Links 5/18/2023

Cat Dies Defending Family from One of Australia’s Most Venomous Snakes Interesting Engineering (Chuck L).

‘We don’t need a baby, we have a cat’: Hong Kong women say no to kids as experts ponder baby shortage Channel News Asia

Platypus returns to Australian national park for first time in half a century NBC

Researchers Identify Possible Antidote for World’s Deadliest Mushroom Field and Stream


Canada seeks foreign help to fight spreading wildfires

As Alberta burns, we need a political vision to extinguish the flames The Breach. Meanwhile:

International meeting opens with fire problem, community solutions Wildfire Today

Asia heatwaves made 30 times more likely by climate change: Study Channel News Asia


So, How Do You Actually Refill an Aquifer? Heatmap


Heart Transplants From Active COVID Donors Linked With Higher Mortality MedPage Today

Coinfections in the lung: How viral infection creates a favorable environment for bacterial and fungal infections PLOS

Virological characteristics of the SARS-CoV-2 XBB variant derived from recombination of two Omicron subvariants Nature. From the Abstract: ” Our multiscale investigation provides evidence suggesting that XBB is the first observed SARS-CoV-2 variant to increase its fitness through recombination rather than substitutions.” Let ‘er rip would seem to provide ample opportunities for recombination, good job.

Federal Agencies Exit COVID-19 Public Health Emergency With Majority of the Public’s Trust Morning Consult. “Half the public trusts the White House for health information as Biden ends public health emergency.” Once again the PMC tries to govern from too narrow a base. They never learn.


South China Sea: Asean, Beijing agree on next step for delayed code of conduct to regulate behaviour in disputed waterway South China Morning Post


Even Selfishly, Indians Should Not Be Hoping for Chaos and Collapse in Pakistan The Wire

European Disunion

Europe should be careful what it wishes for with Turkey Politico

New Not-So-Cold War

Live: Russia launches ‘unprecedented’ air attacks on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv France24

Russia fires 30 cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets; Ukraine says 29 were shot down AP

Ukraine War Day #448: Who Won The Kinzhal Duel? Awful Avalanche

* * *

UK and Netherlands to lead “fighter jet coalition” to provide Ukraine with F-16s Ukrainska Pravda

UK not planning to supply Typhoon fighter jets to Ukraine: it would not be the right choice Ukrainska Pravda

Ukraine aid — and US stockpiles — are running out. What’s next? Responsible Statecraft

Military maintenance technician Adzuna (Chuck L). F-16 experience a plus!

* * *

What Is Next for the Arctic Council in the Wake of Russian Rule? RAND

Chinese envoy says Ukraine, Russia must ‘start with themselves’ to create space for peace talks South China Morning Post

Russia’s top mercenary leader turns on Kremlin. What’s behind rift? Christian Science Monitor

Biden Administration

Biden’s 11th hour Quad snub a disappointment, a mess and a gift to Beijing Sydney Morning Herald

US EPA tightens rules to clean up toxic coal ash at power plants Reuters

Every administration since the ’80s has mishandled classified documents, says the National Archives NBC

Spook Country

Seymour Hersh: The Fall of James Jesus Angleton ScheerPost


The USA’s Soviet-Style President Patrick Lawrence, Consortium News

Democrats en Deshabille

A Brief, Concerning Conversation With Dianne Feinstein Salon

Digital Watch

Goldman Sachs says A.I. could push S&P 500 profits up by 30% in the next decade CNBC

Help! My Political Beliefs Were Altered by a Chatbot! WSJ

Irish Times apologises and takes down ‘hoax’ AI-generated article Sky News

L’Affaire Joffrey Epsteins

Jeffrey Epstein Moved $270,000 for Noam Chomsky and Paid $150,000 to Leon Botstein WSJ

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

UBS Warns Rushed Credit Suisse Rescue Could Be ‘Considerably More Difficult And Risky’ Than Expected Forbes

Police State Watch

Cops say they’re being poisoned by fentanyl. Experts say the risk is ‘extremely low’ NPR


Two cases of bird flu are detected in poultry workers in England BMJ Only 2 4 8….

CDC warns of an mpox rebound outbreak this summer LA Times

Outbreak Updates for International Cruise Ships CDC. Handy table:

Petrie dishes? “Tis a mystery!

Pearls from the Pangenome Eric Topol, Ground Truths

Zeitgeist Watch

We’re All Bored of Culture Tablet (MB).

Realignment and Legitimacy

The fraught fight to stop the trans healthcare bans Axios. Headline: “trans healthcare.” Text: “gender-affirming health care for transgender minors.” Not quite the same.

Parents file a police report after teacher offers LGBTQ-themed book to her middle schoolers NBC and Does a Tampa School Library Book Teach About Gay Sex? Snopes

Imperial Collapse Watch

A conversation with Henry Kissinger (transcript) The Economist. Well worth a read. Final paragraph:

[Immanuel Kant] said peace would either occur through human understanding or some disaster. He thought that it would occur through reason, but he could not guarantee it. That is more or less what I think. It is the duty of the leaders that now exist. It is an unprecedented challenge and great opportunity. We are at the beginning of the challenge but are not living up to it right now. But I’ve seen leaders in my lifetime, and it is possible even in the United States.

“Even in the United States.”

The Rules Based Order VoteNo2BigDough Newsletter (Chuck L). Final sentence; “The purview of the Rules Based Order has peaked and it is now receding. How fast, to what extent, and with what collateral consequences remain to be seen. We are indeed living in interesting times.” Broad historical sweep, going back to FDR. Well worth a read.

Class Warfare

Dancers at Los Angeles bar to become only unionized strippers in US after 15-month battle AP

Boots Riley Cites Payday in Explaining Why He’s Not Promoting His Show during the Writers’ Strike Payday Report

Ian Angus – “The War Against the Commons: Dispossession and Resistance in the Making of Capitalism” MR Online

Self-checkout machines now ask for tips in latest squeeze on customers FOX

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. griffen

    Where have they been keeping Senator Feinstein, I wonder, I mean the Capitol building surely has all manner of labyrinth corridors and offices where they might keep her. Is there an ICU on site in the basement maybe? That would explain the insistence of “being right here”. Unreal. It’s like the walking dead but real life. And such a stupid timeline, this actually fits in.

    1. zagonostra

      She and Fetterman would make a great team…

      (I feel a bit mean posting below clip of Fetterman from a day ago. I think his intention/heart may be in the right place, but his cognitive abilities may be somewhat impaired)

      1. Carla

        Can anyone cite a U.S. Senator whose cognitive abilities are NOT impaired?

        Seriously, they are so mentally hobbled by privilege and corruption, none of them is capable of thinking clearly.

        This is no excuse for the “dead woman walking” (if she’s still walking) that is Feinstein, but I do think Fetterman is in a different category. (Maybe wishful thinking on my part?)

        1. nycTerrierist

          Agreed, Carla

          And Fetterman’s point is a good one, a darn shame his delivery
          gets more attention.

          fwiw, he managed to make himself understood, whatever the hiccups

          1. jefemt

            Have to tear Big John down: his logic was unassailable. The smart Pugs shouldouttahave said,
            “Hey, good point, we will add that to the budget negotiations under Community Obligations. ”

            But no, can’t bite the hand that feathers the nests of the grafty grifters Legislators.

        2. Mildred Montana

          >”Can anyone cite a U.S. Senator whose cognitive abilities are NOT impaired? Seriously, they are so mentally hobbled by privilege and corruption, none of them is capable of thinking clearly.”

          Curious how the senescence of America’s political class mirrors almost exactly the deterioration of the nation itself. But how could things be different?

          Senescence. Ossified thinking, if “thinking” is the right word. Whatever existed of moral integrity completely gone as they accumulate gold like Silas Marner, scrawny fingers clutching to the last breath every Congressional privilege and comfort, only waiting for the Capitol’s ICU and long-term care wings to be opened so they can vote from their beds without having to sit up straight in a chair.

          I never put too much stock in the old chestnut, “Only the good die young.” The ancient coots and biddies in Congress are forcing me to reconsider my opinion.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      From Rolling Stone:

      DIANNE FEINSTEIN, 89, returned to Congress this week, ending an almost three-month medical absence that highlighted her advanced age and deteriorating health. But her decline, and the problems it entails for American democracy, date back farther and go deeper than has been publicly known.

      Multiple sources tell Rolling Stone that in recent years Feinstein’s office had an on-call system — unbeknownst to Feinstein herself — to prevent the senator from ever walking around the Capitol on her own. At any given moment there was a staff member ready to jump up and stroll alongside the senator if she left her office, worried about what she’d say to reporters if left unsupervised. The system has been in place for years.

