Links 12/4/2023

Listen To The Voice Of Nature Madras Courier

Chinks In The Armor Investor Amnesia

Restructuring Bankruptcy Law The Regulatory Review

Column: An exhaustive debunking of the dumbest myths about Social Security Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times


The Doom Loop Phenomenal World. The deck: “Insurance markets and climate risk.”

* * *

Cop28 president says there is ‘no science’ behind demands for phase-out of fossil fuels Guardian. Clarifying!

Exclusive: Top development banks at COP28 vow to up climate game, quiet on fossil fuels Reuters

Open secret at climate talks: The top temperature goal is mostly gone Politico

* * *

The country’s electric car hotspots, mapped Axios

GM and Toyota are shaping up to be the biggest losers in the EV transition Tech Crunch

* * *

Creating a single AI-generated image needs as much power as charging your smartphone The Register


How will history books recount COVID? Adam Kucharski, Understanding the Unseen

Anthropogenic Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from Humans to Lions, Singapore, 2021 Morbidity and Mortality Report, CDC


What we know about Evergrande’s financial future Channel News Asia

The Mekong Region Is a Test of China’s Global Development and Security Model Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

China’s bamboo could replace high-emitting plastics, but tech bottlenecks are stunting growth South China Morning Post. If we must have Asian monoculture, why on earth palm oil?

China’s Chang’e 5 moon samples, beyond NASA’s reach for years, are finally available to US scientists

The Koreas

South Korea Is Building a Gigantic Art Storage Facility in Its Latest Bid to Be Asia’s Art Hub ArtNet


After the Coup London Review of Books. Well worth a read.


Election results: What does BJP’s hegemony in the Hindi belt mean for Indian politics? The Scroll. Handy map:

European Disunion

Brussels braces for a politically explosive December EuroNews

Dear Old Blighty

Starmer heaps praise on Thatcher as he woos Conservative voters The Telegraph. Hat tip: The spooks, the press, Parliamentary Labour, and the Israeli embassy for defenestrating that dangerous lunatic, Jeremy Corbyn. And while we’re at the Torygraph–

Couple’s garden ornament turns out to be unexploded bomb The Telegraph

New Not-So-Cold War

Seymour Hersh, Anatol Lieven and the desperate DC gambit to end hostilities in Ukraine while claiming ‘victory’ Gilbert Doctorow. Excellent.

* * *

NATO should be prepared for ‘bad news’ from Ukraine: Stoltenberg Anadolu Agency

US funding for Ukraine set to run out by end of the year, White House warns FT

Watchdog: Western arms companies failed to ramp up production capacity in 2022 due to Ukraine war AP

* * *

‘Army Is Not Slavery!’ Ukrainian Soldiers’ Wives Want Them Home, Others To Get Mobilized Radio Free Europe (!).


Hip-hop war anthem reaches number one in Israel Times of Israel. “Charbu Darbu” by Ness Ve Stilla (Google translate). “[W]we swear there won’t be forgiveness, sons of Amalek,’ Stilla raps, comparing Hamas to the Biblical enemy of the Israelites who must be obliterated.” On the Amaleks, see, e.g. 1 Samuel 15:3, as the prophet Samuel directs Saul, King of Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” The moral of the story is also clear: God (for some definition of God) was upset with Saul, according to Samuel, because Saul didn’t follow His exact directions and “totally destroy” everything; Saul didn’t kill all the really fat sheep, and didn’t kill the King of the Amaleks either. I’m guessing if you’re a goat sacrificer, the mention of “Amalek” is an easily understood reference, but readers with local knowledge please correct.

Netanyahu’s Goal for Gaza: “Thin” Population “to a Minimum” The Intercept. There’s a phrase for this, I know it’ll come to me. “Closure”? “Ultimate answer”? “That’s the ticket”?

As Israel Plans Gaza Ethnic Cleansing, US Says No Tikun Olam

Israel wants ‘security envelope’, no Hamas on border after war, official says Reuters. “Envelope” also, I think, in “Charbu Darbu” lyrics. Perhaps a reader can translate.

Israeli troops get urban combat training as Gaza ground offensive pushes south France24. They’re only training now?

* * *

Military briefing: How Israel is attacking Hamas’s vast tunnel network FT. A sideshow. See above.

These Bunker Buster Bombs Are Ideal For Destroying Hamas Tunnels – America Just Sent Israel 100 Military Watch

What ‘tunnels’ and ‘hostages’ mean in Gaza Al Jazeera

* * *

Commercial ships hit by missiles in Houthi attack in Red Sea, US warship downs 3 drones AP

Enough of this Houthi Nonsense Stephen Bryen, Weapons and Security. I think the Boolean operator is wrong. Should be “not”, not “and.” Fixed it for ya.

* * *

Questioning Israel’s party line: A Jewish activist explains her awakening TRT World

South of the Border

Venezuela: Referendum Delivers Overwhelming Backing for Essequibo Claim Venezuelanalysis. On Essequibo, see NC here and here.

Biden Administration

Progressives heap pressure on Democrats as border talks screech to halt The Hill

The Supremes

Justices to review novel bankruptcy maneuver in public harms litigation SCOTUSblog

B-a-a-a-d Banks

How to deal with Europe’s zombie banks FT

The Bezzle

Jeff Bezos-Backed Real Estate Company Is Launching A New Fund To Acquire More Single-Family Homes Across The U.S. Yahoo Finance. “Arrived currently operates a fractional real estate investing platform that has attracted nearly half a million retail investors since its launch in 2021. The platform allows these investors to purchase shares of single-family rental properties with as little as $100.” Seems legit.

Digital Watch

The Robots Will Insider Trade Bloomberg. That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

No: I Do Not Grasp the Five Dimensions of the Societal Impacts of Forthcoming GPT-LLM-ML Technologies Brad DeLong’s Grasping Reality. That’s because bullshit kinda slips through your fingers….

Europe’s AI Crackdown Doomed by Silicon Valley’s Lobbying Power Scott Dylan

Ego, Fear and Money: How the A.I. Fuse Was Lit NYT

Supply Chain

The new commodity superpowers FT

OPEC+ may have played its final card with voluntary crude cuts Hellenic Shipping News


Tallying the Best Stats on US Gun Violence Is Trauma of Its Own Bloomberg. Yet more essential data coming from volunteers.

Xmas Pre-Game Festivities

How to flock a real Christmas tree with spray snow Orlando Sentinel

The Conservatory

Guardian Shane MacGowan obituary criticised by the Pogues for being ‘full of errors’ The Canary. Some Xmas cheer:

Zeitgeist Watch

‘Rizz’ Charms Oxford Wordsmiths To Win Word Of 2023 Agence France Presse

Class Warfare

Welcome to a golden age for workers The Economist

For a better Kansas license plate design, we need a history lesson and maybe a bit of tape Kansas Reflector

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. Valiant Johnson

    Yesterday Our group fed and watered 750+ migrants in three camps near Jacumba CA.
    No support from local, state or the federal Gov.
    Funding from Al Otro Lado a immigrant legal assistance group is running out quick.
    The Border Patrol refuses to accept responsibility or these people until they are loaded in to their buses.
    As the BP no longer has a way of knowing which of these folks arrived in what order, the strong forceful people get out first and the weak stay behind. Some women are still sitting in the dirt 4 days later.
    This Goat Rodeo is unbelievable even for me and I have been on the ground here every day for 9 weeks +

    1. Joe Renter

      Thank you for your work. When I was doing a bike tour on the AZ/NM/TX borders with Mexico three years ago, I saw things as they are up front. Not pretty.

  2. Mark Gisleson

    The Register was a bit dodgy in how they reported the cost of generating an AI image, comparing it to the cost of charging a smart phone. Lots of chaff in the search engines but that’s all it is: chaff.

