Links 7/31/2023

Banished to a Remote Idaho Valley, Beavers Created a Lush Wetland YaleEnvironment360. For “ecological engineers,” see here, here, here, and here.

Trucking Giant Yellow Shuts Down Operations WSJ

NTSB: ‘Poor Track Conditions’ Led to 2021 Empire Builder Derailment Railway Age


Consumerism to the rescue:

Pig cooling pads and weather forecasts for cows are high-tech ways to make meat in a warming world AP

Fan-cooled beds and baby carriers are gadgets to beat heat Bloomberg.

Climate-change pain is finally hitting home – by way of our wallets Globe and Mail

* * *

We can’t afford to be climate doomers Rebecca Solnit, Guardian

* * *

How a Microbial Evolutionary Accident Changed Earth’s Atmosphere Wired

Stable diverse food webs become more common when interactions are more biologically constrained PNAS. Quoting a huge slab of the the Conclusion:

The question of the existence of large complex ecosystems has puzzled ecologists for a long time since classical work that suggested that the chance of finding a stable complex food web by random search among all possible webs of interaction was small Here, following other applications of the inverse method in ecology, we have turned the problem on its head (i.e., an inverse problem), and started instead with the large complex web as a given and asked what properties (meaning interactions among species) it must have. We then employed numerical approaches identical to recent bioinformatic advances in metabolic network research that had faced an analogous inverse computational problem.

Material reality, not ideology. Wondrous strange!

This network approach has two major theoretical advantages over the classical approach started by Robert May over 40 y ago. First, the approach only produces results for feasible webs, which correspond to the species all being at a positive equilibrium, a problem the classical matrix approach frequently ignores. Second, the approach allows one to posit biological structure that operates to maintain the local stability of diverse real webs. Not only does this approach have these potential advantages, it produces new insights into the maintenance of complex, diverse food webs. With this tool in hand, we compare classical random matrices with realistic topology to increasingly constrained matrices (i.e., feasible and feasible-energetically constrained matrices). We find that the most biologically constrained models yield a consistently larger fraction of stable high-diversity webs in contrast to the presence of highly unstable diverse webs known to occur from the classical random matrix approach with known topological structure. More specifically, feasible energetically constrained (i.e., requiring imperfect energy conversion) webs tend to produce more stable high-diversity webs than the random webs known to be composed mostly of infeasible matrices.

So the very concept of ecosystem services — and their pricing! — is… highly suspect, given that it must have been based on the classical approach. Ditto for climate models, assuming that large complex ecoystems capture carbon.


The gray swan: model-based assessment of the risk of sudden failure of hybrid immunity to SARS-CoV-2 (preprint) medRxiv. From the Abstract: “The recent emergence of variants with strongly immune evasive potential against both the vaccinal and natural immune responses raises the question of whether the wall of population-level immunity can be maintained in the face of large jumps in nAb binding potency. Here we use an agent-based simulation to address this question. Our findings suggest large jumps in viral evolution may cause failure of population immunity resulting in sudden increases in mortality. As a rise in mortality will only become apparent in the weeks following a wave of disease, reactive public health strategies will not be able to provide meaningful risk mitigation. Learning to live with the virus could thus lead to large death tolls with very little warning.” Gray Swan.

Potent pan huACE2-dependent sarbecovirus neutralizing monoclonal antibodies isolated from a BNT162b2-vaccinated SARS survivor Nature. From the Discussion: “In conclusion, this study has demonstrated that cross-clade infection of SARS-CoV followed by vaccination with SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines was able to induce potent, pan huACE2–dependent sarbecovirus NAbs both at the polyclonal serum level and at the single B cell/mAb level. This study’s findings will be extremely useful in guiding the development of future pan-sarbecovirus therapeutic antibodies and vaccines. This is critical not only for mitigating the current COVID-19 pandemic but also for preventing and responding to future coronavirus outbreaks.” If I am understand this correct, this validates the CoviTRAP approach (if not the precise antibodies): “a nasal spray solution containing broadly potent neutralizing antibodies.”

Admission: The First Step to a Sustainable Solution The John Snow Project. “We admitted we were powerless over _____ — that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Illegal medical lab containing bioengineered mice and infectious agents including HIV and herpes discovered in California Insider. A good round-up. Lots of speculation on the company, “Prestige Biotech,” and its owner “Wang Zhaolin.”


US announces $345 million military aid package for Taiwan AP

Cutting all economic ties with China is an ‘illusion’: French finance minister Anadolu Agency


Commentary: Another failed attempt to address Myanmar conflict – what’s next? Channel News Asia

The Koreas

Lessons from the Korean War Indian Punchline

Investment flows poised for historic shift after ‘giant leap’ by Bank of Japan FT


Putin at 2023 Africa-Russia summit: Wiping debts, donating grain and boosting co-operation BNE Intellinews

* * *

A Coup In Niger Madras Courier

Estonia seeking mandate to deploy up to five EDF service members to Niger ERR

Pro-Junta Demonstrators In Niger March With Russian Flags, Damage French Embassy Radio Free Europe

The “Scramble for Africa” never stopped:


Israel on the Brink The New Yorker (Furzy Mouse).

After saving Yemen from oil tanker spill, can diplomacy end its war? Al Monitor

Dear Old Blighty

A funeral for fish and chips: why are Britain’s chippies disappearing? Guardian

New Not-So-Cold War

The Attack on Command Centers in Russia and Ukraine Weapons and Strategy

Ukraine war: ‘People call us the Ghosts of Bakhmut’ BBC. Snipers. First-person shooters for the win in trench warfare!

Zelenskyy tells local government now is not the time to repave roads Ukrainska Pravda

* * *

Saudi Arabia to host Ukraine peace talks, top official says Al Jazeera. “Russia has not been invited, according to the Associated Press news agency. Citing an unnamed official, the AP said a high-level official from US President Joe Biden’s administration is also expected to attend the event.” So whatever the object of the exercise might be, it’s not peace talks. Unsurprisingly, since it’s Ukraine’s plan.

Putin says African proposal could be basis for peace in Ukraine Al Jazeera. Not published. Not the same as China’s proposals.

No cease-fire while Ukraine is on the offensive, Putin declares Politico

Man-in-the-street view of the Russia-Africa Summit Gilbert Doctorow

* * *

Putin will be gone within a year and the West MUST be ready for his terrifying replacement, warns ex-MI6 spy The Sun. Christopher Steele (!).


DOJ tries to jail key Hunter Biden witness Devon Archer on eve of congressional testimony NY Post (Furzy Mouse).

Spook Country

A Company Family: The Untold History of Obama and the CIA Covert Action. From 2021, still germane.

Digital Watch

How ChatGPT changed my plans for the fall Corey Robin

AI’s scariest mystery Axios

Outcry Against AI Companies Grows Over Who Controls Internet’s Content WSJ

The 420

The dark side of the psychedelic renaissance The Face

The Bezzle

SEC asked Coinbase to halt trading in everything except bitcoin, CEO says FT

Superconductor Replication Quest

Viral room-temperature superconductor claims spark excitement – and skepticism The Conversation

LK99 — Chinese replication efforts Elsa Zhou

* * *

LK-99 lead-apatite room-temperature ambient-pressure superconductor Ars Technica. Forum thread.

Claims of Room Temperature and Ambient Pressure Superconductor Space Battles. Another forum thread, listing known replication efforts.

* * *

Korea Superconductor Papers Published ‘Without Consent’ – Yonhap Asia Financial

Co-Author of LK-99 Room Temperature Superconductors Would Not Make Diamagnetism Mistake Next Big Future

Zeitgeist Watch

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee Lapham’s Quarterly

Guillotine Watch

Parents Hire $4,000 Sorority Consultants to Help Daughters Dress and Impress During Rush WSJ

Class Warfare

Chris Hedges: The Forgotten Victims of America’s Class War Scheerpost. Read all the way to the end.

Homeless Camps Are Being Cleared in California. What Happens Next? NYT (CC).

Private Equity Wreckers Come For Your Health Insurance The Lever

US Exceptionalism? International Trends in Midlife Mortality (preprint) medRxiv. From the Abstract: “The US is increasingly falling behind not only high-income but also [Central and Eastern European (CEE)] countries heavily impacted by the post-Soviet mortality crisis of the 1990s. While levels of midlife mortality in the UK are substantially lower than in the US overall, there are signs that UK midlife mortality is worsening relative to the rest of Europe.”

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Terry Flynn

    Re UK chippies. Anecdotally, here in the East Midlands, at a location that is practically the furthest you can get from any coast in the entire UK, there was undoubted contraction in the industry but an interesting rebound. Now, it IS very true that the chippies that locals weren’t so enamoured of have all gone bust. The one or two “good ones” have gone from their “heavily curtailed COVID opening times” back up to a schedule that approximates that of pre-2020.

    This is welcome, obviously. The choice of fish HAS changed somewhat (due to that big hot patch of Atlantic waters?) but it still tastes good. I’d say the inflation in their fish prices, though large, is MUCH less than that observed in the equivalent fish bought at any local supermarket. I do hope we can maintain SOME fresh fish industry in the longer term. We are still at a very early stage in concluding anything regarding viability.

  2. timbers

    Spook Country

    A Company Family: The Untold History of Obama and the CIA Covert Action. From 2021, still germane.


    A key point regarding Obama is something that never previously occurred to me. But now paying attention to Obama’s mother – Ann Dunham – and her certifiably spot on CIA asset resume, all the chips seem to fall into place. Obama in his own way IS a CIA asset and has been for some time. There is an underrated movie by Roman Polanski called:

    Ghost Writer

    Starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Timothy Hutton, Tom Wilkerson, Jim Belushi and others. You have to marvel at a cast as diverse and talented as that alone, yet It is a highly entertaining slow burn film that like explains like a not just Obama and countless others throughout the world how the US takes over nations and get them to follow policies that benefit the US Empire at the expense of it’s own people.

    It just never occurred to me before, that Obama was one of many of them. Maybe Roman can do sequel incorporating Obama’s like into his story line. The title could be:

    Hope Writer.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      Have a look at Tim Geithner’s maternal side, too. Not just his father Peter.

    2. The Rev Kev

      One thing is clear from that article. There is no way Malia or Sasha Obama will be allowed to take an Ancestry DNA test anytime soon. The results would be, uhhh, unexpected and could never be allowed to leak.

      Thing about this article is that when you go into the Obama family, it is spooks all the way down. This being the case, was his elevation as President just one long term CIA project? If so, what other “candidates” may there be out there that have been earmarked by them for future political office.

