Links 8/7/2023

Birds of Paradise BELT Magazine

Massive solar explosion was felt on Earth, the moon and Mars simultaneously for the 1st time ever

The moon is open for business, and entrepreneurs are racing to make billions Insider

We Need to Rewrite Our Scripts for an Alien Visit to Earth World Politics Review

Meet the new ‘Dune’ monster, an ancient bladed sea worm Interesting Engineering

US scientists achieve net energy gain for second time in nuclear fusion reaction The Guardian


Winter heatwave in Andes is sign of things to come, scientists warn The Guardian

Peatlands are swampy vaults for toxic chemicals. Wildfires are setting those toxins loose The Narwhal

Shell Games: A UK court case has big ramifications for climate justice globally SOMO

There Are Enough Resources in the World to Fulfil Human Needs, But Not Enough Resources to Satisfy Capitalist Greed Tricontinental

One Man’s Aerial Crusade Against West Virginia’s Coal Industry Mother Jones

Toxic Train Bombs



A fungal disease is rapidly spreading across the U.S. Scientists are alarmed Fast Company. Lambert: “No mention of immune dysregulation from SARS-CoV-2. Naturally.”

Los Angeles Has a Growing Typhus Problem, Thanks to the Fleas Gizmodo

Old Blighty

Inside Tony Blair Inc. Unherd

How a Pinochet ‘death flight’ helicopter became UK gamepark prop The Guardian

La belle France

France may soon overtake Russia as the world’s No. 2 arms exporter France24

The Sahel

US/France threaten intervention in resource-rich Niger: Fears of war in West Africa Geopolitical Economy

From Chi-Town bagman to ECOWAS chairman: meet the former money launderer leading the push to invade Niger The Grayzone

France suspends development and budget aid to Burkina Faso France24

Putting the recent coups in the Sahel in broader perspective Ken Opalo, An Africanist Perspective


Remembering China’s Indie Rock Glory Days The Diplomat

China’s vulnerable gig workers grapple with lower pay and longer hours as Beijing touts benefits of platform economy South China Morning Post

China accused of using water cannon on Philippine boat in South China Sea Al Jazeera

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine strikes bridges in Crimea with NATO-supplied missiles RT

Russia’s Multi-Wave Attack Hits Ukraine’s Aeronautics Base; 70 Back-To-Back Air Assault Arms Fired Hindustan Times

Ukraine used cluster munitions on Donetsk university Al Mayadeen

French SCALP-EG Cruise Missiles Officially In Use In Ukraine The Drive


Ukraine calls Jeddah talks productive, Russia calls them doomed Reuters

Empty Think Tank Gordon Hahn, Russian and Eurasian Politics. A fine takedown of Russia historian Stephen Kotkin


Ukrainians move to North Dakota for oil field jobs to help families facing war back home Politico

South of the Border

Global Race for Lithium Lands in Rural Brazil nacla

O Canada

Why Canada Is Criminalizing Dissent Compact Mag

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

Wells Fargo customers scramble after deposits disappear from their accounts NBC News

Biden Administration

The First Big Antitrust Trial of the Century Is About to Start BIG by Matt Stoller

Remember that Biden Dinner That Joe Biden Never Attended? Well, he did. Jonathan Turley


Vivek Ramaswamy suggests U.S. may be aiding Ukraine because of Hunter Biden NBC News


Trump attorney says he won’t accept plea deal in Jan. 6 case The Hill

Trump says he will seek a recusal, venue change in Jan. 6 case Politico

Pence confirms he took notes on Trump about overturning election The Hill

The Indictment of Donald Trump Is The Real Threat To Democracy Newsweek

GOP Clown Car

The truth about Iowa’s book ban Along the Mississippi

Our Famously Free Press

McConnell is warmly embraced by Kentucky Republicans amid questions about his health Associated Press


Big Tech CEOs Meet with Psychiatry’s Leaders to Decide the Future of Mental Health Mad In America


Can a device turn rifles into machine guns? The debate heats up in Brooklyn court. Gothamist


“AI” Hurts Consumers and Workers — and Isn’t Intelligent Tech Policy Press

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Will Browsers Be Required By Law To Stop You From Visiting Infringing Sites? Techdirt

Eight Months Pregnant and Arrested After False Facial Recognition Match New York Times

How to Quickly Get to the Important Truth Inside Any Privacy Policy The Markup

Groves of Academe

California’s Teacher Shortage Is Dire Governing

Imperial Collapse Watch

KC-46A tanker still has 6 category 1 deficiencies, but fixes are in the works: USAF official Breaking Defense

DELIVERING THE ARMY OF 2030 War on the Rocks

Class Warfare

Why is the city paying to evict tenants from supportive housing? 48 Hills. San Francisco.

How a mobile-home park saved its community from a corporate buyout High Country News

Sports Desk

UNSPEAKABLE WONDER The Lamp. Shohei Ohtani.

Why All Great Thoughts Are Conceived by Walking Atmos

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. A. Lincolni

    US scientists achieve net energy gain for second time in nuclear fusion reaction

    This is not the whole truth. They’re claiming “net gain” like Uber is “profitable”. There is more energy produced versus the input laser photon energy. If you include the energy necessary to fire the lasers, you’re a net loss and by a truly massive amount.

    1. vao

      I immediately thought about that — this was exactly the thorny little detail that press releases omitted the first time. The only “net energy gain” worth dealing with is at system level — and, for the past 60 years, we have been 30 years away from achieving it.

      1. hardscrabble

        Not entirely true… just 50 years ago we were only “20 years away” from achieving it. Progress!

        1. Procopius

          “Nuclear fusion is only thirty years away — always has been, always will be.” — Anonymous

      1. cfraenkel

        We DO know – the ignition test facility has nothing to do with providing useful power out. It’s a testbed for figuring out how to create and test fusion reliably in a lab, for the purposes of validating fusion bomb performance and degradation without needing to explode them. But they need to cultivate political support to justify their enormous budget, and ‘make sure bombs blow up’ is not a winning headline. “Record fusion energy output” is. They use lasers to compress and heat up tiny pellets of isotopes of hydrogen, drop them one at a time into a vacuum chamber and illuminate them with the lasers. Lots of very useful engineering and physics learning is the output, not energy.

        If you read carefully, the Guardian article is very carefully worded to never claim anything about ‘useful’ energy output, they understand the context just fine. But they also need a sexy headline to capture your attention, so it’s carefully misleading as well.

    2. ChrisFromGA

      Seems that accounting fraud has spread from the business world to the scientific one.

      1. MicaT

        It’s very exciting and provides some hope for the future.
        The design of fusion reactors is that they are self sustaining and positive energy producing once started.
        Right now it does take more energy in than out. The first solar cells were extremely low efficiency, with good engineering and science they slowly became better ending up with what we have now, 70 years later. Or take the computer chip or whatever.

        I guess I don’t understand the dismissal of the huge positive ramifications of the fusion success firings?

        1. The Rev Kev

          Why? Let me put it this way. I no longer recall which decade in the 20th century that I first heard that fusion reactors were going to save us all and that they were just about ready to go. Maybe the 80s? Before then there was talk of a perpetual motion machine and I am beginning to suspect that they have more in common than you would think.

          1. rudi from butte

            The sun was once a planet like earth with its own sun. Then they started screwing around with fusion and the rest is all history.

          2. Steven A

            In my college science courses I remember being taught about the first and secnd laws of thermodynamics (first: you can’t get something for nothing; second: you can’t even break even). Admittely, that was not my passion then (1970s) since I majored in the humanities. However, I don’t recall those laws being repealed.

        2. Henry Moon Pie

          My lack of excitement is due to the impossibility of fusion playing any meaningful role in helping us avoid going over 1.5 degrees C or even 2 degrees warming. Incremental advances, hyped by the press to provide a “we got this” cover to the need to immediately reduce carbon emissions, are more annoying than encouraging.

          Here’s the timetable as laid out by UNEP’s 2022 Emissions Gap Report. (PDF) After opening the PDF, scroll to Table 4.3 found on page 30. That table lists targets for 2030 and 2050 for temperature increases from the 1850 baseline ranging from 1.5 to 2.0 degrees C. Does anyone believe that fusion power will be relevant to any of these? I don’t.

          The intended effect of all the Ecomodernist happy talk about things ranging from fusion reactors to thorium reactors to direct air carbon capture to solar geoengineering is just happy talk to keep us political docile and hustling away on our hamster wheels.

          The reality is that there is one and only one thing that can put us within range of those targets: large reductions in consumption by the world’s richest 10% who are responsible for 50% of carbon emissions.

          1. Some Guy

            Well said, but the reality is, the 10% won’t budge (willingly at least) unless the 0.01% go first.

            As per your link, the top 0.1% had 10 times the emissions of the rest of the top 10%.

            My rule of thumb is, until private jet travel is banned or made extremely rare due to huge fees, I expect very little progress to be made.

            1. britzklieg

              Bingo! I’d add the banning of war and its energy depleting/ecology emaciating effects to your equation. None of it will ever happen and it’s too late anyway. We’re screwed. I’m old now and likely won’t see the worst of it before I die… small comfort but some comfort.

              What is it they say about life after the inevitable destruction?.. that the real victims will be those who survive it. Pity the children.

            2. ACPAL

              Even if we could suck the CO2 out of the air now the world would not go back to the wonderland of people’s dreams.

              I’m neither a lay-person nor an expert but “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” – Bob Dillon Chaos has been set into motion and the world’s weather is going to find it’s new norm, even if it takes a few thousand years. Adding more CO2, reducing the CO2, chemically salting the air, and etc. may all have a minor affect on the chaos in unknowable ways but nothing we do will return it to the old pattern. The amount of energies involved in solar insolation, ocean temperatures and mass flow, air mass flow including humidity, thermodynamics of glaciers, and so forth are so vastly enormous compared to anything humans can bring to bear as to be ludicrously ineffective. People praying for an international agreement to reduce carbon emissions 30 years from now bring tears to my eyes. Chaos of massive proportions has been unleashed and it doesn’t matter what caused it so tighten your seatbelts, we’re in for the ride of our lives.

              What we can do is prepare for the rough weather ahead. Stop building next to ocean shores and river edges. Plan for flooding and droughts. Require storm shelters and warning systems. Improve our power production and grid systems to better handle the extremes of cold and heat. Make our farms more agile and less single-crop intensive. Even Elon Musk could figure this out.

        3. tegnost

          because 70 years ago we had good engineers and scientists and all we have today are grifters? What is the difference between hope for the future and fantasy,or a dream.
          If it does happen though it will make taking over the world for wall st easier so should have no problem with financing.

        4. hunkerdown

          “Hope for the future” sounds like mythical delusion. Heroic societies waste all manner of material goods for their spectacular nonsense. How about society grows out of Greek puberty instead of trying to make it last forever.

        5. some guy

          Because by now the “positive ramifications” sould like vaporware to lots of us. Vaporware huge vaporware positive vaporware ramifications.

        6. Jessica

          The reaction produced slightly more energy than the energy put into it, but in order to put the energy into the reaction, they had to use a massive amount of energy. Many times over the amount of energy that they got out. Their calculation also does not include the energy embodied in the equipment.
          Its like you spent $200 for equipment and $200 in electricity to run the equipment, which then takes a 10-dollar bill and spits out 11 one-dollar bills. Yes, 11 is more than 10, but it is a lot less than 410.
          If practical fusion energy were ever achieved, that would be wonderful, but we are nowhere near that.