    I’m running a Mac with five external drives, a large screen, two large USB speakers, plus other peripherals. I’ve done the math countless times: at most my computer gear uses $20 worth of electricity a month. At most, and it’s a very busy computer. Srsly, if my entire electric usage was for the computer it would be little more than a dollar a day. I could spend an entire day generating AI images and it wouldn’t show up on my bill.

    Too many of these stories simply cannot bear to share the basic numbers, probably because they don’t add up. The real power drain comes when they make our devices, not when we use them. A serious energy policy would insist on more durable devices that cannot be bricked through upgrades. (Just my opinion ; )

    1. Watt4Bob

      Sorry Mark, you’re not accounting for the back-end of the AI system, the part in the cloud.

      It’s not ‘your‘ Mac that’s using all that power, it’s the hardware in the data center where all the work is done to deliver the end product to you.

      While that data center is ‘external‘ to your home, it’s not ‘external‘ to the world.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Didn’t want to overwrite but yes, I did think about that. I don’t use the cloud (5 external drives should have been a clue). All the work I do is done by my computer using applications that run entirely on my computer (and yes, I work very hard at keeping those applications from sharing).

        And again, I’m living a phone free life. I don’t even use wifi.

        I’m sure AI rendering can be an energy suck but in the hands of trained users they shouldn’t use that much power. Yes, if you tell AI to create a composite picture of Virginia Woolf made entirely from tiny pictures of lighthouses, that might use some power. Tools are only as efficient as their users.

        Writing is only good when it answers your questions. The Register went out of its way to avoid putting a dollar amount on that AI work because it’s a small amount. Hard to know but my highest guesstimate was 15¢ but most likely only a fraction of that.

        For an example I tried to find out how much energy is used when you watch Netflix. All the responses used equivalents: 8 hours of Netflix = 3 hours on a game console! Correct equivalent would be energy consumed by mfg a DVD, burning it, labeling it, packaging it, marketing it, and then mailing it to your home vs a Netflix stream.

        1. Skip Intro

          Even if you are running the generative side purely locally, the training for the engine required substantial and distributed resources before the first image was generated.

    2. Grumpy Engineer

      I likewise was underwhelmed. The article lists an energy usage per AI image of 1.35kWh, which (if you assume an average of 0.85 lbs CO2 per kWh) results in about 1.15 lbs of CO2 emissions.

      Now compare that to Ford’s procedure for updating GPS map information in their on-board Sync 3 system. The procedure takes 2 hours, and the engine must be running the entire time. That adds up to at least 5 lbs of CO2 emissions, and if the procedures fails (like happened to me yesterday on my wife’s little car; the update routine is terribly fragile and opaque), you can double or triple that. And on bigger vehicles like Ford’s large pickups or SUVs, you can double or triple that again. One failed attempt on a Ford Excursion would produce over 50 lbs of CO2. Just to update GPS map data on a NAND flash chip that’s barely the size of my thumbnail.

    3. BillS

      Yes, you have a busy computer indeed! $20 worth of electricity is actually quite a bit (if I estimate the cost/kWh to be around $0.13). That’s 133kWh a month – like running a 2kW bathroom heater for over 2 hours a day.

      I have a PC cluster that I use for running simulations for work (6 PCs) and when a simulation is running, the heat that these computers produce causes a notable rise in the room temperature. The total power consumption during the simulations is just under 1kW, which drops to about 200W when the simulation finishes and the computers are idle. So, using this as a benchmark, the 1.35kWh per image would require my 6 PC cluster to run for nearly an hour and a half. I also find the number stated in the article a bit dubious.

      That stated, the premise, however, is a good one. We should be asking if this seemingly frivolous application of computer power is wise given the energy crisis we are facing. I know little of the details of the AI algorithms used in the image generation applications, but there is surely a lot of number crunching going on, which if we consider the scale of cloud server farms, consumes a colossal amount of electric energy. The question we should all be asking is: are we getting something useful for all this expenditure of energy. I would say that in most cases: no.

      1. scott s.

        I run a couple of AI apps locally. They run on the pytorch library which is intended for the Nvidia CUDA API (though can also run on CPU). My now ancient GTX 2060 has around 2,000 cuda cores, compare to current GTX 4090 with 16,000. My biggest limitation is VRAM (about 6 Gb). Need at least double to run the bigger models.

        They had to design a new power supply spec (ATX 3.0) for that GTX 4090 due to the massive power demand requiring “fire hose”-size cables. Most of those ATX 3.0 psus are in the 1,000 watt class. Don’t know the power demand of running pytorch vs rendering game 3D graphics but probably not trivial.

    4. JustTheFacts

      If you read the paper and do the math, you’ll find it uses 2.9kWh per 1000 images, considering inference only. Add in training and hardware costs, that’s probably 3 times as much. Doing things at home costs more energy (sorry!) because you’re not dealing with optimized infrastructure. Old GPUs have significantly lower performance/watt than a TPU or A100. With your Mac, you might be reaching 5-10 times as much. As you say, you’d probably not notice given the average US price of electricity is 23cents/kWh which would make it cost something like a third of a cent to 2/3 of a cent per image.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Enough of this Houthi Nonsense”

    The Houthis have just come off the better part of a decade fighting a coalition of nine countries backed fully by the Collective West with arms & training and not only fought those countries to a standstill but forced Saudi Arabia to pull out and make peace. Pretty sure that if they wanted too, that they could shut down the Red Sea as it is kinda on their front door. And where Stephen Bryant says ‘Nor do the Houthis have any writ to attack Israel’ then what writ did the US have for taking part fully in the war on the Houthis? Bryan seems to think that Iran is behind this all because reasons. Much more likely the Iranians are trying to get the Houthis to put a lid on it all as it does not really help the cause. So the guy ends this article with this-

    ‘The time has passed for bad policies to be perpetuated to no good end. Congress should demand retaliation and Biden should be forced to order it done. There isn’t any doubt our Navy, Air Force and Marines would happily do the job.’

    The guy is just a partisan hack for the think tank brigade and is probably spouting this bs to get in good with the Repubs so that they can give him a high-paying job after next November’s election.

    1. JohnnyGL

      In a recent interview, Scott Ritter described the role of the Houthis as akin to a bunch of drunken frat boys causing chaos and confusion in the area.

      I suspect the Iranians like the image of having a rabid attack dog chomping at the bit, foaming at the mouth, ready for action.

      It’s not likely to be something the western intel agencies had given much thought to, prior to 10/7, but you can imagine that now they’re asking themselves, “what the hell else are these guys capable of?!??!”

      1. Cresty

        Scott Ritter has no idea what he’s talking about.
        I know he’s been embraced because he was willing to make bold statements against consensus, but he’s been consistently wrong. And didn’t understand the shape of this war until it had been unfolding for over a year and the trenches/mines/drones nature of it was obvious to even the most blinkered person. He and colonel fox news were talking about armored fists for ages!

    2. furnace

      The Ansarallah (as they call themselves, Houthi is a derogatory term used by Western media, afaik), have every right to attack: Saudi Arabia, the US, Israel, and all other ghouls that imposed a literal starvation and cholera epidemic on the country. The fact is that despite their tremendous hardships they were the only country in the entirety of the Arab world to back the Palestinians unquestionably, and to deliver on their promise. Their example is frankly inspiring. But more than that, it’s a matter of domestic politics:

      The ‘Houthis’ seizing an Israeli vessel in the Red Sea is so unanimously applauded that decades-long opponents of the movement have been forced to lay flat down and praise it. […]

      Many Yemenis in the occupied regions feel they’ve been let down by their rulers for their incompetence and grotesque inaction towards the genocide in Gaza.

      The Ansarallah is the only movement that has taken it upon itself to act not in words alone, but in deed.

      Ansarallah’s actions are not just seismic for the region, but very much so internally in Yemen. Allegiances are shifting because of it. Mercenary administrations are crumbling. If the war on Yemen comes to an end soon, the actions of the Ansarallah in support of Palestine should be considered a key determining factor.

