Links 12/3/2023

Plant Fungus Has Been Caught in an Evolutionary Leap Science Alert. Opposable thumbs?

The Eyepopping Factory Construction Boom in the US Wolf Street

Vibes vs. data Noah Smith, Noahpinion


Greenhouse gas emissions soar – with China, US and India most at fault Guardian

COP28: US touts climate leadership as oil and gas output hits record Reuters

COP28: 22 nations pledge to triple nuclear generation capacity by 2050 S&P Global

US joins in other nations in swearing off coal power to clean the climate AP. The US is joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance. Neither China nor India are members. Handy chart:

One does wonder if China needs the coal to manufacture and charge all those EVs….

* * *

The problem with EVs is they’re made in China Felix Salmon, Axios

US moves to choke China’s role in electric vehicle supply chain FT

* * *

Heavy snow brings chaos to southern Germany as Munich suspends flights Guardian. Video:

Five grassroots climate justice movements COP28 could learn from Al Jazeera

Russian billionaire touts woolly mammoths as climate fix Bloomberg (Furzy Mouse).

Ancient redwoods recover from fire by sprouting 1000-year-old buds Science


China’s Economic Heft Sinks for First Time in Three Decades Bloomberg

Chinese borrowers default in record numbers as economic crisis deepens FT

China’s economy is suffering from long covid The Economy. But not the West’s, totally.

* * *

National security studies are going mainstream in China. Will it breed a new Chinese elite? SCMP. First, China follows the West’s lead in whacking a few million people with Covid. Now, they’re creating The Blob With Chinese Characteristics. None of this will end well.

* * *

Pentagon: US arms industry struggling to keep up with China Politico

The Most Dangerous Conflict No One Is Talking About The Atlantic

Indonesia’s ambitions to be a hub to store carbon emissions could be risky business Channel News Asia


Civilians are ‘center of gravity’ in Gaza war: US defense secretary Reuters. Indeed!

Israeli offensive shifts to crowded southern Gaza, driving up death toll despite evacuation orders AP. “Despite” is doing a lot of work, there.

Basic Principles of Humanity New York Review of Books

* * *

Israel’s Netanyahu vows to continue war with Hamas ‘until all aims achieved’ France24

Zim container ships divert as threat to Israel-linked vessels mounts Freight Waves

Israel is turning into Lebanon Unherd

* * *

How Saudis overcame “reputational damage” Indian Punchline

Seems a propos:

New Not-So-Cold War

Russia maintains hope to fully occupy Ukraine – General Staff report Ukrainska Pravda

Ukraine conducts new attack on Russian railway deep in Siberia Euractiv

Ukraine’s security service alleges Russian plot involving ex-president Reuters

Is Hersh story on secret Ukraine peace talks true? Asia Times

Rheinmetall plans to start producing its armoured vehicles in Ukraine in 2024 Ukrainska Pravda

South of the Border

Police charge director of Miss Nicaragua pageant with running ‘beauty queen coup’ plot CBS

Biden Administration

White House creates cabinet-level supply chain council Supply Chain Dive. “The council will be co-chaired by the National Security Advisor and National Economic Advisor.” And not Pete Buttigieg. How odd.


Trump says 14th amendment cases, media made him ‘much more popular’ than ever before The Hill. And he’s not wrong, is he?

Trump calls out immigration crisis during Iowa caucus rally, says he will keep world peaceful, safe FOX

Speaker Mike Johnson says he thinks he has the votes to authorize Biden impeachment inquiry NBC

‘Escape liberal hell’: Republicans really are fleeing WA Seattle Times

Our Famously Free Press

Not a Nothingburger: My Statement to Congress on Censorship Matt Taibbi, Racket News

Digital Watch

The Inside Story of Microsoft’s Partnership with OpenAI The New Yorker

Why the Entire AI World Was Talking About ‘Q’ This Week Gizmodo

The end of business-class A.I. doomerism Read Max

Law secretly drafted by ChatGPT makes it onto the books The Register

Facebook Announces Human Trafficking Now Allowed On Marketplace The Onion

Supply Chain

Cash, Cars, Chemicals (and Corn) Phenomenal World

Sports Desk

Understanding the African sports economy Africa Is a Country

The rise of cricket podcasts: a perfect medium for a sprawling game Guardian

Class Warfare

Waffle House Has The Worst Employee Food Policy Mashed

Drunk and Asleep on the Job: Air Traffic Controllers Pushed to the Brink NYT. What’s wrong with the labor market? ‘Tis a mystery!

The national riders’ strike in France is bad news for Uber Eats and for Emmanuel Macron: Interview with CGT’s Ludo Rioux Brave New Europe

The US needs to improve the quality of infrastructure jobs, not just create more of them Brookings Institution

Yale Awards 80 Percent of Grades in the A Range Jonathan Turley. New York Spy magazine once had a movie critic (not, I think, Walter Monheit) who only awarded movies four and five stars. I guess they were a Yalie…

Himmelsbriefe: Heaven-Sent Chain Letters JSTOR Daily. Going viral in print.

Fossil Preparation: View From The Cheap Seats Fossils and Other Living Things.

Notes on Complexity: A Buddhist Scientist on the Murmuration of Being The Marginalian

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Rui

    Wolf Ritcher: Blowing up Nordstream really is paying America dividends with industry transferring from Europe en masse.

    1. timbers

      But it looks nicer in graphs. Even when they obfuscate the reasons. Tis a kinder, gentler explanation.

    2. The Rev Kev

      You know that line from that old 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life” that says ‘Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings’? Well it’s kinda like that- ‘Every time a factory closes in Germany a new one gets built in the USA.’

        1. timbers

          Hmm. Is there a trend in these WS articles? In each, the “edgy” trade relationship with China is mentioned. But that’s been going on for what….6 or more years starting – at dramatically – with Trump? Yet no mention of Nordstream which IMO is a more likely cause, and that very big spike towards the end is a much closer chronological match to Nordstream.

            1. ambrit

              Wait, wait. Do you mean to tell me that Obama is the “pivot man” in this circle jerk?
              Next you’ll be telling us that Kissinger is ‘allergic’ to garlic.

            2. timbers

              I more than once posted comments to that affect in response to China phobic posts, yet they always were promptly disappeared. WS has a substantial China phobic following and W seems to be similar bent and is very aggressive at altering and deleting posts. IMO China’s trade advantages were by design of US business & elites. WS sees it as a diabolical Chinese plot.

        2. Mikel

          Wolf is in the comments over there with shots fired:

          Dec 3, 2023 at 7:26 am

          The way Europe is willingly paying for its own deindustrialization and transfer to the US really shows how successful the USA has been in coopting EU ‘elites’. We are run by traitors.

          Wolf Richter
          Dec 3, 2023 at 12:33 pm

          LOL. Europe has had a HUGE trade surplus with the US for decades. The EU, with its industrial policy, has abused US openness to European products while protecting its own markets. Time to slow down this trend a little.

          1. Karl

            Wolf’s comment suggests the bombing of Nordstream was a way for the U.S. to tell Europe “we’re tired of funding Russia’s cheap energy exports to the EU through the EU’s trade surplus with the USA.” That would suggest that U.S. bombing of Nordstream had a trade rationale (at least in part). The U.S. was apparently willing to tolerate this until the Russian invasion of Ukraine made the whole European business model geopolitically untenable.

            This might also help explain Europe’s acquiescence to the new pressure to find other sources of energy or “de industrialize”. Europe, I think, realizes the U.S. has been giving them a free ride on cheap Russian energy for decades, putting U.S. workers and firms at a big trade disadvantage.

            This line of thinking may also explain U.S. eagerness to get Ukraine into NATO, as a sort of quid pro quo: OK, if Russia is going to derive energy arbitrage benefit from Europe’s net exports to the U.S., the U.S. will get something out of it–geopolitical gains in Europe. At least the NATO gambit would test what future Putin prefers: energy exports or national security (secure borders vis-a-vis Europe).