      “They will not let her leave by herself, but she doesn’t even know it,” says Jamarcus Purley, a former staffer.

      This would imply that, at the time of her last election in 2018, her cognitive impairment was apparent and being compensated for by unelected senior staffers, yet she was presented as “competent” to take her place as one of two senators “representing” the nations most populous state.

      During discussion of this RS article on Rising the other day, Briahna Joy Gray pointed out that 2018 was a close election for feinstein against a credible dem opponent, but obama and pelosi used their influence on her behalf.

      IMNSHO the last paragraph of today’s Patrick Lawrence Consortium News link applies not only to biden, but to feinstein and fetterman as well:

      I begin to recall the scene in 2016, the last time mainstream Democrats presumed that what they wanted was what America would get. I do not stand in the corner of any of Biden’s potential rivals for the presidency, but there is the matter of comeuppance. A party so complacent and contemptuous of democracy as to assume it can impose an incompetent geriatric on the nation to suit its purposes deserves some.

      1. ArvidMartensen

        The US has a history of demented leaders. Reagan is another.
        So who really runs the US?
        Who has the most chance of aggregating power to themselves? The heads of bureaucracies who never have to face election and who rule for years and decades eg J Edgar Hoover, Fauci etc? Protected from younger challengers by rich and powerful protectors motivated by ideological bent or fear of blackmail?
        Or the politicians who come and go depending on the pockets of donors and how well money can sway the whims of the populace?

  2. zagonostra

    Jeffrey Epstein Moved $270,000 for Noam Chomsky and Paid $150,000 to Leon Botstein – WSJ

    Chomsky explained that he asked Epstein for help with a “technical matter” that he said involved the disbursement of common funds related to his first marriage… “It was a simple, quick, transfer of funds,” he said.

    When initially asked about his relationship with Epstein, Chomsky had told the Journal, “First response is that it is none of your business. Or anyone’s. Second is that I knew him and we met occasionally.”

    Also Chomsky based on below from RT, he said that the relationship with Epstein was to discuss “political and academic issues.” Not sure Chomsky is being completely honest, is he “compromised?” Can one assume that any person in a prominent political/social position is not?

    1. Yves Smith

      Epstein did make a point of patronizing some academic programs, particularly affiliated with MIT and Harvard, no doubt to burnish his legitimacy. It seems reasonable to think some were involved with Epstein solely in the virtue-signaling part of his life. That does not mean Chomsky necessarily was, merely that it’s possible. But his testiness is a bad sign, unless the money transfer was shady (to take assets from his ex) and that’s what he’s hiding, not sex excesses.

      1. Steve H.

        Epstein liked to collect eggheads. One account spoke of a room of academics, and Epstein walking in with a beauty on each arm, feeling the envy of people smarter than him.

        But it was not all signalling. Martin Nowak was funded by Epstein, and his introduction to Evolutionary Dynamics says “I thank Jeffrey Epstein for many ideas and for letting me participate in his passionate pursuit of knowledge in all its forms.” Did that include carnal? Nowak mentioned the beautiful island gave him the space to work on his book.

        I don’t know, but I do know Nowak accepted the most extreme academic defenestration I’ve ever seen. No contact with students, and constraints on collaboration. I had been reading him for his work on cooperative structures, and this comment contained quotes from his book. Those excerpts seemed to line up the etiology of Covid, and his cooperation equations radically undercut the notion of a United States in favor of a crime-family theory of politics. Dangerous ideas.

        Recall that MKULTRA funded (through a cutout) a chunk of social/psych research. While much was relevant to their mind-control program, some recipients could be considered left-radical, and it gave the funders the ability to call, as supporters, and solicit information about, for example, American Indian political activity. And the ability, if necessary, to discredit those researchers via fiat information.

        1. davejustdave

          As part of Harvard’s disciplinary action against Nowak they permanently closed his institute which had been funded by Epstein, the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics – PED. I’m not making this up – it’s in Wikipedia.

    2. Bruno

      “Is he compromised?”
      Chomsky has always been a leading supporter of the “lone nut” falsification of the CIA-sponsored Kennedy assassinations. That’s much worse than “being compromised.”

      1. Adam Eran

        JFYI, Thom Hartmann says it was a mafia hit…and claims to have the evidence. He wrote a book about it whose title escapes me for the moment.

        1. square coats

          There’s quite a bit of evidence out there linking the Mafia/organized crime and the CIA so the two are not necesarilly mutually exclusive.

    3. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

      Not that this is proof of anything necessarily, but Chomsky’s early work was supported by the Pentagon. Yet it does make one wonder.

      1. Adam Eran

        So was the internet (DARPA), touch-screens (CIA) etc. The military has actually been a fairly enlightened supporter of basic research. About 80% of the inventions in a smart phone are from government-funded research.

        The military has also been an opportunity for genuine meritocracy. It was among the first institutions to integrate, for example.

        David Graeber says states are always ambiguously an extortion racket and a utopian project. I’d say the same for the U.S. military…but the racket has been getting out of hand as they’ve been, in effect, the arsonist firefighters, provoking conflict to keep their budgets large.

      2. Jorge

        The CIA has been the lead funder of linguistics research from the 1950s. They employ a huge number of researchers who read & translate newspapers from all over the world, and have been interested in computer-based translation for decades. DARPA grants for decades.

        They still fund this stuff via In-q-tel, their venture funding agency. I worked at a text search company that got its first million from In-q-tel. DARPA/CIA funding is what you can blame for what recently shipped as ChatGPT.

    4. allusions - not illusions

      When initially questioned about it, Chomsky straight lied:

      “If there was a flight (with Epstein), which I doubt…”

      As one astute commenter observed:

      “Chomsky repeatedly hobnobbed with then-convicted-sex-criminal Jeffrey Epstein, including meeting Epstein together with pervert and 9/11 suspect Ehud Barak, apparently even flying on Jeffrey Epstein’s Lolita Express. Characteristically, Chomsky dissembled: “If there was a flight (with Epstein), which I doubt…”

      If Chomsky hadn’t flown with Epstein, of course, he would just say so. His mealymouthed evasions of the truth, whether of JFK, 9/11, Israeli occupation of America, or his relations with Epstein and Barak, have a vacuously passive-aggressive tone that is inimitably Chomsky-esque, but jarringly incommensurate with his reputation as one of the world’s greatest linguists.”

      1. Acacia

        All of this may be true, but once upon a time Chomsky also did some important research to help demystify the American Empire (e.g., Manufacturing Consent), which I think we can say has been more influential than anything he’s done in the field of linguistics, the latter being in any case overshadowed by post-structuralist theories of language.

        I guess the question I’d ask is just… what happened to Chomsky?

    5. elissa3

      One of the maxims that my dad used to repeat to us when we were adolescents was: “Be careful with whom you associate”. Sound advice.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “A conversation with Henry Kissinger”

    Check out this part of the interview-

    ‘One, Russia is no longer the conventional threat that it used to be. So the challenges of Russia should be considered in a different context. And secondly, we have now armed Ukraine to a point where it will be the best-armed country and with the least strategically experienced leadership in Europe. If the war ends like it probably will, with Russia losing many of its gains, but retaining Sevastopol, we may have a dissatisfied Russia, but also a dissatisfied Ukraine—in other words, a balance of dissatisfaction. So, for the safety of Europe, it is better to have Ukraine in NATO, where it cannot make national decisions on territorial claims.’

    Now I will put aside the fact that he can no longer read a military situation nor other factors like logistics or demographics as he is about 100 years old but he thinks that it is a great idea to have the Ukraine in NATO? Seriously? Is he that big a fool? Let me show you how that would work out with the Ukraine in NATO-

    -The Ukraine shells a few villages in Russia.
    -The Russians use counter battery fire to take out that artillery.
    – Immediately the Ukraine runs to NATO headquarters and claim that Russia has attacked them.
    -They then declare an Article 5 & Article 6 to get the NATO nations into a war with Russia to get back their lost territory, including Crimea. The rest you can imagine.

    So has old Henry really thought this out? Does he know what the Ukrainian leadership is like? Didn’t they put him on a death list once because of his opinions about a negotiated peace? Henry should just go away. We are in an era where we are in dire need of realists and not ideologues or even people living off their past glory.

    1. Daniil Adamov

      The thing about Kissinger is that he is convinced he is a realist. It is his whole schtick.

      1. Questa Nota

        Henry the K burst into the public consciousness about half a century ago.
        He has had a hard time accepting his transition to Henry the L.

      2. Lex

        The behind the bastards podcast did a pretty good series on Henry. Henry has always been whatever is best for Henry’s career.