      The fact is that Arab public opinion is extremely in favor of the Palestinians. All that Ansarallah did was listen to their own people, unlike the rest of the leaders of the region, who are starting to feel the pressure (has the King of Jordan ever been so forceful?).

    3. nippersdad

      “Much more likely the Iranians are trying to get the Houthis to put a lid on it all as it does not really help the cause.”

      I don’t know, as an asymmetric pinning operation, in conjunction with the Syrian/Iraqi militias and Hezbollah, they seem to be getting the job done. What must insurance rates on shipping through the Red Sea be right about now? How much must it be costing the Pentagon, already saying they are operating on a bare bones budget, to send the fleet around the Persian Gulf and Red Sea? The cost benefit ratio for the Houthi’s, much less Iran, must be spectacular.

      There was a Politico article last night in which you could just sense the pressure on the writer to make the statement that Iran had attacked a US warship in the Red Sea via Houthi proxies. They just couldn’t quite make the leap because the missile fell short of actually hitting it.

      Neocons are always a wild thing to watch. They spend so much time in their own heads and in each other’s society that it simply never occurs to them that their projects could be unworkable or engender blowback.

      1. Glenda

        “What must insurance rates on shipping through the Red Sea be right about now? ”
        I check this index periodically and see a huge recent spike in costs of shipping. That likely includes insurance costs. The site shows a good graph and the big recent spike. It can only be due to the Suez/Red sea problems.

        Baltic Dry Index Extends Gains to 1-1/2-Year High
        The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index, which measures the cost of shipping goods worldwide, was up for an 8th consecutive day on Friday, up 4.8% to 3,346, the highest in one-and-a-half years as rates climbed across vessel segments. The capesize index, which tracks vessels typically transporting 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, rose 5.5% to an over two-year high of 6,528 points; and the panamax index, which tracks ships that usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes, increased 4.3% to 2,441 points, the highest since July 2022. Among smaller vessels, the supramax index advanced 2.5% to an over-one-year high of 1,526.

    4. Feral Finster

      “The Houthis have just come off the better part of a decade fighting a coalition of nine countries backed fully by the Collective West with arms & training and not only fought those countries to a standstill but forced Saudi Arabia to pull out and make peace.”

      Not only that, but the Yemenis have a track record of success in guerilla warfare second perhaps only to the Pashtun. They beat the British, the Egyptians and the Ottomans, among others.

      How the Muslim world would react to The Collective West attacking Yemen for the benefit of Israel is left as an exercise to the reader. Would in many ways be hella embarrassing for the Saudis as well.

      1. vao

        They beat the British, the Egyptians and the Ottomans, among others.

        Well, and if you really want to go far back, they even beat the Romans (under the command of Gaius Aelius Gallus, prefect of Egypt) — who were so disgusted by their experience that they never attempted to conquer Arabia Felix again.

        In truth, the Romans got exhausted wending their way through endlessly circuitous routes (courtesy of treacherous guides), by the harsh climate, and by warring locals, so that, when they reached Marib, it was only for a final defeat at the hands of the Yemenis.

      2. Thomas The Obscure

        The Houthis now have missiles and drones with a distance capacity capable of taking out Saudi oil rigs, as evidenced by their firing upon Israel.
        I have seen some credible speculation that the US has not presently retaliated in regards to the attacks due to this very real threat, which would cause chaos in global markets and particularly affect the functioning of European economies.

    5. Procopius

      >… forced Saudi Arabia to pull out and make peace.

      Wait, what? Saudi Arabia has made peace with the Houthi? I hadn’t heard about that. I know they’re in talks, and I know Saudi has halted attacks, but I’m pretty sure the U.S. Navy is still conducting blockade operations. If I’m wrong I’d like to find out. I presume the Navy will end operations (unannounced) when Saudi signs a peace agreement, but I would think there would be some kind of public announcement.

  4. José Freitas

    Re. NASA’s “cooperation” with China and their request to access moon rock samples, “”The Wolf Amendment is not a total prohibition on cooperation, but NASA must get congressional permission first and satisfy a number of conditions” is kinda hilarious. Mostly, they will have to get Chinese givernment’s permission, and considering the HUGE backlash in chinese web about this (really, chinese netizens are literally fuming at the mouth that the US prohibits cooperation with the Chinese space program and then has the gall to say they are willing to lift some restrictions just so they can have access to the samples) I anticipate dome problems, LOL.

    Arnaud Bertrand comments on this.

    1. Ranger Rick

      It’s a nice-to-have, not a have-to-have. Everyone involved is well aware of what a farce the procedure is. NASA isn’t shy about international cooperation, and it raises hackles in Congress any time they see it. See also the recent Indian moon landing and the subsequent inquiries from NASA about their technology.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “For a better Kansas license plate design, we need a history lesson and maybe a bit of tape”

    Missing from that article was an image of the new Kansas license plate design that got rapidly dumped. So-

    Using German license plates for inspiration, perhaps those that live in Kansas cities of over 1000,00 people could have the first letter of that city at the start of that plate. So if you lived in Wichita, it would start with ‘W.’ In cities with pops between 100,000 people down to 10,000 it would start with 2 letters so Lawrence would start with ‘LA.’ Those under 10,000 pop would use 3 letters so people in Chanute might have their license start with ‘CHA.’

    1. John Wright

      While on the subject of license plates, I liked the old Oklahoma license plate tag line.

      It didn’t try to oversell/overpromote/aggrandize the state.

      “Oklahoma is OK”

      1. ambrit

        We here in the North American Deep South also fondly recall the Louisiana license plates with an “unfortunate” state motto on it: Louisiana, A Dream State.

      2. curlydan

        Reminds me of a couple city mottos. The old Houston motto, “Houston is Hot.” Or once in Lubbock, they said, “Happiness is Lubbock, TX”, leaving out the rest of the motto’s origin from a Mac Davis song…”in the rear view mirror”

        1. JTMcPhee

          Mike Royko’s rendition of the true motto of Chicago:

          UBI EST MEA? “Where’s mine?”

          I believe he copped to flunking Latin in school.

          The actual motto, evoking echoes of Josip “Deafanddumb” Borrell’s comparison of the EU as a garden and the rest of the world as a jungle, is “Urbs In Horto,” “City in a garden.” Here’s the Chamber of Commerce explication:

          “ Chicago’s motto, urbs in horto or “city in a garden,” was adopted in the 1830s and alludes to the city’s impressive and historic park system.”

          Redolent of the aroma of Barack “UBI EST MEA”Obama et ux. Ripping up a lot of those public parks for a ziggurat apotheosizing his ego and the damage he has done.

          And whole areas of the not really so Windy City are fairly described as a jungle indeed.

    2. ambrit

      Kudos to the State governor for unintentional irony. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said in a statement Tuesday. “Elected officials should be responsive to their constituents, which is why we are adjusting the process so Kansans can provide direct input on our state’s next license plate.”
      Now, if only “our” elected officials paid attention to the people’s real wants and needs.

      1. mago

        License plates are made by prison labor who earn pennies on the dollar, so yeah, they’re cheap enough, just like some people’s lives.

    3. LilD

      And of course New Mexico, the only license plate that includes USA so that when we drive to Delaware we don’t have to worry about the exchange rate

  6. Alice X

    >Cop28 president says there is ‘no science’ behind demands for phase-out of fossil fuels

    As well as running Cop28 in Dubai, Al Jaber is also the chief executive of the United Arab Emirates’ state oil company, Adnoc, which many observers see as a serious conflict of interest.

    Conflict of interest!? Really? Do you think so?

    Al Jaber spoke with Robinson at a She Changes Climate event. Robinson said: “We’re in an absolute crisis that is hurting women and children more than anyone … and it’s because we have not yet committed to phasing out fossil fuel. That is the one decision that Cop28 can take and in many ways, because you’re head of Adnoc, you could actually take it with more credibility.”

