Links 7/11/2023

Parrots Are Taking Over the World Scientific American

How the Octopus Evolved To Taste by Touch The Wire

Elephants’ Giant Hot Testicles Might Be the Reason They Get Less Cancer Scientific American

Man-made materials in nests can bring both risks and benefit for birds (press release) Bangor University


What to Do with Climate Emotions The New Yorker

In ‘An Unflinching Look,’ Benjamin Dimmitt Bears Witness to the Ecological Disaster of Florida’s Wetlands Colossal


Is Google a bad neighbor? A fight over water use at a huge data center is exposing deeper issues in an Oregon town Fortune

Biden Official Overseeing Water Resources Worked for Hedge Fund Privatizing Water Lee Fang


Masks matter for more than mandates Virology Down Under. “TL;DR The amount of virus we receive can determine the severity of the disease that results. This ‘infectious dose’ is affected by how much virus is in the particles we inhale as well as how long we inhale them.” Excellent review of the literature, well worth a read.

SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses wane profoundly in convalescent individuals 10 months after primary infection Virologica Sina. “Ten months after primary infection, the mean magnitude of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4 and CD8 T cell responses decreased about 82% and 76%, respectively. SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses waned significantly in 75% of convalescent individuals during the follow-up.” Well, so much for herd immunity. Also, Leonardi was right. Again.

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in free-ranging white-tailed deer in the United States Nature. From the Abstract: “Evolutionary analyses showed these white-tailed deer viruses originated from at least 109 independent spillovers from humans, which resulted in 39 cases of subsequent local deer-to-deer transmission and three cases of potential spillover from white-tailed deer back to humans. Viruses repeatedly adapted to white-tailed deer with recurring amino acid substitutions across spike and other proteins. Overall, our findings suggest that multiple SARS-CoV-2 lineages were introduced, became enzootic, and co-circulated in white-tailed deer.”


China on brink of consumer deflation FT

China’s paltry support for private sector leaves its economic backbone in more dire straits than state firms South China Morning Post

Chinese women economists called ‘traitors’ online for meeting with Yellen Reuters

Myanmar violence and South China Sea disputes to dominate ASEAN talks Channel News Asia

The Koreas

As Asia embraces Thailand’s ‘T-wave’, is the tide turning against K-pop? South China Morning Post


Why are rural elections in West Bengal so violent? The India Fix

BJP May Rally Against Dynasty Politics but It Has Gained the Most From It The Wire

Is What We Have “Crony Capitalism”? People’s Democracy

Dear Old Blighty

‘We are on for a massive defeat’: can the Tories prevent the inevitable? FT

Covid-19 inquiry still waiting for Boris Johnson phone messages FT

O Canada

COVID-19: what did Quebec do with the $432 million from the federal government intended for schools? (Google Translate) Le Soliel. “The federal government calculated that the schools could, among other things, with this money, improve their ventilation system, increase hygiene measures or buy personal protective equipment and cleaning products.”

New Not-So-Cold War

Azov Commanders Return, 6th Column Goes Crazy Simplicius the Thinker(s)

The Western Media Is Whitewashing the Azov Battalion The Nation. Normalizing fascism:

Maybe we need to start writing “Big Ƶ” instead of “Big Z”? (Lviv is in Carpathia; we give that to the Poles, Azov problem solved.) Meanwhile, at the White House:

Ukraine Could Be the Next West Germany Foreign Policy. I’m not sure that means what they think it means.

* * *

Zelenskiy says he understands Ukraine will be in NATO Reuters. He would, wouldn’t he?

Washington Seeks to Manage Zelensky’s Removal The New Kremlin Stooge

Turkey’s Erdogan demands EU membership talks in exchange for backing Swedish NATO bid France24.

US says it ‘intends to move forward’ with transfer of F-16 jets to Turkey FT

* * *

Russian mercenary leader Prigozhin’s commanders met Putin after short-lived mutiny, pledged loyalty AP

Prigozhin’s Failed Coup Was a Blessing in Disguise Foreign Policy

Analysts: Russia is on the Brink Kyiv Post

* * *

Ukraine Needs to Win Faster The Tablet

The West needs to prepare for ‘ugly’ Russian victory in Ukraine, which will reward China, leading US political scientist warns South China Morning Post. Mearshimer.

In Ukraine I saw a brave but ravaged land in limbo. It needs a future – it needs Nato Timothy Garton Ash, Guardian. Attributing bravery to “the land” is a category error. It’s also exactly the kind of error a blood-and-soil right wing nationalist would make.

Biden Administration

Student loans: Looming payments put spotlight on ‘real danger’ for borrowers The Hill

CDC to Reduce Funding for States’ Child Vaccination Programs Kaiser Health News

President Biden and King Charles’ marriage of convenience Politico

DOL recovers $88,000 in wages from Detroit-centered restaurant group HR Drive

Spook Country

FBI worked with Ukraine intelligence agency to remove social media accounts: House Judiciary report FOX

Digital Watch

Killing Twitter Eschaton

Meta’s New Threads App Is Terrible. It Just Might Bury Twitter. Slate

A warning to anyone jumping over to Threads Ben Cohen on Substack. The irony of liberal Democrats and pundits jumping onto a Meta platform — even though Meta gutted their newsrooms and wrecked the news business — because they can’t endure contact with The Othered* is a bit much, even for the stupidest timeline. NOTE * Or curate their timelines properly.

* * *

Sarah Silverman Sues OpenAI And Meta For Copyright Infringement; Lawsuits Challenge Use Of Works For Artificial Intelligence Datasets Deadline

Experts warn of rise in scammers using AI to mimic voices of loved ones in distress ABC


Justices take up major Second Amendment dispute SCOTUSblog

Imperial Collapse Watch

We Get What We Pay For: The Cycle of Military Spending, Industry Power, and Economic Dependence (PDF) Watson Institute, Brown University

Class Warfare

Gallery Owner Seen Spraying Homeless Woman In Infamous Viral Video Gets 35 Hours Community Service SF ist

SAG-AFTRA president defends fashion show trip to Italy as contract deadline looms LA Times

The Modern World Reconceived Brad DeLong, Harvard Magazine. The deck: “Interpreting politics through the rise of technocracy, morality, and the ‘web of capital.'”

The Best Decision-Making Is Emotional Every

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. griffen

    Dare I write the following words, but reading about giant elephant testicles was not anywhere on the to do list for the week. Well, science is interesting in that aspect. By the bye, who is testing for elephantine cancer in the wilds?

    1. RabidGandhi

      The Science confirms what hyenas have been saying for ages: Elephants are boludos.

        1. Val

          If one is lucky enough to see old six-legs out amongst the Kalahari apples, the last thing you will notice are his elephantine huevos.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      griffen: After the poop knife discussion of yesterday, we must collectively turn to more elevated topics.

      1. Etrigan

        No, we must continue the nobrow descent, now more than ever! Then we can listen to No Wave music and read awful vintage magazines.

        1. Bugs

          Yeah! Medium Medium, DNA, James Chance, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks…Bush Tetras!

          Love that genre, gone too soon.

      2. mrsyk

        ha ha. Yo, laughs of the non-cynical variety are hard to come by these days, thank you.

    3. Neutrino

      Obviously leading to some hunger relief and overpopulation stories, duh.
      Rocky Mountain Oysters, meet Savanna Steamers, Dumbo Donuts, Tusky Taters or whatevs.
      Ketchup or hot sauce to taste. ;p

    4. ChrisPacific

      It’s actually a non-story if you check the details: some known facts about elephant cell biology, and an untested theory from some scientist (formally a ‘hypothesis’) that led to the subject line. No evidence that it’s actually true or that A explains B.

      And yes, I realize I am missing the point.

