Links 10/23/2023

Albatrosses listen to the sea to navigate the sky Boing Boing

Asteroid Polyhymnia’s density beyond known elements The Watchers


Encountering Trees Emergence

Earth Stopped Getting Greener 20 Years Ago Scientific American

Addressing the climate crisis: How to save Florida from an insurance catastrophe Orlando Sentinel

Common Sense Solutions for Collapse Z


China’s belt and road pivots to ‘small yet smart’ projects with ‘modest’ US$107 billion financing pledge South China Morning Post

China’s parcel volume surpassed 100 bln threshold earlier this year Xinhua

How US curbs on China may revive its rust belt – the former industrial powerhouse near Russia South China Morning Post

Asia is a ‘bright spot’ for economic growth amid geopolitical tensions, says Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser Channel News Asia


Indian cops and spies as (unwitting) stand-up comedians Countercurrents


US Faces New ‘Axis of Evil’ in Iran, China and Russia: Mitch McConnell Newsweek. George W. Bush’s 2002 “axis of evil” was Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. We then went to war with Iraq, and lost. Iran is still standing. North Korea still has nukes. Those three were regional powers. Now McConnell — It’s bipartisan! — doubles down by proposing to assault two great powers, both nuclear, when we can’t even make our own ammunition, or recruit enough troops.

Second aid convoy reaches Gaza as Israel attacks targets in Syria and occupied West Bank AP

Israel Latest: West Steps Up Efforts to Prevent Wider Conflict Bloomberg

Blinken, Austin say US is ready to respond if US personnel become targets of Israel-Hamas war AP. The picture does not inspire confidence. Blinken has a “deer-caught-in-the-headlights” look, and Biden has clearly performed empathy at least one too many times.

Blinken dodges question on whether US has asked Israel to delay ground operation The Hill

* * *

Gallant: This war may take months, ‘but in the end there will be no Hamas’ The Times of Israel

Israel Is About to Make a Terrible Mistake Thomas Friedman, NYT. When you’ve lost the Moustache of Understanding…

Israel’s bombing of Gaza undercuts the West’s Ukraine moralism WaPo

What Israel should do now Vox

The Limits of Outside Opinion in Gaza Drezner’s World

* * *

Israel Security Agency creates new unit to hunt, kill every Hamas terrorist in Oct. 7 surprise attacks: report FOX

Do Targeted Killings Weaken Terrorist Groups? Max Boot, Homeland Security News

* * *

Again, Fallujah: 10mi²; Bakhmut: 16.1mi²; Mariupol: 64.09 mi²; Gaza: 140.9 mi². There are a lot of buildings still standing in Gaza:

In this shot, I’m seeing plenty of buildings still standing. (In principle, never go by the dramatic close-up. Always go by the wide-angle or aerial view.) I have not seen the math on how many bombs it would take the IDF to “flatten” Gaza, or indeed whether it has the capability to do so (leaving aside nuclear weapons). And if they can do so, what then? Tunnel warfare, as in Vietnam? And then the “bunker busters.” Presumably they will work on Gazan geology, but I don’t recall seeing anyone even make that claim, let alone prove it. (I know Gaza City is one part of Gaza, but I’m assuming that Gaza is so dense that for all practical — and tactical — purposes it’s a single city.) I’m sure Israel can make Gaza a living hell. That’s not the same as defeating Hamas, even on (or under) Gazan ground. Of course, Israel could just seal the border for two months, and then send the troops in wearing moonsuits.

The Hell of Urban Warfare Is Not Unique to Gaza The Tablet

The Inevitable, Ongoing Failure of Israel’s Gaza Strategy RAND

Israel tells Gazans to move south or risk being seen as ‘terrorist’ partner Reuters

* * *

From all over the world, Israel’s diaspora return to join war effort South China Morning Post

An unsanctioned coterie of pro-Israel quasi-lobbyists has descended on D.C. Politico

Israeli premier accused of destroying evidence to avoid responsibility for Hamas attack Anadolu Agency

Settle for what? Phoebe Maltz Bovy on a Jewish existential dilemma The Canadian Jewish Newsd

* * *

Biden is dangling border security money to try to get billions more for Israel and Ukraine AP

European Disunion

Could Israel-Hamas war lead to another winter energy crisis for Europe? Al Monitor. If only Europe had alternative sources of supply!

Dear Old Blighty

Historic by-elections and the curious case of Tamworth FT. The deck: “Exclusive: 64 per cent of Britons think the UK is in a recession, according to More in Common polling.”

Banks accused of short-changing small businesses with poor interest rates Telegraph

New Not-So-Cold War

With All Eyes on Israel-Gaza, Ukraine is losing war momentum Responsible Statecraft. An imperial hegemon that can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?

Former German Chancellor claims he “mediated” situation between Ukraine and Russia in 2022 Ukrainska Pravda (original).

South of the Border

Argentine economy minister bags surprise win over chainsaw-wielding populist in presidential poll France24. Commentary:

Tankers: Positive News From Venezuela Hellenic Shipping News

O Canada

Independent Quebec would have its own currency and army, PQ says Montreal Gazette

Our Famously Free Press

Europe’s Largest News Aggregator Orders Editors to Play Down Palestinian Deaths The Intercept

Digital Watch

How AI reduces the world to stereotypes Rest of World

Microsoft fixes the Excel feature that was wrecking scientific data The Verge

Airbnb Nightmare: Pregnant Host’s Home Destroyed After Guests Flood Property San Francisco Standard

Supply Chain

How a Fertilizer Shortage Is Spreading Desperate Hunger NYT

The Gallery

Will Banksy’s Identity Finally Be Unmasked in a Defamation Lawsuit Brought by a U.K. Greeting Card Company? artnet

Imperial Collapse Watch

Why America Is Out of Ammunition Matt Stoller, Big

America needs a bigger, better bureaucracy Noah Smith, Noahpinion. “[T]he U.S. suffers from a distinct lack of state capacity. We’ve outsourced many of our core government functions to nonprofits and consultants, resulting in cost bloat and the waste of taxpayer money.” Not to mention the corporations the NGOs and consultants bring in!

Guillotine Watch

The yacht bros who’ll sell you part of a megaboat Axios

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Black-Owned Land Is Under Siege in the Brazos Valley Texas Monthly

The President Vs. The Klan: Ulysses S. Grant’s Battle Against White Supremacist Terror 3 Quarks Daily

Collection Cost Lapham’s Quarterly

Beyond the Myth of Rural America The New Yorker

Class Warfare

The Radical Street Sellers of London JSTOR Daily

Ice cream and potato chips are just as addictive as cocaine or heroin: research NY Post. Hence the appeal of “urgency of normal”?

Ursula K. Le Guin on Change, Menopause as Rebirth, and the Civilizational Value of Elders The Marginalian

On the roles of function and selection in evolving systems PNAS. From the Asbstract:

A pervasive wonder of the natural world is the evolution of varied systems, including stars, minerals, atmospheres, and life. These evolving systems appear to be conceptually equivalent in that they display three notable attributes: 1) They form from numerous components that have the potential to adopt combinatorially vast numbers of different configurations; 2) processes exist that generate numerous different configurations; and 3) configurations are preferentially selected based on function. We identify universal concepts of selection—static persistence, dynamic persistence, and novelty generation—that underpin function and drive systems to evolve through the exchange of information between the environment and the system. Accordingly, we propose a “law of increasing functional information”: The functional information of a system will increase (i.e., the system will evolve) if many different configurations of the system undergo selection for one or more functions.

Is this woo woo? (I’m not sure about #3. What about hysteresis? What about chance? What about spandrels?)

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Lex

    Re Max Boot, if targeted killings of group leadership worked even in principle then elections would matter. The best that can be hoped for is that eliminating an actual Clinton in an election leaves you with the promotion of someone far less competent like a Biden within the organization. But that has its own downsides.

    Generally eliminating a terrorist leader just opens the door to promotions for everyone.

    1. The Rev Kev

      More than that. It culls the arrogant leaders. The stupid ones. Ones who do not take operational security seriously. What you eventually have emerging often is a cadre of leaders who are more canny and more careful and who don’t keep on updating their Facebook profile on their mobiles or who make video appearances in places that can be geolocated.

      1. Polar Socialist

        More than that. When you start fighting crime with illegal or at minimum gray-zone methods, you expose yourself (well, your political cohorts and the military) to a moral and ethical rot that can eventually make you incapable of doing the correct things to actually solve the issue.

    2. hunkerdown

      The iterated game is much different from the non-iterated game. The mere existence of an institution isn’t a warrant for its future existence. When one can demonstrate the credible ability to neutralize the replacements and prevent the institution from being staffed, that institution is forced to reconstitute itself or wither away.

      Also, you’re comparing a ceremonial game where pains are taken to avoid injuring any of the authorized contestants, to actual warfare where terminating the enemy’s future action is the objective.

    3. jefemt

      Coyote population dynamics. Take one out, three come in on the territory. Can’t we all just get along?

    4. Feral Finster

      If only we had tried targeting leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan! Surely victory would have been our by now!

      This “Max Boot” character (sounds like a comic book supervillain) may be onto something with his fresh ideas!

      1. jsn

        It all really depends on what you’re trying to do.

        If you’re trying to maintain a low level insurgency to justify continuation of a profitable occupation, its one kind of targeting. If you’re really trying to change things, its something else.

        I’m with hunkerdown above on institutional impacts: Capital effectively targeted and eliminated institutional leadership for the American Left starting in the Cold War (really starting with subbing Truman for Wallace) and escalating from there until by the second Reagan term there was no institutional left in the US, or functionally in the West.

        1. Feral Finster

          I suspect that Boot is trying to make himself feel all tough.

          If his strategies fail, it’s because we didn’t try hard enough. Never the fault of the strategy.

    5. Roger

      An exact parallel is the war on drugs or the mafia using targeted killings to take out drug lords /mafia bosses, they just get replaced with another usually more savvy and many time more extreme version.

    6. CarlH

      While I agree with the other commenters here, my first thought was the “targeted killings” of the 1960’s. They seem to have been pretty effective in destroying whatever was remaining of the “left” for at least my lifetime.