    3. Ghost in the Machine

      This is a commentary in Science on the fusion achievement you mentioned. The ‘more out than in’ energy wise is based just on the laser energy not the total energy needed to create the lasers, which are a very high quality low entropy source of energy. Here is the key quote from this science commentary that wasn’t emphasized in most press releases:
      “If gain meant producing more output energy than input electricity, however, NIF fell far short. Its lasers are inefficient, requiring hundreds of megajoules of electricity to produce the 2 MJ of laser light and 3 MJ of fusion energy. Moreover, a power plant based on NIF would need to raise the repetition rate from one shot per day to about 10 per second. One million capsules a day would need to be made, filled, positioned, blasted, and cleared away—a huge engineering challenge.”
      So it really took 100s of MJ of energy to create 3 MJ of fusion energy. Then there is the ‘engineering challenge’ of the scale up.
      Still decades away it looks to me, if ever. Adjusting the boundaries of analysis (here just looking at the reaction itself and not the total facility) is a common trick to make things look better (or worse). For example, economists point to the US’s increasing GDP but flat emissions as ‘decoupling’ of economic activity from CO2, but don’t include our ‘imported emissions’ from our outsourced heavy manufacturing in China and others places. If you look at the world GDP, there is no decoupling.

      1. semper loquitur

        Thanks for this layout. I’ve moved fusion to my “It’ll happen when the Galactic Federation finally, mercifully, intercedes.” folder. Another chip I’m betting on them.

      2. MicaT

        The “because engineering is hard we can’t do it” seems to be a common belief of many people these days.

        China for example has multiple new generation 4 nuclear reactors on line or being built the US 0. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

        Never in history have there been such amazing tools for new designs, technology and materials. Computer modeling, AI.

        So maybe in many aspects folks are right that the US isn’t as capable as it once was.
        However I would point to the James Web telescope. There is a good documentary on its design,construction and delivery to space on YouTube I think. A staggering piece of engineering showing what can be done.

        I for one am not going down the road of it can’t be done just because it’s difficult. It’s new engineering combined with other things that is our only chance of limiting climate change, medicines, new crops etc.


          The engineering is hard, but it’s also unfortunately the easiest part of the problem.

          The reason it will never happen is because the USA has no industrial capacity – both in material terms but also skilled labor.

          Even if you could convince the oligarchy that this is a profitable endeavor worth pursuing, by the time mass adoption is possible, the world will be even warmer. Climate change itself is bad enough, but social unraveling (that has been observable for at least two decades) will limit our capacity to address it with pie-in-the-sky solutions like fusion.

          It’s also why I’m bearish on this LK-99 thing. Sure, the science is there and in theory it could have all these wonderful applications – just by the time the technology has scaled enough to positively impact industrial processes, we’ll all be drowning in boiling water.

        2. ajc

          It’s a physics problem, not an engineering one. The only sustainable fusion reactors found in nature are stars, and sustained fusion is only possible because of the mass and gravity of said stars. You can find fissioning piles in nature, but never fusioning ones because actual fusion requires immense gravity to actually sustain the reaction. You can not find sustained small, human-scale fusion in nature, because it is not possible for fusion reactions to be self-sustaining on the small, human-scale. This is because fusion reactions and the energy generated can only be successfully contained (long-term, ie more than a few seconds) by an immense force of gravity.

          Not being realistic about the future tech and its inability to solve any of the problems current tech has created without creating its own problems that quicken the mix captures the Rube Goldberg Babel tower construct and idol to human hubris that the liberal myth of progress truly is. There is no utopian teleos to the march of human history, only the creation of more history, most of that driven by human folly and delusion, usually believed for the most reasonable of reasons, at the time.

          1. hunkerdown

            Human histories (note the plural), consisting largely of instructions on how to feel about past “events” that may or may not have actually happened, and how to torture the next generation into believing it, can also be ended, and it doesn’t necessarily take a massacre to do it. Erasure, heckling, disruption of ritual is usually more potent. Take what you like (certain necessary entanglements apply) and leave the rest to rot.

        3. Ghost in the Machine

          Sometimes the engineering is not just hard but not feasible. A prevalent fantasy in this country, especially Silicon Valley, is if it can be conceived it can be done. It is true for something to be achieved it must be conceived, but the converse, everything that is conceivable can be done is not true. Mars colonization and Musk’s Neurolink fall into the fantasy category. We have a tiny outpost in space in the ISS and it requires huge resources, 1000s of support jobs, and an umbilical connection with earth for supplies. Neurolink hasn’t done anything Physiological results wise that wasn’t done decades ago. Their electrodes have more contacts, 100s instead of a 100. A little more clever and compact. But, a cubic mm of grey matter has about 30,000 neurons and millions of synapses. The recordings are not stable for long periods because movement and the body’s rejection of foreign bodies, the electrodes are encapsulated with fibrous tissue over time. Even biological coatings fail to fool the immune system because the immune system detects the mechanical mismatch between the electrodes and tissue, etc. etc. Never say never, but it’s 100s of years away if it ever occurs. And we have more pressing issues…
          New engineering will be involved in surviving as best we can what we have done to the planet, but the ‘other things’ will be more important.

        4. Mildred Montana

          Mica T: I admire your optimism. Seriously. I’m a skeptic myself, but I realize that the predictions of nay-sayers have been wrong in the past. Here’s a pertinent aphorism you might be able to use in conversation:

          “What is possible has been done; what is impossible 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 be done.”

          1. John Beech

            30 years ago I sat at a Sony presentation for video editors decrying the hopes of NLE (non-linear editing, aka computer editing) becoming a thing in our lifetime. I actually believed them.

            A mere three years later and $55,000 lighter in the wallet I took delivery of German company’s NLE for our business. Two years later, another $40k lighter in the wallet, I bought another, but this one produced in the USA. And 4 years later (2002) and just $15k lighter in the wallet I purchased a third system, again a USA product (but subsequently sold to Sony). And ever since it’s been software-only on powerful computers and hard drive arrays.

            Today each edit bay (we have two) uses a bog standard $500 motherboard, an ordinary AMD brand CPU costing <$1000, has 128GB of RAM and a COTS video card (Nvidia with 24GB of RAM) costing <$2000 and the hard disk array comprises a 6-disk Synology enclosure and $300 drives ~$7k. It's basically become stupid cheap to edit video.

            Camera-wise, capturing video is also cheaper. For example our 2/3" 3CCD Sony with Betacam back costs $40k and today an iPhone will blow those images out of the water for $1000. Ephemeral products you can't touch and hold.

            What about widgets, e.g. physical goods world? Same thing. Our first CNC mill cost $280k plus tooling. Our most recent cost $125k plus tooling and is several times faster and more capable. Similarly, our first CNC lathe cost $250k plus tooling and a replacement three years ago set us back about $110k, plus tooling, once again.

            It’s the same story everywhere. In 1995 I was happy to own a 25in monitor that weighed north of 100lbs and cost $4000. Today a 75in OLED monitor set us back the same $4000 – but – is several times larger, posses much greater resolution, and weighs maybe 75lbs.

            My point? Don't sell tech short.

      1. Mildred Montana

        The Department of Energy chimed in with this: “…[fusion] could lead to advancements in national defense…”

        MIC contractors are already lining up. Con or no, the money’s just as green.

        1. John

          Okay. Fusion is not “just around the corner. Maybe it never will be. What is available now? Fission reactors produce energy … a great deal of energy. Downside is waste. Don’t want the waste in my backyard. Does that mean no nuclear reactors. I guess we just have to keep burning coal and natural gas and oil. That should please the shareholders and Joe Manchin.

          We as a civilization are “cakeites.” We want our cake. We want to eat it. In fact we demand our god-given right to as much cake as we can eat … and a bit in the cupboard … just in case. Climate change? Sea level rise? Expensive don’t you know. … cut into the cake supply … reduce profit margin and dividends and funds for stock buybacks and executive stock options and bonuses … you know … all the really important stuff. Anyway … haven’t you heard there was a teensy tiny breakthrough … fusion … energy nirvana … just around the corner … no worries … our ‘precious bodily fluids’ are safe from “them.”

          1. Glen

            OK, I know I could get whacked around for reporting this, but a little history…

            NIF is sort of a weird thing:

            National Ignition Facility

            It originally came out of inertial confinement fusion research (Shiva, Nova), but even back in the day it looked like that was a dead end for generating fusion power so the effort was re-purposed to become part of the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program:

            Stockpile stewardship

            Basically with a test ban, how do you do your nuke weapon research without setting some off? And how do you ensure that what you have deployed will still work? So NIF is used for that type of testing. It has absolutely NO provisions for EVER generating power as a fusion power source, and so the news articles are extremely misleading if one is lead to believe that this is part of a facility that was ever even DESIGNED to make power – it is not. It is providing useful data for efforts that are designing such fusion facilities, but that’s about all. (Maybe, if it’s too close to weapons research data, it might be classified.)

            If America was serious about this research, it would be spending much more to do it. There are large efforts in the EU (and maybe China):

            Fusion For Energy

            China’s $1 trillion ‘artificial sun’ fusion reactor just got five times hotter than the sun

            But it seems in America that this research is becoming a private enterprise sponsored by billionaires. So I would guess it’s just a way to get government funding for a billionaire play toy.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “China accused of using water cannon on Philippine boat in South China Sea”

    And by coincidence, Brian Berletic dropped a video today in which he talked about this sort of thing happening and how lots of countries in this region do it to each other all the time, including burning fishing boats. Australia has burned stacks of confiscated fishing boats too in our time. This sort of stuff happening is like background static and is considered par for the course- (16:29mins)

    1. timbers

      Saw that. And the point being, US MSM only reports when “China” does it. All others are ignored.

      1. John

        Golly Moses. Does that mean the MSM is not “my trusted source for all news? Rhetorical question .. and sarcastic as well. Rev Kev , as so often, provides a same and welcome perspective.

  3. timbers

    Ukraine strikes bridges in Crimea with NATO-supplied missiles RT

    Correction: Ukraine strikes bridges in Crimea with SU-24’s launched FROM NATO

    So I was correct that F16 to Ukraine = Ukraine launching these from NATO, making NATO a direct participant. Except it’s not F16’s but twelve SU-24’s which perform better.

    Up Next: “Ukraine” launches much more powerful and much longer range missiles at Russia from NATO.

    It’s the escalation escalator.

    1. The Rev Kev

      There were mutterings and suspicions by the Russians that those drones which struck that warship and that oil tanker may have been actually launched from Romania.

      1. timbers

        One might say with some justification, the Kremlin is fight this war with Neo-liberal sensibilities: The governing and military elites are graciously granted immunity while the Little People die.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I think it was Simpliciticus, but there is analysis out there that much is the result of the Russian ability to equip forces while leaving sufficient forces to deal with NATO intervention. They could mobilize more soldiers, but they wouldn’t have sufficient combined arms for them to do anything besides hang around or become cannon fodder.

          They are dealing with border control and shortage situations. The guys building computer chips are very much part of the war effort.

        2. hunkerdown

          All wars are based on the idea of social substitutability, that the enemy shall not be distnguished. One enemy dead is as good as any other, from the state’s abstract perspective. The institution of war is a big lame team-building exercise for the state.

    2. Tom Stone

      Sweet jeebus, would Harris be better?
      She doesn’t appear to have a death wish and the utterly reckless and stupid behavior of the Biden Administration over Ukraine has us poised on the edge of Nuclear annihlation.
      Would someone please point out to our Oligarchs that Nuclear Winter is a suboptimal way of addressing Global warming?

    3. EssC e tera

      It’s interesting to me that Ukraine was Russia’s red line precisely because it puts NATO within very short striking distance of Moscow and yet, even though Moscow has been repeatedly struck by drones, proving the Russian claims correct, this fact, that the Russian fears are well founded, hasn’t been highlighted much if at all. With the new ranges hopefully it will be highlighted.

    4. GF

      And “Ukrainians move to North Dakota for oil field jobs to help families facing war back home”

      Why aren’t these able bodied draft dodgers being forcibly returned to fight Russia and save the motherland? Since there are no available statistics about how many thousands of these cowards are in the USA and allied countries, I have to assume it must be in the thousands. If they want to help Ukraine they are desperately needed to go and fight the evil Russians.