        Kissinger as a model of foreign policy realism is so frighteningly American …

    2. Carolinian

      Hank the K–reason will prevail versus Nixon madman theory of forcing Vietnam capitulation. Kissinger spent a career spreading chaos and bad choices but in a “reasonable” way. However he always made sure he had reporters along who would be favorable to his PR and plumbers to plug leaks in the narrative.

      In other words all about the PR–just like now.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m not sure who my dad despised more, Nixon or Kissinger?

        Similar to Henry, my father never lost his accent and my mom related that when they went to parties and met new people, they would almost always mention that he sounded like Kissinger, like so many verbal daggers.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      My guess is Kissinger is dealing in insider sources who are reading the same msm sources. Larry Johnson has repeatedly pointed out Western intelligence has been turned over to Kiev which has a vested interest in sunny side optimism. Then the MIC doesn’t want to acknowledge Russian weapon capabilities because those leaks might lead to decisions to buy s400s instead of f35s. Why do you need F35s if you aren’t intent on conquering?

      Granted, he’s Kissinger, but he’s also 100. He likely can’t conceive he’s the victim of lies too.

    4. MPM

      I think the commenters on the Kissinger’s Ukraine-NATO proposal have reasonable doubts about Ukraine in NATO. But I also think Kissinger was not being irrational. Though he did not spell it out, what he is saying is that Ukraine has serious nationalist-neo-nazi groups (who apparently kept Zelensky from fulfilling the Minsk agreements by threatening to kill him). These groups incline Ukraine towards aggressive action. Ukraine joining NATO might be a way of lowering the relative influence of these groups, since in return for group (NATO) protection, Ukraine would have to give up some of its national autonomy, and act within broader international constraints. Whether this scenario is accurate or not, I don’t know, but it seems rationally conceived, and I think anti-Kissinger remarks should address the possible validity of the logic. I had certainly been against Ukraine being part of NATO before reading Kissinger’s remarks, and they did lead me to reconsider the question.

      1. bdy

        The aggressive Ukrainian factions pushing hardest for NATO inclusion romanticize Ukraine as the tip of a spear aimed at Moscow. It’s not hard to imagine they have sympathetic friends among NATO leaders.

      2. Roland

        I see your point, MPM. K’s logic is that UKR is less of a rogue state if it’s formally incorporated in NATO, rather than informally, as it is now.

        Problem with K’s logic is that NATO is what is causing the war, rather than UKR. If NATO was not relentlessly expansionist, this war wouldn’t have happened in the first place. How does NATO expansion solve problems caused by NATO expansion?

        However, at least K is saying that Russia poses little conventional threat to Europe.

    5. digi_owl

      The best part is that he thinks NATO will keep Ukraine on a leash. How well is that working out with Turkey again?

  4. DJG, Reality Czar

    We’re All Bored of Culture. William Deresiewicz. There is a political side to Deresiewicz’s writings, but it is more dissident than standard conservative. He certainly isn’t a liberal.

    So politics don’t matter here, in a sense.

    I recommend his piece highly. Yes, culture in the U S of A is increasingly boring. Hamilton is a great for-instance: Songs that one cannot remember, prissy staging, dubious political assertions, and self-congratulatory!

    No wonder I favor the sinfulness of Chicago or of Book of Mormon. Art is supposed to be about making murder funny or about how taking a doughnut will get one condemned to hell and bonked by the Evil One (and I don’t mean Putin).

    In a very well-written and insightful piece, two piquant quotes:
    “What I see is narcissism: a demand that art affirm us, never threaten us, never make us feel inadequate or ignorant or small, echo back to us our precious little selves.” [Hamilton!]

    “A great audience, Fran Lebowitz once remarked, is more important for the creation of great art than even great artists are.” [Which is why opera still matters, because the audience is committed to its many delightful excesses and to the astounding skill of the performers.]

    As someone who writes for the stage, I see the symptoms of this boring self-congratulatory art all over the place. Luckily, there is less of it in Italy than in the U S of A, but Americanization is bringing “Anglo-Calvinism,” as Deresiewicz dubs it, to theaters here, too. (I saw just last Sunday a piece contaminated by it.)

    Yet here in the Chocolate City, there is still great theater. And what is the best piece that I have seen in the last several weeks? The Oresteia by that new guy around town, Aeschylus. Still overwhelming the audience after 2,500 years.

    1. MT_Wild

      I’ve heard the same sorta comment from stand-up comics.

      Comedy is supposed to be edgy. But it doesn’t work if everyone is offended by everything.

      1. Mildred Montana

        Ya know, that’s an insightful comment. My first impulse was to pass over it, then I read more closely and thought about it.

        “It doesn’t work if everyone is offended by everything.” So true. That’s why MSM comedy has become so lame. Because that’s all it does. It preaches to the choir. It stakes out safe territory. It’s so easy to take on George Santos, Greg Abbott, Ron DeSantis, any number of unpolitically-correct Republicans or “anti-wokesters”.

        The “unsafe” territory where MSM comedy fears to tread? MIC and Congressional corruption. The increasing venality and incompetence of our representatives (unless they are Republican of course). Any criticism whatsoever of “woke” beliefs. The “woke” are sacred.

        George Carlin (were he alive) would have absolutely savaged the current state of affairs. But then, he wasn’t looking for “likes”.

    2. Carolinian

      We are living in the era of pretend revolutionaries who really just want their safe space. On a recent Taibbi talk Kirn said he problem with woke news is that it is so utterly predictable. Since you know what they are going to say then it isn’t “news.”

      And I think that’s right. To think outside the box you have to be outside the box. Whereas current culture is all about defending the box against an imagined slew of enemies. Both parties have done this at times but now it’s the obsession of the Dems and the PMC while the Repubs are off in the shadows as possible “terrorists.”

      Here’s suggesting that, contra Kissinger, boredom not reason will finally kill off woke. An economic collapse (or worse given Biden’s flirtation with WW3) may hasten things along.

      1. Mikel

        “True rebels after all, are as rare as true lovers,and in both cases, to mistake a fever for passion can destroy one’s life”

        ― James Baldwin

    3. Ghost in the Machine

      William Deresiewicz wrote a book called ‘Excellent Sheep’ about Ivy League education. It pretty much backs up the impression of intellectual decay one gets when observing its graduates in leadership positions. Basically about training people for intellectual hoop jumping instead of critical thinking. Near impossibility of failing out once you get in. Being told constantly you are destined to rue the world etc. etc.

    4. bwilli123

      …“Somehow,” writes Hickey, “the delicate instrumentalities of continental thought had been transmuted by the American professoriate into a highfalutin, pseudo-progressive billy club with which to beat dissenters about the head and shoulders.”

      It did not arrive by mysterious accident. Listen to Gabriel Rockhill on ‘global culture theory,’ ie the post WWII promotion of the European cultural non-communist left by the American deep state.

    1. Benny Profane

      I really doubt that cat was thinking about saving anybody. That might be dog brain, but not cat.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It’s cat colony behavior. The smaller cats deal with the vermin in the home area, and the big cats will attack interloper cats or dogs, etc.

  5. timbers

    Dima Military Summary says 5 Patriot missile firing sections (can be 3 sections for each Patriot system) have been damaged or destroyed by Russian hypersonic and USA is telling Ukraine to stop useing Patriots for the time being. Others report 2 sections damaged. 32 missiles were fired in 2 minutes and USA can only produce 100/yr (may be misremembersing correct figure). That’s what happens when you give complex toys to untrained people in desperation mode.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that Dima said that annual production was about 250 Patriot missiles a year. So they shot off in only one attack well over 10% of the US annual production of these missiles. Think that they will do any better with depleted uranium tank rounds?

      1. Yves Smith

        I am leery of him. He seems to work off the cognitive bias where more detail is seen as more truthful. He has lots of detail, little sourcing, great confidence about his info when a lot of fog of war-ish, and he’s gotten some things wrong, like touting the claim that the huge ammo dump blowup in Western Ukraine led to a gamma ray spike from deplete uranium. Mind you, there very well may have been a lot of DU in that cache, but the gamma ray claim in nonsense:

        1. Level of gamma radiation emitted by DU extremely low, according to all sources, such as:

        2. Gamma radiation does not travel far in air (it’s long distance only by the standard of radiation emission). For instance:

        “Show that the gamma radiation has a long range in air – at least 80 cm. You could show that the count is falling off with distance, and gets smaller and smaller rather than stopping altogether.”

        Other sources suggest gamma radiation might travel dozens of feet, which presumably given the above that it drops to undetectable levels at that distance.

        You have the further issue that the detection device would have need to be close enough to the blast to detect questionable “high” levels yet not have been damaged by the blast. What a happy coincidence!

