Links 11/15/2023

How Citizen Scientists Rescued Crucial World War II Weather Data Smithsonian

Escaped Zoo Owl May Be On A Futile Search For Love, And People Can Relate HuffPo

The Home of Fly-Fishing Literature Field and Stream

How mice choose to eat or to drink (press release) Stanford University

Investors Better Hope This Disinflation Stays Immaculate John Authers, Bloomberg

How To Kill a Superhero The Honest Broker. “It takes a special kind of stupid to kill off Indiana Jones or Toy Story or a Marvel superhero, but that’s exactly what’s playing out right now in the Magic Kingdom.”


Kasigluk endures the many challenges of thawing permafrost High Country News

‘Surprised’ NASA Analyst Issues El Niño Warning for US Cities Newsweek. Nobody could have predicted…. 

Amazon deforestation: A time bomb for new pandemics Climate and Capitalism


Why does COVID-19 cause brain fog? Scientists may finally have an answer. National Geographic. Because the United States adopted a policy of mass infection without mitigation? Apparently not.

Hiding in Plain Sight: Public Health, Eugenics, and COVID-19 Harvard Public Health Review

APEC San Francisco

Biden will push China to resume military ties with US, official says Channel News Asia

Joe Biden halts plan for Indo-Pacific trade deal after opposition from Democrats FT

San Francisco mocked in China for moving homeless away from Apec summit venue South China Morning Post


Myanmar rebels seek to control border with India after early wins Channel News Asia. I don’t want to foster a “good guys are winning” narrative here, because so often, after winning, the “good guys” are, shall we say, faced with fresh complexities. Nevertheless, “early wins” is good news.

Is Indonesia finally set to become an economic superpower? FT

Commentary: For a digital detox, Japan seeks ‘The Way of the Sauna’ Channel News Asia


Israeli forces raid Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital, urge Hamas to surrender South China Morning Post. As plausible as anything else:

Top Secret Hamas Command Bunker in Gaza Revealed The Tablet. From 2014. “Back in 1983, when Israel still ruled Gaza, they built a secure underground operating room and tunnel network beneath Shifa hospital.”

Israel-Hamas war: Al Shifa Hospital becomes focus of conflicting narratives France24. I’m baffled at how capturing a headquarters can be presented as having strategic importance, even if it is under a hospital. If the hospital were turned into a smoking crater today, HAMAS would still exist tomorrow, exactly as the DNC would exist if the same thing were done to its Watergate headquarters. The only benefit I can see is that it would reinforce the Zionist narrative that Hamas uses civilians (in this case, patients) as human shields. Of course, “the narrative” these days can be said to be strategic. So here we are.

* * *

Hamas Must Go Hillary Clinton, The Atlantic. With video:

Israeli minister supports ‘voluntary migration’ of Palestinians in Gaza Al Jazeera. Why go that far? Why not stick with “protective custody”?

‘No ceasefire’: Israel supporters gather in Washington, DC, amid Gaza war Al Jazeera

‘Now, Now, Now, All of Them’: The Pain and Fear of Israel’s Hostage Families Haaretz

* * *

“Our democracy”:

Dear Old Blighty

Leaked: British spies constructed Zionist propaganda network Al Mayadeen. If Corybn were Prime Minister, perhaps the UK would be in a very different place.

New Not-So-Cold War

Russians actively attack on 3 fronts – General Staff report Ukrainska Pravda and Russia attempts to seize initiative on battlefield – ISW

Michael von der Schulenburg, Hajo Funke, Harald Kujat – Peace For Ukraine Brave New Europe. The deck: “The disastrous derailment of early peace efforts to end the war in Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s Demographics Dictate To End The Fight Moon of Alabama. “Do the math,” as the liberal Democrat catchphrase has it.

Wild Day as the Ukrainian Game of Thrones Revs Up! Simplicius the Thinker(s). “A peaceful land, a quiet people. That has always been my rule. Make it yours.” –Roose Bolton, Game of Thrones.

Why is the West moving to replace Zelensky? Asia Times (MA via Douglas MacGregor).

Negotiating Security with Autocracies: Implications for the Russo-Ukrainian War PONARS Eurasia. Life’s little ironies:

Autocratic regimes find it politically risky to discuss the principles underlying their foreign policy because those principles are often no more than a disguise for the desire to maintain the ruling group’s grip on power or to implement a whimsical foreign policy project that an autocratic leader sees as his mission.

No ability to self-reflect whatever. And Covid hasn’t been helping.

Postscript to ‘What’s on the tube…’ Gilbert Doctorow

Biden Administration

House passes two-tiered stopgap bill days before shutdown Government Executive. One for the Bible-thumper!

Senate Rules panel votes along party lines to break Tuberville’s military holds The Hill

USPS leaders forecast it would break even this year. It just lost $6.5 billion. CBS

Spook Country

DOJ asked court to hide surveillance of congressional investigators for five years, ex-aide says Just the News


They write letters:

Good for them; more like this, please.

The Bezzle

Millions of Old Bitcoin Wallets Have Critical Security Flaws, Experts Say Gizmodo. One of the nice things about paper money is that no programmers were involved in its creation, so it’s not buggy.

Digital Watch

A Coder Considers the Waning Days of the Craft The New Yorker. AI would be good at writing code, because code is the ultimately stereotypical form of language (unless you’re a Donald Knuth). Still, this doesn’t bode well for many fields, since many credentials are granted based on the mastery of stereotypical language, particularly for “classification struggles” (e.g., PMC gatekeeping).

UnitedHealth pushed employees to follow an algorithm to cut off Medicare patients’ rehab care STAT. Replace the employees with AI. Problem solved!

Observers Observed: The Ethnographer in Silicon Valley Crooked Timber

Google shares 36% of its revenue with Apple Big Tech on Trial  But What Do We Do If Google Is Legitimately Just A Better Search Engine? TechDirt

Realignment and Legitimacy

One Theory Explains Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Jessica Wildfire, OK Doomer. Worth a read, though as usual, I don’t agree with everything Wildfire claims at a granular level.

Customer service:

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Hinge of History Patrick Lawrence, Scheerpost. Very good. Word of the day: Zeitenwende. Comes from Scholz, of all people, but these are strange times.

Mearsheimer in 2020. Grab a cup of coffee because it’s well worth a listen:

Mearsheimer is a brilliant lecturer, able to encapsulate complex ideas in simple language. Commentary: (1) Clearly, Mearsheimer’s concepts have predictive value; he makes good calls. (2) I notice Mearsheimer uses three-point constructs a lot; one wonders whether that reflects the world as it is, his habits of thought, or the rhetoric of a successful teacher. (3) Mearsheimer believes that nationalism is the most powerful force in the world today, but as a “realist” “he would, wouldn’t he?” I would say nationalism has that power because both national and international (global) capital wants it that way (if capital — granted, ultimately embodied in humans — can be said to have wants). After all, whose “realism”?

The Trouble With America’s Ultra-Processed Diet WSJ

Class Warfare

51% of GM Workers Have Voted Against Contract w/ over 17,000 Votes Cast Payday Report. Many contract details.

A General Strike in 2028 Is a Uniquely Plausible Dream In These Times. The deck: “The UAW’s call for unions to align their contract expirations is legitimately achievable. But the work starts now.”

The average hamburger in Colorado now costs $15. Here’s how that price breaks down. Colorado Sun

What Elon Musk’s ‘Age of Abundance’ Means for the Future of Capitalism WSJ

pre-recession, post-taste McMansion Hell. An awesome retrospective.

Antidote du jour (via):

What texture!

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. Antifa

    (melody borrowed from Christmas Dream as sung by Perry Como)

    Watch me now, here I go, all I need’s a little snow
    Magic dust for self esteem, gets the whole world on my team
    What if Ukraine’s borders are being rearranged?
    I don’t count the losses, the cripples, the crosses
    Just tell the press of our success!
    We’ll never surrender
    With so much legal tender
    So cut some stuff for me to huff
    I need it to light me so no one can fight me
    To ward off the demons in my dreams

    Crazy things that I’ve done
    I cannot trust anyone
    Like the guys in Tel Aviv
    I chase a world that’s make believe
    We get our way through violence
    We never once back down
    My NotSee militias are sleeping with the fishes
    So you shall see, they won’t get me
    I’ll retire in splendor
    A permanent bender
    In Italy I shall live free
    Where no one can harm us, the Tuscan sun will warm us,
    I cling to this final fantasy

    Running short of NATO dough makes this war go pretty slow
    God I wish those DC spooks would slip me just a couple nukes
    I’d end those Russian armies with a blinding flash
    Of course I’d have to hide, or pretend that I’ve died
    With my assets there’s no regrets
    Perhaps a raconteur
    Living on the Cote D’Azur
    Or Italy where I’ll be free
    Where no one can harm us, the Tuscan sun will warm us,
    Where no one can harm us, the Tuscan sun will warm us,
    Where no one can harm us, the Tuscan sun will warm us,
    I’m clinging to this final fantasy

  2. griffen

    Disney magic begins to fade and marvelous film entries which one reigned no longer have such a magnetic pull on audiences. Seeing pretty much the same issue with all streaming services, which is a tangential topic but reality is that not every single movie idea by Gunn or whomever else is a trailblazing new “winner winner”. Babylon Bee is on the topic with their headline below as well.

    I see the problem uniquely as not having a bigger audience outside of your core. I could really care less what happened in the Avengers Endgame or Infinity War, but on a standalone basis found Thor Ragnarok a bit of a riot and a fun film. Spielberg didn’t make 15 films about just sharks and Martin Brody, or the cuddly little gremlins turned little monsters. Maybe that’s a lesson to revisit.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The article tries to say that it was all the fault of endless repetitions by Disney that led to the Superhero demise but that is only half the story. A huge problem was that they changed characters, cannon fiction and basically everything so that it would appeal to ‘modern audiences’ and which as times got tougher, nobody was willing to part with the big bucks to see. “The Marvels” is just the latest disaster in this ongoing train wreck.

      Let me give you an example of their thinking. People might remember the “Blade” films of the 1990s. It was the story of a vampire hunter and who himself was a vampire. It was Marvel’s first successful film and which set the stage for all the Superhero films to follow. Here is an example scene- (3:15 mins)

      The reason that I mention it is that it been talked about remaking this film. And to do so for ‘modern audiences’, he would be the fourth lead after three new diverse women who would be the first three leads. Thus he would be an extra in his own film. Who would pay to see such junk?

      1. Neutrino

        There has been a rot at Disney for a few decades based on what some industry people have told me. The level of polemic and rightthink took hold and became the new orthodoxy. For all the DEI, diverse opinions became unwanted, leading to some sanitizing of thought. Never a good sign in a creative business.

        Audiences were fooled for a while, and went along with some of the repackaging. Then they looked around and noticed that the Disney view of the world was skewed and manipulative.

        It is difficult to keep a business going by showing increasing contempt for the customer. Among Hollywood entities Disney is not alone in that regard.

        1. digi_owl

          Yeah looking back it was bound to happen, and i think i first caught wind of the change happening in various “sub-cultures” i was partaking in at the time. The Obama period seems to be when it went from fringe ideas to “mainstream”, and then the Trump backlash produced a fevered shrill edge to it.

          1. XXYY

            The Obama period seems to be when it went from fringe ideas to “mainstream”, and then the Trump backlash produced a fevered shrill edge to it.

            This is the best nutshell analysis I have read in a long time.