  4. DorothyT

    Re: The First Big Antitrust Trial of the Century Is About to Start BIG by Matt Stoller

    Biden’s big successful push to enforce antitrust began with this DOJ division halting PenguinRandomHouse’s buy of Simon & Schuster a few months ago. Protecting best-selling authors’ ability to earn top dollar, it was claimed.

    However, it might be announced today that DOJ/Antitrust might have saved Americans in order to allow the sale of S&S to KKR. Any reader who wishes to appreciate the irony in this should read about KKR and its fellow PE/private equity giants in “These Are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs — and Wrecks — America.” Published this year by Simon & Schuster.

    1. John

      Allow KKR to buy Simon & Schuster? The private equity version of Fahrenheit 451 coming to a bookstore near you. How on … Bookstore! bookstore! Has anybody seen a bookstore?

  5. marcel

    We Need to Rewrite Our Scripts for an Alien Visit to Earth World Politics Review

    One should stop talking about aliens.
    Let’s do some higher maths. Suppose I have a big spaceship, and I sent it to outer space. It uses an Einstein-motor (E=mc²), transforming ‘minuscule’ amounts of matter into huge amounts of energy (c² is about a 1 followed by 17 zeroes), with no loss nor friction.
    I will accelerate my spaceship at 0,5 times gravity, so the people onboard stay in good health, and they end up getting some real speed (let’s ignore relativistics for a moment, and consider the possibility that speed can become nearly infinite). Halfway through the journey, the spaceship turns 180°, and start de-accelerating at 0,5 times gravity, so it comes at relative rest once at destination.
    Now, if one puts real figures in there, one obtains the surprising result that the trip consumes about one kilogram of matter for each kilogram of spaceship mass and per light-year.
    So to to get to the nearest star, at a bit over 4 light-years, one would need about 4 kilograms of ‘fuel’ for each kilogram of spaceship mass (and as much for the trip back).
    As it is impossible to put 4 kilograms of ‘fuel’ into a one kilogram of spaceship, it follows that interstellar travel is impossible.
    So interstellar space travel is not possible in the current scientific realm, and aliens near Earth are not a scientific undertaking.

    1. Jabura Basaidai

      UFO – UAP – what a nonsensical distraction – of course aliens have been here….how else could the pyramids been aligned or Stonehedge constructed and all those other things, whatever they are, sure and i got swamp land you’ll love to buy – all just a nonsensical distraction –

    2. The Rev Kev

      I am going to have to say that that word ‘current’ is just another word for ‘We don’t know.’ We just don’t know all the laws of physics of the universe yet so until then, I am not willing to rule anything out yet. Of course there is a lot of speculation of what humanity might be like if we could get to space and whether there might be wars, exploration into the unknown, invasions, fleet of starships, etc. But recently I came across a short amateur story of what our future might actually be like and I have to admit that it is a bit disquieting-

      1. Jabura Basaidai

        not ruling anything out, just don’t care – or agnostic – funny reddit story – the irony is that it assumes correctly the finacialization of space and of course the need for customer service – and if there were aliens with advanced science that allowed space travel why in hell would they even consider interacting – nonsensical distraction

        oh by the way read that Rep. Dean Phillips mulling primary bid against Biden – don’t know much about the guy except a seated congressman and will be difficult to denigrate and dismiss him as they are with RFK Jr & Marianne – let the debates be scheduled and begin! the Husk is doomed (hopefully) –

        1. Oh

          Biden and the DNC would love to have several candidates to run against him. This will help Obama and the DNC to control the primaries so that Bide will get the nomination by winning the Primaries just as he did in 2020. One by one the challengers will drop out as needed after diluting the primary votes to deny RFK Jr. any significant percentage,

          1. Jabura Basaidai

            that very well may be the playbook – if there are debates it doesn’t seem to me the Husk is capable – but if the Husk & DNC would love several candidates why smear RFK JR & Marianne and say they aren’t real candidates and no debates? – i think the angle you portray is very well possible – but the Husk is polling terribly and not scoring on the small donations, unlike last round, and seems challenged in many ways – his ability to speak extemporaneously has frightened his handlers frequently, how many press conferences has he had, think about that, how many times have they walked back stupid stuff that he says – shall we save the queen, man or build railroads across oceans – it will be interesting

          2. some guy

            Maybe Williamson, Kennedy, and possibly others would not be as nice to Biden in a TV debate as Sanders was. Maybe Kennedy especially would ask Biden the kind of question needing an extensive grasp of minutely picky-poo detail to answer, or even understand. And let Biden be seen dealing with it in a TV debate.

            Sanders could have done it. But he was too nice of a guy.

    3. NN Cassandra

      But you don’t need to have pedal to the metal for the whole journey. In fact given the relativistic effects, when you reach speed like 0.9c, it’s pointless to further spend energy on acceleration because you will never get to/past c anyway.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Actually, there is an advantage, from the perspective of the occupants of the spacecraft, to getting closer and closer to c — the distance remaining to travel to get to your destination undergoes length contraction by the factor sqrt(1 – v^2/c^2). The subjective passage of time during the journey can, for the occupants of the craft, be much less than the distance (as measured by “stationary” observers on Earth) from origin to destination divided by the speed of light.

        From the perspective of “stationary” observers at Earth or at the destination, it would look like the clocks on the spacecraft were getting progressively slower and slower as its speed approached c (slower by that same factor sqrt(1 – v^2/c^2) ).

        Provided one could solve the physical constraints/engineering problem of approaching light speed (perhaps “Mote in God’s Eye” planetary lasers propelling a light sail), it would be possible to travel arbitrarily far within the life-spans of occupants of the interstellar craft. (But not within the lifespans of the residents of the sending planet; they would simply witness the spacefarers’ clocks getting progressively slower and slower compared with their own clocks).

    4. Samuel Conner

      One doesn’t need to compress the travel time into the life-span of individual creatures; “slow” automated probes could travel between systems over time spans of eons at speeds readily achievable by means that don’t wish away the laws of physics. It would be an engineering problem to make such craft robust enough to remain functional over such long time spans. Self-repairing systems able to remain functional over such long time spans might look “alive” to us.

      Not that I’m in favor of extravagant interpretations of what the UAPs are. I’m rooting for innocuous explanations; the alternatives are a bit disturbing and it is already hard enough to sleep soundly.

    5. semper loquitur

      Do not hand out orders. Seriously. It’s rude and yours is literally an attempt to stifle conversation. This is against site policy.

      And your argument has at least one major contradiction, as well as a fallacy, in it.

        1. cfraenkel

          “One should stop talking about aliens.” = order. Telling us what not to talk about. I agree, rude.

          Your “higher maths” is hand-wavy as well. In addition to the already pointed out no need to accelerate for the whole trip, you also left out the step where energy is converted into acceleration. I stopped reading after that.

        2. semper loquitur

          I feel like I’m about to dash a lily to the ground or something.

          What site policies? This site’s policies. Read them. Please.

          Your claim “One should stop talking about aliens.” is contradicted by your admission that that reasoning is ultimately governed by “current” science. This science tells us that faster than light interstellar travel is impossible but why should an absolute decision like “stop talking” be based upon a contingent process of describing the world? Because we cannot model such things at this point in time, they cannot exist? You are claiming a perfect knowledge with a system of knowledge creation that is self-admittedly in flux.

          “and aliens near Earth are not a scientific undertaking.”

          This is fallacious because there are literally thousands and thousands of people who, over hundreds of years, have reported observing non-human crafts and even entities. Respected and respectable people, people with reputations and careers and who knows what else to lose. I’ve met people who have seen flying saucers, perfectly reasonable people with no agendas. So there is a there there, even if only as a psychological study. And there may be much more than that.

    6. Jabura Basaidai

      yep – correct it is anthropomorphic hubris that any life form outside of our solar system adheres to our morphology and understanding of science – humans are a deadly pathogen, why would any other life form want to interact –

      1. semper loquitur

        “humans are a deadly pathogen, why would any other life form want to interact”

        Because if intelligent life truly is rare in the universe, then we ourselves are a prize. Given our host of shortcomings, we may be immensely precious to some. Who knows what uses they might have for us? Maybe as a deadly pathogen…

        1. Jabura Basaidai

          i can drift into hyperbole out of frustration and apologize – your perspective is distinctly human which assumes any life other than ours that may be ‘intelligent’ debates things similarly as we would – your view is distinctly anthropomorphic – it all sounds like and episode of the Twilight Zone –

        2. John D.

          There’s an old R. Crumb strip that all this alien talk reminds me of. And it’s only 2 panels long!

          1st panel: Two aliens contemplate a view of the earth on a video screen.

          Alien 1: “Ah, the human race! What beautiful fools they are!”

          Alien 2: “Indeed!”

          2nd panel: Alien 1 pushes a button and the earth blows up.

          Alien 1: “I think it’s time we put an end to these fools!”

          Alien 2: “Indeed!”

          The end.

      2. bdy

        why would any other life form want to interact —

        We’re quick and dirty terraformers — broad strokes already initiated in the geological flicker of an eyelash.

    7. hunkerdown

      Politics is the mythology of commerce. They are talking about mysteries and other such blather because people are ready to reject the Platonic ideology of unity in subordination. A new puppet must be stood up to command the people’s loyalty to the theater, or that theater, the product of three millennia of propaganda and atrocity, might just disappear, erased from memory as “our time in the harness”.


    8. Mikel

      The drama surrounding the submersible implosion reminded me how much organic life exists in the ocean depths that humans still can’t access.

      1. nigel rooney

        Absolutely, Mikel. As a youthful lover of “science fiction”, I used to dream of constructing a novel based on the premise that the highest lifeform on earth in fact never left the oceans. Our human concepts of “existence” may be irrelevant to such a lifeform…

    9. Kouros

      I read a short Sci-Fi story with similar premise of necessity in reduction of mass for sustaining relativistic speeds – written as an answer to the tyiring question “Where are the aliens?”

      It turns out they got burned out…

    10. ArvidMartensen

      Aliens were all the rage in the 1960s. Abductions and all. While all sorts of US military vehicles were being tested as I recall. And spy flights above Russkia.
      But I love a good SF story. War of the Worlds again again.

    11. Revenant

      That is an elegant model. But is the fuel mass required dependent on the acceleration factor, I.e. would choosing 2g rather than 0.5g reduce (or increase) the fuel required? As posited, it seems to be arbitrary that the energy used produced 0.5g. If the energy used produced twice the acceleration, wouldn’t the fuel required for the journey be a quarter as much, so accelerate of g would require consumption of the entire ship’s mass and acceleration of 2g would require consumption of a quarter of the ship’s mass?

    1. griffen

      I looked at that top line tweet, and had a different sort of thought this August morning. I notice people who seemingly walk long distances each day, due to not having transportation and a few harder cases where it appears their earthly possessions are firmly in tow via a large Hefty trash bag. Never really that sure where they have walked to or where they are walking from, this is a main state road where I live just several miles from an I 85 intersection.

    2. britzklieg

      Just about the only thing ‘creative” about living in over-hyped Manhattan for almost 4 decades was the endless walking I both enjoyed and insisted on for my mental clarity and imagination. Never owned a car the entire time and resorted to the subway or taxis only when necessary, mostly airports (although I used public transpo when time allowed) and performing venues when arriving sweaty (dehydrated) and somewhat energy spent would have impaired my singing. Performing professionally is an extremely peripatetic endeavor.

      I’d still be there today if it was cost effective. There’s no doubt that retiring to car culture USA (almost everywhere else) has dulled my instinct as an artist… though it should be said that being old doesn’t help either. Like most artists (most not all) I did my best work in my 30’s and early 40’s.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > the endless walking I both enjoyed and insisted on for my mental clarity and imagination.

        I love walking in Manhattan. Walking really fast! Such a crackle at street level.