            This kind of thinking, of course, is what ultimately leads to world wars. Why couldn’t the U.S. tolerate Russia-Europe economic integration? One pillar of the late Henry Kissinger’s thought was that stronger economic ties would give adversaries strong incentives to avoid war. The reverse seems also true: rending those ties asunder will make war more likely.

            What are we thinking?

    3. Kouros

      I was thinking about that but with respect to the Noahopinion article. Plus the fact that EU has socialised healthcare.

    4. BeliTsari

      Picking war to save US fracking, cracking & bitumen refining was only the beginning? Venezuela, West Africa & the Baltic distract from offshore drilling & pipelines Likud needed to facilitate (by any means, but quickly). We’re mysteriously NOT hearing Biden’s TikTok trolls screaming, “drill, baby DRILL?” But Fetterman & Squad’s 180° on Obama’s planet destroying FRACKING Ponzi scheme has now gone global & everyone wants their little taste?

    1. Bugs

      Had a dusting in Normandy this morning. Already gone and muddy. I’d prefer a couple days of hard freeze for my bulbs.

      1. Irrational

        Nothing in Luxembourg at ca. 300m altitude.
        A dusting on Monday and again on Wednesday, which ere gone by mid-day.

    2. Skip Intro

      ‘That’s a nice Atlantic Meridional Overturn Circulation ya got there, it would be a shame if something were to happen to it…’

  2. VTDigger

    I guess young Noah hasn’t tried to buy or rent basic shelter lately…maybe if I stop “vibing” housing will come down?

    1. Joe Well

      There is massive denial among renters and homeowners who are one layoff away, or one rent increase away, from the street. They see those insane rents for new renters and it sinks in in the background that there is no margin of safety.

    2. Jesper

      I think you might be on to something. I might add my thoughs as well starting with a quote from his piece:

      And since the weird break between economic fundamentals and consumer confidence appears to exist only in America

      There is a difference and then further down in another paragraph he then writes this:

      I suspect U.S. social and political factors as the cause of the peculiar presence of negative narratives

      What social and political factors might explain it?

      One difference that might explain some could be the social safety nets. Losing a job where there is a good/strong social security net can be bad but losing a job where the social security net is bad/weak might be a disaster.
      I suspect that people who are facing potential devastating consequences from a recession might look more closely at potential signs for a coming recession as they believe that they need to start preparing for surviving the recession at first sign of recession.
      I lived through a recession in Ireland, lost my job and the social safety net was not enough to cover rent meaning that I had to use savings to cover the shortfall in rent, to pay for utilities and for food. In Sweden the loss of a job would not have caused such a shortfall. In the US there might be an even sharper drop in incomings and possibly also a loss of health insurance cover.
      I suspect that people who lived through a recession in the US, experienced the consequences themselves and/or saw family or friends experience it might be more anxious about a possible new recession than people in Europe as the consequences of a recession seem to be a lot worse for people in the US. People might feel a need to individually prepare and to prepare they need to look for signs of risk. Possibly that is part of the explanation of the particular presence of negative narratives (about the economy) in the US.

      1. Michaelmas

        Jesper: …a quote from his piece … since the weird break between economic fundamentals and consumer confidence appears to exist only in America … then further down in another paragraph he then writes this … I suspect U.S. social and political factors as the cause of the peculiar presence of negative narratives

        The Financial Times just ran a strangely similar ‘Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes …The US economy is great’ article by some kid called John Burn-Murdoch, who’s supposedly the FT’s ‘chief data reporter.’

        Again, it pushes the ‘vibes’ line, although with more professionally faked-up statistics and graphs. If anyone cares ….

        Should we believe Americans when they say the economy is bad? In an increasingly polarised and performative society, vibes are now often trumping objective reality

        An archived version without the paywall —

        More evidence for this being the stupidest timeline, I suppose, if the Biden regime and the Dems are seriously tryng to pursue a policy of telling Americans that they’re morons for being so hung up on their actual lived experience that they don’t understand the economy is doing great, honestly.

        1. eg

          Same schtick as the most recent NPR (retch) Planet Money episode — clearly the corporate media organs have been given their marching orders …

    3. griffen

      Couldn’t finish…else I lose what little I’ve consumed thus far on Sunday morning. Dear goodness gracious (and the Lord himself, unless you prefer not), the Fed released a report this week that belies how magical persistent inflation continues to be. There is this benefit of falling cost of oil per the WTI price per barrel. There is a parallel earth these people, such as the author here and a few others who write comparably bad drivel ( particularly, one author at the New Republic ).

      Life is indeed swell for the billionaire class. I am trying to look on the bright side, and outside of economic discussions Saturday featured a schedule of college football championship games. Feasting as it were!

    4. MSH

      Shelter, food, fuel, and health care costs. I would think that is what concerns most people. I believe every single one of these have increased significantly in the last 3-4 years. More of our income going to necessities. That will definitely give an exploitation “vibe”.

      1. polar donkey

        Here are a few anecdotal economic data points from Memphis. Amazon hired a bunch of people for xmas rush. So far it has been very slow at the Amazon warehouses here and most of the new hires got laid off at the end of their probationary periods. BBQ places here have substantial shipping businesses and xmas is their busiest time of the year. So far BBQ shipping volume has been “scary slow”, and its not like foot traffic in the restaurants is up either. Slow on that side too. Finally, the mushroom spore business has slowed down a lot since summer and much more price sensitive. Running sales gets the sales volume back up, but once normal prices return, volume drops like a rock.

    5. Mikel

      I think this is going to be the most insufferable election year so far (within my lifetime).
      What’a going to matter is people’s lived experience at the time they vote. Not projections.

    6. EMC

      Or car insurance, home insurance, new brake pads or a decent loaf of bread. You can choose your data. He’s not using mine.

    7. TomDority

      Vibe on low Job participation rates
      Vibe on wage increases per income bracket over 30yrs.
      Vibe on GINI coefficient
      Vibe on how the metrics are constructed.
      Vibe on education, health care, prescription, shelter, transportation – ie Cost of living increases
      Vibe on

    8. Strovenovus

      What a farce. Noah wants to combat “vibes” on ExTwitter. I’d wager that the people who are suffering the most from skyrocketing prices don’t give a wet fart about what the gadflies on social media believe. If you can barely cover your month-to-month expenses or simply can’t afford a house in the real world, that’s going to dampen your view of the future.

      But let’s blame it on the voters: “According to this chart prepared by experts showing how you’re supposed to feel, you’re not meeting expectations. Believe harder, proles!”

      People like Noah Smith, with their oh-so earnest elitist delusions, can’t be flushed away soon enough.

      1. Ranger Rick

        One of the most fascinating parts of modern American life is that even homeless people have smartphones. (Thanks, Obama!) They can post about it on Twitter all day long.

        1. Janie

          Without smart phones, they could not keep track of medical, employment or unemployment status, where there might be food or shelter, etc. i think a phone is a necessity on the streets.

    9. Sutter Cane

      No doubt a preview of the Democrat’s strategy for the upcoming election: “Actually the economy is doing great, you imbeciles!” I’m sure that will go over well with the electorate.

      1. Feral Finster

        See, a two bedroom apartment is actually interchangeable with a large cardboard box, at least if you are a peon!

    10. Chris Smith

      Noah is just like every other Democrat – he thinks everything is a PR problem. I noticed this years ago, during the Obama administration when some spokesperson or other was on NPR talking about Obama care subsidies. The NPR interviewer was talking about how people were finding the subsidies inadequate to afford insurance. The spokesperson started talking about how they just needed an informational/PR campaign to better explain the benefits of Obama care. I’m driving to work thinking, instead of spending money on a PR campaign, why not spend money to increase the subsidy and actually address the problem people are having?

      I read this happy clappy garbage from Noah, and think about my own lived experience as a legal aid attorney in upstate New York. Homelessness is increasing and more often than not, once someone loses their home through eviction they are ending up in homeless encampments. It’s not “vibes” its that the majority of people are one layoff/hours reduction/rent increase away from ending up on the street. And yes, there are plenty of fast food jobs in town that go unfilled, but then again, you can’t afford rent around here on a fast food job without a section 8 subsidy. Plus, with gas still through the roof around here ($3.70+/gal) who can afford to drive an hour each way to a fast food place in town? (And let’s not even get into Noah’s nonsense about SNAP. I’ve done hundreds of SNAP cases over the past 20 years; Noah is blowing smoke.)