        A more decisive debunking came via Moon of Alabama:

        The chart seem to show an increase in Gamma radiation but that increase happened during May 11/12, not in the early morning of May 13 when the explosion happened. The increase is also very small and the total is normal and not dangerous. Flying in a commercial airplane will typically expose you to some 2,000 nano-Sievert per hour [nSi/h]. Small background radiation variances happen all the time so the chart does not really tell us anything.”

        He also had a very clearly planted post with sordid detail on the supposed superiority of US ISR, using ops in Bakhmut as a case study. Bakhmut? Even if the US really does have better ISR, Bakhmut would prove that does not translate in and of itself into advantage on the ground.

        1. Benny Profane

          Well, either way, he explained to me what an actual “hypersonic” missle is, how they function, and more important, what they aren’t.
          And, in the end, reminds us that we have nothing like them, but, I’ll bet somebody is working hard to correct that. Gold, Jerry, gold.

        2. BillS

          1. Gamma rays from DU will indeed be low. DU undergoes alpha particle decay and most of the decay products undergo beta particle decay (which would be indistinguishable from gamma rays/X rays using a Geiger counter). Geiger counters generally do not detect alpha particles or neutrons.
          2. Gamma rays are electromagnetic waves that can travel great distances and are very penetrating and very dangerous above certain levels. In fact, shielding gamma ray emitters is a formidable challenge – lead, DU (!) or meters-thick concrete walls are used. Gamma rays (like all radiation) obey the “inverse square of distance” reduction in intensity but are not absorbed strongly in air or even solid matter. Getting far away helps because the radiation flux density drops by 1/4 each time you double the distance.

          It is highly likely that what was observed were normal fluctuations in background that occur with the changing cosmic ray environment. (I keep a Geiger counter on my desk and it regularly fluctuates between 90-250nSv/h from day-to-day. I once took it on board a flight and measured 3300nSv/h!

          1. BillS

            On refreshing my memory a bit, it looks like the distance needed to produce an attenuation of gamma rays by 1/2 in air ranges from around 100-400meters (depending on gamma ray energy). Indeed, putting a few kilometers between yourself and a source would yield much more protection than the previously mentioned inverse square law.

        3. Carolinian

          Right. I read his column as a collection of rumors and not necessarily verified information and he says that himself (if it is a him). But Larry Johnson likes him and seems like some of this stuff is the real dope. Worth a link?

          1. Yves Smith

            Larry is a mix of insight and insufficient concern about accuracy. I give Alexander Mercouris chops for being careful to signal he’s operating in a crappy information environment, and is super apologetic when he gets something wrong. By contrast, on Judge Napolitano, Larry is STILL mis-depicting Teixeira as a National Guard “weekend warrior” (as in one weekend a month) when he went to full time, IIRC in 2021.

        4. Lex

          He’s a good read but with a grain of salt. In the early days he was posting under a different name at The Saker. Some things he does well on, others not so much. If one is using telegram as an info source he doesn’t bring out a lot of new information.

      2. scott s.

        Thanks. Most intelligent discussion I have seen to date. Seems to confirm that the battery is provided PAC-3 CRI interceptors which come in quad-packs, hence 16/launcher and it sounds like 2 launchers salvoed their entire load outs. Since “CRI” means “cost reduction initiative” have to wonder if it also means “crappy interceptor”? Not a BMD guy, but wondering if this implies need for THAAD III or Aegis Ashore as in Poland/Romania?

    2. scott s.

      According to article from ArkansasOnline L-M has capacity to manufacture 500 PAC-3 MSE interceptors/yr. Couldn’t find any good numbers for PAC-3 CRI and have no idea what Ukraine is getting. Also don’t know what search/acquisition radar set they have in the battery, which could have a major bearing on performance. US Army I believe is just now getting the MPQ-65A. I doubt Ukraine gets this.

      1. Polar Socialist

        In this case the radar probably doesn’t matter, since the missiles have much smaller range than either of them. Also both can provide targeting information only for nine missiles at a time, so either those missiles hit or missed their targets in pretty quick succession, or else most of them were flying without any guidance whatsoever.

        A simple back of the envelope calculation makes it obvious that most of them were not intended to intercept the alleged kinzhal, because at the benevolent* terminal speed of mach 6, it would only take about twelve seconds for the kinzhal to travel from the max engagement range of Patriot to the battery itself. The patriot interceptors, on the other hand, would take some 30 seconds (accelerating from 0 to mach 4) to reach that outer limit, which would be the time to launch first interceptor to meet the approaching kinzhal. So approximately only during the last 40 seconds the battery would be trying to intercept it’s nemesis.

        The first 80 seconds it’s more likely trying to shoot down all other stuff flying over Kiev. Which there must have been a lot. All the while it’s more and more difficult for the radar to keep track of things due to all the clutter caused by intercepted missiles and drones or self-destructing interceptor, or even interceptors that lost track and did not self-destruct. So many pieces of hardware going in so many directions at some many speeds.

        Or maybe Russians hacked the Patriot VHF data link and told the missiles to go. Who knows.

        * some sources claim twice that speed

        1. Bill Malcolm

          I don’t read NC (or its comments) for its technical chops, it really doesn’t have any — its strengths lie politics, trade analysis and economics. And in Yves overviews on the Ukraine situation, which cut through all the rubbish and get to the razor-sharp point. The ins and outs of US politics, as a foreigner I couldn’t care less about, but the global overview I do need — which keeps me coming back. That and the fact the writing is literate and the viewpoint neutrally sane.

          I’m a retired mechanical engineer, and Simplicius’ opus on the Kiev attack is miles ahead of yours. He points out that “hypersonic” missiles don’t hit the ground at hypersonic speed but quite a bit less, and he explains why in terms that are perfectly cogent to me as an engineer. Perhaps you should read the article and gain some insights yourself. And his subsequent logic in explaining the attack, and the spectacular awfulness of the Patriot AD system is also extremely good. Two errant missiles and one complete dud out of 32, for a mere $4 million each, reminds me of a Ford our family once owned. American quality.

          On other matters, Simplicius is useless, like his take on economics. The boring droning video people yammering on about the SMO I can do without. Half an hour gets wasted on what could be summarized in five minutes or five succinct paragraphs of decent, organized prose. I will listen to Colonel MacGregor, because it’s obvious the man is an educated extremely well-read gentleman. Sure, he gets predictions wrong just like everyone else, but to me, he’s a leader.

  6. Henry Moon Pie

    Christian Science Monitor, Gnosticism and Covid denial–

    Not really related to today’s CSM link (but see below), but instead to yesterday’s Water Cooler link to a story about Dr. Patricia Daly, a public health official in Vancouver, BC whose Covid denialism reached such heights that even the infamous Dr. Bonnie Henry felt compelled to criticize her. That article and others like it sent me looking for a handle to understand what might be the source of such extreme and unscientific views. I was reminded of Christian Science’s attitude toward disease, and the theological underpinnings of that quasi-Christian sect that are found in the ancient belief system called Gnosticism.

    We might call Gnosticism a meta-religion because its patterns of belief have been applied to Judaism and Christianity as well as giving rise to free-standing religions like Theosophy and A Course in Miracles (see Marianne Williamson and Oprah). In all these manifestations, the mind/body dualism inherent in much of Western thought is escalated to an actual battle between mind and body where the mind is “good” and the body “evil.” In the Christian version that appeared as early as the 2nd century CE, the YHWH of the Old Testament was an evil demiurge who created a flawed world filled with flawed bodies. Only by special gnosis) (“knowledge” in Greek) could one be freed from this flawed, evil body and attain the Gnostic version of salvation. In Christian Gnosticism, Christ is the possessor and teacher of this Gnosis that enables the individual to transcend the body. Early Christian Gnostics like Marcion and Valentinus were rejected as heretics by the church, and their writings burned (but they missed the Nag Hammadi library). But Gnosticism lives on today in various sects, all of whom share a belief in the higher reality of the mind over the inferior, even evil, physical reality.

    Conservative Christian writers from Rod Dreher to Ross Douthat have written about the Gnostic elements of transhumanism and transgenderism in recent years. Even Tucker Carlson spoke on his cancelled shows about how transgenderism constitutes a new religion, though he doesn’t seem to have made the Gnostic connection explicit. An older sect, founded in America in the 19th century by Mary Baker Eddy as the Church of Christ, Scientist, provides an example of a Gnostic sect whose beliefs about health, disease and medicine are more relevant to the phenomenon of Covid denialism. This is the approach of Christian Science to the treatment of disease that comes from the sect itself:

    One is faced with a critical decision when he has to decide whether to rely wholly on Christian Science or on medical aid. There is no in-between position available. Christian Science is metaphysical in its treatment of disease. That is, it does not treat physical symptoms as if they were objective realities; rather, it considers disease to be mental, a subjective state of human consciousness. Material medicine, on the other hand, treats physicality on the assumption that it contains the evil, whether the basis of this evil is physical or mental. A stand can be taken on one side or the other, but not on both.