        2. Carolinian

          As an animation studio Disney was already on the down slide by the 1950s and had switched to a less labor intensive animation process as Walt himself concentrated on theme parks. The brand was less revered by many back then than it is now and often derided as a formulaic creator of fare parents could view as safe and wholesome. Richard Schickel’s book The Disney Version was in many ways a takedown.

          So one prob with all the remakes is that they are plowing ground that wasn’t all that fertile to begin with. But at least Walt had some connection with his audience and had better taste in actors than those who think Brie Larson remotely possesses star quality.

        3. NotTimothyGeithner

          Steve Ditko, long time Spiderman illustrator, said something to to the effect that all these characters need to be recognizable from a glove or boot. Look at that poster I not he accompanying article, it’s dull.

          Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor look different. The supporting characters look different. The more recent movies are just dull looking and boring like 3 of the 4 Thor movies. The characters in the Marvels movie poster look like they could have been characters in the last Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

          It’s not even repackaging of the same material, but they are standardizing the packaging. Also, the action scenes are just boring where stuff happens. This might be a criticism of all action scenes, but Iron Man fighting the tank or coming out of the cave are fun with great camera work. I watched the opening of Falcon and the Winter Soldier and thought this is going on too long. Stuff was happening, but there was no reason to care.

          1. Carolinian

            The action scenes are extremely boring which is why they have to resort to lots of banter to give these movies some kind of personality.

            Some of us have a theory that movies are really about actors acting and not about directors directing or computer programmers programming. Ingmar Bergman said the most memorably thing in any movie is the human face and that’s right. This is why the early years of the movie business were completely dominated by the star system.

            Walt himself had a bizarre love for “audio animatronics” and you see these creepy things in any trip to a Disney park. But in his case it was more gadget mania from the guy who had a train in his back yard. Without a doubt people like Iger would love to have all their movies made by AI and we may get there yet. But people prefer to look at people. Somebody tell the suits.

            1. ambrit

              “Walt himself had a bizarre love for “audio animatronics”…”
              And it paid off when Disney got the call to replace the suspiciously comatose Ronald Reagan with an android in 1981.
              The rest is history.

              1. Wukchumni

                As a promising juvenile delinquent, I used to mess with animatronic Mr. Lincoln @ Disneyland, now that the statute of limitations has passed and I can tell the tale.

                Bear Country Jamboree was originally supposed to be in the Mineral King ski resort that never happened.

              2. GF

                W can say that we have never watched a “Marvel” movie. We did watch the original Avatar and sort of enjoyed it; and we found the first John Wick movie watchable.

        4. scott s.

          OK, though there have been some interesting history on Pixar in IEEE Spectrum, though of course here the emphasis is on the technology not the creatives.

      2. timbers

        Physical media (and non physical media) movie fans hate Disney for keeping their catalog titles locked down and unavailable, only released if they can piggy ride off a new installment of a series or remake but ONLY if Disney thinks it can make gobs of $$$. And get this – their 4k release of Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back, the ironic opening intro “A Long Time Ago etc etc” is so cropped you can’t see and read it fully until it’s near the top end of the screen about to roll off screen. Careless with quality control they are! Plus, their audio mixes are famously quite lacking volume sound and low end base for punch. Mixed so families can multi-task with noisey kids not paying attention to the film.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Recently Disney halted all future shipments of physical media to here in Oz so that in future if you want to watch it, you will have to stream it. And hope that they have not modified it or made cuts to it or put in ads like YouTube does. Seems like any older films they keep locked up in their vaults never to be seen again. They could make a mint releasing them but they refuse to.

          1. caucus99percenter

            > have not modified it or made cuts to it

            I watched the Kubrick classic 2001: a Space Odyssey on an airplane recently and they had cut or digitally edited all the scenes with out-of-date company logos.

            So no Pan Am, and no Howard Johnson’s Earthlight Room, and no A T & T Bell System videophone. Just “Hilton” in a generic typeface in the background when the scientists are trading gossip in the lobby of the space station’s hotel.

      3. Mikerw0

        Agree, but… I think a big part of the problem is that like some many companies they lost the core of their soul, which is being a creative company. It’s a fine balancing act between the creative types and the financial types who just want to push the stock price through short term EPS management. The latter works for a period, then fails spectacularly.

        1. digi_owl

          Invariably this happens because of boardroom meddling. After all, management is beholden to the board rather than the customers.

      4. skippy

        I refer to an old comment of mine on the streaming show Barry – his actress girlfriend gets almost a 100 score on rotten tomatoes, and broad accolades from watchers, yet when in a meeting with production CEO and lesser beings is informed the show will be canceled … shock horror after so much “too grab the brass ring” and given the flick – hard …

        After a few minutes of trying to substantiate her argument on why the show should not be cancelled, due to viewership&critical acclaim by media critics, she is informed by the CEO that the in house algorithms used to determine T or F in programming has decided to cut the show – something about not hitting enough vertical clusters in viewership demographics and how that relates to certain pre/during/post viewership behavioral activities.

        Then goes on to explain as the CEO she cannot go against algorithms decision as it would negatively effect investor/shareholder sentiment which would then effect the share price of the company [probably owned by a PE mob]. Not to mention how sweet it is to hive personal risk off as she never makes personal choices and is just the messenger of what the algorithm pops out …

        Remember that even in the past, due to marketing pre-screenings of shows and movies the end of Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’ was going to be changed too a happy ending so it ticked all the right marketing demographic boxes. Hence Gilliam’s decision to smuggle in his original movie and show it at art theaters at a loss of income to subvert the agenda of the distribution company.

        This has now increasingly become the norm for all media as this mentality is burnt in to administration, as best practices. and then back filled by certificate mills called Universities and then vindicated by consumer choices[tm] = profit~~~~

        PS get ready to pay more for farm grown food after next weeks storms in QLD mate … not that most of it that hits the shelves is months old stored in zero oxygen cold store and delivered to shops just before use by date. But yeah – income streams proceed reality thingy …

    2. Trees&Trunks

      I am actively training my kids to avoid Hollywood movies starting from 2000 telling them that it is all exactly same story over and over again and sloppy animation.
      Why 2000 – arbitrary but sometime then I really started to feel an ennui in the cinemas, no new storyline at all.
      The last aninated Disney movie worth watching is The Departures. After that the aesttethics of the figure became so stale and flat. All faces have large eyes and cute, traitless faces, noone has any wrinkles or cheeks or anything really that makes for an individual faces. Look like bots.

      Pulling the rug from under the feet of Hollywood is an act of mercy so that they can leave and give place for something new.

      1. digi_owl

        Western/US culture as a whole broke somewhere in the early 2000s, perhaps thanks to the combo of the WoT forever war and the 2008 subprime bust that spawned this very site.

      2. griffen

        I would admit to a bias here, but the three entries for LOTR by Peter Jackson are worth watching at least once. Might be able to generate interest in Tolkien, or just read the books first instead and then maybe devote a weekend to watch the movies.

        Two Towers is among my favorite films. That being said I never did consume his 3 entries for the Hobbit films, and maybe that is my loss but somewhere about 2010 I slowly, then quickly began to care a lot less about seeing whatever was out every summer.

        1. GC54

          Fan re-edits of The Hobbit mess try to salvage the original story by snipping off filler. See this list and then search for The Little Hobbit movie version (172 mins) which IMO is one of the best. To be ethical, watch it with someone who already owns the Jackson cuts.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          There are nice touches in the Hobbit movies, but Bilbo and the dying Thorin being cut with the lines moved was a huge mistake. Its not salvagable as a result. Lust for gold gets lost. Even in victory, Thorin realizes living as landed gentry is just aweso e. I don’t care about ruining characters in LOTR as I think Jackson needed to highlight issues in the books that aren’t easy to put in dialogue without going full Star Trek. Faramir was less prominent than Legolas, and born saints aren’t interesting which us what Faramir is. Hes Percival and the fisher king. Eowyn killing the witch king is off a bit, but Tolkien drives the point home with describing the land where Theoden’s problematic horse was buried versus the fell beast. Jackson can’t really do that without another ending.

          People gripe, but Jackson pulled it off except for the Scouring being cut.

          1. Jessica

            I missed The Scouring of the Shire. It gives an extra level of depth to the book.
            What I thought Jackson nailed quite well was how he made the temptation that each person faced very clear. I even came to appreciate Faramir being less like Alyosha Karamazov and taking Frodo and Sam captive for a while and being more tempted by the ring.

            1. ChrisPacific

              I liked the first one the best. I thought he did a good job of capturing the human stories in the books and not letting the setting and special effects take over too much. By the end I felt like the spectacle had taken over a bit, but he kept enough of what I liked that I enjoyed it to the end. He wasn’t completely faithful to the source material, but he kept it close enough that it felt like the same story.

              It’s unlikely the movie would have been made that way today. Watch ‘The Rings of Power’ to see what it would have looked like – or don’t, and read the reviews instead.

              1. Morincotto

                Hollywood and corporations like Disney did the most damage with their supposedly “good” movies, not with the “bad” ones.

                Superheroes were never not dumb, infantile, reactionary crap and the people who suspected that everything was going to inevitably go downhill when Jaws came out and the concept of “blockbusters” was born were correct.

                Those were the days when cinema started to become the ultimate weapon of mass distraction/dumbing down the plebs, not 2000.

                Well, strictly speaking that has always been the purpose and effect of the entertainment industry.

                But the likes of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas certainly started a new, quantitatively and qualitatively different (not in a good way) wave of infantilisation with dire consequences.

                There could be nothing better than increasing rot and incompetence in Hollywood and all sectors of the american entertainment industry.

                Marvel too did it’s worst damage to cinema and more importantly to the minds of people when it was at it’s most popular and celebrated, not once it’s Zenith was already behind it.

                And the true legacy of Tolkien lies in the nigh universally and immediately recognized terminology ukrainian nazis inherited from him to defame Russia with.

                Almost all of western and especially (but not only) american popular culture is poison and did more harm than good throughout the entire twentieth century.

    3. jackiebass63

      The problem with streaming services is the lack of new material.It doesn’t take very long to watch everything of interest. Then there is very little new to watch.

      1. Koldmilk

        I found the advantage with streaming services was running out of Hollywood productions because then I started watching foreign series. Netflix is quite good for S. Korean, Japanese, and European movies and shows.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          The production value of Netflix shows from Japan, S.Korea, France etc., can be very impressive. I will give credit to Netflix for allowing local creatives to do their own thing and not try to ‘widen the appeal’ by, for example, introducing random characters played by name US actors. Often K and J-Drama is ruined by producers deliberately dumbing down the plots to appeal to a wider Asian or western audience.

          1. digi_owl

            How much of that is thanks to the shows not being originally made for Netflix, but rather something Netflix purchased the “broadcast” rights to after loosing access to the Hollywood backlog?

            1. PlutoniumKun

              I’m not sure of the sequencing, but so far as I know the majority of those shows are pitched by local production companies and then financed (or not) by Netflix on a ‘cost plus commission’ basis. I don’t think they are bought as finished shows. Certainly, the production values of the Netflix shows are well above most local content – especially the Japanese dramas – so I doubt they were made speculatively for sale.

              It may be that Netflix’s relative leanness and newness to the scene means they are not overladen with layers of interfering producers and accountants. And since they are clearly trying to wipe out local competition it does make sense for them to ensure the local content works well with local audiences first.

              1. montanamaven

                Netflix finances these series i.e. they act like a legacy studio, but the pay has been primarily upfront for, say, 3 seasons. But unlike regular broadcast network TV, they often pull the plug on the series after 3. Thus no more residuals. The latest contract has tried to rectify some of this but difficult to judge the audience numbers.