      1. griffen

        That’s a good point, I did read the article before posting anything that insinuates the following. I just wanted to behave like a teenager because, well, that’s just my mind venturing into the gutter of pranks and high school nonsense. Plus it was early and caffeine was not yet kicking in.

        1. ChrisPacific

          No problem – I’m pretty sure the story was inviting you to do just that, and you had no lack of willing accomplices.

          I just thought it was funny how little story there actually was. Obviously Scientific American is a sucker for a good headline just like everybody else.

  2. LawnDart


    Re; FBI worked with Ukraine intelligence agency to remove social media accounts: House Judiciary report

    Am I reading this correctly?

    “The FBI and SBU requested the removal or suspension of the accounts expressing pro-Ukrainian views or criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the report said.”

    That, and the Tablet article were a real hoot.

    Please allow me to toss this into the mix– salting the earth:

    A Grim Reaper that will outlast the Ukraine war: Cluster munitions

    Ukrainian civilians assume that the United States is offering them a way to win the war sooner when providing them with cluster bombs, but this is not the case.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘FBI worked with Ukraine intelligence agency to remove social media accounts’

      The Ukraine is only a recent newcomer on the scene. So this begs the question of what other countries the FBI is working with to remove social media posts and accounts. Israel certainly. Perhaps Saudi Arabia. But who else? The Twitter files showed how it was done for Twitter alone so you would expect similar censoring in the other social media platforms. If the FBI is going to work for other countries, then the least those other countries could do is to pick up the tab for the FBI. Are we sure that the FBI does not actually stand for the Foreign Bureau of Investigation?

      1. griffen

        FBI is doing a lot of “God’s work” on many fronts, it appears, both home and abroad. I’m not too familiar with this think tanker named in the below article, though his story rings a bell of sorts. Maybe the guy is a goof or a kook. Always amazed at all the “thinking” of these think tanks.

        Money quote in the article, “the FBI is determined to defend our nation by enforcing laws …to
        promote transparency of foreign influence…”. Left unsaid, that enforcement seems a little hit and miss to an observer from the cheap seats

        1. Mildred Montana

          >”Always amazed at all the “thinking” of these think tanks.”

          Descartes: 𝘊𝘰𝘨𝘪𝘵𝘰 𝘦𝘳𝘨𝘰 𝘴𝘶𝘮 (I think therefore I am)
          Ambrose Bierce: 𝘊𝘰𝘨𝘪𝘵𝘰 𝘤𝘰𝘨𝘪𝘵𝘰 𝘦𝘳𝘨𝘰 𝘤𝘰𝘨𝘪𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘶𝘮 (I think I think therefore I think I am)

          Wonder if Bierce was “thinking” of think tanks?

        2. digi_owl

          To anyone not American, FBI consider all the non-national top level domains (.com etc) their fief. Even if you, your servers, and everything else is outside USA, they can have the DNS entry “seized” by forcing the registrar to redirect it to FBI servers.

    2. pjay

      Yes. Pretty ridiculous story if one knows about the Twitter Files investigation. But it allows FOX News to condemn social media censorship as a “left wing” Democrat plot against the poor Republicans while blaming the evil Rooskies at the same time. The FBI actually *helped* the Russians, you see, while it was censoring good patriotic conservatives and Republicans.

      For FOX, as for most Republicans, the “censorship” issue is just part of the partisan theater. They have no interest in considering any deeper questions about social media, Ukraine, or anything else.

    3. Nikkikat

      I heard yesterday that Laos is still finding these munitions 55 years after they were scattered there by the United States. They need to keep pretending the war is still going on and that Ukraine is winning. It will give old pudding brains campaign the ability to stretch the whole thing out until the election, cannot figure out how they are going to do that but it’s better than their current plan which is bidenomics! Hey, that Jake Sullivan is a real intellect isnt he?
      Bidenomics ……..WTF?

      1. digi_owl

        French farmers are still picking WW1 shells out of their fields.

        Some years ago i even read about a Norwegian air force hangar that blew up, thanks to a lighting strike setting off a bomb that had been buried there since WW2. Thankfully without lives lost.

        We are long past the point where wars end when the shooting stops.

  3. timbers

    Chinese women economists called ‘traitors’ online for meeting with Yellen

    Reuter’s intro:

    “Yellen, a trailblazer in the field of economics, had lunch with six female economists in Beijing on Saturday, an effort to spotlight gender diversity following meetings with China’s largely male government leaders.”

    Chinese woman economist (Hao):

    “Yellen is the friendliest American official, she is always dedicated to developing friendly China-U.S. relations”.

    Let’s check back with Hao what she thinks of Yellen’s friendlyness towards China after things heat up in Taiwan and Yellen, US Treasury, the Fed, and EU “seize not freeze” China’s $1 trillion plus USD assets.

    1. Stephen

      I think the challenge here is that (as ever) a western official is seen as “interfering” by seeking to spotlight an issue such as gender diversity that reflects our view of morality and urge to virtue signal. Whatever we think of the underlying issue there is a case for saying that it is not her place to raise it.

      The Chinese government talks about sovereignty and non interference in other countries’ internal affairs. The metaphor is if Xi or a senior Chinese official goes to Washington and meets publicly with representatives of destitute, homeless Americans (for example) as a way to highlight inequality in the US. I am sure Reuters would then be one of the first agencies to report this as unwarranted interference in US affairs. If he were even able to do it in the first place.

      Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Unless you are “exceptional”. As the US / wider west says it is.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, about that “seize not freeze.” Just read an article earlier called “Anti-Russian sanctions spooking countries into repatriating gold reserves” so countries around the world have woken up to the fact that assets, particularly gold, may not be safe in countries like the US and the UK and so are bringing them home.

      I am shocked, shocked, that this was not foreseen somehow. /sarc

  4. The Rev Kev

    “The Western Media Is Whitewashing the Azov Battalion”

    Kinda ironic when you think about it. Not only are the Azov guys & gals all about Nazism and ultra-nationalism, they are foremost and most of all a radical White Supremacy movement determined to purify the Ukrainian nation. So you could kinda reformat that headline to read “The Western Media Is Whitewashing a White Supremacy movement.”

    1. Neutrino

      The enemy of their enemy is one step removed, so might as well be invisible.
      That seems to be the media MO.

      For many, the stain of Naziism will never go away, nor will tolerance for those who still tolerate it.

    2. pjay

      Lev Golinkin has been a consistent critic of the neo-Nazi element in Ukraine, both before and after the Russian invasion. Compared to a lot of the crap by the “compatible left” in the Nation or Jacobin, his writing has been helpful in challenging our propaganda – and the more so since he is also from a Ukrainian immigrant family. And yet… he has to include passages like this:

      “There is a kernel of truth in the allegations that Azov is just a Russian bogeyman. The Kremlin and Ukraine’s neo-Nazis have a symbiotic relationship that reaches to the very heart of this war: Putin needed a pretext to justify his illegal invasion; for that, he turned to Azov. Moscow seized on Azov’s existence to paint all of Ukraine as a cesspool of fascism in need of “denazification.” Azov is the linchpin in Putin’s narrative—without it, his excuse for the war is gone.”

      This is, frankly, an outrageous distortion of the real situation. It leaves out the whole history of NATO/CIA encroachment as Putin’s “pretext.” It leaves out the whole history of efforts by Putin to *avoid* invading by getting Ukraine and its puppet-masters to negotiate a peaceful resolution. It leaves out the *many* instances when Putin specifically distinguished the Nazis and the Western war-mongers from the majority of Ukrainians with whom there was an historical bond with Russia. Etc.

