Links 6/4/2023

Honeybee health blooms at federal facilities across the country AP

‘A first’ from Mars: European spacecraft sends livestream from red planet France24

Why the U.S. Remains Far From Recession but Get Ready for the Full-Employment Recession WSJ

VC Contagion: Is Venture Capital Killing Itself? Newcomer


У нас сильная жара:

Perhaps a reader can help with a more idiomatic translation….

UAE defends Big Oil’s role at UN climate summit it will host AP


COVID-19 vaccination-related myocarditis: a Korean nationwide study European Heart Journal. N = 44,276,704 (nation-wide study). From the Conclusion: “COVID-19 [Vaccination-Related Myocarditis (VRM)] was confirmed in 480 cases (1.08 cases per 100 000 persons). Although COVID-19 VRM was rare and showed relatively favorable clinical courses, severe VRM was found in 19.8% of all VRM cases. Moreover, [Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD)] should be closely monitored as a potentially fatal complication of COVID-19 vaccination.” Myocarditis = “Inflammation of the heart muscle, usually following a virus.” In generally, I’m skeptical of cross-national studies because of confounders (for example, diet). Nevertheless, certainly chimes with what IM Doc has been saying for some time, if not numerically, at least as an effect.

* * *

Brain fog in long COVID limits function and health status, independently of hospital severity and preexisting conditions (research report) Frontiers in Neurology. N = 530. From the Abstract: “A year after COVID-19 infection, [Brain Fog (BF)] persists in a third of patients. COVID-19 severity is not a predictive risk factor. BF associates with other longCOVID and independently associates with persistent debility.” One third? Do the math….

* * *

A Salesman’s Trick, Ignoring R0, Shaming, Conspiracy, Premature Declaration, Strategic Omission, and Fanciful Fiction Science-Based Medicine. Close reading of a single paragraph by GBDer Richard M. Salsman.


CIA chief made secret trip to China in bid to thaw relations FT

China, US officials meet at intelligence gathering on sidelines of Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore: Report Channel News Asia

* * *

US defense secretary says Washington won’t stand for ‘coercion and bullying’ from China AP

China’s Li says clash with US would bring ‘unbearable disaster’ Al Jazeera

* * *

China hopes to build ‘high-quality economic relationship’ with Argentina as South America pivot rolls on South China Morning Post

China’s answer to Boeing and Airbus isn’t as ‘homegrown’ as it seems. Here’s why CNN

The Koreas

K-Culture Is Here to Stay Foreign Policy. The author is CEO of CJ ENM. I suppose the owners of Big Hit, JYP, and SM Entertainment were all too busy to write for some provincial magazine….

South Korea: Labor Union Leader Sets Himself Afire in Protest of Racketeering Charges Labor Notes


India blames train crash on signal failure as death toll nears 300 FT


The dictatorship of the church Africa is a Country

European Disunion

Germany: Police break up banned far-left protest in Leipzig Deutsche Welle

What Are German Fighter Pilots Doing in China? Der Speigel

Observations From Paris Our Built Environment. And the banlieues? They should be as beautful too!

Dear Old Blighty

The Startup Party: reflections on the last 20 years, what could replace the Tories, and why Dominic Cummings Substack. I confess to a sneaking esteem for Cummings (he’s certainly smarter and more focused than Bannon). “Insiders are sure to panic further and accelerate the forces they dread.” Worth a read.

Train drivers across England strike regarding year-long pay dispute Anadolu Agency

UK government refuses to hand over WhatsApp messages to COVID inquiry International Business Times

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine’s Zelensky: We Are Ready for Counteroffensive (interview) WSJ

The Ukrainian Military Is In Bad Shape Moon of Alabama

* * *

Kremlin claims Putin ‘open’ to achieving goals in Ukraine ‘by other means’ than military Anadolu Agency

Russia has enough Iranian suicide drones to launch attacks every day to deplete Ukraine’s air defenses Business Insider

* * *

Ukraine in last-ditch appeal for EU to end grain import curbs Politico (Brunches with Cats). Brunches with Cats: “IMO, this article isn’t clear enough upfront that the ‘EU ban’ applies to only five countries. However, it goes into the politics in more depth than I’ve seen elsewhere, particularly regarding Poland.”

Biden Adminstration

Biden celebrates a ‘crisis averted’ in Oval Office address on bipartisan debt ceiling deal AP [yawns]. What? Did you say something?

Debt deal imposes new work requirements for food aid and that frustrates many Democrats Boston Globe. They may be “frustrated,” but you know what? They’ll keep “fighting.” So it’s all good.

Digital Watch

Crypto collapse? Get in loser, we’re pivoting to AI Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain. A must-read:

Anil Dash observes (over on Bluesky, where we can’t link it yet) that venture capital’s playbook for AI is the same one it tried with crypto and Web3 and first used for Uber and Airbnb: break the laws as hard as possible, then build new laws around their exploitation.

The VCs’ actual use case for AI is treating workers badly.

The Writer’s Guild of America, a labor union representing writers for TV and film in the US, is on strike for better pay and conditions. One of the reasons is that studio executives are using the threat of AI against them. Writers think the plan is to get a chatbot to generate a low-quality script, which the writers are then paid less in worse conditions to fix. [Guardian]

Executives at the National Eating Disorders Association replaced hotline workers with a chatbot four days after the workers unionized. “This is about union busting, plain and simple,” said one helpline associate. The bot then gave wrong and damaging advice to users of the service: “Every single thing Tessa suggested were things that led to the development of my eating disorder.” The service has backtracked on using the chatbot. [Vice; Labor Notes; Vice; Daily Dot]

Digital blackface: instead of actually hiring black models, Levi’s thought it would be a great idea to take white models and alter the images to look like black people. Levi’s claimed it would increase diversity if they faked the diversity. One agency tried using AI to synthesize a suitably stereotypical “Black voice” instead of hiring an actual black voice actor. [Business Insider, archive]

* * *


I suppose we could say the same for most of our systems and institutions just now. They work great, “once the propensity to hallucinate is ironed out.” Perhaps AI is, at it were, “holding a mirror up to nurture.”

Evaluating ChatGPT4 in Canadian Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Board Examination using the CVSA Model (preprint) medRxiv. From the Abstract: “ChatGPT-4 achieved a passing score in the sample exam, and demonstrated the potential to pass the Canadian Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Royal College board examination. Some concerns remain due to its hallucinations that could pose risks to patient safety. Further adjustments are necessary to yield safer and more accurate answers for clinical implementation.” “Hallucinations” anthropomorphizes, so I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that framing.

* * *

Security News This Week: AI Is Being Used to ‘Turbocharge’ Scams Wired. This is what happens when AI goes mainstream, because in our financialized economy, scams are the mainstream. Not “Uncanny Valley,” but “Hallucinatory Valley.” It’s hard for me to imagine that all the brain geniuses in SIlicon Valley — all the Founders shocked, shocked because nobody expects the AI inquisition — didn’t see it coming.

Google’s New AI-Powered Search Is A Beautiful Plagiarism Machine Forbes. Google is just hoovering up big chunks of text from online sources, and if it’s more accurate than ChatGPT, that’s why. And the sources don’t get a link, either, so there are no clickthroughs. “Once the rockets are up, who cares where zey come down….”

Undetectable Watermarks for Language Models Cryptology ePrint Archive. “Recent advances in the capabilities of large language models such as GPT-4 have spurred increasing concern about our ability to detect AI-generated text. Prior works have suggested methods of embedding watermarks in model outputs, by altering the output distribution. We ask: Is it possible to introduce a watermark without incurring change to the output distribution?” Why?

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‘Much easier to say no’: Irish town unites in smartphone ban for young children Guardian (Re Silc).

Supply Chain

‘Barbie’ production emptied a company’s worldwide supply of pink paint LA Times

New way to place your bets on boom and bust of shipping cycle Freight Waves. Reads like a product placement, but still interesting.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

The Twilight of Freedom Craig Murray

Realignment and Legitimacy

Conservative Americans are building a parallel economy The Economist

How a Staunchly Blue State Let MAGA Seep In Politico. “Seep”?

The revolt of the Christian home-schoolers WaPo

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Canary Islands: First Stop of Imperialism JTOR Daily

Class Warfare

The Man Who Knows What the World’s Richest People Want (and How To Get It) Vice. Structurally (sociolologically) this is extremely interesting. How many other people are “two degrees of separation from any significant gatekeeper in the world,” and what do they do?

Zeitgeist 2023 Heisenberg Report. Implications of Dollar General’s weak report. Worth a read!

Idle rich baffled by poor people’s distaste for dangerous, low-paying jobs Boing Boing (Re Silc).

Sick Workers Tied to 40% of Food Poisoning Outbreaks, C.D.C. Says NYT

The grid part II – the golden age of the power industry Construction Physics. Part I.

An Anthropologist of Filth Harpers. Chuck Berry

Antidote du Jour (via):

Bonus Antidote:

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. Chas

    So according to the Deutsche Welle article, Germany actually does have a real left political force and it’s taking to the streets. Thousands of people out in Leipzig defying a court order against their assembly and marching against fascism. Could this be the beginning of a bigger uprising?

    1. Louis Fyne

      no, not until Germans realize that their fascism (fusion of state and finance/business with supression of free speech) is coming from the Left (and not AfD)

      1. digi_owl

        Or more accurately that their supposed “(center-)left” is more right leaning when it comes to anything but fringe cultural issues.

        As in, the old left-right spectrum no longer accurately capture the stance of the various parties. Neither in Germany, nor the rest of Europe.

        What is being yearned for, and what some may falsely label as fascism, is something like conservative-leftism. A more even division of the economic pie, and a slower, more considered, pace of cultural changes.

        Because right now what most of the west has is a duel between conservative-rightism and liberal-rightism. Where both favoring unbridled capitalism while arguing fervently about the pace of cultural change.

        1. LifelongLib

          I don’t know anything about German politics, but “conservative-leftism” sounds like what would be called populism here in the U.S.