  2. Wukchumni

    Independent Quebec would have its own currency and army, PQ says Montreal Gazette

    ~Unfortunately, bad link above~

    Card money was in use in New France in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Official money cards were embossed with a fleur-de-lis and the signatures of the intendant, governor, and treasurer. Private cards would also use the fleur-de-lis and the signature of its debtor. Card money was generally issued, at least initially, in emergency situations when minted currency was in low supply, however over time “playing cards” became more popular and the standard tender. An estimated two million livres in card money is thought to have circulated prior to the British take over of New France territory in the 1760s.

    As a financial tool, card money played a significant role as a means of exchange. Despite the worries of French officials, colonial authorities were successful in arguing that card money served as a financial medium in Canada just as coinage did in France (Bank of Canada, 1990, p. 9). An economic substitute to the dangerous transfer of specie across the Atlantic, card money allowed France to benefit, since the King did not have the obligation to send coinage to Canada, which would have risked loss “either from the sea or from enemies”,7).

    1. divadab

      Money is what is generally agreed to be money. It’s a belief system, a motivational system, supposedly a store of value, but it has no value of itself as does a hard asset like land or a share in a profitable business.

      Which means its value is fragile. How much were the millions of Confederate dollars worth in 1866?

      1. Wukchumni

        Which means its value is fragile. How much were the millions of Confederate dollars worth in 1866?

        You did much better with Confederate paper money than Confederate bonds, as it turns out.

        The UK financed the Confederacy to the tune of $60 million in bonds, which sold @ auction in 1987 @ Sotheby’s in London for $623k, a 99% scalping, ouch!

        Conversely, all Confederate banknotes ($1, $2, $5, $10 & $20) are now worth at least $25 each, so the south did rise again!

        When I was a kid, you could buy brand new bundles of 100 consecutively numbered 1864 $20 CSA for $2 a piece, how many thousands would you like?

        1. Divadab

          And the 99% scalping is nominal- not adjusted for inflation, which makes it worse!

          Confederate banknotes used to be advertised in the back of Popular Mechanics, and comic books, alongside the stamp collectors’ and model rocketry and minibike ads, I recall. Funny money!

      2. digi_owl

        While watching various presentations of Steve Keen over the years i have sometimes heard him quote another economists, that i sadly do not recall the name of at the moment, stating that a exchange involve three parties. The buyer, the seller, and someone accounting the exchange. In this model money, coin or notes or whatever, acted as a stand-in for the accountant.

        In the end the trouble is that you need enough money in circulation to handle all the goods and services of the economy. but if one miss the target one end up with either inflation or deflation.

        And i can see where the whole “veil over barter” notion comes from, as it kinda holds true when thinking in terms of a largely agrarian society where money act as a IOU between the harvest seasons.

        But all that goes out the window once we introduce modern, non-physical banking, where banks are not retrained in their lending by how much coin or whatever is in the vault. But instead can materialize money from thin air by a stroke of the pen or click of the mouse.

      3. eg

        Fiat currency is a tax credit. That’s why the Confederate dollars were worthless in 1866 — the state which issued them and the state apparatus to enforce tax collection denominated in them ceased to exist.

        As far as “belief” is concerned, all that’s needed for a currency to retain value is for citizens to believe that the state will enforce its tax collection and use its monopoly over the legitimate use of force if necessary to do so.

        1. Wukchumni

          CSA Currency had interesting value as was stated on each banknote, a currency that was dependent upon peace breaking out, oh and Johnny Reb prevailing.


          Over 20 million ounces of all that glitters in monetized form was minted and issued for currency in the Union, while not 1 grain of monetized gold was issued as money in the CSA.

  3. DJG, Reality Czar

    The “Budgets de l’an un” seem to be a regular nonstarter from the Parti Quebecois. I have found that the Anglo-Canadians panic about the melodrama more than the Quebecois do. So I’m skeptical. (And the Anglo-Canadians should feel guilty, n’est-ce pas?)

    Today’s edition of La Presse, the big French-language paper doesn’t cover the story at all. Le Devoir, which is considered brainier, does:

    See the list of multiple budget de l’an un. Evidently, PQ just can’t help themselves.

    So: Joe Biden doesn’t have to worry about those PQ terrorists…

    1. The Rev Kev

      So French-Canadians won’t have to worry about Trudeau hitting the panic button and freezing their bank accounts?

    2. divadab

      “And the Anglo-Canadians should feel guilty, n’est-ce pas?”

      About what? The sins of 250 years + ago imperialists who also dispossessed us? Give your head a shake.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Israel Security Agency creates new unit to hunt, kill every Hamas terrorist in Oct. 7 surprise attacks: report’

    RT goes into this story with a bit more depth-

    ‘Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency and Shin Bet internal security service have formed a new operations group to hunt down members of the Hamas commando unit that led the militants’ surprise attack on Israel earlier this month, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

    Nili, which takes its name from an early 20th century Jewish spy ring that assisted the British against the Ottomans in Palestine during World War I, will focus on tracking down and killing every member of Hamas’ elite Nukbha force involved in the raid that left 1,400 Israelis dead in which 210 hostages were taken. The Hebrew letters of the group’s name stand for “the Eternal One of Israel will not lie.” ‘

    So are the Israelis saying that the Nukbha force is a bit too much for the regualr Army based on their performance a fortnight ago?

    1. ilsm

      Who could endure an entire army built on vengeance?

      Still, the moral bankruptcy of Israel is sad, dismaying.

    2. SG

      So are the Israelis saying that the Nukbha force is a bit too much for the regualr Army based on their performance a fortnight ago?

      Perhaps they’re saying that dealing with the actual perpetrators is preferable to further endangering the entire population of Gaza.

      1. witters

        Do you really think so? I can’t see anywhere they say that, let alone that they have stopped bombing and starving. Is there a different timeline?

  5. Wukchumni

    Argentine economy minister bags surprise win over chainsaw-wielding populist in presidential poll France24.
    Since the turn of the century, the Argentine Peso is worth 1/350th of its previous value against the almighty buck…

    …kinda similar to Mexico’s hyperinflation ride in the late 70’s through early 90’s, with the Mexican Peso worth 1/364th of its previous value versus the greenback

    When I see comments about how you can get 5+% apr on your money entrusting it for a period of time, and thats where the smart lucre is going…

    Ask an Argentinean or Mexican how that worked out for them?

    Lets take a middle-class Mexican with 100,000 Pesos in the bank in 1976* and @ 12.5 Pesos = 1$, that was $8,000.

    Fast forward to 1992 and that same 100,000 Pesos is worth a princely $30.

    On the flip slide though, I remember a backcountry ranger friend showing me photos of a cool looking cabin in Bariloche (it looks very much like Queenstown NZ to me) in the late 1990’s and it cost about $35k.

    Now, I have no idea how Argentine real estate transactions go down, but lets say my friend got a 30 year fixed on it, after awhile the mortgage payments would hardly be a pittance, in $ terms.

    …and what is this slight against chainsaw-wielders?

    *by the way, the billboards that greeted gringos headed into Tijuana in the mid 70’s always offered at least a few percent more by Mexican banks than our American institutions, although it meant nothing to yours truly half a century ago, as TJ was all about procuring fireworks, somehow.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Years ago I stumbled across a blog by this Argentinian guy. It has evolved into a survivalist’s blog but if you dig into the topics to do with Argentina, he has plenty of hair-raising stories about what life was like in Argentina when things collapsed over twenty years ago. And yet about a century ago people were saying how Argentina would be a rising power due to all the resources that they had. Here is that blog by the way-

    2. Roger

      The history of Argentina is of the landed elites who took over after independence and have ever since foiled any attempt to truly develop an industrial economy, greatly aided by financiers and foreign capital. Milei is just another tool of those elites, specifically funded and provided with a media presence by an Argentinian oligarch and having worked for foreign financiers. Massa, the economy minister, is a milk-toast progressive who will not deal with the underlying issues but he is the least worst outcome for the Argentinian people as a whole. Milei is just another Menem, a corrupt oligarch-tool who destroyed the Argentinian economy while selling state assets at huge discounts to his oligarch buddies.

      This documentary provides an excellent history of the landed and financial elites conspiring with foreign capital, over an hour but incredibly well made and informative:

  6. upstater

    Here’s a good one to file under class warfare… Felix Salmon’s take down of Marc Andreessen and a rogue’s gallery of billionaire sociopaths:

    Silicon Valley’s perversion of philanthropy

    Selfishness is philanthropic. That’s the message being sent by a series of high-profile Silicon Valley leaders, most recently billionaire venture capitalist Marc Andreessen.

    Every dollar an innovator like Andreessen makes for himself equates to a $50 philanthropic donation to society at large. Why even bother giving away the dollar, if that’s the case.

    When is the last time billionaires were called “policy failures” be democrats?

    1. Neutrino

      Philanthropath, a useful addition to the lexicon.

      Money, or fame in the case of those celebs opining about everything, make poor criteria for following.
      Not surprising in the age of I want it now, and the corollary I refuse to think anything through.

  7. Lexx

    ‘Ice cream and potato chips are just as addictive as cocaine or heroin: research’

    It doesn’t help that eating what’s good for you has become so taste-free. What’s left that hasn’t been demonized apart from raw organic vegetables? Apparently there’s something wrong with eating almost everything on the menu. When the entire foodie world is a minefield, why not eat junk food?

    I’m enduring yet another deep crack in my right heel. ‘Endurance’ is in the language and attitude of the lower classes in regard to self-care. Even my physician’s have little to offer but their usual professional and expensive shrugs. Left to their own devices, how do the poor* care for themselves, alleviate pain and suffering, make smart informed choices from a sea of profit-driven misinformation? As we’ve agreed here (I think) having access to healthcare is no guarantee of getting effective help. Any answers that industry may offer seems to be limited by the amount of potential profit involved, usually proceeded by a half dozen very expensive tests. Yummy!

    *We’re not poor, but we came from generations of poverty. Our generation can’t just ‘make it’; it has to make for several generations before the mindset and worldview change. Even then there are sacrifices involved like getting up every morning to have your personal chef serve you a cheese omelet before being taken to school… that scene from ‘Billions’. I was horrified.

    1. CanCyn

      With no research to back it up, I have long believed that sugar addiction is very much akin to alcohol addiction. And yes most potato chips have added sugar. I have alcoholism in my family and there have been times in my life where daily 2 or more drinks was a thing. I find it easier to eliminate alcohol from my diet than sugar. I can give alcohol a miss even if we have wine, beer and spirits in the house. And I can stop eating processed sugar (as opposed to natural sugars found in fruits and veggies), but there can be nothing tempting in the house and it takes but one chocolate or cookie to push me right off that wagon and back into a daily habit.