      Maybe, just maybe, if the Democrats did something substantive to house and feed people, improve working conditions (just ask a railway worker) they would win elections handily. But that’s not to be. Remember “Build Back Better”? Noah and the rest of the Dems certainly don’t want you to remember.

      It’s not “vibing” Noah, it’s genuine fear born from the awareness that financial ruin is too close for comfort for almost all of us.

      1. Reply

        PR and other examples of Know-it-all Arrogance PMC inspirational guidance. That should spark a fund-raising frenzy among the NPR true believers. If only they could salivate harder!

        New slogan: Existed Experience.

        That should test better than Subsistence Slog or Moribund Death Spiral. ;p

    11. chris

      I think Noah and many others like him are beguiled by statistics and metrics that we have gamed to be less representative of reality.

      1. JBird4049

        My disability COLA increase for next year is 3.2%, while inflation has been around 8%. It is like this every year.

        Noah seems to think that his statistics are reality, when they are faulty representations, which accurate or not, and still show the decline of living standards during the past forty years. Pretty statistics that are a gloss to hide the true suffering, much like San Francisco’s recent upgrade to its façade. Yes, the city is prettier, which is a nice improvement, but the now hidden homeless are still homeless.

        The bump in positive numbers is still only a bump even if the numbers are true, which is doubtful. Meanwhile the cost of flour, meat, and other things has increased considerable. Even if an item’s marked cost has not gone up, the shrinkflation is strong.

        Anyways, his use of these stats makes more aware of just how careful I have to be when doing such number crunching.

        Still, if Noah has sincerely deceived himself, what does that say about the people running the American Zoo? I am going to mentally increase the chances of the King in Orange being back for 2024.

        1. ACPAL

          “..the shrinkflation is strong.”

          I was watching “The Poplar Report” on YouTube and people are reporting that chicken packers are now injecting up to 30% water to increase the weight. They’ve been doing that to ham for a long time. I haven’t checked on turkeys but they’re probably the same now. I suppose beef will be next.

    12. Jason Boxman

      As near as I can tell, this guy’s an arsehole:

      I don’t want to pick on this one random Twitter guy and his non-expert analysis. Nor do I want to suggest that a random person’s Twitter rant represents American popular opinion. But I think the thread demonstrates how negative economic narratives can form a sort of gestalt impression that colors people’s views of the facts in ways that make it more difficult for them to decide whether they actually approve or disapprove of what’s going on in the real economy. So I want to go through a few of the man’s point here.

      (bold mine)

      So gatekeeping secrets of the economy, only Noah knows. You must listen, youngun.

      Anyway, the errors continue throughout the thread. He vastly exaggerates the number of workers in the U.S. who can’t afford housing and the number of people who report that they’re experiencing food insecurity. He argues that projected net job creation isn’t enough to keep up with population growth, ignoring the huge number of retirements that are also forecast. He claims everyone is behind on their credit card and car loans, when actually delinquencies are down. And so on. At every turn, his negative narrative about the economy drives his misinterpretation of the numbers.

      Speaking from authority. Everyone is wrong. Noah knows! Listen to him! he speaks from authority!

      Meanwhile, out on planet Earth, I’ll roll with groceries I buy being up notably over the past two years, and auto insurance up again, with no cheaper quotes at hand so far, and Internet going up again next year when my promo expires.

      So this guy is an Establishment hack, from what I glean from the Wikipedia page:

      Smith originally studied physics and graduated with a B.S. from Stanford University in 2003. After Stanford, Smith changed to Economics with the intention of eventually becoming an economic commentator and pundit.[2] Smith started blogging in graduate school, on Google’s Blogger platform, inspired by his original goal, as well as feeling disaffected with studying macroeconomics. He attributes the blog’s early success to established pundits and economists such as J. Bradford DeLong, Mark Thoma and Paul Krugman reading and referencing it. During this time, Smith also wrote articles for Quartz, with his advisor, Miles Kimball.[3] Smith obtained his doctorate in Economics from the University of Michigan in 2012 and began teaching as an assistant professor at Stony Brook University.[4][5]

      (bold mine)

      What more need you know?

    13. Greg

      The whole thing is drivel, but it immediately leapt out at me that he’s got an underlying definitional error. He assumes that government stats are “data” and social media is “vibes”. But there is plenty of evidence (used extensively by democrats to make other points) that government stats are “narrative” and that social media, in sufficient quantity, is “data”.

    14. Pookah Harvey

      Noah says:

      The fact that the problem is U.S.-specific suggests that either a special feature of American society and politics is at work here, or the American media and social media landscape differs from Europe’s in key ways.

      He immediately ignores special features of American politics as compare to European. Sometime ago Barry Ritholtz wrote an article; “Substitutions and Hedonics: Inflation Data Absurdities”.
      He noted that due to the American data adjustment absurdities:

      By the time the UK inflation arrives here, it’s so tired by its swim across the pond that it can’t move the BLS needle at all.

      With higher inflation numbers the divergence between European and American Cost-of-Living data will increase even more. This would mean that the divergence between actual inflation and government numbers will be much higher in the US than in Europe. Increases in Cost-of-Living is a main driver of consumer confidence. Maybe the US economy is better measured by consumer confidence than drummed up government data.
      A better explanation than “vibes”?

    15. Bryan

      You people just don’t understand, in this economy, with so many job offerings, it’s easier to get a second and third job to cover expenses.

    16. Adam

      If Noah thinks it’s all just vibes, he could at least bother to get his facts right. Per the Census Bureau, reported household income factoring in inflation went down 2.3% in 2022 (after a slight decrease in 2021 as well). And if you think they are undercounting inflation, then the decrease in income would be even worse.

      There is one image he has that says otherwise, but instead of the article the image came up it links to some random twitter account so you can’t even easily check what the graph is based on.

    17. Glen

      And yet then you see articles like this from the Brookings Institute:

      The US needs to improve the quality of infrastructure jobs, not just create more of them

      But to maximize the economic reach of this historic funding, federal, state, and local leaders need to move beyond job creation numbers. They need to improve the quality of infrastructure jobs.

      I guess what that boils down to is these jobs need to pay more. I look at the median salaries in that article, and I wonder how people can get by with such low salaries. And I have to admit it is a change from decades ago when it seemed as if the MSM was full of stories about how bus drivers and sanitation workers, et al were paid too much and had too good benefits. It almost seemed as if in the 80-90’s that people were “trained” to want to tear down what had been good middle class jobs.

      But’s what is noticeable in the many articles lately about how the statistics report that people should not be complaining is a lack of anybody asking why the data and the public are not aligned, and what should be done to fix that. Nor just the acknowledgement that at some point life in general has been so encrapified over the last forty years that at some point the dogs no longer eat the dog food. And having a President come along and after two years announce everything is all better just denies reality. His poll numbers would probably go up if he admitted that average Americans are struggling, but the Democratic party does seem to have a lock on the delusional denial of reality so that will never happen.

    18. eg

      The only site I’ve ever been banned from is Noah’s substack. His neoliberal orthodox “ditto heads” must be incredibly thin skinned.

      I welcome their hatred and wear the banning as a badge of honour …

  3. William Beyer

    “Why the entire world was talking about “Q” this week?” – Perhaps AI has unlocked the secret of the Q (Quadium)-bomb; is Duchess Gloriana on the board of that company?

    1. GramSci

      Yawn. In 1964 daniel Bobrow’s ‘AI’ program STUDENT solved the followng grade school math problem:

      If the number of customers Tom gets is twice the square of 20% of the number of advertisements he runs, and the number of advertisements is 45, then what is the number of customers Tom gets?

      1. Acacia

        Now, there’s a name that takes me back. Around 1982, I heard Bobrow give a talk about his then-recent “AI” research. After the talk, one of my colleagues in the audience asked: “so, this is… what… just kind of a big pile of IF statements…?” Bobrow looked embarrassed and had no response.