    Dreher, Douthat and other conservative Christians contend that Gnostic thought has permeated throughout modern society, including into not only mainline Protestant churches and unaffiliated megachurches but also into the non-profit, corporate and academic worlds:

    This tendency can carry many labels, but for this essay’s purposes we can call it Post-Protestant Gnosticism. It descends along different lines from early-American Deism, Transcendentalism, and various health-and-wealth enthusiasms. It was manifest in the therapeutic forms of spirituality that were limned in the 1960s and 1970s, at the moment of their ascent to power, by writers such as Philip Rieff and Robert Bellah. And it now operates in American life in roughly the same way, with the same sort of influence, that Mainline Protestantism did a hundred years ago…

    Like the old religious establishment, the ascendant gnosticism operates through a set of institutions that resemble an ecclesia—through the old institutions of Protestant Christianity, its universities especially, and also through more novel institutions, from the tangle of big foundations and philanthropies and activist outfits to the “church of the masses” manifested in media and television and Silicon Valley.

    These Gnostic-infuenced institutions are stamped with the mind-over-body, even mind-over-material-reaity belief system of Christian Science that considers disease to be “a subjective state of human consciousness.” Theologian Kate Bowler, writing about a 19th century manifestation of Gnosticism called New Thought, says this about the broader relationship between mind and body in this belief system:

    Third, New Thought argued that people shared in God’s power to create by means of thought. People shaped their own worlds by their thinking, just as God had created the world using thought. Positive thoughts yielded positive circumstances, and negative thoughts yielded negative situations. These three features—a high anthropology, the priority of spiritual reality, and the generative power of positive thought—formed the main presuppositions of the developing mind-power.

    William James had this to say about New Thought:

    William James’ 1907 essay referenced New Thought, and Christian Science, noting the common feature of these “optimistic faiths” is they all suppress “fear thought,” and instead concentrate the mind on good cheer and good temper, suggesting such practices can “unlock unused reservoirs of … power.”

    Within a community, this belief system usually leads to a “toxic positivity” in which members are subtly pressured to suppress “negative thoughts.” Such a pattern makes it difficult for these communities and the individuals within them to address real problems. Reality becomes an enemy that must be pushed away rather than embraced or confronted.

    I have no idea whether our Vancouver M.D. is a member of one of the many different Gnostic-influenced sects that are currently practicing in our society, but I do wonder if this Gnostic understanding of reality has so permeated our culture that it is influencing the response of many to the reality of a dangerous virus that is altering our “normal” in many different ways. Is the wearing of a mask considered by these folks to be a surrender to a flaw in our consciousness, a practice born of a negative thought that should be suppressed rather than honored? Is the “damn the virus-infested air, full speed to normal” attitude of even public health officials the product of a belief system that exalts the mind over the body? Is the precautionary principle a heresy among those who believe that positive thoughts attract positive results?

    We may be living in the time when a new religion arises that produces a culture at war with reality itself.

    1. jsn

      Thanks for this comment.

      Acceleration of communications flows and toxic positivity make heuristic delusions socially adaptive for “market society” in that the complex keeps the cash moving and those supporting it capture more money.

      Until it disables and then kills them.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I call it The Churn. And when Covid slowed down The Churn, Ackman cried, “It’s all going to Zero!” It’s amazing how inflexible this society is. You don’t even have to lose the essentials. If Viking Cruises and Applebee’s goes down for long, it’s collapse time.

        1. Jorge

          Covid’s financial sin was far worse than this. The sales&employment clock stopped, but the interest clock kept ticking. This was the terrible problem that sparked free money for businesses in the US and free money for people in Europe.

    2. Alphonse

      Don’t forget Mary Harrington, who argues that the radical trans movement is pursuing a kind of gnostic transhumanism.

      This also connects with Iain McGilchrist’s work on the differing modes of attention of the left and right hemispheres of the brain. (A recent interview with him.) The right hemisphere pays attention to reality as it is experienced. It accepts the world, inconsistencies and all, rather than trying to impose a system on it.

      The left hemisphere, in contrast, represents reality by constructing (with words, concepts and symbols) a simplified model. The purpose of this model is to allow it to grasp (e.g. through its control of the dominant right hand) objects and control them.

      Language is primarily the domain of the left hemisphere. It is not surprising that left hemisphere dominated thinking would believe that the right words (the Word of God, magic words, anti-racist words, the Secret) could remake the world. As the left hemisphere experiences it, the world really is divided as in Plato’s allegory of the cave: a shadowy world of experience “out there,” and the higher forms of the representations the brain itself constructs “in here.”

      Whereas the right hemisphere attends to the world in an almost Taoist way as a place in which everything is alive, the left sees a dead world of things to be grasped and controlled. John Michael Greer makes a similar argument in his most recent blog post: a culture that sees rivers and trees as rocks as persons possessed of will see all human beings as persons, but as our civilization strips away personhood from the world around us we reach a point where we strip it from others, and then (Marry Harrington’s meat puppets) finally we strip it from ourselves.

      As I recall, David Simon, creator of the TV series The Wire, said that the theme is that human beings are worth less and less. Lambert has said of the Covid response that democide is a parsimonious explanation. Too many old people costing too much in care homes? When our technocratic elites possessed by the inhuman reasoning of their left hemispheres cease to see us as people but as mere instances of identity categories, things to be grabbed and managed, eugenics becomes natural, perhaps inevitable.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Fascinating. If Gnosticism is the most left-brained of religions where our interpreter of reality becomes reality’s creator, then the Tao te Ching must be the most right-brained, more than a coldly materialist view of the universe of a Dawkins. “To know without knowing is best.” I take that to mean be wary of left-brained thinking. It’s a human creation and is far from infallible.

        “The Wire” was a good chronicle of American decline, but even in a world where most people are worth less and less, there are opportunities to demonstrate that the devalued can play The Game as well as those chosen to be winners. That’s a little like Chris Hedges’s call for resistance even if it is futile, but it’s something.

        I will definitely check out that Greer post. I always enjoy him.

    3. JBird4049

      I would also suggest that a refusal to think or reason in complexity or shades of gray along with treating something a religious text, or worse, a refusal to even read, understand, and then interpret it. One of the reasons for the Reformation was the belief that people should be allowed to read and understand the Bible in their own language, which the Catholic Church did not want as it threatened their control. But I am really not referring to the Bible. You have followers of Scientism who not only refuse to acknowledge the possibility of the immaterial as opposed to the purely material world, they want to have only their interpretation of the material world, much like the Catholic Church.

      Honestly, when considering the increasing unraveling of Western Civilization in general, and of the American nation-state, it is understandable, no, it is very understandable that people would hew to simplicity even if it is of the kind that makes men and women stupid.

      That much of the unraveling is because of deliberate efforts for social, political, and economic gain by people ostensibly on the entire political, religious, scientific, economic, and social spectrum makes it more mentally and emotionally difficult. So, people start to simplify their life by withdrawing into unofficial, unacknowledged, even unseen cults either to maintain access to resources like social connections, jobs, money, and, if you are an American, to healthcare or just to maintain the physical, mental, and emotional resources needed to just survive. At least, you will not be tortured to death by the Catholic Church for translating or reading an unauthorized version of the Vulgate Bible, if you leave the cult. You will likely be ostracized, maybe even have the modern damnation of memory, cancellation be done to you.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Dogmatism is the dark side of belief.

        I like to keep it simple. I’m just an animal, the product of evolution on this Earth. My sisters and brothers are my fellow humans, my cousins are the primates and I am related to all living things by the same processes that give us all life. This place and this time is where I belong.

        Thomas Berry is more succinct:

        The universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.

    4. LifelongLib

      Well, note that it was the Garden of Eden, not the Plain or Forest of Eden. “Garden” implies human control. It is a modification of the natural world to make a space that is suitable for human life, consciousness. If the natural world was enough humans would never have bothered with anything else. As it is we have religion, magic, art, science, technology, what have you. All attempts by consciousness to escape, control, remodel the natural world.

      1. witters

        Well mabye, or just just our species niche-shaping, even if (as it sometimes does) it ends up to be a self-defeating strategy.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “So, How Do You Actually Refill an Aquifer?”

    I’m not sure that you can. When the water has been sucked out, the ground collapses in on itself which is why regions of California have sunk tens of yards over the years. It could not before as water is non-compressible. But I can see a few flaws here. Like where is all this water going to come from? Last year California was in drought. Will they pump water into areas that are polluted by the toxic, cancerous chemicals of shale drilling? But considering that this is California, as soon as they try this, you can bet that some corporation will sink a few wells into it to get themselves some free water for stuff like alfalfa for exports or almonds. So instead of scheme like this, perhaps they should get people and especially corporations to cut back maybe? Oh, and a punitive tax on any crops grown for international export, even if it is done through another State.