        1. The Rev Kev

          You wonder who corrupted who. The CIA went into civil life and used all these companies and corporations as fronts with the cooperation of Wall Street. But then Wall Street introduced them to the fabulous amount of wealth that individuals could accumulate which would intrigue people on government pay scales. So it might be a symbiotic sort of relationship at work and both seek to simply to keep the present system going as it is so financially lucrative.

          Reminds me of something from the ancient world. After the Spartans finally defeated the Athenians, they had formed their own empire and ranked officers were sent out to administer parts of it. Now Spartans led a plain communal life sharing communal meals of a bad tasting broth if I remember correctly. But when they went out into the wide world, they went crazy on accumulating wealth and all the trappings that they bought and became notoriously corrupt.

          1. Redlife2017

            Oh contraire – Wall Street lawyers were the ones who set-up the OSS and then the CIA. The Dulles brothers are just the most obvious ones who came from Sullivan & Cromwell. It’s pretty explicit in The Devil’s Chessboard by David Talbot. Also a review of the book “The Brothers” by Stephen Kinzer in the NYT goes into a bit of detail.

            Even when in government, the Dulles Bros used the CIA to support actual clients of Sullivan & Cromwell…the law firm that was used by quite a bit of Wall Street (which in the 1800s was the key law firm that got corporations recognised as people and helped created multinational corporations).

            1. The Rev Kev

              There seems to be a lot of two way traffic as the intelligence services are also used to further American economic interests. So a German engineering firms may discover that their new secret designs are appearing in US products. Or back as far as the 90s at least, the execs for a US corporation might be invited in on a private briefing where they would be told that their overseas competitor’s maximum bid on a foreign contract will only be X amount of dollars for example giving that US corporation an edge in negotiations.

            2. jsn

              Chris Baker’s “Family of Secrets” is a nice sequel to “The Devil’s Chessboard”.

              Bill Casey, ex CIA Director ran the Reagan Campaign with GHWBush, also ex CIA Director as the VP, later to become President.

              OSS to CIA morphed the former into a sort of US sponsored global Mafia that brought it’s own into power with Reagan and they’ve been pretty much running the show since then to my eyes.

          2. digi_owl

            I suspect CIA was set up by Wall Street.

            After all, prior to WW1 Wall Street basically used the USMC as a cudgel to enforce business interests.

            But the lessons of the wars and the development of the OSS during WW2, showed them a different way.

            Now it may well be that their attack dog has since slipped the leash.

        2. Kouros

          Cynthia Chung from The Rising Tide Foundation has writen extensively about this origin story…

        3. some guy

          I remember reading once that R. Buckminster Fuller referred to the CIA as ” Capitalism’s Invisible Army”.

          . . . ” I call the CIA, “Capitalism’s Invisible Army.”
          – Critical Path By R. Buckminster Fuller,
          New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1981, Pg. 103 ” . . .

      1. Kouros

        he list shouldn’t be that long: everyone after Truman. I think JFK, LB, Eisenhower and Nixon could be dismissed fairly easy.

        Bush Senior was a CIA director…

    3. Carolinian

      Of course the plot of The Ghost Writer is that a former British PM is a CIA mole which makes sense in that the job of the CIA is to keep the minions under control. As Schumer said they already have any number of ways to manipulate or intimidate our domestic politicians.

      It’s a fun movie though. At one point GPS serves as a key plot point.

      1. Jeff V

        It’s a great book too (I probably prefer the book to the film; the very last sentence is awesome), although Mikel has now spoiled one of the major plot twists!

    4. Steve H.

      > Putin will be gone within a year and the West MUST be ready for his terrifying replacement, warns ex-MI6 spy The Sun.
      > A Company Family: The Untold History of Obama and the CIA Covert Action.

      On things not being what they seem:

      Re Russia:
      : No mention of Medvedev?
      : Glazyev was ‘out of favor’ for a few years before he popped up again:
      > Pepe Escobar believes that the former economic advisor to Putin, Sergay Glazyev, was the orchestrator for the current economic defense of Russia.
      : Surkov is now under house arrest.
      : Where is Surovikin?

      Re Obama, reflect on AOC:
      : Cortez is the recipient of degrees in Economics and International Relations from Boston University. Cum laude. No mention of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, set up to recruit for the CIA, especially those with focus on… Economics and International Relations.

      {While linking this, I just discovered I am banned from updating Wikipedia. I have never updated Wikipedia. Huh.}

      By the way…

      > A Coup In Niger Madras Courier

      Take a guess where she did her internship. Is it irresponsible to speculate?

      1. digi_owl

        > {While linking this, I just discovered I am banned from updating Wikipedia. I have never updated Wikipedia. Huh.}

        I am guessing the ban has been done using the IP address. Likely whoever they tried to ban at some point have the same ISP as you, and over time and router reboots you have gotten assigned the IP address they had back then.

        This is the basic “problem” of the net, how to effectively ID and punish troublemakers (who gets to define what troublemaker actually encompass is a whole other barrel of reeking fish) long term.

      2. Acacia

        I see mistakes in Wikipedia all the time. Plagiarism too.

        I will never edit/correct them. Let it rot.

    5. Alice X

      It’s good to have more pieces of the puzzle, but I had enough in ’08 to steer clear. I never voted for him, and I never voted for a reptile either.

      1. ambrit

        Ah, the old Slimelurian Hypothesis.
        In related news, scientists hypothesize that Nature really owns the means of production.

    6. Henry Moon Pie

      And there were times in “Ghost Writer” when I wasn’t sure if it wasn’t really about Clinton rather than Blair. Truman wrote that op-ed in the NYT in December, ’63 wishing he’d not chartered it. It’s been a big factor in making things worse.

      I had a high school classmate who was recruited out of Stanford. He was an up-front type, going to work at Langley right after graduation. I stayed at his place in Vienna when I came up to DC to interview with some unions and union-side firms. Later on, he disappeared, and no one has heard from him since.

      There was a guy who hung out in the Prohibition era bar in the Spee Club at Harvard. He was said to be a recruiter, but I’m not sure how effective he was, given that he was usually drunk on his ass.

      It’s definitely an aspect of the so-called elite schools.

  3. griffen

    I see one intel officer, Mr. Steele, is still able to ply his trade. FWIW, and your mileage may vary, I believe this dude speaks truth, inasmuch as I thought Baghdad Bob was a credible source. Are people ever discredited from public view anymore…nevermind I know the answer. He can perhaps find a new life as an economist and join the ranks of Lawrence Summers, who has never been wrong either (those of us with a functional brain differ with people like this, of course!).

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Not that I’m going to click through, but the election is next year and Shoigu went to North Korea without Lavrov (he had the African summit, but still a high profile trip). He might be a reasonable caretaker president a Maria Zakharov type gets a better job. Medvedev strikes me as too aggressive in his rhetoric for a return. Mishustin is out there. He’s only 57.

      It’s widely discussed the United Russia party is largely just a random hodgepodge due on navigating between old communists (who are mostly dead now, my cursory read is the communists are much more dynamic than 10 years ago, Yeltsin/oligarchs, and uber-nationalists. I suspect a seemingly non-political stage manager while internal politics is developed is preferrable. Putin can keep the equilibrium, but at some point, he won’t be there. I sort of suspect Putin’s return was motivated by a lack of faith in the political system, but now I’m not sure that is as much of an issue. I mention the communists. They are the old men holding vigils outside dead politburo member graves.

      The end game and relations with Ankara/Istanbul are the big sticking points for Putin. The African summit had a victory lap vibe with Russia as the new diplomacy.

      1. Daniil Adamov

        Steele’s blind guesses are “FSB director Alexander Bortnikov”, “”rising star” Aleksey Dyumin, the governor of Tula oblast”, “oligarch Igor Sechin”, and “former Russian prime minister Viktor Zubkov”. And maybe “Dmitry Patrushev, son of the Russian Security Council secretary”. Would be fun to see if one of those darts hits. I really doubt it is more than that, though, considering his track record.

        I think Mishustin is best-positioned, personally, but that’s based on the Medvedev precedent that might not be repeated. On the other hand, I think Medvedev’s rhetoric is largely his bid for relevance. I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of him coming back if relations with the West remain as they are now. Personally I consider him the worst of both worlds between our market-worshipping liberals and our repression-happy statists, but it has been a pretty effective change of image, and experience and connections count for a lot.

        It may also be some dark horse promoted at the last moment, as Putin himself was, so who knows – maybe Steele will get lucky this time.

        1. Igmacio

          The Dpt. Of Predictions will always fail. Imagine that he gets lucky. That doesn’t really mean anything and no matter someone is deemed as a hawk or a dove nobody has a real clear idea about how next Russian president will perform. Imagine. Mr. Nothing Will Fundamentally Change was elected in the US and now everything is changing. Even the climate is changing in more precipitous way than expected.

          1. Daniil Adamov

            Good point re: hawks and doves. Most politicians can switch species more or less quickly, depending on the circumstances. As seen with previously pro-western liberal Medvedev. And come to think of it, previously pro-western liberal (or “Russian Pinochet”) Putin, earlier still. I don’t think any conceivable Russian leader would take a pro-Western course any time soon, barring a complete collapse of which I see no indications.

            (I suppose that’s another prediction, though.)

        2. Polar Socialist

          I though Medvedev was done when the relations to west finally soured, but his position in the security council (for no apparent reason) combined with his new rhetoric makes me think he’s been prepared for succession.

          And I’d think Patrushev himself would be more likely than his son. Although I doubt if either he or Mishustin, as potential successors, really are that ambitious. Can’t say why, but to me they both seem more like viziers than caliphs.

          If I was a betting man, I’d say it will be someone with backing from United Russia and currently in the Security Council, rather than a black horse. But as you say – who knows.

    2. nippersdad

      I actually saw an op-ed in Politico the other day by Peter Strzok. No, they are never discredited, they just write a book, go into some holding pen and await their next assignment. In Strzok’s case it appears he is now a professor at Georgetown.

    1. Screwball

      Makes me wonder if the old saying “there’s never only one cockroach” applies here?

      Then there is the old line about not being cynical enough.

    2. Wukchumni

      Reedly is about 32 miles away by condor or 56 miles away if you are coming via carriage.

      That’s way too close to Tiny Town.

      1. JP

        Just when I was smug in my thinking the fall out cloud from LA would pass south of us and the cloud from SF would pass to the north. Gotta hope they aren’t raising anything that could be transported by mosquito. Here in the central valley we are always glad meth mouth is not overtly contagious.