      1. Lexx

        I made a lot of ice cream this summer, trying to fulfill a promise to a neighbor that I’d make her a good peach ice cream. (She was having a lot of dental work done over the holidays.)

        Good homemade ice cream that can go from soft-serve to hard frozen is challenging. Too much butterfat and I might as well be trying to melt and chew rubber bullets. Any flavor (scent) disappeared as the inside of my mouth froze. Too little and my teeth hurt from the ice crystals, made worse with the frozen fruit. My gold standard for ‘good ice cream’ had been set by the big corporate manufacturers, using tricks those small ‘artisan’ manufacturers employ as well. Those who write ice cream-making books don’t usually share those tricks after selling their brands up the chain, but those who retain the rights to their recipes then publish them with glaring omissions. They want you to think that recreating their recipes is easy… it isn’t. (Hint: To get rid of the ice crystals, reduce the water content. To raise the butterfat content, break it up by mixing in a small amount of powdered milk solids resulting in softer ice cream.)

        I think the labels on foods are constantly lying to us, mostly lies of omission, and that their goal regarding their customers is addiction, or as they prefer to see it ‘brand loyalty’. The only way to beat the way of the grocery store is to make the products they sell from scratch, so they are once again ‘food’. If we untether ourselves from dependency, what happens then to our conclusion that we are by nature an addictive species?

        1. Antagonist Muscles

          I was doing some research on addiction and sugar, especially in regards to my own problems with addiction. I found this freely available article on PubMed. What a load of tripe this is. The authors use scare quotes around addiction the entire time to imply that sugar is not addictive. This is not the first time I have noticed poorly done research from the University of Minnesota. I didn’t bother to look up what conflicts of interest Danielle Greenberg and NutriSci Inc. have, but I doubt it leads to unbiased research.

          Humans are naturally predisposed to addiction. If you think you have some moral superiority to substance abuse, you will become addicted to some behavioral addiction. I had all sorts of problems with addictions, the substance abuse kind and the behavioral kind. Worse, I didn’t even know I was addicted because I wasn’t addicted to “ordinary” drugs of abuse—cocaine, MDMA, methamphetamine, opioids, painkillers, etc.

          1. Lexx

            You might be interested in Gabor Mate’s book, ‘In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts’. Probably copies available through the library system, it’s been out awhile. He’ll make distinctions between street drugs, prescription drugs, and other substances, how they’re stigmatized and our cultural response to those stigmas. We’re always looking at ourselves through manufactured lenses.

        2. CanCyn

          Whether I make my own goodies from scratch (with local eggs and milk) or buy them, the cravings are the same for me. I eat very little packaged processed food but we have some lovely local bakeries and chocolate shops so avoiding the crap in the grocery store doesn’t mean I go sugar free.
          I found a no churn ice cream recipe that turns out remarkably creamy. It calls for sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream. A total cheat but it is surprisingly good. Actually almost too sweet for this sugar hound! I’ve lost my bookmark but will add a link if I can find it.

          1. Lexx

            The one ice cream I haven’t yet tossed is a no-churn pumpkin. I made too much to just throw out. Great while I’m eating it but afterward the entire inside of my mouth was coated in butterfat… blech! I felt like I needed to rinse with something acidy.

            The exception in no-churn was this one:


            The acid and bitterness of the coffee seems to balance the butterfat. YMMV.

            1. CanCyn

              I don’t like cream in coffee because of the mouthfeel but ice cream is fine re high fat. So is there absolutely no sugar in this recipe or is Nigella calling what I know as sweetened condensed milk simply condensed milk?

        1. CanCyn

          I don’t find salt addictive the way I do sugary foods. If I didn’t use salt I would no doubt eat less but that’s because the food doesn’t taste good to me, not because I crave the salt.

          1. Mark Gisleson

            It’s a battle worth fighting. Every milestone (bad stuff out of my diet) has had obvious results.

            Latest wild-eyed claim: Thanks to getting super peppers in the mail from a friend (replacing the sad not-that-hot store peppers) my whole system rebooted so noticeably that I did some research. I was flushing (niacin?) and getting stronger (B6?). Turns out super hot peppers are full of niacin and B6.

            This year I bought Halloween candy early. It’s been sitting in a basket for two weeks untouched. Not even tempted but it took a long time to get to where I complain about cabbage being too sweet ; )

            The rewards are worth the effort.

            1. CanCyn

              I hear you. I have quit sugar a few times and always feel better. Unfortunately it is too easy to start again. My husband and are going to do NOvember: NO sugar, NO booze, NO bread.
              And I have no tolerance for super hot food.

              1. Mark Gisleson

                The super hot peppers will teach you how to tolerate their presence in your system!

                Srsly, all the talk about Mexican food isn’t about the heat, it’s about the grease or other things. Once the peppers are safely inside you, they do nothing but good things. Getting them inside you is the trick ; )

                Honey is not sugar, btw. Not a cheat like gluten-free items, honey is nature-processed and local honey should remain in your diet : )

      2. digi_owl

        My basic thinking is that we have not evolved to regulate sugar intake, as sugar in nature rarely shows up detached from indigestible fiber. Thus sugar intake has indirectly been regulated by the need to expel the fiber at intervals.

        Note btw that we should really be talking about starch intake, as sugar is a starch. Other sources of starch involve the likes of potatoes and white flour.

        1. CanCyn

          Agreed re starches. I know there is much controversy over ‘gluten intolerance’ somI don’t use the phrase but I feel better when I consume little to no bread or other starchy foods – potatoes, rice, etc.

        2. SG

          Biochem was a few decades ago, but: sugars (mono- and disaccharaides) are not starch. They’re a component of starch (a polysaccharide). The reason why starches can taste sweet after some time in your mouth is that your saliva contains an enzyme (amylase) that hydrolyzes starch into its component sugars. Your pancreas also produces amylase to complete the digestion of any starches that weren’t broken down by your saliva into sugars that you can then absorb.

          Cellulose is also composed of sugars, but the sugars are bonded together in a different fashion and humans lack a digestive enzyme that will break those bonds – which is why cellulose (i.e., plant fibers) pass through your digestive system intact. The digestive system of ruminants, however, contains bacteria than produce enzymes which can break down cellulose. This us why cows (for example) can live off grass, but we can’t.

      3. eg

        Yudkin’s “Pure, White and Deadly” had it figured out decades ago. Naturally it was suppressed by Big Sugar …

    2. griffen

      Grocery store prices are becoming a still ongoing reminder of eye opening inflation. I don’t purchase Oreo cookies or the Oreo Thins, on account of favoring salty snacks but I did notice a standard package for their many varieties (which also include a gluten free option) on Sunday afternoon was roughly $6.50. No clue where that package’s equivalent price was circa 2018 – 2019.

      Consumption of beer is my bugaboo, but it’s the one vice where I can reliably spend less if I choose to do so. Just not Bud Light, but other options by Mega Beers of the World stand in reliably. Researchers are breaking new territory and barriers! Playing the lottery is addictive. Who knew such things without research?!?

      1. The Rev Kev

        If beer is your bugaboo, how about getting a home brew kit for beer. Or better yet, maybe a beer and cider starter kit for a bit of a change. The advantage between brewing your own and buying one off the shelf is that yours would actually taste like beer.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          or a keg system.
          my single barrel kegerator costs abt $180 on amazon(yeah, i know,lol)
          made a side trip during one of the chemo excursions to san antone to get a bigger CO2 tank than the tiny one that came with it.
          ive long since forgotten the numbers, but it saves us a hunk of money, relative to getting beer by the bottle or can.
          and we’re talking about getting a second kegerator for the kinderbier my eldest and his krewe prefer(coors light, etc)
          and homebrew lends itself to kegs.
          lot easier than washing all those bottles.
          (getting back into homebrew is among the plans for out here, eventually)

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            +1 on the Kegerator. Once upon a time, the only ones I knew of were either home-brew (ha!) or terribly expensive. But even then, you’d save if you were a regular beer drinker, especially if you have a local brewery willing to sell you a keg.

        2. griffen

          I’d be inclined if I ever have a home with an attached garage. From my mother’s side there is a recipe for making sourdough bread, which one day I would like to really try out. My late aunt used to make the stuff and it was remarkably delicious. And besides when it comes to beers, making a beer run gives me reasons enough to get out and run a casual errand, and I’m supporting our “best economy” ever with my beer dollars. Let’s go Brandon ( sarc ).

        3. NYMutza

          Home brewing is very tedious and time consuming, even as the end result is pretty tasty. The sterilization process alone is enough to give one pause to even begin the endeavor.

    3. Alice X

      I don’t ever eat ice cream and rarely do potato chips, too expensive for what you get. I am poor, but organic veggies taste just fine. I use to like my brandy, in abundance, but stopped.

      1. Oh

        Dark chocolate and red wine are good for you (that’s what the studies financed by choc makers and wine cos.) tell me. /s

      2. Lexx

        I was sitting here typing with cup of coffee in one hand and piece of bittersweet chocolate with almonds in the other… like Shiva.

      1. LilD

        His backstory is pretty great.

        He sifts through the literature to try to find the core results, understanding how big food “research” can be BS.

        The answers are not magic and special though…
        Eat mostly organic plants

        But there’s a lot of good stuff

        Who knew?

    4. Boomheist

      With respect to your cracked heel: Vermont’s Original Bag Balm, found in most hardware stores, and similar to cornhusker’s lotion, has been used foir generations by farmers and outdoor workers to soften and repair cracked skin on hands and feet. I have used Bag Balm myself for a cracked heel and it is nearly a wonder material. Get some big bandages, rub a liberal amunt of the balm on your cracked area, cover with the bandage, and go about your day. In a couple days the crack will be gone, I guarantee it!

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Do you use a callus shaver (credo knife)? Clients from barefoot countries swore by them. Trimming off excess callus helps prevent cracking and other issues. You can do this yourself but it’s something others can do for you without training. No different than trimming your nails or shaving.

        1. Lexx

          My heels are narrow and ripply. The skin puckers and folds. A shaver requires a hard smooth continuous surface. Outside of podiatry, no one is allowed to use them professionally in the state of Colorado (I’ve asked) and my podiatrist declined. I use something like a Dremel with a 100 grit sanding head.