    1. Wukchumni

      Tulare Lake will take at least a few years to drain out, mostly vis a vis evaporation, as up to the first couple hundred feet is called ‘Corcoran Clay’ which doesn’t allow the water the permeate down under.

      If we get another whopper of a winter, the lake will expand quite a bit, possibly forcing out the F-35’s @ Naval Air Station, Lemoore, and maybe recreating the look of 1862 where a great lake went from Bakersfield to Sacramento.

      All of those 300 million almond trees (just to mention 1 type of tree) were pretty much exclusively watered by well water the past few years, and its a stretch of a comparison, but a crushed honeycomb comes to mind. There is scant chance of much of Godzone taking advantage of the bounty.

      1. Steve H.

        Tulare is in the San Joaquin Valley, south of the Sacramento Valley:

        > In general, the Sacramento Valley predominantly is fine-grained and reflects the more fine-grained volcanic-derived sediments. However, some relatively coarse-grained deposits do occur along the river channels and the alluvial fans emanating from the Cascade Range and the northern Sierra Nevada. In the San Joaquin Valley, especially on the eastern side, the areas of coarse-grained texture are more widespread than the areas of fine-grained texture and occur along the major rivers. This area of predominately fine-grained texture is associated with the largest amount of subsidence attributed to groundwater withdrawals recorded in the valley.

        The underlying article involves a new method for finding coarse grains and alluvial deposits and is very cool. It is viewing them as the input ports for aquifer recharge. While those areas may recharge easily, the finer grains and clays will infiltrate at a much lower rate. This is worsened by subsidence. To treat this as a method to recharge the entire aquifer is disingenuous, at least in the medium term.

    2. curlydan

      I’d say it depends on the aquifer. The Edwards Aquifer that supplies San Antonio with water has much more efficient recharge/refill zones where tons of hole-y limestone underneath the surface to store the water. Some creeks there will simply stop flowing in places as the water simply drops down underneath the surface to fill the aquifer.

      For California’s aquifers or even the Ogallala aquifer (that definitely does not get much help from snow), I worry about those. SW Kansas is in a long-term, brutal drought, and I fear it could go from grassland desert to sandy desert in my lifetime.

    3. ACPAL

      Recharging can be done but you can almost never put as much back in as you pumped out. As the water is pumped out the soil material compacts leaving less room between particles (sand, rock, etc) for the water so your success rate depends on the type of soil. Also, water typically travels slowly through the soil (again, depending on the type of soil) and can take years to go a couple of miles. This means that to recharge an aquifer like in central California you need to have a lot of recharge sites and a way to get that rain water to those sites. And while it may sound simple in practice it’s anything but simple.

  8. griffen

    Cruise ship outbreak. I always have to ask the question, what exactly is the appeal of the floating petri dish on the high seas? Spend a few grand, perhaps less, to gather around the open decks and the buffet table, and exchange varied tales of triumph and woe, heartbreak and lifetime loves.

    Yee Haw! Where do I sign up. I’ll be more inclined to visit a local Golden Corral buffet, just for the ease of a quick exit.

    1. Wukchumni

      We were on a family cruise over xmas down to Mexico 20 years ago on the SS Norovirus, and within a day or 2 of our weeklong voyage, 6 out 9 of us were horribly ill, as was the entire ship.

      I went down to the ship store and they still had otc medicine available, but within a day there was nothing, but you could still buy 43 kinds of perfume/cologne and as many genuine Thomas Kinkaide lithographs as your heart desired.

      I remember going to dinner and staring at my food, no appetite whatsoever, and forget about shore excursions.

      One of the stops was Zihuatanejo, and I was curious how many people were going there, and went to the departure lounge and there was 16 wanting to visit out of 3,000 on board.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        A nation of hoarders. That will sure work well for us as the shortages multiply. My wife had some harrowing experiences trying to get baby formula for our granddaughter last winter. At least no one pulled a gun in the aisle.

    2. Charger01

      I think it was comedian Tim Dillon that gave a great bit about cruises: its for less affluent and the less physically mobile to enjoy places they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. Alaska and Mexico? Check.

      1. Michaelmas

        Charger01: …its for less affluent and the less physically mobile to enjoy places they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. Alaska and Mexico? Check.

        I worked as a musician in a band on a cruise boat for nine weeks one summer and I’d say that’s about right.

        Quite the class system they have on those boats, too. On the ship I worked on, the Regal Princess out of Fort Lauderdale, at the time I worked on it, the officers — who were all Italian — had had a rule passed a couple of years previously that the musicians — who were all Americans and Brits, except for the filipino string quartet — couldn’t talk to the female passengers, because the Italian officers objected to the musicians’ better — eh — social successes in that area. So the musicians either hooked up with any female singers who weren’t already attached or one of the filipina crew/serving staff, who were basically at the bottom of the ship’s class structure.

        The most interesting thing to me was the different outcomes on the Caribbean islands that were our ports of call, like Barbados, the Caymans, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. All those islands were like little petri dishes in that in their past they’d all had somewhat similar histories and human populations deposited there — first Carib Indians mostly wiped out by Spanish rulers and African slaves, then (except for Puerto Rico) the French, then the British. But they’d all gone down different paths, because they’d had governance and individuals leaders and societies that had made different choices.

        The Caymans looked like Palo Alto or Los Altos with more palm trees; Jamaica, on the other hand, was depressing, because I’d lived there as a small kid because my father had had a job there and it had gone terribly downhill since. Barbados seemed — and seems — to have made the best choices for itself.

    3. notabanker

      Pre-Covid we went on a relatively short 4 day cruise to attend a wedding for a close friend of the family. I rather enjoyed it. The enormity of the sea is something to experience. Port visits were too short to accomplish any real sightseeing, and we are not ones for canned tours, but we still had a good time putzing about in foreign lands.

      It is not something I would want to do for 10 or 15 days, and now post covid it is not something I really want to do at all, but it was well worth the dough we spent pre-covid.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        my dad sent wife and i on a cruise as a wedding present.
        wife had never seen the ocean, and thought long john silver’s was “seafood”(i called it “bait”).
        we kept to ourselves as much as possible…medium overlay in cancun…overlong stay in cozumel, focused on taking a bus to a new shopping mall(we skipped that and wandered around town).
        then a too short stay on one of the Bay Islands of Honduras.
        we both wanted to stay there a lot longer…taxi guy was cool, invited us to eat when he stopped at his house to drop off shrimps to his wife…but not enough time.
        we were not like the other passengers. all of them dressed to the nines for the crossing into international waters, and the casino opening,lol…not our thing at all, and i was having visions of HST’s Lizards the whole time.
        still, in the end, it was an experience we talked about and referenced right up to the end.

      2. Lexx

        ‘The enormity of the sea is something to experience.’

        Also the only good reason to take a trip into space. Our idea of a great vacation is to get as far from other humans as possible, for as long as possible. But for any opportunity to be reminded how very small we are, floating about in a nearly unfathomable sea, that might best be experienced with others… the collective humbling and (wishfully) the silence in the face of it.

        I’ve never been in the middle of an ocean and not often where I couldn’t hear another human voice or man-made sound. It’s my idea of heaven on earth or just above it.

    4. digi_owl

      I guess it is partially some holdover from when ships was the way to travel across oceans. Never mind that most cruise passengers today would likely have found themselves in “cattle” class back in the day.

      1. John

        Cruise ships are floating apartment houses, floating cages. Cannot imagine even musing about a cruise. Travel to someplace far off on a tramp steamer, if there are still such things. That could be wonderful.

        I used to drive 1,800 miles from the east coast to North Dakota to dig for fossils. If you want to listen to nothing, human drive the state roads; stop, sit, listen to the wind, birds, insects. I have two pictures, one forward, one back, of miles and miles of empty South Dakota highway … no cars, no trucks, no people, just me.

        1. digi_owl

          Reminds me of something i came across while channel surfing years ago. The show followed a cruise ship crew as they got ready to embark on a new voyage.

          And one of their tasks was to take stock of the cabins, document the location of every object not part of the normal layout, and then store them away.

          Because apparently they had a list of repeat passengers that basically expect the cabin to be their holiday home, complete with the nicknacks they had picked up at each stopover.

          So when next year the passenger returned, the crew would pull all those object out off storage and place them where they were last located. To make it seem like the cabin had been locked the whole year.

          So cruises are for some as make believe as a Disney resort. Never mind that Disney runs a cruise line of their own.

          I can’t help wonder if humanity is stuck in nostalgia mode.