      2. Dr. Robert

        It’s not coming from the Left or the AfD. Neither are in power. It’s coming from the centrist political establishment, so ultimately the USA.

        It’s like the Querdenker et al suddenly discovered the police state exists when it had to crack down on them during covid, and ignores the fact that it has been deployed mostly against left-wing political forces in the country since its inception over a hundred years ago. How anglo-brained do you have to be to pick up dumb right-wing discourse in the US and paste it onto German politics?

      3. Don

        What do you mean by “the left”?

        I suspect that what you are referring to would be more accurately characterized as liberalism, but correct me if I am misinterpreting.

    2. Dr. Robert

      Germany has a strong and diverse left-wing political base. There are just a slew of structural issues and political contradictions that keep it divided relegate it to 15-20‰ of the population, with electoral support for die Linke underperforming support for left-wing ideology considerably. Germany has been seeing a decline of legitimacy of centrist politics like much of Europe, though Merkel’s popularity masked this on the right for many years. The Left isn’t really in a position to capitalize on this due to consistent media bias, and complications juggling an older-socially conservative East German base, while trying to wrangle younger radicals – radlibs, anarchists, communists, and socialists together and stay on the right side of the legal boundaries set by the Verfassungsschutz. What emerges is a superficial whining for more welfare state, and vague systemic criticisms. Even the long-standing anti-NATO line is difficult for them to hold these days. Then certain elements flirt with anti-immigrant sentiment to try to poach from the alt-right. It’s a mess.

    3. hk

      The have the Left Party (die Linke, literally “the Left.”), made up of disillusioned leftists who left the SDP and the remnants of East German communist believers. Some genuine pacificists in Germany (eg LaFontaine and Wagenknecht) are from this party, although I don’t think they have a clear partywide stance on the current situation(s)….

    4. lambert strether

      > taking to the streets

      Taking to the streets is a fetish.* Taking it to the banks, now….

      Only the gilets jaunes got anywhere, and it would be nice to know why….

  2. The Rev Kev

    “US defense secretary says Washington won’t stand for ‘coercion and bullying’ from China”

    ‘The projection is strong with this one.’

    1. Louis Fyne

      opposite of: “speak softly and carry a big can of whoop-arse.”

      if PAC-3 can’t defend Kyiv, I doubt Aegis can defend the USS Reagan.

      The Aegis missile defense system has an extremely limited combat history….much less than PAC-1-3.

      1. redleg

        And there are only so many missiles in the magazines. A Task Force isn’t going to re-arm in the combat zone. Even if it successfully defends itself, expending most of the SAMs renders the Task Force combat ineffective.
        And then there’s the question of how many SAMs are available, of which type and where, for subsequent TF sorties.

        1. vao

          During WWII, warships were full to the brim with ammunition in order to sustain the massive shell expenditure required by repeated big (and small) gun artillery battles they were involved in — without having to head back to port for replenishment after the first engagement.

          Modern frigates are as large and exhibit as big a displacement as WWII light cruisers. And they do not have enough space for missiles?

          1. redleg

            Of course they have space for them. But they don’t stay in storage- in combat missiles get fired leaving an empty rack/cell in the ship’s magazine. Without getting into details that are probably classified, these missiles are large, far larger than 6- and 8- inch naval munitions, meaning that there are fewer of them per ship and much harder to transfer from ammo ship to the magazine than naval artillery ordnance.
            Plus the ammunition ships are both vulnerable targets and cause enormous damage to surrounding ships/docks when hit. Given the state of satellite surveillance, there’s no way that a re-arming situation would go unnoticed, at sea or in port, and eventually that would get hit. Can it be done? Of course. But the risk is high with catastrophic consequences if it fails. The safest option to do this is far from a combat area, and this was true in WW2 as it is today.

            Then there’s the production capacity of the US MIC. The US is having a hard enough time producing 155mm ordnance to keep Ukraine fighting. The munitions factories that supplied ammunition for WW2, Korea, Vietnam wars no longer exist. Missiles are not easy to produce. Each missile is essentially built by hand. The capacity to fire munitions exceeds the US ability to produce them. In a hot war, it’s only a matter of time, and not a long time at that, that US naval forces will not have the high tech munitions available to defend themselves. Those things will get fired far faster than they can be produced and transported to where they’re needed. That is the reason why the risk of nuclear annihilation is so high today- when you are under attack and are running out of munitions but you still have nukes, those nukes are going to get used. When one goes off, they all go off.

      2. ilsm

        air and missile defense system, ands, aka aegis.

        two hulls: Ticonderoga cruiser (no more being built) Arleigh Burke destroyer.

        flight 3 destroyers being built to hold the new spy 6 Raytheon displaced Lockheed spy 1.

        flight 3 bigger bc need huge generator to drive new radar.

        sm 6 etc usually exoatmosphere mid course, unlike patriot which is terminal phase more point than area.

        aegis is 40 year old, evolved until latest spy 6and sm 6.

        as above testing limited to expense and trouble getting all parts working in tight timing.

        expensive stuff limited tests!

    2. coloradoblue

      “US defense secretary says Washington won’t stand for ‘coercion and bullying’ from China.”

      “That’s OUR job” he didn’t say.

  3. John

    In re: AI
    The essay On B—S— defines the product as having no regard for the truth or falsity of what it is saying but seeking only to persuade its hearer. Put differently, random content largely devoid of meaning but possibly interesting, amusing, and persuasive. That sounds like ChatGPT to me, but then as far as I know I have had no contact with it …yet.

    Yesterday a friend read a tribute to Tina Turner spewed by ChatGPT. It sounded plausible. It consisted largely of cliches strung together in an order that fit the dictum, write-a-tribute-to-this-person.

    From my scanty knowledge of this ‘exciting’ development, I continue to be affirmed in the belief that we humans have striven mightily and produced an automatic B—S— machine. As we already have human advertising and public relations, which often fit the above definition, is there any need for such cliche generators,other than reducing labor costs?

    1. Synoia

      produced an automatic B—S— machine….

      It is in good company. There is much of the same in senior levels of many large institutions.

    2. cfraenkel

      Scale. Yes, it’s linked to labor costs, in a way. An example is the raft of ‘targeted’ ads you get when you search for any random text. No one thought you were going to search for that text…. the ad system builds the ads based on the words you search for. No human can possibly do so – the ads have to be ‘written’ in milliseconds, to unpredictable inputs.

      Now, the ads are very constrained, so it’s possible to just write some pattern matching code that doesn’t need the complexity of an NLM (AI). What the large models enable is extending this idea to many other contexts – essays, user manuals, how-to instructions, book summaries etc. where you don’t know ahead of time what the end user is asking for.

      While yes, some PHBs are looking to lower existing labor costs, the potential benefit is to enable new services that just wouldn’t be possible with human labor. As an example – say a service that lets you request a variable length summary of any book. Maybe you want two pages, or maybe you want twenty. Or maybe you’re looking for anything related to xxxxx topic in a particular authors written works.

    3. Cetra Ess

      You’re not entirely wrong, it does seem to want to check truth and falsity but somehow it doesn’t do this for initial responses. Here’s one of my own experiences of ChatGPT, it contradicted itself twice, though it did correct itself later, which is interesting:

      Can you provide a list of book titles that were published in English and were about a teenaged boy living in Paris, who joined the French Resistance during the Nazi Occupation of Paris?

      Certainly! While I cannot provide an exhaustive list, here are a few book titles that feature a teenaged boy living in Paris who becomes involved in the French Resistance during the Nazi Occupation:

      “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein
      “A School for Unusual Girls” by Kathleen Baldwin
      “The Painted Wall” by Valerie Sherrard
      “Resistance” by Carla Jablonski
      “In Darkness” by Nick Lake
      “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick
      “Gadget” by Robert C. O’Brien
      “The Black Orchestra” by JJ Toner
      “The Green Glass Sea” by Ellen Klages
      “A Gathering Light” by Jennifer Donnelly

      Please note that while these books feature a similar theme, it’s essential to review their summaries or excerpts to determine if they align with the specific details and plot points you mentioned.

      What are some of the character names in the book “Resistance” by Carla Jablonski?

      In the book “Resistance” by Carla Jablonski, the main character is named Paul, a teenage boy living in Paris during the Nazi Occupation. Other significant characters in the book include:

      Marie: A member of the French Resistance who becomes close to Paul.
      Henri: Paul’s best friend and a member of the Resistance.
      Jacques: Another member of the Resistance and an important figure in the group.
      Mme. Gaulloise: A kind woman who helps shelter and protect Paul and his friends.
      Captain Müller: A German officer who becomes suspicious of Paul and his activities.
      Juliette: A young girl who encounters Paul and plays a role in the Resistance’s operations.
      Father Pierre: A priest involved with the Resistance and a source of guidance for Paul.
      Please note that this list may not include all the characters in the book and is based on available information. Reading the book directly will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the characters and their roles.

      In “Resistance” by Carla Jablonski, is Paul captured and interrogated by the gestapo?

      I apologize for the confusion, but there seems to be a misunderstanding. Carla Jablonski did not write a book titled “Resistance.” It’s possible that there may be a book with a similar title or a different author. If you have any additional details or if there are any other elements or plot points you can recall, I’ll do my best to assist you further in identifying the book you are looking for.

      In the book “Resistance” by Carla Jablonski was Paul interrogated by the gestapo?

      I apologize for the incorrect information provided earlier. After reevaluating the available resources, I couldn’t find any evidence of a book titled “Resistance” written by Carla Jablonski. I’m sorry for any confusion caused. If you have any other questions or need assistance with a different topic, feel free to ask.

      You seemed to contradict yourself, why did this happen?

      I apologize for any confusion caused by the contradictory responses. As an AI language model, I strive to provide accurate and reliable information. However, there can be instances where the available data or my understanding may lead to incorrect or incomplete responses. In this case, the initial response provided incorrect information about a book titled “Resistance” by Carla Jablonski, which does not exist. I apologize for the mistake and any confusion it may have caused. If you have any other questions or need assistance with a different topic, please let me know, and I’ll be happy to help.