        1. semper loquitur

          Ode to a clear, windy day in the Upper East Side:

          Stately rivers of azure and white
          Flowing through mirrored colossi.
          Jackknife winds lashing.
          The City hums with voices
          And silvery gold light.
          Avenues stretch long into sparkling blue-gray mystery.
          You smile, collar up
          And go on.

  6. Jabura Basaidai

    Paradise Michigan not far from Tahquamenon Falls – lived in Marquette for a couple years then Ishpeming for a year – this was before it got built up and folks are pushing back against a proposed launch site for rockets thank god – wonderful place stream trout fish, not your wide ‘river runs through it’ type, a bit more challenging – last time back to UP stayed at an old hotel in Grand Marais and took a back road to Tahquamenon Falls to camp then cruised through Paradise for breakfast on my way back downstate – the UP from one end to the other is a gorgeous place to roam –

    1. Janie

      Tahquamenon Falls State Park! If you are within, oh maybe 500 miles, detour to visit. It’s fabulous.

  7. flora

    Typhus: An open southern border, where thousands people from all over the world are coming across with no health checks, afaik, and a growing numbers of homeless people sleeping rough in cities, who have no sanitation facilities in their tents, can’t be helping the situation.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Doesn’t help when you have populations around the world getting sicker yearly as their immunity levels take hit after hit and their T-cells are depleted. We all know why. And it doesn’t help either when the concept of government pubic health is taking a back set to financialization because profits, baby, so you’re on your own.

      1. Daryl

        One metric I haven’t seen in the news recently has been the “excess deaths” metric. Probably because it would look very inconvenient at the moment. But it would be interesting to look at. I did a search just now but couldn’t find anything easy to parse.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          “Excess deaths” have been eliminated by the CDC by changing the baseline. Until March, excess deaths were calculated in comparison to the average death rate of the five years prior to the Covid outbreak. Now it’s calculated by including 2020 and 2021 with the effect of raising the baseline by around 9%. Excess deaths magically disappear!

          In effect, the CDC is admitting that we are operating under a new, permanently higher death rate.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Actually, I think it’s millions of unknown people coming across the border, but I don’t think that’s the problem.

      Rumor has it that those fleas are filthy MAGA supporters and anti-vaxxers who believe the election was stolen and take their biting orders from Putin.

      1. pasha

        small nitpik: typhus is not carried by fleas but lice — knicknamed “cooties” by WW I soldiers in the trenches. (just realized the term “nitpick” is also lice derived!)

      1. JBird4049

        Unfortunately, IIRC, for over a decade, typhus and infections such as trench disease, have been happening and rising in Los Angeles because of the increasing homeless population. This is nothing new and could be prevented by giving decent housing to the homeless and not by using bleach as they did several year ago on the sidewalks in front of Los Angeles’ city hall.

        I am sure that fleas are involved, but forcing people to sleep out doors and using the police to destroy any permanent, well made villages, just keeps the disease pool healthy; I am also sure that they want the homeless to just die, but fortunately our Betters are still human and do get the same diseases as anyone else.

        1. Lexx

          Couldn’t recall ‘trench disease’ vectors, so went to do some reading.

          We don’t have a flea and tick problem here in Colorado because our winters have usually been too cold and dry... but that is changing. Our city is spraying for the Nile mosquitos in some neighborhoods for the second time this summer. We’ve had more rain showers daily and later in the season than summers past that I can remember. It’s been a wet season with more warnings of flash floods up in the canyons… and so a lot of standing water everywhere for mosquitos to lay eggs in.

          1. JBird4049

            Unlike malaria, which requires standing water for mosquitos to reproduce, or even leprosy, most of the diseases we are talking about here require filthy living conditions preferably with closely packed people. It has been a few years since I have been to LA, but I can refresh my memories with images on the internet, of the fairly packed, exposed destitute people strewn on the sidewalks, lots, and streets. It is much worse than San Francisco’s situation.

            How to solve the problem of infectious, endemic diseases in Western civilization, aside from murdering everyone, has been know for damn near two centuries. It is why London and then all the other cities built the massive sewage and water systems. And yet, our blessed leaders here in the Golden State insist on creating the conditions needed. Good housing, medical care, food. Housing is so expensive that even the middle class is having problems, but let’s the wonders of the free market remain in control of housing.

            Part of it is NIMBYism, part is corruption, and then incompetence, but I also think ideology, specifically Neoliberalism, is used to justify both the epidemics and the housing shortage. The reality of close to two hundred thousand Californians are homeless with many, many more always in danger of losing it is not that important to those with the political power.

            Since they don’t care about the situation, and looking at Covid do not believe that can get hurt from the diseases of the deplorable, the situation does not look to be changing. I guess it is more bleach, maybe with the addition of flea powder.

            I wish them the just rewards of their actions.

  8. Jabura Basaidai

    There Are Enough Resources in the World to Fulfill Human Needs, But Not Enough Resources to Satisfy Capitalist Greed

    yeah, right – as if there aren’t too many of us swarming the earth already –

    “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed”
    Mahatma Gandhi

    “Fortune gives too much to many, but enough to none.”
    Marcus Valerius Martialis

    hopefully not in violation of the dreaded ‘misquote!’

      1. Jabura Basaidai

        no argument and much more important – the destruction of the life support systems by torching fossil and carbon fuel and the extraction madness by deluded oligarchs – the rain of ruin falls on all of us and doesn’t spare the rich 1% and it always befuddled me as to why they allow their selfishness to be their own destruction as well as everyone else – aren’t we about to blow through 1.5C point – i’m not optimistic at all and more often than not feel like the characters in that old Stanley Kramer film “On The Beach”

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          If the models are to be believed in UNEP’s 2022 Emissions Gap Report (PDF) (go to Table 4.3 on Page 30), the 2030 target would require a reduction of around 5 Gt CO2 from the current 38 Gt CO2 in emissions. Not that incredible, especially considering that the richest 10% emit 19 Gt CO2. That reduction could be carried out by reducing the lifestyles of the rich and famous less than 25%. The 2050 target is 8 Gt CO2, a lot tougher, but there is some time.

          1. Jabura Basaidai

            thanks for the barely there optimism – i’ll take whatever i can get – maybe Taylor Swift can carry the torch for that message she’s up there in that percentile – sorry HMP, i do appreciate any bone of optimism and the intention underlying – but when i think of the arrogance and brash stupidity fueled by greed hope stumbles – think i’ll pick some peaches, they’re ripe on the Reliance tree and have a bit more to go on the Bailey – but really do appreciate the response, shows compassion – jb

        2. Daryl

          No different from someone going on a crime spree. They believe if they just keep it up, consequences will never catch up to them. Unfortunately by the time they do it’ll be too late for all of us.

          1. Jabura Basaidai

            good analogy…..wait it isn’t an analogy it is an accurate description – it is a crime spree –

        3. digi_owl

          Because wealth is a proxy for power and virility?

          Like that of deer antlers or peacock tails.

      2. undercurrent

        Brings to my mind the old Greek maxim, ‘Those whom the gods would destroy, they burden with capitalism.’

        1. Jabura Basaidai

          Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad
          Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat

          ‘Those whom the gods would destroy, they burden with capitalism.’

          either one has truth

    1. Lexx

      We went to the pick-up sites of two estate sales yesterday. One was for a 24 piece set of melamine dishes for our RV*, and other was a teapot. It’s a bit fascinating to see who shows up at these pick-ups, arriving in what cars, what they bought and how much, and the body language as they load up their booty. They avoid eye contact and spend most of their time looking at their phones, each other, and the liquidators fetching stuff. It’s almost furtive, a bit shame-faced as they profit plainly from someone’s demise. Not buyers or ‘winners’ but raiders, vultures picking over the corpse of the estates, and only because they have the means.

      While we waited for our turn, I took a peek at the contents of two rail cars open out back, packed with wood furniture, most it old and in need of refinishing. Beautiful stuff once, and wondered again if their wasn’t really enough ‘stuff’ in the world. Did we really need to buy new ever again? Couldn’t we just redistribute what we already have, take care of it, and concentrate of the basics of living? When we make things again, make them to last. We’ve accepted the idea of needs where they didn’t exist before.

      *We’re going to spend a month in the RV next month (our longest time to date) and have grown tired of eating off paper plates… and have learned the hard way that anything breakable unless firmly secured in an RV is a bad idea.

      1. nippersdad

        “…packed with wood furniture, most it old and in need of refinishing. Beautiful stuff once, and wondered again if their wasn’t really enough ‘stuff’ in the world. Did we really need to buy new ever again?”

        In answer to your question, no, there isn’t. Older stuff is available for a mere percentage of what it might cost to buy something from Ikea, but those who might buy it just do not have places to put it all, and could not afford the shipping if they did, so it just loses value and becomes a drug on the market.

        I have been a long time watcher of auction sites, and specifically look at old clocks, Chinese porcelains, icons and thangkas. I have seen over time the changes in consumer buying, and it is pretty shocking how some of the auction results have changed.

        Prior to the ’08 recession, things like Nineteenth century Moras and Bornholmer clocks were going for upwards of six or eight thousand dollars, but I just saw a pair of Bornholmer clocks that had been completely restored by a clock collector go for two hundred dollars apiece (Willards that used to go for tens of thousands are now gong for hundreds as well) while the simplest of Chinese porcelains are going through the roof. Jars one could once procure for fifty dollars twenty years ago are now going for a thousand, so it looks like the Chinese are buying their stuff back.

        There is a market for things like well made old furniture, it just isn’t here. When the Chinese figure out that they can fill all of those empty containers going east with Georgian mahogany chests and Pottier and Stymus library tables the market will correct itself.

        Given that is what we did to them in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries, revenge is going to be a nice dish served cold for them.

        1. Lexx

          The teapot I bought on a whim was Chinese and hand-painted with cranes. I was sad to see the handle fall apart as soon as I removed it from the bubble wrap, and the lid was both cracked and then glued to the pot. None of this was disclosed and I’ll be returning it today. Pity, it was a lovely thing*. I was actually after a Tiffany-style lamp, but I wasn’t happy about it and I got outbid, and more happily shut the computer down and went to bed.

          Around the corner from where I’m sitting, just out of sight, is a Chinese pantry/cabinet. I picked it up at an antique shop about thirty years ago and they were getting them in by the container load. You see this kind of traffic reversing? If so, I know of a few local liquidators who are going to be delighted at what they’ve been warehousing.

          Husband was standing next to me when I entered the container and he’s a woodworker by hobby. I quipped about how many projects awaited him if he so chose when he retired, but it’s not likely he’ll chose refinishing.

          *I paid $16 for the teapot. The lamp (a reproduction) went for $150. Not really my thing though, I run toward the practical. I’ve been looking for a good used light-weight vacuum cleaner for the 5th wheel. Seems a little silly to buy new for a vehicle we spend so little time in as yet.

          1. nippersdad

            I can totally relate to your teapot experience. The number of Wedgwood pieces that show up in pieces are hard to count at this point. One, a cheese dome, showed up in this huge box with a crumpled up piece of paper sticking out of the shards. What were they thinking? Even so, now that I have reinforced the floors I am still buying until the pile starts to form its own glaciers. Smalls are where the money is at.

            I have most definitely seen the market in orientalia reversing. Republic pieces, in particular. You used not to be able to sell that stuff, but now the gains are simply tremendous. The most basic Qing is getting unaffordable and Ming is simply not available. Ninety eight percent of what is on Ebay these days are obvious fakes, it is not much better with other auction sites either.

            The liquidators who get together and start sending container loads of antique furniture from the North East to Shanghai are going to make out like bandits.

        2. skippy

          Dark furniture is basically dead … regardless of the quality as modern new/reno’ed interiors don’t suit it. Trend at the moment is space and light with furniture that suits that dynamic, hence the homes for dark furniture, along with the owners of them is shrinking – birth/death rate.