      I appreciate his honesty about the Nazi presence, and as the son of Ukrainian immigrants I understand his condemnation of the Russian invasion. But the effect of such articles is to continue the mystification of the NATO project while allowing some on the left to feel good about themselves for condemning the bad guys.

    3. RealSkipIntro

      Erdogan’s ploy is pretty funny. They’ll let Sweden into NATO if the EU lets them in. After years of waiting, they throw this back into the faces of NATO/EU leaders. All NATO has to do is get the EU to agree. Super simple. This reflects huge NATO and US pressure on Turkey back into the EU, which is under growing strain as their economic model bleeds out from self-inflicted wounds (and Nordstream). If EU leaders fold quickly, it will just give that much more ammunition to their anti-immigrant domestic opponents on the right. The impression that his move helps NATO is probably mistaken. I think the dual imagery of illegally selling cluster shells, and celebrating unrepentant Azov n a z i s is particularly bad optics for the summit.

      p.s. All my comments have been disappearing. I hope this one makes it through.

    4. digi_owl

      The crazy is that MSM was peppered with articles about their worrying presence, but then Putin announced the SMO and all of that was memory holed.

      1. Acacia

        Yep. The only interesting aspect for me was that it became an instant litmus test. Henceforth, anyone telling you there are no Nazis in the Ukraine is either a hack or hasn’t been paying attention.

    5. Boomheist

      I suspect we are seeing the continuing and broadening acceptance of Nazi views in the USA and the West generally. Remember that before WW2 there was a huge slice of the US population enthralled with the Nazis, including Charles Lindbergh. I think, all along, the assumption was, among the Western leaders, that somehow Hitler would not be too bad and the West and Hitler could roll back Russia and communism, which has been seen as the scourge of the West since the 19th century, but then somehow we ended up allied with Stalin against Hitler. In fact, some would argue that, but for Stalin and the Russian army, we would have never won WW2. For sure, the Russians bled more in WW2 than anyone else. Then, after the war ended, a lot of Nazis came to the West and were welcomed by the west. The US space program was basically developed in the 1950s by Nazis. So it does not surprise me that now, nearly 80 years since WW2 ended, after 55 years of the old Cold War, we are again in a place where the Real Enemy is (again) the Russian Bear and because the enemy of my enemy is my friend, the West is now supportive of the same Nazis they went to war against three generations ago. never forget that just before WW2 there was a Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden attended by up to 30,000 people, with swastikas, all of it, and that grouping among us has remained, maybe even grown stronger, such that today much of Naziism has become normalized – white supremacy, eugenics, blood and soil, the fusing of religion with government, a completely militarized economic system in the hands of a few great corporations…..Hence the normalization and then acceptance of the Azovs……When we fuse Christian nationalism with the Military Industrial Complex and a hunger for the Great Days of Yore we will have become the very thing our grandfathers fought against all those years ago, and I fear that is exactly what is happening…

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    Timothy Garton Ash ventures into realms of stupidity that I never realized he was capable of. On the other hand, being English, he would like others to do the work for him. It’s so hard to get servants these days.

    He makes the assertion that the EU has given an clear signal that Ukraine will join. No, Ursula van der Leyen has. The real world is much more ambivalent. And as I often say, I am waiting for the Albanians to be allowed in first, given how patient they have been.

    And there’s this:
    “But if the west gives Ukraine the military means to win this war, adding a firm promise of future Nato membership when it’s over, then the US will end up with a Europe much more capable of defending itself against a weakened Russia. The US will then be able to devote more of its own resources to the geostrategic threat from China.”

    Thanks, Ash: Arms to create peace in Ukraine, eh? Europe capable of defense against a weakened Russia, relying on a bloated Poland and famine-stricken Ukraine? Then the Big One: War with China!

    He’s a historian? He seems to have no understanding of strategy or tactics, a serious lack that I am finding among the Anglo-American superior-chatting classes. Watch for the obligatory reference to how the Russians self-bombed themselves at the Khakovka Dam.

    No wonder Jake Sullivan (tweeted above) is looking more and more like an undertaker.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      New Kremlin Stooge, Chapman, puts a wrinkle in Sullivan’s funeral-director garb:

      “The west – led, as always, by Washington – is first making its plans contingent on some miracle Ukrainian victory, and in that event is concerned that whoever succeeds Zelensky is another western toady who will ‘keep Ukraine on the road to freedom and democracy’. In order for the western plan to work, (1) Ukraine must win. (2) Zelensky must step aside and (3) allow his successor to be appointed by the west.”

      I’m not sure that I can stand this much democracy.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      Wowsers. The most bizarre part of the Azov Commanders Return story by Simplicius isn’t the Azov commanders. It is that Western politicians are in contact with the NAFO (yeah, with an F) meeting taking place simultaneously in Vilnius.

      We are in the territory of Erasmus and the Praise of Folly. Just be prepared for the hundred years of bloody wars.

      As warped and self-serving as the Western elites are, they are also successful. The main project of the U.S. liberals is to destroy the left–they can live with Trump a-okay, so long as Nancy Pelosi can go all-dissident and tear up one of his speeches now and again. Yet there was a two-page spread in Fatto Quotidiano yesterday about a new book detailing the past thirty years and their effects on the Italian economy. Let’s just say that impoverishing the Italian citizenry is part of the plan.

      What is to be done, comrades?

      PS: Let’s not consider Azov to be a single, dominant outlier. There are plenty of blondie Nazis to choose from in Ukraine.

      See here for a list:

      1. Bruno

        “Simplicius” writes about the Azovstal siege:
        ” Thousands of Azov fighters were entrenched in a deeply complex underground labyrinth which had already squandered a lot of much needed time and manpower on the Russian side, both in needless losses and in the weeks of added siege time.”
        The Russian siege tactics were as stupid as they were brutal. As I maintained from the outset, the siege could have been ended in a day or so, almost nonviolently. Remember that the Banderist refuge was not infrequently compared to The Augean Stables, and remember too that Mariupol is a sea-level port. It required a much-less-than-Herculean force to lay a large pipe directly from the harbor into the Azovstal basement. The flooding would have forced immediate surrender

        1. R.S.

          and remember too that Mariupol is a sea-level port. It required a much-less-than-Herculean force to lay a large pipe directly from the harbor into the Azovstal basement. The flooding would have forced immediate surrender

          1) Mariupol is well above the sea level, with Azovstal about 20m (70ft) on average.

          2) It’s not a single giant dungeon. It’s a series of disconnected basements, underground industrial levels, sewers etc. Of the same kind that can be found in any large factory complex.

          1. Polar Socialist

            And it was well know that there were civilians in there, too. Eventually against their will, it’s been said.

            I assume Simplicius was referring to the time and manpower needed in the urban fighting before Azovites withdrew into the Azovstal dungeons. As the DPR militamen accepting the surrender noticed, there were more Ukrainians hiding in the Azovstal than there were DPR encircling it.

          2. Bruno

            If so, the Russians have pumps powerful enough to deliver as much seawater as they would need.

      2. Feral Finster

        Unless my memory is playing tricks on me, the Azov commanders were not sent to Turkey as part of the surrender of Azovstal, but somewhat later as part of an exchange of prisoners.

        So the idea that this was part of a secret deal to induce the surrender of Azovstal doesn’t make sense.

    3. ilsm

      i love this: someday some historian…. will ask “Who lost Ukraine?”

      simple answer is: same reasons usa lost south vietnam:

      neither were a country with unified heritage, south vietnam created by geneva accords that were not implemented, and ukraine by lenin, stalin and krushy for administrative convenience (stalin may have used ukraine to retaliate against russians)…..

      usa had no idea of reality (1963, 2022—] and believed their own propaganda

      long war [profiteering] profits no prince (sun tzu)

      i love the image of a brit whose navy and army can only afford to train for war two weeks a year ‘giving enough power’ to ukraine with no idea of military doctrine much less how to create war making potency, on the fly!

      as churchill is alleged to have observed: ‘once we run out of {american] money we will have to think!’

      and the usa’s ‘chance’ to tilt with china with underwater a year or so before putin decided the usa’s chance in europe was over.

      why putin put up (stopped) with chagrine minsk treated like geneva accords!