      Why did you initially think the book existed, whereas now you do not?

      I apologize for the confusion caused by my previous responses. As an AI language model, I don’t have real-time access to a comprehensive database of all published books. My responses are generated based on pre-existing knowledge and information available up until September 2021, which is my knowledge cutoff date. However, there may be instances where certain books or specific details are not included in my training data or knowledge.

      In the case of the book “Resistance” by Carla Jablonski, I initially provided information based on a misunderstanding or a potential mix-up with similar book titles or authors. Upon reevaluating the information, I couldn’t find any evidence or references to a book titled “Resistance” by Carla Jablonski. I apologize for any confusion or inconvenience caused by this discrepancy.

      If you have any other questions or need assistance with a different topic, please let me know, and I’ll do my best to help.

      What books has Carla Jablonski written?

      Carla Jablonski is an author who has written several books. Some of her notable works include:

      “Defiance: Resistance Book 2” (with illustrator Leland Purvis)
      “Resistance: Resistance Book 1” (with illustrator Leland Purvis)
      “Thicker Than Water” (with illustrator Leland Purvis)
      “Victory: Resistance Book 3” (with illustrator Leland Purvis)
      “No Sisters’ Keeper” (with illustrator Leland Purvis)
      “Flying Solo” (with illustrator Leland Purvis)
      “Shadow Children” series (as a ghostwriter for Margaret Peterson Haddix)

      Please note that this list may not include all of Carla Jablonski’s books, as there could be additional works or collaborative projects not mentioned.

      In the book “Resistance: Resistance Book 1” by Carla Jablonski is Paul interrogated by the gestapo?

      I apologize for the confusion caused earlier. There seems to be an incorrect association between Carla Jablonski and the book “Resistance: Resistance Book 1” regarding the character Paul and his interaction with the Gestapo. I have been unable to find any evidence of a book by Carla Jablonski with that specific title and storyline. It’s possible that the book you are referring to may have been written by a different author. If you have any other details or aspects of the book that may help with further identification, I’ll do my best to assist you.

    4. MIkeH

      It’s not just a BS machine, ChatGPT has an extreme bias towards the PMC viewpoint, not surprisingly in view of its training data. To illustrate this, just try entering “Define a human “female””. If you follow up with a few probing questions about gender and sex, you will get a perfect distillation of the current PMC approved gospel on sexuality.

      If you spend more than a few minutes exploring ChatGPT you will discover it is entirely useless except as a pretty effective search engine. It becomes obvious that it is in fact nothing but a simulation of a half-bright student who has absorbed all the content of the assigned reading without understanding any of it. This is not surprising because this is exactly how it is implemented. It has no theory for what it is doing.

      This is not machine intelligence. The great danger is that people in power will treat it as though it is.

    5. eg

      AI of the ChatGPT variety is the equivalent of the garrulous fellow at the end of the bar who has a tenuous relationship with the truth. This is somehow progress?

  4. griffen

    The average Dollar General shopper would trade down, possibly, but what does that actually look like? A membership to Costco to purchase in bulk quantity, ergo optimized their dollars, just seems unlikely. And as quite a few will know, Dollar General blankets the market where terms like “underserved” or “food desert” can be applied. I’ll predict an increase in food banks and charitable organizations announcing shortages of supplies come late fall into winter, and that’s a cynical angle.

    Their inventory management in these past 6 to 9 months is not encouraging, and to be honest my option to go there is to buy a small list of snack foods, beer and paper towels / tissues.

    1. GramSci

      “A membership to Costco to purchase in bulk quantity, ergo optimized their dollars, just seems unlikely.”

      Not at all. When I was figuratively imprisoned in Florida, I taught English to Haitians, and I was impressed to find they had already done the math. They had banded their families together to buy the ‘Executive’ card.

      1. Louis Fyne

        the big obstacle is transport to Costco.

        Which the Haitans overcome via family/friends-networking, which many other people don’t have cuz of our atomized society

        1. digi_owl

          More and more one wonder if the Amish may have the right idea, but take it a bit too far.

          1. some guy

            Well, they took it far enough to remain Functional Amish. If they had taken it less far, would they have been assimilated into extinction by now? So the question arises . . . too far for what?

        2. GramSci

          That’s where churches come in. Of course the Churches take a cut. The Haitians are on to this, as are most poor people. But they’re wiling to believe anything for transport, if not to heaven, then at least to Costco.

      2. Louis Fyne

        and sure you get a great price (for many item)….but you have to buy bulk sizes of $15’s worth of rice and $45 worth of diapers, $25 of ground beef in one trip.

        not all families can do that, even if it cheaper in the long run.

        1. chris

          Storage is the main concern I hear when dealing with the poor. They would love to plan ahead and buy in bulk. But they don’t have garages or storage closets to keep it in. Land lords let roaches and other vermin run rampant through lower class housing. And when you’re poor you’re often not able to control things like the AC or the heat. So, even if you have the room to store bulk purchases, are you going to buy them and put them at risk when you don’t have the money to waste?

      3. Lexx

        It’s that strategy that’s currently plugging the aisles of our Costco with excess carts and bodies. If someone yells ‘fire’, a lot of shoppers are going to get hurt in the stampede.

        I had a 9 a.m. appointment on Thursday morning that was just a quick follow-up, so I arrived at the Costco parking lot at 9:33. There were two other cars with occupants also waiting for the store to open. In the next 27 minutes the parking lot filled with cars and a line formed from the entrance to the backside of the building. I was in the front third of the line with a cart watching groups of shoppers walking by, each of them equally amazed at the size of the crowd… and that ‘s when it began to dawn on me that a lot of those shoppers weren’t card-carrying members, but would be purchasing under one card. In the last two years, shopping at Costco has become a tribal activity, but the definition of ‘tribal’ had morphed.

        It also explained why there seemed to be so many abandoned carts in the aisles. They had walked in pushing a cart while showing the attendant their photo on their expired cards because no one here checks. Costco only cares about who purchases under a paid membership. Each shopper in the party had gone off to gather what they wanted (thus speeding the process up), met the card-holding member in an aisle where they piled their goods together into one cart and headed for a cash register leaving the empty carts where they were. Getting into the store is unquestioned, it’s getting out that’s scrutinized. I put this on par with sharing subscriptions and passwords.

        Does Costco know this is going on? Surely, but it’s in their interest to keep up the pretense that it doesn’t, like when a customer (moi) complains at the cash register about all the abandoned carts in the aisles we have to negotiate in addition to those in use and the 3000 ‘ambulatory traffic cones’ also known as ‘old people’ and ‘children’.

        It’s a question of whose shopping lists will be bringing Costco more profit. If I were Costco I might be trying to make up any shortfall in membership by charging higher prices for the goods, under the guise of ‘supply chain’ problems(?).

        I’m considering renewing my Sam’s Club membership. It’s closer to home and there’s parking, even if I don’t like the selection of goods there as well.

        1. cnchal

          Arbitrage is a bitch. Do consider that the extra volume that Costco sells to ‘non’ members helps keep your prices down. Plus, this sticks it to Dollar General.

      4. playon

        From my personal experience, many recent immigrants are smarter than American-born folks and they are often accustomed to doing more with less.

        The Costco stores I’ve been in all check for a card upon entry.

        They aren’t in every state but I love the Grocery Outlet chain, which are way above Dollar General in quality.

        1. some guy

          Smarter? Or just more legacy-educated? As in ” not yet de-educated down to mass-marketised American levels”?

          Because if they are just more legacy-educated, then perhaps some Americans can be up-educated to the level of recent immigrants.

    2. TimH

      Owen said Dollar General’s customers are “under greater pressure than we have seen in quite some time.” “We continue to see signs of increasing financial strain as they seek affordable options, including increased reliance on private brands and items at or below the $1 price point,”

      Owen, the CEO, is not being honest. DG’s stuff is now $1.25 + tax here, so $1.36. That’s a third higher than “at or below the $1 price point”.

    3. Chas

      There’s a new threat to Dollar General. In northern New Hampshire and Vermont, an Indian family (India Indians) has bought seven real general stores that had gone out of business. It’s running them as a chain but is putting delis in them and the home cooking is wonderful. I walked into one recently and ordered a sub. The young Indian man couldn’t understand English but there was a sign with pictures that he pointed to and then I pointed to and soon he handed me a delicious sub.

      1. TimH

        Small hole-in-the wall places (ok, not quite in your example, but sounds close enough) with non-western home cooking are wonderful, whatever the ethnicity, and some amazing experiences like Eritrean where everyone shares the same teff flatbread that the nosh is served on.

        My hint ‘n’ tip for Indian food outside India is pick the veg-only places.

      1. griffen

        I didn’t want to go that route but it’s patently obvious, except to those in charge.

  5. Raymond Sim

    Shouldn’t we expect mimicry of psychopathy as the default behavior of AI’s? Is it plausible that anyone who’s thought about this for ten minutes would anticipate anything else?

    1. GramSci

      Talking isn’t hard. Observe any ‘professional’ salesperson. On the other hand, speaking the truth requires research, humility, and some genuine caring.

      Getting a machine to speak without any of these is stupid, evil, or both.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I’m beginning to understand that there’s at least a subset of transhumanists who are ready to kneel down and worship an AI somewhat more advanced than current versions. Just ask Ray Kurzweil. They also seem to believe in some sort of collective consciousness operating within the Internet that is moving us inexorably toward this transhumanist future where we build (not just train!) both our replacements and our god. Elise Bohan, a youngish philosophy professor at Oxford, was quite open about her views in this debate with the “reactionary feminist,” Mary Harrington.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “China’s Li says clash with US would bring ‘unbearable disaster’ ”

    Having said this, the Chinese are now taking action against US ships sailing up and down the Taiwan Straight, otherwise known as the Chinese coastline. So a Chinese warship cut across the path of the warship USS Chung-Hoon (yes, that was the name of the American ship) twice with the closest point of approach being 150 yards (140 meters)- (1:08 mins)

    1. Screwball

      The US imported $564 billion from China in 2022. If China decided to stop a fraction of those goods, especially crucial goods, this county would be in a unbearable disaster in short order.