          Per se even the 50 to 100 year old hardwood homes here in Australia are being furnished with sleek and shiny modern furniture after repaints/renos. Highlighted by being kitted out in modern furniture for sale by interior specialist mobs. The only old furniture I still see a demand for is pre/post war northern European style stuff with top shelf textiles on them.

          1. Lexx

            Dutch modern was once popular with the oldsters and is being snapped up here at the estate sales…. light wood and nice lines. We’re ‘Arts and Crafts’ but I have no problem seeing the appeal.

            1. skippy

              Yes, smaller pieces and the lounges with that skinny look w/ textiles that make a statement. Lighting in these homes is a big thing now with the advances in LED tech and dialed in fade/colour blends.

              Redoing all mine in the new place for lower energy costs and control over what and where I want lighting to do/go. Gone are all the old baton/brass ring goldfish bowl incandescent lights stuck to the ceilings lol. Popped in a 1405mm suspended light 3000k led in kitchen, has both downward and upward lighting and can actually see in the kitchen now. That and redoing the pine floors from the old golden pine look to light raw pine with the new water based invisible coatings has really brightened the place up.

      2. Divadab

        Yes you are right- no one has any right to do anything but signal their virtue by tearing down others. Harpy ideology rules!

      3. Raymond Sim

        Personally I have a grandchild I’ve never yet met, and a month-long RV trip would be about the only Covid-safe way I might be able to.

        I don’t have the means, but if I did I’d do it, and yeah, I’d regard it as part of the basics of living.

        This insulting outburst on your part seems quite unwarranted.

      4. Oh

        I hate burning up fuel and generating more CO2 but a plane trip will also generate CO2. The other thing is that these airlines charge so much any more plus you have to rent a car on top of that. Sometimes if you want a vacation it’s better to drive RV or other.

        The airlines are so bad that everytime you go to check fares there’s a new price. They take money from the USG but they gouge the consumer every chance they get.

  9. Will

    No AI art allowed for Dungeons & Dragons

    After online complaints from fans about recently created art work, Hasbro has clarified its rules to forbid illustrators from using AI.

    So, maybe there’s a chance?

  10. Jason Boxman

    From The moon is open for business, and entrepreneurs are racing to make billions

    Since then, NASA developed a “real commercial-first mindset,” Rousseau said. The agency now awards contracts to private actors to deliver products — such as rockets, landers, or services — against set amounts of money.

    So, another opportunity for rent extraction, private profit on the public dime. Lovely!

    1. nippersdad

      One part of that jumped out for me:

      “Per Rosseau, this model has started to bear fruit. Companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX (Billionaires like Musk and Bezos) likely wouldn’t exist without NASA’s ambition to go to the moon, he argued.”

      There, fixed it for them.

      1. GC54

        Yes, it happened but with a benign malfunction. 4 of 33 engines didn’t start and the rest shut down a few seconds early into the 5 second long test burn. Otherwise, the test was a success apparently. Now SpaceX awaits FAA launch clearance among other constraints, with Musk estimating 50% chance of getting to Hawaii the long way around whenever they can launch this one. Their production line is ramping up, with more boosters and monster ships in various stages of assembly and test, aiming for orbit by the end of this year.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Funny how Hillary went from Trump should respect the results off the upcoming election back in 2016 to Trump is an illegitimate President because the Russians stole the elections for him. Will Trump call Hillary into court as a hostile witness if he has to defend himself? I can see her on the stand now while all those videos are played in court of her denying that Trump win the Presidency.

      1. flora

        Sometimes I think the DNC and Hills went bonkers after the T election because:
        1. The way Hills won the nomination. The DNC said the votes didn’t matter; they decide who the candidate will be. ( That p.o.’ed a lot of Dem voters.)
        2. The DNC’s rationale for giving Hills the nomination was this: she was the only one who could beat T.
        3. Leading to T beating her, undermining the DNC rationale thing during the primary that put off so many Dem voters.
        4. So, the DNC and Hills and MSM had to make extravagant, baroque excuses for T winning to cover over their failed “we know better” claims. No one was allowed to say she wasn’t a very good campaigner, she wasn’t the best candidate, or the party campaign plans failed in that election.

        My 2 cents.

        1. flora

          adding: I think the DNC did the same with Biden in 2020, and were determined to win by any means necessary, by hook or by crook you might say. If T won again, twice in a row, the current ideological makeup of the DNC leadership would have shattered and destroyed their status in the party. The DNC old guard leadership was fighting for its political life within the party. / My 2 cents.

        2. tegnost

          The worst part of it all in hindsjght is that bernie and the squad have proven to be centrists…that overton window seems stuck over on the right side…

          1. Louis Fyne

            the sad thing is that Bernie hasn’t prepped/mentored a successor.

            And the squad are a bunch of self-centered blowhards more interested in fame than policy results.

            Sad/pathetic that all the “Feel the Bern” energy/momentum in 2016 has been scattered to the four winds

            1. The Rev Kev

              The “Feel the Bern” movement? I wonder how many of them were with “Obama’s Army” back in 2008. Remember them?

              1. flora

                Even putting aside the 2016 Bernie campaign, Biden was a strong contender until the DNC asked him to step back in favor of Hills, because she was the only one who could beat T. Imagine the “Trump wins” shock wave that hit the Dem party at the highest ranks of senior politicos. Biden was told to step back and wait for another turn. And for what? To see T in the White House? The recriminations must have been near operatic. So the Dem estab and the MSM went into long, high pitched, “not our fault” howls at the moon. / my 2 cents.

        3. Big River Bandido

          I think you are probably correct in all of those elements, but I think the insecure, psychopathic, projecting personality behind the Greatest Candidate Evah probably bears as much responsibility. I would not be the least surprised if the entire strategy came right from Herself. Poisonous crazymakers in high positions tend to corrupt and poison the entire organization beneath them. The Clintons’ utter selfishness is sometimes hard to comprehend, but it is the reality driving so much of Democrat politics since 1993.

          1. britzklieg

            “Russiagate” was entirely a Clinton strategy, from the beginning of that laughable fairy tale to this inevitable end we are now confronting – WWIII, or as Mikel once said, WWI, pt.3. The ghouls have been in charge for a long time and the Clinton’s are the ghouliest ever (they out-Reaganed Reagan by magnitudes) if only for the fact that they too have been enshrined as saviors of some sort in the tiny minds of our pernicious yet celebrated consumer culture and at a point in history when the end result can no longer be avoided… gah!!!!

  11. Carolinian

    Re walking and thinking–Einstein liked to take walks so nuff said. However they may need to be solitary walks since, in my local trail experience, adding extra walkers likely to result in walking and talking and not necessarily about philosophy or quantum theory.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “US/France threaten intervention in resource-rich Niger: Fears of war in West Africa”

    Going to be hard to do that. Not only has Niger closed it’s air space but I believe that Algeria has forbidden any attack through its air corridor either. Of course the US/France could launch drone attacks in Africa itself at Niger but the moment that that happens, every French and US base in Africa becomes at risk for retaliation and it would inflame African sentiment for both powers. A complicating fact are the Wagner forces as they would have no hesitation at hitting American forces after American forces killed many of their people in Syria on purpose. But do we even know who else may have troops in Niger? I was just reading today that Italy had pulled back some of their troops from Niger to make more space for civilians on their base. So who else has troops stationed in Niger?

    1. Polar Socialist

      Somebody in the Russian TG also pointed out that during the Operation Serval in Mali in 2013 French leased Russian and Belorussian transport planes to haul ~70% of the stuff the French forces needed there. Very, very unlikely to happen now.

      1. digi_owl

        Likely those were Antanovs built in Ukraine during the Soviet Union.

        They AN-128 has the C-5 Galaxy beat by almost 20 tons.

        Similarly Norway hired an Antonov (may have been Ukrainian though) to fly some heavy vehicles back from Afghanistan as ISAF was winding down.

    2. Irrational

      They would get to Niger through Benin I saw mentioned. Let’s see if they are crazy enough. Small reason to celebrate: per today’s FT, Nuland was denied a meeting with Generel Tchiani, the coup leader and had to make her “offer of help” (as the BBC put it) to someone else. The FT, in contrast, said the US had threatened to cut off all aid.

  13. Bsn.

    Regarding “Truth Inside Any Privacy Policy” it’s sad that the complete article is about learning how much we are tracked and how little we can do about it. One section: “Have your data restricted, deleted, or shared with you” is replete with “you may be able”, “ask for it” and “you may even have the option”. Quite passive. I wonder why it’s so difficult for tech writers to explicitly say “this is how to remove yourself from tracking”. Are there people in the proletariat finding specific information on removing oneself from this death of privacy loop? We are more removed than many people (no cell, use TOR, VPN, etc.) but there’s so much more for people to learn. Sharing, in this case, is caring.

  14. TimH

    Per Jonathan Turley on Biden dinner:

    The lack of media curiosity. The lack of coverage of the later disclosures. It is the hallmark of a state media, by consent rather than coercion.

    Forget MSM. We should call them ASM, for American State Media.

  15. QuarterBack

    Re AI facial recognization arrest, it is clear that AI will become an increasing part of policing in its many forms. Unfortunately, society has not had time to learn the appropriate uses and limits of machine learning.

    Facial recognition, like virtually all machine learning models only rank statistical relationships between “features” found in data and images to find statistically likely matches to another image or category. These statistical similarities are only probabilities (within a presumed model), they are NOT facts. I have much less problem with police using AI to help identify potential suspects so that police can then do actual police work to determine whether or not these suspects actually have any reasonable cause to believe that they had any part in the crime.

    I think a good analogy is that AI should be treated similarly to an anonymous tip. Would people think it proper for police to arrest someone after only receiving an anonymous email saying “I think this person did it”? I would think not, but we would not have issue if they started to investigate that person to look for more evidence.

    AI should NEVER be treated as fact. No person should ever be charged, arrested or detained based solely on a AI recommendations. It is now time that Federal law should prohibit such actions.

  16. Skip Intr0

    Zoom users need to start having nonsense conversations with crazy facial expressions, just to pollute the ML data.

  17. nippersdad

    I don’t have a subscription to the NYT so I seldom ever read anything by that august publication. It was interesting to see, via Yahoo news, what kind of Judith Millers they are using to catapult the propaganda these days. This guy, Roger Cohen, their Paris bureau chief, has written a novel that anyone with a good gag reflex might be interested in seeing. It is a masterwork of projection, and I have to give them kudos for having the guts to field something like this at such a late date.

    1. Benny Profane

      And on today’s front page on my tablet, that story is right below another article with the headline “‘It’s Not a Sprint,’ Ukraine’s Marines Insist. ‘It’s a Marathon.’”, excusing the failure of the dual stage counteroffensive and telling us to buck up, we’re in this for the long haul, America.

      1. nippersdad

        I saw something last night that breathlessly warned us all about Russian and Chinese warships that have been spotted in the Aleutian islands. The Alaska senators were in a lather about it and four destroyers have been dispatched to ward off the threat.

        You had to get to around the fifteenth paragraph to find out that they do these exercises every year, and every year they remain in international waters. Pretty soon we are going to be seeing articles about fortress America, and we will all know who is responsible for that.

  18. Anon

    Solar explosion was “felt”… meaning detected by instruments, on three planets simultaneously… as certainly no human being felt it… certainly none on the other two celestial bodies. What does one make of that, subliminally? Are mechanical interpretations and digital representations, of physical phenomena, now considered experience? Unintentional, perhaps, but interesting nonetheless.

    Brings me back to a scene from Battlestar Galactica, where a human-biological machine (Cylon) is speaking to the human being it has long hunted, and complains of observing a supernova and it’s stunning beauty in all the wavelengths a ship’s sensors could detect, meanwhile, being limited by the laughably minimalist human eye.

    1. Anon

      Ah, my memory is limited, but I got the gist of it. He was talking to his creator.