    5. Jorge

      A co-worker claimed to have done “a lot” of cruises. He said that the best passage was through the Panama Canal. The scenery had variety, land was close by to look at, stop&go going through the locks. At one point there was lightning going sideways overhead.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Self-checkout machines now ask for tips in latest squeeze on customers”

    I am thinking of one example here. Can you imagine spending your own time bagging your own groceries in a supermarket so that you can help put some employee out a job who by the way would have been much faster than you, only to have that self-checkout machine demand a tip? You just know that none of the employees in that supermarket would ever see that tip and maybe it would go straight to corporate headquarters. But when you get down to it, those self-checkout machines should give you a discount for donating free work to that supermarket, not ask for a tip.

    1. Wukchumni

      Once in awhile when i’m at the checkout @ Grocery Outlet, i’ll gift the checker with something delicious on my Dime, and they have to practically jump through hoops in getting the manager to ok it, as an employee ending up with something and not paying for it, reeks of theft.

      My last gift was a panettone, the checker asked about it and had never eaten one before, how could you go through life and never have tried one?

      I foxed that.

    2. skippy

      ***Don’t You Love*** the new self-checkouts at Woolies Kev … you can see yourself being live on camera in the small screen top right of the menu – its so behavioral~~~

  10. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: Alberta fires.

    Maybe they will finally build that road to Nunavuk. Perhaps after they destroy their health care system?

    1. jrkrideau

      Maybe they will finally build that road to Nunavuk.

      Why and where in Nunavut? It’s a big territory and very few people..

  11. The Rev Kev

    “UK and Netherlands to lead “fighter jet coalition” to provide Ukraine with F-16s”

    But the US says whoa – not so fast there, pardner.

    ‘The US has forbidden its European allies from providing Ukrainian pilots with training on F-16 fighter jets, the New York Times has reported, citing a high-ranking official in Kiev.

    Without approval from Washington, the best that Ukrainian airmen can hope for are lessons on technical language and tactical training on the ground, the outlet said on Wednesday.

    F-16s contain classified technology and Washington’s allies must obtain special “releasability” permission from the Pentagon to even discuss it with outside partners such as Ukraine, a senior US Defense Department official explained to the paper.’

    1. digi_owl

      On a different note, i recently read that Norway is lacking in ground technicians for its new F-35s. Thus it has to rely on Lockheed contractors from USA.

      Gerhardsen must be spinning…

    2. Polar Socialist

      Again, after Ukrainians have for 15 months faced allegedly the best air-defense system in the world and fought an actual modern air force, I have have to ask what, pray tell, the Europeans can possibly teach to Ukrainians?

      Perhaps how to operate when you already have the air superiority, when a friendly AWACS tells you all you have to know (and even makes decisions for you), when you can always land on an airfield that is not targeted every night by missiles and when your fuel storage is not blown up every week.

      I think last time any NATO country faced what Ukraine is facing was Battle of Britain. The last veteran with that experience is still alive, though. Lives in Dublin and turns 104 this year.

  12. pjay

    – ‘The Rules Based Order’ – VoteNo2BigDough Newsletter (Chuck L).

    Since no one has yet commented on this, I just want to recommend it; it is indeed well worth a read.

    We have long since rejected “Great Man” theories of history, and rightly so. A variety of structuralists, institutionalists, social historians, multi-leveled ‘longue duree’ approaches, etc., have shown the poverty of such a narrow, elitist focus. However, what sometimes gets lost is that there are *real people* in positions of power, influence, or authority within these “structures,” “institutions,” or “social movements,” and at crucial historical junctures the specific knowledge, beliefs, or character of these individual actors just might matter.

    Who knows what might have happened had Roosevelt lived. But I do believe the evidence suggests that his death contributed to a major change in the direction of postwar policy. This does not require painting Roosevelt as a saint, ignoring his mistakes, or engaging in any “Great Man” style Roosevelt hagiography. It just involves considering the historical record that is now available.

    1. jsn

      Agreed, both on your comment and the quality of the link. As our hosts here often comment, personnel is policy, and at key moments, key to policy.

      Having read two of the books in his bibliography at the bottom, I need to look into the rest.

      Some really interesting history is getting published these days, I need to find more reading time!

    2. elissa3

      Glad that he finishes with the removal of Henry Wallace from the Democratic ticket. Not to minimize the many other post-war foreign policy errors, but, this was the big one.

      1. Late Introvert

        Very good article, thanks to NC.

        I grieve for Henry Wallace, and for the fact that my home state of Iowa is now a redoubt of Big Ag and its agents.

  13. Ghost in the Machine

    ‘We don’t need a baby, we have a cat’: Hong Kong women say no to kids as experts ponder baby shortage Channel News Asia

    These stories are nearly always presented with alarm and predictions of economic disaster. They are some of the few stories that give me hope. Population decline and reduction of pressure on ecosystems without the four horsemen? Especially in rich countries which are most to blame for climate change? Great! One concern it lists is a falling property market. Great again! Hope for our kiddos! It is amazing and frightening how gargantuan the mainstream economist misreading of our situation is.

    1. digi_owl

      The overarching issue is that most welfare systems were based on the baby boom years continuing forever.

    2. Roger Blakely

      I agree. It is a huge relief to know that we may have passed our peak. Instead of going toward 12 billion, we are heading down to something that the planet can handle.

  14. marku52

    I sit cynically bemused as the two wings of our oligarchy work frantically at cross purposes.

    The Wall Street Billionaires have spent decades cutting the legs out from under labor through “globalization” which is just labor arbitrage. Which had the effect of sending the nation’s manufacturing overseas, and letting the skills base atrophy.

    Meanwhile, there are the Neocons with their deranged idea that they should have a military veto over what any entity does anywhere anytime across the entire planet. Now they complain “Hey I printed half a billion USD (one Zelensky Unit) and where the he!! are my howitzer shells?”

    And making noises about reshoring and industrial strategy. While the Billionaires fume “Skilled labor is scarce. You are going to raise my labor costs!”

    The utter incompatibility of these two positions seems not to have occurred to either.

    “I don’t know what your problem is, my half of the boat isn’t sinking….”

    I don’t see how this dichotomy gets resolved, other than by the creation of some very expensive fish reefs around Taiwan…I don’t recall who said it but the gist was “Invalid strategic thinking is often dislodged by a military disaster.”

    1. Glen

      Unfortunately, I get to live this reality almost every day. Upper management thinks they can just flick an imaginary switch, or execute a Excel marco and the twenty plus years of trying to destroy their own work force will be magically undone. When I showed up over two decades ago, it was a very skilled and motivated bunch of people – they were EXTREMELY GOOD. All but gone now, and I don’t see how it ever recovers because management seems to be blind to what they have done.

      It’s like living right in the middle of the wealth divide in our country – to one side is the middle level manager driving a $100K+ BMW M whatever, and next to me is a rather nice young man I’m working with that cannot afford a new car, and forget about ever buying a home for his family. As soon as he gets some of the skills we need, he’s off to a better paying job, and I cannot say I can blame him. And in all irony, I cannot even blame the manager, apparently all an MBA does is teach them to downsize and outsource, and if they can do that, they get a bonus which buys another BMW every year.

        1. skippy

          “machinery” – you wish … numbers, just numbers, on a screen …. that is why HR was created … firewall between the unwashed so as not encumber the betters from the sights and sounds that might diminish their enjoyment in life or mind on task …

          1. digi_owl

            What is funny is that the whole startup stock options thing lead many a techie to think they were part of the betters rather than the unwashed…

            1. John

              A human resource is not a person. Those who live by the numbers on the computer screen see their trains derail. Spread sheets do not do maintenance. … and so on and so forth.

              1. skippy

                But its only the numbers that matter to juice equity prices and thus executive remuneration or large share holders. Then the big fish eat the little fish until the next spawning season of new little fish – see digi_owls observation …

                That was the whole idea behind Gates[tm] digital capitalism dream, unfettered by old industrial capitalism. That now is being call into question with how things did not work out with Russia and China.

    2. marku52

      Apropos, from Simplicius
      “This is the first time in history that the U.S. now has absolute proof that Russian systems can penetrate the most advanced U.S. defenses. Recall, that reportedly Ukraine was armed with the latest Pac-3 missiles, not the older Pac-2s, etc. This has dire consequences for all European security as it proves that Russian missiles can now penetrate any NATO base in Poland and elsewhere with full impunity. In fact, these are the types of tectonic moments that create entire generational doctrinal shifts and change the calculus of defense postures entirely.”

      1. The Rev Kev

        Well there goes the Neocon’s idea of a nuclear first strike on Russia – which is why they wanted to put those nuclear-tipped missiles in Poland. The Russians always were the proverbial party-poopers when it comes to attacking their country.