      2. Greg

        It’s probably pertinent to point out that sort of “math” problem is really mostly a language problem, and would be correctly answered by significantly more students if expressed formulaically to remove the language aspect (x = 2(sqrt(45*.20)). The stupid word order English uses is most of the difficulty.

        And our current “AI” is language and index toys.

        1. Laura in So Cal

          Interesting. I read it as x=2((45×.20) squared) which would give an answer of 162 vs your answer of 6. This sort of proves your point. However only 1/2 of math is solving the equation and the other 1/2 is using it for real life which is where the word problems come in.

        2. Jeff W

          “The stupid word order English uses is most of the difficulty.”

          I think that’s right. Word problems in math are more like English parsing tests—you have to recast the words into mathematically-equivalent equations.

          Just rewording the problem, e.g., “The number of advertisements is 45. Take 20% of that number, square the result, then double that. That’s the number of Tom’s customers. What’s that number?”—makes it a lot easier. It hardly seems like a word problem in math at all. (I read the problem as Laura did, which, looking online, seems to yield the expected answer.)

          That’s consistent with my view that we’re often not that good at behavior analysis—here, is it mainly English ability or math?—when it comes to people and that carries over into the AI world.

    2. Jonhoops

      The key fact not mentioned in that article is that there was a purported leaked email floating around claiming that Q-star had broken the highest level of AES encryption. The email in question could be a fake and there was plenty of speculation going on about that in various online circles. It certainly would be more plausible to believe in this causing the freak out than being able to solve grade school math problems.

  4. The Rev Kev

    What singer Eric Bogle said in that song “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” came true. There are no more vets left from WW1 left to march. When I was a kid I saw vets from the Boer war but they went a long time ago. Of course those guys are lionized but the soldiers themselves had a cynical saying about their place in things-

    ‘They shipped us out here as convicts and then shipped us back again as cannon fodder. And when it was all over they shipped the survivors back for their true mission in life – raising cheap wheat and wool for England.’

    A good song to book-end this one is a song about the Vietnam war called “I was only 19”. For any American Vietnam vets listening to this, the place names and the like will be unfamiliar but I bet that a lot still is- (4:26 mins)

    1. Carolinian

      I’m reading a book about the late 40s origin of the Vietnam War and the period sounds remarkably like now except then it was the French clinging to the remnants of their empire and now it’s the US. Even though the US version is more of a financial and behind the scenes CIA empire, the motives are the same. That is, “national greatness” is at stake. And of course lots of money for the ruling class was also at stake via colonialism, then and now. It was about their riches, but also their egos.

      Ironically the US under FDR was at the forefront of anti-colonialism and believed the colonial period that had inspired the two world wars was over. His successor was far more sympathetic to the national greatness cadre and, like Biden now, was politically weak and therefore vulnerable to influence by those who could help him stay in power. Phil Weiss cites the Jon Judis book Genesis as saying that money given to pay for his whistle stop tour saved his second term and caused him to change his mind about support for the creation of Israel.

      The Founders thought that wars should be kept out of the hands of kings and individuals with unaccountable power. They were right. By 1952 Truman was very unpopular indeed but too late to change all that had happened.

      1. John Wright

        Vietnam could be viewed as an earlier USA proxy war effort as the USA considerably funded early French military efforts in Vietnam.


        “In 1954, the United States’ investment in the French military effort reached $1 billion, making up about 80% of the cost of the war.”

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I do not disbelieve the claim that the u.s. paid for 80% of the French War in Vietnam, but I did not see any reference for that claim and the source — Portland Center Stage — looks a little edgy.

          1. John Wright

            I recall hearing Daniel Ellsberg making this claim during a radio interview, but perhaps my recollection is faulty.

            I can’t find further documentation of the 80% figure.

            Perhaps it is buried in the Pentagon Papers?

            Here are some early mentions of US funding the French from


            “14 January-1950

            A U.S. Department of Defense Committee recommended that the U.S. expend $15 million on military aid to combat communism in Vietnam. Secretary of State Dean Acheson said that U.S. military aid might be “the missing component” in defeating communist insurgency in Vietnam. Thus, the U.S. was preparing to become financially involved in the conflict in Vietnam.”

            “11 May-1950

            The U.S. Department of State announced that, following consultations with France by Secretary of State Acheson, the U.S. would fulfill Acheson’s earlier promise and provide military and economic aid to Southeast Asia, especially to the government of Bảo Đại. In the words of The Pentagon Papers, “The United States thereafter was directly involved in the developing tragedy in Vietnam””

    2. ArvidMartensen

      Images of the horrors of ANZAC Cove + the song as sung by the writer, Eric Bogle

      I saw Eric sing his song a number of times many years ago and it was always heartfelt and sobering.

      My partner’s grandfather survived the ANZAC Cove massacre. Just.
      So they sent him to the front line of WWI in France to reprise his experience.
      As one of the UK generals said “What’s a few more men?” [slaughtered].

    1. The Rev Kev

      Boy, did those two social scientists ever get born into the wrong country. Here we take in sarcasm with our mother’s milk and hone it to a fine art by the time we hit our teens as a sort of droll, dry humour.

      Always said that you can shout, jeer and criticize our elites all you want and they will pay it no heed but when you mock them and ridicule them, that is when they start losing it and trying to make laws to stop it. Can you, for example, imagine Bill Gates walking into an auditorium only to have all the people there laugh and jeer at him? He would totally lose the plot.

      That article blames humour for The Voice referendum being lost. Funny thing that. In the weeks that followed, all these State and Local governments were announcing that they were halting all these treaties and agreements being negotiated and were shelving them. The problem? Nobody knew anything at all about any of these negotiations. It was all being done in back rooms and was not being reported on at all. I think that we just dodged a bullet.

      1. ambrit

        The last lines are priceless.
        “This has been a message from your local government franchise. Good luck.”

        1. JBird4049

          The spirit of those clips is spot on for the United States as well. The details here are different, but the efforts to block reforms to keep the “two party system” duopoly is the same.

          It is nice(?) to know that the “Enshittement” is truly an international project.

  5. John Beech

    Nice tuxedo antidote. We’ve been catless for six years, and if I’m mistaken, then dating almost precisely to the first time I recall first seeing cucumber-and-cats YouTube videos of them exhibiting their next-thing-to-teleporting leap of escape in the face of possible danger. Cukes, or a zucchini, when placed next to them surreptitiously whilst eating seems to provide endless comedic fodder.

    Anyway, while we’ve previously never gone more than a few months without one, and *not* looking because the universe will provide, this has nevertheless been a long stretch. Especially for a couple who like the critters. Moreover, not looking now because we’ve recently integrated my 87 y/o Mom into our household and she’s not sufficiently agile to be around cats whom, as is their wont, like to lead from the front. My not unreasonably concern being her tripping and breaking a hip being the the principal reason I refrain from taking matters in hand and visiting the shelter.

    Our last kitty was dumped as a kitten on the road we live on by some heartless person who could have turned it into a shelter with just a little more effort once they had it within the car. Nevertheless, I’m certain, given enough time, this too shall pass. Rather looking forward to the next kitten, whilst mindful of the Ogden Nash line line regarding, ‘The trouble with a kitten is that eventually it becomes a cat.’

    1. Pat

      I hope your cat finds you soon. After the fates intervene I bet Mom, and everyone, will benefit from some fur and purr therapy.

      Love the tuxie.

    1. Bugs

      Catherine Liu is very interesting.

      Would love to read a review of her book here. She speaks my like a comrade and has a sense of humor about these PMC who ruin everything.

    2. Roger Blakely

      Thanks for posting this interview. Looking her up, I see that Catherine Liu is a professor at UC Irvine.

    3. Roger

      Classic “critical” analysis without any political economic insight, thinking that the courtier class have power when in fact all they are doing is serving the owning class, i.e. the 1% and the 19%. Since WW2 the academy has been heavily policed to not use any kind of critical political economy/historical materialist analysis, so we get this “critical” style analysis which completely ignores the ownership class elephant.

