Links 1/26/2024

Do Elephants Have Souls? The New Atlantis

Big Bear’s Beloved Bald Eagles Lay 1st Egg Of 2024 Season (cam) Banning-Beaumont, CA Patch

Lessons from a lifetime in investment FT. Read all the way to the end.

IMF’s Summer of Discontent? The Ideas Letterd


A Counterintuitive Effect of Global Warming The Atlantic:

“Medieval cathedral builders learned from their design mistakes over the centuries, and their undertakings were a far larger drain on the economic resources and people power of their day than anything yet discussed for stabilizing the climate in the twenty-first century,” [William H.] Calvin wrote 26 years ago. “We may not have centuries for acquiring wisdom, and it would be wise to compress our learning into the years immediately ahead.”

Global groundwater depletion is accelerating, but is not inevitable (press release) University of California, Santa Barbara


US scientists proposed to make viruses with unique features of SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan US Right to Know. Oh. About page.

The emergence of JN.1 is an evolutionary ‘step change’ in the COVID pandemic. Why is this significant? The Conversation

‘On par with cancer and heart disease’: Experts, patients warn Congress about the burden of long COVID as the government blows through $1.15 billion without finding a cure Fortune. Find a cure? NIH didn’t even look for a mechanism!


Exclusive: China presses Iran to rein in Houthi attacks in Red Sea, sources say Reuters

China Signals More Targeted Stimulus to Come Bloomberg. Commentary:

In Hong Kong, decades of wealth gains evaporate on China’s watch Al Jazeera

Chinese leader Xi Jinping calls for ‘deep reflection’ on frequent accidents after latest deadly accident South China Morning Post

Why are Vietnam’s schools so good? The Economist. Cf. this, from the Bullitt County Geneological Society:

(Missing are Geography, Physiology, Civil Government, and History because I didn’t to take up an entire screen.)


‘Too much poison’: Attacks on Indian Muslims grow after Ram temple ceremony Al Jazeera


‘Thank God for the Houthis’: why Arab world is backing Yemen rebels FT

* * *

Maersk ships in US Navy convoy forced to retreat under Houthi missile attack Trade Winds. Commentary:

Red Sea diversions add nearly a million dollars per voyage to shipping costs while doubling transit time Hellenic Shipping News

Who Benefits From the Turmoil in The Red Sea? Unpacking the Roles of Iran, the US and China Elijah J. Magnier

* * *

When you’ve lost Chatham House….

NYPD probing reported chemical attack against students during pro-Palestinian protest at Columbia USA Today (Craig H.). “Skunk,” discussed in yesterday’s links.

* * *

US to supply F-35, F-15 fighter jets to Israel amid Gaza war Anadolu Agency

European Disunion

French farmers block roads, dump produce as protest moves closer to Paris France24

Dear Old Blighty

‘Outrageous’ tea recipe involving pinch of salt draws US embassy comment Guardian. Commentary:

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine opens criminal probe into downing of Russian military plane France24

Ukrainian intelligence does not rule out PoWs on downed Russian plane BBC

* * *

Bloomberg suggests Putin is willing to negotiate Ukrainska Pravda. More freelancing? Isn’t this a job for Ignatius?

Slovakia’s PM says there is no military solution to Russia-Ukraine conflict Anadolu Agency

Ukraine Is Losing the Drone War Foreign Affairs

* * *

Zelenskyy welcomes start of preparations for Ukraine’s EU accession talks Anadolu Agency

Volodymyr Zelensky’s theatre of nightmares The New Statesman

South of the Border

Ecuadoran police arrest nearly 70 people who tried to take over a hospital France24. The “gang”/”police” dichotomy seems a litte facile. More on-the-ground sources needed.