          The problem isn’t the lack of tools, ointments, and bandages but my mindset regarding my own self-care, that has more to do with endurance and less with getting ahead of a problem before it starts. It’s usually around the changing of the seasons as the air gets drier. It’s the price of paying attention to something else even as I can feel the skin tightening and thickening. The split begins on the inside, then breaks outward into a crack that has a hard time knitting as long as I continue to walk on it. Resealing takes about 10 days, healing entirely about 2 months if it doesn’t split again. It’s not a good sign when you show one to your PT and she looks unprofessionally appalled.

          And besides, I watched my father take a knife to his own god-awful looking feet and if that didn’t put me off taking something sharp to mine, I don’t know what will! He always had this evil gremlin look on his face too. (shudder)

      2. Vandemonian

        Second that. Those cracks appear because the skin gets too thick and inflexible

        We don’t have those particular products in the land of Oz. My routine is to soak my feet in warm water (bath, or bowl on the floor) until the skin softens. Then gently scrape away the excess dead skin, with a pumice stone or Scholl foot grater. Next apply an emollient cream. I use one called bepanthen, but others will work just as well. Two or three goes through the routine and you’re done.

        Good luck with your sore feet.

      3. SG

        I was introduced to bag balm by my mom’s chemotherapy nurses. They swore buy it to relieve dry skin from frequent hand-washing. It’s pretty miraculous stuff.

        1. Alice X

          I had many problems with dry skin. A dermatologist suggested using Dove soap which I did and have had few problems since.

  8. Wukchumni

    China’s belt and road pivots to ‘small yet smart’ projects with ‘modest’ US$107 billion financing pledge South China Morning Post

    Israel would be ‘small yet smart’ and the Ukraine ‘modest’ in terms of our $106 billion financing pledge, no?

    1. griffen

      It’s just like that reading from the gospel of Matthew by Nancy Pelosi, if my recall is good circa 2022. When I was deprived and without shelter, you sent billions to a far away land. When I was hungry, you made sure the pensioners of Ukraine were all square for the winter. Chew on your dog food, poor Americans.

      1. SG

        As the MMT mavens would point out, taxes don’t finance government spending so the amount of money being sent to the Ukraine and Israel doesn’t affect the amount we could spend on poor people if we really wanted to help them. The poor in America are deprived of food, shelter, and medical care because that’s the way the wealthy want it. It’s rule #2 at work, griffen.

  9. Steve H.

    > On the roles of function and selection in evolving systems

    ? Is this woo woo?

    >> A significant limitation of the functional information formalism is the difficulty in calculating I(Ex) for most systems of interest.

    That’s the woo, it’s a bit like trying to calculate the total embodied energy of a jeep. You can get a sense of magnitude, but it’s useless in practical terms (mainly due to path dependence).

    It’s also like a jeep in that the ideas are generations old. Prigonine’s work on dissipative structures dates to the 1960’s. My personal favorite that expresses the ideas more rigorously is Iberall’s ‘Toward a general science of viable systems‘ from 1971.

    Darwin did not like the term Evolution, as it had an implication (a scroll unrolling) of teleological implications. He preferred Descent With Modification. This allows features to disappear, as selected by current conditions. Nowak defines this in the evolutionary equation as covariance. And that equation is calculable, with practical and predictive outcomes.

    1. GramSci

      But we need a snappy, one-wordism to capture the phenomenon. How about Evilution? It seems get the teleology right.

      1. Steve H.

        > Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, ‘Mothers and Others’:

        Viewed from the perspective of some evolutionary theorist surveying humans 20,000 years hence, our powerful impulses to empathize with others, to give, share, and seek reciprocation, might seem like nothing more than transient phases in the ongoing evolution of the species…

        If empathy and understanding develop only under particular rearing conditions, and if an ever-increasing proportion of the species fails to encounter those conditions but nevertheless survives to reproduce, it won’t matter how valuable the underpinnings for collaboration were in the past. Compassion and the quest for emotional connection will fade away as surely as sight in cave-dwelling fish.

        I have no doubt that our descendants thousands of years from now (whether on this planet or some other) will be bipedal, symbol-generating apes. They will probably be technologically proficient in realms we do not even dream of yet, as well as every bit as competitive and Machiavellian as chimpanzees are now, and probably even more intelligent than people today. What is not certain is whether they will still be human in ways we now think of as distinguishing our species – that is, empathic and curious about the emotions of others, shaped by our ancient heritage of communal care.

        * * *

        [In olden days, infants unresponsive to emotional cues might have been left on the mountainside, or floated down the river. Now, some dear to me try to navigate their autistic tendencies with each other.

        As Chris said, describing suchlike’s proclivities towards narcissistic domineering women: “At least they tell you what they want.”]

      2. Ann

        “Virolution” by Dr. Frank Ryan, details the next turn in Neo Darwinism. Viruses, it seems, have played a large part, and continue to do so, in all evolution on this planet, at the level of DNA.

        He answers the question, “Why does evolution proceed faster than mutation alone can account for?” As revolutionary as “The Selfish Gene”. I’m now reading it for a second time and I’m understanding more than I did the first time.

  10. Petter

    So I’m reading the Friedman piece and nodding along until I get to the hospital bombing and then full stop. We are to believe that a misfiring rocket can destroy a hospital. Sorry, no can do. Not from what we know about missile payloads coming out of Gaza and not after Israeli warnings to evacuate the hospital and The Defense Minister’s (was it him?) tweet, quickly retracted.
    And it isn’t as if Israel doesn’t have form bombing hospitals.
    Without going into detail, since October 7th I feel like a veil has been removed from my eyes. A veil I hadn’t wanted to remove because it could cost so much to remove it.

    1. Vicky Cookies

      There’s also the fact that the IOF bombed that same hospital on the 14th, injuring 4.
      Friedman has a history of anti-arab racism, which was on display again last week in his column titled, in part “How To Think” (NYT showing a lot of respect for its readers here). He referenced some massacre in Jordan in the 80s, quoting a Jordanian official as having said something cynical to the effect of “people live, people die”, commenting “Welcome to the middle east”. The effect is to normalize mass killing in the region, and the suggestion is that Arab lives are worth less even to Arabs.

      It seems prudent, in the midst of a situation like this, with so many lives hanging in the balance, to think about the likely effect of our words and actions; which agendas would be advanced, which powers bolstered or de-legitimized by certain views being put forward. Obviously this is doubly true for the powerful, and for those with megaphones. If this occurs to Friedman, we can say that, given his allegiances, and his history, he’s fine with having a share in a retaliatory ethnic cleansing on his conscience. If it doesn’t, well, we can’t conclude anything about what he’s OK with, but are left with the judgment of him as chief imperial apologist, and a rather thoughtless man (Thanks, Lambert, for the laugh with the “mustache of understanding”).

      1. Skip Intro

        If you’re new to the epithet ‘Moustache of Understanding’, then you may have missed Matt Taibbi’s decade of brutal mockery of said snotbrush. Search on ‘Taibbi Friedman’ for a sampling. I believe it was Taibbi who came up with the mustache moniker in the first place, back when we thought Bush Jr. was an inconceivably bad President.

            1. Donald

              There used to be an online automatic Friedman column generator and this was before ChatGpt, because he just isn’t that hard to imitate. If I recall correctly, you would suggest a topic and out popped a column with classic Friedmanisms or phrases that sounded like him.

    2. Bryan Steele

      Thanks for voicing your realization that you’re just now fully understanding what’s happening. My IT contractor lives, or possibly lived as I currently cannot communicate with him, in Gaza City with his wife and three children. Because of recent events, like you, I just now fully realized what’s going on: blood for land.

    3. flora

      Friedman is good on the general outline of ME actors, politics and Israel, but he toes the line when it comes to Isr govt official narrative. He wants to keep his job. Knowing that caveat, I read him for the information that doesn’t sound like it comes from the govt PR department (that part I skip over).

      1. flora

        Also, Friedman sounds genuinely worried, a tone I’ve haven’t heard before. None of “the next 6 months will tell” waffling, imo. He says stop West Bank illegal settlements right now, as in right now not 6 months from now.

        adding: Channel 4, UK, is doing some pretty good reporting, imo. utube, ~4 minutes.

        Human rights investigators raise new questions on Gaza hospital explosion

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Yes, I noticed this too. Friedman in Lebanon for a number of years. He definitely believed in the saving power of “democracy”, but the Israelis aren’t pretending.

          HIs book from “Beirut to Jerusalem” has some issues, but its a fairly good primer. Friedman may have had many fictional conversations with cabbies, but he does know where all these places are. If Israel carries on (and it may be too late), their only trade will be sea based with 100 million Egyptians teed off. What happens when governments in Europe start to feel the sting of austerity? Friedman gets all this, and all the things the US offered once upon a time are stamped MADE IN CHINA.

          The US won’t long term supply 7 million people on an off beat trade route. The US has been worried people won’t buy Soda Streams, but the real issue is Israel’s island status will cut them off. The settlers might get breathing room, but they won’t get much else. Friedman is a free trade type.

          1.9 billion muslims can’t be wrong.

        2. Offtrail

          Flora, all settlements in the West Bank are illegal. So are the settlements in the Golan and East Jerusalem.

          1. flora

            Indeed. Friedman is sticking his neck out a bit here, a new thing for him, imo, but he must think it worth the reputational and employment risk considering his past hope and belief in democracy winning in the end in the ME.

    4. Boomheist

      I find it very interesting that there is virtually no media or independent media discussion concerning the nearly total absence of evidence that 500 or more people were killed. Except for the press conference by the doctors with a backdrop of some bodies there has been absolutely no eyewitness or film account showing all the bodies, body parts, or rescuers searching rubble for the bodies., All we have is a blasted parking lot.

      1. Fiery Hunt


        It is the very crux of the problem. There’s been nothing to show anything like 500 people were killed. And I find the “press conference” standing at a podium surrounded by propped up casualties to be very, very hard to believe… particularly at the time and at the scene of such a catastrophe.

        I believe nothing either side says without a tanker of salt.

      2. ThirtyOne

        I took this wiki page on the bombing and used the language drop down menu to read the articles translated to English.
        Many articles appear to be straight translations of parts of the English article, a few appear to be original content.

      3. SG

        Thank you. Tweets/Telegram posts (especially from either of the combatants) aren’t evidence. That “500” figure was tweeted by Hamas within minutes of the incident, before anyone could possibly have assessed the damage, and there’s been no independent examination since.