      But let’s keep poking the China bear. Our leaders are insane.

      1. chris

        They’re perfectly rational if you consider the fact that they don’t care about human life and they don’t like the people that they rule. They’re just making profits for their friends and some ugly little hangers-on get hurt in the process. Oh well.

        They really can’t think of any negative consequences for their behavior. And anything that might be a negative is a vaguely defined future event. So there’s no system to punish the elites for their stupidity.

    2. synoia

      China’s Li says clash with US would bring ‘unbearable disaster’

      That’s a either a promise, a threat or both. I

    3. davejustdave

      I noticed the name, evidently Korean in origin, and discovered the following in Wikipedia:

      Gordon Paiʻea Chung-Hoon (July 25, 1910 – July 24, 1979) was an admiral in the United States Navy, who served during World War II and was the first Asian American flag officer. He received the Navy Cross and Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism as commanding officer of USS Sigsbee from May 1944 to October 1945. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on July 25, 1910. His father, William Chung-Hoon Jr., was a county treasurer and his mother Agnes Punana, a Hawaiian, was a member of the Kaʻahumanu Society….

      Chung-Hoon attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated in May 1934, becoming the first Asian American graduate of the academy. While a student he gained national prominence as the football team’s halfback and punter, and in 1934 starred on the team that broke an 11-year winless streak against the Army team. In 1958 Sports Illustrated’s Silver Anniversary All-American issue featured Chung-Hoon as one of its 1933 football stars.

    4. Kouros

      The “Freedom of Navigation” Claimed by the US is Not “Freedom of Navigation” under International Law. Article 25 of UNCLOS allows the coastal state to prevent passage which is not innocent. Coastal States have the right to decide whether the passage of a foreign ship is consistent with the “right of innocent passage” under Article 19. The… also provides that the coastal State may adopt domestic law on innocent passage and may require a foreign warship that disregards any request for compliance with domestic law to leave the territorial sea immediately.

      1. scott s.

        I think you will find innocent passage applies only in the territorial seas, but not international straits. At issue is what constitutes China’s territorial seas.

        1. Kouros

          Taiwan belonging to China, that strait is not really an international water. I don’t think China has ever declared it as such…

        2. Glen

          I’m not sure how this applies to the definition of territorial sea, but here is the US Department of State official position on Taiwan:

          U.S.-Taiwan Relations
          The U.S. and Taiwan enjoy a robust unofficial relationship. The 1979 U.S.-P.R.C. Joint Communique switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. In the Joint Communique, the U.S. recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.

          US Relationships:

          1. ThirtyOne

            I found this interesting:

            Taiwan’s status under International Law
            and the Rights of the Taiwanese People

            (1) While temporarily ignoring the complexities of the period of belligerent occupation from Oct. 25, 1945, to April 28, 1952, when Taiwan was still under de jure Japanese sovereignty, nevertheless from the point of view of military jurisdiction under the Constitution, it is clear that from April 28, 1952 to the present, according to the provisions of the SFPT, Taiwan has been an occupied territory of the United States, “the principal occupying power.”

            (2) At the present time, Taiwan is an an occupied territory of the United States. Neither the SFPT, the Treaty of Taipei nor any other subsequent legal instruments after 1952 changed the status of Taiwan. Being still under military occupation, Taiwan has not yet reached a “final political status.”

            (3) Military government continues till legally supplanted. The US as the principal occupying power has never transferred the sovereignty over Taiwan or title to its territory to any other government.

            (4) When reviewing the military histories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, and Cuba, it is clear that for a territorial cession after war, “the military government of the (principal) occupying power does not end with the coming into force of the peace treaty.” In the post-World War II period up to today, no affirmative actions of the US government ever terminated the United States’ jurisdiction over Taiwan.


  7. ambrit

    A sign of the times.
    Clicking on the article at ‘The Economist’ website, I see a banner scroll telling me that they use ‘cookies’ and below that two “choices,” (Manage) and (Accept.)
    A list of four “subjects” is appended.
    The only “choice” the potential reader has is “Do Not Sell or Share.” Curiously enough, this is a default to positive function. You have to actually click on the change icon to opt into this choice.
    Three more features are shown, but opting out is not given as a choice. You are in for your penny as they hoover up the pounds.
    First is Analytics. Under that are three entities. First there is something called Chartbeat. Clicking to the Privacy Policy page for this group, one finds a secondary “cookie” statement. Hmmm…. Already two layers of “cookies.”
    Under this subject it states, for what information they collect; A) Personal Identifiers: Name, account name, email address, IP address, business postal address. B) Customer Records: Name, employment records, credit card numbers. C) Internet: Browsing history on our website or applications. {Like that weasel wording of “applications.” D) Geolocation: We collect approximate location data based on a user’s anonymized IP address.
    The second unit under Analytics is something called Drawbridge, Inc. Which, when clicked through turns out to be a division of Linked-in. [Enough said about them!]
    The third entity under Analytics is Google Analytics. { D— and blast! Not them!}
    Under Google citation is a sub-link “Show All.” Hmm… Let us do so. Two more entities appear.
    The fourth entity to appear under Analytics is Grapeshot, which, if you try and link to it brings up “This site can’t provide a secure connection.” Oh wow. An analytics vendor cannot even manage a secure browser. That engenders a lot of trust, I am certain.
    The fifth entity to appear under Analytics is Microsoft Clarity. At the very head of the page is this gem: “PLEASE READ THE “BINDING ARBITRATION AND CLASS ACTION WAIVER” SECTION BELOW. IT AFFECTS HOW DISPUTES ARE RESOLVED.”
    So far, I am not very enthused by The Economist and it’s choices of “partners” in the electronic realms.
    The second class of analytics is Functional.
    First up is something called AMP, which clicks through to the Google Privacy Policy page. Hmmm….
    Second up in the Functionality Sweepstakes is Brightcove, Inc. Clicking through brings up yet another secondary Cookies “choice.” [Wheels within wheels.] Brightcove seems to be in the business of serving up video embeds. Perhaps they ‘curate’ video ads. I know not with certainty, but am already suffering from Legalese Burnout Syndrome.
    The third “player” on the fields of Functionality is Google Web Font, which goes straight to the same Google Privacy Policy page as earlier. Identical.
    Again a “View All” click point.
    Beneath that lies Optimizely. Their Privacy Policy page would not load. I gave up after just a minute. {I heard that!}
    The final ‘class’ of ad-justors’ is Essential. (Pun intended, sorry.)
    The first entity there is Cloudflare. They click through to their Privacy Policy, and the first question any reflective individual would ask is; “What information do they not collect?” Their list of collected information is rather, shall we say, comprehensive. Just a partial list: Website Visitors: Name, email address, and other contact information. Log files. Cookies and other tracking technologies. Material contributed in Interactive Areas. (A puzzle there. The definition of Interactive Areas is a bit vague. Internal forums only, or all forums?)
    For the coup de grace, End Users. I must link the entire section. It says a lot in a small space.
    End Users
    Cloudflare processes End Users’ interactions with Customer’s Internet Properties and the Services. This information is processed when End Users access or use our Customers’ domains, websites, APIs, applications, devices, end points, and networks that use one or more of our Services, and when End Users access or use Services, such as Cloudflare Zero Trust. The information processed may include but is not limited to IP addresses, traffic routing data, system configuration information, and other information about traffic to and from Customers’ websites, devices, applications, and/or networks.
    The End User data that we make available to our Customers via the Service dashboard or other online interface are specifically defined as “Customer Logs”.
    There is a lot more here. I will link to Cloudflare particularly as an example of it’s class.
    Next up are Google Ad Manager and then Google Tag Manager. Curiously, each has it’s own proprietary Privacy Policy.
    So, there you have it, or, to be more accurate, it has you.
    I’m getting a headache. Time for some self medication.
    Be safe all.

    1. GramSci

      Use a VPN, ambrit. It’s only a band-aid, but it does throw sand in their gears.

      1. square coats

        I’d been using a vpn (the free proton one) until just recently it started causing my phone to crash or something repeatedly. Crash here = rebooting itself after freezing for a few seconds, sometimes repeatedly. I also noticed that right around the time the RESTRICT act came up a number of websites I use regularly started becoming increasingly inaccessible with a vpn, throwing things like 429 errors, or just being difficult with repeated captchas.

    2. square coats

      What bothers me the most about this carp (i’m purposefully misspelling :) ) is the whole “required” cookies notion, when there are plenty of complicated websites that allow the visitor to simply choose an option “reject all”. To me this seems to say that “required” cookies are actually an unnecessary functional dependency in the website design.

    3. Expat2uruguay

      Yes, cookies are getting worse. I noticed with the South China morning Post website that now the only option is to accept cookies. So I decided to pass on reading the article

  8. JohnA

    Apropos Craig Murray’s Twilight of Freedom piece, the National Union of Journalists issued a statement expressing concern about the detention of investative journalist Kit Klarenberg for several hours when he arrived at a British airport. The NUJ subsequently deleted this statement. Twitter was flooded with bots/trolls supportive of the NUJ cowardice saying Klarenberg was not a ‘journalist’, he is a Russia bot, paid by Russia, Russian apologist etc., etc. Amazing how these attacks are coordinated.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Good to see that the National Union of Journalists are calling out this sort of intimidation. That is what is needed more. I doubt that you would ever hear such protests from Reporters Without Borders. That organization – who has consultant status at the UN – has recently raised the ranking of the Ukraine among all countries in spite of that government clamping down and shutting major outlets, putting all media under control of the government and punishing those that share information.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, John.

          Please have a look at the recent post on the loss of executive function and my comments on the degenerate media and what can be deployed to keep them under the control.

          Tory MP Tobias Ellwood is a reservist colonel in the 77th Brigade.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, John.