Chaos in Ecuador New Left Review


“I Am Done Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils. I Will Not Vote for Joe Biden in 2024.” In These Times

Spook Country

N.S.A. Buys Americans’ Internet Data Without Warrants, Letter Says NYT

The Kids Online Safety Act Would Harm LGBTQ+ Youth, Restrict Access to Information and Community Teen Vogue. Watch out for the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA). It’s always all about the children, until it isn’t.

The Bezzle

GM’s driverless car company Cruise is under investigation by several agencies KQED

Digital Watch

Apple’s EU Core Technology Fee Could Bankrupt Freemium App Developers MacRumors

iPhone Apps Secretly Harvest Data When They Send You Notifications, Researchers Find Gizmodo. I turn all Notifications off.

We Asked A.I. to Create the Joker. It Generated a Copyrighted Image. NYT

What Happened to My Search Engine? Ted Gioa, The Honest Broker

How lock-in hurts design Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic


FTC drills into Amazon, Microsoft, Google over billions pledged to OpenAI, Anthropic The Register. The deck: “Khaaaaaaan! Khaaaaaaaaaaan!”


China permits Boeing to deliver 737 MAX 8 to local customers: Report Business Standard. India.


Will All Seniors Eventually Have No Choice but Medicare Advantage? MedPage Today

Realignment and Legitimacy

25 Republican governors back Texas in escalating border standoff with US government BBC

Eagle Pass is today’s Fort Sumter. Biden must federalize the Texas National Guard. Will Bunch, Philadelphia Inquirer

Imperial Collapse Watch

Recruiting issues:

Software troubles delay F-35 fighter jet deliveries … again The Register

Living New Deal Living New Deal. Glory days:

Class Warfare

Uncommon wealth Times Literary Supplement

Survey: Surprising number of managers want sick employees to come to work WTOP

Young people from poorer families make fewer friends (press release) University of Zurich

A new global gender divide is emerging FT. Well worth a read.

What is incoherence? Aeon

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Antifa

    (melody borrowed Elusive Butterfly by Bob Lind)

    All of the world is mourning
    Every mother with her children blown to pieces in the wind
    The USA is telling lies
    As if the whole world isn’t wise to spooks and shadows
    Plus Israel’s hasbara
    A flood of tawdry propaganda plainly built of hollow things
    They raise a holocaust of fears
    Of marching goose-steps soon approaching through the meadow

    As Gaza burns, Israelis charm you
    While on a spree pursuing something they’re quite sure of
    Israelis dream of loot and plunder
    A charge of genocide fits Gaza like a glove

    The UN’s taken no steps
    The USA’s hard veto forbids anything be signed
    Israelis get to kill and maim
    While every nation has to watch them do their thieving
    A new world is now dawning
    No more rules-based-order that’s a dream we’ve left behind
    Americans do not play fair
    So we refuse their supervision and policing

    As Gaza burns, Israelis charm you
    While on a spree pursuing something they’re quite sure of
    Israelis dream of loot and plunder
    A charge of genocide fits Gaza like a glove

    Israelis dream of loot and plunder
    A charge of genocide fits Gaza like a glove

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Ukrainian intelligence does not rule out PoWs on downed Russian plane”

    Well they would have known before the shoot-down as they probably helped plan it. But if they want proof, I have some. Air crash investigators are scouring that crash site already and they are finding bits and pieces of people. They will be collected, DNA analyzed to establish their identities and any Ukrainian remains will be shipped there for the families. Here is a video clip from that site- (1:03 mins) – Absolutely NSFW

      1. ChrisFromGA

        Yeah, pretty sure I saw an Azov battalion tattoo on the remains of a severed hand.

        Gonna be pretty tough for Zee to wiggle around that kind of evidence.

        I’m sure he’ll surprise me, though.