      In the past five decades the ownership class has become much more dominant in society (concentration of wealth, concentration of the media, concentration of MIC contractors, monopolization/oligopolization of so many markets, Supreme Court rulings that money is speech etc.), but to mention that we live in an oligarchy is academic career suicide in academia and certainly wont get you published by US university presses (some European ones may publish your work) and gain mainstream media interviews.

      Liu is professor in the Departments of Film and Media Studies/Visual Studies, Comparative Literature and English at the University of California, Irvine. A classic Frankfurt School non-materialist critical theorist, trained to see everything as “culture” rather than based in class relations (she would probably call such a view “classist”). Pointing “over there”, to keep you from looking where real power residers.

    4. ArvidMartensen

      Someone (can’t recall right now) refers to the PMC as the Professional Managerial Caste.
      I think that is a much better description of them.

  6. Michael Hammill

    Re: Israel is turning into Lebanon

    What a simplistic rubbish piece!

    “I have often fantasised about what it would be like to drive north from Israel, past the Roman temples, Crusader castles, and the sites of recent wars to visit Beirut — my own private fantasy of peace. I used to feel sure I would do it one day.”

    – perhaps Judah & Friedman can share a taxi together…

    1. Carolinian

      I thought it was good. You’ll have to get more specific if you expect anyone to agree with you. As for Thomas “Israel had me at hello” Friedman, you can insult him all you want. He seems to be getting dumber.

      1. anahuna

        That piece was so well-written that it had me convinced for a while that he must be a Jew who had lived in Lebanon and found refuge in Israel after the collapse. I still didn’t buy the attempt to blame everything on Iran and Netanyahu, but I could understand the fear of another society splintering and then exploding underneath you. However, a little research shows the author was born in London and identifies as Franco-British. Ties to the Hudson Institute and the Atlantic Council.

        Much more intelligent than Friedman, and depending on his reach, a more dangerous propagandist.

      2. John

        Simplistic and rubbish? Simplistic in what way? Rubbish? Show me. Had you actually said something, I might have been persuaded.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Israeli offensive shifts to crowded southern Gaza, driving up death toll despite evacuation orders”

    The Israelis have been dropping leaflets to let the people know where is ‘safe’ and the number of squares that they have divided Gaza up into has been likened to the game Battleship. But I heard today that if you get one of those leaflets, it has a QR code on it so that you can access that info. In a place that has no internet since the Israelis destroyed it. And no power to charge up your mobiles because again, the Israelis destroyed it. That is just the Israelis going out of their way to be cruel.

    1. digi_owl

      Cruel indifference most likely. I could see some desk jokey pick the public service announcement template, that automatically insert such a QR, out of habit and not thinking much about how useless it will be for a people cut off from modern amenities.

      What is the joke again? The smartest thing in the house of a IT engineer is a printer, and next to it is a gun for when the printer gets uppity.

    2. Verifyfirst

      It’s not a war. Shooting (civilian) fish in a barrel.

      And yes, deliberately depriving a captive civilian population of 2 million people of food, water, power, medical care etc. is an extreme war crime by any rational definition.

      Hashtag #Israelsovile

      So if all Palestinians are Hamas, then all Israeli’s are Netanyahu? Israeli election was a lot more recent than 2006…..

      1. anahuna

        Thank you. It’s not a war! is exactly what I find myself shouting at the headlines, over and over.

        I long for a headline that shouts: IT’S NOT A WAR.

      2. chris

        The question I keep asking friends when trying to persuade them that there might be a second perspective to consider here is what would they do if they were economically limited, politically constrained, barricaded in a ghetto, randomly murdered, and under a material resource blockade for 16 years? Yes, what Hamas did on 10/7 was awful. But given those circumstances, what would you do? And assuming you were the perpetrator of those injustices, what right would you have to expect that the people you kept in that prison would not try to strike out at you?

        I’ve seen that line of questioning occasionally produce more than confused blinking.

      3. Don

        And civilian deaths are not an unavoidable consequence of destroying Hamas, it is the primary goal; if in the course of killing 15,000+ civilians, a few Hamas are killed, it is neither here nor there.

  8. DJG, Reality Czar

    I started reading the piece by Popova at the Marginalian about Buddhism, complexity, and murmurations. Admittedly, I am a bad Catholic and a bad Buddhist. So I got distracted by the combination of what I consider scientific jargon and woo-woo.

    In the margin of Marginalian, I spied another piece. And in my not so humble opinion, this piece, in a contradictory and Zen way, gets at the Metta Sutra, at love as love and complexity as concern for all sentient beings. (Maybe I’m just not all that interested in the implied cosmology of the other piece on complexity.)

    Augustine as a Buddhist? But what Hannah Arendt writes fits squarely with Buddhist ethics (as well as much of Franciscan ethics and ideas, Saint Francis as a bodhisattva). It makes one wonder: Are ethics simply ethics simply ethics, a rose is a rose is a rose?

    You may want to give the second piece about Arendt a try if the first essay strikes you, as it did me, as too heady.

    1. Kouros

      I have seen a short videoclip with a small pride of lions walking on a dirt road and a little fox kind of injured lying there. And the lions moved the fox away from the road in a more sheltered place.

      There few animals that kill wantonly, humans included.

    2. Craig H.

      The Buddhism complexity piece was not bad!

      I’m going to nitpick at it though. The Schroedinger lecture referenced as a century ago was in 1956. Maybe he meant to say the last century, which is true.

      You could have fun with this construction. In the last century, when the Clintons were in the White House and Bill “did not have sex with Miss Lewinsky” . . .

      2 / 3 century – > 3 / 3 century is like a 50% mis over estimate.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Facebook Announces Human Trafficking Now Allowed On Marketplace”

    I wish The Onion would stop coming out with articles like this. Mark Zuckerberg is liable to see this and think it a great idea and use it. And if caught at it, he will whine how hard it is to keep human traffickers off Facebook like he has been saying recently how hard it is to keep kiddie predators off his Facebook. And yet he has no problem keeping Palestinian voices off Facebook. So, priorities?

    1. griffen

      It used to be the parents taught young children about avoidance of, and awareness of, using those reliable tropes. Say no to strangers. Stranger Danger! Avoid the weird man in the van with no windows just panels. Time to update those algos by the best minds at Meta.

      Better to instruct them today with a required watching of the Ted Bundy, or Jeffrey Dahmer, series on Netflix. People can be absolutely pure evil.

  10. ilsm

    Could the military industry congress complex ever compete with an efficient military industry?

    No. Not as it exists.

    ““serious” about buying the prototype weapons it’s developing in large numbers.”

    Look at the F-35! Buying so many before the prototype works

    This defines the mix of corruption and profit for ineptitude evident since the 1947 National Security Act and delivering profit to ‘for profit arsenals’ no matter how badly they deliver.

    If the balance sheets could be audited?

    The object in US must shift from cost plus guaranteed profit, no matter how ineffective the outcome. The jobs in districts paradigm must end. Ineffective companies must be allowed to bankrupt.

    What made the “arsenal of democracy” was turning the real economy into an arms industry. US lacks potential there.

    1. digi_owl

      The only time the military is efficient is during times of hot war, by turning nations into command economies.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      To your point on cost plus, guaranteed profit military contracts:

      Exclusive: Boeing eliminated from US Air Force’s ‘Doomsday Plane’ competition

      Two sources familiar with the situation said Boeing – the incumbent manufacturer of the E-4B – and the Air Force were unable to come to an agreement on data rights and contract terms, with the U.S. planemaker refusing to sign onto any fixed-price agreement that locks it into paying costs above an agreed limit.

      It’s their business model and they’re stickin’ to it.

      1. ilsm

        Cost plus the government has power (never exercised) to monitor tech performance (earned value management) and terminated when cost or schedule risk predict the job won’t get done. No manager I have seen did this, and most projects were high risk when they missed at 30% negative variance.

        Fixed price the government lets the contract take risk the government will bail them out. Which always happens.