              Ignacio, OIFVet, you and I have exchanged comments about Ukrainian refugees.

              I was in Normandy last week-end and noticed the proliferation of high end SUVs with Ukrainian plates.

              Last Friday, Tory controlled Wiltshire county council announced plans to buy new builds to house Ukrainian refugees. The children have been given priority at local schools. The local BBC news team covering the announcement said Wiltshire is the first local authority to do so and implied more will follow.

              1. vao

                The children have been given priority at local schools.

                Not wanting to pounce on the lack of agency, etc, but who exactly gave them priority? I have no idea how local schools are managed in the UK.

                1. Colonel Smithers

                  Thank you, Vao.

                  Many, but not all, schools are under local political control, so local politicians can impose.

                  Prioritisation for schools and extra curricular activities go back a year.

    2. playon

      i see this coordination also when Biden is touted on twitter and in posts that criticize him.

  9. ambrit

    Is it just me, since we home schooled our children, and were and still are very left wing, but is that WaPo article on the Homeschooling Backlash a thinly disguised anti-religion screed?
    As an example of what might really be going on here is the story about one of my old friend’s Mom. One day she remarks to Phyl that, one of her sons turning out small ‘c’ conservative, and she being old school Left, “I have given birth to a Republican! How did that happen?”
    One of the hardest things for parents to accept is that children will make their own choices. Yes, these choices are bounded by their social conditioning, but, our job, as conscientious parents is to teach our children to recognize and deal with the forces that create those social boundaries. One big reason that many of we “non-compliant” parental units chose to home school in the first place was our desire to give our children a chance to grow up self aware and “free.”
    As I have said elsewhere, I will probably not live long enough to see how that experiment turns out, but then, some tasks are open ended.
    The Culture Wars are becoming “Wapo-nized.”

    1. marym

      WaPo may indeed have such an editorial perspective, but that’s not the path these parents took. According to the post, they both first questioned their religion’s instructions on not sparing the rod; expanded this to a more general questioning of authoritarianism and emotional and physical abuse; asking whether, if this was wrong, what else may possibly be wrong with other religious teaching; and (apparently rightly) thinking one of their children who seemed to have learning issues at home would benefit from trained educators.

      I think it’s worthwhile to consider whether some problems and grievances may have roots elsewhere besides the indisputable evils of PCM-generated problems and cultural views.

      1. ambrit

        Point conceded. However, using the old adage that “All politics is local” as a starting point, one must wonder at the evident nationalization of the educational ethos. Many of the “fads” we see percolating through the public school system seem to be top down imposed national conformity projects.
        Basically I argue that these parents have fallen into a trap. they have approached this as an either-or situation. What I do not see here, and I suspect that such “blinkering” of the public perception is deliberate, is any legitimate ‘Third Way’ out.
        When we home schooled our children, we were part of a very diverse community of home-schoolers. Despite our differences, ranging from Hard Core Fundamentalists, through Basic Hippies (us,) on to Left Wing Black Nationalists, we all co-operated to gain and keep the right to determine the direction of our children’s development. In this regard, it was, and is, a matter of Power. Back then, home-schoolers were a classic “out group.” More properly, we were a collection of “out groups.” The political dimension of this was United Front. Now that home-schooling has been achieved for the generality, that United Front is fracturing. With that fracturing, the Status Quo ante elites see the opportunity and campaign to reverse the tide.
        Finally, I would fully support Regular Public Schooling as a means of socializing the young, if there was a functional society that supported and protected the Public. Alas, the idea of a General Public has been neo-liberalized. Without a General Public to support and be supported by, Public Schooling has lost it’s moral advantage over other forms of education.
        We live in interesting times.

        1. chris

          We do live in interesting times. I think part of what makes it so interesting is we’re not allowed to have names that we agree with for each of these problems.

          In the context of home schooling, we know families who are doing it because one or more of the adults in the house are immune-compromised and they do not trust any of the mitigations at the local schools. We also know families who are well into vax related hysteria (“The MRNA is turning our turtles gay and giving them the 5G!”) and started homeschooling because they did not want their kids to be pressured into taking any vaccines.

          We know people who have written for the various local rags and when we talk to them about the various home school related phenomena we see in our well to do rural area, they don’t seem to appreciate why someone would make that decision rationally. They don’t even seem to consider some of the points the reasonable ones would make. But mostly, they can’t admit that there’s truth to a lot of the accusations being thrown from any political distinction. Like, yes, the point of public education is not to indoctrinate your kids in “cultural Marxism” but… there are a lot of things teachers are trying to indoctrinate your kids into and if you don’t agree with them, you have no recourse. For example, if you want to teach your kids about sex or other complicated topics, you can opt out of the official sex ed classes but you can’t opt out of the health classes, the mandatory sexual assault classes, discussions about alternative life styles being good, and a host of other things. You’re not even allowed to know what the sex assault curriculum is, when the classes will be held, or question who will be doing the teaching. And we have teachers who reliably stray far from their topic areas into sex ed during the regular course of the year, which includes trans related topics. So, there certainly is forced indoctrination occurring, but it’s the not forced indoctrination that you hear complained about on Fox.

          And take the “stop the steal!” fracas. Is there good evidence that votes were stolen or denied? Meh, not really. But do we have a good system for voting? Do we even meet the minimum criteria for free and fiar elections as defined by the UN? No. So, can someone prove that these elections are being stolen? Not so far. But can anyone say we have a system of voting that isn’t easy to manipulate and is kept that way to help the elites maintain their control? Yeah, they can.. As a kid who grew up on stories from his uncles discussing the walking around money the local democrat party gave them to secure votes in the community, I can’t believe anyone would argue that our system of voting is good and can’t be improved.

          But we’re not allowed to discuss all that. We get tripped up in semantics and minutia to distract from the larger point that something is terribly wrong with our country and that parents who want to protect their kids by homeschooling them may have good reasons to do so.

    2. Otis B Driftwood

      The unacknowledged benefit of public school is that it brings children together from different backgrounds. And that better prepares them for the world they will face when they leave the home.

      1. chris

        Only in some places. If you’re in one of those big sort neighborhoods then your school buddy might be black but their parents are just as well off as yours.

      2. j

        That’s the general idea. Of course, public schools in the US are funded by local property taxes (mostly, California does redistribute state tax revenues to school districts).

        More money equals better schools (better teachers and facilities). Families want the best education possible for their kids (always) to prepare them for the job market.

        1. scott s.

          In my state (Hawaii) there is a single state-wide system (there are “districts” but these are administrative layers) funded by state taxes. As a result, the power of individual legislators determines what schools get funding. As can be expected, teacher and govt employee unions have a great interest in legislative elections. Result among other things is teachers have seniority rights to move to better schools where teaching is not as difficult. So student performance can be predicted same as any other funding method. Catholic education has been squeezed by their business model that relied on vocations providing highly motivated teachers with little pay.

  10. timbers

    Ukraine’s Zelensky: We Are Ready for Counteroffensive (interview) WSJ

    Zelensky didn’t sound confident saying Ukraine is ready for it’s counteroffensive. He said the words then qualified them with it being his opinion and the need for more weapons but can’t wait forever.

    And with those facing US election constraints (Lindsay Graham, Anthony Blinken) loudly trumpeting supreme confidence that invincible Ukraine is ready and brimming with awesome amounts of weapons (one report said Zelensky was told he needn’t worry about weapon shortages because any shortage Ukraine has must be even more acute on the Russian side), Zelensky must understand his orders – sacrifice still more Ukrainians in service of American election theatrics.


    1. SocalJimObjects

      The whole Ukrainian war effort reeks of the downsides of Just In Time supply chain, with multiple parts strewn all over only to be assembled by people who are clearly not qualified to integrate the whole thing.

    2. The Rev Kev

      If Zelensky can just keep on making excuses and delaying that offensive, then before you know it it will be winter time and the offensive will no longer be possible. All that mud you understand. Big Z’s latest demand to delay this offensive? He now wants 50 Patriot air defense system batteries to guard his cities and troops. Cost? About $55 billion – and don’t ask me where they can get the missiles for those batteries. They are hard pressed to find enough for the present systems-

      1. Pat

        IOW both sides are setting up an “X cannot (or didn’t) fail it can only be failed” excuse. For Zelensky X equals Ukraine. For the West X equals America or NATO depending on where you are coming from, America or Europe.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I wonder if this was a message from Russia to the Collective West about all those F-16 that they are talking about sending and which need pristine airfields to take off from-

        ‘Russia conducted airstrikes overnight targeting Ukrainian military airfields, and delivering significant damage to aircraft and facilities, Moscow’s Defense Ministry has said.

        The attack, which was carried with the use of “long-range precision-guided air-launched weapons,” achieved its goal, the ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

        “Command posts, a radar installation, Ukrainian aviation equipment, and storage facilities with weapons and ammunition were hit,” the statement read.’

        1. Pat

          Oh I don’t think it was limited to being about the F-16 and its needs. It was broader than that in what it was pointing out to the Collective West.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Rod.

        I know a Coldstream Guards subaltern. He passed out from Sandhurst a year or so ago and has just been deployed to Catterick camp to train infantry cadets. In between, they squeeze training for Ukrainian infantry. Training lasts a few weeks. A son of former Tory minister Dominic Grieve is also training Ukrainian soldiers. Apart from some senior NCOs and officers commissioned from the ranks, no instructor has seen action and / or commanded a unit bigger than a platoon, 30 – 40 foot soldiers.

    3. ambrit

      I can see it now. Zelensky began his career as an entertainer. He will end it as one.
      Cut to black and white shot of Zelensky ‘drifting’ down a grand staircase gazing into the camera, saying: “All right Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my counteroffensive.”
      Fade to black.

  11. Pat

    Apparently the memo went out as some version of “averting the crisis” was used in regard to the passage and signing of the debt limit legislation in half a dozen print and television outlets I have encountered.
    And both local news stations I watched focused on Biden between his address and the actual signing of the bill. If we don’t see blips of this “victory” in the endless Biden/whoever commercials we are going to see starting in about four months The overwhelmingly laudatory coverage gave me Mission Accomplished vibes. The Republican kudos went to McCarthy, so his district will probably get a replay for his commercials.