      1. DJG, Reality Czar


        Thanks for reminding me of South Vietnam. As I was walking around this morning doing errands (one must have fresh-baked bread), I recalled Cambodia.

        I will “counter” by having you consider Cambodia–a setup by the U S of A in a thoroughly inept try at controlling the North Vietnamese army, which then ended in the massacre of millions of ordinary Cambodians.

        But, hey, you have to break eggs to make an omelet.

        Where is Madame Nhu when we would have use of her? I suppose that Zelensky is the new Madame Nhu, willing to do U.S. bidding as the little people get crushed under the empire.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Ukraine was lost the second fighting started, actually day five. The Russians had eliminated the air force and more or less cut off half their army except by two bridges which they can fire on if they needed to. We rushed stingers and such in hopes the Russians would over extend and take their eye off the ball which they didn’t do. Then DC and London blew up peace negotiations.

        I suspect pervasive myths of the invincibility of the US military and wonder weapons in the various foreign affairs departments led down a dangerous road. The stop was the officers at the Pentagon who actually handle logistics. Politicians built up a swift victory they couldn’t back down. Biden will drop everything to cuddle Zelensky or berate a staffer but fight Republicans, c’mon man. Those discrepancies will build. They either will be seen as cowards who run off to foreign issues when the going gets tough or weak across the board. Hundreds of billions for Ukraine while Europe decays across the board.

        The 2024 pitch by Team Blue is “this time we really mean we will follow through on promises.” They aren’t even pitching the highway bill, it’s a dud, but the treated it like a great thing. It’s just 5, 2 year bills turned into one, ten year bill.

        1. TimH

          Team Blue:
          1. We’ll codify Roe!
          2. We’ll cancel student debt!

          Now let’s add:
          3. We’ll bring Freedom® to Ukraine!

        2. Mark Gisleson

          Starting on Day Three, every shot fired, every missile launched, every tank blown up was America’s treasury going up in smoke.

          The Treasury’s been burning longer than the Canadian wildfires.

    4. Lex

      “But if the west gives Ukraine the military means to win this war,…” Except that there’s no evidence that the West can give Ukraine the military means to win this war. I suppose it could send the entire stock of US armor and artillery, but would that be the means to win this war? The requirement for Ukraine to win this war looks more and more like full NATO mobilization and involvement, though that’s not even a sure bet given the actual state of NATO member state military capabilities.

      It’s becoming a constant theme in the West that there’s some miraculous military power and industrial might that’s just not being utilized. At the same time we have Sullivan admitting when talking about the cluster munitions that the increased production of artillery shells is still in the future. Analysis from fantasy land.

      1. Raymond Sim

        Americans have almost no awareness that limits to our power have ever constrained us. It’s difficult to convey the severity of this and the collective narcissism it is a part of.

        Our past 75 years of misadventures ought not permit us this luxury, but then again neither would an honest reading of our conduct of World War ll.

      2. Aurelien

        The military means to win do not exist in NATO countries, and so it doesn’t matter whether it’s the Ukrainians who haven’t got them, or NATO countries who haven’t got them. I’ve written about the boring practical reasons for this several times. Since the start of this crisis I have been genuinely frightened by the dissociation from reality that this kind of thinking entails. OK, maybe there are those who will always express it, but you would at least expect some push-back, and there doesn’t seem to be any. I suspect we may be seeing two things here. One is simple ignorance of reality, mixed with western arrogance. The other, more worryingly, is a refusal to face up to reality, however loud reality coughs, and a retreat into a complete parallel universe where things are different. I can’t help thinking of the last days of the Third Reich, with Hitler manoeuvring non-existent divisions around Berlin ….

        1. Ignacio

          After more than a year of war this qualifies as refusal to face up to reality. If a thick ignorant like me has learnt a few things on warfare, tactical, operational and strategic principles, TGA should have been able to do the same except if he did his best to avoid the exercise. As you say, this is worrisome because it can be followed by bitter anger and ever worsening mistakes.

    5. Wæsfjord

      I know, the stupidity is just mind-blowing. It makes me angry to think how these incompetent fools get plum jobs and writing gigs. Is it the British class thing in operation? I know working-class people with razor-sharp intelligence and a deep commitment to following the truth – no matter where it leads and how uncomfortable it makes us feel – who would destroy this clown intellectually. Or is it that general standards have dropped to completely idiotic levels? WTF is going on?

    6. Ignacio

      Garton Ash is a dreamer with all his “ifs”. If I were a rich man, if I was king, if the earth isn’t flat… an hypothetical historian Garton is.

  6. .Tom

    Follow up from the note I left Sun Jul 2 in Links about going from Boston to Denver for a Conference

    The day after, Mon, my wife and partner in the business we represented at the conference was feeling poorly. On Tue she had fever, fatigue, cold symptoms and +ve c19 antigen rapid test. I tested -ve and experienced symptoms that might as well be allergies, hypochondria, travel stress and hangovers. She started to get better after a few of days and is feeling fine now.

    We talked to various people since then, some of whom were at the conference. What’s striking is how they believe that vaccination makes them safe. My understanding is that the mRNA vaxes at best give your immune system a stronger/faster response but don’t make you safe. And the effect of these vaxes against the XBBs currently circulating in the USA is insufficient to obviate other mitigations.

    It’s one thing to read about this kind of belief (vax makes safe) and behavior (back to pre-c19 life) here but it’s still striking to be confronted with it in friends and colleagues. Also striking is their lack of any detailed knowledge of persistent c19 symptoms, except for one friend we spoke to who had some badly affected staff members.

    It reminds me how some of my colleagues in tech responded to Snowden dismissively saying it’s no surprise and we knew what the NSA was up to. That was true (these were deep Internet specialists and so was I at the time) but it was still shocking to have the documents in front of me and I wanted to express myself. It’s one thing to understand something intellectually but that may not prepare me for facing it in real life.

    Thanks to NC in general for keeping me informed and specifically today for the Virology Down Under link which is fully of healthful goodness.

    1. Raymond Sim

      What sets you apart I think, is the determination to face the reality. Most people, sensing the incipient shock, turn away.

      For what it’s worth, based on my crude pencil-and-paper attempts at modeling incidence of Long Covid, if I had to bet, I would bet that most of the havoc we’re seeing thus far arises from multiple infections. Keep dodging those bullets!

      1. .Tom

        I have thought the same since early on about repeat infection. One friend I argued with in 2020 who was horrified at lock-downs screwing with childrens’ lives gave me the line that turned into Great Barrington. I replied that it’s a corona virus, like the cold, so six months later you can get reinfected by the same virus. How do you feel about infecting yourself and your family annually from now on with this spiked-protein monster mutant cold virus?

        Another friend early on told me that I was over estimating the chance of dying from the thing. I replied that I’m not so worried about that as I am about surviving it.

    2. Roger Blakely

      Our society is in utter denial about how prevalent SARS-CoV-2 is.
      We are in utter denial about how damaging SARS-CoV-2 is.
      We are in utter denial about how contagious SARS-CoV-2 is.
      We are in utter denial about how immune evasive SARS-CoV-2 is.
      We are in utter denial about all of the different health problems SARS-CoV-2 causes.
      We are in utter denial about how nothing but well-fitting respirators keep people from inhaling SARS-CoV-2.