    Al Jaber said: “I accepted to come to this meeting to have a sober and mature conversation. I’m not in any way signing up to any discussion that is alarmist. There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5C.”

    He is right in a perverse way. We punched through 1.5C in September and 2.0C in November, and though they were spikes, the writing is on the wall. Were we to eliminate fossil fuels this afternoon we will blow through those limits already. As Greta famously said, these climate confabs are a marketing hoax, filled with blah, blah, blah.

  7. Roger Blakely

    ‘Rizz’ Charms Oxford Wordsmiths To Win Word Of 2023 Agence France Presse

    The contenders were the following:
    rizz – charisma, the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner
    beige flag – a character trait indicating that a partner or potential partner is boring
    Swiftie – an enthusiastic Taylor Swift fan
    situationship – a romantic or sexual relationship not considered formal or established

    What these terms have in common is that they point to the crisis in relations between men and women.

    Young modern women (Swifties) are only interested in the hottest guys, i.e., the guys with rizz. Young modern women are not interested men who can provide stability for a family because that is beige flag. If a young man hopes to get female companionship, and studies show that thirty percent of men on their twenties have no hope, he had better develop rizz.

    All young modern women want the same tiny fraction of guys with rizz. These women ask, “Are we all dating the same guy?” That tiny fraction of guys with rizz have all of the options. That is why young modern women find themselves in situationships.

      1. Carla

        I second “greedflation” as NC’s new word for 2023. But somehow I doubt the Oxford Wordsmiths read NC.

      2. Randall Flagg

        Word of the year.
        I’m tossing $hitification into the ring.
        Or, more politely crapification.
        In this day and age it seems every product and service available is trying to maximize providing minimal to zero value while trying to extract every single dollar possible from your wallet.
        I think our government is by far and away setting the example of this all.

        1. Randall Flagg

          Apologies to the moderators for this comment, did not realize the one I wrote below earlier went up.

      3. griffen

        This even counts as a recent entry, given how frequently I hear this term thrown about by WH economic advisers and good thinking Democrats supporting the trope.

        Bidenonomics. Pay more and get less, Americans ! You too can afford to schedule that second job, there are plenty to be had.

    1. t

      Are these terms meant to be related? By anyone alive who has listened to any Taylor Swift songs?

      Sad to hear the young modern women are having relationship troubles! This was certainly not the case when I was in high school and my 20s. None of us had to field the world confused by social pressures, social norms, media, and our own inexperience. /s

    2. local to oakland

      Modern dating apps are a huge part of the problem. But also, influencers like Andrew Tate have many young male followers who have been encouraged to believe that domination is the appropriate goal for men in a relationship with women. I don’t blame young women for being choosy and careful. But the apps make getting a date much harder than it used to be. The decline of the Third Place where people can meet people outside of work is a growing social problem that we need to fix.

        1. ambrit

          Come on now! Starbucks is for the In Crowd and their hangers on. The rest of us needs must do with Mickey D’s and The King, etc.

        2. NYMutza

          I can personally attest that the very worst place to meet an internet date is Starbucks. Don’t EVER meet a date for the first time at Starbucks, unless you like dates that feel like job interviews that can be overhead by every person inside the place.

      1. Feral Finster

        “I don’t blame young women for being choosy and careful.”

        Perhaps I am out of touch, but as far as I can tell, women on dating apps are flocking to the Andrew Tate types, not from them.

        1. c_heale

          I’d like to see some evidence for that assertion. My impression from observing my nieces and nephews is that they are little different than previous generations.

      2. ArvidMartensen

        Men have believed in domination forever, not all men, but a reasonable proportion. The words are new but the entitlement attitude is the same. The boys/men flocking to these sites could already have seen the way their fathers treated their mothers it in their own childhood families and expect to rule the roost in their own homes (preaching to the choir).

        I know a woman in her 60’s who tells people “X (partner) never takes any notice of what I say’, and that is absolutely true. He nixed her having a cleaning lady when she was working. He nixed her working while the kids were at school. And other things. He comes from a family of dominating men, who use blunt demands or manipulative schemes depending on what works for them. The whole 5 of them have been a net minus to the relationship world and have caused untold misery to their numerous wives. The woman who is never listened to is with the only brother whose relationship lasted.

        Maybe it’s just that dating apps speed up the process of finding the wrong man.

        1. c_heale

          The problem witb dating apps is the opposite. They slow everything up. If you meet someone in the real world it soon becomes obvious if you like them or not. Dating apps supply insufficient information to make a judgement.

          The only advantage for dating apps is for casual sex.

          1. ArvidMartensen

            Misunderstanding – I meant boys/men flocking to the misogynistic sites, not the dating apps.

    3. Randall Flagg

      Word of the year.
      Have not done my homework either but I’m going with,
      Or more politely, crapification.
      Pretty much describes the ultimate end destination every single product and service is heading towards these days. All while trying to take as much money out of your pocket possible. Every single transaction.
      I think our government is already there, doing a bang up job by the way…

  8. Alice X

    >Column: An exhaustive debunking of the dumbest myths about Social Security Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

    SS is a pay as you go system, current payroll taxes fund current benefits with any surplus going into the trust fund. One needs 40 SS work credits to qualify with a max of 4 credits per year. The current single credit is based on $1640 in income.

    SSI, supplemental security income is $914/mo. At age 65 if one does not have sufficient SS credits to qualify for benefits, or one’s benefits are less than that and does not have other countable income, that amount is essentially the minimum.

    That is well below the FPL and is a far cry from a comfortable living. So without SS the senior poverty rate would be much higher. The piece doesn’t go into that in detail. The fat cats complain about paying into it and sure don’t need the benefits. I say raise the cap and include all unearned income, that money they earn in their sleep.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘So without SS the senior poverty rate would be much higher.’

      Without SS, you would have the elderly dying of starvation on the streets every day and having to be pick up to get rid of them. This was how it was in China a century ago – until the Chinese revolution ended that callous system.

      1. t

        All for means testing SS. People always say it wouldn’t have passed if the rich couldn’t collect. Slippery slopes be damned! If your SS check will be less than what your income tier spends on dining out, you don’t get one and by lottery what would be you check goes to a randomly assigned SS number, with the random number assignments changed ever six months.

        Less complexity and administrative work than SNAP. Add a few pages to the act.

        Yes, I also want a pony. In fact a specific pony.

        1. Lefty Godot

          It’s not that the rich care about collecting, it’s that doing any kind of means test gives them a wedge to drive behind one portion of the population and another. “Look how unfair it is that they get this benefit but you don’t!” That’s how they destroyed welfare, by fanning resentment among the non-recipients, which is why a universal guaranteed income would be a much better mechanism. Redistribution to everybody, because the net effect will be progressive. I don’t even think it should be described as income, but as a dividend you get for the overall prosperity of your country.

          Of course you need to raise taxes on the wealthy up to a much higher level to fund this and all the other measures we need to reduce our national indebtedness. Make America Great Again with Eisenhower era tax rates. And maybe just as important: eliminate deductions once income rises beyond a certain level.

        2. XXYY

          I think means-testing social benefits is dangerous and politically fraught. One of the obvious dangers, as we have seen, is that it rapidly takes on the aire of being a “poor people program” that’s an easy target for political opponents who love to play the class warfare card.

          Another danger is that means testing requires a huge application process and a bureaucracy to administer. What means are we talking about here? Payroll income? Interest on offshore tax shelters? Is it your adjusted taxable income, or what? Many people have a difficult time with a complex paper-based application. Illiterate people, blind people, people whose paperwork was washed away in a flood or burned in a fire, you name it. How often do you have to reapply to make sure you are still qualified? Monthly? Quarterly? Annually?