    1. skippy

      Let me see if I have this right Kev … Ukrainian soldiers get shot if they retreat and shot down if captured on the back home POW flight …

    2. skippy


      Samuel Ramani
      BREAKING: Ukraine accuses Russia of using POWs as human shields after the Il-76 plane downing

      Ukraine describes the Il-76 incident as the first example of Russia using POWs as human shields to cover for the transport of missiles aimed at striking Ukraine

      I can only imagine what it would be like to negotiate with people like these sorts …

      1. juno mas

        If there were missiles onboard, then there should be fragments just like the dead humans. We’ll see how many missiles they find.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Sorry skip. Been busy today and only get to the computer every now and then to catch up on comments. Thinking of getting a machete so I can cut my way through the dense humid air here when I go outside and I bet that it is the same where you are.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Hi alfred. We live in SE Queensland after we moved up from Sydney about 30 years ago. Big change in climate. Although we found that we no longer needed heavy jackets, gloves and scarves for the winter up here, watching the weather reports showed that we were still cooler than Sydney itself in the summer time. Go figure.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Good. That rotter Blinken just got dump trucked. What kind of fool calls serious charges of genocide “meritless?”

      Did they teach him that in diplomacy school? Once again, the US looks like a clown empire.

      You’re a rotter, Mr. Blinken
      You’re the king of sinful sots!
      Your heart’s a dead tomato splotched
      With moldy purple spots, Mr. Blinken

      Your soul is an appalling dung heap
      Overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable
      Mangled up in tangled up knots!

      You nauseate me, Mr. Blinken
      With a nauseous super “naus!”
      You’re a crooked dirty jockey
      And you drive a crooked hoss

      You’re a triple-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich
      With arsenic sauce!

      Credit – the Grinch song, Albert Hague, Dr. Seuss

      1. Feral Finster

        Watch him scream “antisemitism!”

        The ruling gives the Administration an off-ramp.

        Let’s see if they take it.

      2. Nikkikat

        I thought when he dressed his two small children up for Halloween as zelensky and the Ukraine flag he had to be a psychopath, but he has since proved himself over and over.
        I’ve also noticed that when he is telling huge lies, he sort of does a tremble thing. His suits do not fit, the pant legs being 4 inches too long and rumpled like they were pulled from the clothes hamper. I do not believe he has any diplomat training and was nothing more than some yes man in Biden’s VP office. This guy is a complete disaster

        1. Michaelmas

          I do not believe he has any diplomat training and was nothing more than some yes man in Biden’s VP office.

          No. Blinken has been a fairly big wheel in the arms industry, with Lloyd Austin as his wingman. Pretty sure that’s how Austin got the gig.

          Just what you want doing diplomacy, right? The US might have done better with some yes man.

    2. hamstak

      But then we have, from the Anadolu article cited above:

      The US and Israel have concluded a massive arms deal that includes the supply of F-35 and F-15 fighter jets to Tel Aviv, the Hebrew Channel 12 reported Thursday.”

      I read a rumor about that deal in the comments over at MoA yesterday but was skeptical — maybe there is something to it. If true, they appear to have gotten this deal done just before the ICJ ruling was announced. Nice timing, huh?

      Then add to this the report above about F-35 deliveries being delayed to software problems. The stupidest timeline just keeps getting stupider…

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        Perhaps the Israel Gov. will find the F35s ( ” the Swiss Navy Knife of military aircraft”) to be an Acme Anvil.

        1. Polar Socialist

          As far as I know, Israel is the only client that was given a permission to install their own version of the software in F-35.

          It was years ago, though, and had something to do with the way the (proprietary) ground situation data package was compiled centrally in USA where the backlog was measured in months – and IAF, using the fighters in hostile environment, could neither wait for that long or do missions with old data in a volatile situation.