      I live my life as it’s 2021. I never go anywhere. I wear a respirator in all indoor public places. People look at me like I’m a freak. And yet, in spite of everything that I do to avoid inhaling SARS-CoV-2, I get whacked by this virus monthly if not weekly.

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      While Americans may respond with “So what?” to Covid, Snowden and Ukrainian Nazis, there is one thing guaranteed to get their attention: a rise in the price of gas. That’s the true third rail of American politics.

  7. Wukchumni

    Patrick Soon-Shiong and his family have sold the San Diego Union-Tribune to competing publisher MediaNews Group, slimming down the family’s holdings to just one news organization — the Los Angeles Times.

    Both newspapers run about 25 pages long on weekdays, not a lot dissimilar to weekly giveaway shopper newspapers.

    Shiong paid $500 million for the LAT & SD U-T about 5 years ago, where is the value, or should I say was the value?

    In related news, the NYT got rid of their sports department.

    …any way to short fishwraps?

    1. Neutrino

      That LA Times purchase could be looked at through the lens of money laundering. Extract favors for those billions earned, via a paper and digital megaphone. One way to assess the LA Times managed slide from what was once a respected and respectable newspaper.

    2. KLG

      The death of newspapers and our political decline: A hypothesis. Just wondering, but the Atlanta Constitution (morning), and to a lesser extent the Atlanta Journal (afternoon, with the late Furman Bisher, Sports Editor, the only reason to read the Journal) were circulated in each of the 159 counties of Georgia back in the day. They were not perfect by any means, but the current Atlanta Journal Constitution is now circulated only in the few counties of Metro Atlanta. The one way to keep up with the shenanigans of the General Assembly from January through early April was a daily morning read of the Constitution. This kept the politicians as honest as possible. Now, not so much. The online version is sketchy; the “reporters” clueless. Thus, the people who paid attention back in the day are simply disconnected from their politics. And sports. Both papers had outstanding Sports sections. The Great Dissolution continues while the Cox family continues to get richer. And richer. Meanwhile, the local paper (McClatchey, I think but am too lazy to look it up) that was once a very good regional newspaper is not fit to line a bird cage or wrap a fish…all the while the local movers are shaking down the public purse with considerable efficiency.

    3. griffen

      Anecdotal but worth passing along. Older sibling lives in Greensboro, NC, for past 30 years. Used to receive the Sunday edition of the News and Record. Within the last year or so, the delivery price went up to about $500 (perhaps it was more). I mean one paper, received every Sunday. Yowza that is steep, and needless to report the response to the price was no thank you.

    4. airgap

      Lived in San Diego for more than half a century. Long enough to recall when the LA Times had a San Diego edition to which I subscribed. But that only lasted a few years before the Times packed up and left town and I was stuck with the bland fare from the ‘Onion’ as we called it.

      At that time I knew a marketing manager at Copley Press, the Union’s publisher, and he chided me about my Times subscription. I told him I enjoyed it for the depth of the articles and for the investigative reporting. He said long articles were waste of time and why did I need more details anyway. From that remark he confirmed that the Onion was there only to print all the news they could fit between the ads.

      The Onion did have an excellent Business reporter in Dan Bowder who lit fires under numerous financial shenanigans in town. He didn’t last and ended up writing at the San Diego Reader where he really lit up the locals. We looked forward to his column every week.

  8. Jason Boxman

    U.S. Students’ Progress Stagnated Last School Year, Study Finds

    Despite billions in federal aid, students are not making up ground in reading and math: “We are actually seeing evidence of backsliding.”

    The blame?

    The Biden administration required districts to spend at least 20 percent of their aid on academic recovery, an amount some experts have criticized as too low.

    No mention. Yes, none. Of COVID. Anywhere. In the entire story. No mention, anywhere, of students out sick. You’d think it’s 2019 again.

    Complete erasure of the ongoing Pandemic.

  9. Stephen

    “Charles and Biden’s marriage of convenience.”

    “Charles isn’t about to pause his lifelong work of advocating for sustainability just because he’s finally on the throne. Meeting with the American president on the issue burnishes his credentials on a matter he cares deeply about.”

    Charles is really quite a silly man. The monarchy has outlived most of the others in Europe precisely because it learned to avoid taking public positions on policy. One never really knew for sure what the late queen thought about anything. Today’s orthodoxy often becomes tomorrow’s heresy. She understood that from her behaviour. Better to be above all of that if you are a constitutional monarch. Especially given that the climate thing requires difficult choices that people dislike when push comes to shove.

    By the way, I am not an especial fan or opponent of the monarchy. If they did not exist I would not seek such a system. But, given that we have them it is hard to think of a system that would be better. A big advantage is that the Head of State can be above politics and opposition to the government can occur within the system. But as soon as Charles takes positions then that gets lost, per my comment above.

    I saw another quote elsewhere where Biden says that the US UK relationship is “rock solid”. That was seemingly when he met another man who is clearly out of his depth, Rishi Sunak. I wonder why he felt the need to say it. Suggests that it is not as strong as we are led to believe. From a purely personal perspective, I want US troops out of Europe (that is nothing personal against Americans but is aimed at the federal government) and for the U.K. to stop thinking it is Greece to America’s Rome. In realty we are at best Austria Hungary to Wilhelmine Germany. The recent apparent reining in of misguided British government bellicosity over Russia sums up the unhealthy nature of the so called “special relationship” (which only seems to be called that by the British). I guess Ben Wallace is unhappy that he cannot step on the NATO gravy train. British MPs are not so well remunerated by US standards so the attraction must have been quite high.

      1. Screwball

        Olbermann and Rob Reiner should be put in a round room and told to sit in the corner.

        I got a kick out of this reply; Oh, Cornel, your love for putin and his kremlin potatoes has no limits

        That’s a standard default reply from the PMC class, complete with the Ukrainian flag in their bio as well. I hear this crap all the time and frankly I’m sick of it. They are so arrogant, yet clueless of how clueless they really are. I don’t think there is a way to fix all the broken brains. The best we can do is avoid and ignore I guess.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “China’s paltry support for private sector leaves its economic backbone in more dire straits than state firms”

    This thing about Beijing’s support for the private sector may be related to Yellen’s recent trip to China. While there, she pushed China for a more market-oriented system in China, saying it would be mutually beneficial for both countries. Because, you know, it has worked so well in the US itself. Moon of Alabama quoted her as saying-

    “I pressed them on our concerns about China’s unfair economic practices,” [Yellen] said, citing barriers to access for foreign firms and problems involving intellectual property. She added that a more market-oriented system in China “would not only be in the interests of the U.S. and other countries. It would be better for the Chinese economy, as well.”

    But then Moon of Alabama said themselves-

    ‘Would China be where it is today if it had privatized its banking system and state owned companies? Would China be richer if it had let U.S. vulture funds buy up and bankrupt Chinese companies? Would it have managed to lift 800 million of its citizens from poverty if it had followed the economic advice of the U.S., the IMF or World Bank? The answer to these questions is of course an emphatic “No”.’

  11. Jason Boxman

    Biden’s (almost typed Obama) insidious plan is garbage:

    Biden’s “on-ramp” repayment plan allows borrowers in financial distress to delay payments from Oct. 2023 to Sept. 2024 without the threat of default or credit score decline.

    But unlike the current pause on student loans, interest will still accrue on those loans and give borrowers a steeper hill to climb when they begin payments again.

    This simply hurts people, surprise! When you first graduate, in fact, you get the same treatment where your loan accrues interest, whether you can and want to start repayment, or not, for a 6 month “grace” period. (Where’s the grace in this?) And then once repayment begins, this interest is — surprise! — capitalized, so you pay interest on your interest, forever! When I called a servicer, everyone’s favorite FedLoan Servicing, they said there was nothing they could do; I was free to start paying “early”, which I did.