        2. Lunker Walleye

          “Midnight Diner” on Netflix is delightful. And if you like soaps and are practicing Spanish and like fashion, the “Velvet” series will keep you on your toes. I’ve also watched “Grand Hotel” but don’t believe it’s on Netflix any longer. The French series “Call My Agent” is also lots of fun. Good for listening to Parisian French. Any recommendations are welcome. Thanks.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            ‘Lupin’ with Omar Sy is a fun French mystery series. The Glory is one of the better K-dramas I’ve seen – a suitably nasty revenge drama. A Japanese drama based around Sumo, ‘Sanctuary’ is really good – stick with it after the first two fairly cliched episodes and it gets a lot better and gives a fascinating insight into the sport.

            The Netflix live action version of One Piece is surprisingly good. The new Netflix animation Blue Eye Samurai has also surprised me so far – I had low expectations for a US made series based on Japanese history, but the animation is gorgeous and its a gripping story.

          2. GF

            Our two favorite series on HULU right now are the original Moonlighting (Six seasons) and LA Law (Many seasons). Didn’t really have a chance to watch them when on TV. They are both excellent.

          3. Savita

            The Bureau (original title: Le Bureau des Légendes) is the recommendation you were waiting for.

            a french espionage thriller widely considered the best thing ever created by French TV. And, they invented cinema.
            It’s about the department of external security, that deploys undercover agents to overseas territories. And, about the handling of challenges, inside the department itself in Paris.
            Unbelievable attention to detail, including with what characters say, how they respond to situations, and detail within the narrative and script itself. The acting is beyond the capability of most US screen actors. It’s said to be based on the real department itself, after interviews conducted with the genuine team. The actors got to view the genuine department at work, in order to model them. No violence. character based.
            All so genuine and alive, intelligent, sophisticated, utterly compelling and engrossing.

            You may like to look out for Canal Plus. A French streaming service with everything from radio, TV, sport, cinema etc in one place.
            Find the country equivalent, for example search Canal Plus Australia

            1. Morincotto

              Sounds like it was high quality (the worst kind) propaganda for the french version of the CIA.

              Not saying it is (I have no way of knowing, of course), but the description sure sounds suspiciously like it.

              1. vao

                I saw a few episodes, and yes, this is a well-made paean to the French DGSE. Of course, Russians are bad, so are islamists and Syrians, Kurds are good, etc.

    4. Wukchumni

      i’ve been to maybe a dozen movies since the internet came along, but used to go at least once every fortnight before…

      A lot of what made films viable was the idea that you had something to make small talk with others-a shared experience, which kinda meant that you had to be there, as in going to the movies.

      Films didn’t help by getting progressively worse, why bother?

      1. montanamaven

        Gore Vidal called cinema the “linqua franca” of our times. Something we could discuss in a bar or cafe after the show or on Monday at the office. Hollywood (and I am in show business) got taken over by the Lululemon crowd and loyalty to numbers. Hollywood has always been ruled by their NY corporate headquarters, but the guys (mostly guys) who ran the actual production film making LOVED the movies and “rolled the dice.” Here is what I wrote this morning on a movie news site.
        “I read that Ben Shapiro remarked that genres that almost always sell are the Western and the Crime Drama. If Hollywood doesn’t want to make those genres, then Daily Wire’s movie production company, Bentkey will, he said. This company is kind of like the small studios like Republic and Monogram in the Studio era. But we need the large studios to get back to the star system and what always has worked. If you are going to have a franchise, make it like “The Thin Man ” series of six films with its combo of wit and crime. (Ryan and Margot vehicle?) Obviously women will go to the movies if it’s about witty wonderful women and not women trying to be men. The modern idea of doing spy couples where the female runs around kickboxing better than her male partner doesn’t work for me. We women are smaller, but sneakier. I am bored with spies anyway. They seem useless to me. Detective work is more fun (and probably cheaper). I agree with TCinLA that this business works best when the studios are run by people who love movies and not by Lululemon types who end up producing by the numbers or by some current narrative of what people SHOULD see. So no lemonade, just lemons.

        1. Michael

          “”The modern idea of doing spy couples where the female runs around kickboxing better than her male partner doesn’t work for me.””

          Totally agree. Solo or in groups doesn’t work either.

          Nor does women previously men. Now in sports, next in spy thrillers?

          1. Mark Gisleson

            Netflix’s Blue-Eyed Samurai is anime about a mixed race woman who becomes a samurai. Usually this is the point at which I begin to hurl but the back story and well thought out action make it work.

            Half-Westerner half-Japanese? Yes, she’s big enough to pass for a man. In deft flashbacks they show her using standard tropes for becoming extremely tough (wearing weights all the time, self-discipline, etc).

            No one ever says a woman [or differently abled person] can’t do what strong men can do under certain circumstances. What galls action fans is when a flyweight girl lands a kick that sends grown men flying. We see these scenes not just because they’re empowering, but also because it distracts from the most obvious winning fight scenario for women: the most dangerous women are the ones who carry guns.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              I’m glad I’m not the only one draw in by Blue Eye Samurai. I started watching by accident (I thought it was another show a friend had recommended), but I was quickly hooked by the characters and gorgeous animation.

              The only off-putting thing is Kenneth Branagh’s oddly floating accent. He goes from Belfast to Dublin to Manchester in the same scene. I suspect he was having a bit of fun at the directors expense.

              1. Lexx

                Yep, same. New spin on a samurai story and the animation was simply gorgeous. If a show is bad or so-so, I watch alone. If a series is worth sharing, I’ll stop a few episodes in and tell Husband I’ve “found something” and go back to the beginning so he can catch up. That was so good I started looking for the merchandising on Amazon. ‘What?! No t-shirts yet?!’

                I have a small collection of Uncle Ihro* t-shirts. Every time I wear one out in public, it receives comments, many of them gushing enthusiasm. There are a lot of fans out there and the live action version is about to come out.

                *For those reading who don’t know what that character is from… ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’.

                1. PlutoniumKun

                  Even in a very linked up world, t-shirts are a very underrated way of messaging your fandom for some not too-mainstream enthusiasm when out and about. I’ve had some lovely conversations on buses and trains with people based on t-shirt choices. Its a great icebreaker for shy people: ‘oh, I love that show too!’

            2. Kouros

              I think it was balanced. Blue Eyes got trashed quite a few times in the series and at one point was accused that “his” bones break like a woman’s…

        2. digi_owl

          Again and again i find myself thinking about Zappa’s lament about the decline of recorded music.

          Basically he figured the industry was better of when it was run by older men that was willing to give just about any artist a limited release run, compared to the later young men that they hired to curate the demo submissions.

          And this is perhaps a pattern that repeats across all cultural markets, as a younger set comes in that believe they know exactly what the rest of their cohort wants. And in the process ends up homogenizing the output into a tasteless, textureless, goop.

          1. Wukchumni

            Name any art form since the turn of the century, where somebody has created a masterpiece…

            The rot extends across all fields of endeavor~

            1. Mark Gisleson

              Name any art form created between 1900-1923 where someone created a masterpiece acknowledged as such by most critics by 1923.

              Good luck with my challenge!

                    1. Mark Gisleson

                      I have to concede because my listening repertoire veers off in directions that rarely receive acclaim in the artist’s lifetime.

                      I do believe great art has been perpetrated in this young century but I don’t follow art closely enough to give you the names. I do know that there is zero fall off in musical brilliance since the century turned. In that area there is not a shortage of talent, just a shortage of worthy crtitics to point the way.

                      Nothing has gotten worse but the economy, and the 1930s have much to teach us in that regard. What’s gotten worse are the consequences in those areas where technology magnifies impact. Tech ain’t impacting squat on the art front so I still have hope. Not to mention a lingering suspicion that a 100 years from now Thomas Kinkade’s works will be as beloved and honored as Maxfield Parrish’s.

        3. Lexx

          Does the star system still work? I couldn’t be more bored with leading men and women and the endless articles about the smallest details of their personal lives. They’ve been oversold.

          What attracts me now if I see them in the cast is second bananas, great supporting actors who seem to be having fun with their roles, perhaps because they’re under less pressure… and because I know almost nothing about them and hope it stays that way. They aren’t exceptionally handsome/pretty but they’re great storytellers and deliver engaging performances every time.

          ~ I’m two episodes into ‘A Murder At The End Of The World’. Clive Owen, Brit Marling, and Joan Chen are the only recognizable stars. The young actress playing detective really reminds me of a young Jodie Foster. It’s a modern Agatha Christie story, a dead body at a retreat in Iceland and lots of suspects. I’m intrigued but know I’m bored with this genre.

          ~ I like the revamp of ‘Perry Mason’. It’s grittier and Matthew Rhys is a huge departure from Raymund Burr. Also, Juliet Rylance from Barbara Hale… but then Juliet is the step-daughter of one of those actors I’d watch and listen to telling any story at all.

          1. montanamaven

            I have to go to the dentist, but was going to post that the Matthew Rhys “Perry Mason” was a really good example of having a diverse cast that actually made sense. Perry was not turned into a black gay woman. Della Street was a gay woman who had to be closeted in 1920s LA. Makes sense. The black detective policed his own neighborhood and was subject to racism. The closeted District Attorney also made sense. As to the star system, they did a survey in the early in silent movies about the plots that the audience wanted to see. They instead mentioned the stars that they wanted to see. So it may not work for you, but it does for many. Wish I had more time.

            1. JBird4049

              >>>…was a really good example of having a diverse cast that actually made sense.

              I get the desire to film the stars that the audience wanted, but I also think that the plots that they put the actors in was almost as important. Plot or story, screen play, directing, cinematography, music, anything really, can save, improve, distract, or destroy a movie. Even the old formulaic musicals, westerns, film noirs depended on all that.

              It is no different with tv shows, music, or books. Today we get the formula, but not the spirit, forget the substance, of any of this.

              1. vao

                the plots that they put the actors in was almost as important.

                If the plot is crap, the best actors can exert themselves as much as they want, the director can apply all possible skills to the scenes and the image, the result will fall flat.

                Unfortunately, scenarios are increasingly sinking into mediocre rehashes of previous stories, or inconsistent sequences of shock scenes, enhanced with ever more ambitious CGI to try stimulating the faltering attention of film-goers.

          2. Pat

            Since I recently binged the Burr Perry Mason, I feel the need to point out that the “less gritty” OG version sports some very fine work by both Burr and Hale.
            I fully admit I have had some issues with diversity casting in period pieces especially since the disregard for the period isn’t limited to that in the worst offenders. The Branagh Poirots were scream worthy examples. I only gave the remake an episode, because there were a couple of anachronistic things that pulled me up short early on, once again not just casting. If something isn’t bothering in the least to conform to period or if I have been caught by the characters or piece before being jerked out of it I handle the “huh, what” moments better but otherwise those blunt its effectiveness.

            I may give the Mason remake another shot being more ready going in and hope to be able to get into it. I generally really like Rhys’ work. And a grittier Mason would normally be a winner for me.

      2. Guilliam

        Speaking as a nerd who grew up reading too many bad superhero comics, I’ve found it fascinating to watch superhero films go through exactly the same arc of rise and fall as the comics did. They hit their peak in the mid 80s as the first generation of kids who’d grown up reading marvel comics became creators putting out stuff like Watchmen and The Dark knight. Sadly this was then followed by a period of rapid decline as accountants took change of the industry and insisted on endless ‘continuity crossovers’ trying to force readers to buy every issue in the line to follow a story which backfired as they lost all the casual readers who couldn’t figure out what was going on any more at which point circulations took a nose dive they’ve never really recovered from.