      Brother Cavil : In all your travels, have you ever seen a star go supernova?

      Ellen Tigh : No.

      Brother Cavil : No? Well, I have. I saw a star explode and send out the building blocks of the Universe. Other stars, other planets and eventually other life. A supernova! Creation itself! I was there. I wanted to see it and be part of the moment. And you know how I perceived one of the most glorious events in the universe? With these ridiculous gelatinous orbs in my skull! With eyes designed to perceive only a tiny fraction of the EM spectrum. With ears designed only to hear vibrations in the air.

      Ellen Tigh : The five of us designed you to be as human as possible.

      Brother Cavil : I don’t want to be human! I want to see gamma rays! I want to hear X-rays! And I want to – I want to smell dark matter! Do you see the absurdity of what I am? I can’t even express these things properly because I have to – I have to conceptualize complex ideas in this stupid limiting spoken language! But I know I want to reach out with something other than these prehensile paws! And feel the wind of a supernova flowing over me! I’m a machine! And I can know much more! I can experience so much more. But I’m trapped in this absurd body! And why? Because my five creators thought that God wanted it that way!

      great scene

    2. anahuna

      I suggest that millions of humans may have in some way felt it, or been affected by it, without having a way to recognize or conceptualize what they were experiencing.

      Solar flares have been shown to disrupt electronic communications, why assume that they don’t affect us? Our bodies do have a slight magnetic charge.

      Similarly, moon and tides, as we primarily consist of liquids.

      1. Anon

        By that logic we are ‘affected’ by (and so feel) literally everything. I’m not opposed to this reasoning, but in context, the ability to identify, discriminate and communicate what you experience is a prerequisite, and I doubt anyone was able to distinguish the difference from, say, the effect the phase of the moon had on them.

        1. anahuna

          Thanks for your response.

          I suspect that if we as a species and particularly we relentlessly psychologized Americans (along with certain Europeans and South Americans) were to develop some skills at recognizing “other’ influences and impacts, it would expand our view of self and universe. And yes, require an enhanced vocabulary.

          Not to mention freeing us from endless analysis of early childhood.

    3. hunkerdown

      Scientistic emotivism. Religion is the art of reproducing emotional dispositions and that’s all any ruling class ever did, really.

      1. Anon

        It’s interesting you say this, as I had initially typed a response to anahuna above that went along the lines of:

        “I am not yet prepared to abandon the rigors of the third-dimension, for hunches? Nay! I shall unify them with the higher orders mathematically, and deduce the language which shall describe their horrors and plenty! Then we shall tell no-one about it, but find massive space-rocks made of gold, drag them into high earth orbit, and use them both to dominate the world economy, and one-up nuclear holocaust. We shall seize power, and usher the Second Age of Enlightenment! The musings of our patron saints Strether de Corrente, and The Yves of McKinsey shall forever temper the hands of all who wield the flames of politics and swords of economy, respectively, that peace, love, harmony and prosperity be known throughout the frontier. My venmo is @seizetheday”

        But, I didn’t want anahuna to think I was making fun of them. I saw myself on a soapbox, perhaps in a pulpit as I wrote. Maybe I should give my real Venmo…

        1. anahuna

          You seem to be constructing lots of woo-woo out of my rather simple suggestion. If that amuses you, have at it…

          Not being a systematic thinker (unless forced to it), I enjoy throwing out feelers in case they encounter something unexpected.

          1. Anon

            Only a systematic thinker could describe such a compelling manifesto as “woo-woo”. Your antagonisms, however, are most welcome :) I am avoiding the conversation re: extra-sensory perception, as I am not prepared to expose my abilities (nor face my childhood). One does not want to end up a lab subject.

            It seems you have given the topic more thought than I. Could you direct me to a manual or glossary of terms… I would appreciate it, as I am eager to develop the talent. My inner child sincerely hopes you can.

            1. anahuna

              I believe I’m having trouble reading your tone, so if this is wildly off-base, forgive the misunderstanding.

              I thought I was suggesting that we (mostly) lack both a range of identifiable sensitivities and the vocabulary to communicate them. Meaning, we need to develop both certain latent abilities and new vocabularies for them. If you’re looking for high development of certain perceptions, esoteric Sufism is in many senses exquisite. Buddhism and Taoism have their own precise categories. Ultimately, though, without experience they become mental exercises. And expansion of experience can be terrifying without the presence of someone or someones acquainted with the worlds we tend to call invisible. If you feel moved in that direction, may you find yourself in good company.

              (For those who like a dose of scientific rigor, Dean Radin has made great efforts in devising experiments.)

              Or, if you prefer, there is dear Blake, who used to see angels sitting in the trees of Islington: If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise.

              I sometimes find myself caught between “knowing” — swiftly and unalterably— and explaining and, yes, wonder if the phenomenon of synchronous brain waves observed in gatherings could be expanded to make knowing communal. Of course it has been so, in certain groups and under certain circumstances.

              Only a people estranged from inner awareness could be so easily seduced by the possibilities of microchips.

              1. Anon

                I receive your intention, loud and clear, so I apologize. My attempts at humor are a diversion, from what we are both seemingly aware, but I am unconfident communicating. I have experienced what you describe, and no, I didn’t have anyone to guide me. I was also in very poor company when it happened. Someone, much like yourself, later described them to me as ‘cannibals’… whatever that meant.

                I’ve had a Taoist mindset long before I could name it. It was a relief when I discovered it, as I had long thought myself (and been accused of being) broken, due to not being motivated by the trappings of society, and seeing the futility of its suffering.

                Thank you for sharing; I look forward to speaking again. May we meet in dreams.

  19. Louis Fyne

    That Mitch McConnel footage is fascinating.

    The GOP base finally has awakened to the fact that DC GOP elites treat them as a colonial resource to be exploited.

    Not holding my breath for the Democratic base to come to the same conclusion about Biden, Pelosi, Biden, et al.

    Maybe in 2026, or the next recession.

    1. Neutrino

      GOP will continue to disappoint its peeps.
      The party plays Lucy, once again grabbing the football as Charlie Brown tries to kick.
      They were losers for such a long time that they have some weird epigenetic compulsion to continue to play the battered, hapless head-down goofballs.

    2. hunkerdown

      All political rallies should look more like this. I can imagine even stronger language could have real effects.

    3. notabanker

      Not a single word about it in the AP article, that fawned all over him. It’s really quite incredible.

      1. CanCyn

        That struck me too. But even more striking was that he just kept reading his speech without acknowledging at all the yells of “RETIRE!” These people are his constituents, imagine the lack of care for them he would have to have to not stop and address their concerns. What chutzpah and quite unbelievable to me. Having both taught and spoken at conferences during my working life, I was always well aware of my audience and would often adjust as needed depending on the vibe in the air. I was never yelled at like that but had I been, I would not have been able to continue as though it wasn’t happening.

        1. hunkerdown

          You were aware of your audience because you wanted to ingratiate yourself to them and show your common interests with them. There is a different logic to the heroic moral drama that underlies aristocratic institutions, and it is the logic of competitive domination. The purpose of political speech is to create reality, not to report on it. He was there to be witnessed “having said” those words, not to have those pure ideas corrupted by the commoners’ petty comforts and demands. If he responds to the audience, he no longer dominates them and his entire brand evaporates.

          1. CanCyn

            I guess I know that. Still gets me wondering why it is that we accept this behaviour from our politicians and it nauseates me to see McConnell display such complete disdain for his constituents. OTH, pretending to listen to them and engage in fake empathy is really no better is it. Deepens my desire for term limits. We’d still get self-serving a-holes in office but at least we’d get new ones more often and they couldn’t enrich themselves to the same extent. Sigh.

            1. Henry Moon Pie

              They’d have to be very short term limits. Think of what’s happened to The Squad in a few short years.

              Power does certainly corrupt, but perhaps never so much, so fast as in Washington, D. C.

    4. aletheia33

      i’m not sure who the Democrat base actually is these days, but it occurs to me (as an aside on the PMC, not at all in disagreement with your suggested timeline, LF) that the PMC seems to be locked with the Democrat party in a death embrace. where else can they go? why would they want to go elsewhere in 2026 or later? things have been going fine for them.

      so i imagine that for the PMC, it will take quite a bit longer than 2026 or the next recession to awaken. or will they ever “awaken”? they seem to be remarkably resistant to clear thinking, even to help themselves perceive the approaching demise of their own class.

      it will be interesting to see what they will do as the US health care system collapses, when they begin to widely suffer, physically, directly from that. it may not be the first system to collapse, but it will hurt bad. they can’t all have their own private hospitals. will they simply adjust their level of denial (which seems to have no limit, so far) and walk en masse over the cliff’s edge?

      speaking of clear thinking, i’m not offering this post as an example of it. i invite anyone to clarify the murk i am struggling with here. the problems are so obvious, but the overall situation so complicated that my mind cannot grasp it. NC helps.

  20. Mark Gisleson

    Either Ramaswamy just canceled himself or is about to eclipse DeSantis as Trump’s main rival and probable running mate.

    IF the media does report on what Ramaswamy’s saying about corruption and Ukraine, it’s game over, imo.

    Biden is the perfect fall guy. Ukraine wasn’t corrupt before Biden got there, the NATO buildup was great until Biden went too far, the US economy was something something until Biden took charge, etc.

    Kunstler made a vague prediction about there being market adjustments after Labor Day weekend. If Ramaswamy somehow catches fire in August . . . who knows? Going politically viral in August is next to impossible unless no one can afford to take a vacation, people are angry and doomscrolling, things keep falling apart in noticeable ways — I’m sure you catch my drift.

    I think the sooner we figure out who Ramaswamy really is, the better.

    1. Benny Profane

      He’s not Christian. Fatal flaw. Most of America thinks he worships multi elephant headed creatures. But that was a great little speech. Smart guy and has cajones.I hope he gets covered more.

    2. Bugs

      He’s the MSM’s “GOP Flavor of the Week™” much like we had in 2015. Remember poor Herman Cain? This will last a few news cycles and they’ll shift to another one.

      Probably Nicky Haley up next. She’s been running with China China China! for the past month. That’s good for some prominent interviews once September rolls around.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Herman Cain never pointed a wooden stake at the undead heart of the establishment like Ramaswamy just did.

        If the media chooses to continue sharing Ramaswamy’s off-the-reservation remarks, it will signal their willingess to again publish all or at least more sides of each story and not simply the “both” sides version as if there can only be two correct views.

        NC loves to write about the precariat. Democratic and Republican elites are about to start feeling that kind of angst. Tipping points front rhymes with flipping seats and that’s true even if there is no such thing as a front rhyme.

    3. jefemt

      He was on Firing Line with Margaret Hoover. I think one can easily locate and watch the tape.

      I found him gallingly arrogant, self-assured, not in any way aligned with my world view.

      Your mileage may vary- but it was probably a worthwhile 1/2 hour to blow on a blowhard.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Ukraine calls Jeddah talks productive, Russia calls them doomed”

    Probably find that most of those Global South countries are there only to get Washington off their backs. They are not likely to bail on Russia and pin their fortunes to Zelensky when they can see that he is on the way out, one way or another. The western hope was that the Ukrainians would have been able to break through the Russians lines and put Crimea in jeopardy allowing the Collective West to argue that they should sign up with the winning side. They can forget that one and Zelensky’s peace plan, which amounts to a Russian surrender document, is dead on arrival.

    1. alfred venison

      Thiers to Frederick, 1871
      Pre-Conditions For Peace Negotiations :-

      1/ Lift siege of Paris
      2/ Withdraw all German armies from France
      3/ Return Alsace & Lorraine
      4/ Give us milliards in gold
      oh yeah …
      5/ Hand Over Bismarck !