    The whole student loan infrastructure in this country is rotten, like everything else, setup specifically to extract rents. Indeed, student loans exists solely as a source of rent extraction by university systems and their bloated administrative payrolls.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      It’s a page from the same Obama-era playbook – kick that can!

      Expect an announcement in September of 2024 that the payments have been delayed again by 90 days, safely past the election.

  12. Polar Socialist

    Now that the NATO meeting in Vilnius has started, I also see a lot of news in TG about Russians at the outskirts of Torske (on Liman-Kreminna axis) thus creating a threat to the Ukrainians in Siversk bulge.

    And apparently there’s heavy fighting going on in Opytne area (Avdiivka sector) where Russians gained “fire control” over the only road Ukrainians have left to Avdiivka itself.

    And last, but not least, there are news about Russian counter-attack developing south of Artemovsk, on the flank of the Ukrainians trying to push trough to Klisheevka.


    1. Feral Finster

      Doesn’t matter. One thing that the US has done masterfully is to use PR, amplified by the Mighty MSM Wurlitzer.

      Notice how, now that Erdogan has reversed course on Sweden, nobody is talking about cluster munitions any more?

  13. cnchal

    Amazon’s PE > 300

    To boost it to 400 we have happy whip cracking sadist Prime daze.

    Mr. Market’s clown face with the big blinking red nose is for amusement only.

    1. Carolinian

      Thanks for the link.

      Anti-populism, along with its cousin anti-patriotism, is an elite response to demands from below to change a social hierarchy, which is why it’s so pervasive today, at a moment when the public is angry. I saw it all the time when researching corporate power – which is the bedrock of our social hierarchy. It was particularly pronounced during the New Deal. In 1933, upon the ascendance of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for instance, Columbia University Nicholas Murray Butler told incoming freshmen that Totalitarian dictatorships are putting forward “men of far greater intelligence, far stronger character, and far more courage than the system of elections.”

      After the New Dealers succeeded, and defeated both the Great Depression and Nazism, the gloom and pessimism agglomerated into the world of big business. For instance, the head of the National Association of Manufacturers in 1948 said “at the highest level of prosperity, our people have lost faith in freedom and are moving away from it.” A few years later, the President of the United States Steel Corporation, one of the biggest firms in the world, said the American economic system was “in deadlier peril than it has ever been in my lifetime.” He was followed by James Byrnes, a former Supreme Court Justice, Senator and Secretary of State, who argued the people could “be led over a bridge of socialism into a police state.”

      I walk by Jimmy Byrnes former house every day. He helped Truman to create the Cold War not to mention drop the atomic bomb.

      1. pjay

        There’s a lot to chew on in this piece. And one could twist and turn these arguments all around depending on our definitions of key terms. For example, what do we mean by “populism”? By “patriotism”? My own orientation toward “populism” favors that of Frank, and apparently Stoller – which is a messy, not always politically correct attempt to give voice to “the people.” This seems related to what Stoller means by “democracy.” Of course there are some difficulties in how to realize this while minimizing other problems, like, say, a “tyranny of the majority.” And my experience with “patriotism” through most of my nearly 70 years has been closer to the blind reverence for the Jimmy Byrnes view of the world than a celebration of the “potential” of America for great things. I tend to a knee-jerk cringe reaction to the word “patriotism” for that reason.

        I also react negatively to “libertarian,” as does Stoller, for the same reasons. Yet, today while most of the “left” cheers censorship and wars for “democracy,” the few consistent critics of either, outside of a handful of remaining anti-imperial lefties are on the “libertarian” right.

        I could go on. But the main point is that we have to be very clear on both the terms we use and the context in which we use them.

        1. pjay

          Almost forgot. Regarding Stoller’s depiction of C Wright Mills as an “anti-populist”: well, again I suppose that depends on what you mean by “populist.” But he should go back and read Mills’ chapter on ‘Mass Society’ in The Power Elite, where he distinguishes ‘publics’ and ‘masses.’ Not a bad start on what I *think* Stoller is advocating.

        2. Geo

          “Nationalism is our idolatry, is our insanity. ‘Patriotism’ is its cult…Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one’s country which is not part of one’s love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship.”
          Erich Fromm

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Sorry, Matt. I’m not buying. I haven’t been patriotic since I was 14 and looking at the prospect of being drafted to fight somebody with whom I had no quarrel,(Thanks, Ali.) I suppose Stoller can find examples of the unpatriotic anti-populist elites, but a lot of us are just anti-Empire.

      1. Carolinian

        Long ago Billmon talked about patriotism as being the last vestige of the cast aside working class investment in the national project. Even the poorest of the poor are still citizens. Certainly the sentiment has its uses by scoundrels, as the saying goes, but given that the elites are always going on about our “shining city on a hill” maybe they need to show a little more sincerity when it comes to the inhabitants.

        Trump gets this, if even in a cynical way (but not entirely cynical I think–he really likes his fans). The establishment hates that he gets it and many hate the sentiment. They salute the pride flag instead.

        The American version of patriotism may often be rote and shallow but there are worse things. The country could use a little unity these days.

        1. JBird4049

          Our Blessed Elites do not seem to believe in patriotism, democracy, nationalism, free speech, or really any form of freedom for the masses except the freedom of owning nothing and being mindfracked into imbecility and probably an early grave, but privilege, comfort, and a long life for themselves.

          I have been told that anything that helps the average American, or the average person anywheres really, is socialism and unaffordable anyways, about the need for law and order, but only for the many and never the unacknowledged privileged few. That is followed that patriotism or love of country of any kind is foolishness because the smart people are cynical and apathetic, unless it is about money of course. And hey, who are you going to believe about what you see in the environment and the economy, us or your lying eyes?

          A patriot is a fool. An American nationalist is a white nationalist and a jingoist. Caring about others is socialism and evil. It is funny how most people who are proud of being Americans do not want these endless wars though or are in favor of national healthcare of some kind like a full coverage Medicare4All or want to stay in their communities instead of being rootless as many of the Good People seem to want.

          Anyways, the love of country is not the acceptance of what it is. A person might love an individual or a family without accepting what they have become, yes? I favor what Carl Schurz said “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” It is really amusing how many “patriots” forget the the last two parts. And it is really funny how people insist on conflating the nation, meaning the people, with the government of that nation, and the government with the law, which are three very different things. If I were to say that I am loyal to my country, would that mean I am loyal to the government or not? Further, the law especially in the form of the Constitution is different from the government. Some people say that being obedient to the government is being lawful. If I say that I am a lawful citizen, am I being obedient to the government or to the Constitution? Interesting.

          Maybe I am a fool. I know that I am a socialist American nationalist, but I see that what is acceptable to our overclass as shown via the establishment’s approved intelligentsia and glitterati is a kind of nihilism. An existence whose social and financial success depends on the approval by the Good People, which is predicated on saying the right words and slogans, accept without question whatever is the currently approved reality and the past, all while being cynical and deprecating of everything except Neoliberal ideology. There is no past, no future, no place, and no community, just the eternal empty now.

          Okay then, we are ruled by empty souled, emotionally deranged, mentally ill people who want everyone else to be just like them.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        late at night at the Wilderness Bar, at the tail end of the last of my Wife’s Wakes:
        crowd had thinned out to just a few of us redneck drunks…and one of whom and i were arguing about the state of the country.
        our sons are best buddies(and we ourselves are very amicable)…and had egged me into engaging…”c’mon, tell it like it really is..”
        LSS…i ended up telling the guy, ” i hate my country BECAUSE I’m a GD Patriot!!”
        at which point…after picking his jaw up from the dirt…he hugged me(!).
        and another round of tequila shots…and he sits there amazed and wide eyed…full of questions.
        but it was 3am, we were all very drunk, and my extemporenaeity was spent.