          A third issue is fairness. If we want to have popular programs, then the entire population should get them. Everybody in, nobody out. Certainly the well to do don’t really need the money, but they should get the money by virtue of being members of the society. I think this sends a powerful signal.

          A good litmus test is libraries. Suppose libraries were means tested. They would quickly become associated with the poor, and would be defunded in short order because other people never go in them or use them or see the consequences of the defunding.

          1. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

            “Everybody in, nobody out.”

            Like … Congress? Railroaders? Large parts of Texas, IIRC?

            Speaking of fairness, of course…. ;)

    2. Sue W

      I like Stephanie Kelton’s explanation in The Deficit Myth. Payroll deductions were a political maneuver so people would be getting “their money”. From the book: “What it (SS) lacks is not the financial ability to pay but the legal authority to pay.” The solution is to change the law.

    3. ambrit

      I must aver that the $914/month ‘basic’ benefit figure is a chimera. Phyllis worked for years when younger, before the children came, and her monthly stipend is about $800/month before the Medicare Part B deduction. My monthly figure is not that much higher. We only get by due to being frugal as H— and pure dumb luck.
      That is the essence of the Casino Economy, Lady Luck.
      Let us not get into the subject of the Federal Poverty Line and how it is figured. I know for a fact that in construction, the Prevailing Wage for Federal projects is figured on a mini-region basis. Jobs in different parts of a State will have different “prevailing wages.” Yet we have a national based poverty line.
      From the Google; “Is the poverty line regionally adjusted? The Census Bureau’s poverty thresholds are the same nationwide, with no separate figures for different states, metropolitan areas, or cities.”
      Today, “owning the means of production” also must include the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department.

      1. Alice X

        SSI is $1,371 for a couple. So it looks like you’re above that. And yeah, the FPL is national (except for Hawaii and Alaska) and quite low for anywhere. I’m in a relatively cheap zone, above SSI but below the FPL, and so just manage to get by. I’m in that class that doesn’t have $400 for an emergency without more debt. I just thought I had an emergency but put a band aid on it and kicked it down the road. Seniors in Michigan can qualify for medicaid or QMB (qualified medicare beneficiary) with the numbers found here. I don’t know about where you are.

          1. Alice X

            The 2023 FPL chart is here, a family of two is $19,720. I couldn’t find a coherent statement on traditional Medicaid in Mississippi, which is what seniors still get, thanks to Obama, but I did find that QMB (Qualified Medicare Beneficiary) is the same as MI which is less than 100% FPL. It is distinct from Medicaid. That chart is here. QMB pays Medicare co-pays, deductibles and premiums. The resource limits are ca $8k. So if you have Medicare and your income qualifies, you might want to look into it. There are also higher income tiers.

            1. ambrit

              Thanks for the help.
              The Government Assistance programs have become a classic PMC Employment Scheme. Needless and overly complex rules and guidelines that require “expert” guidance to navigate. How do we determine who qualifies as “expert?” Certification schemes to begin with, and ‘continuing education’ to follow, endlessly.
              I do hope you have the best of all Divine Interventions up there in Snow Country.

        1. ambrit

          Something does not add up here. The Social Security site states that the figures of $914 for individuals and $1,371 for a couple are the maximum amounts. Shouldn’t those be the minimum amounts?
          Anyway, I’m with you in advocating removing the Social Security tax cap on income taxed.
          Taxes are not the primary means of funding the government at the national level. They are social engineering tools. Tax Policy is really Social Policy in disguise. Social Security is the essence of Reverse Taxation. Thus, Social Security is Social Policy writ large.
          The baseline here is that Public Policy has been controlled by small, insular elites for some time now. Applying the maxim; “From their fruits shall ye know them,” we can see that today’s Political Elites are, as one of the site admins puts it, Democidal.
          Stay safe, be free.

          1. Alice X

            The SSA site on SSI starts with this:

            The maximum monthly SSI payment for 2023 is $914 for an individual and $1,371 for a couple. Your amount may be lower based on your income, certain family members’ income, your living situation, and other factors.

            It means that if you have no income because you have insufficient SS credits (40) as a senior and no other income, or no income because you are disabled, you can receive $914 max. Or $1371 for a couple. States can add a supplemental amount but it isn’t much. Any income less than the $914/$1,371 reduces the amount of SSI you receive. So if your income is $913 you receive $1 SSI, for example. If your income is $915 then you don’t get anything extra,

            I have one friend who is in that situation. Her SS is a few dollars less than SSI, so the SSA makes up the difference. One’s SS can be quite bit below and SSI makes up the difference.

            I have another friend who does not have sufficient SS credits so she gets full SSI.

            SSI is essentially welfare. SS is not.

            1. ambrit

              Ah ha! Two related but different classes of “client.”
              That low of a benefit regime should properly be administered by the Bureau of Corrections. As Scrooge said when asked for a contribution for poor relief: “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      Only slightly tongue-in-cheek since I’m sure this arrangement is on the way: “saving” SS and getting everyone to STFU about it is as simple as turning the fund over to wall street for “management” under the “2 and 20” hedge fund “fee structure.” Neither a “fiscally conservative” oligarch nor his/her employees in “congress” would bitch about that cushy deal, or try to kill the money train that funds it.

      What Is Two and Twenty?
      Two and twenty (or “2 and 20”) is a fee arrangement that is standard in the hedge fund industry and is also common in venture capital and private equity. Hedge fund management companies typically charge clients both a management and a performance fee. “Two” means 2% of assets under management (AUM), and refers to the annual management fee charged by the hedge fund for managing assets. “Twenty” refers to the standard performance or incentive fee of 20% of profits made by the fund above a certain predefined benchmark. While this lucrative fee arrangement has resulted in many hedge fund managers becoming extremely wealthy, in recent years the fee structure has come under fire from investors and politicians for varying reasons.

      IMNSHO, this entire retirement “crises,” which forces seniors to rely so heavily on SS, is the result of the erosion to dust of an individual’s ability to save for his own retirement in the banking system. When I say, “6% interest on savings, compounded daily” to my millennial daughter, she looks at me like I’m speaking Greek.

      “Saving” for retirement has been reduced to “investing” in the massively manipulated stock market casino or tapping your “home,” and realizing your “investment” in your “home” requires one to either become shelterless by selling, or “borrowing” your own equity from someone else who’s got their grubby paw out for interest.

      And this whole bullshit setup somehow justifies the pretense of an american economic miracle that sustains the richest nation on the planet, and still “can’t afford” things like dignified retirement and “healthcare.”

      1. ambrit

        “…the richest nation on the planet,..”
        Substitute “oligarchy” for “nation” in that statement and the “problems” go away.

      2. ChrisPacific

        Hillary campaigned on this, or something similar, and it would have been law if she had won (and been able to get it through the legislative process).

        It won’t ‘save’ SS any more than CalPERS turning investing over to PE firms will save public pension funds, though. It’ll just be a green light for institutional looting on the credit side. Government will still have to pick up the tab on payments (or bail out private firms if it’s delegated to them, which amounts to the same thing with an extra layer of looting).

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Hip-hop war anthem reaches number one in Israel”

    ‘The chorus is a roll call of the IDF’s most storied combat units (“Golani, Givati, Air Force, Navy, Commandos!”) and ends with the phrase “All the IDF units are coming to ‘Charbu Darbu’ on your heads, oy oy.” ‘

    Yeah well Hamas already wrecked the Golani brigade that first day so name dropping is not going to impress them. Was listening to Scott Ritter and what he was saying rings true. That the Israelis have this image as one of the best militaries in the world but that most of their army is actually made up of conscripts, not real professional soldiers. So if you had a US Marine battalion go up against an Israeli elite battalion, I would put money on the Marines every time. Churchill WW2 said that it took about three years of war to make good soldiers and I think that he was right. Fighting Hamas is proving a nightmare for them for a very good reason – they shoot back and it’s not like bombing civilians at all. And as the Israelis have been killing the families and neighbours of those Hamas soldiers, you can bet that they want to get at the Israelis. As for that lunatic song, Hamas should answer them with another one- (3:32 mins)

    1. zagonostra

      I remember pondering why/how Germans, having reaching the apex of culture, e.g., music, literature, philosophy, etc..,.could end up with gas chambers and Nazis. Now I see Israel in the same light, a cultured people with such collective achievements cheering on Genocide in Gaza. Obviously these are groupings and there are, thankfully, members within those groups that have retained their humanity.