        Hamas says it was an airstrike. In the absence of other evidence, that’s propaganda.
        Israel says it wasn’t. In the absence of other evidence, that’s propaganda, too.

        Giving either unqualified acceptance says more about one’s personal prejudices than it does about the facts on the ground.

  11. griffen

    Nightmare from an upstairs commode, as depicted in the SF article. Instead of hitting the fan, the stuff had hit the pipes and wasn’t flowing. Not intentional sarcasm, mind you. Good grief, this takes being any kind of host on a platform to a different sort of pain in the tail aggravation.

    Flooded home, in disrepair for months on end with those loud blowers running 24 / 7. Yeah that’s a recipe for stress,

    1. Wukchumni

      Tomorrow the Tulare County Board of Supervisors decides on the fate of future AirBnB’s (by the way, I was told by somebody in the know that nobody hardly uses AirBnB anymore to rent out their garage mahals locally, they’ve gone with other competitors) in Tiny Town.

      Its kinda like not worrying about a herd of 294 cows that all slipped through the open barn door and escaped, but that 295th one!

      Tulare County counts on that 10% transient occupancy tax coming in, but many other communities are taking much more draconian action against short term rentals, and good for them!

      SUBJECT: Direction Regarding Short-Term Rentals in Three Rivers
      REQUEST(S): That the Board of Supervisors:

      Receive a presentation on the impacts of Short-Term Rentals in Three Rivers.

      Direct Resource Management Agency staff regarding Short-Term Rentals in Three Rivers from the following options:

      Option A: Bring back a proposed Ordinance and associated regulatory program which would include a potential moratorium on additional STRs in Three Rivers until the program is adopted.

      Option B: Take no action.

      The ever-increasing popularity of STRs has come with unanticipated and unwanted problems, particularly for the Three Rivers community. There are 294 STRs located within the Three Rivers Urban Boundary. This accounts for over 60% of all STRs in unincorporated Tulare County. Negative impacts caused by some short-term rental visitors include excessive noise, after-hours partying, trash/garbage, and parking conflicts to just name a few. Additionally, the STRs have a negative impact on the quantity of affordable housing in the community. There are reports of longtime residents being displaced against their will as homeowners convert dwellings into short term rental. Other negative impacts attributed to increase of STRs by the Three Rivers community include, but are not limited to the following:

      Three Rivers’ only school has lost about thirty-five percent (35%) of its enrollment in the last 5 years and is now down to ninety-five (95) students. The school is the heart of the community.
      Three Rivers’ only preschool has closed.
      Three Rivers’ only drug store and pharmacy has closed.
      Three Rivers’ only veterinary office has closed.
      Three Rivers’ only dentist has closed.
      Three Rivers’ only auto parts store has closed.
      Three Rivers’ only one remaining mechanic and he’s only open Monday – Thursday until 2:00 p.m.
      Three Rivers’ oldest church is discussing reorganizing due to lack of membership.
      Sequoia National Park can’t fill positions because so many long-term rentals have been turned into STRs.

      1. Louis Fyne

        10% is not enough.

        better idea is have a medallion system. every STR needs one. Only X medallions sold by the county annually.
        all medallion sales must go through cpunty.

        reverse Dutch auction for the medallion.

        1. Wukchumni

          The press is out to get AirBnB with stories like this, or the AirBnB guest in LA that just wouldn’t leave (now @ 500+ days) so the knives are out, and I think most every locale is affected in similar ways to what has happened here.

          The problem being when it really goes bust, there are 294 rode hard and put away wet homes around these parts on the market all at once.

          Profits uber alles! at such a cost to the community.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Don’t worry – Hilton or some other hotel chain (is there still more than one?), or maybe Blackstone, will buy them all up on the cheap. I’ve long argued that all the individuals buying up real estate to convert to AirBnB units are just doing price discovery for the heavy hitters.

    2. Objective Ace

      This has nothing to do with being an AirBNB host. It can and does happen all the time when people are living in vertical units. While yes, it is a pain, that pain is shared by countless individuals throughout the country who dont happen to be AirBNBing the above unit. Frankly, since AirBNB did pay the insurance deductible and other expenses this homeowner actually made out pretty well relative to many non-AirBNB hosts.

  12. Jon Cloke

    “We then went to war with Iraq, and lost”?

    Destroying both countries doesn’t count as ‘losing’, exactly, does it?

    Perfect MAD, IMHO….

    1. Bsn

      Yes, we clearly lost, but many people don’t realize we’re still there. “Can I sleep a couple nights on your couch?” type person that won’t leave. We all know someone like that, the USA.

  13. Amfortas the Hippie

    the new yorker’s American Gothic thing looks like yet another safari, to me.
    i note that Ear Butz is not mentioned…and events like china entering the WTO, and various other neoliberal endeavors, are breezed over as if they just kinda happened one day, out of the blue.
    the place i live is closer to the rural ideal than most far flung places, i think…an independent streak runs right through…even if the practicalities are often counterproductive and lacking access to a broader view of where we sit in the grand scheme.
    the ranchers hate the meatpacking conglomerates…the farmers….now all into hay raising, since the peanut subsidies went away…hate giant agriconglomerates like Pioneer…because they cheat them regularly on wheat prices(hardly anyone tries to sell wheat any more, it’s just winter fodder, now).
    places like this are suffering, not because of something inherent to them…but because of policies made by men in suits in the biggest cities.
    my neighbors(ie: people in my county)….attempt to stem the tide by promoting deer hunting, getting into Texas Wine(a big deal, currently…but targeting, like the high end B&B’s, a demographic(people with discretionary income) that is in the most rapid decline), and even cedar posts for fancy suburban landscaping
    (our mountain juniper(“cedar”) grows rampant, and is detrimental to rangeland for cattle and sheep and deer–they’ll hire a crew(mostly immigrant) and clear cut a cedar stand, cut it up, and sell it to home depot, then plant native pasture and trees…or great fields of coastal bermuda for hay).

    all of these endeavors are not just about making money, or cashing in…but about preserving a way of life that has culture and political economy and an inchoate ideology at its root…all these small r right wingers banding together to stop a frac sand plant…asking me about Direct Action, in case the courts cases failed….lol…(2 or 3 local rich men were the only ones really for that sand mine)
    the authors…both of the book and the review…should come out and stay a year or two, if they really want to know what’s happening out in the sticks.
    (the admission, however brief, that Vance is not actually a rural person…yet presumes to speak for rural people…is telling)

    in a similar vein….my efforts at autarky and sustainability and limiting inputs…”Think Like a State”, etc…were for a long time viewed with suspicion…and even hostility.
    part of this was me being from somewhere else(ferriner).
    nowadays, with the polycrisis becoming evident to everybody, there is growing interest in such heterodox thinking.
    and again, not to get rich…but to preserve.

    1. flora

      Yes. Great comment. Thanks.

      Grant Wood’s painting American Gothic serves as a Rorschach test for some people about rural American. Now I know what the writer of that article assumes (not ‘knows’) about rural life. His free association essay told me a lot about his ideas. / ;)

      1. flora

        adding: before the neoliberal offshore everything plans took hold most of the big coastal newpapers – WSJ, NYTimes, LA Times – had business reporters in the middle of the country doing business reports on manufacturing, labor, commodities, and farm production. Those coastal newspaper Midwest offices in the big cities on the Great Lakes and the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers were mostly closed when the manufacturing went away. Now the coastal papers’ reporter see rural America as something in their imaginations, imo. / my 2 cents

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I wanted to give the author of that one a knuckle sandwich by the time I finished reading it. He kind of insinuates that the rural “myth” is gone because rural people wanted it that way, with barely a mention of those men in suits who set the policies that destroy rural livelihoods.

      My family’s farm was one of the last in the area when they had to sell their herd earlier this year. Inputs went way up – fertilizer, grain, fuel – and milk prices, which they still can’t set themselves, did not. You don’t need to be a rocket surgeon to figure out why those input prices rose and who set the policies that caused it.

      When you think of Vermont and cows and rolling green hills, pictures of my family’s farm were actually on the magazines and postcards depicting that scene over the years – there was no myth about it. And it looks that way due to conscious decisions not to expand the farm into some animal factory.

      Now they’re selling hay too because they could no longer make a go with milking just 60 cows. An in-law told me recently that a former farmer friend of his in Connecticut who also sold his herd is making more money now selling hay than he did selling milk. How screwed up of an economy is it when you can grow the hay, feed it to cows, do all the work it takes to produce milk, and make less money after all that than selling the hay outright? Anecdotal to be sure, and perhaps there was some exaggeration, but given the prices I’m seeing quoted for hay recently, it’s not much of one.

      I don’t even want to hear the suggestion that “one” might argue that the rage inherent in songs like “Rich Men North of Richmond” might be misdirected. Thousands and thousands of families have had to deal with their livelihoods being yanked from under them so the titans of industry can line their pockets off the labor of others.

      Near my family’s now hay farm, there is a hunting and fishing club. It’s quite possible the club’s property abuts my family’s land – if it doesn’t it’s very close. The club is not for locals – it’s an escape for rich men who want to get away from the city. Several years ago a couple of these gentleman came up to my uncle’s porch and asked if they could go deer hunting on his land. The land is posted, meaning no hunting, but normally my family will allow hunters if they just ask first. In this case, after these men asked my uncle for permission, my uncle asked them if we would be able to go fishing at their club. They replied that he couldn’t, because it was a private club. My uncle replied “Well then, I guess you just answered your own question” and shut the door on them. I only hope they can continue to keep that type of person out before the whole area becomes a playground for rich New Yorkers looking for a rural getaway somewhere “quaint”. Otherwise, they will eventually just turn the whole place into the disaster area they’re trying to get away from.

  14. GramSci

    Ok, I usually resist reading Noahpinion, but I bit on this come-on: Bigger government! Hell, I’d settle for any government. But Noah never fails to disappoint.

    Whose fault is USian incompetence? NGO non-profits. Not to stan for NGO non-profits, but the biggest ripoffs I see are the for-profit NGOs: the ones building private toll roads that taxpayers will have to rescue from bankruptcy, the for-profit hospitals and pharmaceuticals that pharm the public health, the for-profit privatized ‘defense department’ that only starts wars with no apparent competence, much less intention, to ever finish them.