    1. furnace

      Abbott probably doesn’t want any hostilities to break out, but I’ll be damned if Biden isn’t making sure that this will end very very badly. 2024 has barely started folks! The primaries barely started and we already see a credible (though still unlikely) possibility of literal civil war breaking out. Did anyone predict this?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe not an actual civil war but I fail to understand why Biden picked a fight over US borders that he did not have to. He could have made a deal with Republicans for more border integrity and they would have given them his $61 billion for the Ukraine that would have kept that country on the back-burner for months politically speaking. But keeping the US borders open appears to be a higher priority than the Ukraine for Biden and I cannot work out why.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Biden wanted clear wins to establish his bipartisan tough guy status, and the White House expected a surge in Ukraine support forcing the Republicans to acquiesce. He even tied Israel funding to Ukraine. He never realized Ukraine is just the soothing white noise peddled on msdnc. They could easily swap out Ukraine and Russia with The Grand Duchy of Fenwick and Pottsylvania, and the people with Ukraine flags wouldnt care.

          Republican elites don’t want closed borders. Their donors rely on the labor. What they want is for Biden to flail while little is actually done. Shrub had actually tried a bipartisan solution with Ted Kennedy (a cruel measure designed to bring in labor and ship people out at signs of unionizing). GOP voters killed it, but the elites wanted it. There wasn’t a deal to be made as Biden was offering nothing GOP elites actually want.

          1. ChrisFromGA

            Correct, in my humble opinion. The piece that our dear RevKev misses is the GOP elites love of cheap off-the-books labor.

            And don’t underestimate that with COVID killing off at least 1.2 million, plus disabling probably 10x that, an already tight labor market fueling inflation would have been even worse without the 3-4M replacements.

            Of course, those replacements have very little in the way of job skills that translate to a living wage, but they can sure clean toilets and take care of brats while Mommy and Daddy work at their PMC gigs.

            Finally, Biden may have wanted a deal but this is not a time for that. Election dynamics took over after Jan 1, and Biden lacks the “juice” with pitiful approval ratings.

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              The piece that our dear RevKev misses is the GOP elites love of cheap off-the-books labor.

              Time to junk that tired trope in my humble opinion.

              To the extent that Trump was ever a member of the “GOP,” he was excoriated as “racist” and “fascist” when he wanted to build the wall, remain in Mexico etc., by democrats because he hated “black and brown people.” He still is.

              Same still holds for any MAGA-adjacent “domestic terrorist” who decries the border chaos.

              This insane border “project” is more accurately seen as an elite uniparty endeavor, and it’s gone well beyond the desire for cheaper toilet swabbers or nannies. To my mind, it’s more like provoking an “existential democracy crisis” that only a healthy dose of old-fashioned federal authoritarianism right between the eyes can “solve.”

              “Remember the Razorwire Affair.” It will live in infamy.

          2. OnceWere

            I happened to Google the US Border Patrol and discovered that the organization has around 20,000 agents. Even if you only assign half to the southern border, that’s 5 per mile. Hard to understand then why the border is so porous unless the effort to close it is mostly kayfabe.

            1. earthling

              A great many of them are stationed at their many highway stations set up perhaps 50 miles in from the border, mostly waving people through, making sure we all know we are subject to roadside photographing and constant threat of search.

            2. Hamford

              Only a fifth of those 20k can work at a time in a 40 hour work week with sick and vacation days. Then assign a large amount of them to border crossings for vehicle checks etc. Need some managers in the office. Need some doing maintenance, managing fleets, manning (umm personing?) C2 stations, etc. I’m sure that leaves substantially less than one agent per mile.

          3. ChrisFromGA

            Connecting a few dots that may not be connected, a steady flow of illegals helps supply nannies and cleaning workers to the PMC. It also helps with “return to work” campaigns (note the micro-aggression, in that term, as if stay-at-home parents don’t work hard) that demand women (and men) go back to the office and give up flexibility to deal with childcare.

            A pro-patriarchy and CRE saving “two-fer!”

            1. Nikkikat

              The elites have also come up with a plan to use the illegal aliens as military since young people have decided they do not want to die for a country that won’t even provide us with decent health care a an education. Both Durban and Duckworth
              Have brought this up in the senate in the last few weeks. Saying people from South America really want to be in our military
              And after their service could be given
              Citizenship, as well as healthcare.
              The EU countries are also touting this as a way to utilize the millions of Ukrainians in their countries. I can smell Davos elites all over this plan.