        1. Wukchumni

          We did a raft trip on the Kings River out of Minkler to Reedly about 15 years ago, around 10 miles worth of initially harrowing and then downright mellow as we approached Reedly Beach for the put out.

  4. The Rev Kev

    Re Antidote du jour. This is what happens when a baby bear cub is abandoned after birth – and ends up being raised by a family of frogs.

      1. Lee

        I have the same impression. I think the bear’s hind legs are too long.

        Searching Google for an image of “bear in squat position” yields people doing some sort of exercise. What, real bears went extinct and I didn’t notice?

        1. vao

          As programs like StableDiffusion and MidJourney become increasingly adept at producing realistic images, it will become more and more difficult to distinguish fakes from genuine photographs. Are we entering a phase where any picture is a priori suspect of forgery? A kind of “deemed guilty until proven innocent” world.

  5. Martin Oline

    Homeless Camps Are Being Cleared in California. What Next?
    That’s an easy one, Gavin Newsom declares his candidacy for president. This is the man who said he would end homelessness in ten years in 2004 when he was mayor of San Francisco. That would come back to haunt him in a national campaign. From the article: “California leaders — and Gov. Gavin Newsom in particular — decided last year to clear the camp . . . . Governor Newsom has helped clear homeless camps himself and has told mayors he was trying to set an example.” I’ll bet the staff has a lot of action filmed of the Gov rolling up his sleeves and getting to work. Poor old Joe will be homeless soon, at least in DC.

    1. Wukchumni

      In tent cities
      In ten cities

      We’re all about property values-the American Dream, right?

      Judging from what I read online and see with mine own eyes in LA, owners of million $ homes (er, that would be just about anybody in the City of Angles, offer void in Pacoima) are increasingly getting fed up with the new neighbors who didn’t even have the decency to stop over for a meet & greet, but use your lawn as their pissoir.


      In the ongoing War On Cash, is anybody more adversely effected than the homeless?

      1. Petter

        >>In the ongoing War On Cash, is anybody more adversely effected than the homeless?

        Here in Norway, Roma beggars come to mind.

    2. Carolinian

      The story doesn’t answer its own headline. Time was the homeless, then called hobos, would ride the rails while trying to dodge the rail yard “bulls.” But these days they’d have to worry about the boxcars falling off the track. In many cases rail lines have become jogging trails for the housed although you may see a few homeless pushing shopping baskets. Funny how so much has changed and yet the 1930s are making a comeback. Could be we need that era’s president rather than the current succession of grifters.

      1. Carolinian

        Sorry. If he was in the Korean War he probably was victimized twice. Just saw an article about how that war could have been over in three months instead of three years if we hadn’t invaded North Korea.

        And of course the Koreans, north and south, were treated terribly by our military.

    3. Boomheist

      My prediction is that a broad general public view about the homeless and how to “solve” the issue will inevitably turn to offering the homeless a choice – either accept housing where they are, if available (it seems many homeless people refuse to live in provided housing) or be shipped off to camps located far from cities, (call them recovery centers or rehabilitation camps or whatever) where they are either somehow sobered up or provided mental health assistance. Remember Ronald Reagan closed all the mental hospitals in the 1980s which started this whole thing, and the necessary mental services are now absent. Anyway I think the public – that is to say, the urban public, especially the urban public in the very blue cities of San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland are coming to the view that much as they support the downtrodden, not at the expense of their own streets, home safety, and sidewalk cleanliness……

      1. ambrit

        My take on this is that the “homeless” will never return from those “FEMA Re-education Centres.”
        The promise will be the traditional one; ‘Work Will Make You Free.’ Without enough work, there goes the freedom too. These could be a new version of the old County Work Farm.
        If the crops don’t come in as needed, well, it’s “Time to tighten your belts you homeless scum!”
        Terran humans have always been cruel. Now, we can be cruel at an industrial level.

        1. Petter

          And AI is increasing at an exponential rate. There goes Arbeit Macht Frei and who knows what else.
          Many may not have any belts to tighten.

      2. tegnost

        coming to the view that much as they support the downtrodden

        assumes facts not in evidence

    4. flora

      “This is the man who said he would end homelessness in ten years in 2004 when he was mayor of San Francisco. ”

      But think of the grift! “Helping the homeless” is high dollar employment for the PMC class.

      1. JBird4049

        The article said that since 2019 California has spent 30 billion dollars. Really? On what? Governor Newsom has seen the same thing that I have over the past forty years of increasing homelessness. The dude is a grifting poseur. The combined homeless population is over 150 thousand, which would make a city the 33rd or 34th largest one in the state. This does not include couch surfers. Nothing changes for the better.

        Using back of the envelope calculations, it would cost the state $250,000 for modular 1000 square ft shotgun houses mass ordered. That is big enough for two, maybe three people. That 30 billion dollars would pay for 120 thousand houses or 240 thousand bedrooms. I am sure that there are costs of which I am not aware of, but if the state was willing, and this is a big if, it could remove the graft, kickbacks, and shoddy building practices to keep prices fair for good quality housing. The houses could be places in either old rundown communities or in new create neighborhoods with good yards, parks, and all the other things that make a number of communities or neighborhoods good for the entire 150 thousand plus homeless population. A large portion, in some areas half, of the homeless are working and if they are not working they often have disability income. A program of rent or mortgage by percentage of income is easy to set up. California is just too expensive for even someone making fifty thousand a year to find a home, which means a large percentage of the homeless could easily move into new homes if they could afford it; that would reduce the pressure on the others both homeless needing housing and in the government trying to provide it.

        Heck, with the increasing heat, a shotgun house would be an ideal home anywhere near the coast and its humidity.

        Solving the problem would take some thinking, ingenuity, and organized work. But the blasted corrupt, jaded, self centered professional managerial class that runs the whole state for the wealthy elite families including the still fairly nouveau riche tech lords, have no real intention to fix anything. Not in any ways that threaten their comfortable rice bowl, certainly.

        1. flora

          I agree, with one caveat. Emptying out the mental hospitals and shelters starting in the 1970-80’s left thousands of people with serious mental health problems no where to go. It was a social justice type move (and saved the govt lots of money) back in the day.

          While many recent homeless people and families now have become homeless thanks to a terrible economy for the working class and predatory landlord evictions following steep rent increases, from what I’ve read, there’s still a huge contingent of the mentally ill among the homeless. Homelessness is a problem that’s a double-whammy. I don’t see any politicians addressing either predatory landlords or mental health services. / my 2 cents.

          1. JBird4049

            I agree with you. Corruption and exploitation is a major cause of the housing crisis, which must be dealt with before we can solve the problem. Grifters like Newsom block the way with their BS rhetoric and service to the people who benefit from the crisis.

            I feel compelled to note myself that an increasing numbers of people are homeless not because of mental health issues, but because the rent is just too high. The longer anyone is on the street, the more stress finds their weak points and breaks them down. Homelessness creates insanity.

            When one looks at the expense of what it would take to fix it, it is much less than what California already spends. It would cost no more to recreate a mental health system and to build the housing needed for certain. But Big Med does not want to have such a system since it would be akin to a single payer healthcare system and the developers and landlords make obscene profits from the current housing “system.” And then add the NGOs created to also profit from “addressing” the housing and mental illness crises.

            Even for some of the already mentally ill, it is the lack of stable housing that is, if not the cause, the guarantor of the illness as well as increasing its negative affects. If you know you have a place to sleep, to keep your stuff, even to cook, that is wonderful feeling. It removes vast amounts of stress from a person.

            1. flora

              adding: Thank you. I do wonder about an earlier NC commentator named Kristian, from whom I learned much about the importance of vit. D for the immune system and other things. I do hope he is OK.

          2. flora

            adding, from the link:

            ‘took the direction it did because of ”the sort of overselling that happens in almost every interchange between science and government.” ‘

            Ya Think ?! / oy

  6. Randall Flagg

    About that Chris Hedges article posted under “ Class Warfare”
    IMHO, that is about as spot on as you can get and should be handed to any person that can’t or won’t understand Trump’s popularity. He may not have done anything for them before when he was in office and he may not again if re-elected, but he is saying all the things that connect with people in that socioeconomic class.
    After reading that I was reminded of a video that Michael Moore made for a panel he sat on before the 2016 election that essentially said that the election of Trump will be the greatest F You in history by the downtrodden. I can’t link now ( I apologize), with this little phone in my hand, but it’s well worth revisiting and some have suggested that it could also qualify as a masterful campaign commercial. He does go on in that clip, paraphrasing here, to say that nothing will change for them with Trump’s election.
    But all in all, we can still ask now, has anything changed for them?

    1. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

      I posted the Hedges article on FB this morning before coming to Naked Capitalism. I pulled the final paragraph and placed it at the beginning of my post. I’m curious to see the responses I’ll get.

    2. flora

      That article reminded me of the town I grew up in, what it was like once – prosperous, forward looking, confident – and what it’s become after NAFTA and offshoring good jobs and endless neglect of the middle class by the political class.

      1. JBird4049

        Not on the towns, but the cities as well. Change is forever, and to hold on to the past is just a way to die, but truly I damn those who make the changes into ashes and sorrow for us all, merely for their sake.

        Sorrow is just the prelude to something new, another chance for something new, but what is our sorrow for today? Will there be something new or will be ruins and sorrow? I fear returning to the city of my birth to see what it has become. Will Market street ever know the bustle of the not so distant past or will it remain empty as now? A touch of the graveyard.

        I would give much for the hustle, the traffic jams of then that were so annoying, but were real, were life. Much of the Bay is like this. It goes through the motions, like a grand old clock’s marionettes, never changing as the case falls apart; the clangs, chirps, and whirls gradually fades away, while we all pretend that it is the same clock.

        Well, they said that it would be a grand future as they gutted it all while beautifying the façade of the future. No factories, ships, stores, businesses, but full of the awaken future. All the small towns in the Bay with their buildings are all there. The City’s City Hall as beautiful as ever is there. A beautiful place of government from when they had not just dreams, they had hope, and then they built those dreams.

        Empty the buildings of people. Leave the façades as beautify as every. Empty as the grave. The neighborhoods are embalmed homes fill with people entombed pretending to be alive. Of being important. Zooming their existence. My, what a way to live, here in Baghdad by the Bay.

        As I remember, Southern California is more alive, vibrant still, but littered even more with the living dead rotting away on the street. Disposed of in the California Sun. So much more in your face, inescapable, but people manage anyways. It is just like modern America to live on dreams manufactured from a dead past and a dying present. My, what a great way to live in LaLa Land.