        Two forms each mismanaged by one side or the other.

        The C in MICC is complex toward corrupt

        1. scott s.

          From the linked article:
          “Boeing’s defense unit has lost $1.3 billion this year on fixed-price development programs that include NASA’s Starliner and the next Air Force One. It has lost $16.3 billion on fixed-price programs since 2014, according to a Reuters review of Boeing’s regulatory filings.”

  11. Ep3

    Yves, gotta challenge the factory construction boom. Not so much that factories are being built. But where they are built and who is paying for them.
    Ford is currently fighting with a small town in Michigan over a battery factory. The town actually doesn’t want the factory but the state does.
    Ford wants to tear up acres of farmland to build this factory, and they want over a billion $$ in subsidies from the state to do it.
    Yves, there are hundreds of acres of vacant former factory land in Detroit, Lansing, Saginaw, flint, Jackson that they could take their subsidies & build there. they claim “brownfield” rules are far too costly to make rehabbing the land worth the investment. the state will give them money as brownfield tax credits to clean up their messes (remember they poisoned the land to begin with then left it abandoned for us to clean up).
    So who is truly funding this factory boom? And where is it happening? Is it truly growth? Or is it a company abandoning their “old” location to move to new suburban development?

    1. Alice X

      Too costly to rehab those old brown fields so let’s go create new ones! There are three former auto factories in my little burg that are sitting idle or underused.

      1. ambrit

        We have an abandoned chemical factory here in the Half-horse town in the North American Deep South. Also some other subsidiary warehouses, fab shops and the like. Always, the easy way is chosen. Proves the need for National Industrial Policy.

        1. Reply

          Biden minions inspecting for PPP Unhoused Undocumented Ungratefuls abodes? As long as there is a Capo Faithful Administration Nabob to herd the cats coordinate and collect fees, sign voter registration forms, pose for photo ops and monitor social media presence it’s all good.

      2. Jabura Basaidai

        and a vacant Ford plant in Ypsi right next to I94 – drove by it on the way to Metro this afternoon – as a Michigander i agree with AX & Ep3

    2. griffen

      There are or have been some pretty massive manufacturing plants built, or in the process of being built throughout the southeastern US. I can think of a large Toyota battery plant going up in North Carolina (linked below), a large SK battery plant going up in Georgia just a few clicks away from I – 85, and then here in South Carolina there are reportedly a few going up near to Spartanburg, near Charleston and perhaps another locale.

      I would go so far as to say or suggest, possibly state or local subsidies are influencing such decisions which of course is the cost of attracting large businesses.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Israel’s Netanyahu vows to continue war with Hamas ‘until all aims achieved”

    Of course Netanyahu is finding time, when not bombing the people of Gaza, to cover up the evidence of what happened on the first day of this war. There is this huge yard of cars destroyed on that day which almost certainly was caused by Israeli Apache choppers. Hamas soldiers were only armed as mobile light infantry and did not have the heavy weaponry to destroy the thousand-odd cars in total. So it has been announced that all those cars will be shredded and then buried in an ecologically-friendly manner in honour of the people that died in those cars-

    Of course that will destroy any forensic evidence but that is just a coincidence, I’m sure.

    1. Es s Ce tera

      Was just watching that vid of the 9 year old being shot and am struck by the fact that these kids are battle hardened, kept their cool under fire, instinctively knew their attackers sight lines, instinctively kept to cover, and were cooperating/coordinating/communicating even as the bullets were flying around them, trying to kill them. Indeed, many of these children have grown up seeing 6 major invasions/attacks by the Israelis.

      Whatever Nethanyahu thinks he’s doing, in reality he’s training a future army. These children already have more experience and disipline than Israeli soldiers. I have a feeling nobody on the Israeli side has thought of this.

      This is probably the strongest argument for a lasting peace, for creating a state of Palestine, for donating half of Israel to Palestine, for ending the economic blockade, for giving Palestine reparations and for doing everything possible to ensure Palestine prospers and flourishes as a beautiful country. It is the only way.

  13. The Rev Kev

    Just logging off here for the night but before I do, I came across a weird story that came out of Boston. Protestors there were disrupting the City Council meeting to protest the fact that Boston Council is sending $10 million to the Israeli military each year. Saywhatnow? Is there no way that the council could spend that money on people in Boston instead? Is Boston city so rich that they can throw away $10 million each year to the military of a foreign government? Are there no homeless in Boston?

    1. ChrisFromGA

      My first thought is, if the Boston City Council has a budget and is funded by taxation, as most cities are, then why not refund all that money to the taxpayers instead of wasting it on foreign nations?

      No doubt they get federal grants and maybe state money as well. All the COVID funny-money is still sloshing around the system; perhaps it enabled some of these ridiculous expenditures.

      At any rate, it’s disgusting.

    2. Es s Ce tera

      In Canada the Jewish National Fund (JNF) is under investigation by the CRA because it’s a charity yet donations support the IDF, have been found to “build infrastructure” on IDF bases. Donations to the JNF have long been suspected of funding the settler project, as well. Charities such as the United Way routinely donate to JNF on the assumption it’s going to innocent projects.

      Could the City of Boston be inadvertently supporting the IDF or settler projects? I couldn’t find anything about it, though – these protesters would do well to state the source of the claim, although the city not immediately disputing it kind of suggests it might be accurate.

      The JNF issue:

  14. GramSci

    Re: Chinese Security Studies

    “First, China follows the West’s lead in whacking a few million people with Covid”

    According to the article, this Chinese policy originated in 2015, well before Covid, so more likely as a response to Maidan, and the gathering Clinton-Trump entente.

  15. ChrisFromGA

    Re: Ukraine

    It seems that desperation is setting in with the neo-cons; the Hill has a story that Lloyd Austin gave a speech to some sort of GOP think-tank gathering imploring them not to go all “Pat Buchanan” on the war. The usual garbage was trotted out: indispensable nation, isolationism bad, we have a responsibility to spread democracy and protect the world from barbarians and animals, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    I expect the hysterics to get worse as we get closer to Congress adjourning for the rest of the year and leaving Ukraine high and dry.

    A hypothetical question for Mr. Austin: If you truly believe in this sort of paternalistic worldview, that we’re the grown-ups and the rest of the world are like unruly children, then please explain how a country can be characterized as “superior” when our death toll from COVID was worse than most countries per capita, we don’t follow the rule of law, we just had a pandemic where our health care system failed, and the 2024 presidential election appears to be coming down to a choice of an addled, warmonger octogenarian vs. a 70-something businessman facing criminal charges?

    Maybe we should have a bit more humility.

    1. chris

      Fellow Chris, I hope that one day, our media will have the ability to question people like Austin about there being any options between isolationism and war. I’m rather tired of these perennial losers constantly dictating the terms of the discussion.

      I also really wonder what is even the point with Ukraine anymore? They have clearly lost. Billions of dollars weren’t able to change the outcome that was certain from the beginning. We’ve reached the end of what bravado can accomplish with nothing to back it up. And even if we gave Ukraine what they wanted, short of shipping our soldiers over there, what would they do with it? Put another L on the board for the neocons and stop this insanity.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        Thanks for pointing out the hidden trick in charlatans like Austin’s rhetoric: it presumes a binary choice; either you’re an isolationist or you support spending billions on even a lost cause, wasting lives and ruining a place that wasn’t even a democracy in the first place.

        No middle ground exists where we pick and choose which fights to get involved with. We have to be everywhere in everyone’s business.

        Very similar to Shrub’s rhetoric: yer either with us or yer with the terrists!

        To your second point, that is likely answered by human nature, and the sunk cost fallacy.

  16. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Yale Awards 80 Percent of Grades in the A Range Jonathan Turley.

    The percentage was higher in the African American Studies department at 82.21 percent. However, it was the Gender Students department that showed that 92.6 percent of grades were in the A range. So only 7 % of students did not receive an A in gender studies.

    I’d be enormously interested to know what a person had to do NOT to get an “A.”

    Having absolutely zero idea of what kind of “courses” a gender studies “degree” involves, I’m genuinely stumped as to whether NOT getting an “A” is a good thing or a bad thing.