              1. JohnnySacks

                Good luck with that plan. As soon as things get real, the decision to retreat will be easy. Better to go back to their old life in one piece than be dead or mangled. We’ll have to go George Washington on them – run ’em through with a sabre as soon as they turn around.

      2. Wukchumni

        If a Civil War broke out, i’d be trapped behind the lines in California’s red state bastion in Godzone woefully outnumbered by evang errorists….

        1. Lee

          Living in the SF bay area, a greater metropolitan true blue enclave, I am less concerned about the hostility of my neighbors, who neither weave, nor sow, but earn big bucks through symbol manipulation than I am of the possible disruption of fragile infrastructure and vulnerable supply lines necessary for our continued physical wellbeing, so much of which originates in or must pass through the lands of our putative enemies.

            1. Late Introvert

              And drive the trucks and trains and work in the warehouses. And if my cousins are any indication, wish they had a good union.

      3. Screwball

        They have 11 more months to screw up as many more things as they can. They have to keep the plates spinning until Trump takes office, then the entire $hit show blows up, and they can blame it all on him.

        The question is, can they keep the plates spinning that long? I don’t think this type of push back on the border issue was on their bingo card, and could get quite ugly, IMO.

        TBH, I’m glad to see the push back from all the states. I’m in Ohio, and social media was lit up yesterday telling DeWine to poop or get off the pot. Good!

        As they say, the natives are not happy – about many different things. I am not looking forward to whoever is the next administration, but this one can’t be gone fast enough.

        1. zach

          “They have 11 more months to screw up as many more things as they can. They have to keep the plates spinning until Trump takes office, then the entire $hit show blows up, and they can blame it all on him.”

          THAT is a fascinating idea. I am no fan of the DT’s, but if that is the hidden game I don’t doubt for a second that he’ll gleefully oblige. As a second term president, already twice impeached, he will have nothing to lose. After all, the “madman theory” only works if you occasionally do something mad.

      4. marku52

        I assumed it would happen after the Pubs take all 3 branches in November and outlaw all abortions. The entire west coast and NE would refuse.

        Then what?

    2. Reply

      On a closely related note, I’d be interested details about the Biden-AMLO discussions.
      What was promised over which time period involving which countries and how much money?

    3. skippy

      Want to see something funny Kev …

      Senator Ron Johnson

      This sobering letter from former FBI, Homeland Security, and other law enforcement officials describes the chilling reality of why @POTUS’s open border is a clear and present danger to America.

      So, I think I have not seen such fear kindling since the commies were coming to steal your stuff or the moo’suilms your females and kids whilst ***Forcing everyone*** to live under Sharia Law … top shelf precious bodily fluids level thingy …

  3. Mikel

    “‘Too much poison’: Attacks on Indian Muslims grow after Ram temple ceremony” Al Jazeera

    This just makes me think:
    The globe trotting, wealthy Muslim leaders have so many options for where they can live.

  4. Roger Blakely

    A new global gender divide is emerging FT.

    “A new global gender divide is emerging · Young men and young women’s world views are pulling apart. The consequences could be far-reaching.”

    This movie is coming to a theater near you.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      What I find particularly interesting in this is that it seems to be a worldwide phenomenon – so it can’t just be attributed to whatever is going on in the US or Europe.

      Its often forgotten that (at least in Anglophone countries), the female vote was always considered to be more reliably conservative than males. I remember getting in a little trouble as a student activist in Ireland when I pointed out that the failed attempts in the 1980’s to remove a ban on divorce and abortion in the Irish constitutions would have succeeded if women didn’t have the vote (something very clear from post polling surveys). This divide reversed in most western countries sometime in the 1990’s and early 00’s.