        But, hey, I am just a fool on the keyboard. What do I know? Don’t know what to feel or how to act, while thinking of the past and the present, not daring to think of the future. Of what was dreamed of and promised, but what was actually given in an epic, masterful bait and switch. Damn.

        1. flora

          “and to hold on to the past is just a way to die”

          or maybe remembering the past is a way to fight back against the oligarchs and the PE corporations.

          “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”
          ― Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting


          “A people without knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” -Marcus Garvey

          Forgetting the past is succumbing and letting “them” win, imo.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Banished to a Remote Idaho Valley, Beavers Created a Lush Wetland”

    Looking at that satellite image of how that valley has been greened and the one below it showing how it was not effected by a fire, could it be that with enough of them in a region, that they formed natural firebreaks across the landscape and limiting the range that a fire would spread. Yes, in that second image the fire jumped to the other side but that would not always be the case.

    1. digi_owl

      Could be, both because their dams create wider wet areas and also because they keep the trees from growing too large around them.

    2. Boomheist

      When I was in grad school at UMass in 1969-1971 a couple of my natural resources classmates were studying beaver, and I often went with them on their field trips. These are fascinating animals, just incredible. Imagine a time – pre 1800 more or less – when every single watershed in the United States carried beaver. Every single tributary stream into the larger rivers was damned, with standing pools of water, lush growth, and surely protection from fires even in the driest of years. Of course the beaver hat frenzy nearly exterminated the beaver, leaving those valleys now without dams and standing pools. If you think about it, those hundreds of thousdands if not millions of beaver dams across all sizes of streams provided catch basins and storage capacity for any amount of rain, such that water was held where it fell. Once the beaver were gone, the dams failed, and then of course there was increased flooding downstream, and as people moved into those valleys they suffered from flash floods often. This is why, in fact, there was a rush of dam building in the US starting in the mid 19th century – flood control. This was surely the case in New England, where I grew up, the big dams on all the tributaries into the Connecticut to hold back flood water and provide power. Of course now all those dams are very very old, and maybe a danger. And it will be hard to bring beaver back because so many people have now built homes in the lowlands in all those valleys.

      But, imagine – at one time the entire continent was in a form of ecological balance due to the beaver, as regards flooding, and life cycles, and diversity of species, protected from vast forest fires and terrible floods. Then the beaver were trapped out, in the United States and in Canada, too – and btw the history and system the Canadian trappers used to meet the European market is a fascinating thing – and now we are rediscovering the tremendous impact this animal once had, and hopefully can have again, some day.

      1. Carolinian

        However in more urban settings beavers are considered destructive because they take down the trees. At least that’s the reason their dams are broken up around here and even at our state park.

        Historically the European settlers with their row agriculture wanted to drain the wetlands, not fill them up. It wasn’t all about rain proof hats.

        I agree that beavers are amazing but we are nature too and nature keeps telling us to make more of us. There’s always another side.

      2. JBird4049

        California has an extensive system of water management, not just because of farming or the population size, but because just where, when, and how much rain is going to fall is so unpredictable. It would be nice to have all the beavers that existed pre 1849 back. That would keep the state alive during the droughts and put water back into the ground.

        1. Procopius

          You can’t put water back into the ground. I know farmers were leaving fields flooded to “refresh the aquifer,” but in most cases the aquifer isn’t there any more. The roof collapsed, the land subsided, and there isn’t any way for us to create a pocket in the land to hold water. It just goes.

    3. Kouros

      As a forester trained in Romania, one important course was on torrents, how to regularize them with mini dams. In Romania the beaver habitat was only in the Danube Delta and there was no historical memory of the place beavers play in the ecosystem. Probably the beaver hat craze happend in that area a millenia or two before the one in North America.

      But still, man made, well placed and callibrated dams can do a pretty good job, absent beavers…

  8. CanCyn

    Re Hedges’ Class war piece… ”They have been betrayed. They have every right to be angry. That anger can sometimes be expressed in inappropriate ways, but they are not the enemy.” This really is the key to change. We need to stop denigrating our neighbours and start finding common ground and see them for what they are, compatriots in the journey of life who need and deserve a comfortable life just as much as anyone else. When the trucker convoy took over Ottawa and I marvelled to friends that Trudeau hadn’t even come out to talk to any of them, those friends were aghast. They didn’t use the deplorable word but they clearly saw the protesters as different from them and beneath them. I pointed out that the protesters too are Canadian citizens and that their complaints deserved to be heard, but to no avail.
    Both in Canada and the US, we’ve been sold a crock of sh*t about life and until we 90 percenters climb out of the mire and work together, regardless of pronoun, things will continue to slide downhill. Most days I am as pessimistic as Michael Smith who wrote yesterday’s Diggings in the Garden piece. Right now there are grocery store workers on strike in Toronto, their union claims there are workers who can’t afford groceries where they work and rely on food banks (sorry radio piece no link). This is madness to me. I think the 1 percenters and their PMC minions will not be happy until the poors are starving in the streets. What I can’t figure out is their end game. Do they really think robots will do all the so called deplorables’ work on which they so rely? Who do they think will fix the robots and keep their programs up to date? Is it so awful to have a small amount less so that everyone can be fed, housed and clothed in some kind of comfort?

    1. griffen

      That article was worth reading in full, twice even. Between the phrasing of “learn to code” and “your coal jobs will end”, it is clear DC politicians and yes even state pols are or can clearly be so out of touch. Reading about those interviews, I had the vision of Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino; an old man and Korean War veteran now widowed, who refuses to leave his home and move south to the Villages or some such retirement land of plenty. “Get off my lawn”.

      I tend to agree with the notion that many places are long forgotten or just moved into the dustbin of history, fellow citizens be damned. I grew up with tobacco and peanut fields nearby, but my parents were not farmers. Even so, I understood farming was hard, daily work and I somehow miss those few summer days picking corn (and then shucking, remove the corn silk, etc..) with my grandmother were really informative. Silver queen corn in the hands of a cooking genius, delicious!

      1. CanCyn

        Indeed. I grew up in the suburbs but apple orchards and farm stands were not far away. We ate seasonally long before it was considered cool to do so. To this day I only eat asparagus and strawberries when in season in Ontario. We picked apples every year. My mom and Dad made preserves, they were a taste of summer in the winter Seneca Chief was our favoured corn variety. I don’t see it anywhere these days. An older farmer will smile in remembrance if asked about it, but no one wants that kind of robust yellow corn anymore. I don’t much like today’s focus on sweet corn – it tastes like sugar, not corn.

    2. SufferinSuccotash

      Persuading them to express their anger in appropriate ways would have entailed talking about–you guessed it!–capitalism. Yikes!
      And the business of persuasion should have started some 40 years ago, but the people who should have been doing the persuading were more interested in sitting around discussing French philosophy. Now it may be too late to pull those Betrayed Ones out of the rabbit hole.

    3. marym

      “…until we 90 percenters climb out of the mire and work together, regardless of pronouns”

      Yes, regardless of many things that have been emphasized by left, leftish, and liberal activists and advocates.

      Yet in this piece the author speculates that while “the class war waged by corporations and the ruling oligarchs…devastated their lives and communities” the townspeople have possibly been making life “hell” for the Chinese family. I would like to read articles or hear speeches by or directed to the conservative white working class and their material interests that also say “Our fight for economic justice must include [those they consider] them. We will wrest back control of our nation together or not at all.”

      1. Sailor Bud

        Pretty sure it’s going to be sixty to seventy percenters at best. There is a large contingent, not in the top 10%, cheering exactly that top percent. Watch the upcoming presidential election, for instance.

        Even after all the horrors (decades of spree shootings, homelessness, constant warfare, mass gov’t corruption, surveillance state, economic assault & battery, atomization of public, top-down culture without grassroots anything, etc), they’ll be cheering Biden or Trump, and their biggest philosophical question this whole year will be whether to get Domino’s or Burger King tonight.

    4. Screwball

      This really is the key to change. We need to stop denigrating our neighbours and start finding common ground and see them for what they are, compatriots in the journey of life who need and deserve a comfortable life just as much as anyone else.

      Well said, and I couldn’t agree more. But color me skeptical. About 1/3 of the country hates the rest of us, and unless the propaganda machine decides to change that, nothing is going to change. Why would they, division is what they want. While us serfs gouge each others eyes out the rich continue to run off with all the goods.

      They have done a great job getting people to hate each other. The PMC class hates the “Red Hats” (Trump supporters) with every inch of their bodies because they are racist scum – every last one of them. There will be no forgiveness or cooperation because they are the lowest of the low. The Bud Light thing was further proof. A PMC friend told us when talking about the boycott;

      “it makes me want to get a Budweiser flag for my car. I’m happy for those idiots to not like me. I wish they would move out of my state.”

      This guy is not alone by any means. This is what we are up against, and I don’t see it getting any better any time soon.

      Stay safe, and stay sane.

      1. CanCyn

        Indeed they’ve done a very good job of keeping the plebs divided and squabbling amongst ourselves. NC’s own Amfortas is an inspiration in reaching out to the other side. I love his stories of chats at the feed store and with his kids and their friends. Much as it pains me, I am learning to smile and wave when an ATV passes me when I am out walking in our rural neighbourhood. Have been making nice with the gun loving neighbours. Baby steps. Not that we have much time to get the ship turned around but trying is better than doing nothing.

        1. ambrit

          At least you will be ‘established’ in the psyche of the surrounding population so as to be included in the Regional Governing Commission’s calculations when the macro society begins to unravel.

    5. Jabura Basaidai

      fwiw – it is impossible to speak with most of my old friends who have imbibed deeply of the Blue Anon kool-aid – a few friends do understand the pointlessness of smearing folks that voted for drumpf (impossible for me to use the orange ghoul’s name) or believe the clickbait of the right or left – one friend even created a bumper sticker which she sent to me – “We are ALL more alike than we are different” – gladly affixed to my tailgate – doesn’t seem to offend and has even started a few conversations –

    6. GramSci

      Hedge’s journey home was poignant for me, as I prepare to make my last trip home, a pilgrimage to Thorstein Veblen’s summer cottage on Washington Island, probably the last known physical presence of his spirit in Wisconsin after my great-great-grandfather’s farmhouse was burnt down by tenants running a meth lab. Veblen was born in that farmhouse, with its rough-hewn beams, built by his father, Thomas. Perhaps there are others; I will ask, but I expect nobody remembers. The local popular imagination was long ago taken over by television and the likes of Joe McCarthy.