    That our elites think the public believes this bull manure is mind blowing. People know they didn’t have to do this and as their lives get more difficult they aren’t going to be thanking all those “courageous politicians”. The terrible results of the choices they were so eager to make are going to resonate throughout the economy. I love how this is supposed to avert recession. Ha, if we are not in a recession by November I will be shocked. Between the various cudgels intended to force the probes back into terrible low pay jobs, and the lack of desire to confront corporate greed fueling inflation, the only we avoid is statistical manipulation.

    I hate these sociopaths. They may qualify as human but their humanity was shed long ago.

    1. cnchal

      The timing of the expiry of the debt deal is a poisoned chalice. Biden does an Oval Orfice victory dance and gloat only to find he kicked himself in the nuts, if he wins again.

    1. Brunches with Cats

      Thanks for the link, Kev! Still, I don’t understand how anyone could “run out of” pink paint. It’s not like you need an insect shell or scarce mineral for pink pigment. It’s just a formula. Go to any paint shop, and you can ask for it. And anyway, much of the production looks like CGI — pink without limits. Per the article, there were other factors, e.g. supply chain issues for paint in general — but how do you generate clicks with that headline?

      As for the dread flat feet, many Barbies have them these days as part of Mattel’s idpol marketing strategy (yep, there’s a trans Ken, although AFAIK doesn’t self-identify as “they”). Anyway, loved that scene with the Birks. I’ve got several flat-foot Barbies in my collection and have been experimenting with different ways to make Birks for them (and other flat shoes, and clothes, furniture, and even the house) from materials from the recycling bin, thrift stores, flea markets, free stuff on the curb, etc.

      It’s my Big Project, using an icon of consumerism to show little girls (mostly; boys welcome, of course) that you don’t need to buy cheap $h!t from China or be limited by what’s in the Barbie aisle at Walmart. You can have it any way you want and “save the planet” at the same time, and learn lots of cool skills, too (adult supervision required).

  12. Carolinian

    Lotsa Links today. Thanks.

    With regard to Construction Physics and the history of US electrical power: before WW2 most of the farm areas near my town didn’t have electricity and used kerosene lamps and wood stoves. For entertainment they had radios that ran on batteries. And almost every house had an old piano. My mom could play and gave her kids a love of music. All of which is to say that life may have been in some ways richer without all the smartphones.

    And politics too. Rural electrification was one of the concrete material benefits that FDR brought to areas like mine. The result was decades of Democrat dominance in the more populist House of Representatives.Perhaps the prob with modern Dems is that modern rural Americans have electricity–and smartphones. The opportunities for populist heroism have diminished. We now have two rich people parties but, still, poor people too. Maybe they need a party of their own…once again.

  13. Lex

    The copium in the Chinese airplane piece is amazing. While true that lots of parts are sourced globally, it raises several questions: aren’t western companies supposed to be strangling China and once China has those components it has the ability to reverse engineer them. Not to mention that it self-assembled all the components. I mean the piece decides to point out that China bought Michelin tires, as if China is incapable of making tires suitable for an airplane’s landing gear.

    I enjoyed the admission that US and European planes are also dependent on global supplies. The real thought experiment might be, which system could replace the global supplies first?

    Absolutely true that the Chinese planes won’t be certified (at least not any time soon), but that’s politics. They still represent a growing replacement of western airframes for a growing number of flights and they represent loss of revenue for airbus and Boeing in the future. Both Russia and China (both fully capable of building airplanes) are moving towards undermining the commercial air frame monopoly of the west. Whether they will be successful and on what timeline is an interesting question. CNN doesn’t want to contemplate that so it stuck to a feel good story about Chinese “failure”. I also appreciated how it called the global times a “tabloid”.

    1. square coats

      I’ve wonder how long it will be before we have a whole array of parallel certification systems set up, not just airplanes but financial grading, shipping insurance, etc.

      Or in so far as this already exists, how long before u.s. standards become broadly enough deprecated to constitute some kind of rubicon crossing?

      Maybe someday we can even fully standardize units of measurement around the world (one in the u.s. can dream… )

      1. digi_owl

        The ongoing Being MAX mess has already put a spotlight on the state of US certification.

  14. The Rev Kev

    ‘Mark Smith Photography
    Beautiful barred owl silently flys right by the camera. #owl’

    To its prey, it is known as ‘whispering death.’

  15. Carolinian

    Heisenberg/Dollar General

    This all speaks to what I’ve (somewhat hyperbolically) described as modern day serfdom in America’s services-based society. There are no manufacturing jobs anymore, and when the wealthy aren’t buying Flying Spurs and Hermès ties, they’re spending on services and “experiences.” Those services and experiences are provided by low-wage workers who shop at Dollar General when they’re not serving mimosas to the Birkin bag crowd.

    Aldi is in some ways a poor people store and I once was told by the manager of our nearby Aldi that business always surges on the first of the month because that’s when people on government programs have money again. If our new Rome is running on bread and circuses then taking away the bread (SNAP) may be a risky move. Bubble world needs to get out more.

    1. redleg

      That was also true when I worked as a cashier at Target back in the early 90s. The first week of each month was a tsunami of people and then the rest of the month was exponentially quieter.

  16. anon in so cal

    F-16s? Gripens (Saab-made JAS39 Gripen fighter-bombers)?

    “In this US Defense News videoclip, produced this week, it is revealed that Ukrainian pilots are already training on the Gripen, and that NATO staff consider the Swedish fighter has many advantages over the US F-16, including its cost, ease of pilot training, and capability to land and take off from Ukrainian roads, after the regular airfields have been destroyed.”

    1. tevhatch

      The Gripen has short legs, very restricted avionics, and limited carry. It’s day has long past, unless one is going to do local slaughter of mountain tribe wedding parties, but that would be stepping on the US MIC’s monopoly. All of this is really just distraction/propaganda, while Sweden’s failing MIC tries to lick up some of the gravy dripping off the side of the table. Greg (bot?) from June 3rd should to pop up and tell us how it will defeat Russia single-handedly.

      1. redleg

        The effectiveness of these weapons systems is measured in contracts, not capabilities.

    2. Polar Socialist

      That sounds weird. You can get 5 second hand F-16s with the price of one Gripen.

      Also, there are only 200 Gripens in the world, which is a fraction of available F-16s.

      1. tevhatch

        It takes only a fraction of the money to feed Sweden’s MIC, and they are extremely hungry since Uncle Sam has put them on a decade long diet to weaken them for the slaughter. In otherwords, it’s almost impossible that it will happen unless Sweden itself not only gives them away, but finds a way to safely pay off zElenskyi without risking the ire of Washington. Starting from Bofers scandal, any signficant move was tipped out by CIA. Even without the death grip on Sweden’s government by Washington, the USA turbine in Gripen means no sale without someone in Washington getting a slice, and so little gravy is falling from the table I can’t see how it will work. What this does do is siphon a bit of Swedens’ own foreign aid funds into the pockets of lobbyist, all of that without a sale.

      2. digi_owl

        That said, have we not already established that he potential runways for F-16 deployment inside Ukraine is rapidly dwindling?

        By contrast the Gripen is designed to make do with any 1 km of straight roadway, with fuel and weapons provided from trucks.

        Question is if the “green” Ukrainian pilots stand a chance against Russian SAMs and jets, no matter the plane provided.

        Oh, and i wonder if Lula would be willing to help with the supply of planes. Embraer is apparently tooled up to produce Gripens on licence.

        1. The Rev Kev

          After Zelensky stood up Lula at Hiroshima for that meeting, you can forget it. Lula was said to be very angry at his ill-manners. Lula has also refused to ship weapons to the Ukraine, no matter what Biden says.

    3. ThirtyOne

      This has been simmering for a while:
      “Sources suggest that the ex-UAE aircraft could be delivered to Poland as soon as this year or during 2024, if a contract is signed soon. By contrast, an introduction of the more capable GlobalEye would take until 2027.

      A Polish air force acquisition of AEW&C aircraft has been postulated by commentators and experts for years. Such aircraft would be supplemented by air-defence radars carried by tethered aerostats, via a planned purchase under Warsaw’s Barbara programme.”

    4. lambert strether

      Not seeing a lot of linky goodness on this thread. This isn’t Reddit, or a board.

  17. Mikel

    “Crypto collapse? Get in loser, we’re pivoting to AI” Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain

    The parts about regulation remind me a bit of what I read in this Atlantic article yesterday:

    “…Doomsday prognostications and calls for a new AI agency amount to “an attempt at regulatory sabotage,” Whittaker said, because the very people selling and profiting from this technology would “shape, hollow out, and effectively sabotage” the agency and its powers…”

  18. Chas

    The story about federal buildings installing honey bee hives on their roofs is a good thing except it’s another example of honey bees getting all the attention to the neglect of other pollinators who are in trouble. It’s the bumble bees that really need help, but it’s harder to help them because they don’t live in boxes made by humans. And all the new honey bee hives mean more competition for the bee bumbles.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Several years ago I was surprised to find that bumblebees do sometimes live in boxes made by humans. I have a birdhouse in my backyard that birds inhabited in the spring. I went to clean out the nest later in the season once the birds were done with it, and opened it up to find a mass of wriggling larvae, the unexpectedness of which scared the [family blog] of me for a few seconds. Bumblebees had taken over after the birds so I let them do their thing and waited until later in the fall to clean it out. Not sure what brought them there and they’ve never taken over the birdhouse again since. I do still see plenty of bumblebees in my own yard though, even if they take a pass on the birdhouse now.

      1. Carolinian

        There’s a great BBC nature show where one of their crack cinematographers spends an hour on the creatures in his backyard. A big part of it is the bumblebees who excavate holes in wood, fill them with larvae, seal the entrance and then guard their brood.