      1. Daniil Adamov

        >the female vote was always considered to be more reliably conservative than males.

        This was why the French left blocked the women from getting the vote until after WW2, IIRC – they calculated, perhaps reasonably, that rural women would give the country over to Catholic conservatives.

        1. Yves Smith

          This was a widespread perception in the 1840s. Recall as we have pointed out that it took nearly 100 years in France to make the transition from a monarchy to a stable democracy. Jules Michelet and Edgar Quinet argued that a big reason why was that women were captured by prelates and impeded the development of revolutionary virtu in their sons.

          1. digi_owl

            Years back there was a survey done among Somali expats in Norway that fits into this. It showed that those that maintained contact with their parents and/or grandparents back in Somalia were more likely to maintain Somali religious and cultural practices.

            And from off hand anecdotes i have been told when mentioning this result, this seems to be universal. As grandmothers are sticklers for tradition, to the point that they are not even aware of it themselves.

      2. hk

        It is still a well known phenomenon (that large swaths of women are more reliably “conservative”), certainly in US and in several non-Anglophone countries, too (e.g. parts of East Asia), although what exactly “reliably conservative” means is a bit debatable. For example, the abortion debate in US is really a woman’s issue on both sides as decades of public opinion research have consistently found (makes sense if you think about this: what do men care about women do with their bodies?): the strongest advocates and opponents tend to be both disproportionately women. I’ve found abortion advocates who like to talk about how men are opposing abortion to put women down have trouble grasping this.

        1. Feral Finster

          “I’ve found abortion advocates who like to talk about how men are opposing abortion to put women down have trouble grasping this.”

          I suspect that some do not want to grasp this, as it ruins the nice little morality play they have set up.

      3. Lee

        My best guess: When women’s social value is limited primarily to reproduction and the raising of highly altricial young requiring years of care and guidance, and their economic well-being is mediated through male labor outside the home, a high degree of social stability and predictability in the male-female economic relationship is desirable. As material circumstance allow, and these relationships become no longer necessary in all instances then different strokes become possible for different folks with their attendant role confusion and social friction.

      4. Stephanie

        To what extent does this track with the changes in women’s levels of education/income potential over time? To women who have no other means of support than a spouse I can imagine liberalizing divorce laws might be scary. On the other hand, if you can afford a pretty good life without getting married at all, who cares?

      5. Kouros

        Not so sure. Some of the activators on French and Russian Revolutions were the hundreds and thousands of women sick and tired of waiting in the winter cold in the the lines for inexistent bread to feed their families…

    2. upstater

      I suspect that the attraction to AfD or Trump on the part of younger males is due in part to immigration and open borders. Traditionally female dominated professions like teaching or nursing do not have the pressures of unfettered immigration. Male dominated “working class” jobs are under extreme pressure from immigration including skilled trades or truck driving. Gender bending also plays a role with young women.

    1. thoughtfulperson

      From today’s Mexico article:

      “In its most recent audit, the Pentagon was able to account for just half of its $3.8 trillion in assets (including equipment, facilities, etc). That means $1.9 trillion is unaccounted for — more than the entire budget Congress agreed to for the current fiscal year.

  5. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    Further to the Ukraine links and comments exchanged between Revenant and me a couple of days ago about English local authorities cutting education budgets, but ring fencing spending on Ukrainian refugee children and funding private education for some, mainly boys who will be eligible for conscription in the next couple of years, I can add more detail.

    There are 1800 Ukrainian refugee children living in and being supported by Buckinghamshire. 600 are being educated privately at Buckinghamshire expense, but some are at school in neighbouring counties, mainly Berkshire.

    Some independent schools, often small and not particularly prestigious, have been struggling and even shut since the fall of the Berlin wall (as service and diplomatic personnel could get some school fees paid), 2008, Brexit and covid. One has to wonder if this is also a subsidy for these schools.