    Noah apparently sees none of this.

    1. Boomheist

      The story about NGOs and consultants missed one of the main points, in my view. The argument in favor of consultants was originally that government employees are hard to get rid of, whereas consultants can be brought in then dismissed, and so, in the interest of “efficiency” there was a big move to go to consultants (not to mention the lobbying for same by big firms). And that is fine if you need someone for, say, six months or less. But what has happened in the last two decades is that governments have “cut staff” but then replaced such staff with full-0time consultants, and what is rarely mentioned is that a full time consultant costs 2 to 3 times as muchm, per hour (and year) as an FTE with an agency. So in the interest of efficiency and cost cutting we have actually increased both inefficiency and costs!!

      1. Neutrino

        Add in the greater capacity for those for-profit groups to make campaign donations, legal or otherwise.

      2. ilsm

        In DoD acquisition office the ratio of gumint people is 1/3 gumint (more than half military yes men), 1/3 contractors service non personal (fired at will when they say emperor has no clothes) and 1/3 contract engineers (same as services tools).

        Why we have systems that are too complex to fight, but pay good dividends.

        The point is the system works for the suppliers, all other consideration is null.

      3. digi_owl

        What is happening there i suspect is that consultants gets accounted for differently from employees. Instead of wages and benefits and all that, there is a lump sum entry for the job and done.

        Same deal on the private side with the rampant use of temp agencies and sub-contractors. All the nitty gritty of wages etc is then the problem of the agency or contractor, not the company.

        But there is also the potential for pure grift, in that the consultant etc is the friend of a friend of someone on the local council etc.

  15. Wukchumni

    US Faces New ‘Axis of Evil’ in Iran, China and Russia: Mitch McConnell Newsweek. George W. Bush’s 2002 “axis of evil” was Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. We then went to war with Iraq, and lost. Iran is still standing. North Korea still has nukes. Those three were regional powers. Now McConnell — It’s bipartisan! — doubles down by proposing to assault two great powers, both nuclear, when we can’t even make our own ammunition, or recruit enough troops.
    Maybe the answer is to get the public involved, housewives collect all that bacon grease and kids, go around the neighborhood on a metals drive so we can win this 2 front war… and yes! ice cream & potato chip coupons are included in your ration books, but don’t plan on going on any road trips anytime soon, not with the 4 gallons a week you’e entitled to buy with an ‘A’ sticker on your windshield.

    I guess the only issue Americans would have with armaments, is how big is a 155mm shell anyhow?

    We were supposed to go metric by the Bicentennial but it didn’t take…

    1. TomDority

      I also heard McConnell (on face the nation or something this past weekend) say that we are sending all our old stuff (weapons) and 32 states will benefit by making new stuff to replace it….. bringing industry back to the USA
      Wow – the MIC in full fascist mode

      1. Wukchumni

        It was a 1-time opportunity to get rid of the equivalent of Edsels (…anticipates incoming brickbats…) Corvairs, Pintos, Vegas, 4-6-8 1981 Cadillac & Azteks (sorry, Walter) in our armaments inventory that no country in it’s right mind would ever actually buy from us, but it isn’t as if the Pentagon accountant is nervously pacing the floor wondering how the Ukraine is gonna pay us.

        All it does is allow us to replace them with fleets of Ferraris & the odd Lamborghini or 100.

    2. Ignacio

      Wait! Now the ‘Axis of Weasels’ seems hidden but when things start to go sour it might also become overpopulated.

    3. MaryLand

      Can we not promote whirled peas by just sending “tax dollars” directly to the defense industries? They would be forbidden to make a thing, just collect their welfare checks. But of course then too many people would still procreate.

        1. MaryLand

          There you go! Problem solved.

          IMNSHO There’s too much Malthus in the world today. Who thought that was a good plan?

  16. pjay

    – ‘An unsanctioned coterie of pro-Israel quasi-lobbyists has descended on D.C.’ – Politico

    “Rechnitz is not a lobbyist. Nor was he sanctioned by the government of Israel to go to Washington… Instead, he is part of a ragtag group of donors, activists and allies who have moved swiftly these past two weeks to help Israel. They have leveraged their political clout, their relationships with lawmakers and their fundraising networks to do so…”

    Yes, the Israel lobby is a “ragtag” group. They are really fighting an uphill battle to convince all those overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian members of Congress to try, please just try, to see things from Israel’s point of view. With superhuman effort they might break through to a few Congressional members a little bit. Maybe a few more pictures of burnt babies will do it.

    I did think this was pretty funny:

    “Blue and White Future… which had previously helped coordinate crowdfunding and financing to protest the judicial reforms, is now paying for ads that drum up support for the Israeli cause. In one ad, children discuss violence against Jewish people, with the caption: “This is how TERRORISTS are made.”

    Now there’s some food for thought.

  17. pjay

    – ‘With All Eyes on Israel-Gaza, Ukraine is losing war momentum’ – Responsible Statecraft. An imperial hegemon that can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?

    Your snarky comment suggests that you have forgotten something. We’re the United States of America for God’s sake, the most powerful nation in the history– not in the world, in the history of the world. The history of the world. We can take care of both of these and still maintain our overall international defense.

    So there! Now, let’s see about whuppin’ China back in line.

  18. GDmofo

    ” (I know Gaza City is one part of Gaza, but I’m assuming that Gaza is so dense that for all practical — and tactical — purposes it’s a single city.) ”

    Google Earth exists, ya know

    1. The Rev Kev

      As Gaza with it’s 2.3 million people is one of the most densely populated places on the planet, it may as well be considered one city.

      1. ilsm

        “Right to defend” includes Gaza is a free fire zone.

        If only the UN would approve of free fire zones in cities…..

    2. Alice X

      Gaza is the same area as Detroit or Philadelphia at ca 142 sq mi, both of which peaked around two million. With 2.3 million people it is just over 16k per sq mi. NYC with 8.8 mil and 300 sq mi land is 29k per sq mi.

      Detroit today is down to 4450 per sq mi net but many long vacant stretches.

  19. Alan Roxdale

    I have not seen the math on how many bombs it would take the IDF to “flatten” Gaza

    OK. Let’s Fermi problem it.

    Gaza has 2 million residents. One of those high storey blocks houses, say, 50 people. Recall there are a lot of underage residents.
    So say, 40,000 buildings in the entire Gaza strip. Rough estimate, probably too low. Half for north Gaza is 20,000. At one bomb, one building, perfect demolition strikes, 20,000 runs needed.

    I’m going to assume these are airdropped, from suitable bombers/fighters. I’m again going to assume that there are perhaps 100 such equipped craft with associated ground support(Total Israeli airforce is ~700 aircraft apparently). This may be an overestimate. I’ll assume again only 1 bombing run per day, if only to round out that the Israeli air force presumably would only be able to feasibly support 100 such missions per day realistically.

    At 100 bombing runs a day, the estimate is that it will take 200 days of bombing operations to “level” North Gaza, which of course does not necessarily mean you have driven Hamas out.

    Personally I think there are probably more buildings, and less capacity for at least precision strike bombing runs. So likely it will take a few years using precision strikes alone. The Israeli’s could switch to artillery, but those take more shells, are less precise, and are useless against tunnels. Plus the west is low on shells at the moment. That leaves classic WW2 “low precision” bombing / incendiaries, but does the Israeli airforce even have such aircraft / bombs, let alone the political sang-froid to use them? It will be utterly impossible to enlist even US bomber support for such an operation now, so overall I think this is out of the question (thankfully).

    Hopefully some logistics geeks in the IDF are patiently pointing all this out to the skittish political class and some cooler heads are realizing they need to pull back from the brink. In the meantime I think the political holding strategy is to maintain a siege. Still politically damaging, but not as much as bombings, and possible to draw out to appease the hawks while giving the western political class plausible geno-deniability.

    1. ilsm

      Limiting factor on bomb runs is pilots.

      Aircraft can be turned to next mission (until it breaks) more times than one pilot can refresh to pull the Gs

      Or the bomb kit runs out.

      Note well 155 mm shells don’t do much to large buildings.

    2. Polar Socialist

      As a side note, Luftwaffe used something like 300-500 bombers for three days to “flatten” Stalingrad – a much smaller city than Gaza. This happened just when the German were reaching the city limits, and it has been estimated it killed 40,000 citizens.

      It also turned the city into an impassable ruin and allowed the lightly armed NKVD units together with the city militia to bring the German tanks to a halt giving Chuikov’s 64th Army time to organize the defense into a fortress.

      It’s very likely that the Germans could have taken the city easily, if Luftwaffe had concentrated on the left bank of the Volga instead.

  20. Carolinian

    Re The Myths of Rural America–We’ll be looking forward to The New Yorker’s follow up series, the myths of urban America. I did live in New York city for awhile and one thing I noticed was that New Yorkers spent a lot of time talking about how great NY is–almost as though they were trying to talk themselves into it. On New Years eve they can barely wait to cut off Auld Lang Syne and play that obnoxious New York, New York song.

    My mother grew up on a small truck and eventually peach farm back when there were plenty of them. Every morning she could look out her back window and see the mountains of the Blue Ridge. New Yorkers get to look out their window and see new zillionaire super high rise apartment buildings, each erection competing to be bigger than the last. But at least they have the long gone Sarah Palin to evoke and the binary of our Column A or Column B politics that wealthy urban financiers have done so much to engineer.

    I recently re-read Main Street and was struck by how sour this once celebrated satire was and how distant and mostly forgotten Sinclair Lewis is despite his Nobel Prize. We who live out here in flyover have a far better grasp of our environment than those who spend their time in galleries with Grant Wood. It could be the lack of power in all these poor in income places can be a feature not a bug. Perhaps what Virginia boy Tom Wolfe called the Masters of the Universe are the ones living the myth.

    1. Feral Finster

      Some NYCer trying to tell me that you can’t get steak in North Dakota like what they have in NYC.

      Um, where do you think the steak comes from? Did they start pasturing beef cattle in Central Park?

      Yes, we have prime steak here in Hicksville. Sometimes we have a glut of prime steak and the local “hack grocery store” has to put it on sale. We also have a lack of people trying desperately convince themselves that the world is somehow jealous of us.

        1. digi_owl

          As the joke goes, show a valley girl where them nuggets come from and she will declare herself vegan on the spot.