        Here in the Southeast almost any unpainted fence wood will have little holes on the underside of the horizontal members. And in the Spring those bumblebees become quite aggressive.

  19. Jason Boxman

    On Sick Workers Tied to 40% of Food Poisoning Outbreaks, C.D.C. Says, this was actually an initiative in central Florida, but the then scumbag mayor, in what was known as textgate, worked with area lobbyists to defeat the measure. Eventually, the Florida legislature banned sick leave anyway. (Thanks Criminal Scott, R-garbage human.)

    Orange County leaders, including Mayor Teresa Jacobs, violated state law by deleting text messages about the paid-sick-time debate that clearly were public record, State Attorney Jeff Ashton said Wednesday, and should pay $500 civil fines.

    The probe was launched by Ashton after several Orange County leaders deleted text messages from their personal cellphones during a Sept. 11 hearing on a sick-time ballot measure.

    And this Pandemic shows just how essential this measure is. Because markets, go die. You, your coworkers, your neighbors. All of you.

  20. Jason Boxman

    I wonder if liberal Democrats agonized over the largest increase in childhood poverty in recent history when they let the expanded benefits expire, under a liberal Democrat Congress, last year? This doesn’t even pass the smell test.

    The result of the tense back-and-forth was a deal that played to both sides, but one that many Democrats agonized over as they weighed whether to vote for the package this past week. Many struggled to square cutting access to food for marginalized communities with an outcome that allowed the United States to avoid defaulting on its debt.

    Who do these people think they’re fooling? People’s hungry bellies ain’t gonna lie. But we’ve succeeded in starving more people back into the workforce, so, victory!

    The worthless Congressional Progressive Caucus:

    Bush, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, voted “no” on the debt limit deal on Wednesday night after she spent days hearing from advocate groups and constituents on the issue.

    “I think it’s important that (Biden) understands that it’s good for us to have a strong, no vote because this isn’t a deal that he would have made if we hadn’t been held hostage,” Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state, chair of the Progressive Caucus, told The Associated Press this past week.

    They weren’t alone. Several dozen Democrats in the House and a handful in the Senate voted against the compromise, arguing that the bill allowed for Republican hostage-taking and could open the door for future cuts to these government programs in the next several months.

    Got to have their “no” votes on this must pass legislation, to keep up their “left” credentials. Remember when Jayapal folded on Biden’s “agenda” and supported two-track legislation for “progressive” stuff and Machin’s wet dream, and surprise, only the latter became law? Yep. (And Manchin is so sick, he now wants to repeal his own law. LOLz.)

    And it was long known when the extended benefits themselves were to expire. Democrats didn’t make them permanent. That’s on Joe Biden and liberal Democrats, that really care hard about the poors:

    On March 1, the temporary boost to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits known as emergency allotments came to an end. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, these increased monthly benefits were authorized in 2020 by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA, P.L. 116-127) and provided vulnerable households with additional grocery benefits to help mitigate the negative economic impacts caused by the pandemic.

    1. djrichard

      If the progressives wanted to be serious they needed a war campaign against Biden. Something that exposed Biden as not wanting a clean raise of the debt ceiling as the guidance that the Dems needed to blink in this game of chicken was coming from Biden with help by the media. And they would have to be prepared to take damage from the resulting pushback by Biden and the media. Biden and the media would recognize it as war and act accordingly.

      1. Jason Boxman

        The Night of the Long Knives and voter suppression of the college vote shows that liberal Democrats do know how to play the game, when they choose to play. And the target is not necessarily Republicans.

  21. tevhatch

    Crazy temps

    Hot in Siberia recently often (not always) means chilly in North East Canada. Not there at the moment, but watching by app I can say three days earlier Eastern Canada was hot, but the bulges in the arctic move faster these days and it got cool. Hope some of it will swing to Western Canada where they need it. Weather is going to continue to go more extreme.

    1. Brunches with Cats

      Bloody hot in Southern Tier region of NYS last week, close to 95 on Friday. Blast from up your way late Friday finally blew it out, Saturday in upper 70s, forecast for this week is low/mid 70s and nights in mid 40s. Taking advantage while it lasts to tend to garden, finally. Have done a little over past few months, but the plants that tend to take over are all competing with other, such a tangled mess that even the milkweeds are suppressed — you know, those aggressors who invade without provocation, hellbent on domination, won’t stop even at borders of garden.

      Will respond shortly to Lambert’s request under Twitter post in a separate comment at the bottom.

  22. Tom Stone

    While I was out and about yesterday I had two strangers come up to me and tell me that I didn’t have to wear a mask anymore.
    That was the third time in a week and the third time since the pandemic started.
    I was puzzled for a few hours and then realized my affect had changed substantially post surgery because I was doped to the eyeballs..
    500 Mg of Robaxin and a 325 Mg Norco every 4 hours.
    Thankfully, I’ll be done with that regimen in another 3 days.
    And no, I am not driving or operating any kind of dangerous machinery.

    1. CanCyn

      Flying today. Ottawa to Charlottetown via Montreal. One other person and me masked on the plane. Have seen maybe 1 or 2 masks in the airports. Montreal is a big (for Canada) international airport, no one masking. And it gets better, Charlottetown flight is full of nurses going to a conference- no masks!

  23. juno mas

    RE: Observations from Paris

    As an architect, this is a wonderfull read. Pointing out the known elements of good design (both in buildings and streetscape) is both energizing and wistful. Paris does lead the world with a long legacy of great design. I think the French culture is its origin.

    Creating this type of good design in America is very difficult. Our legacy is likely the protection of large elements of our natural endowment, the National Parks.

  24. tiebie66

    The Canary Islands: I find these sort of articles a bit tedious, one would think that “enslavements, genocides, and radical ecological transformations” were unique accomplishments of Europeans. Exactly what was the point of the article – to inform us that the “stage was set” in the Canaries? And then what are we supposed to make of that? It seems quite uninteresting and pointless – thin gruel in my opinion. These things are all ancient vices.

    Perhaps more meaningful would have been addressing **contemporary** slavery in Africa.
    “The continent of Africa is one of the regions most rife with contemporary slavery.[1] Slavery in Africa has a long history, within Africa since before historical records, but intensifying with the trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean slave trade[2][3] and again with the trans-Atlantic slave trade;[4] the demand for slaves created an entire series of kingdoms (such as the Ashanti Empire) which existed in a state of perpetual warfare in order to generate the prisoners of war necessary for the lucrative export of slaves.[5]
    “Enslavement, cannibalism, and genocide
    In the Republic of Congo, where Pygmies are estimated to make up between 1.2% and 10% of the population,[37] many Pygmies live as slaves to Bantu masters. The nation is deeply stratified between these two major ethnic groups.”

    1. hunkerdown

      That’s a dishonest decomposition of a process into something you can signal your Main Character virtue in, and I reject it as tiresome neoliberal whataboutery.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>Exactly what was the point of the article – to inform us that the “stage was set” in the Canaries? And then what are we supposed to make of that? It seems quite uninteresting and pointless – thin gruel in my opinion. These things are all ancient vices.

        >>>tiresome neoliberal whataboutery

        I don’t quite understand what the fuss is about.

        The Europeans did evil sh***. They are hardly the only ones doing them especially in the past. And what exactly does one mean by Europeans as that covers many different kingdoms and empires over centuries. The term both explains and obscures here.

        The article placed the start of colonization at 1341, beginning with the slow conquest of the Canary Islands, but I would start with the Portuguese Prince Henry, the Navigator, as the start of the modern era of colonization around 1450. What was done to the islands shows the beginnings of colonization and the methods used. It is a fascinating, yet sad, article and giving a good start for European exploration and colonization.

        However, I do not think that the colonization of the islands was a deliberate planning and testing of the methods for the rest of the five hundred years of European colonialism by at least nine different countries. More or less in chronological order: Portugal, Spain, England, France, the Netherlands,, Russia, Italy, Belgium, and last, the finally unified Germany. This leaves the rest of Europe. Six of them never having any of the Canary Islands and starting on their international colonization from one to four hundred years later.

        For four of those centuries, African kingdoms and empires, especially in West Africa, profited greatly in the slave trade with the Europeans. The Europeans could not have had a major slave trade, or at least anything like the size of the one it had without the triangle trade and the Middle Passage, without the help of these kingdoms until after the eighteenth century.

        And so, the article gives a nice bit of history of the very beginnings, the seed really, of what would become the age of exploration with its extensive colonization and great evil. This does not excuse past evils, including the quite extensive past history of slavery, and its continued existence outside of Europe by non-Europeans. History is larger, far more complex, and interesting than fiction or ideology.

    2. eg

      I would have begun my incredulity at the premise rather earlier — which is to say, the Irish might like a word regarding early colonial exploitation, eh?

      1. JBird4049

        Ah, but the Welsh, Irish, Scots, and I guess Cornish are all European and therefore their nearly total cultural ethnocide and partial physical genocide does not count. /s

        Really, in my overly long comment, I forgot about them. Oops. I guess I have the same blind spot.

        The celts, particularly the Irish, were not considered white in the American sense, until the early twentieth century. Let’s add at least another five centuries before the colonization of the Canary Islands to the story.

  25. Raymond Sim

    C’mon man! The Atlantic slave trade was a pretty damned unique accomplishment.

    Like it or not, we made the Mongols look like pissants. And unlike more ancient peoples’ “vices” our worldwide spree of death and destruction shaped the modern world.

    1. JBird4049

      Raymond, I am not trying to bust your chops. It is while the Europeans might be the most horrible in geographical range, they have absolutely no superiority in evil compared to the rest of the humanity over the centuries. It is just being part of the Western Civilization and focused on what it has done in the past few centuries, we miss much of the darkness. This includes much of what was done to the Europeans as well.

      The Mongols did killed up to ten percent of the entire human race in about a century.