      That Americans will go along with any massacre of civilians sadly doesn’t surprise any longer

      1. Mowbray Family

        The slaughter in our name, and forcefully funded by our taxes is disgusting.
        Bunker buster bombs? Why not some napalm, cluster bombs, anthrax, maybe a neutron bomb to “disinfect” Gaza of those pesky future terrorists–children by another measure?

        The only way to protest this is no business as usual.
        The American economy is driven by consumer spending and debt. Best way to do something easily is to do nothing.

        No Christmas presents this year except cash, food and giving away nice items that others like. Not.One.Cent.Spent on non-essentials till November 2024.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “‘Army Is Not Slavery!’ Ukrainian Soldiers’ Wives Want Them Home, Others To Get Mobilized”

    Ukrainian Soldiers’ Wives: ‘We want our husbands back again!’

    Ukrainian Army: ‘We have a solution!’

    Ukrainian Soldiers’ Wives: ‘You’re going to bring them home?’

    Ukrainian Army: ‘No. We are going to draft you now so that you can join your husbands at the front!’

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      I wondered quietly to myself the other day if the cleaning ladies were getting ready to call in Z’s coordinates.

      What a hellish reality for Ukrainians, all brought about by the Biden administration’s belligerence.

  11. castilleja

    May GM EVs crash and burn – especially GM Ultium battery HUMVEES, gargantuan trucks, and war transport vehicles – the latter so the US War machine can wage “greener” Wars wresting control of “green/clean energy” minerals and regular old oil. . Karma if GM’s EV ventures become a fiancial black hole. They are pouring $650 million into subsidizing Lithium Americas giant open pit lithium strip mine in the area of a Paiute massacre site from the Snake War of Extermination at Thacker Pass in the McDermitt caldera.

    1. ambrit

      Snark warning.
      Let’s be realistic here. The entire purpose of massacres is to remove, permanently, pesky non-compliant peoples. That frees up resources for capitalist exploitation. Massacres are basically investments in the Future.
      Snark off.

      1. Roland

        I remember that show, from watching it on Masterpiece Theatre when I was a kid. Thank you for reminding me of it.

        The episodes after Ash got wounded were the ones I found most interesting and, at the time I watched the series, the most disturbing. It did me some good to watch that kind of thing when I was a boy, although it still took me many more years to absorb the full significance of it.

    1. ambrit

      We had a similar ‘scare’ in America recently.
      “Computer repair shop finds unexploded mines of information in abandoned Biden Laptop.”
      It’s funny what you can find in a PMC basement server.

  12. Grateful Dude

    Re bamboo: Why aren’t we growing hemp for the world? Grows fast without chemicals, the fibers are excellent: both soft and strong, and the yields are unmatched. Because plastic? Still some stupid marijuana bias? Or just the capitalist juggernaut headed for the sea? We’re still cutting down trees for paper!

    1. Stephanie

      In the U.S. at least, the legality of large-scale hemp agriculture varies by state. While it has been legalized in MN, I believe that growers must apply for a license. Beyond that, as I understand from a friend that has gotten into the business, there are a host of logistics issues that need to be solved for; to her this includes the perennial ag problem of breeding the right strains for the right growing conditions; the lack of industrial harvesting and processing facilities; and above all the current lack of markets – it honestly sounds a bit like the problem with electric vehicles in that lack of infrastructure (among other consumer concerns) led to less adoption than expected, which appears to have led to a reduction in manufacturing.

  13. ChrisFromGA

    Re: One single AI image generated uses as much energy as charging your phone

    So, you’re telling me that AI is just another hustle dependent on cheap energy, and endless supply thereof?

    Quelle surprise!

  14. Wukchumni

    On the first day of Christmas
    My true love sent to me
    Precisely aimed targetry

    On the second day of Christmas
    My true love sent to me
    No chance of doves
    And precisely aimed targetry

    On the third day of Christmas
    My true love sent to me
    Three bunker busters
    No chance of doves
    And precisely aimed targetry

    On the fourth day of Christmas
    My true love sent to me
    Four calling rockets
    Three bunker busters
    No chance of doves
    And precisely aimed targetry

    On the fifth day of Christmas
    My true love sent to me
    Five free-fire rings
    Four calling rockets
    Three bunker busters
    No chance of doves
    And precisely aimed targetry

    On the sixth day of Christmas
    My true love sent to me
    16,000 Gazans a-laying dead
    Five free-fire rings
    Four calling rockets
    Three bunker busters
    No chance of doves
    And precisely aimed targetry

    On the seventh day of Christmas
    My true love sent to me
    Seven black swans a-winging
    16,000 Gazans a-laying dead
    Five free-fire rings
    Four calling rockets
    Three bunker busters
    No chance of doves
    And precisely aimed targetry

    On the eighth day of Christmas
    My true love sent to me
    Eight IDF brigades a killing
    Seven black swans a-winging
    16,000 Gazans a-laying dead
    Five free-fire rings
    Four calling rockets
    Three bunker busters
    No chance of doves
    And precisely aimed targetry

    On the ninth day of Christmas
    My true love sent to me
    9,000 widows a-wailing
    Eight IDF brigades a killing
    Seven black swans a-winging
    16,000 Gazans a-laying dead
    Five free-fire rings
    Four calling rockets
    Three bunker busters
    No chance of doves
    And precisely aimed targetry

    On the tenth day of Christmas
    My true love sent to me
    10 commandments forgotten
    9,000 widows a-wailing
    Eight IDF brigades a killing
    Seven black swans a-winging
    16,000 Gazans a-laying dead
    Five free-fire rings
    Four calling rockets
    Three bunker busters
    No chance of doves
    And precisely aimed targetry

    On the eleventh day of Christmas
    My true love sent to me
    11 settlers settling
    10 commandments forgotten
    9,000 widows a-wailing
    Eight IDF brigades a killing
    Seven black swans a-winging
    16,000 Gazans a-laying dead
    Five free-fire rings
    Four calling rockets
    Three bunker busters
    No chance of doves
    And precisely aimed targetry

    On the twelfth day of Christmas
    My true love sent to me
    12 Merkava lurking
    11 settlers settling
    10 commandments forgotten
    9,000 widows a-wailing
    Eight IDF brigades a killing
    Seven black swans a-winging
    16,000 Gazans a-laying dead
    Five free-fire rings
    Four calling rockets
    Three bunker busters
    No chance of doves
    And precisely aimed targetry

  15. digi_owl

    “Couple’s garden ornament turns out to be unexploded bomb The Telegraph”

    Heard about something similar recently where a recycling place had to call the bomb squad, because they got what was likely a WW2 era mortar shell in as part of a haul of scrap metal from someone cleaning out the garage.

    Oh, and i love those puffed up cows.

  16. Alice X

    >Netanyahu’s Goal for Gaza: “Thin” Population “to a Minimum” The Intercept.

    There’s a phrase for this

    The final err frontier, err solution?…

    From the piece:

    Back on October 20, in a little-noticed message to Congress, the White House asked for $3.495 billion that would be used for refugees from both Ukraine and Gaza, referencing “potential needs of Gazans fleeing to neighboring countries.”

    Yeah, the White House is ok with that. How about a ceasefire? How about getting them their current needs to survive, like food, fuel, water and meds?

    My great fear is that the world will become numb from this horror and look away, or worse, go back to sleep.