      1. thousand points of green

        Here is some beef which may well be better than any which is available for any price in New York City. And considering what some of the beef in New York City may well cost, it could be a steal at only $20 a pound.

        But if New York Citysiders want to enjoy it, they are going to have to go to North Dakota, probably near Bismark.

      2. Lunker Walleye

        Probably most everybody in rural US bought merchandise from mail order catalogs when Grant bought his arched window. Mother bought most of our clothing from M Ward or Sears well into the ’50’s. She may have made a couple of rare trips to the capitol city and a few to larger towns where there were actual clothing stores.

    2. Neutrino

      All that boasting and braying gets tiresome, dunnit!

      The loudest seem to be the B&T crowd and newer arrivals, always seeking attention and trying to find and establish their tenuous spot in the great Gotham Hierarchy. If only they could live in the East 50s or wherever, with a weekend place in the Hamptons or wherever. The brunch options have really collapsed now that Windows on the World is no longer an option. /s

      Variations occur in other cities, see Main Line, Beverly Hills, Georgetown and elsewhere.

      1. Carolinian

        I grew up in this SC town and when I was younger I only wanted to live in a city and did live in Atlanta for a long time. Now when I drive around the US I go out of my way to avoid big cities with their strip centers and boxy, functional downtown architecture. They do often have museums–which I love–but the other parts and the city drivers don’t appeal. I guess I got city out of my system.

        And Atlanta at least seems increasingly unlivable due to the traffic and crowding. NYC was once a bohemian mecca and now only the rich can afford it. The city experience doesn’t seem to be getting better.

    3. Late Introvert

      “galleries with Grant Wood”

      So, you mean like the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art? Highly recommended, btw.

    4. digi_owl

      Post-buy/move rationalization, kinda like how people feel compelled to defend some brand after buying one of their overly expensive products? And NYC, SF and LA are by now as much brands as urban locations.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Israel tells Gazans to move south or risk being seen as ‘terrorist’ partner’

    When Israel announced this in their leaflets, it was realized that this was declaring the entire north of Gaza a free-fire zone meaning shooting anything that moves. So then the Israelis announced that it was all a mistranslation mistake on those leaflets so please ignore the evidence of your own eyes. Of course Caitlin Johnstone put her own spin on recent events-

    1. flora

      And then Isr bombs the south. The grotesque idea crosses my mind: it’s even easier to shoot fish in a barrel if you make the barrel smaller.

    2. Feral Finster

      Mistranslation, my tail. Unless all those stories of how the Israeli mastery of Arabic were so much malarkey.

  22. flora

    re: Gallant: This war may take months, ‘but in the end there will be no Hamas’

    About that targeted pinpoint air strike stuff. Anyone else notice the Isr generals talking up the WWII Allies bombing Dresden as the moral greenlight for what they are doing? Why do I think the general saying “no Hamas” means no Palestinians left alive?

    Israeli Official Invokes World War Dresden Bombings to Defend Israeli Assault On Gaza

    1. what is to be done?

      Someone on NC – I believe it may have been Rev Kev – posted this the other day:

      So, Israel and the Zionists are lashing out at the entire world, per usual. The RT host did a nice job in simply allowing Amir Weitmann’s insanity to shine for all the world to see.

      The twitter user who posted this tweet – Meagan Brown – is all-in on the Zionist project. She is not posting this to unveil to the world Weitmann’s insanity. She is posting this because she agrees with it and is rooting it on – thus unveiling her own insanity in the process.

      Israel’s economy minister, Nir Barkat, recently threatened to wipe Iran off the face of the earth.

      I guess detente isn’t good for Israel’s economy, proving once again that old adage that warmongers everywhere love and live by: war is the health of the state.

      “Zionism has in reality revealed itself as one of the varieties of the theory and practice of the most aggressive imperialistic circles striving for world supremacy. In this respect it is similar to fascism. The only difference between them is that Hitler’s Nazism was performing under the guise of German nationalism and sought world supremacy openly. And Zionism, performing under the guise of Jewish nationalism, is operating stealthily, using other people’s hands.

      We have never put an equation mark between the notions of a ‘Jew’ and a ‘Zionist.’ The spread of Zionist ideology among the Jewish people is by far not the fault, but a misfortune of the Jewish people.” – Gennady Zyuganov

    2. tet vet

      One could say that the official’s comparison is about as accurate as our bomb sights were back in he day. A couple of other minor quibbles: First, Dresden was heavily defended by German anti aircraft and the rate of deaths for AAF crews was greater by proportion than our ground troops in the Pacific. Second, there were a substantial number of military targets in the Dresden area and, as I alluded to above, our targeting ability was considerably less than today. Israeli pilots are hitting what they are aiming at and so far he have heard virtually no discussion of vital military targets that they are aiming at. Unfortunately there was too much collateral damage in Dresden unlike today where it is more like 100 percent collateral damage. Nice try though.

      1. caucus99percenter

        What makes the attack on Dresden a war crime is not the bombing of specific military targets, but rather its aim of deliberately creating a huge, wide-area firestorm in order to maximize civilian deaths, physical destruction, and profound psychological shock.

        1. tet vet

          Don’t mean to split hairs but what you describe was done by the British RAF before the US AAF did their thing. And in their defense they may have thought that turn about is fair play. At the end of the day, war crimes are never truly committed until the victor decrees that it has been committed by the losers. None of this makes the Israeli official’s justification any less ridiculous.

    3. Carolinian

      Guess they’ll be talking up Hiroshima next. Funny or not so funny how that a-bomb thing–which was supposed to make wars unthinkable–didn’t work out. John Hersey wrote Hiroshima but I’ve also read another of his books called The War Lover. It’s about WW2 bomber pilots and how some warriors are into the killing.

      And it’s not specific to any group. The contradiction in all our natures is hard to wrestle with. The recent Oppenheimer–book and movie–was about someone who was smart enough to direct the making of the atomic bomb but struggled dealing with the consequences. There is such a thing as being smart but not smart enough.

      I’d put the Israelis in that category. They need to stop digging….should have done so decades ago.

      1. digi_owl

        If one want to be charitable, one can claim that MAD had so far hindered another grinding world war between empires.

        That said, there has been an endless litany of proxy wars. With one empire fighting a smaller nation backed by a rival empire.

    4. Will

      “We must never forget the horrors of the Holocaust. That is why we inflicted a Holocaust on the Palestinians – to ensure that the Jewish people never again suffer such a tragedy. Never again!”
      – B. Netanyahu, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

  23. Samuel Conner

    I think the Watchers item on the composition of asteroid 33 Polyhymia should not be taken too seriously.

    Here’s the underlying reference (well, the preprint of the underlying reference) from which the mass estimate of the asteroid, used in the paper by LaForge et al. cited by the Watchers item, is drawn:

    The author of this survey of asteroid properties points out (pages 4 and 5) examples of multiple asteroids in which the mass estimates derived by independent means differ by such large multiples of the formal uncertainties in the estimates that one can only conclude that there are significant unrecognized sources of systematic error in the measurements. Such systematic errors may be present in the mass estimates of other asteroids which do not have multiple independent estimates (from which one could infer the presence of the systematic errors). It is worthy of note that there is only a single mass estimate for 33 Polyhymnia (the sources of the mass estimates used in the paper are detailed in the paper’s Appendix A), derived from its gravitational perturbations on the orbits of other solar system objects. From Table 1 of the paper, there are three other asteroids in with “unphysical” densities, 152 Atala, 675 Ludmilla and 1686 DeSitter; all of these also have only a single mass estimate. There are no independent mass estimates for these that could be used to assess the presence of systematic errors,

    Given this reality, I think should withhold judgment on whether these objects actually do have unphysically large densities.

    That said, the LaForge et al. paper offers a conditional interpretation of 33 Polyhymnia and other apparently ultradense objects; if the mass estimates are accurate, this is a plausible explanation.

      1. Samuel Conner

        The LaForge et al. paper is about the density of hypothetical stable very high atomic number elements (estimated through a simplification of the electron distribution that avoids the prodigious complexity of calculating electron quantum states in atoms with large numbers of electrons); the mention of the possibly ultradense asteroid 33 Polyhymnia seems to function as a point of interest that can be compared with the results of their calculations. It may be that the anomalous high density of this asteroid (675 Ludmilla has similar high density) was a motive for undertaking the study in the first place.

        I don’t fault the authors of the paper; they are offering a possible explanation for the reported anomalous high density (though I think the paper would have been improved by acknowledgement of the uncertain character of the present density determinations of these objects, dependent as they are on single estimates of the objects’ masses). I think that the authors of the items, such as the Watchers item, that seem to uncritically conclude that unusual forms of matter have been confirmed, are more at fault.

        Basically, one can’t assume that journalists are digging deep enough into the stories to provide a trustworthy interpretation.

    1. cfraenkel

      The Watcher item’s text describing asteroid 33 Polyhmia was cut and copied *verbatim* from the Wikipedia article, so yeah – not to be taken as real journalism….

      If this is what passes for journalism, I for one welcome our new AI overlords; at least ChatGPT takes the effort to change the words a little… /s

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Thank you. When I read that one I was also wondering if the measurements might just be off. Basing this speculation on one measurement seems a bit premature.

      It kind of reminds me of Schmidt and Perlmutter being given the Nobel Prize 25 years or so ago for the discovery that the acceleration of the universe was increasing, a conclusion based on IIRC about 20(!) examples. Given the untold billions of galaxies out there, each filled with billions of stars, 20 seems like an awfully small sample size for such a conclusion. A few years ago I saw another study using far more samples that claimed to refute the Nobelists. I would very much like for them to be proven incorrect because even though I won’t be around to witness it many billions of years from now, nobody should have to look up at night at a black and desolate starless sky.

  24. Ignacio

    RE: Former German Chancellor claims he “mediated” situation between Ukraine and Russia in 2022 Ukrainska Pravda (original).

    At first, I thought that choosing Ukrainska Pravda to report on the interesting Schroeder interview was not exactly the best idea. So i went to see what is said about it in Spanish media and found something much worse: Schröder Embarrasses German Socialists by Questioning Putin’s Responsibility for Ukrainian Killings. (In Spanish) And the article starts with three adjectives to select as it suits you as qualifiers for Schroeder: Arrogance, provocation, recklessness. What would you expect from the unofficial organ of CIA PR in Spanish? Ukrainska Pravda is much more balanced.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I too am very much disappointment in the media. Well, more so than usual. Here in Oz on the news channel I watch, for the past two days as part of their report on the Gazan war, the interviewer says to visit their website ‘to learn who Hamas is and which countries regard them as a terrorist group.’ It’s embarrassing when they make the propaganda so blatant.