      THEN we can start negotiations

  22. Laura in So Cal

    Re: California Teacher shortages

    Most of my close friends from high school are teachers and the teacher shortage is a real thing. The article focuses on a very rural county where I’m sure it is worse but even here on the outskirts of the LA Basin it is being felt. All the strains of covid led a lot of teachers to retire probably sooner than they otherwise would have. Most of my friends aren’t quite old enough to retire, but they are taking the opportunity to change districts to escape toxic situations. One of my oldest friends just left the district she had been with for over 6 years after a change in the superintendent 2 years ago made the work environment horrible. She put out the word that she was unhappy and an old co-worker who is now a principal recruited her. Money is the same, commute is only slightly less, but she’ll get to teach her first love (High School English) and work for someone she likes and respects.

    1. jhallc

      I’ve seen this here in Massachusetts. My oldest daughter just left teaching preschool children on the autism spectrum after 5 years. Another young coworker is leaving a well. The stress and disappointment in seeing any progress in her kids given the lack of resources left her in tears some days. Post Covid, the lack of support aides was constant. If she was lucky to have two show up, she often had to send one to another classroom to fill in for a weaker teacher who needed two to manage her kids. They knew she could manage with just one. No good deed goes unpunished. The system is broken. The administration, if even trying, seems incapable to improve things. I tried for years to get her to go to a more affluent district but, she was always stubborn. Now she’s done with teaching.

      1. Phenix

        Autistic children do not improve. My MIL has been involved in teaching/training special ed teachers for 30+ years in 4/5 different states. Autistic children siphon money away from functioning children. Many autistic children will never be functional in society. We spend tens of thousands of dollars a year to warehouse these kids with no plan on how to handle them when they are adults.

        I don’t know of a solution to this problem but I do know that the current paradigm is not sustainable.

          1. skippy

            She is not functional in the sense of broader social dynamics and only cares about her work, regardless of its effects on the latter. Yes she has made strides in animal husbandry and is very interesting to talk too, albeit completely dis-attached from society at large.

            I could say Elon Musk in the same breath …

            Recently seen his biographer call him an exceptional engineer but … does not respond to others with any altruistic tendencies e.g. low EQ.

            This case always reminds me of an old conversation with an Austrian econ sort that said – WE – just need to better harness the creative powers of the sociopath to forward humanities progress. Sadly history is replete with cases of the unwashed blindly following the flame of those that burn so bright, as is, they might be touched with it in their mundane lives ….

  23. Divadab

    Re: Kotkin the “historian”:

    I started watching a lex fridman interview with the “preeminent historian of Russia and Stalin expert” Kotkin and turned it off after he made this statement: “Stalin killed 30 million Russians”. He’s including the ww2 war dead in this outrageous statement, and revealing he is neither a historian nor an expert on Stalin but rather a liar and a propagandist of the lowest and most cretinous variety. How did this person attain any stature?

    1. Polar Socialist

      Well, there really are experts in Russian/SovietRussian history that believe Soviet Union lost tens of millions to (planned) hunger, tens of millions to purges and tens of millions to war. I’ve seen people spouting numbers adding up to only half of the 1930 Soviet population being left when the WW2 ended – and then people holding on to those numbers when the absurdity has been pointed out to them.

      Usually they also think that Soviet Union – after having already lost half of it’s population – was willing to continue the war to conquer the whole world…

      1. Mildred Montana

        In his book “Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million” Martin Amis put the number of pre-war dead at, well, twenty million.

    2. Elena

      It’s what Grover Furr terms the anti-Stalin paradigm. If you present any evidence that exculpate the “crimes” of Stalin or Soviet Communism to the academic Soviet/Russian studies community, you will be treated akin to a Holocaust denier. Actually worse because at least Holocaust deniers are engaged on their evidence and arguments, not just cancelled outright for mentioning the unmentionable.

      This is why the frauds of Kotkin and Snyder are full professors at prestigious universities, serious anti-Communist Soviet scholars such as Robertson and Getty have to swaddle their good research with numerous proclamations of “of course Stalin is evil”, and the likes of Furr and Mark Tauger, who actually engaged available primary evidence, toil in ridicule and obscurity.

    3. digi_owl

      Same way as economists gain stature, by hemming as close as possible to what the paymasters want to hear.

    4. KD

      The hermeneutics of Kotkin requires a Straussian approach. Most of what he says is typical Western cheerleader chants, eternal Russia/Oriental Despot, etc., but under that you actually see an intellect dealing out what Yves would call “admissions against interest” but I think there is something like a message that is counter-narrative. Sort of like Hobbes who was a great Christian if you asked him, because non-Christians got burned at the stake, but you look at his actual thought, it is completely informed by modernism and secularism.

      While I think people really slam Stalin without really considering the historical circumstances he was contending with, Stalinist Russia was a particularly brutal regime in historical context, and he was in power a lot longer than Hitler. Stalin wouldn’t agree to the Geneva Conventions, which meant that the Germans treated Russian POW’s much worse than the Allied troops, and meant the Russians had much higher death rates in POW camps. This was a choice, and its pretty clear Stalin didn’t think much of Soviet POW’s. The Red Army conducted human wave attacks with Commissars in the back to insure “morale” which were effective, but meant huge casualties. There is the case of brutal reprisals against civilians by the Red Army as they were moving West. It was more important to beat the Allies to Berlin than it was to minimize casualties, so while the Germans helped with the Soviet body count, Stalin made strategic decisions which ensured the numbers were much higher than they could have been. . . and between WWI, the Civil War, the interwar purges, WWII, the Soviets really managed to permanently destroy Russian demographics, with many of the loses on the high end of human capital. Not to mention that State atheism is a great way to crater your fertility rates, so you can’t get them back.

      After the war, Stalin did things like “relocating” the Crimean Tartars to Siberia, at great loss for the Tartars. Stalin was getting ready to launch Anti-Semitic purges but he died before it could be carried out. Far better to try and see the good and the bad in Stalin, then end up trying to conduct a version of “Holomodor Denial” from the Left.

      Obviously, because “eternal Russia” Putin is supposedly the same, but you can look at the conduct of the SMO and there is a real attempt to conduct the SMO to minimize Russian casualties and minimize impacts to Ukrainian infrastructure and civilians, which was not a “thing” under Stalin. Stalin was going to bring about the Soviet New Man, and was perfectly happy to sacrifice as many actual people it took to the get there.

      1. Yves Smith

        You need to provide links. This post debunks your claims about the Red Army under Stalin. For instance, the “barrier troops” came from the rank and file:

        Troops that are employed to block their own comrades from retreating are called “blocking” or “barrier” troops and have been employed by several countries. These units existed, but they did not operate the way they are portrayed in Hollywood. Enemy at the Gates (2001) shows Red Army commissars gunning down retreating Soviet soldiers with heavy machine guns at Stalingrad. This is an inaccurate depiction…

        After the massive losses and disintegration of Soviet armies during the initial stages of the German invasion of Russia, barrier troops were introduced in large numbers. This was detailed by Stalin’s Order 227, also known as “Not One Step Backwards!” Barrier troops accompanied each division, were drawn from the division’s ranks, and put under the command of the NKVD (the interior ministry of the Soviet Union)….

        These barrier troops operated by apprehending retreating troops and sending them back to the frontline. When this was not possible, retreating troops were detained to await trial. Although they had orders which allowed them to shoot deserters and “cowards” on the spot, and while this most certainly did happen, it was not the norm. Of those detained and found guilty (around 900,000), roughly 422,000 were sent to penal battalions where they would continue the fight against the Germans by performing the most dangerous jobs. This number accounted for around 1.5% of those who would serve in the Red Army during World War II. Another 436,000 were imprisoned.


        The “human wave” belief is part of a wider idea that Soviet tactics were unsophisticated and relied on brute force and numerical superiority to overwhelm the enemy. It also relies on the myth that the Soviets had an unlimited pool of manpower. This is simply not true in both cases.

        The idea of the “human wave” tactic is extremely complicated, and it is not fully understood by the average layperson. Like the German Blitzkrieg, the Soviets had their own battle doctrine called “Deep Battle,” which emphasized a combination and coordination of strategic, operational, and tactical levels. The basic idea was to use frontal assaults to penetrate the enemy line and destroy the enemy’s logistical capabilities. It is noteworthy that frontal assaults were not a unique feature of the Red Army. Virtually all participants in the war employed them.

        However, at the time, the Soviets lacked the technical superiority of the Germans. In many cases, they were dogged by poor training amongst the infantry and an acute shortage of a competent pool of officers. This meant that the Red Army was unable to coordinate at a tactical level. This led to poor decisions and a high loss of life in ordering badly planned and poorly-timed assaults. From a German soldier’s perspective, this would have simply looked like unsophisticated “human wave” assaults, with soldiers throwing themselves into a meat-grinder.

        As for the belief in unlimited manpower, by 1943, the Red Army was suffering from acute manpower shortages. This was due to strategic blunders early in the war, especially in 1941 when Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, by far the biggest operation of World War II. The Germans actually outnumbered the Red Army on the front line, and within a few short months, the Germans had captured over 2.5 million Soviet soldiers and killed half a million. Meanwhile, over a million Soviet soldiers were sick or wounded. This was just between 22 June and 5 December 1941. This factor led to a desperate need to train soldiers as quickly as possible and therefore led to the failure of the Soviet Union’s Deep Battle doctrine.

        While the Soviets managed to refine the implementation of their strategy to the point where it was effective, the lack of manpower did continue to be an issue.

        I take umbrage at having to spend time correcting major inaccuracies in reader’s comment. I let your comment though only for the purpose of telling you that a comment like yours that makes strong claims will not be approved in the future if you do not provide supporting links.

        1. KD

          You tell me Yves. Anthony Beever reports human wave tactics at the Battle of Stalingrad and discusses orders to shoot deserters by anti-retreat forces in his book on the Russian Civil War (maybe the Soviet Army had entered a more humane period by WWII).


          Notably, especially in the early stages of the battle, the Soviets would use human wave attacks to overwhelm German positions.[93][94][95]

          The Russians did manage to end up with almost 500,000 dead or missing by the end of the battle.

          The Battle of Seelow Heights is widely considered to involve human wave attacks by the Red Army on fortified German troops, and a major driver of why Zhukov conducted the operation the way he did was Stalin’s insistence that they rapidly advance to Berlin and beat the Allies. Human wave attack or not, Zhukov attacked forfeited German troops with his army, and after sustaining catastrophic losses committed his strategic reserve, intended for commitment after breakthrough, into the battle, hence the “human wave”. He did this because Stalin wanted to be in Berlin before the Allies.

          There is a 21 part series produced by Russian State TV on the Eastern Front which has been subtitled into English and references all of this. . . while I suppose it could be “Russian Disinformation”, I would tend to trust the Russian’s historical account of the Great Patriotic War. Further, I would be the last to claim Zhukov was tactically inept, he had a job to do, and a time table, and damn it, he did it.

          Now Beever might be full of it, and we can probably lawyer what the meaning of “human wave attacks” is and distinguish “human wave attacks” from Zhukov’s charging wave after wave of men into fortified defense positions (and committing his strategic reserve before any breakthrough), and if that makes people feel better fine.

          Now, I am not a professional military historian (just relying on them as sources), nor can I necessarily distinguish German war propaganda from historical fact, and these questions are complex because neither the Germans nor the Soviets were heavily invested in historical accuracy. But unless you want to quibble about what “human wave tactics” means, there seems to be abundant historical basis for the claim that the Red Army deployed them on at least 2 occasions in WWII. As far as whether the Russian anti-retreat forces shot Red Army soldiers abandoning their positions, this probably happened at least once, but whether there were orders to do so or whether this was common, I suppose there can be an argument. The Germans had motivation to falsely claim the Russians did it, and the Russians (if they did it) had motivation to falsely claim they didn’t do it, and almost no one alive was actually there. Beever says its so, but maybe he is insufficiently discounting German sources or something.

          But I’ve seen the Ukrainian anti-retreat forces, and they didn’t pick that up on their own would be my guess.