    Although Labour scrapped the assisted places scheme, which funded places at private schools for children with particular needs, in 1997, local authorities still have some discretion over such funding, so, in Buckinghamshire, activities associated with wealth, e.g. horse riding and music, can still be paid for by taxpayers. Try being a single parent and wanting to get money for some technical skills in order to build a future for yourself and your family, especially in true blue Buckinghamshire.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      In Ireland, the special payments for Ukrainian refugees have been quietly dropped (they were astonishingly generous and became a significant subject of conversation among those people I know trying to gain long stay visas or citizenship the hard way). It has become very clear to politicians that the goodwill towards Ukrainians (and there was a lot of goodwill towards them in the communities they were settled in) has run dry.

      A friend in a small rural village told me last year that three Russian children were moved to her local school – moved by the education authority from a nearby town due to bullying by the influx of Ukrainian children.

      Incidentally, my Vietnamese born friend who got her Irish passport in December told me of her surprise at the citizenship ceremony where 1,000 people got their passports at one go – she said she felt a little awkward as she was expecting to see a very ethnically mixed group, but she was one of only a handful of Asians – nearly everyone else was white English.

      1. show_me

        Is it possible that many of the “white English” were people with sufficient Irishness to claim citizenship through their parents /grandparents and who simply wanted easy access to Europe ?

  6. Mikel

    “We Asked A.I. to Create the Joker. It Generated a Copyrighted Image” NYT

    Joke’s on us all.
    How many stock options will be cashed in before it’s admitted?

    1. digi_owl

      The “stocastic parrot” descriptor is more and more apt.

      There is no thought, only statistics…

  7. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “Will All Seniors Eventually Have No Choice but Medicare Advantage?

    Setting aside any questions of Betteridge’s Law violations, I think the key quote in the article is:

    “I believe the Medicare Advantage program has successfully changed patterns of care in ways that have reduced overall utilization.”

    As insurance companies are essentially uninterested in paying for medical services, this is obviously a huge win for them, and a huge loss for the health of the aging population.

    1. Benny Profane

      They’re doing this at a nice, slow pace, to not really disturb the Boomers, an important voting bloc. Just scamming and trolling for volunteers first. But, they’ll be gone soon, most of them by the mid thirties, and whomever is left won’t have the energy to put up a fuss when it all goes full private. Voila. More money for the MIC. A lot more money.

    2. marym

      During an Obama-era iteration of a “cut entitlements” discussion, raising the Medicare eligibility age was endorsed by Durbin and others as something to consider once the ACA exchanges were available for the elders to choose a private policy. Moving all Medicare to MA would facilitate this. Someone commented here recently that they’d seen a comment elsewhere that bizarrely claimed Obama had provided a “universal” healthcare system. Maybe they’ll eventually re-name it Obamamedicare-for-All. (And by All I mean None.)

  8. Wukchumni

    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now
    We’re on the move
    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now
    We’ve got the genocide groove

    There’s been so many things that’s held us down
    But now it looks like things are finally comin’ around
    I know we’ve got, a long long way to go
    And where new settlements end up, everybody knows

    But we won’t let nothin’ hold us back
    We’re putting our selves together
    We’re polishing up our anti-Semitic Gaza act
    If you felt we’ve been held down before
    I know you’ll refuse to be held down anymore

    Don’t you let nothing, nothing
    Stand in your way
    I want ya’ll to listen, listen
    To every word I say, every word I say

    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now (no-oh-oh)
    We’re on the move (han)
    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now
    We’ve got the groove (han)
    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now
    We’re on the move (I know, I know)
    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now
    We’ve got the groove (we got it)

    I know you know someone that has a negative Zionist vibe
    And if you’re trying to make it, Hasbara pushes your view aside
    They really don’t have, no where to go
    Ask them where they’re going, they aren’t in the know
    But we won’t let nothin’ hold us back
    We’re gonna put our selves together
    We’re gonna polish up our anti-Semitic Gaza act (woah)
    And if you’ve ever been held down before
    I know you’ll refuse to be held down anymore