    1. JBird4049

      >>>The final err frontier, err solution?…

      Oh, for f___ sakes, let’s just be real and call it a final solution. The current operation is not as efficient as the earlier one, but that is not for lack of trying. It is, however, even more industrialized.

      I am really tired of all these euphemisms for evil acts, which is what they all are, and I am wanting to see the sweet stink of true, honest, descriptions, however unpleasant, not the cloying rot of deceptive coyness.

      Mass murder of the innocent and unarmed in the slow genocide of a nation behind a façade of so-called defensive acts by murdering, lying bullies.

      1. Alice X

        Final solution is, of course, itself a euphemism.

        Orwell wrote an essay on that: Politics and the English Language, where he describes a language of defending the indefensible. Here’s a key clip:

        In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, ‘I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so’. Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:

        While freely conceding that the Soviet régime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigours which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.

        How many Israeli’s follow this line? Mass murder and ethnic cleansing in our time.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          Lenin, for one, had no such squeamishness in his language, though neither do some of the Israeli leaders past and present. The more liberal types still tend to shy away from it, though – Orwell’s observations apply well for them.

    2. Eclair

      “My great fear is that the world will become numb from this horror and look away, or worse, go back to sleep.”

      Yes, Alice X. Family members tell me they simply tune out the entire Middle East, because it is unbearable. My way of dealing with it? I spend 15 or 30 minutes every day reading Al Jazeera, or scrolling through accounts I follow on X, formerly known as Twitter. The news is always horrifying; it rips off the scabs that have formed over yesterday’s wounds, and the emotional and mental pain intensifies. Then, I have to shut it down for another 24 hours.
      The Saturday afternoon protest marches in Downtown Seattle help as well. Standing with hundreds of others, who feel the same pain and outrage, who read last words from relatives in Gaza, who carry the long white scroll written with the names of the dead, the scroll that becomes longer and needs more people to carry it, every week. We wear our keffiyehs. We bear witness. It is the least we can do.

      1. cfraenkel

        My fear is that maybe this is the underlying goal, to desensitize the population to mass horror. Prep the home team for the coming climate famines, nations drowned, 100’s of million refugees piled up and starving at borders. How else to explain the near universal acceptance of genocide by our leading class?

        1. JBird4049

          >>>How else to explain the near universal acceptance of genocide by our leading class?

          It’s simple. Our ruling are shallow, narcissistic ghouls who simply do not care about the deaths that they cause for either monetary or political profit; that it causes a shocked and traumatized population to become desensitize for their sanity’s sake, if nothing else, is a very nice bonus.

          This is where I would expect a ICC (International Criminal Court) with a moral spine, wholly uncaptured by the elites, to do a determination that X crimes have occurred and issue those warrants for Americans and Europeans, but that won’t happen because reasons.

          1. Don

            They’re too busy charging Putin as a war criminal for kidnapping children to do anything about Israel slaughtering children.

            1. The Rev Kev

              It was pointed out over a week ago that Putin evacuated the same number of children out of a war zone than Israel has killed in Gaza. And yet it is Putin that was issued an arrest warrant by the ICC. Wake me up when they issue Netanyahu an ICC arrest warrant.

  17. Carolinian

    Re Questioning Israel’s Party Line–Of course Christians have plenty of doctrines of their own and they have been used down through the centuries to justify their own versions of conquest. Even atheists don’t mind worshiping at the church of the Domino Theory or the Invisible Hand.

    In this country though formal religion was wisely kept separate from the government and freedom to believe–or to not believe–may have been one thing keeping the experiment going at least up until now. The irrational certainly has its place in a world where nobody has all the answers, but in the Middle East right now irrationality is out of control and those who conjure up realpolitik explanations should be ashamed. We are living through an era of bad thinking to go with so many in the past. Perhaps history needs to be given more prominence in elite education so the elites will stop repeating it.

  18. Benny Profane

    Doctorow thinks that Russia allowing Ukraine to join NATO in a peace deal is possible, but, I don’t get that. How in the world could Russia trust that arrangement in the future? It’s the decaf coffee, the no alcohol beer of treaty negotiation tactics. Why? Why else join NATO but for the muscle behind your back? Don’t see how Putin could survive that politically if that happened, too.

    1. Aurelien

      I suggested in an article earlier this year that Ukraine in NATO might actually be the ultimate poison pill, and destroy the alliance, if an even remotely sensible government came to power in Kiev. In fact there are two main options now: an explicitly hard-line nationalist government with all those naughty symbols, or a government which, if not pro-Russian, would certainly be very careful not to upset Russia, and would consult Moscow before agreeing anything. Either would be impossible to have in NATO. The first might, in time, be brought to change, but the second would simply give Russia an insight into everything NATO was doing, and a degree of influence. In the context of a completely disarmed, declining and ruined Ukraine, then Ukrainian NATO membership might actually be a subtly good idea for Russia. After all, NATO can’t expel nations ….

      1. ChrisFromGA

        There is precedent for that, too.


        Erdogan might not be quite a poison pill, but he’s a healthy dose of rat urine in the punch bowl for the likes of Stoltenberg.

    2. Daniil Adamov

      If Yeltsin could survive the early 1990s and Putin could survive letting an overtly hostile government take over most of Ukraine, I’m pretty sure he will be fine no matter what happens in Ukraine. The only real danger to him is in the Russian elite, which seems to have been tamed at least for the near future.

      And as Aurelien wrote in a different article, joining the NATO does not actually guarantee any muscle – unless I’m misremembering, there is no obligation for NATO countries to come to Ukraine’s defence even if we try to overrun all of it in the future. Putin might well not want to allow this anyway, for reasons of prestige. But it is entirely survivable both for him and for Russia.

    3. Lefty Godot

      It’s hard for me to see how Russia could tolerate Ukraine in NATO after all this unless they took over substantially more of Ukraine’s territory than what they’ve managed so far. Even installing a less Russophobic administration in Kyiv would just set things up for the next “color revolution” to start the next war a few years down the road. And meanwhile the Baltics and Finland will be ramping up their provocations on cue from Brussels and Washington. Just seems like overly high risk and low reward for Russia to take that tack.

      1. John k

        Me either.
        This Hersch thing seems more of the west negotiating with itself, Russia ought to let Ukraine join nato, they ought to trust the west with new security guarantees etc. Putin already did a mea culpa to Russians for being stupid enough to believe Minsk promises, can’t believe he wouldn’t just take what he thinks Russia needs for security or whatever, including the other 4 russ-leaning oblasts. And beyond that, how could he allow Ukraine to retain a foothold on the Black Sea given its from Odessa region they launch attacks against crimea.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “How will history books recount COVID?”

    Yeah, I have my own interpretation and I sure as hell don’t need ChatGPT to turn out the sort of garbage responses like they did here. So here goes. It was only a matter of time that a world-wide pandemic arose with it being spread by aerosols. Unfortunately Neoliberalism had captured most sectors that would have to deal with it and so the response was to go for ‘herd immunity’ so that it could ‘sweep through’ populations and the economy would not be disrupted. Warnings that it was not possible to have herd immunity with a Coronavirus were ignored. As it was mostly elderly people that died at first, this was considered an acceptable price and in fact would relive countries of supporting them further in old age. Children were forced back into schools so that their parents would be forced back into the workplace too. The problem was that this was a perfect vector for spreading the Pandemic. At a politically decided point, it was announced that the Pandemic was over because of magic vaccines, all support was quickly removed and everybody should go back to living like it was 2019. The trouble was that the pandemic never went away and struck again and again as varieties multiplied to an incredible extent. A side effect was that cumulatively more and more people were being struck with long Covid which not only removed a lot of people from the workforce but placed a huge anchor chain on the economy as people were throw on their own resources to deal with this virus. The world never went back to the 2019 economy and whole segments of society were completely discredited through their lies and non-response – like public health, medicine, doctors, the media and government. It was a perfect clusterf***.