    5. lyman alpha blob

      I’m sure I wasn’t the only person to notice that Disney’s Star Wars reboot was pretty much the same damn movie as the original Star Wars – started off with a desert planet battle, finished up with exploding death star.

      Is it really that hard to figure out that people don’t want to watch the same slightly repackaged story over and over and over and over again?!??

      Yes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but try to be a little creative, FFS. The Odyssey for example has been around for a few thousand years. I thought the Coen Bros nod to it in O Brother Where Art Thou? was a stroke of genius – it was just a simple copy.

    6. bdy

      Sony has saved Spider-Man, at least temporarily IMHO. I managed to make it to the end of Far From Home, which I can’t say about any recent Marvel joint. Into the Spiderverse actually moved me (in spite of its over the top, institutional take on multiplicity — with its shades of Loki)

  3. Samuel Conner

    Am I alone in intuiting that Senator Coons’ response to AM’s perfectly sensible inquiry can be regarded to be a kind of parable of the D Party’s attitude toward a broad range of voter concerns?

    1. Stephen V

      I think “getting” Maté thrown off the train is the kind of show of force we need around here. Paired with Hillbillary”s *got to go…* what a country!

      1. The Rev Kev

        We’ve gone from “Throw Momma from the Train” to “Throw Maté from the Train” in just one generation. Hopefully the train was stopped at a station before they did so.

      2. griffen

        Journalists ought to take caution….politicians could roll out the Jason Bourne film early scene from “Bourne Ultimatum” and use an op similar to “Blackbriar” to track and locate an offending media pest. Oh, they might send an “asset” after the media pest as well. \sarc

        I think and intend the above is sarcasm, but the mendacity of our elites and leadership class appears to know few, if any, limitations. Sen Coons is a dutiful water carrier to Team Biden, I find him to be a poorly informed one at that…you know the “life is great now for Americans, Trump was just awful for average US wage earners…”sort of Team Biden nonsense.

    2. BrianH

      Tough one for those who ride the train. Coons didn’t want to answer the question, didn’t respect the questioner, didn’t want to be held to account and was eager to use his clout. BUT, I do like the strict enforcement of the quiet car rules. Quiet means quiet.

        1. lambert strether

          Maté certainly has the calmest, quietest demeanor of any podcaster/talking head I listen to, so I believe him.

          1. JohnnyGL

            Mate and the Grayzone do transparency. You can see the whole 7 minute conversation. Coons has ZERO interest in talking to him and immediately tells him to go away and appears to reach a boiling point of anger almost immediately once he hears the nature of the question. Mate persists and it’s pretty clear Coons asks the conductor to throw him off the train well after the courteous confrontation is concluded.

            The cops at the station come out looking reasonable enough. Really, only Coons comes out looking like an jerk.

        2. Nordberg

          Conversations are between two willing participants. Talking at someone is not a conversation. If someone is on the quiet and they want quiet, then let them be. I have always hated the surprise gotcha journalism that is done simply to get the reaction you want out of someone.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Coons is paid to be a senator, right? Are they making 30 or 40 grand? If he doesn’t want to be bugged, he should be a better senator. We should treat these people like we are Karens 24/7.

          2. nippersdad

            Gotcha journalism would not be necessary were we to have representatives that would actually meet their requirement of listening to and answering the questions of those they are supposedly representing.

            His use of the quiet car to evade questions is the problem, not those who are forced to seek them out there because no other option is available to them.

          3. Eclair

            On the one hand, we would like the discourse between our congressional representatives and news media to be polite, respectful and productive. On the other hand, when one’s government is supplying, not only strong moral support, but also 2,000 pound bombs and a coupla aircraft carriers to back up what is increasingly labelled as ethnic cleansing, if not outright genocide, I do believe we should not be allowing these “representatives” to retreat into their cocoon of privilege and denial.

            And, then there is the irony of the encounter happening on Amtrak, our flagship ‘high-speed’ rail. A whole 49.9 miles at speeds reaching 150 mph, out of the 450 mile Northeast Corridor run. Yee Haw!

          4. Art_DogCT

            N, I don’t believe Sen. Coons has any right to expect to be left alone when he is in public. Mate’s questions about Gaza can only be considered ‘gotcha’ if you think it inappropriate that a powerful politician should be questioned about his support for continuing ethnic cleansing and genocide. Recall that the funding for every aspect of this war has Genocide Joe’s Grifter Army in full voiced assent. Coons is a highly placed part of the Biden faction, and thus is fully eligible to face a Nuremberg-style process for war crimes and crimes against humanity. (As could any member of Congress or Executive Branch leadership be. This will not happen, but a man can dream.)

            Personally I hope the man is hounded daily and knows no peace to the end of his days. After which, by the Grace of the Many and Several, may he wander in endless pain and darkness until the end of time. As I speak it, so be it.

    3. Nikkikat

      Corporate Coons is one of the finest examples of the Democratic Party. He is most likely calling on the IRS right now to get them to pay a visit to Mr. Mate. Perhaps even one of his friends at YouTube.

  4. ArkansasAngie

    Question. When you (royal you) say that (paraphrase) the “government” should be promoting aerosol COVID measures, what are you asking for? Mandates?

    And, if mandates, are you suggesting that anybody not adhering to the mandates be forced to adhere or face consequences such as firing, being thrown off of transplant lists and/or being denied medical services, in general? What about kids? Are you suggesting that parents be forced to adhere to mandates or risk either no medical services for their children or actual usurping parental rights?

    Do you include mandating vaccinations?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I require specific questions before I can even hope to penetrate your puzzlement.

      Promotion, as such, would be easy; right now government messaging (see here) actively suppresses any mention of aerosol transmission. Jill Biden could go on Good Morning America and help some kindergartners build Corsi boxes. A CO2 monitor could be installed in the White House press room for others to emulate. Examples could be multiplied endlessly.

      As far as government mandates — your trigger word — go, one obvious mandate would be universal respirator use in hospitals; it’s ridiculous that hospitals are become places you go to get sick, instead of to get well, and all from a combination of pencil-necked MBAs worrying about a line item to the dead hand of institutional intertia from professionals who believe either in droplet dogma or, worse, that handwashing solves everything. And of course quarantines — the word dates from the 15th century — are mandates as well; it makes no sense for a single plague ship to cause an epidemic in an entire city or country; hence quarantines aren’t voluntary, so human frailties like greed or ignorance don’t infect the innocent. A modern-day example is the woman with TB who broke the law by riding a bus to Vegas. In her case, the cops did not enforce the law — no doubt because of pressure from wingers yammering about “freedom to infect” — thereby endangering the health of many others. So in all these cases listed here, whatever methods of compliance have been drafted to ensure compliance — they differ by the case — I support them.

      As far as Covid vaccine mandates go, I didn’t and don’t support them because I don’t think the (predominantly) mRNA technology was thoroughly tested before deployment. (I did support their development under Trump with Operation Warp Speed, and it’s a shame that Biden threw away the time they bought us with “the urgency of normal.”

      For general vaccine mandates, the MMR vaccine seems good to me*. I think if a parent decides to take the risk of infecting other children — innocents — with, say, measles, then part of their personal risk assessment needs to be taking into account the legal consequences of their actions. If you want to toughen up your own kids against cholera by putting sh*t in their cornflakes every morning, knock yourself out. Just don’t put your sh*t in other kid’s cornflakes, see what I mean?

      On “parental rights”: if they existed, there wouldn’t need to be an amendment calling them into being, eh?

      I hope you find the happiness you seek elsewhere!

      NOTE * I checked CDC’s schedule, which seems to have expanded. So I can’t speak to new vaccines with which I am unfamiliar. But measles, mumps, rubella? Absolutely.

  5. Lex

    I’m now a Yandex man because Google isn’t a very good search engine and duck duck go seems to be nothing but a google repackage. I originally started using Yandex because it actually returned useful results for “controversial” historical subjects that Google was sure didn’t exist. Then I found out that the menu for my local Chinese restaurant pops right up on Yandex too, and I live in a peninsula that gets left off maps of my own country.

    The only thing Yandex is bad at is returning shopping results, Google’s forte. The upside being that a search for historical information doesn’t lead to results that amount to, “wouldn’t you rather consume?”

    1. .Tom

      Have you tried Kagi? It’s good. You have to pay but this has several advantage. Any service financed by ads is perverted by the advertisers’ interests. Plus the search company isn’t trying to package you for sale. The $100/year is a business expense for me. Google makes more than that selling you.

    2. Hepativore

      The trouble with Yandex is that it seems to be getting progressively worse and worse with making you do CAPTCHAs every other page, and as somebody who has their browser automatically clean its cache and cookies, it becomes quite the hassle.

      Duckduckgo also kowtowed to the “Russian disinformation” bandwagon last year and filters results accordingly and it is basically Bing repackaged.

      Why is it to hard now to find a competent search engine that does not censor or does not collect your data? Mojeek and Wiby are both very limited, and Brave search does not let you do Boolean search inquiries.

      1. LifelongLib

        I’ve never used Yandex, but FWIW you might get better functionality if you just clear third-party cookies rather than all of them. Cache I do clear on exit which doesn’t seem to hurt the performance of browsers I’ve tried.

  6. Wukchumni

    Gooooooooood Moooooooorning Fiatnam!

    There was some question as to whether Marquess of Queensberry rules apply to Senate boxing matches, but we’ll never know as finally Bernie did something useful in playing referee, when the would-be pugilists sparred in a verbal clinch.

  7. zagonostra

    >San Francisco mocked in China for moving homeless away from Apec summit venue

    Potemkin Village, that is what comes immediately to mind, emblematic of the whole “American Exceptionalism.”

    1. lyman alpha blob

      And it isn’t new. I was in Seattle during the APEC summit there in the 90s, and they cleared every bit of evidence of a homeless person from the entire downtown area before the diplomats arrived back then too.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      They do show up occasionally. I use Firefox usually, and I think has some spamming protections built into its cookies. I’m too lazy to search through the cookie list and also too lazy to risk zapping all my cookies without thinking it through, but my workaround was to use another browser. There’s probably a use count going on there too, but I haven’t hit the limit yet, so I copy these links and take them to the other browser. It works like a curating mechanism. ;)

    2. gnatt

      not only am i getting but their captcha “pick the streetlamps,” stuff is the first time i’ve ever been rejected over and over.

        1. neutrino23

          Same here. is a trap from which I can’t escape. If I just search for the title of the article I can read it that way.

    3. lambert strether

      No. We get reader complaints about paywalls when we fair-use links and this is our workaround. If you want the original, it’s on the archived page.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I don’t want to leave a link I can’t vouch for, but if one were to enter the terms “one” “foot” and “io” into a search, you will come up with a website that lets you bypass paywalls. Heard about it through a reddit commenter, and all I know is that it works. I can’t speak for its harmlessness though, but my computer hasn’t bricked yet at least.

        1. fjallstrom

          I think that is a copycat from which pretends to be a search engine crawler to get access to the actual article. So presumable same structure.

          1. Yves Smith


   and bust paywalls of MANY sites. won’t even get you to WSJ, NYT, Bloomberg, or FT paywalled stories.

            And does not represent itself as about paywalls: “Browse a cleaner web! Remove popups, banners, and ads from any website.”