    7. Boomheist

      This is a terrific article, and, yes, depressing. I grew up in New England, western Mass, in the 1950s and 1960s. All the towns had trolley tracks in the main streets, still. And, yes, the gap between the bottom 80-90 percent of income earners and the top 10-20 percent is vast. And in a situation where it seems jobs are going away and we are losing services and everything is being crapified as Yves says it is no wonder people want to hold on to what they have, everyone else be damned. Everyone seems to know, and even agree, that this era of oligarchy and corporate greed and spin doctors must end. I wish someone or some party would come forward and announce this platform as the series of steps they would take were they elected. You may not agree with every item here, of course, even hate some of them, but I believe this is the series of planks that the 80-90 percent would jump at along with a sufficient portion of the top 10-20 percent. I only wish….

      1. Term limits for Congress people – 3 terms for Senate, 10 for the House (18-20 years):
2. Anyone in Congress must put all stocks in a blind trust and nobody in Congress, or immediate family members, can buy or sell stocks while in office;

      3. Anyone serving in Congress cannot work as a lobbyist for 10 years after leaving office;

      4. Corporations are no longer “people” and corporate money contributions to elections prohibited – individual contributions only, limited per donor, PACS forbidden;
5. Election Day becomes a Federal Holiday;

      6. People are registered to vote at birth, when they receive their Social Security number, and automatically enrolled when they reach the age of 18

      7. Electronic voting machines are removed and all ballots are paper and counted by hand;
8. Universal two year National Service requirement for all citizens, either military or equivalent work (such as aides in mental hospitals, conservation projects, assisting in schools) with everyone subject to military draft as one of the service components;

      9. For the next 5 or 10 years virtually prohibit immigration except for those fleeing desperate conditions such that US residents or national service workers will fill available openings while at the same time increasing the Federal minimum wage to, first, $ 15 an hour and in 10 years at least $ 20 an hour;

      10. Reinstall Glass-Stegal separation of commercial and investment banks;

      11. Establish public banking services in the US Post Office;

      12. Create as much manufacturing domestically as possible using aggressive “buy American” standards on conditions favorable for workers to organize or establish worker-owned enterprises;

      13. Return to the graduated tax structure as under Eisenhower in the late 1950s – According to records compiled by the Tax Foundation, a single person making $16,000 in 1955 — that’s $178,000 in today’s dollars — had a marginal tax rate of 50%; compensation of $50,000 ($559,000 today) moved you into the 75% tax bracket; and an income of $200,000 ($2.3 million today) put you in the 91% tax bracket. (Jan 30, 2019 figures adjusted by 19 percent inflation since then to today);

      14. Remove Social Security taxation income limits;

      15. Reduce military spending and establish Medicare for all for everyone in the United States;

      16. Tax any religious organization that engages in politics;

      17. Impose Federal judicial ethics standards on the the Supreme Court;

      18. Properly fund the IRS to adequately collect entitled tax revenues;

      19. Return civics courses to all public schools and add mandatory training in critical thinking, handling money, health maintenance;

      20. Embark on national program to develop safe and sustainable hydrogen energy systems as a way to maintain our energy-intense modern society with the most abundant fuel source we have;

      21. Close nearly every overseas U.S. military base;

      22. Apply existing anti-trust and regulatory rules to maintain competition and avoid monopoly capture;

      23. Re-establish affirmative action for those groups suffering systematic racism and re-establish through legislation Roe v Wade conditions.
24. Public school tax receipts limited to public schools, not charter schools;
25. All immigrants must pass a citizen test to become US citizens and be allowed to vote and all U.S. voters should study and take the test, too, to keep their right to vote;

      26. Establish tight control of AI development similar to that now used to oversee and control nuclear development;

      27. Establish and implement a decades-long program to repair and maintain dams, piping systems, water infrastructure, forest fire safety, water supplies, possibly using national service workers, among others;

      28. In all cases work to establish an economic system based on sustainability, re-use, minimal resource extraction, and assurance that tail-end impacts of actions are the responsibility of those taking those actions.

      1. CanCyn

        A few quibbles with your list but in general you’ve got my vote! Wouldn’t it be amazing if these kinds of things were actually what was discussed during elections? Sigh, a girl can dream.

      2. Mark Gisleson

        Once you fix all the other stuff, term limits aren’t needed.

        Eliminating experience is in effect ageism. Term limits also force good officeholders to constantly run for higher office until they’re either President or just another loser (news media is vicious in this regard).

        1. JBird4049

          I agree with this, but we do need ways to remove the living dead. Few people are like Bernie Sanders, while many are like Representative Nancy Pelosi or Senator Mitch McConnell.

      3. vao

        Anyone serving in Congress cannot work as a lobbyist for 10 years after leaving office

        Anyone serving in Congress cannot work in any corporation — whether it is a lobbying organization, a supplier of goods or services for, a concessionary of, or a mandatary of the government of the USA — for 10 years after leaving office. No revolving door!

        All immigrants must pass a citizen test to become US citizens

        I think this is already the case? Or have they been abolished?

        1. marym

          Civics test:

          10 Steps to Naturalization

          “During your naturalization interview [Step 6 above], a USCIS officer will ask you questions about your application and background. Unless you qualify for an exemption, you will also take a naturalization test which is made up of two components, an English and civics test.”

          Candidates for Congress should also have to pass the civics test.

        2. GF

          “Anyone serving in Congress cannot work in any corporation — whether it is a lobbying organization, a supplier of goods or services for, a concessionary of, or a mandatary of the government of the USA — for 10 years after leaving office. No revolving door!”

          Apply this the the military top brass – anyone at colonel and above.

      4. Pat

        Off the top of my head:
        17. Change to all federal courts including the Supreme Court.
        29. Reorganize corporate governance so that corporations, private and public, are responsible to employees, customers and their communities, and that those responsibilities take precedence over those to stock holders.

        There should also be a restablishment of usury laws, reworked bankruptcy laws especially in regards to student loans and corporate bankruptcy.

        But all in all a good list.

        But all in all

      5. spud

        you cannot free trade, all you want will be undone as unlimited capital crosses borders. watch how china does it, it used to be our system.

      6. Oh

        Eliminate commercials on mass media (including social media) for people seeking elective office.
        Immediately disqualify any candidate who speaks ill of his rivals. Make every candidate provide a detailed list of election promises. Force them to adhere to the list if elected.

        1. boomheist

          also eliminate commercials for prescription drugs

          reinstate the fairness doctrine for news

      7. cousinAdam

        Where do I sign? As a 68 y. o. longhair graduate of the Space Cadet Academy (and still actively paying dues, tyvm!) I can affirm that citizenship demands active participation and an understanding and appreciation of Civic Virtue – a tall order in today’s AI/PMC wasteland. I have faith in the youngsters who can smell the growing stench… Time however, keeps on slipping slipping…..

    8. Kouros

      The end game?? The 1% wants the material ownership, the right to be adulated and have their a$$es kissed, and have a de jure a different set of laws applying to them.

  9. Bosko

    The Corey Robin post on ChatGPT is definitely worth a read. My takeaways are that Professor Robin is a laudable teacher, because on top of his academic work he actually likes to read student papers and work with them on drafts. But the really remarkable thing is that Robin actually thinks paper-writing is important. I’ve encountered this view, and actually hold it myself, but I can say with confidence it is under assault in very large segments of higher education. I’ve met many successful adults who went to fine colleges and yet think writing papers in the way Robin describes is a waste of time. This view is even more common among college students today. I’d actually like to learn more about Robin’s teaching, because, as a professor at CUNY, he must be working with the type of working class students who tend to be skeptical about the value of rhetoric, English comp, etc.

  10. LawnDart

    Oh my…

    TSMC Phoenix Cuts Electrician Pay and Sends In Taiwanese Workers

    TSMC has complained for months that its second plant, located at the northern outskirts of America’s fastest-growing city, is delayed by a costly labor crunch. Last month, the company announced plans to send in 500 or more workers from Taiwan to speed the construction of the sprawling semiconductor foundry, which aims to churn out leading-edge chips by 2026.

    A representative of the electricians’ union, who asked not to be named, said he feels the abrupt elimination and reinstating of incentive pay was a strategy to replace union workers with foreign recruits. “What it did was, it created a labor shortage, and by creating a labor shortage, now they conveniently walk up and say, well, you guys can’t manage the work, so here’s 25 guys,” he said.

    Rather than lifting wages to speed recruiting, however, TSMC is bringing in non-union workers from abroad. Its workforce challenges and vocal complaints could also, ironically, help it wring more subsidies out of the CHIPS Act, which makes available $52 billion in federal subsidies for foundries. TSMC is counting on as much as $15 billion in subsidies from the CHIPS Act, in combined tax credits and grants, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    1. ambrit

      Yep. Time for some creative use of phlogiston.
      The Unions have to recognize that America has slipped back into socio-economic conditions very close to those in force during the Robber Baron Era.
      War is Union organizing by other means.

  11. chukjones

    RE: we can’t afford to be climate doomers. I have sometimes enjoyed Rebecca Solnit (books), but not this .article.
    And of course, she is certainly PMC. Lots to quibble with in this article but this:
    “the climate movement has grown, though of course it needs to grow far more; and there have been some significant victories as well as the incremental change of a shifting energy landscape.”
    I’d hate to be labeled a doomer, but at this point, incremental change ain’t going to get it done. Our slow pace compared to exponential growth of burning carbon does not give me hope.


    1. Darthbobber

      Interesting that she chooses to critique those clapping insufficiently rather than those with power who pursue policies like more drilling, more pipelines, and energy-intensive proxy wars.

      Her citing of polling data like 3/4s of respondents thinking it’s important to do something is touchingly naive. Like citing polling data on single payer healthcare or abortion to show how much progress is made on those fronts.

    2. LilD

      Although Marc Jacobsen does have a lot of good ideas… I do think it’s not too late. Yet.

      I think we get > halfway by simply following a plant based diet.
      Significantly less climate impact from big meat with a bonus of better health
      But big broccoli doesn’t have much lobbying power

  12. Eric Anderson

    “Admission: The First Step to a Sustainable Solution ”

    Alcoholic, sober through the 12-steps 18 yrs here.
    I’ve imagined using the 12-steps to embrace societal change. Problem is, the powerlessness part. It is extremely difficult to get someone to to truly admit, and understand the consequences of admitting, their powerlessness. It’s an ego crushing exercise the likes most are not prepared to psychologically endure.
    Thus, the necessity to “hit rock bottom.”
    Question: What does “rock bottom” look like for people with substance dependence issues?
    ** Although it could well be argued consumerism is the drug.