  15. Roger Blakely

    ‘We don’t need a baby, we have a cat’: Hong Kong women say no to kids as experts ponder baby shortage Channel News Asia

    It seems that all roads lead to population collapse.

    These kinds of articles never take men into account.

    We are in a mating and dating crisis.

    Pew did a survey last July and published the results for Valentine’s Day. The headline at Forbes was this: 57% Of Single Adults In U.S. Not Looking To Date, Survey Says.

    Let these three findings of Pew’s study sink in.

    1) Among those 18 to 29 years of age, 63% of men versus 34% of women considered themselves single.
    2) Of those single men under the age of thirty years old, 50% of them are not looking for relationships or even casual dates (i.e., not even trying to get sex).
    3) Of those single women under the age of thirty years old, 65% of them are not looking for relationships or even casual dates.

    1. artemis

      My maternal grandmother had 12 children, my mother had 6. I had two, my son has 1, my daughter, entering her 40s, has dogs.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Canada seeks foreign help to fight spreading wildfires”

    In previous years it was common to have crews from Oz and NZ head north to help with fires in North America while it was winter here. But now with climate change, the fire season here in Oz alone has been getting longer and longer which means there is less of a window for our guys to go north to help out there. Yeah, that sucks.

  17. Jason Boxman

    It is kind of comical that for Cops say they’re being poisoned by fentanyl. Experts say the risk is ‘extremely low’ they found a photo of a police officer wearing a P100 elastomeric mask as the lead top photo. If only we could find these photos for, you know, COVID. Sigh.

  18. tevhatch

    “Every administration since the ’80s has mishandled classified documents, says the National Archives NBC”

    Hey, National Archives and NBC, let me fix that for you. “Every administration since the ’80s has mishandled the classification of documents, says the National Archives NBC” How much toilet paper the Whitehouse and/or Congress purchases is probably classified top secret.

  19. Mikel

    “Boots Riley Cites Payday in Explaining Why He’s Not Promoting His Show during the Writers’ Strike” Payday Report

    The article says: “Please, go to Deadline to read the rest of the piece in-depth. Boots talks in-depth about how the Writer’s Strike represents a larger strike against how AI is going to take away jobs throughout a variety of industries…”

    “…People are using their power to reimagine power relations…”

    The roots of economics: power relations.

  20. Tom Stone

    I had blood work done this morning in anticipation of next weeks spinal surgery, I arrived 15 minutes before they opened at 7:30 and there were 6 in line ahead of me.
    All older than 60, none masked.
    By the time they opened 11 people were waiting, one P100 mask (Me) and one surgical mask.
    Inside half the staff was masked and half not, surgical masks.
    The good news is that the air exchange in the hallway where I waited blew half a gale, ruffling my hair at 10 Ft.
    “First do no harm” has gone the way of the Dodo and the Rule of Law.

    1. LaRuse

      I have chronic aenemia caused by a malabsorbtive disorder (I can’t absorb dietary iron) so I go see a hemetologist in a cancer treatment facility every 3 months for bloodwork, even though I don’t have cancer. At my December 2022 appointment, masks were still required but at my appointment last month, in a facility where people are actively hooked up for long hours of chemo treatment, masks were now “suggested.”
      I had my N95 on and my doc (who I see for less than 120 seconds) wore a baggy blue, but not my phlebotomist who was all smiles and “so glad to be done with all that” as she noted my mask, nor any another soul in the building, including all the actual cancer patients.
      “Everything’s going according to plan.”

  21. Katniss Everdeen

    Excellent article from National Review on candidate RFK, Jr. and his relationship to today’s democrat party and their media stenographers, including this bit:

    That folks around the DNC know he has a chance, in New Hampshire and beyond, can be surmised from reports of chatter about a backup plan involving California Governor Gavin Newsom — or even, if it comes to that, Vice President Kamala Harris. As the establishment thinking goes, Newsom would be a more plausible and reputable alternative, once Kennedy has rendered Biden too weak to go on. In other words: Let RFK Jr. take all the risks, and do all the work, of removing from the scene a president due for retirement, so that Newsom can step in and triumphantly fill the void. Use Bobby to get rid of Joe, then use Gavin to get rid of Bobby.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Just like how Trump got rid of the rest of the GOP field and then Hillary got rid of Trump! Oh…wait.

    2. Offtrail

      Let RFK Jr take all the risks, and do all the work, of removing from the scene a president due for retirement …

      Sounds exactly like the role RFK Jr’s father assigned to Gene McCarthy when LBJ was President.

      1. John

        Assuming this scenario is plausible, why would anyone vote for Newsom. I do not agree with Kennedy on the subject of vaccines. That aside, I read his announcement speech. To me he makes more sense and speaks more directly than anyone else on the political scene and the positions he takes are reasoned even when I am not in full agreement with him. A rational human being running for office is such a refreshing change from the molded, sculpted, managed critters that are our usual fare. Give the guy a chance. And he is so your … only 70. I shall wait to see what happens. The sanctioned choices of the moment, I would not touch with a barge pole.

  22. djrichard

    > We’re All Bored of Culture Tablet

    Artists aren’t like you and me. Their brains are different; their souls are different. I don’t know where that difference comes from, but I know it’s real. Its hallmark is precisely the capacity to bring the new to birth. “None of us is as smart as all of us” goes the hive-age bromide, getting it exactly wrong. All the weirdness that we’re missing now, the wild originality, can only come from the activity of singular spirits: contemptuous of imitation, courageous in the extreme, obedient to nothing but the effort to achieve their vision. They are out there, I know, they are doing their work, but only on the margins, in the cracks. Expose them to the light, give them some mainstream attention, and instead of dragging us a little way in their direction, as they would have once, they just get homogenized, too.

    Reminds me of the short story “Unaccompanied Sonata” by Orson Scott Card. Highly recommend! I remember reading that short story when it first came out in Omni magazine – it blew my mind as did many of the short stories published in that monthly. In a way, Omni kind of served for what the author of the Tablet article is seeking, at least it did back in the 70s.

    1. John

      I remember the radio announcement of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I came of age in the 1950s. This line repeated in a sing song voice, “The hypocrites have taken over everything.”, the source lost to memory fits today’s ‘culture’, but, “The philistines have taken over everything.” works well also. I have taken to reading, in some cases rereading, Camus and Sartre, Didion, Celine, and the 19th century Russian novelists to name a few just to get something with meat on its bones that is not part of a homogenized ‘franchise.’ The Museum of Modern Art had Picasso’s Guernica and one of these huge Jackson Pollack’s and Picasso’s bronze goat who rump had been polished the hands of passersby and Moon Dog with his viking horned helmet had his corner on 6th avenue, IIRC. Of course, there was also the dog droppings on the 5th avenue sidewalks. Not culture in any usual sense of the word, but part of the scene. Greenwich Village had not been gentrified or whatever you call its fall from grace. I know. I know. Old guy waxing nostalgic, but it was alive in ways that do not now exist.

  23. Ignacio

    RE: Ukraine aid — and US stockpiles — are running out. What’s next? Responsible Statecraft

    In the fog of war little we know exactly on how much warfare was already delivered to Ukraine but this article and the references therein paint a situation that supports the notion that the US and the Collective West have not been offering accurate numbers/dates of military deliveries. I suspect that it has been delivered more (possibly much more) than what has been officially reported. Possibly more not only in quantity but in quality or types of weapons. Republicans asking for better accounting gives further support. Then, there is this acute interest and incessant push for the Biggest Counteroffensive which might also be interpreted as “we have given all we can give, you will never be in better situation so attack now!”. Of course these are all speculations but if true we might be closer to the end of the war (or this phase of the war) than we thought. What’s next? China?

  24. Carla

    This was interesting. Chronic pain is “defined as pain experienced on most days or every day over 3 months”

    According to this, I have had various mysterious incidents of chronic pain: once in my right foot, once in the left, and once in both knees although the right knee pain was more acute, and once cripplingly in the lower back.

    With the exception of the “back attack” which was instantly and miraculously “cured” after about two weeks by reading Dr. John Sarno’s “Mind Over Back Pain,” the other instances of pain became less severe after an initial acute phase, following which I sought various conventional and alternative treatments, none of which were effective at all. However, in each case the pain persisted for almost exactly 6 months, at which stage within a few days it would mysteriously vanish. Now with every new ache or pain that lasts more than a few days, I have to remind myself: just wait 6 months.

    My point is this: maybe, at least in my case, the duration required for pain to be considered chronic should be 6 months rather than 3.

    Has anyone else had this experience of pain vanishing at the 6-month mark?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Is that the G7 summit in Hiroshima? Biden already promised a nuclear umbrella for Japan but since this is in Hiroshima, they have already had one of those. I wonder what song Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will have to sing to Biden.


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