      The slave raiding in the east was at least as bad in Africa as it was in the west. See the Ottomans’ multi century slave trading and raiding both in Eastern Africa and in Europe in the area bounded in the east by Russia, in the west by Poland, and in the north the Baltic states. Arguably the weakening of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the increased centralization of the Russian state were the result of the raids. Some areas were weakened, others collapsed and became depopulated, while others like Russia were able to survive and expand even while suffering greatly.

      Also, It is probable that the word slave comes from the word slav and in the majority of the population in Europe subject to slave raids.

      The only real difference with the Americans/Europeans was in the ocean going aspect with the trading between three different continents. Trade goods from including guns from the slave trading African kingdoms for the slaves, which were sent to the plantations in Brazil and the Caribbean, for the sugar and rum that was then shipped to Europe. Also the Dutch in Indonesia and the British in India and Ireland were extremely destructive economically especially with the deliberate acceptance and/or cultivation of famine in India and Ireland.

      Although I really do not remember much of the slave trade before the sixteenth century, IIRC the Portuguese and the Ottomans were involved in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as well in Africa, but on a smaller scale. Very roughly five centuries of slave raids in Central and Eastern Europe, and Eastern Africa, and four centuries in Western Africa with the caveat that some raids happened before and after those times, but they were comparatively small then. Still, slave raids with a side of piracy happened into the early nineteenth century in Europe and the middle of the nineteenth in Africa.

      Only when the Europeans found it politically inconvenient to use the Corsairs against each other via bribes, and after the Americans showed just how weak the Barbary States were, that those pirate states were destroyed and colonized. The Americans only did it because at the time they were the weakest and most vulnerable of the European states. It was either to keep paying most of the entire Federal budget to the pirates as “tribute” or build a navy. The British got into abolition for Africa in the early nineteenth century and ended the ocean going slave trade around the middle of the century.

      In the Americas, it can be honestly argued that the genocide and enslavement were worse especially in its totality in North America, but most of the deaths in the Americas were from diseases like smallpox.

      But, in all these examples, for depravity, cruelty, and general mass murder, I think that the Congo under the Belgians was the worse. It is where The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad was set in. So, if you want to understand just how evil people in general, or a man named King Leopold II of Belgium, in particular can be, just read that book.

      1. Jorge

        To run industrial slave-based enterprises you have to have a lot of goons guarding a lot of people in a small space. Slavery does not work that well in temperate and cold climates. It worked much better in tropical agriculture like sugar cane plantations.

        It is my suspicion that the Brits shut down the slave trade because their colonies were mostly in temperate latitudes, while their European competitors all ran mostly tropical colonies. By shutting down the slave trade they disadvantaged their competitors a lot more than they degraded their own projects. Of course, this is completely unresearched.

    1. ThirtyOne

      “This development hasn’t made the same splash as other corporate announcements, but its effects will be much greater. It will wrest power from the large tech corporations, resulting in both much more innovation and a much more challenging regulatory landscape.”
      There’s that word again.

  26. Jason Boxman

    So I came across this through a random blog for some other reason; getting lost on the web can be enlightening. Anyway, this actually dovetails with Lambert’s observation that our COVID data collection relies on a handful of academic volunteers. So to with serious efforts to ensure quality in software code:

    Occasionally, you’ll see someone spend a lot of effort on immproving correctness, but that’s usually done as a massive amount of free labor. Kyle Kingsbury might be the canonical example of this — my understanding is that he worked on the Jepsen distributed systems testing tool on nights and weekends for years before turning that into a consulting business. It’s great that he did that — he showed that almost every open source distributed system had serious data loss or corruption bugs. I think that’s great, but stories about heoric effort like that always worry me because heroism doesn’t scale. If Kyle hadn’t come along, would most of the bugs that he and his tool found still plague open source distributed systems today? That’s a scary thought.

    (bold me)

    The whole post is actually a follow up to one about how hard it is to reliably write data to a file on a file system, which is itself rather terrifying: Filesystem error handling. It’s mostly highly technical, but the addendum about software quality is interesting.

  27. Janice

    Following up on the discussion in Water Cooler June 3 about a ethyl lauroyl alginate HCI (ELAH) nasal spray, I can say that all efforts to find clinical trial results ended badly. I was excited about the idea of a very affordable spray, as I have used Enovid this past year and am on my last bottle. The last legit looking reference I found was to a Phase III clinical trial, “interventional double-blind”, of 30 individuals in the // database. Study ended in April 2021 and was registered April 2022, showing no results. Questionable results for search on one study lead, role of U of Wyoming, etc. If anyone has more success researching this, I know it will be presented here.

  28. JBird4049

    >>>Digital blackface: instead of actually hiring black models, Levi’s thought it would be a great idea to take white models and alter the images to look like black people.

    Why? It does not make any sense to me.

    Depending on how numbers are used, there are between thirty and forty million black people in the United States. Really, there millions of Americans in every color, shape, and ethnicity you could want.

    Surely, somehow, they could have found a few satisfactory models of a darker hue? Unless, maybe, it is of Papuan New Guineans or the Ainu?

  29. polar donkey

    Re Fleming article. There are a lot of guys like Rey Fleming here in Memphis. In PMC terms, he’d be a flexian. In AAU basketball terms, he’d be one of those fixer guys operating as a gatekeeper between a player and shoe company/university. Fleming was director of Memphis Music commission. Apparently didn’t do a good job and mostly using position to network. After being at MMC, he got involved in this weird situation with Beale Street. For years, Beale St had this special entrainment district designation and it was run by John Elkington. Some company out of Baltimore named Cordish (that specialized in big entertainment district developments) wanted to muscle in and take control of the district from Elkington, who seemed to be taking too much of the profits for himself. Fleming set up the meeting between the main government official who could move Elkington out and Cordish. That government official became my boss a year later. No one involved in that Beale St situation had a stellar reputation. It would be really interesting to know what high school Flemings went to because in Memphis that is really important, particularly for his generation, in particular his connection to Three 6 mafia, because of who they were connected too and Justin Timberlake. On a side note, Timberlake was involved the Cordish Beale Street situation. This was 2009ish. Within a few years, Timberlake packed up all his business dealings in Memphis and left for Nashville. While he visits and says nice things about Memphis, he doesn’t do anything like he did pre-2010. He partnered with Flemings on Stipple.

  30. Tom Stone

    I don’t know about Ainu, but if you want models of Papuan -New Guinea ancestry I can point you to two churches in Santa Rosa CA.

  31. Brunches with Cats

    > Perhaps a reader can help with a more idiomatic translation….

    Not sure if this is what you (Lambert) are looking for, but here’s what I’ve figured out so far after an insanely time-wasting search:

    The pink marks, which presumably indicate the highest temperature range (at noon UTC on Friday, June 2, 2023) are mostly in Western Siberia, except for a few locations along the Amur River, which forms the Russia/China border in Eastern Siberia. Siberia experienced a record-breaking heatwave in 2019, broken again in 2020, with a temperature of 100.4 degrees recorded at Verkhoyansk, 67 degrees lat, above the Arctic Circle. So the temperatures recorded on Friday may or may not break the record — not that it isn’t alarming; just wanted to note that it’s not unprecedented:

    Zabelovka, top of Twitter post list, is one of the eastern data points. Current forecast shows high of 35C/95F on Monday, dropping to 34C/93F on Tuesday and then falling steadily for the rest of the week into the mid-20s C/mid- to high-70s F.

    Considering that it was 100 degrees north of the Artic Circle in 2020, I don’t get what’s so “insane” about Makushino (Kurgan oblast, 112 mi east of Kurgan, Western Siberia just north of the border with Kazakhstan). Monday’s high in Kurgan, per the Weather Channel, is 93, forecast to drop to mid-80s Tuesday and Wednesday; mid-70s rest of the week, dropping to 68 on Mon 6/12.

    FWIW, I started my quest for enlightenment by following the link to the Twitter account’s homepage. Others might have a different experience, but for me it was just a bunch of raw data, more like a spreadsheet, definitely in need of translation.

    Dunno if that helps, but gave it my best shot.

  32. none

    “Hallucinations” anthropomorphizes, so I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that framing.

    I think “confabulations” is a perfectly good term for what is happening. Humans do it too. I mostly associate it with older Republicans (remember Reagan) but everyone does it to some extent. It took us 1000s of years of “civilization” to have any idea of what logical thought means, and most of us still don’t engage in it nearly enough. AI’s current situation is not that surprising, and we should not expect it to last. It is getting smarter, and coming after us.

  33. stukuls

    Boing Boing is using AI ge=nerated art I noticed. Wondering why the artwork said boing boing and a company name not a persons. Not cool. The platform they us I never heard of:

    Stable Diffusion

  34. spud

    i should have commented on this when it was posted. the reason why nothing is getting done and things are collapsing, is because of free trade which has created a tiny world wide oligarchy(about seven hundred families control the worlds wealth)have deemed that this is to be. because they can pick up the pieces at bargain prices. the parasites simply do not care what happens to the rest, as long as they get everything in the end.

     its why so many wealthy business owners are scratching their tiny heads wondering whats happened to their own businesses.

     well these tiny little heads were all for the destruction of unions, paying little or no taxes, getting rid of regulation, minimum wages, etc..

    those tiny little heads thought they were at the table, when in reality, they were always on the table also, just to greedy and stupid to know it.

    the author of this piece even warned the slow witted greedy little heads what a bill clinton or tony blair was, to late now SUCKERS!
    if it was not for brexit, this article could not have been written, and said policy initiated.
    the french, italians, greeks, germens etc., still can’t figure it out.
    The Startup Party: reflections on the last 20 years, what could replace the Tories, and whyAnd building a Q&A on Brexit, what really happened in No10, covid etcDominic CummingsJun 3, 2023
    “One of the most interesting things about the last decade is the way a subset of the entrepreneurial elite has quietly split away from the political elite in basic attitudes towards mainstream political news. In 2015 the two were much more closely aligned, with huge overlap around what you could loosely think of as Blair-Clinton-Obama, and the entrepreneurs focused mainly on business. I failed to persuade them that political Insiders were mostly living in a fake world.”

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