  13. Jabura Basaidai

    so now we are supposed to believe that Russia is responsible for the Niger coup when they wave Russian flags – despite the fact that the leader of the coup was trained at Fort Benning – man, this soup gets thicker every hour that it’s on the fire –

    1. LawnDart

      Well, the coup in Russia that they were preparing for is a little delayed so someplace had to be couped (couldn’t let those flags go to waste).

      Do we know if they liked Vikky’s cookies?

      1. Jabura Basaidai

        they sure like her soup! meanwhile Putin is giving away grain and talking debt jubilee, he’s soooo mean –

      2. Jabura Basaidai

        oh yeah, Richard Steele & MI6 such reliable sources too – and published in the Sun – truth-tellers all –

    2. Feral Finster

      Once upon a time, any development that the Establishment of the day didn’t like could automatically be blamed on Jews. No evidence needed. Because Jews.

      Crops failed? Jews.
      Kings eldest son an heir a homosexual? Jews!
      Imperial treasury bankrupt? Because Jews!!

      Today’s Establishment would never deflect blame on Jews. These days, People Of Influence And Authority are far more enlightened. They blame Russia.

      1. vao

        Historically, plague was also blamed on Jews. And being in cahoots with the Saracens.

        While accusing Russia to be in cahoots with China would fit, covid is generally deemed to be the outcome of an evil scheme by the Chinese, not the Russians.

  14. Steve H.

    > Stable diverse food webs become more common when interactions are more biologically constrained PNAS.

    : Man Muss Immer Umkehren [Jacobi] = Invert, always invert.

    : I’m surprised this approach hasn’t been done before. I’m guessing a resource issue, ie math-literate agents in ecology have a lower benefit/cost ratio than the harder sciences, which are already left-overs from the finance sector. Some scientific advancements are ‘only a supergenius could have thought of this’ and some are ‘well duh’.

    : The paper looks worthy to read the multiple times it’ll take to understand it. The tricksies are usually in the underlying assumptions, which need reflection to critique. On the first pass, this sentence caught my eye:

    >> Here, we use this intriguing filtering property to show that increasing biological constraints suggest that more diverse webs do not require strong self-regulation as the classical methods seem to require and that these constrained webs show that an increasing preponderance of weak interactions accompany more diverse feasible webs

    1. hunkerdown

      They’re tearing apart the foundations of the Great Chain of Being and political Darwinism, and I am here for it.

    2. Bazarov

      “Limits breed creativity,” as my high school English teacher loved to say about metrical poetry.

  15. spud

    the coup in niger, i reworded the last paragraph, “its a terrible blow to the free traders wall street profits.”

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Cutting all economic ties with China is an ‘illusion’: French finance minister”

    At least there is someone who knows how to read the financial and economic situation and not go off on an ideological tangent. Meanwhile, in Italy-

    ‘Italy’s decision to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was a mistake that Rome is now seeking to extricate itself from, Defense Minister Guido Crosetto told the Corriere della Sera newspaper on Sunday.

    Italy signed up to the Chinese plan in 2019, becoming the first Western nation to do so. Under the agreement, trade barriers between China and Italy were lowered, while Beijing promised to invest in Italian ports and rail infrastructure.

    “The decision to join the [New] Silk Road [BRI] was an improvised and atrocious act,” Crosetto told the newspaper, using a common nickname for the initiative. Crosetto explained that while Chinese imports to Italy have tripled since the agreement went into effect, Italian exports to China have increased only slightly.’

    1. JTMcPhee

      Mockingbird and Gladio still active, I see… Nice tie in todays links to Obama exposure as long-game CIA (or whatever set drives looter-class long game) successful placement. Shadows and mirrors, everywhere we mopes try to look, here in the Cave…

    2. russell1200

      Italy has plans to be an energy hub with North Africa being an important part of that development. I wonder if recent problems with the African portion of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are at play here?

      The flood of Chinese imports, Covid Issues, and Ukraine seem to have really spooked the Europeans regarding China. Possibly immigration issues (big in Italy) are in play, but I don’t see an obvious connection to China.

      1. digi_owl

        There was a suspicion aired that COVID reached Europe via Chinese working in the Italian garment industry.

        1. ambrit

          And I remember reading about the supposed first wave of Covid hitting the East Coast of America via holiday skiers returning from an alpine region of Italy. The Italian infection source was supposedly from Iran, similarly via international skiers. From China to Iran isn’t that much of a stretch to contemplate. (Maybe via pangolin smugglers! /s)

    3. Feral Finster

      Meloni could feed refugees to piranhas and nobody in the EU or US would raise a peep, as long as American hegemony and the War On Ukraine was no questioned.

  17. LawnDart

    Re; NTSB: ‘Poor Track Conditions’ Led to 2021 Empire Builder Derailment

    This is an easy to use and searchable database, and it shows way, way more accidents, derailments and stuff than I’ve bren tossing into Water Cooler comments:

    Using this, we see that in 2022 BNSF trains suffered 282 derailments at a cost of $57,910,380.00 and left 10 dead and 16 injured.

    For all US railroads, in 2022 there were 1210 derailments costing $222,308,270.00 with 55 left dead and 266 injured.

    1. Carolinian

      “In this accident, because of the wear on the rail, the NTSB observed evidence that the wheel flanges were riding on top of the joint bar,” the report noted. “This type of contact creates nonuniform forces that result in unequal load distributions into the rail system. In addition, rail joints that are loose and not strongly attached to the crossties will cycle up and down as trains move over them, further disturbing track conditions. When a wheel flange departs the normal wheel-rail interface and rides up onto a joint bar in curved track, the forces the train experiences while negotiating the curve can be excessive and nonuniform, resulting in a wheel climb derailment (Wu and Wilson 2006). The NTSB concludes worn rail at the four-bolt rail joints allowed wheel flange contact; this created a condition that resulted in nonuniform and excessive forces on the train and unusual load distributions into the rail, contributing to the wheel climb derailment.”

      In my salad days I traveled all over Europe via rail pass and then later took the Southern Crescent from my town up to Acela land just to try to recapture that Europe/rail experience. This latter ride was one of the jounciest of my life. Research suggested that one reason is that American roads–mostly used for freight now–have bolted rails whereas in Europe they are welded and mostly use concrete ties. I think American rails are now welded for the most part–at least around here–but still use wooden ties that have to be periodically replaced.

      So add in rail problems to hot boxes and other low maintenance features of our shareholder friendly modern rail system. Given America’s vast distances versus Europe they do have some excuse but tell that to Palestine and other rail victim towns..

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Illegal medical lab containing bioengineered mice and infectious agents including HIV and herpes discovered in California”

    The Russians came down hard and heavy on all those bio-labs in the Ukraine. What if this one was merely a Chinese bio-lab in America?

    1. JTMcPhee

      The Empire has done a great job of obfuscating and burying the horrors that the Russians have so very matter-of-factly documented. Working from the refuse that the Empire left, inadvertently of course, as they stripped the most incriminating stuff, and “active cultures,” in the facilities when it became clear that the Russians “swallowed the bait” and reacted to the “NATO and neonazi” provocation by sweeping into eastern Ukraine and would, however inartfully and inexpertly, try to expose to the rest of the world…

    2. GramSci

      And well the Russians might have come down hard and heavy. Odd that Ukraine had bio-labs strung along the border.

      But failed bio-startup-labs in the U.S.?? I would expect hundreds, if not thousands, all with various vials of plague, jockeying for position in the next pandemic patent race.

  19. Wukchumni

    Never tried cocaine and never will, and know a few blow hards who are a bit freaked out over their cut of the action with first fentanyl making an appearance, followed by tranq making inroads into the oblivion agricultural import.

    Drugs went from all the cool people doing them when I was young & impressionable, to the really cool people in the morgue doing them now.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      It’s very easy for me to imagine a DEA meeting in which the paraquat scandal was rehashed by people who really believed it was OK to poison recreational cannabis users.

      Altering the strategy from crop destruction to using lab drugs to contaminate natural (but extremely processed) drugs is the kind of strategy our govt would think was OK. The only people who would die would all be druggies! Win/win, high fives all around the table.

      1. ambrit

        I wonder if the DEA ‘decision makers’ consciously think that is good because it includes a very large segment of their elected and appointed overseers? A variant of the “Cute Furry Grover” Norquist strategy; ‘Drown the government in bathtub gin.’

      2. Mikel

        Problem is if they or people close to them have kids of the age that may experiment with drugs.
        Kids don’t tell their parents everything and DEA agents probably can’t tell their kids everything.

    2. cousinAdam

      Having been homeless and on the streets in Eureka (Humboldt Co.) for most of ‘21-22 I can attest that fentanyl single-handedly devastated the street community scene. When everyone is a dopesick junkie (meth head tweakers included) friends and family get ripped off first- it’s much safer. And so it goes…..

  20. ajc

    Re: Solnit — “We can’t afford to be climate doomers”

    The deepest flaw in the climate movement is the insistence on hope. And that hope, ultimately, is rooted in a desire to preserve modernity – industrial civilization – in the face of overwhelming evidence that almost every aspect of industrial civ will be an extinction level event for most non-microbial life on the planet, and could be an extinction event for important microbial life, like the algae in the oceans that produce half the breathable oxygen.

    The issue is that pretending ‘green energy’ fixes the actual problem, when the problem is removing the CO2 and other greenhouse gases like methane, NO2, and a handful of industrial chemicals that are the primary cause of warming and climate change are very hard problems that from a physics standpoint that will never have easy, economical solutions that can be widely instituted within the timeframe necessary. Yes, limiting the rate of change (ie the rate of dumping CO2 into the atmosphere) is a good thing, and part of the ‘solution’, but the reality is that is the easy part, which is why scientists have been more and more insistent about it as it becomes more and more apparent anthropogenic climate change is a series of non-linear events, or tipping points, that we can’t undo with green energy utopianism and good vibes.

    Solnit, and her ilk (including many, many Western marxists), refuse to acknowledge that humanity has done kicked over a giant hornets’ nest in the name of comfort and convenience by pretending the hornets are much less harmless bees that can be simply coaxed back into a hive with the appropriate attitudes of hopeful ignorance and delusion.

    Because, you see, hope, the only evil that didn’t escape Pandora’s box, and therefore metaphorically the most insidious evil, is the rasion d’etre of comfortable climate ‘activists’ like Solnit who think the cold logic of physics will yield to the better angels of our nature, even though those angels are of the fallen kind, and truly demonic.