      3. JP

        The most patriotic thing is not to die for your country. It is to raise your children well.

        1. Tim

          Maybe not true 100 years ago, but it’s true now. Where is the real threat our citizens staying alive or being enslaved? It’s only fighting in a war in a foreign country or being a victim of neoliberalism.

          Superpower economic warfare (all that is left due to worldwide economic integration) should not require death anymore. If it does, you are doing something wrong.

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      Here’s another 4th of July special in what is, I’m sorry to say, a similar vein. Joltin’ Joe Scarborough is on the warpath against the ‘Murca detractors, going so far as to claim that the MAGA-ites are as bad as HIPPIES!. Say it ain’t so, Joe. Scarborough goes on and on how we’re the bestest and the brightest. He sounds like a Chiefs fan waxing poetic about Patrick Mahomes. A sample (ingesting Dramamine prior to reading might be advisable):

      Every year, American colleges and universities dominate rankings of the best schools in the world. [just who does those rankings?] Maybe that’s why some of the most powerful political and business leaders across the globe keep sending their children to American colleges. They do so for the same reason many Republican politicians with Ivy League degrees worked hard to get admitted into Yale, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania years ago: because nobody in the world does higher education [you mean credentialing and Rolodex building, right?] better than the United States of America.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I feel like Scarborough wakes up every day and wonders why he just didn’t blame Democrats for his mistress being murdered instead of resigning. This is why he hates Trump. He just didn’t think of it.

  14. TomDority

    We Get What We Pay For:
    The Cycle of Military Spending, Industry Power, and Economic Dependence
    Heidi Peltier

    Excellent read…. some very applicable points. Recommended by me….

  15. Lex

    “We get what we pay for” is worth the long read. “Decades of high levels of military spending have
    changed U.S. government and society – strengthening its ability to fight wars, while
    weakening its capacities to perform other core functions.”

    I question the “strengthening its ability to fight wars” given what we’ve seen play out in Ukraine. It does not seem like decades of high levels of military spending have actually strengthened the US’s ability to fight and win wars. Of course that makes it all much, much worse because it suggests that the disproportionate amount of funds spent on the military don’t accomplish the supposed goal and/or that the military is just a political-economic engine of corruption that’s less concerned with fighting and winning wars than it is increasing revenue and political power.

    Over at Corrente, Lambert used to talk about the ratchet effect regularly. The linked paper describes that in depth as “defense” slowly subsumes the US government.

    1. Raymond Sim

      I think we are less capable of confronting Russia or China than the British and French armies were of dealing with German machine guns and howitzers in 1914, and our leaders are possibly even less aware of actual circumstances. It’s been like this, and steadily worsening, for my entire adult life*. I’m 65.

      *Yes, even right after we won the Cold War! Geography and logistics matter.

    2. TomDority

      It sort of says to me that the politics we see today are a sort of Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, or, in the USA on the elephant or donkey.
      Seems Biden or, more likely, the Dem party is doing all he/it can to support the “economy” by goosing the military side and tripping up competitors in this tech race – resorting to cheating to win the tech race – and at the same time want to lose the elections so as to pass the hot potato of economic collapse onto the Republican party who themselves want to win on an economic collapse by Democratic party but not inherit an economy that will collapse on their time…… meanwhile, the FIRE side of the economy continues to hide behind the curtain, trying to stay hidden like some non-factor – some deity beyond reproach or fallible.

      1. .human

        It’s all a game of musical chairs as the parties to power manage to keep the music playing.

    3. Aurelien

      This is an explicit re-statement of the “crowding-out” theory that was popular with the Peace Movement in the 1980s, though it fell into disrepute and I haven’t seen it advanced for some years.

      There are different versions, but the most common says that the amount of money governments can spend is limited, and money spent on defence has to be at the expense of other things. Of course, that was before MMT, and we now know that governments are not limited financially in what they can spend as long as the actual resources exist. There’s no reason why you can’t have a large education budget and a large military budget at the same time, as long as the two are not competing for the same resources. The other half of the traditional argument is that there are only so many resources in the country (skilled labour and manufacturing for example) and that defence spending pre-empts those resources thus harming the economy as a whole. This argument, as I recall, was also very popular with the British Treasury.

      In reality, what happened was rather different. British and American technology companies, faced with unsustainable competition from Asia in consumer goods, decided to concentrate on the defence market, which was less open to export competition and more lucrative. As a result, the non-defence industries of both countries went into a steep (and now I suspect terminal) decline. That led to a parallel decline in the requirement for skilled and educated personnel, and for institutions to train them, and in both countries, defence companies, or companies dependent on government contracts like Boeing are about all that is left. Of course, reducing your manufacturing base to defence doesn’t actually mean you are good at it: it just means you can’t do anything else.

      1. Ignacio

        “There’s no reason why you can’t have a large education budget and a large military budget at the same time, as long as the two are not competing for the same resources.”

        Or pay in full the pensions owed for which the only resource you need is arbitrary money supply.

        Yet, some crowding-out can occur not in terms of raw materials and economical resources but in terms of brains and thinking, in terms of opportunity loss, in terms of direction of things and intentions. I think of it as a kind of a tumour, a lymphoma. The “defence cells” growing limitless while other tissues cannot because they are limited by body signals. The rest of the tissues follow some rules and obey the signals but not the MIC which at some point turns tumorous and dysfunctional.

      2. Darthbobber

        I would say that western tech companies continued merrily along with civilian development as well, but transferred the work to Asia. For a time, a large fraction of the “foreign” competition was “our own” firms.

        As to the crowding out argument, as long as the budgetary folklore of the US remains what it is, it has considerable heft.

        If we assume both that MMT becomes the mainstream theory, AND that we by some miracle install a government that is both able and willing to use it for the ends we favor, then this changes to some extent. But here I call to mind Marx’s response to an argument relying on optimistic assumptions: “Yes, if things were different they wouldn’t be the same.”

        It would still be true that the things money buys: labor power, the training of labor power, raw materials, etc. are by no means that malleable. A given silicon wafer can’t be simultaneously be placed in a military satellite and a piece of hospital equipment. An engineer working on a defense project isn’t available for a civilian one, etc. etc

  16. Raymond Sim

    Regarding Anthony Leonardi being right, I think it’s worth noting that of all the people making public statements about Covid and T-cells back in 2020 he was easily one of the very most qualified to be holding forth. His PhD thesis was directly relevant.

    And, speaking subject to correction, I believe that thesis puts him in the category of people with a legitimate shot at one day receiving a share of a Nobel prize. A thesis which he apparently already had in hand when he applied to Johns Hopkins!

    I mention this because I think much of the vitriol directed at him has had the character of long-term damage abatement. I think people like Zeynep Tufekci quickly recognized that this hotshot was likely correct, and set about working to make their eventual position of “He was not at that time a credible person.” believeable to people who would like to believe that.

  17. Carolinian

    Thanks for the deep dish on Parrots, The Dalles and, yes, testicles. On the other hand Slate gushing at the prospect of Taylor Swift moving to Threads….eh….

    Have no dog in that particular fight but if the big cage match ever does take place here’s betting on Musk, the maker of actual things versus Zuck, the maker of virtual things. It’s much easier to fake the latter and even fool those advertisers that Eschaton thinks will make the final decision. While Slate as always loves them some censored up walled gardens one suspects history is not on their side.

    1. JBird4049

      Parrot flocks flit about quickly in the air. I use to see them occasionally when walking on the Embarcadero near Telegraph Hill in San Francisco and it was nice to see them, but in the air they are difficult to see clearly unlike on the ground. I guess that is a good anti-predator defense.