          1. Yves Smith

            Pro tip: If you are going to try to play this game, you need to be better at it.

            You invoke Beevor as if he’s a trump card. He isn’t. He is a popular historian, often criticized by professional historians for relying on secondary sources and propagating their errors (I am not going to lard up this post by providing quotes from their reviews of his books). More specifically, his World War II work relies SOELY on English and German sources. Not at all adequate to be assured of a balanced treatment of Soviet actions.

            As for citing Wikipedia as authoritative….huh? Its co-founder Larry Sanger just blasted it the “most biased encyclopedia” in history on Glenn Greenwald’s System Update. Wikipedia was in the process of removing its page both on Naked Capitalism and ECONNED until some senior community members (we also have some supporters there) rode in to our rescue. And Russia and the USSR are not topics where Wikipedia is typically evenhanded.

            As for your characterization of The Battle of Seelow Heights, it bears NO resemblance to this extremely detailed version from Warfare History Network, whose headline point is that the Germans engaged in a masterful defense, not that the Russians ran a “human wave” offense. The details of the Russian advance flatly contradict your claims. For starters, Russia deployed 3,100 tanks.

            And this is no human wave:

            The Russian guns opened up at 3 am on April 16. The eastern sky flashed orange as 9,000 artillery pieces blasted the German positions atop Seelow Heights and along the Alte Oder to the north. The force of the Russian guns shook the ground, “like a ship in a force 10 gale,” wrote Friedhelm Schoneck, who was stationed with the 309th “Berlin” Infantry Division about 15 kilometers north of Seelow. A short time before the attack was scheduled to begin, Zhukov joined Chuikov in his bunker halfway up the Reitwein Spur. The two commanders watched the attack unfold from an observation post atop the ridge.

            Heinrici expected the attack to occur on April 16 based on interrogations of captured Russian soldiers and had taken the necessary steps to shield the Ninth Army from the full fury of the Russian artillery. For the most part, the German infantry stationed in forward positions had pulled back to the third line of the first position the night before and, therefore, survived the rain of Soviet shells. Afterward, Zhukov was roundly criticized by his fellow generals for sticking to the doctrine of using a lengthy preliminary artillery bombardment…

            After 20 minutes, the Russians illuminated the battlefield with their gigantic searchlights. At that point, the Russian artillery switched to a rolling barrage as the infantry rose to their feet and advanced across the floodplain. Further west, throughout the Oderbruch, Soviet heavy bombers and ground attack aircraft pounded German towns and villages that might serve as strongpoints. The bombers managed to destroy an ammunition train with 17,000 artillery shells near Furstenwalde and three 280mm railroad guns stationed on a track behind Seelow. The Soviets flew more than 6,500 sorties against German positions on the first day alone….

            The initial objective of Chuikov’s Eighth Guards Army was to clear the Oderbruch in front of Seelow Heights in preparation for an assault on the heights themselves. Backed by six tank and four self-propelled gun regiments, the Russians in that sector faced three German divisions guarding the approaches to the heights. In the center was the heavily armored Muncheberg Panzergrenadier Division commanded by Maj. Gen. Werner Mummert. On the left was the 20th Panzergrenadier Division led by Colonel Georg Scholze, and on the right was the 303rd Doberitz Infantry Division led by Colonel Hans Wolfgang Scheunemann.

            Yes, Zhukov screwed up:

            Zhukov’s blunders on the first day were many. Among the most glaring were the useless pre-attack artillery bombardment, the searchlight scheme, and poor armored tactics. Stalin seethed with anger when Zhukov phoned at midnight to inform him that his troops had failed to capture Seelow Heights as planned on the first day. To punish Zhukov for his miscalculation and send a clear message to him to produce better results on the battlefield, Stalin told Zhukov that he was considering rerouting a portion of Konev’s First Ukrainian Front toward Berlin. Zhukov learned shortly afterward that the Soviet leader had carried through on his threat and ordered two of Konev’s tank armies to swing north toward Berlin.


            At the headwaters of the Alte Oder, the massive weight of the Fifth Shock Army backed by the Second Guards Tank Army forced the 9th Parachute Division to give considerable ground. The 25th and 26th Parachute Regiments clung to the villages of Neuhardenberg and Platkow but were outflanked by large formations of Soviet infantry advancing into the upland forest at Neuhardenberg. The parachute troops fell back to the fortifications of the Stein-Stellung. The fighting took its toll on the Luftwaffe support troops who had little or no formal combat training, and many formations lost the little cohesion they had in the face of the veteran Soviet forces. To the south of Neuhardenberg, two regiments from the 18th Panzergrenadiers advanced to plug the gap, taking up positions around Wulkow before the Russians could exploit their advantage.

            In the Seelow sector, the Soviets launched concentrated artillery barrages on April 17 at dawn and again at 9 am to soften enemy positions. Chuikov’s 4th Guards Rifle Corps pushed with determination toward the village of Gusow on the left flank of Seelow Heights. Soviet riflemen, backed by armor, overwhelmed the inexperienced parachute regiments and worked their way behind the 90th Panzergrenadier Regiment of the crack 20th Panzergrenadier Division, forcing it to fall back. The panzergrenadiers found protection in a forest where 88mm guns held the Russian armor at bay into the afternoon.

            To their immediate south, Chuikov’s 29th Guards Rifle Corps, well supported by the 11th Tank Corps of Col. Gen. M.I. Katukov’s First Guards Tank Army, gained the Seelow escarpment and drove the Germans out of the Hardenberg-Stellen. By nightfall the Russians had not only secured Seelow at the base of the escarpment but had also seized the village of Dierdorsdorf six kilometers west of it.

            There is ample evidence that these attacks were solidly supported by artillery, tanks, and airpower. Some of this was badly blunted by mud which mired both tank and infantry advances.


            It goes on and on in this vein. There was one point where the Soviets did send repeated waves of infantry against Germans, on the second day, to dislodge German units of the XI SS Panzer Corps on the right flank of Seelow Heights after “ferocious Katyusha rocket attacks”. You really have to engage in extreme cherry-picking to use this section of a huge battle, which featured missile softening up before the infantry attacks, to depict that as “human wave tactics”.

            But you have already signaled you aren’t terribly discriminating about sourcing in defending the Holdomor myth. There is no evidence the Soviets planned to starve Ukrainians. There were famines in many parts of the Soviet Union that year, including Siberia. Famines were also a not-uncommon occurrence in that part of the world. Moscow sent aid to Ukraine when it got word of the famines. But if you believe that and lambaste those who don’t buy propaganda that can be traced back to SPECIFIC US and UK sources, you’ve made clear you have a pretty strong anti-Russian/Soviet slant and choose your sources to cater to that.

            You were already in moderation for past offenses. Copping a ‘tude with me and trying to make an argument from authority invoking weak sources is not a wise move.

  24. flora

    MMT is a monetary theory explained here at NC. I’ve found one flaw with it. So long as the private banks that comprise the Federal Reserve issue the currency and charge interest, (the Fed is not govt/federal), MMT cannot work as advertised; the govt borrows from the private banks of the Fed instead of issuing money directly from the US Treasury, as was the practice (i think) before the Fed was created. So, the govt is not borrowing from itself, it’s borrowing from and paying interest to the Fed. The Treasury owes the Fed the borrowed amount plus interest.

    (Now, about Wells Forgo… / ;) )

    1. hunkerdown

      In this case the Fed and Treasury are two sides of the same coin, as it were. The Fed’s profits are always returned to the Treasury after costs, so the Fed cannot realize bond buying gains for itself against Treasury.

    2. Anon

      You argue semantics flora, a meaningless difference. The most convincing argument for MMT, is to realize it is already conducted on a massive scale (think defense spending), only it is applied selectively to things that secure power, whilst everything else gets the hardcore Adam Smith/Darwinian treatment.

    3. digi_owl

      The point of MMT is to show that an alternate arrangement to the current system is possible, without going hyperinflationary or other scary outcomes mainstream economics claim will happen.

      Under MMT money creation would be transferred to the treasury, and would happen as part of government spending. And then the books would balance out by taxation after the introduced money had circulated in the economy.

      Or at least that is my layman understanding.

      Basically the fed would either be subsumed by the treasury or abolished.

      But then the fed was created to act as a lender of last resort during bank runs, providing infinite truckloads of notes to private banks that had run dry.

        1. digi_owl

          Honestly no idea. The whole banking sector is laden with old conventions/superstitions dating back the days of gold coins covered in bitemarks.

    4. skippy

      There have been 3 itinerations of the Fed since its inception flora, each one specific to both the dominate economics and the monetary system at the time. Currently the Fed is largely staffed/administrated by quasi monetarists e.g. broad overlaps between the past and currant realities, based on ideology more than anything else. Congress long ago gave away its administrative function for the neoliberal cause of a market society.

      None of that has anything to do with MMT – as it is only a framework – which seeks to better inform policy debate. Hence old demands by various rusted on economic schools and attendant ideologues that MMT proponents table hard policies which then can be attacked via egotistical/ideological means.

      In its simplest terms I would note that the economic issue is one of distribution and not money crankery … then again the big banks were known as ***Market Makers*** back decades ago. All of which is going to make the BRICS very interesting down the road from a stock vs flow dynamic.

  25. John Beech

    Get ready for aliens? This has been imagined in scifi for a long time!

    For example, recently I reread a seven book series by Harry Turtledove titled; The Worldwar Saga. The first novel, Worldwar: In the Balance, opens as America and the world is fighting WWII.

    The predicate is the aliens had been observing humanity, all whilst evaluating the Earth as a place suitable for colonization. The decision to invade was driven principally on the characteristics of the planet, but also partly based on human technology at the time being knights in armor fighting on horseback. Meaning, conquest would be a walk in the park.

    But they are surprised upon arriving during WWII how far from mounted horses, humans have developed. Now we have aircraft and tanks and other technology unforeseen to be developed so rapidly. This, because the observers returned home and raised a conquest fleet, then departed for Earth and arrived in a matter of a few hundred years since the age of knights but their 50,000 y/o civilization is caught flat footed because they developed far more slowly.

    This series delves into the lives and events of various people in the USA, Russia, Germany, Japan, and China, and Australia. Basically, what would have happened (hypothetical history) when aliens arrive with the goal of taking the Earth away from us.

    Since my intent isn’t to present a spoiler, I’ll leave it at that but there’s good reason this series has remained on my shelves instead of going to a used bookstore as thousands have over time. But the major point is, if UFOs are real and we know it, then it’s also not unreasonable to presuppose that more than merely reverse engineering their technology is on our minds. Instead, we’re also (our government) busy preparing ourselves for first contact.

    1. LifelongLib

      I suspect that our attempts to reverse engineer alien technology would be about as successful as those of cargo cultists trying to replicate planes and airfields. We’d have only the most superficial idea of what the technology does and none at all of how it does it. And that’s assuming the aliens are human-like enough to use “technology”.

      1. Procopius

        Back in 1954-5 (?), John Campbell, the editor of Analog Science Fiction magazine, tried to imagine what scientists in 1938 would have made of a ram-jet anti-aircraft missile that was mysteriously transported to their world. Transistors and intetgrated circuits. They had techniques to determine they were extremely pure silicon, but their chemical techniques hadn’t progressed to the point where they could detect the elements used for “doping.” The ram jet would have baffled them. There were other materials they couldn’t have understood. Now imagine if a 5G cell phone were transported back to, say, 1940. Would they have even been able to tell what it was for?

  26. elissa3

    Re: Moon is open for business piece. Dunno. Wouldn’t $137 billion over 10 years, in the future, not counting inflation, be like the change Musk could find in his couch.

  27. anahuna

    You seem to be constructing lots of woo-woo out of my rather simple suggestion. If that amuses you, have at it…

    Not being a systematic thinker (unless forced to it), I enjoy throwing out feelers in case they encounter something unexpected.

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