    We need more fatalism and doomerism in the climate discussion because trying to save what is actually killing us and lots of other life isn’t the solution. And I’m struck how many of our ancestors understood that industrial civilization was a menace to life, from the Luddites to the Dadaists, and how they warned us as they were being dismissed as simple fools by the forces of progress.

    And the kicker is that many doomers, who are realistic about our collective fate, are being called eco-fascists by our contemporary ‘green’ forces of progress, because acknowledging physical reality for what it is being a fascist (ie real materialism that won’t yield to ‘scientific socialism’ or liberal optimism/delusion) in our upside down world run by adherents to various “don’t call them death cults” cults.

    Hubris and folly will be handmaidens to humanity to the very end of us all.

    1. Daniil Adamov

      It’s not just Western Marxists. I don’t think any “sane, progressive” individual of any political alignment (pro-Western liberal, business conservative, Communist, etc.) in Russia likes the idea of rejecting modernity (or accepting zero growth, say – that idea definitely provoked some heated reactions in recent years). It just goes too strongly against their entire worldview.

    2. Jabura Basaidai

      thank you – that article rubbed me raw with anger at the false hope it espoused – as a commenter posted yesterday, we’re phuked – it was part of a response about Kim Robinson’s “Ministry for the Future” – the commenter suggested “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman to feel good about what lies ahead – my heart sank this morning when i heard my daughter make a comment that suggested she and her partner were considering having a child –

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      I’ve just had a long comment with lots of links eaten by The Machine, but you’ve gotten to the core of this article. I’ll add a couple of things I noticed and copy my comment before I hit submit this time.

      1) This is an Ecomodernist piece. Solnit features Zeke Hausfather, the poor climate scientist forced to take time out from saving the world to combat the doomers. He’s an employee of the Pritzker-funded Breakthrough Institute. Rachel Pritzker, chair of the BI, is also the money behind the Ecomodernist Manifesto. Their main contention is that capitalism should be allowed to keep on keepin’ on because the techno-geniusus like Hausfather and solar geoengineer David Keith are going to decouple CO2 emissions and GDP growth.

      2) Her one piece of hard evidence for “things are getting better” is a reduction in fossil fuel use to generate electricity. She vaguely says “we,” but “we” cannot mean the world. Fossil fuel use to generate electricity globally is at an all time high. Fossil fuel use to generate electricity in the U. S. has dropped about 2% from a peak around 2006, but that has been made possible by the flattening of electricity demand in the U. S. around 2000, most of which is accounted for by a flattening in manufacturing activity due to off-shoring since 2000. It’s a shell game that has shifted manufacturing to China and elsewhere, making the U. S. look better even as U. S. consumption continues to rise.

      This will be a small, temporary and misleading example of decoupling since we’re now reshoring due to NatSec concerns, and we’re going to electrify transportation, a huge increase in demand for electricity that will require increased use of NatGas for the foreseeable future.

      3) The “doomers” are portrayed as offering no solutions when in fact their solution is a radical reduction of consumption in the rich countries. William Rees estimates a reduction of around 75% will be required in the exceptionally wasteful nation, the U. S. This would not take us back to the Neolithic or even Kunstler’s 19th century horse-and-buggy days, but to the hardscrabble times of 1972. With redistribution of income and wealth, we might just be able to survive.

      Solnit cannot even bring herself to mention these facts. It is just too horrifying to her.

      4) I think the real reason for Solnit’s crusade is found here:

      Maybe they just get their facts from other doom evangelists, who flourish on the internet, no matter how much reputable scientists demonstrate their errors.

      Nate Hagens and Rachel Donald are distracting those “reputable scientists” (“reputable” = employed by billionaires) and spreading disinfo among the gullible public. They must be stopped. Call out CIS and CISA to scrub the Youtubes of this evil.

    4. mrsyk

      Thank you ajc. Solnit’s article was my first read this morning. It put me in a bad mood. Tone deaf, check. Straw men, check. The purpose of the article seems to be to dismiss the most vocal climate activists while quietly minimizing the threat. I’m worried that we’re going to see more opinions like this, foaming the runway for draconian policies for the have-nots in an attempt to preserve the lifestyles of the one percent.

  21. Wukchumni

    Go take A hike dept: White Chief Canyon in Mineral King.

    Sequoia NP decided to close Mineral King access to the public this summer, as the road has a few dozen damaged bits along the way, almost all of them in burn areas from the 2021 KNP Fire.

    As a consequence there is a skeleton crew of NPS employees and mules & horses needed a place to summer over, and they were ridden up on the road about 15 miles to Mineral King Valley, as the damaged road couldn’t take anything larger than a passenger vehicle/truck, and being of heavy weight is also an issue.

    To give you an idea of what the road is like underfoot, a few weeks ago I drove over a paved section of Mineral King road and was probably the trigger for an 8 foot wide, 7 foot deep sinkhole that suddenly appeared, not that i’d know and only found out about it an hour later-who looks in their rear view mirror to see if you have caused any by merely driving over a spot compromised by too much water flowing until push met shove.

    White Chief Canyon (got to do something about the name, how about Woke Canyon?) is a favorite on account of my favorite flower being omnipresent early in the summer in the orders of many thousands all along the way for the 3 mile hike.

    Imagine fields of these on either side of the trail?

    The canyon @ 9,300 feet is still about half filled with snow and the higher climes on north facing slopes are still holding plenty, and its almost August… but this is the winter of record, long playing.

    One of the 15 sinkholes in Mineral King is here, and it funnels water into who knows where, and was about the size of a swimming pool a month ago when surrounded by concave snow slopes that were 10-15 feet deep-a death sentence if you fell in.

    It was a more manageable 15 foot wide pool exposed to the dirt, furiously gobbling up the goods.

    I’ve walked all over the Sierra Nevada and know of no other sinkholes, and yet this one locale is lousy with them, hmmm.

    Instead of jostling for a parking spot in the 2 trailheads, there are a total of 3 vehicles parked, and that gives you a 1 in 3 chance against disablement by way of a hit & waddle attack on your jalopy by the Marmot Cong, who i’m pretty sure if my smartphone marmot translator app is correct, were actually whistling out license plate numbers, oh the humanity!

    It was another close scrape with the ‘Cong, but our ride came out unscathed.

  22. Jabura Basaidai

    haven’t seen any comments about the psilocybin – my 2cents about this having been thru all except ayahuasca is i liked the silly mushrooms – when living on the dry side of the mountains in Bend before the Cali folk arrived – we would go over the mountains to the wet side in the Fall to gather the shrooms, return and make tea to sip for a week or two – quite relaxing – my euphemism is ‘saying my prayers’ – i think ayahuasca is the yage that William Burroughs wrote about derived from the banisteriopsis caapi vine and having talked to some folks that took that journey provided no incentive – acid in 60’s was like putting your finger in a 220v socket – these days reality is weird enough without enhancing it in any fashion –

  23. spud

    with whats going on in africa, as well as a lot of the world, if your a free trading parasite, its time to adjust your stock portfolio whilst you can, and also look for someplace to hide, because once people are free, they will want revenge:)

  24. Mikel

    “Parents Hire $4,000 Sorority Consultants to Help Daughters Dress and Impress During Rush” WSJ

    Consultants are globally ubiquitous and very imaginative in finding a niche.
    I don’t know if this story a ran across previously is “Guillotine” material or more like a bit sad:

    “Quitting” consultants for people afraid or ashamed to leave jobs.

    But it does all suggest increasing difficulty in managing and navigating through changes in life – from simple to more complex – in the current global economic order.

  25. polar donkey

    Psychedelics. Since around April, the mushroom market has cooled. Covid was a big spike and then Netflix documentary in 2022. Some of this may be economic downturn, but I think, like the article says, a certain percentage of population would benefit from psychedelics, while others would not. The psychedelics market will return to a little higher level than pre-covid times.

  26. britzklieg

    Great comment at the FT article about crypto:

    “Hope the SEC cracks down on this. It’s rife with insider trading, market manipulation, controlled by a small but powerful ‘elite’, essentially a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

    And once they tackle equities, then perhaps it’s worth taking a look at crypto.”

    LOL. Whatever one thinks about crypto, and I have conflicting opinions about it all, everyone should remember that crypto’s market cap is 1 tenth of gold’s, gold is totally dwarfed by equities and when compared to the bond market, all the others are chump change So, no, crypto is not a major economic player/problem faced by a public being fleeced daily by the “legacy” institutions that control the real money. And now that Blackrock, which already owns the world, has revealed how it really feels, it seems anti-crypto posers like Senator Warren have, not surprisingly, gone silent:

    Meanwhile, little fat Sammy seems to be getting out from under the weight of his shenanigans at FTX… while accounts at banks servicing the tech industry, and other designated banks (but not all) are highlighting the secret behind our vaunted “capitalism” – bailouts, not bankruptcy.

    1. Wukchumni

      $4.01k update

      SEC asked Coinbase to halt trading in everything except bitcoin, CEO says FT

      My 1-figure grubstake in Bitcoin looks good as cyber pyrite, steady as she goes cap’n @ $29k

      1. britzklieg

        Gensler can ask anything he wants, but he’s not the law and it will be a court, or Congress, that has the final say. See: XRP.

  27. Mikel

    Here’s an inside look from the point of view of the strikers:
    A night of strike woes and drinks at industry bar Residuals

    Not some velvet rope establishment.

    One actor describes the process of being body scanned. It’s already been happening.

    And this:
    “…Edwards also noted the importance of increasing wages “so that more actors can get access to healthcare.” Currently, members must have $26,470 in earnings in a 12-month period to qualify. “That’s a big thing,” Edwards said.

    And of course they are feeling the musicians lament about the platform plantations.
    I’m just surprised the actors haven’t been told like the musicians that do sharecropping on the platforms, “They can make the money performing live.”
    But how is theatre doing lately?

  28. Wukchumni

    I guess i’m kind of a Swiftie, with the 20’s era tour being my favorite, Drapier’s Letters in particular as it had an interesting cause as in the Woods Hibernia coins that were forced upon the Irish, who foisted them off on the Americans.

    Drapier’s Letters is the collective name for a series of seven pamphlets written between 1724 and 1725 by the Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Jonathan Swift, to arouse public opinion in Ireland against the imposition of a privately minted copper coinage that Swift believed to be of inferior quality. William Wood was granted letters patent to mint the coin, and Swift saw the licensing of the patent as corrupt. In response, Swift represented Ireland as constitutionally and financially independent of Britain in the Drapier’s Letters.