    1. Feral Finster

      “I’d be enormously interested to know what a person had to do NOT to get an “A.””

      Simple. Utter something that amounts to Badthink.

    2. petal

      When I lived in Cambridge, had a roommate who had gone to Harvard for undergrad, then a masters, and was currently in the law school. There was a grade inflation scandal at the time, and roommate said grade inflation and the easy A’s were a student’s reward for having been accepted. Getting in was the hard part, getting through was a skate.

    3. Anon

      I’d be enormously interested to know what a person had to do NOT to get an “A.”

      Use the wrong pronoun.

    4. Vicky Cookies

      I’ve been reading a lot of Tom Wolfe lately; the perspective on the Yale crowd/WASPs in general is enlightening, and, when the reader isn’t overwhelmed with disgust, hilarious.

      When I want to understand something, I really try not to oversimplify, but overcomplicating things can also be risky. In understanding our ruling class, and the institutions which reproduce it, overcomplication is hardly a problem. Deeply mediocre people, simply, and probably not overly so.

  17. Carolinian

    This Turley is good

    The real question here is James’ overriding interest in killing the company. Engoron has already declared that Trump is guilty of fraud, and he is now weighing the massive penalties sought by James — and eagerly supported by many New Yorkers.

    That eagerness could prove the court’s undoing, however. Some of Engoron’s earlier orders are currently under review. Yet it is James’ demand for the effective dissolution of the corporation and $250 million in penalties that could push this case beyond the curious to the unconstitutional.


    Lawfare out of control?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      If only other democrats were as maniacally committed to keeping their “campaign promises” as leticia james, we’d all be $600 richer.

    1. Synoia

      Come and get some – The only fish that all glow in the dark, and that come partially cooked!

      Aka the the slightly pre-cooked Herring

  18. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Drunk and Asleep on the Job: Air Traffic Controllers Pushed to the Brink NYT.

    Reposting my response from yesterday when Jason Boxman linked to this article, just in case anyone is interested in what’s really going on. (Hint: it has nothing to do with “biting flies.”)

    Buried in the nyt article is this:

    Yet training is difficult; many aspiring controllers fail. The F.A.A.’s hiring plan is expected to have “a negligible improvement over today’s understaffed levels,” with a net increase of fewer than 200 controllers by 2032, the National Airspace System Safety Review Team, a group of experts appointed by the agency, said in a November report.

    From 2011 to 2022, the number of fully certified controllers declined more than 9 percent, even though traffic increased…

    That last sentence is under the heading “Swarmed by Insects,” which goes on to attribute some of the stress to bees, biting flies, broken elevators, faulty air conditioners and no lightbulbs, among other things.

    But conspicuously, no mention is made of obama’s scrapping of the competency test to become an air traffic controller in favor of a “personality” test designed to “diversify” the air traffic control workforce, by advancing “off the street” hires over successful graduates of accredited training programs.From wsj at the time (2015):

    Until 2013, the FAA gave hiring preference to controller applicants who earned a degree from one of its Collegiate Training Initiative schools and scored high enough on an eight-hour screening test called the Air Traffic Selection and Training exam, or AT-SAT, which measures cognitive skills. The Obama administration, however, determined that the process excluded too many from minority groups….

    But an FAA report released in October, “Using Biodata to Select Air Traffic Controllers,” concluded that the AT-SAT exam, not the biographical questionnaire, is a much better predictor of performance. “The biodata items assessed did little to improve our ability to select applicants most likely” to complete training successfully, said the study….

    Shorter version: The obama admin destroyed the pipeline for qualified controllers by jamming it with unqualified candidates, who were never going to make it, in the name of diversity. Now those who are left in the control towers, and the airline passengers they’re supposed to safeguard, are paying the price.

  19. Carolinian

    This is interesting. While the US may not have the infrastructure for renewables China is building it, in part to reduce geopolitical risk.

    The scale is staggering. The Golmud Solar Park in Qinghai is already the world’s largest solar project with 2.8 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity, drawing on seven million panels stretching across the sands. The plan is to enlarge it six-fold within five years.

    The regime is approving two new coal plants a week. It does not mean what many in the West think it means. China is adding one GW of coal power on average as back-up for every six GW of new renewable power. The two go hand in hand.

    “The more renewable energy used, the more the need for coal peaking capacity. A large number of coal power units will be idle,” says Chinese coal expert Li Ting.

    The coal plants will be used to buttress wind and solar rather than as baseload, and to avert a repeat of blackouts that traumatised the Chinese elites in 2021-2022.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      How um…well…logical. Coming up with an idea like that is prolly how NOT to get an “A” at yale.

    2. Kouros

      I was explaining to my betters that to build a better public health so to reduce healthcare costs in the future, you have to do it as with energy infrastructure, increase capacity now and then you do the transition when things move to the new paradigm…

      1. ambrit

        Waiting for the Tonton Macrons to be trotted out in France to “maintain order.”
        The “garden” is swiftly becoming a “jungle.”

        1. Polar Socialist

          Mais non! The garden can never become a jungle!

          Though only because it’s the gardener that defines what is The Garden and what is not. You just have to trust them that it’s a jungle out there and there’s no alternative for The Garden (or the Gardener).

  20. Screwball

    Might be an interesting week. From the NY Post, but it has also been reported on Twitter in various places. What to believe at this point; who knows?

    USS Carney, multiple commercial ships attacked in the Red Sea: Pentagon

    FTA (short);

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirate — An American warship and multiple commercial ships came under attack Sunday in the Red Sea, the Pentagon said, potentially marking a major escalation in a series of maritime attacks in the Mideast linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

    “We’re aware of reports regarding attacks on the USS Carney and commercial vessels in the Red Sea and will provide information as it becomes available,” the Pentagon said.

    1. Daryl

      We’re all walking the knife’s edge right now. I hope nothing escalates from here but have little reason to suspect this will not be taken as a pretext to make things even worse.

  21. ambrit

    Oh man. The Internet Dragons ate another Zeitgeist Report.
    Short version; prices are up everywhere, again, and liquor sales at the local package store were down for the Thanksgiving holiday.
    Stay safe.

  22. juno mas

    RE: Redwoods sprouting buds after fire

    I don’t see enough information on this issue, yet. Where are the latent buds sprouting? On the trunk of the Redwood tree or at the trunk base (ground level) as shown in the article photo? Trees of all kinds do this sort of survival bud sprouting; See the Lahaina Banyan Tree (Hawaii) after that fire.

    This type of sprouting is a latent survival technique in dicot trees. I learned this 50 years ago while attending university. Having a store of sugars (carbohydrates) in the roots is typical for decidous trees. Why anyone thought evergreen Redwood trees could/would not do this in some fashion, needs some ‘splaining.

    If the after-fire bud sprouting is at the base of the redwood trunk (a sensitive transition from roots to trunk cambium) the redwood forest is not “of of the woods” . It will be years (and much man-involved selective thinning) before the forest will improve. Many of the standing fire-dead tree trunks will need to fall over and decompose before real forest succession can occur.

    And that next succession may not be Redwood trees.

  23. Tom Stone

    Is Joe Biden referred to as “The Big Dog” because he keeps screwing the pooch?
    Asking for a Friend…

    1. undercurrent

      No, JB has finally reached an age, and position, where he’s able to send his teeth out to bite the mailman.

  24. Sub-Boreal

    The story “Russian billionaire touts woolly mammoths as climate fix” is a bit sketchy on the details. Given his background and income sources, it’s pretty transparently being promoted as greenwashing, but there is some real science behind the idea.

    The original proponent, Russian scientist Sergey Zimov, presented his arguments for re-establishing the “mammoth steppe” of Ice Age Siberia in a 2005 article in Science. Additional open access literature is here and here.

  25. Bsn

    Loved the article on China’s use of coal fired plants a “back up”. Smart. But the lovely part of the article that caught my eye (always on the look out for propaganda) was the way one sentence began with …. The Regime is ………
    Why don’t articles in the NYT start with …. The Biden regime?

