose of using it is that when we get an unsatisfactory amount of “data sources”, then we will blame the word “sustainable”. It’s like a twofer!

  32. GF

    Devastating wildfires engulf southern Russia, claiming lives and property

    I wonder if this is Ukie sabotage? There were causes of the fires listed.

  33. JBird4049

    >>>Pondering Armageddon: What Happens If The US Defaults? Heisenberg Report. This is the stupidest timeline….

    Just because the United States has never defaulted on its debts in the 247 years of its existence for good financial reasons. Granted, IIRC, the debts of the Continental Congress were slow to be repaid, but they were repaid.

    People have the memories of fleas and the wisdom of ignorance.

  34. James J Kennedy

    Re the Novel Coronavirus with a polybasic furin-like cleavage site:

    @daoyu already pointed out this was a hibecovirus, not a coronavirus.

    “It is a Hibecovirus not a Sarbecovirus and the FCS sequence was completely different in both nucleotide and AA level than SARS-CoV-2. The ORF2 of Hibecoviruses and the Spike less than 40% similar to SARS-CoV or SARS-CoV-2 are needed for FCS in this entirely distinct subgenera.”

    Marion Koopmans already backed off when challenged on this, per link below:

  35. XXYY

    ChatGPT in medical literature.

    From the paper (my emphasis):

    … even through a playful encounter [with ChatGPT], further strengths could be worked out and further weaknesses could be reflected back to the programmers, which could then be improved.

    The authors evidently have an extreme misconception about how AI systems work. With software systems written by hand, there are humans who know what each line of code is supposed to do and why, and if there is a “weakness”, know how and where to make localized changes to “improve” it while leaving the rest of the functionality intact.

    AI system is don’t work like this at all. The only input to the system is a massive training set of data, which then results in certain functionality of the system. If you don’t like that functionality in some way, there is no way of knowing what to do about it. You can fool around with the training data, but the likely effect of that is completely unknown. V1.01 of the system may be totally unlike V1.0 of the system, in ways that are completely unpredictable and can only be assessed by random testing, which may take years or centuries depending on the capability of the system.

    There is no controlled path for improvement of AI products as there is for most other engineered objects. It’s more like a billion chimps pounding away on a billion keyboards and hoping for something good.

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