          2. lyman alpha blob

            I heard about it because stopped working, and I think the hosting service may have cut off the person who started it recently. At one point I was able to get to NYT through, but then that stopped working too as Yves noted above.

            Not really sure what’s happening, but there does seem to be an arms race going on trying to make sure people can’t get through paywalls and/or are required to watch ads. I’ve been through a few paywall blockers that stopped working in recent months.

    4. sidd

      On firefox, turn off DNS over HTTPS. This is found in by searching the about:preferences page in firefox for DNS over HTTPS .


    1. Neutrino

      On a positive note, Hildabeast is recycling some of her ill-gotten loot on image repair. She is doing her part to help the economy.

      Gotta keep hope alive, or keep the chardonnay flowing, or something, for that sought-after third loss.

      Anything to keep the narcissism going, so there is that.

    2. nippersdad

      Someone here referred to her the other day as Hillary the Hut. Her painting is defective and she should really get her money back.

  8. Louis Fyne

    “what if Google is a better search engine”

    Google was a better engine maybe 15 to 23 years ago; not it is not different than any other.

    arguably, bing is better.

    People stick to google as you they use the Google ecosystem: youtube, drive, email, Android,etc.

    Instead of building Apple car, it would take no effort to build a “good enough” search engine.

    easier to make money off of moving electrons over moving matter

    1. digi_owl

      There are multiple forces at work with Google, some internal some external.

      The internal ones are those inherent in capitalist undertakings, the drive for profits above all else. Thus Google can’t avoid tilting results in their favor over time. But there is also an external component to that, as a big driver for that profit motive is the shareholders and their board setting incentives for Google management.

      But another large component is the ongoing struggle with those trying to game Google results for their own benefit. And that has been going on since day one.

      Google was founded on the idea that they could use link tags on other sites to gauge how important a site was. The more sites that linked to a site, the higher in the results Google placed it. Worked initially as is typical of academic naivety, but then quickly this approach spawned link farms. Sites that were packed with links to other sites in an endless loop to push them to the top of the results.

      Now this cat and mouse feedback loop has spawned its own industry, SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

      On top of it all, Google is culturally wedded to the idea that they can automate everything. This including things like moderation of social interaction and even tech support. This then produce story after story of people ending up in some Kafka trap where their Google login is suddenly closed, but all they get from Google is some automated responses that give no clue what rules they supposedly violated. Usually the only recourse is to hope they have enough social media clout to start a racket and get it noticed by some Google employee with internal pull.

      Oh, and one thing we should not forget is that Android was not originally Google. It was a Google purchase, and has for ages existed as this odd cultural graft.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’m not sure if its relevant, but I have noticed over the past decade or so Google has gone from being the dream job for every techie I knew to ‘just another big company’. In the past year, two quite high level engineers I know turned down offers for good posts in Google for, respectively, Meta and Microsoft. 10 years ago the notion of turning down a job in Google for Microsoft would have provoked incredulity.

        1. digi_owl

          Microsoft i could kinda understand, as they still have a business focus even if they are trying to get onto the cloud rent extraction model with Azure.

          But Meta? I dear say that company is even worse than Google.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            The engineer I know who got a job there says he loathes what the company represents, but has found it by far the most intellectually satisfying place he’s ever worked in, and he’s worked for a range of big names.

            He says its the one place where management has given him the time and space to really work on problems at a fundamental level instead of running around doing quick fixes. It might be just his unit of course.

            1. digi_owl

              Hmm, makes sense. I recall reading some years back that Meta was working on a in house cold storage system using blu-rays of all things.

              And do recall Google at one point had a system where any employee could spend 20% of their hours on personal projects. I guess that has since been rescinded, and that is why it has become a less interesting place to work.

            2. scott s.

              What I have heard anecdotally is that to move up in the engineering hierarchy you have to be on a team building new stuff. Once the “new stuff” gets released there is no value in maintaining it so the engineers move onto the next “big thing” and the “new stuff” is left to rot.

            3. Revenant

              Do we know the same people PK? :-)

              I have a very smart friend, smarter than me, both book smart (starred firsts in CompSci at Cambridge) and life smart (in a gentle way rather than hustler or Clint Eastwood). And he left Microsoft to work for Facebook (I refuse to call it Meta). I quizzed him why and he says there are only two or three companies which operate at the scale of FB and require the rigorous computer science theory and architecture that he does. His role simply cannot exist outside of FB or MS or possible Google (he was sniffy about Google, nothing intellectually exciting going on there). You can probably fit the global discipline into a minibus.

              The only competing career option would be academia but he has concluded he is a bad academic, he didn’t care enough, he wanted more material rewards both financially and seeing his work used.

              He’s not happy with the current FB. They are cutting people almost randomly. He is having to defend important teams from stupid cuts, not informed by what is important in engineering terms. But he is staying because despite the HR noise, the long term FB technical vision is very stable at his level of fundamental abstraction and the work is fundamental to FB’s future, despite being an abstraction of an abstraction of an abstraction. And impossible to replace with ChatGTP!

              1. PlutoniumKun

                I do find it kind of sad that these days so many people who fit your friends description (I know of more than one) who find they can only get the rewards they need in companies that generate profits but little else. I wonder if Meta is the new Rank Xerox or Kodak – a home for very brilliant people that somehow manages to waste most of the talent.

                In decades past I’m pretty sure people like your friend would either be working in academia or in engineering something useful.

    2. fjallstrom

      Using Impersonal Me at one can search Google without the personalisation. What is remarkable is how much better the search engine is without personalisation, in effect not using the ecosystem. I think Google is the default since their heyday (when they were remarkable better) and they are living on that inertia.

      1. digi_owl

        I believe also provide non-personalized Google search results.

        And yeah, Google very much survive on reflexive inertia. But they also pay quite a bit to the likes of Mozilla (Firefox) to be the default search provider.

  9. digi_owl

    “How To Kill a Superhero The Honest Broker. “It takes a special kind of stupid to kill off Indiana Jones or Toy Story or a Marvel superhero, but that’s exactly what’s playing out right now in the Magic Kingdom.””

    One take on this i ran across recently was that Disney bought Marvel and Lucasfilm because Disney was lacking in the young male demographic. But then they turned around applied their usual “Disney princess” formula to their new acquisitions, and here we are.

    That said, Marvel at least had been struggling for some time. You an see that for example in how they kept trying to shoehorn Kamala Khan into everything, hoping perhaps to spur the kind of mass following that Peter Parker/Spider-Man produced over the decades.

    All in all i suspect this may be a reflection of the larger problem of US society, that it seems incapable of moving beyond the “boomer” period.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes – its been a long time since I’ve gone to see a big mainstream film in the cinemas, but its very noticeable that traditionally male led films have been altered in what seem like pretty crude and patronizing attempts to appeal to the female audience. It seems to me that they’ve caught themselves in a spiral of continually reshooting films to satisfy the broadest audience possible, which has pushed up costs so high that anything less than a monster hit will lose them money. It amazes me that you can spend 250 million dollars on a film and still end up with special effects that look more low tech than some films from 2 or 3 decades or so ago. This is what you get when you have layers of producers involved, each trying to justify their job (plus other issues of course).

      I suspect this is one reason for the continuing popularity of Japanese anime – each film maker knows their audience and sticks to their creative guns. It can create a lot of ‘niche’ genres, but better to have that than endless dull rehashes of work done better years ago aimed at some mythical mass market.

      1. The Rev Kev

        They may spend 250 million on a new film but Hollywood economics means that just to break even, they have to make back triple that figure when you crank in of other associated costs and people with their hands out. But fully agree how the special effects are worse than was done in previous years and some newer films can look really bad.

        1. Acacia

          Yep, this, and it gets even worse…

          For a typical large Hollywood blockbuster, about half the “production” budget will now go into publicity. How can so many millions get blown just on publicity? Theaters get paid for running all of those trailers you watch before the film proper, i.e., “demand” for the film is being produced as well. Then, the exhibitors get roughly half of the ticket sales, and the rest goes to the distributors and studio.

          This is how we are now getting films like Avatar 2, with a reported budget of $350–460 million before publicity, and why James Cameron then tells Variety that the film needs to earn $2 Billion to be profitable.

          Steven Soderbergh gives a pretty good analysis of all this in his ‘State of Cinema’ address at the San Francisco Film Festival in 2013. IndieWire has the full text.

      2. Savita

        Always nice to read you, PK. Don’t see your comments on here so much in recent days.
        In response to your comment about special effects.
        Remember the wonderful Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon?
        Remember the scenes of the lead characters running up the trees – it was bamboo I believe – and fighting high up in the top?
        Well get this. That was no special effect. The actors were literally, physically, running up those trees and fighting in the tree top. The director said he had to do it that way because he couldn’t afford CGI.
        ( I told someone that story and they were so impressed they replied, ‘EVERYONE needs to know this’ haha)

        1. digi_owl

          Aka wire-fu, because everything was done by cleverly hidden wires.

          As i recall, during that particular scene the feet of the actors were barely touching the plants they were supposedly running along.

          Then again, Hollywood has over time made gunfights increasingly exaggerated. To the point that a derringer can knock an adult male off his feet and through a window.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Thanks for the kind words, Savita. I’ve been dealing with some work/health issues the last few months so I’ve had to ration out my time. I do miss the community here.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I think that it is more a “Hollywood” problem than a “boomer” problem. Hollywood seems intent on only making films that their friends in Hollywood would want to see – and thus ignoring the other 335 million people in the country. It does not matter how many hundreds of millions of dollars that they burn up in making each of these films, they are only making these films for their Hollywood friends. And I ask you – How many of those boomers are going around saying ‘Oh man, I have gotta get me some of that Marvels action as that is exactly the sort of film that I want to spend my hard-earned cash on.’

      1. digi_owl

        Kinda, but Hollywood seem to struggle lately with bringing forward new stars to replace those that are aging out. And instead seem hell bent on digitizing their elders to keep their likeness around for eternity. Just look at the latest Indiana Jones installment where they digitally “de-age” Harrison Ford.

  10. jhallc

    OK Doomer Article is very good. Pairs nicely with the Patrick Lawrence’s link on this being a “Hinge Moment”.

    Wildfire’s last line…
    “And so nothing changes.”
    I believe that was Joe Biden’s main campaign promise.

    1. digi_owl

      It seems to boil down to our inherent risk aversion.

      Once we have established some semblance of a stable life and existence, we will bend over backwards to maintain it rather than gamble it all on change.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I’m actually in a pretty good mood this morning, but our Links led me into some dark thoughts. Elon Musk’s pitching this cornucopia bit sounded so cartoonish, we should change Elon’s name to Elroy.

      And the story is more cover than even goal or even sales pitch.

      So what is this new obsession with AI? Maybe Covid and its handling provide a clue. What if you were a believer in quick population reduction as the cure for Overshoot? You’d realize that the key to a successful attempt at population reduction was keeping it from being too sudden because a massive die-off would present very serious issues for the survivors. Even Covid, despite being called “the sniffles,” killed off and dealt serious damage to enough to cause a labor shortage that is most inconvenient for our billionaires. What a nuisance it is when you have to rely on human beings with their frail bodies in order to get return on your capital! So the obvious solution is robots, but who runs the robots? After all, those PMCs are such a pain in the ass with their pretensions to meritocracy and their moralizing about democracy. Why any AI worth the title would be able to out-think PMCs whose brains have been addled by Covid. Robots for the manual tasks and AI to run the robots.