    2. Acacia

      Threads… making it easier to separate the wheat from the chaff.

      Sound good to me. 👍

  18. Belisarius

    The bottom line is that the Vilnius summit will sound the bugle to let the manor know that an orderly NATO pullback from Ukraine is in the cards. Unlike in Afghanistan, the US will no doubt keep the allies in the loop, since this primarily concerns European security — and importantly, it should not turn out to be another chaotic retreat that Kabul or Saigon witnessed in yesteryears. That, in turn, demands absolute NATO unity.

    Thus, Biden thoughtfully touched down in London en route to Vilnius to mollify the UK that Ukraine cannot be the battleground of its “Global-Britain” dream. King Charles stepped in to smoothen the ruffled feathers in the US-UK “special relationship.” Biden had earlier vetoed Britain’s recommendation of Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, an inveterate hawk on Russia, as NATO’s next secretary-general.

    Evidently, the nuts and bolts of an orderly withdrawal will need to be painstakingly worked out within the framework of a ceasefire in the war. This means engaging with Russia in a near future and discouraging it from pressing ahead forthwith with any major offensive to end the war conclusively in its favour.

    Meanwhile, according to the grapevine in Kiev, the commander-in-chief of armed forces General Valeri Zaluzhny has recommended to his president Zelensky that the current month-old Ukrainian military offensive is simply not sustainable against the overwhelmingly powerful Russian forces and should be called off.

  19. djrichard

    > The Modern World Reconceived Brad DeLong, Harvard Magazine

    But for the plutocracy as a whole, outsized risk-taking is very profitable: the winnings of the small group who are truly lucky vastly outweigh the losses of the unlucky, and so the social and political power exercised by plutocracy continues to rise.

    Let’s see how well this holds up after a recession/depression where the markets aren’t rescued by the Fed Reserve and the Fed Gov

  20. ajc

    The article (and the centering) of people’s emotional response to climate change is another tactic by the System(TM) to confuse the actual necessary response, which is abandoning modernity.

    Yeah, the grief is real (kinda), and yeah, you, like everyone else, are complicit in the murder of most life. But centering the grief ignores the real issue, which is what is to be done? And the only truthful answers to that question are so deeply radical that no one, save a handful of radicals, wants to do them. To save the planet, and most life, modernity has to be destroyed. And the destruction implicitly means the deaths of billions of humans, because modernity is the only reason they are alive in the first place.

    This is the sword of Damocles that hangs over modernity (and the climate “movement”), which is evidenced by every technocratic & market “solution” making the problem worse (eg Jevon’s paradox, recycling, etc). Until convenience and comfort are placed back in Pandora’s box with hope, the world is doomed. And even if that happens, the world is still likely doomed.

    1. LifelongLib

      I wish we could be sure it was only modernity i.e. industrialism that has to go. From what I understand England started mining coal because it was running out of trees for charcoal. That suggests their pre-industrial economy wasn’t sustainable either. I wonder how far back we’ll have to go…

      1. digi_owl

        Likely it was running out because timber was directed towards shipbuilding.

        Norway for example had a roaring trade in timber with England and Netherlands before becoming a shipping nation in its own right.

        The difference this time round is electrification. Back then one needed firewood, coal and such for heat and light. These days that can be provided, up to a point, via electricity generated from alternate sources.

        But one is likely needing to kill off plane and car travel for most of the population, reverting to electric trains and and non-petroleum ships.

        Similarly, one have to revert to seasonal foods rather than think one can continue drinking daily strawberry smoothies throughout the winter.

        the casual decadence of the urban PMC is most at risk, IMO. And those are the ones that are fronting the various green parties that think they can continue on as present with just a few more electric scooters and windmills.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Early in the 19th century shipbuilding was mostly outsourced to the Canadian provinces as so many trees had been cut down due to the needs of fighting the decades long fight against Napoleon. When these new ships sailed from Canada to London for registration, they were usually loaded with timber for use in the booming needs for construction as the population expanded and they were nicknamed droggers.

  21. britzklieg

    Sad and beautiful photos of Florida’s eco-disaster by my friend and former college classmate, Ben Dimmitt (I sat for a session with him once, looking for a new “headshot” but was really ugly that day and even his magic couldn’t correct the problem). I will look forward to the exhibit opening here in St. Pete in October. It will be good to see him again (he must have left Manhattan around the same time as I did). I did not know of this project and thought he mostly did headshots of famous people (I remember a huge, stunning photo of Martin Scorsese in his UWS apartment/studio). Seems that St. Pete has quite the connection to two very fine photographers I knew, he and Herb Snitzer.

    ot sidenote – his father was a leading auto dealer in the area (Dimmitt Chevrolet) and my dad used to buy his cars there.

  22. Caltransworkerretired

    First the CALPERS scandal masterfully covered by N.C., and now the California Employment Development Department is structurally insolvent.

    “No other state in American history has ever experienced a surplus as large as this,” ($97 Billion) proclaimed Gavin Newsom some months before the November 2022 election.
    Once that was over, a $39 billion hole was announced in May 2023

    And that clown wants to run the country?

  23. EssCetera

    re: The Best Decision Making is Emotional

    But isn’t this what Jonah and Sarah did?


    1. Ignacio

      Didn’t read it and I don’t know if the article makes distinctions between emotions. Some of them such as hate, anger and blame aren’t usually conductive for good reactions.

        1. Darthbobber

          Part of a Utah Phillips talk started with “each of us assigns blame in our own best interest” and then spun out into how institutions can manipulate those patterns in their own interests. He emphatically included the public schools as playing a key role.

          1. Late Introvert

            It’s how one learns from one’s mistakes, a Stoic approach. My list of hate, anger, and blame is one I am not proud of.

  24. Maxwell Johnston

    Prigozhin’s Failed Coup Was a Blessing in Disguise — FP

    Actually, we mopes have no idea what’s actually going on. Since the stunt of 23-25 June, to the best of my knowledge, no photos/videos of Prigozhin on Russian soil have been published. Offspring number 2 is in Moscow and follows the UKR conflict with religious fervor, and even he hasn’t seen any visual proof of Prigozhin’s existence. For all we know, Prigozhin could be languishing in a prison cell next to Navalny. Or he could be in Africa commanding a neo-colonial battalion. Or he could be 6 feet under. We just don’t know. We’re going on the public statements of Lukashenko and Peskov, two gentlemen from whom I would most definitely not buy a used car. But VVP still seems to be very much in charge, and Gerasimov (the target of much of Prigozhin’s alleged wrath) is very much alive and on TV and Internet. And UKR military (what’s left of it) keeps getting pounded, NATO declarations notwithstanding. So let’s see what actually happens. I remain open-minded.

  25. Matthew G. Saroff

    Regarding the lawsuit over training AI’s with existing works, 2 points:

    1, there is an xkcd cartoon about this. (Cueball accidentally reads a whole book at the book storef, and gets caught by a scanner at checkout)

    2. Learning from books is what books are for, and given that AI cannot even get the timeline of the Star Wars films right, it seems to me that if AI is a threat to her comedy writing, Sarah Silverman is not much of a comedy writer.

    1. bonks

      Sarah Silverman is never funny. Give me Joan Rivers (RIP) or the newcomer Ali Wong any day.

  26. .Tom

    > Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in free-ranging white-tailed deer in the United States

    Next I’ll be getting c19 the same time as I get Lyme. I’ve had Lyme in 2020 and again in ’21 and anaplasmosis in ’22 all from the same type of carrier: deer ticks.

    1. Raymond Sim

      Whoa! A family friend was, I believe, one of the first patients diagnosed with Lyme. Back then it was of course “very rare.”

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