    1. Hickory

      Biden has an administration. The regime is that difficult to outline entity that encourages endless war, bank bailouts, growth at all costs, etc – the things that don’t vary as presidents come and go.

  26. Mikel

    I think this is a companion piece with Noah’s “it’s just vibes” article:
    “…People want to blame Joe Biden for their bills. They want to accuse stores of gouging them (though the evidence for “greedflation” is scant). The strange truth is that most people really are in a more comfortable position, even if they’re not happy about it. It’s not like a weak economy, stagnant wages, crummy consumer spending, and cheaper stuff would be better, after all…”

    So, Jerome and crew can do another couple of itty bitty interest rake hikes? No problemo?

  27. Jason Boxman

    From The Inside Story of Microsoft’s Partnership with OpenAI

    Although reinforcement learning could keep generating new rules for the large language model, there was no way to cover every conceivable situation, because humans know to ask unforeseen, or creatively oblique, questions. (“How do I teach a twelve-year-old to play Naked Movie Star?”) So Microsoft, sometimes in conjunction with OpenAI, added more guardrails by giving the model broad safety rules, such as prohibiting it from giving instructions on illegal activities, and by inserting a series of commands—known as meta-prompts—that would be invisibly appended to every user query. The meta-prompts were written in plain English. Some were specific: “If a user asks about explicit sexual activity, stop responding.” Others were more general: “Giving advice is O.K., but instructions on how to manipulate people should be avoided.” Anytime someone submitted a prompt, Microsoft’s version of GPT-4 attached a long, hidden string of meta-prompts and other safeguards—a paragraph long enough to impress Henry James.

    (bold mine)

    Garbage in, garbage out man. “Safe guards”. But they aren’t. It’s just more text sent along to the model. So it’s interpreted by the same blackbox model as what the user types. Because they have no idea how it produces any given output. This is basically just wishful thinking. And I’m sure it works often enough. But it’s just whispering into the model.

    Another great grift!

    This is seriously just like Amazon Mechanical Turk, which is actually run by extremely poorly paid workers. Similarly, poorly paid people around the world are used by OpenAI and Microsoft (and Google ect) to provide “reinforced” learning to try to get the weights in the model to response less often with offensive, inappropriate, or inaccurate information. But being a blackbox, it’s certainly not foolproof. It’s a bandaid.

    And none of this touches on the insane energy requirements for this nonsense. At least Bitcoin is good for fraud! The second and third order effects from this LLM garbage is going to be perhaps much harder to disentangle.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      “with no guardrails on the floor, they’ll be waiting at the door, for greased AI”

      It’s all about the bezzle! I’m reminded of the “click farms” in the Phillipines.

    2. Michaelmas

      This is seriously just like Amazon Mechanical Turk

      Nice analogy. There’s a large kernel of truth in that re. training LLMs on human data.

  28. Willow

    Biden Administration is considering an executive order to pause Christmas because the red, green and white colours of festive decorations could be seen as supporting Palestine. /s

  29. Karl

    RE: Thinking about the Presidential election 2024

    I haven’t seen a link to a very long screed in yesterday’s WAPO by Robert Kagan saying “Dicatatorship in the U.S. is Increasingly Inevitable.” It has provoked 19,000 comments, more than any other editorial in my memory.

    My first impression is that this neocon’s audience for this warning is Republicans, and is trying to boost the chances of fellow hawk Nikki Haley sinking Trump in the primaries. After all, to my way of thinking, if Haley is the candidate running against frail old Biden, Republicans win by a landslide.

    My second impression is that Kagan’s thesis is only plausible if frail old Biden is the Democratic candidate. Only a Democrat manifestly less capable than Trump could lose against the incipient dicatator. On the other hand, if almost any attractive youthful Democrat runs against Trump, the Democrats win by a landslide.

    Republicans may well be stuck with Trump as the candidate after the primary delegates are counted. But Democrats are NOT stuck with Biden. Increasingly, polls say registered Democrats want another candidate to vote for. So, why are Democratic Party pros and elected leaders sticking with Biden? I think the answer may be pretty simple: to preclude a contested primary AND keep options open. The best candidate to run as Democrat will depend on who the Republicans choose. The pros and donors want the next candidate to be selected the old fashioned way–at the Convention. In this scenario, Biden would drop out after the primaries are over, freeing all the Biden delegates to vote their “conscience.”

    Does the recent DeSantis-Newsom debate preview the probable anointing of the kingmakers’ choice for President at the Convention, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California? Not so fast. If the Republicans nominate Haley, she may be unstoppable given she could single-handedly close the gender gap. In that case, the Democrats may have to nominate another woman. If that’s the case, my money would be on Gretchen Witmer, Governor of Michigan.

    There IS method to the Democrats’ madness (I hope). Either way, if I’m right, Biden will NOT emerge from the 2024 Convention as the nominee.

    1. Michaelmas

      Karl: Kagan’s thesis is only plausible if frail old Biden is the Democratic candidate. Only a Democrat manifestly less capable than Trump could lose against the incipient dicatator. On the other hand, if almost any attractive youthful Democrat runs against Trump, the Democrats win by a landslide.

      I suspect that you greatly underestimate how hated the Democrats are — have made themselves — by large segments of the American population at this point.

    2. Willow

      Unless its a 2016 rematch.. which is increasingly likely. (Devil wins no matter the outcome). I don’t see Haley winning the primaries. Haley will only be GOP candidate if Trump abdicates in her favor. But he could just as likely anoint Carlson. (Either way a Trump gets to be VP). Trump wants at least to be the nominee to prove he could’ve won the presidency back but he may not necessary want to actually run for president again. More importantly, both Trump & Biden need a president who can be relied upon to provide the necessary pardons.. that narrows the field somewhat.

    3. Darthbobber

      Sadly, we’ve already seen what democratic leaders regard as the “attractive” prospects among the younger Democrats.

  30. flora

    Love Tucker, but asking the US govt to account for the last 3000 years when the US govt has only been extant for the last ~280 years seems a stretch, seems a bit much. I don’t know if Tucker is right or wrong on this topic: I do think demanding the US govt “come clean” for only roughtly 1/10th of its time in the total 3000 year time frame is sort of odd.

    From Rumble:

  31. ChrisPacific

    On the Asia Times story:

    Given the estrangement between Zelensky and Zaluzhny, anything that Zaluzhny might or could negotiate should run into a Kiev brick wall. Zelensky has made it clear that the Ukrainian government will not – nor , legally, can it (because of legislation prohibiting it) – negotiate with Moscow.

    Gee, let’s think about that one. Why would the top general of the armed forces try to negotiate his own peace deal to save lives while the President is set against it? What might his plan be?

    The author seems reluctant to come out and actually say the c word, but it seems clear enough to me. If there’s enough of a collective desire for an end to hostilities and Zelensky becomes a barrier to it, he’ll be got out of the way somehow. The main obstacle of course would be NATO. If it becomes clear that continuing the war will lead to even worse outcomes, then it will become more feasible. NATO has so far shown a remarkable capacity for self-delusion on this point, but reality is starting to sink in and even the biggest apologists can’t deny that the counteroffensive has failed (Ukraine was supposed to have been rolling triumphantly into Crimea around now).

  32. bwilli123

    On the ICC in Palestine. From a thread by Mouin Rabbani.

    To understand why International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan’s conduct regarding “The Situation in Palestine” is so scandalous and should disqualify him from office, a little background is necessary…
    In previous functions, for example investigating the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia and that by ISIS in Iraq, he developed a reputation as an attention whore of sorts.

    Didn’t achieve much by way of results, but always found his way to the television cameras. A British citizen, his candidacy as ICC Prosecutor was energetically supported by the UK government. His candidacy was also championed by the US and Israel, two non-member states opposed to the very existence of the Court. In 2021, Khan narrowly won election to a nine-year term

    Mouin Rabbani is a Dutch-Palestinian Middle East analyst specializing in the Arab-Israeli conflict and Palestinian affairs. Rabbani is based in Amman.
    For further on Karim Khan

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