      And then our blessed billionaires can rid themselves of the whole lot. But it will take some time to get the whole thing in place, so Elon/Elroy will keep ’em placid with his pretty pictures of the future.

      Sounds like the very kind of double-down thinking that Wildfire describes in her post.

      1. lambert strether

        I think the sloshing stupid money came first, then the post-pandemic labor force rationalizations. All things work together for good.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          The Wildfire piece was good, but the affliction she describes is not universal. I think most people who hang around NC are immune, made so either as a matter of temperment or experience. Judging by the polls, large numbers of people are turning up cured of the need to defend this system’s viability, much less its justice. The problem is that the malady is so prevalent among the powerful and their executors.

          1. jhallc

            I sent both the Wildfire and Lawrence links to my PMC adjacent friends in the continuing hope of keeping them from going to over to the dark side. It’s a constant battle however.

      2. MaryLand

        Population reduction as an overall goal of the elite explains much. They are discussing many things at those summits. As Lambert says, “Stay safe out there.”

  11. digi_owl

    “Commentary: For a digital detox, Japan seeks ‘The Way of the Sauna’ Channel News Asia”

    There is a curious cultural exchange between Finland and Japan. For example the Moomin character is perhaps more popular in Japan than its homeland Finland.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its not unusual to come across a random replica of a Moomin House in Japan – not built as attractions, just people building for themselves to live in. There is one on the hills above Nagoya and a few around Tokyo (not including the Moomin Theme Park outside Tokyo).

    2. Polar Socialist

      I’ve seen videos of Japanese couples going totally nuts in the Finnish design stores and burning most of their travel budget in a few hours.

      I’ve also heard that of all the westerners the Finns are most like Japanese in punctuality, personal space, tolerance for silence, efficiency, affection to techno-gadgets and high-context culture. As a bonus the Japanese tourists get a relaxed non-hierarchical society and lots of nature. Really a lots of nature. One Japanese movie maker said that Finland has as many trees as Japan has people and vice versa, and the trees are all available to everybody!

      1. digi_owl

        Heh, the personal space thing has been a running joke on social media (particular during the height of the COVID restrictions, as the joke was that the demanded distance meant the Finn were standing closer than normal) though it applies to a lesser degree to the rest of the Nordics as well.

        As for tolerance to silence, one may well flip the topic on its head ask how others tolerate all the racket.

        1. Polar Socialist

          It’s not a joke – in Eurobarometer polls 3/4 of Finns said they had no problems adapting to the Covid restrictions and 1/3 those said the restrictions improved their quality of life.

          You’re right about the racket. I have learned how to withdraw to my peaceful inner place when noisy people around are not saying anything worth listening to but Mrs. Socialist insists it’s rude.

  12. Carla

    “Leaked: British spies constructed Zionist propaganda network Al Mayadeen. If Corybn were Prime Minister, perhaps the UK would be in a very different place.”

    I would think that is EXACTLY why Corbyn was not permitted to become Prime Minister.

    1. digi_owl

      Then again he was as much of a protest vote as was Trump, and the reaction by the Westminster insiders were just as vicious.

  13. digi_owl

    “A Coder Considers the Waning Days of the Craft The New Yorker.”

    Programming has always been in a weird middle space. It can’t exist without the underlying hardware, and seems to endlessly attempt to replicate the kind of ubiquity and standardization one see with electrical components. But invariably end up mired in conceptual debates that produce near religious schisms.

    1. samm

      Yes “conceptual debates that produce near religious schisms” is a valid criticism. This is among the reason’s I’d like to retire from the field. Debates even about the most trivial things — the tab key or four spaces? Be very careful talking about those with programmers you don’t know.

      As for AI replacing programming, call me skeptical. That author says it works like magic, but I’m not exactly confident they will be able to overcome the so-called AI “hallucination” problem (i.e. making stuff up). Wouldn’t that be a necessary step before we declare coders obsolete? Sure programmers can be good at making more problems than they solve at times, but if your AI is “hallucinating” and coders are now obsolete I think you are at a whole new level of problem.

      1. Acacia

        Call me skeptical as well.

        This past summer, out of curiosity, I asked ChatGPT to write code to parse a CSV-formatted file in a popular programming language. This is not a very complicated pattern, and I gave it the version of the language, and all the details in my prompt.

        It gave me a result that included a bogus function that didn’t exist. When I pointed this out, the bot said “oh, sorry, I’ll try again,” and gave me a slightly different output that contained another, different bogus function. Pointing this out, again, it apologized further and gave me a third result that contained not one, but TWO bogus functions. At that point, I ended my little experiment.

        I have heard people saying they think ChatGPT could write an app to parse PDF (Postscript), but if it can’t even handle CSV… ? I’ve also heard devs complain that generative AI seems to be getting worse, but I wonder if it’s more that they themselves are coming to realize it was never very good in the first place. They were wowed by the apparent smoothness of the output. How many of them checked if it actually worked?

        I could see developers maybe using TDD and then just using generative AI over and over until they get enough pieces that pass the tests, and then hand-code the bits that don’t, but… is this really “engineering”?

        1. vao

          Because of the kind of AI being used, I strongly suspect that the high-quality, “wow-I-did-not-believe-AI-could-do-so-well” code snippets closely correspond to existing programs whose source code has been digested by the AI machinery.

          Just like for textual queries, answers are appropriate if the exactly corresponding bit of knowledge appears with some minimal frequency in the AI information base. As soon as the query deviates sufficiently from the available knowledge base, the answer becomes an increasingly approximate construction of probabilistic (for some notion of probability that so far remains formally undefined by AI suppliers) applicability.

          In your case, this means that programs that parse structured files usually rely upon specific external routines, but since there is no closely matching code snippets in the desired programming language within the ChatGPT knowledge base, the AI system returns something that plausibly assumes the existence of a reasonably formatted function to help solve the problem. Had ChatGPT been fed several well-formed, correct CSV-parsing programs in the language you targeted, then you might have been returned something usable.

          1. digi_owl

            That is my suspicion as well. Whenever these systems barfs out a coherent response, the user query was likely so esoteric that the highest scoring token chain was a passage from some textbook or journal article.

  14. flora

    I can’t think of anyone who could make Kissinger look good by comparison… except Hillary. There’s something extra in her bloodthirstiness.

    1. John k

      Imo kissinger wouldn’t have advised pushing nato east, wouldn’t have prodded Russia into war, and while I’m not as sure re ME, he would have been far more sensitive to the damage to us interests. Certainly not concerned with human suffering or deaths, but far better at understanding consequences than the current lot.
      Imo that he would be so much better than these self centered fools is an indication of how incompetent our foreign policy has become.

      1. flora

        Yes. I think today’s Mearsheimer link is very good. To bad Mearsheimer isn’t in our current foreign policy apparatus.

      2. eg

        Kissinger was a creature from the era of great power politics. The current crop are all from “the unipolar moment” — diplomacy is completely and utterly alien to them.

  15. Christopher Fay

    Why link to Hillary at all? I am becoming a tweeter junky and that has been tweeted about several times the last two days. She’s deplorable. she’s past her 1990s prime, if she ever had one. Don’t give it the views.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Come, come now. Everybody said the same thing about old Joe Biden. That he was deplorable and was well past his prime and was now starting into dementia. But then they upped and made him President of the United States. So maybe Hillary is thinking that as she is still five years younger than old Joe so she might have a shot still as the first Madame President. So maybe next year a Trump – Hillary re-match? Mind you, it would be hilarious if they finally got Trump into prison – and he still beat Hillary.

      1. pjay

        I’ve often said to friends and family that I could never actually vote for Trump – *unless* Hillary becomes the Dem nominee again. Then I’d drag myself out of my deathbed to vote for him. Later on, after the years of Russiagate and the serial lawfare attacks against Trump to “preserve our democracy” and fight “election interference,” I amended that to add that if they manage to throw Trump in jail I might just vote for him as a feeble protest. So if it’s Hillary vs. Prisoner Trump, then I for one could be contributing to that outcome.

        Why not? I ask that as a serious question.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Hillary is a focus of both faux woke identity politics and celebrity. Despite her horrific views, she was accepted and so the nominee. It’s important people understand the Team Blue elites have been this way for decades, hiding behind obvious buffoons like Margerie Taylor Greene or Sarah Palin.

      Although Bill Clinton’s spouse is somewhat an inconsequential figure in the short term, she and new ilk have been portrayed as adults in the room when they are dangerous nutters. Unlike the potentially merely gnorant like Palin, we know Hillary is a full blown ignoramus. These villains need to be held up as villains.

      Biden was let off for eight years when hears should have been treated as the turd he’s always been.

      1. flora

        The ‘dangerous nutters’ in the room believe in ‘move fast and break things’, because bridge to the 21st Century or something. And after they break things, then what? They got no answers.

  16. Kristiina

    The Way of the Sauna – even in Finland the public saunas with possibility to dip/swim in a lake in the winter have really taken off. The places are crowded. For non-medical help to find relaxation and a happy mind, the cold dip has no equal. Sauna makes the cold dip a bit less gruelling. But the basic stress-reducing logic is clear: the body gets a cold-shock-death-near experience when dipping, and coming out of the water, body figures out danger is over, so time to be happy! A body-reset if there ever was one. All bodily stresses get reset in the cold water. Obviously I love the sauna-cold dip thing.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I suppose that for the Japanese they can dive into patches of snow in winter time which would get the thumper ticking. But that would only be possible for a few months of the year.

      1. Revenant

        That is a great way to wind down after skiing in Japan.

        If you do it with beers, you get very quickly blitzed. Not essential but another kind of fun.

        I love Japan!

    2. Wukchumni

      I prefer hot springs au natural compared to a sauna or a hot tub, as the concept of warm water from the bowels of the earth is pretty cool.

      From a heritage standpoint, Czechs are world class soakers-so I got that going for me, which is nice.

      In an average day @ Saline hot springs, i’ll put in 7 to 8 hours in the soup.

  17. ProNewerDeal

    fwd jackrasmus dot com/2023/05/15/artificial-intelligence-vs-the-working-class-youtube-presentation by economist Dr. Jack Rasmus on AI’s detrimintal effect of the job market between now and 2030. Rasmus cites a “Goldman May 2023 60-page” report”, which I could not find via internet search. Rasmus covers the “increasing labor exploitation under Neoliberalism since the late 1970s”, citing involuntary PT, temp, and Gig jobs as examples. Rasmus states AI will be the next huge phase of labor exploitation. Job elimination, hours reduction/involuntary PT, de-skilling of jobs, and increasing neo-Taylor extreme micromanagement of remaining workers are components of this labor exploitation.

    It seems at the moment, the retirement of a significant portion of the Boomer Gen, and the 1% (at least current) Long Covid disabling of the workforce; has reduced US Labor supply and given US workers more options & leverage, even if there is still a shortage of “good” FT with healthcare/401K benefits jobs.

    If Rasmus is correct, the AI job reduction to US Labor Demand would dwarf this current US Labor Supply reduction, and significantly worsen the US Labor Market for most US workers.

    What do ya think?! (c) Ed Schultz

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Israeli forces kill several Hamas fighters at start of raid on Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital”

    ‘Israeli soldiers killed several Hamas militants at the outset of a raid on the al-Shifa hospital on Wednesday, where thousands of Palestinian civilians – patients, displaced people and medical staff – have been trapped during weeks of fighting.’