    1. Will

      Plot twist, it wasn’t ChatGPT. The quotes are from a 2010 paper on the 1917-18 Spanish Flu.

      But, yes, I too thought the writer waited too long for the reveal.

  20. JohnA

    I could only read the first couple of paragraphs of the Economist piece claiming it is now a golden age for workers.
    However, I long ago came to the conclusion, reinforced by every Economist piece I see, is that the Economist is reliably wrong about everything. I expect the same to be the case in the claim of a golden age for workers.

    1. ambrit

      My version of the piece would be that it is now the Golden Age for purchasing cheap workers.
      “Corporations of the World Unite!” Oh, wait, they already did. The Treaty of Davos and all that.

    2. Kouros

      Many years ago, before the Economist abolished the comentariat, I used to look at some stats (calculated them myself): the percent of comments agreeing/disagreeing with the Economist point of view for the article at hand. Most of the time it was 5-10% for the Economist, 90-95% against.

      I even commented on this on their site. It wasn’t long after that that they abolished the comments…

      The American Conservative did that too, and changed all their authors and editors. It is quite a rag nowadays.

  21. Wukchumni

    Go take a hike dept: Ladybug Trail

    The only area that was part of the Nation’s 2nd National Park initially in 1890 was the Garfield Grove of Sequoias, but it quickly expanded to reach over 400,000 acres of wilderness in the meantime.

    South Fork car campground was utterly wrecked by flooding from one of the past winter’s atmospheric rivers, it will require quite an effort to rebuild it and the road leading up to it.

    The Ladybug trail came out pretty much unscathed by the flooding, and its a great little trail that has many different ages of Giant Sequoias en route from around 150 years old to close to 1,500 years old. A few miles walk up the trail gets you to Ladybug Camp where there might have been a million of them yesterday clinging to trees, rocks & grasses.

    First descent of the South Fork of the Kaweah:

  22. Daniil Adamov

    I can assure you that Israelis know who Amalek is and what you are supposed to do about him. I have distinct memories of that from an Israeli school (a state one, not a religious one – although the Tanach is always one of the subjects). I don’t think this will have gone away in my absence. IIRC some religious Jews prefer to interpret the Amalek as a metaphor for the evil that we must utterly destroy inside of us, or else say that this does not have any bearing on present-day situations. Others, well, you know…

    1. Carolinian

      Lucky you. Perhaps when all this is over Bibi can reward Hagee with a Creationism theme park in the former Gaza. It would fit right in.

      Some fundamentalists don’t live in Texas.

  23. cousinAdam

    RIP Shane MacGowan. I’ve always had a soft spot for that song but had never before seen the video. Thanks and long live the Pogues!

    1. c_heale

      I think the he and the Pogues wrote many songs which will stand the test of time. I doubt much other modern music will.

      I’m glad I got the opportunity to see them on the If I should fall… tour when that song was released.

      A great band.

      1. Late Introvert

        Rogen went on to say “and I stand with Israel and Ukraine too, that’s all I need to know.”

        1. The Rev Kev

          If you read his Wikipedia page, it is glaringly obvious why this is so-

          He describes himself as a “left wing” but I would call it more liberalism. Pledging himself to vote for the offered Democrat could easily see him campaigning for Hillary Clinton.

  24. Ranger Rick

    Re: Congressional horse trading on the border issue

    By framing it as funding for the Ukrainian War vs. domestic immigration policy, the Republicans have successfully created a situation where, yet again, the left is going to get sacrificed by the Democrats on the altar of expediency. And they will cave to the Republican demands.

  25. Jason Boxman

    So I just realized how stupid the modified RNA COVID shots are. I was stupid not to even realize this. From Mayo Clinic:

    Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. This type of vaccine gives your cells instructions for how to make the S protein found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. After vaccination, your muscle cells begin making the S protein pieces and displaying them on cell surfaces. This causes your body to create antibodies. If you later become infected with the COVID-19 virus, these antibodies will fight the virus.

    (bold mine)

    I don’t know why this wasn’t obviously insane to me at the time. Why would you ever want your own cells to play robber in cops and robbers? How could that possibly end well? There’s gotta be some unanticipated consequences to that. And we know adverse events for these modified RNA shots are an order of magnitude higher than for, say, MMR, which is 1 in a million. Based on the study I’ve seen that was posted here a year or two ago, it’s 1 in 100,000 for these shots.

    This is a stupid timeline.

    Also, vector vaccines seem stupid too:

    Vector vaccine. In this type of vaccine, material from the COVID-19 virus is placed in a modified version of a different virus (viral vector). The viral vector gives your cells instructions to make copies of the COVID-19 S protein. Once your cells display the S proteins on their surfaces, your immune system responds by creating antibodies and defensive white blood cells. If you later become infected with the COVID-19 virus, the antibodies will fight the virus.

    And as a bonus, you can only get them once! It was never ever appropriate for a non-sterilizing shot. Just insane.

    1. marku52

      Yes, it was always an insane idea. One more problem. There is no control over the amount of antigen produced. Some people may produce none, some may produce too much and get an adverse reaction. Some may never eliminate the nRNA and continue to produce the spike, and get long Vax.

      It was always a terrible idea, and like you, I didn’t recognize it at the time.

      1. kareninca

        I recognized it at the time because they said that it stayed in the arm. Like there was a little wall in your arm, so it couldn’t go to other parts of your body. That was the stupidest thing I had ever heard. And then a friend of mine who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences told me that it was safe because it stayed in one’s arm. Then I realized that there was some sort of mass hypnosis going on.

    2. Ghost in the Machine

      The cells presenting the antigens are also targeted for death by the immune system, so you lose those muscle cells. This is well known and was in a review ofmRNA technology I read. This is likely why your arm is more sore after these vaccines.

  26. JTMcPhee

    Nice to see some attention to the vast corruption that is bankruptcy in the Empire. Discharges and disappeared debt for the wealthy and “corporate person,” infinite indebtedness for the mopes targeted so generously by the Senator from MBNA.

    Not a word about the biblical and historic notion of Jubilee, which would give the whole flipping political economy a fresh start freed from insurmountable mope debt and servitude. It used to be a thing, y’know:

    The Methodist and Episcopal churches I’ve attended, where the communicants are mostly PMC Bourgeoisie, would never ever put one of the hymns singing about Jubilee up on the hymn board. And damned be the lips of a preacher who exhorts in favor of such madness.

    It’s like the prayer Jesus supposedly admonished us all to say when speaking the the Lord, which at some point actually read “and forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are indebted to us…” Not consistent with the Prayer of Jabez or the rest of the cargo-cult “prosperity gospel,” so now it’s the milquetoast “trespasses.”

      1. c_heale

        It’s still used in most Protestant churches – but not the Anglican ones (I’ve no doubt the connection between the C of England and the English nobles is to blame here).

    1. britzklieg

      The Greek Orthodox version – Pater imon – uses “ὀφειλήματα” which is best translated as “debts” and when the congregation spoke it in English (once English was allowed in the US) we used “debts” not trespasses.

  27. Feral Finster

    Guardian [familyblogs] Shane McGowan obit:

    Holmes, it’s the Graun. Of course, it’s going to be full of errors.

  28. .Tom

    I guess the chattering classes are most interested in Starmer’s commitment to anti-immigration policies in his piece for the Telegraph. But I think the paragraph above in which he commits to even harder austerity is at least as important:

    “They [the current Conservative government] will bequeath public finances more akin to a minefield than a solid foundation. Labour’s iron-clad fiscal rules will set this straight – but it will not be quick or easy. There will be many on my own side who will feel frustrated by the difficult choices we will have to make. This is non-negotiable: every penny must be accounted for. The public finances must be fixed so we can get Britain growing and make people feel better off.”

    So the UK’s two main parties are now pretty much officially right-wing.

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