  29. Wukchumni

    Been away from the hunt, er Hunter. I assume all of the presstidigitation work has been done to best ignore any pertinent details of dirty deeds not done dirt cheap in Delaware.

    Makes you yearn for another First Son, who came up with the Bitcoin of its day, Billy Beer

    After Billy Beer ceased production in 1978, advertisements appeared in newspapers offering to sell Billy Beer cans for several hundred to several thousands of dollars each, attempting to profit from their perceived rarity. However, since the cans were actually produced in the millions, the real value of a can ranged from 50 cents to one dollar in 1981

    1. LifelongLib

      Whatever Billy Carter’s issues may have been, IIRC he made his own way in life and didn’t try to live off his brother. The Bidens come across like a dysfunctional celebrity/lottery winner family, where one Guy made it Big and everyone else wants a piece.

  30. juno mas

    Re: Beavers

    Don’t ever read a story about wildlife on terrain you know well. The relocation of beavers to a “remote” area to jump-start ecological progression is more fantasy than fact. Baugh Creek is just over the hill from Triumph and Picabo, ID. (Birthplace and namesake of the Olympic downhill skier, Picabo Street.) Beaver ponds are extant over much of this region which includes Sun Valley/Ketchum, ID.

    The fact that the area is not remote is why the native beaver population has diminished over time. Just downstream from the “new” beaver ponds is the large, long ago man-made pond called the Little Wood River reservoir, which really slows the water flow; and distributes it to ranchers growing alfalfa (mostly).

    And the reason the drainage area in the aerial photo near the beaver restoration plot is not green is that it has a much smaller hydrologic drainage basin than Baugh Creek AND the stream course is in a much steeper canyon; less flat ground/water for beavers to do work.

    Beaver populations diminish as the human population increase.

    1. Wukchumni

      The Sierra Nevada was in particular loaded with beaver in the early 19th century, so why not repopulate them in Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP’s where human population is largely non existent and there are no dams to speak of, their habitat largely unchanged except for trails that cross waterways.

      1. juno mas

        Why not, indeed. While most, if not all, the indigenous Sierra Nevada beaver were exterminated by then “pioneers” in the 1800’s, some lower northern Sierra streams have been successfully re-populated with species from lower elevations. However, the conditions of the past do not prevail today: there is more streamflow extremes; predators (to keep a population balance) are not the same (fewer wolves for sure); and even the human population that is more sensitive to wildlife (DFG rangers) aren’t gungho to re-introduction.

        The beaver dams along the Truckee tributary from Lake Tahoe are annually dismantled to allow for fish migration. The human population diminishing the beaver population.

        1. Wukchumni

          The 5 forks of the Kaweah River are almost in entirety in the back of beyond and fairly inaccessible with the only predator being mountain lions.

          With what was tantamount to a fleet enema of the river system in the wake of a dozen atmospheric rivers, it’s a clean palette and beavers would come in handy restoring order to the river wild.

          1. JBird4049

            >>>The beaver dams along the Truckee tributary from Lake Tahoe are annually dismantled to allow for fish migration. The human population diminishing the beaver population.

            Why is this? Beaver ponds are good places for young salmon and much better than rapidly moving water. In destroying the dams, they are making a worse habitat for the eggs and fry. IIRC, beaver dams are easy to jump over as well by the returning adult salmon. Those dams have probably been there for tens or hundreds of thousands of years with the fish being able to deal with them.

            A problem is the century and a half absence of the beavers means people do not realize that almost all of California aside from the deserts of the southeast part of the state was beaver habitat. It has only been in the last twenty years since newer studies have been done and are finally getting attention. Since people don’t know this, they think that beavers would be an invasive species instead of a reintroduced species that would partially repair the damaged landscape and ecosystem.

  31. DGL

    Quite an enjoyable discussion today. I did not see a comment on the Empire Builder derailment.
    Train derailment- BNSF is a monopoly over its service area. BNSF owns the tracks and Amtrak pays to use the rails. BNSF has no liability for any Amtrak accident regardless of cause.
    True Capitalism.

    1. britzklieg

      Clever as always… and how kind of you to remember him by that event. Besides, to be arrested for indecent exposure at a porn film seems, uh, redundant? Not to mention it happened in Florida where arresting people for ridiculous things was and is a money maker for the police state.

      He made people laugh.

      R.I.P. Paul Reubens

  32. truly

    Zelensky is at least being honest today, telling his country they cant have potholes fixed because it is a higher priority to keep the 9 year old war going.
    If only Biden et al were just as honest. Let us know we cant house the homeless or feed the hungry because war is a higher priority.

  33. Rory

    I found the following snippet from Gilbert Doctorow’s report on the Russia – Africa Summit in St. Petersburg intriguing:

    “… inconvenience was exacerbated by heightened security that included … disorientation of GPS systems, meaning that the taxi services were heavily impacted, ….”

    I wonder what the measures for disrupting GPS systems, and defenses against such disruptions, are. These days, so many rely on GPS systems, civilian and presumably military, that successful disruptions could have enormous consequences, certainly well beyond taxicab service.

  34. ArvidMartensen

    It’s the use of military infrastructure for civilian purposes. Military inventions that are fine in peacetime can be useless in wartime. Radar would be another. The internet.
    And I’ll bet companies, in a mad rush for profits, give this problem zero consideration. By the time the fan gets hit, they and their profits might be long gone.

  35. ArvidMartensen

    The narrative along the lines of AI is dangerous, AI might take over et has been in the mainstream media over the past year or so. So it must be an approved narrative. But why approved?

    Rich people and corporations have spent gazillions on developing this stuff. AI is no accident, it’s not a backroom skunkworks of crazy programmers doing their thing.

    So why are the rich and powerful spending all this cash on a software product that might destroy them?
    They seem pretty good at stopping human beings who get in the way of them making money. Look at France for example, the yellow vests and latest demos. And Occupy. And the BDS movement. Going well?

    So to think that the rich are building a bit of software that might replace them or kill them is ?? Delusional??

    Perhaps the narrative of ‘bad AI’ is to hide its real strategic importance?

    1.Ensuring the world is safe for the rich and their assets? Automated police and military. Good for the rich, maybe lethal to the poor. Lethality being explained away by AI misbehaving.

    2. Ensuring the rich get their goods and services at minimal cost? Robots all the way. Loss of jobs hidden and explained away by productivity and efficiency of AI.

    3. Ensuring sustainability of earth’s resources for the rich? Removing sources of over-consumption . AI- controlled access to healthcare, clean water, food, energy etc to rightsize the population. Resulting deaths and lack of services explained away as AI getting it wrong. Oops, sorry.

    AI. Bringing plausible deniability to a coming crash in standards of living? While keeping you entertained so you don’t think about it too much.

    1. JBird4049

      As someone else has said algorithms are biases in code, which can be extended to AI no matter how complex they are especially as they do not have the ability to explain how they made their decisions. A mentally aware person often has difficulty working through and expanding some of their decisions and actions;,such a person would likely be aware of the necessity for self examination with the imagination and mental flexibility of a human being.

      These automated systems of algorithms, programs, and now AI are an unaware, unimaginative, uninquisitive, silicon ecosystem that allows for responsibility free, nearly human free, and therefore cheaper and less obstreperous than people to manage, dictate to, and exploit other people; that these systems are prone to manipulation, have unknown and almost undiscoverable flaws or boobytraps, and do not have the ability to deal with the unexpected is being ignored.

      I can see China or Russia, even Japan or someone in the United States hacking these black boxes. No matter how hard it is to unpack and understand enough to be able to manipulate, states can throw massive amounts of resources into it. A motivated group of hackers, like all those newly unemployed Americans could try as well.

      1. ArvidMartensen

        Yes, AI is an unthinking, unfeeling agent of control.
        Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety, states that a controller must have at least as much variety as the controlled in complex systems. Where variety, as defined by Stafford Beer, is the number of possible states of a system, or it’s complexity.

        In complex systems such as societies, the few rich and powerful exercise control to mitigate any threats from the many who have little to no power but are assumed to want power. Until recently the powerful operated through human agents (police, military, judiciary, government) as their tools of control.

        For the past few decades the rich and powerful have been gradually automating control of society through electronic means (electronic surveillance, algorithms, AI, the internet). Technology is becoming more complex so as to aid the powerful in matching and controlling the population to ever finer degrees. At a incrementally lower cost than human agents.

        And of course technological control has to be camouflaged as Efficiency! Convenience! Access! Entertainment!. Otherwise it wouldn’t work near so well if the controlled knew what was up.

        Automation has become progressively more ubiquitous in society. First it was in business (eg Microsoft). Then software migrated into communications (Internet). And now into most people’s lives day to day.

        Most people communicate with friends and family via FB etc, all trackable. Information is delivered electronically to the masses via the Internet, which is easily censored and controlled and tracked. Miscreants are easily found and punished (Assange) and only the clued up ones get away to live in exile. (Snowden). You take on the totalitarian state at your peril.

        The only two real and effective revolutions that dethroned the established order happened before electronics. And they happened in countries weakened by war. Russia and China.

        The US might be weakened by greed and hubris, but this is not the same as having weakened government and infrastructure due to attack. So, the chances of hackers doing anything to stop the current march to totalitarianism is very small imo.

        1. JBird4049

          Hunger and other symptoms of collapse besides war do cause unrest, even civil war. The French Revolution is one such. The Russian Empire was weakened by the failures of the empire to deal with famines as well as war. It was not so much as it was military weak, but that the population lost faith in it.

          There is a small chance that Western Civilization will not completely collapse both do to luck and to the efforts of its citizens, but the chance for survival of the ruling class is less than that as faith in it goes away. While rulers use violence to maintain its control, it is the individuals living in the structure created by the those rulers, and obeying its rules without being forced to.

          It is not yet certain that the current structure set up by the West and China will be able to withstand the oncoming environment and economic collapses especially if the the rulers are not honest about what is happening before it happens.

    2. Acacia

      AI won’t take over anytime soon. The so-called singularity is nowhere on the horizon. This has been treated endlessly in science fiction and in films since Godard’s Alphaville. In reality, the “progress” is vastly slower and more lame than most people believe. As Lambert keeps repeating: AI = BS.

      The rich and powerful are ready to spend buttloads money on this because they see it as “good enough” to fire millions of workers and thereby increase their profits. It will also be a “growth” sector for disruption, creative destruction, crapification of services, etc.

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