    Trapped by who exactly? The people with the tanks surrounding that hospital and bombing it from time to time while snipers target the intensive care ward for premature babies? They cut off all food, water and electricity to that hospital along with all other medical supplies and then expect a pat on the head for bringing in incubators, baby food and medical supplies on top of tanks. How are they going to power those incubators exactly? Did they body-slam all doctors and nurses while they went looking through that hospital looking for a Hamas HQ? Everybody can see what they are doing and for the countries of the Global majority, they are not buying the propaganda line.

    1. lambert strether

      > Trapped by who exactly?

      I say they tangled themselves up in their own shoelaces. It’s the only possible explanation.

      1. ilsm

        Had Hitler won the war, Bomber Harris, and the USAAF brass would have been hanged for mass murder, rightfully.

        The winners, and PMC own the “truth”.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Israeli minister supports ‘voluntary migration’ of Palestinians in Gaza’

    They keep on saying that they want the Palestinians to go to places like Egypt or Europe but not once have they offered to put their hands in their own pockets to pay for any of it. Instead, they want other countries like Egypt and Qatar to pay for that move instead as well as all the ongoing payments for decades to come. The fact that the countries of the EU are having their economies start to go into recession and the US being unwilling to come up with any money themselves means that it is the countries in this region that will be expected to pay for it so that Israel does not have to do so themselves. I got an idea. The size of Gaza strip is about 365 km². How about Israel pays 1US$ billion for each square kilometer of Gaza that they take over. That money could then be divided among all those Palestinians and would let them set themselves up for life.The Israelis could tell themselves that it amounts to a religious tax – but which would be up to secular Israelis to pay for and probably Uncle Sam.

    1. TomT

      I got an idea.

      It’s not hard to imagine a low-balled version of some kind of preemptive reparations-for-removal scheme being talked about in the White House right now. I’m sure the U.S. would pay for it and then the West could finally wash its hands of this inconvenient surviving Palestinian population.

  20. Verifyfirst

    Assange letter signatories–quite the bunch! Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, most of the Squad, two names I don’t recognize, and the only Senator–Rand Paul. (I guess Bernie was too busy? And Fetterman also too busy, though we’ve now seen his true colors, signing up as he did full throat for the Israeli propaganda machine)

    James P. McGovern

    Thomas Massie

    Rashida Tlaib

    Eric Burlison

    Ilhan Omar

    Paul A. Gosar

    Ayanna Pressley

    Marjorie Tayler Greene

    Pramila Jayapal

    Matthew Rosendale

    Greg Casar

    Cori Bush

    Jamaal Bowman

    Jesús G. “Chuy” Garcia

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    Rand Paul

  21. Lexx

    I’ll add this to the news from Colorado, that came via PBS in my email yesterday:

    The counties mentioned are east around Denver (because west is Boulder and out I-70 where the cost of housing is even higher) and the two counties immediately north bordering Wyoming. My guess that the huge influx of people we’re seeing here in Fort Collins were not all from out of state*, but the many thousands pushed out of the Denver area due to high rent prices has turned out to be fact.

    With the money they’re saving in rent they’ll be able to afford the burgers here… or just stay home and fix it themselves.

    *Texas plates feature prominently.

    1. Ranger Rick

      I often opine to people that if the average person wanted to own a home in Colorado, he or she would be looking at something way out on the plains (Longmont to the Wyoming border, anywhere east of DIA), and the enormous gap comprised of dusty prairie and fracking wells in between DIA and the foothills. Erie, for instance, exploded in population as people fled Denver as fast as their leases could expire. I bet Weld County has tripled in population in the last three years.

      (My reaction to the $15 burger: That’s cheap! The Boulder area set $20 as the minimum entree price as far back as 2016 or so, when Google came to town in force.)

    2. Mike Mc

      Eldest daughter and boyfriend moved to Ft. Collins this summer after a year in Tacoma. We live in Trinidad CO – about 17 miles north of New Mexico border so happy to have them nearer.

      They are paying $1850 a month for a nice three bedroom ranch within biking distance of boyfriend’s job as plant geneticist at CSU. She is a certified music teacher subbing until some school district hires her full time.

      Tacoma and greater Seattle had its good points, but Ft. Collins is freaking paradise by comparison. Their Tacoma apartment complex had a solid block long of homeless – tents, vehicles, RVs – and while Colorado esp. Denver has a major homeless problem, the scope and scale of homelessness in Seatac was a big jolt to these retired Midwesterners turned Coloradans (our urban point of reference is Omaha).

      Just a snapshot of 2023 in our slices of the Centennial State.

      1. Lexx

        We too moved here from Washington state (with a two year layover in Boise). His family is still in the Olympia area. Husband had been telling me about the ‘homeless problem’ there after he returned in July. When we were there together in September the ‘homeless problem’ had disappeared; the spaces along the freeway where the homeless had been tenting were occupied instead by large closely spaced boulders too heavy to move and too close to pitch a tent. Hard to say which scene I found more stunning… the one I imagined and girded my loins for, or the stony hostility of the state.

  22. Cian

    The programming AI article is interesting, but maybe not for the reasons that the author thinks.

    The dirty secret of the industry for a long time has been that most programming is not that hard. It consists of poorly trained developers (the author has a degree in economics) patching together black boxes that they only partially understand, relying upon stackexchange/google to answer questions. A majority of programmers don’t even know what they don’t know.

    These AI tools rely upon code that they’ve seen on the internet. They don’t know what it does, they don’t even know if it works. This puts a pretty significant limit on what they can do. If you’re doing something fairly routine (which is what most programmers in the industry are doing most of the time), then maybe it can provide something good enough. Maybe. But there’s no guarantee it will work, and if you’re not good at reading code, you have no guarantee that it does what you think it does and it’s likely to have weird bugs.

    Also, his personal examples in the article of the code he and his friend wrote are not hugely difficult and are all things where you could find solutions on the internet.

    1. Grateful Dude

      my first college CS course, 101, stressed that we had to learn both syntax – programming language, and semantics, ie meaning. And then the degrees relied on creating effective and efficient algorithms. Over time with a lot of problem:solution tagging, bots can move up the skills ladder, but there’s a limit to learn-by-example.

      Data and systems integration, schema crafting, IO, and some other applications may be more amenable. Most programmers already use copious and deep libraries of code, so teaching bots how to use these, given input and expected results, if there are enough examples, could be effective, but that’s just a more-or-less routine part of the picture,

      One company I worked for called a company meeting late 90s to announce our first coding-outsource-to-India relationship. The CTO told us that there would be no more programming jobs in the US so we shouldn’t let our kids study software. That was a disaster 6 months later. Now not so much, there are good coders all over the world.

  23. ChrisFromGA

    (Annoying jingle, children singing)

    One eight seven seven arms for Zee!
    A-R-M-S arms for Zee!
    One eight seven seven arms for Zee

    Donate your arms today!


    Do you have an old WWII era Panzer tank in your basement? .22 rounds ? A Davy Crockett rifle?

    Donate them today! It’s simple, just fill out a form on our website and claim your tax deduction! All weapons benefit the glorious struggle for Zelensky to obtain overseas passage I mean victory!

    And you’ll be entered to win an all expenses paid trip to lovely Crimea!

    (Rushed voice)
    Offer only good through November some arms may end up in third countries subject to restrictions vacation package cannot be claimed until 2054 offer not valid in Colombia, Brazil, or any BRICS nation offeror reserves the right to resell arms for condo fees

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Narrator: But wait! Send two of any item on the “requested list” and receive absolutely free this beautiful 32-inch (measured diagonally) portrait of Winnie, Jr. himself, bedecked in his famous green camo.

  24. Jason Boxman

    Bidenomics is working so well, the thefts continue! So Thieves Nabbed Your Catalytic Converter. Here’s Where It Ended Up.

    Quantifying the thefts is difficult, and estimates vary widely. About 6 percent of the 12 million catalytic converters recycled each year are believed to have been stolen, with the rest coming from scrapyards and other legitimate sources, according to Howard Nusbaum, administrator of the National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program, a nonprofit group that works closely with law enforcement.

    That low percentage is little comfort to the owners of the roughly 600,000 cars whose devices, sometimes known as cats or autocats, were swiped last year. The commercial appetite for the three metals, called platinum group metals or PGMs, has been insatiable.

    (bold mine)

  25. Lexx

    ‘One Theory Explains Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’

    I think the word she’s searching for here is ‘pride’. We don’t just think our short time on this planet should amount to something like it matters in the larger scheme of things*, but that everything around us reflect back to us how much we mattered. Like there was some niggling doubt in the back of our minds that maybe we don’t and that would be true. That doubt seems to plague some people more than others.

    *Yes, of course there’s a bigger picture… well, several and what they can agree on is that there’s a plan and some kinda existence beyond this one. It’s ‘the carrot before the horse’ and we’re the horses. If you were convinced from an early age there was no carrot and you’re not a horse, what would you do with your one life? Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

    1. LifelongLib

      My admittedly poorly thought through take is that consciousness doesn’t fit in the natural world and that everything human (science, technology, art, religion, magic, whatever) are attempts by consciousness to control/improve/escape nature. People disagree about which approach is best. We all agree with George Carlin — the first person on Earth woke up, looked around, and said “this can’t be it”.

      1. Lexx

        Man, Lib, I liked your reply so much I took a screenshot with my phone for further contemplation… especially the Carlin quote.

  26. flora

    This should be a good way to drive smaller, local ISPs out of business. Regulate ’em to death. That’s how former IBP and the USDA drove small meat processing plants out of business. This should be in Matt Stoller’s wheelhouse. Wonder if he’s looked at this.

    The neolibs never met a monopoly-like structure or monopoly friendly regulation they didn’t like. / ;)

    1. Cian

      The FDC guy ‘warning’ about this is a Republican who among other things supports changes to the Communications Decent Act, opposes net neutrality protections and wants to ban TikTok on national security grounds.

      What he’s complaining about here is that the Biden administration is proposing to regulate ISPs. Something Matt Stoller has been demanding for years.

      Also, who says in 2023: ‘It reads like a planning document drawn up in the faculty lounge of a university’s Soviet Studies Department.”’. ‘Soviet Studies’? Is he from the 50s?

      1. flora

        I don’t care what party. This strikes me as once again monopoly favoritism (both parties) that disadvantage small businesses, small towns and rural areas, many of which have their own ISP systems put in before the bigs made that impossible for new installations. What will all these new regs cost small businesse and small ISPs. My brother’s city run ISP charges $10 dollars a month as part of the small city’s utility charge. Oh, and a lot of GOP reps are from rural states. When they’re on the right side (no pun intended) of the argument then I agree with them. ymmv

        The way current regs work is to the advantage of the bigs, as in Anatole France’s famous quote:
        “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.”

    2. LY

      The warning from neo-liberal hack Commisioner Carr, who opposes common carrier classification, and asserts that the free-market is working perfectly, as competition has gone down, service quality has gone down, and prices have gone up.

      Small ISPs, municipal providers, etc. are what the current regulations work to prevent. “small ISPs” they’re referring to are astro-turf organizations to head off regulation of the big boys.

      1. flora

        I agree they should all be made common carrier utilities. That would solve a lot of problems for everyone, big and small, without disadvantaging the small, imo.

  27. Tommy S

    That Harvard article is excellent. A great history lesson (they even left out some more horrible stuff from the past). plus a needed overview of mental health facility and nursing home infections. Damn I love this site.