  25. Ignacio

    America needs a bigger, better bureaucracy Noah Smith, Noahpinion. “[T]he U.S. suffers from a distinct lack of state capacity. We’ve outsourced many of our core government functions to nonprofits and consultants, resulting in cost bloat and the waste of taxpayer money.” Not to mention the corporations the NGOs and consultants bring in!

    This, outsourcing, is quite possibly one of the most irritant trends of so called “liberal democracies”, here in Spain the People’s Party if very much keen on it usually with their relatives heading those consultancies.

  26. Wukchumni

    Saw black bear #8 on the year yesterday, a 100 pound cinnamon colored yearling scooting across the road.

    13 out of the 20 I saw last year were in Tiny Town, while all 8 sightings this year have been in the higher climes. I’m thinking the 3 year drought must have brought them down to the foothills.

  27. Feral Finster

    “US Faces New ‘Axis of Evil’ in Iran, China and Russia: Mitch McConnell Newsweek. George W. Bush’s 2002 “axis of evil” was Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. We then went to war with Iraq, and lost. Iran is still standing. North Korea still has nukes. Those three were regional powers. Now McConnell — It’s bipartisan! — doubles down by proposing to assault two great powers, both nuclear, when we can’t even make our own ammunition, or recruit enough troops.”

    Göring: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
    Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
    Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
    • In an interview with Gilbert in Göring’s jail cell during the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials (18 April 1946)

    1. flora

      Fun with dyslexia: I misread the headline colon as a comma, making Mitch McConnell part of the Axis of Evil. What?! (nope) / ha

  28. Regis Tufarian

    The Limits of Outside Opinion in Gaza

    The author says that he “cannot necessarily think of another policy option [other than invading Gaza] that produces a superior outcome for Israel.”

    The original idea behind Israel, if I understand it, is to establish a nation-state controlled by Jews for the protection of Jews. I.e. to create a territory where Jews were safe.

    That hasn’t seemed to happen. The nation-state is there, but safety for Jews does not seem to be there. In fact, Mark Ames has pointed out that Israel is the least safe place for Jews in the world.

    So, perhaps a superior outcome for Israel might emerge from re-thinking rather than doubling down on the idea of the Jewish state.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      It should go without saying that if the biden regime wanted to stop israel’s ground invasion, force a cease fire, prevent the instigation of a wider conflict, and get the hostages released, it would NOT provide some $60 billion of borrowed money the u.s. does not have to finance the exact opposite.

      For a different perspective on longer term problems and “solutions,” here is an 18 minute video with Miko Peled, a “reformed” zionist. I have seen him interviewed in several places, including a longer discussion with Brihana Joy Gray on her “Bad Faith” podcast. His 13-year-old niece was killed in isreal by a Palestinian suicide bomber.

      If you have never heard Peled discuss the israel / Palestine situation, you really owe it to yourself to listen to what he has to say. I can pretty much guarantee you have not heard this perspective very often, if you’ve ever heard it at all.

      1. Indus

        Hello Katniss,

        Isn’t the speaker Shahid Bolsen and not Miko Peled ?

        Either way thanks for the link.

  29. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Israel’s bombing of Gaza undercuts the West’s Ukraine moralism

    Are you sure it’s only that, WaPo? I would have thought the last 50 years or so of foreign policy might also have had some effect.

    1. greenfire

      Regarding America’s moralism and modelling of behavior in accordance with the “rules based order,” Wikipedia reports: “according to one study, the U.S. performed at least 81 overt and covert known interventions in foreign elections during the period 1946–2000.[7] According to another study, the U.S. engaged in 64 covert and six overt attempts at regime change during the Cold War.[1]” And this doesn’t even cover the post-Cold War period, where Neocon influence has been all militarism and zero diplomacy. Nuland, Blinken and Sullivan are cartoonist amateurs from HRC’s weaponized State Dept. They are a disgrace. I’m glad I have no children. These clowns are going to incinerate the planet.

      [1] O’Rourke, Lindsey A. (November 29, 2019). “The Strategic Logic of Covert Regime Change: US-Backed Regime Change Campaigns during the Cold War”. Security Studies. 29: 92–127.

      [7] Shane, Scott (February 17, 2019). “Russia Isn’t the Only One Meddling in Elections, We Do It, Too”. The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 19, 2018. Citing Conflict Management and Peace Science, September 19, 2016 “Partisan Electoral Interventions by the Great Powers: Introducing the PEIG Dataset.”

  30. Louis Fyne

    —US Faces New ‘Axis of Evil’ in Iran, China and Russia: Mitch McConnell—

    One of the few times in which I laud the original Z-man as on point…

    “In 1998, at a time when the United States enjoyed supreme power and influence on the world stage, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, wrote his classic book on grand strategy, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives. I

    n the book, Brzezinski, one of the world’s foremost strategic thinkers, issued a warning to the American foreign policy establishment:

    Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran, an “antihegemonic” coalition united not by ideology but by complementary grievances. It would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower. Averting this contingency, however remote it may be, will require a display of U.S. geostrategic skill on the western, eastern, and southern perimeters of Eurasia simultaneously.”

  31. Wukchumni

    Look over yonder
    What do you see?
    The tension is a-rising
    Most definitely

    A new day is coming (ooh, ooh)
    People are changing
    Ain’t it beautiful? (Ooh, ooh)
    White & blue persuasion

    Better get ready to see the fight
    War, destruction is the answer (ooh, ooh)
    10 eyes for 1 eye

    So don’t you give up on vengeance now (ooh, ooh)
    So easy to find
    Just look to your soul (your soul)
    And pay it no mind

    White & blue persuasion, hmm, hmm
    It’s a new ultimatum
    White & blue persuasion
    White and
    Blue persuasion

    Maybe tomorrow
    When IDF looks down
    On every leveled field (ooh, ooh)
    And every Gaza town
    All of the future excavations
    Of assorted generations
    There’ll finally be peace in that god forsaken ‘hood

    White & blue persuasion, yeah
    White & blue persuasion, aah-aah
    White & blue persuasion, aah-aah
    (White & blue persuasion, aah-aah)

    Crystal Blue Persuasion, by Tommy James & the Shondells

  32. Mikel

    “Beyond the Myth of Rural America” The New Yorker

    It’s widely known that a lot of small towns emerged from railroad expansion and maybe not so widely known how many are an outgrowth of WWII expansion.

  33. thousand points of green

    In the spirit of the Encountering Trees article . . . . here is an article on Plant Intelligence which I found at the Ran Prieur blog.

    Here is his sentence leading into that referrence . . . ” New subject: What Plants Are Saying About Us, a careful argument that plants are intelligent without brains: ” . . .

    Here is the link.

  34. steppenwolf fetchit

    Independent Quebec would have its own army and currency? Well, why not . . .

    I remember some decades ago when Quebec was talking up a drive for secession and independence, that Matthew Coon Come, the chief of the Cree Nation which covers much of Northern “Quebec”, immediately said that if Quebec secceded from Canada, then the Cree Nation would immediately seccede from Quebec and rejoin Canada, in part because Canada recognizes a Crown Treaty between the Cree Nation and the Crown of England which “Quebec” could not be trusted to honor.

    I suppose the very first thing a ” Free Quebec” would do with its army would be to invade the Cree Nation. Maybe push all the Crees into their very own little CreeGaza Strip on the Arctic Ocean or Hudson’s Bay or somewhere.

  35. Willow

    Turkey’s Erdogan initiates Sweden NATO ratification in parliament

    Once Türkiye oks Sweden’s ascension to NATO, US has to follow through on its commitment to deliver F-16s to Türkiye. If US reneges.. If Türkiye’s parliament ratifies Sweden in less than or around 15 days (same or quicker than Finland) we will know US has been out foxed.

  36. playon

    The link about black folks’ land in Texas is worth a read – it pegged my outrage meter for the day.

  37. The Rev Kev

    “How a Fertilizer Shortage Is Spreading Desperate Hunger in 2023 | AgriTalker’


    ‘Western countries have still not released Russian fertilizer cargoes intended as humanitarian aid for poor African nations, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on Sunday.

    According to a press release from the ministry, more than 96,000 tons of Russian fertilizer is currently blocked in EU ports.

    “As part of the Russia-UN Memorandum on September 7, 2022… Russia took the initiative to send 262,000 tons of mineral fertilizers blocked in the ports of Latvia, Estonia, Belgium, and the Netherlands as humanitarian aid to the poorest countries… Since then, however, only two deliveries have been completed,” the ministry stated, referring to a shipment of 20,000 tons to Malawi and a subsequent delivery of 34,000 tons to Kenya.

    “The release of three other planned shipments – to Nigeria (34,000 tons), Zimbabwe (23,000 tons), and Sri Lanka (55,000 tons) – has been stalled, despite the fact that all preparatory procedures have been completed,” it added.’

    Those African nations aren’t stupid. They know who is doing it to them.

  38. John k

    Pettis thinks China doesn’t want a Messi victory, but also thinks the swap lines aren’t sustainable…
    The first is short term, mid Nov. the second is long term, imo they don’t relate to each other. China won’t cut those lines before the election.
    Imo Argentina needs to shift towards balanced trade asap. If it manages that it can default on the odious imf debt and shift trade from west to east. Imo unbalanced trade plays into west colonialist traps, so the need to emulate Russia and become independent, especially on food prod, which should be easy given their wheat and beef exports. Plus they have greater need for a good and relatively cheap missile defense, not fancy planes, tanks or navy, none of which could stop the west enforcing debts.
    Voters must decide whether they want continued dependence on the west or an independent state.

  39. JB

    On the hospital bombing in Gaza – here is something very interesting from last year, where a refugee camp was bombed and Israel initially claimed a misfired missile from Islamic Jihad hit it (the article says they even showed a video of this) – before later admitting they bombed it:

    Very similar to the hospital bombing.

    Far-fetched conspiratorial thinking: If Israel are shooting down Hamas rockets with Patriot Missiles, they know roughly when the rocket is going to be hit and how long it would take to fall – maybe they are able to synchronize this with missile strikes from drones, to make it look like misfired rockets?

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