  28. Pat

    In a twist on CEOs never fail stories, Bob Iger was in charge of Disney officially from 2005 until 2020. Unofficially he was still running it while transitioning to his successor for about six months. That successor was in the office on his own less than a year when Iger returned at the end of 2022.
    As per Variety article on his surprise reinstatement:

    The former Disney chief will earn a $1 million base salary for going back to his old job, according to public filings. But that pact could grow a lot richer if Iger and Disney reach certain benchmarks.

    Iger is also entitled to an annual bonus of up to $1 million, along with a long-term incentive award with a target value of $25 million for each year of his contract. That means Iger has the potential to earn up to $27 million. The Disney’s chief’s deal began on Nov. 20, 2022, and ends on Dec. 31, 2024.

    He renegotiated that and added another 2 years earlier this year before the strikes, and it was estimated added another 10 million a year of compensation to that long term outlook.

    BUT, things change. Unless he can find a way to manipulate stock prices there is every chance that Bob will have to make due with millions less. Before you feel sorry because he was gone when things were filmed, you have to remember is that major studios never do films on the fly, there is a considerable lead time. The two flops in the article had to have been green lighted during his time. And that is before you consider that Disney’s unimaginative and creative free film development process blossomed under his leadership. And while he paid some reasonable and large salaries to certain people, cheating out on the tech and craft personnel was SOP, so things didn’t even look good all the time.

    He will still make too much money no matter what size the hit.

  29. Mark Gisleson

    I call old school restaurant industry lobbyist bull puckey on the Colorado Sun $15 burger story. Everything is cast in percentages of cost increases without any attempt to explain which costs impact the price most.

    Studies have shown repeatedly that increasing wages has little impact on the cost of the burger, labor being the least part of restaurant overhead but good luck finding those old studies. Google is wall to wall AI generated stories about restaurant costs now, each conflating all costs as equal (usually in an OMG $$$$ way that is not justified by any facts or numbers in the story).

    Fast food joints can kick out as many as 275 burgers an hour. Even at $5 burger prices that’s 5¢ in labor costs for the cooks per burger (assuming 3 cooks @ $20/hr each). Of course the order taker gets a nickel, the bus person gets a nickel and manager gets a dime but I think you catch my drift. A $15 burger may be more labor intensive but I can’t imagine a skilled cook and helper not being able to produce 25 burgers an hour. $50/hr combined labor costs and suddenly you’re talking almost 15¢ a burger! (+ servers, mgr, overhead, etc).

    I’m terrible at math and I do realize that nothing hemorrhages money like an unexpectedly empty restaurant but there’s a lot of spin going on here trying to pin the blame on workers for what appears to be aggressive profit taking.

    1. Lexx

      The restaurant owners saw an opportunity that wasn’t going cost them anything and it was loaded with social virtue via public sympathy. Which customers were going to argue the owners didn’t need to pay their staff more during a pandemic? It certainly wasn’t going to come out of the owner’s pockets. Are all these restaurants around here really understaffed… because no one is applying for the jobs or by design?

      Customers are in the habit now of long waits, inexperience, incompetence, and strained patience. It’s on us to make the transaction better for them.

    2. Tommy S

      Great point. I’ve had 35 years experience in retail and wholesale and some food service. It’s a class thing, ‘labor costs’ is always at the forefront of raising prices, the excuse anyway. Regarding SF closing of restaurants retail etc, you can always tell a rich SOB, that just was losing customers etc. when he/she blames labor costs and ‘crime’, but never mentions the rent where they are ….has quadrupled at the least since the crash. And food costs too. Other businesses, rooted in the area, and I could provide about 10 San Francisco links right away, that went out of business cited first and foremost rent increases. Then online sales, then delivery tech people bilking them etc…..Also all wage increases go immediately back into the local economy, providing more municipal tax base, and business at local business. Delivery monopolies to food service and increased rents do nothing of the kind. I remember way back in the 90’s Alexander Cockburn stating, paraphrasing, “it doesn’t matter that single payer would save most businesses tons of money, it’s a class thing. They align, even small businesses often, with oligarchs.”

    1. nippersdad

      Victoria? Please don’t tell me that there is another one on the loose!

      She is prolly in Hollywood mocking up a control center for Hamas under a hospital. Those tunnels prolly lead to the studio cafeteria where she can bake cookies at her leisure.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Tori is the cool nickname Victoria gave herself when she changed schools.

        Just spitballing that but I got a truthy vibe when I wrote it.

  30. Objective Ace

    I didn’t accost him, I questioned him (in a quiet voice, because it was the Quiet Car) about his refusal to back a Gaza ceasefire. And he did have me thrown off the train.

    I support this. If AMTRAK isnt going to enforce the quite car rules there’s no point of even having one. You didnt get booted from the train for asking a question (the Senator could have just deferred to answer as they usually do) you got booted for disturbing everyone else trying to enjoy the quite car

    1. nippersdad

      Thousands of people are dying in agony and our national reputation is being further sullied with the complicity of Coons, but the rules of the quiet car must be upheld!

      What kind of country is this if we cannot respect the comforts of those who are leeching off of it?

    2. Lena

      Let’s consult Emily Post about proper etiquette when addressing our genocide enabling betters, shall we? Then we can enjoy our tea and light refreshments.

    3. Big River Bandido

      Quiet Car rules are rarely, if ever, enforced. I rode the Northeast Corridor trains weekly for 10 years between NYC and Boston. It falls to the conductor to enforce the policy and only one of them did in the entire decade I rode that train. The Acela may have even been worse than the Regional because mostly it’s the the PMC that rides it and they make their own rules.

      Maté was booted off because Coons is a Senator, period.

  31. John Beech

    Tried opening a Bloomberg link. Opens instead, an page where I have to complete a recaptcha. This, presumably before gatekeeping me to the site. Me? I close the page as not worth my time because I don’t want to ID photos to train AI systems for anybody.

    So what I do instead is open Bloomberg directly and find the article. Of course, this deprives NC of the link credit, which saddens me but not enough to force me to click on bicycle photos for permission to visit a site. Sigh.

    Is everybody else experiencing this?

    1. Wukchumni

      You’re lucky, my Capcha was picking out ‘politicians I admire’ and as if i’d want AI to think somebody actually does.

    2. digi_owl bypass paywalls and archive the site on their own servers.

      The Captcha thing seems to be related to the DNS server one use to reach, or at least so it has been claimed elsewhere. Cloudflare’s and Google’s may be particularly problematic.

  32. DJG, Reality Czar

    USPS leaders forecast break even. I did my due diligence and read the article. But let’s keep in mind that the post office is mentioned in the U.S. constitution, unlike corporations, and worrying about break-even is like worrying if the state department is breaking even.

    DeJoy engaging in bizness-bilgewater: “Our efforts to grow revenue and reduce labor and transportation costs were simply not enough to overcome our costs to stabilize our organization, the historical inflationary environment we encountered and our inability to obtain the [Civil Service Retirement System] reform we sought,” he said.

    Sheesh. No one believes any of this crapola anymore. The post office is a utility, and universal delivery is a guarantee of to the citizenry.

    Meanwhile, just to remind U.S. peeps of how little you get for your buck, I am on a list for Americans living in Italy. A pal wrote a comment today to start a discussion on the merits and perils of the Italian post office (Poste Italiane, which is privatized, ironically). She mentioned how long it takes to get through the lines.

    But collectively, we did point out the flawed system’s many merits:
    –You can have a postal bank account and withdraw from post-office ATMs.
    –You can draw payments from some pensions through the post office.
    –You can pay your “ta.ri,” tassa sui rifiuti, the “garbage tax” at the post office.
    –You can pay telephone bills for certain of the major providers.
    –You can pay electric and gas bills for most of the major providers.
    –You can mail a package.
    –You can file for your electronic i.d., “SPID,” if you happen to need “SPID.”
    –You can pay medical bills (coming from the SSN, national health).
    –And the groovy “Filatelia” department in Turin’s gorgeous central post office is chock-a-block with commemorative stamps, first-day envelopes, commemorative postcards, books of poetry that can be mailed, posters…

    I believe that it was commenter NotTimothyGeithner who pointed out a day or so ago that the Democrats don’t want to govern and that proof of it is that DeJoy is still around. Biden should have booted out the whole postal governing board. Instead, lazy grifter that he is, he left DeJoy to wallow in the wreckage, sort of like Zelensky but with stamps.

    1. cnchal

      “Twice-annual, above-inflation postage hikes are worsening the USPS’ financial woes and trapping it in quicksand, as even more mail is driven out of the system,” Keep US Posted Executive Director Kevin Yoder, a former Congressman from Kansas, said in a statement.

      Keep US Posted, which represents businesses that rely on the USPS, such as greeting-card companies, magazines and catalog businesses, said the losses shows that Congress should “provide more oversight.”

      Those businesses are already heavily subsidized. That is media mail and they pay a small fraction of what regular mail pays.

      What happened to me is that at the end of January 2020 the old system of calculating prices, weight and distance with “balloon” charges for oversize packages was changed to dimensional weigh and my shipping prices near quadrupled instantaneously. Since then it has become insaner. For example what used to be priced at just below $20 went to $73 and now that same service is over $100. My annual spend at the USPS went from $25K to zero. Having your financial guts ripped out by degenerate criminals running USPS is reality. I do chuckle at the complaints about low level inflation when I got handed a 500% inflation on shipping prices.

      I must say that the employees there do a good jawb. Rarely was a package damaged and I cannot remember one going missing, which contrasts with UPS where damaged packages are routine and one time I sent three packages to the same destination and one of them vanished in a UPS warehouse.

      I put the infinity symbol beside the dollar sign when quoting shipping prices. USPS may as well do the same. They will destroy themselves sooner or later. What they are counting on is victimizing grandmas sending puffy jackets to their grandchildren, but they are running out of victims as they can only get away with it once per victim, then its off to UPS.

      The other knock on effects are that business customers switched to UPS or even worse, handed their ass to Amazon. I used to joke that the only middleman between myself and customers were the delivery people. The joke is on me, now.

    2. digi_owl

      I am guessing it is under heavy pressure from alternate service providers, thanks to EU postal directives.

      Growing up all that used to be present up here in the north as well, but now the “post office” is a counter in some corner of a grocery store or similar with the employees doing double duty. And the banking services were sold of to the largest private bank decades ago.

      And particularly irksome is the discontinuation of the postal ID card, that was fully valid national ID that could be had from any office by filling out a bit of paperwork and submitting a photo. The only remaining IDs now are a drivers license and a “EU passport”.

  33. Glen

    More for Imperial Collapse Watch:

    Personnel Shortage At U.S. Coast Guard Sinks 10 Cutters, 29 Stations

    Here’s a good analysis by “What’s Going On With Shipping”:

    Personnel Shortage At U.S. Coast Guard Sinks 10 Cutters & 29 Stations

    I know that after 9/11, the Coast Guard picked up additional security duties. I wonder how much of this remains?

    The US Navy is in a similar situation (has been for quite a while) where it has been sailing it’s ships short handed. This has been one of the reasons it has been working to increase the automation on the ships so that it can reduce the crew. However, the primary function of the large crews really only comes into focus when the missiles start flying – fire fighting and repairing damage. I have never seen a study comparing survivability of more traditional ships vs. highly automated ships, but I suspect highly automated ships don’t do to well.

    My guess, and it’s only a guess is that DoD recruiting is down because twenty years of endless stupid wars, and slumping pay and benefits for actually people in the military despite record funding to the DoD, but it’s only a guess, and I wonder what others have heard.


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