    Don’t you let nothing, nothing
    Stand in our way
    I want ya’ll to listen, listen
    To every word Joe & Bibi say, every word they say

    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now (no-oh-oh)
    IDF is on the move (see, we’re on the move)
    We’ve got the groove (we really, really got that grove)
    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now
    We’ve got the groove
    We’re on the move
    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now
    We’re on the move (we’re on the move)
    We’ve got the genocide groove (we really, really got that grove)
    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now
    We’ve got the groove
    We’re on the move
    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now
    We’re on the move (’cause IDF is on the move)
    We’ve got the groove (ain’t no stoppin’ us)
    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now (you can’t stop a neo-holocaust)
    We’ve got the groove (you can’t stop a die-aspora)
    We’re on the move (we really, really got that grove)
    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now
    We’re on the move
    We’ve got the groove
    Ain’t no stoppin’ us now

    Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now, by McFadden & Whitehead

  9. The Rev Kev

    So you may not be able to or cannot join the British army if you’ve had moderate/severe Covid?
    The virus that’s being willingly spread around our country to children & adolescents is serious enough to exempt you from the army?!’

    Times are tough for British recruitment. There are mutterings about conscription though good luck with that one. I think that it is time Britain look back to it’s storied past for a way to fill the troop shortage. British readers will instantly recognize this institution- (1:09 mins)

    What is the point of an Army with world-wide commitments that can only generate one or to brigades worth of combat power?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Ah, but those Brigades have special intersectional powers, so can overcome all enemies and obstacles.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The Russians will counter that by shouting the wrong pronouns at them. HistoryLegends did a video a day or two ago about the problems that Britain is experiencing with recruitment. Unbelievable stuff- (21:14 mins)

        Thought of something today that is only slightly related. We all know about “mercenaries” in the Ukraine with the biggest groups coming from Poland, the UK, Romania and the like. But here is the thing. We have been reading about the tens of thousands of Ukrainian Nazis that went to Canada after WW2 and how they thrived and put deep roots into the Canadian establishment e.g. Chrystia Freeland. So why do we not hear about a large contingent of the grandsons of these Nazis going to the Ukraine to fight the Russians? Where are they? I have only seen one or two videos with Canadians in them. Why aren’t they volunteering for the cause? That dog is definitely not barking.

  10. Wukchumni

    The town of Three Rivers is the gateway to the Ash Mountain Main Entrance to Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, home to the Giant Sequoia trees. It is also one of the most charming towns in California, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains at the convergence of the Kaweah River forks. While it is no surprise that outdoor adventurists flock to the area, its quirks lie in its townspeople, who have created breathtaking murals of the three rivers all along the downtown area, which visitors may view as they peruse the little shops and art galleries, such as Kaweah Arts. There are also several annual festivals and events, such as the Redbud Arts and Crafts Festival.

    It feels very much like an island of misfit toys in Tiny Town, split right down the middle politically (Obama prevailed by 1 vote in 2012, Trump by 6 votes in 2016) and tempered by living amongst nature where there is 1% concrete and 99% nurture.

    1. Jabura Basaidai

      writing about giant Redwoods, thought this might interest you Wuk
      i lived in the UP for a while and it is sad walking through some areas with enormous stumps of trees cut down during the madness of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s – there are still some lunkers around
      i’ve visited the giant tree sites in Cali and still in awe – a friend that lives in the Bay area told me about an article he read that enormous stumps have been found in the area surrounding the Bay indicating the giants must have been up and down the state –

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Bloomberg suggests Putin is willing to negotiate”

    This is more a fantasy than actual news. They are taking it straight from Ukrainian news as if it was trustworthy. Putin would never, ever agree to the Ukraine in NATO as that would mean US tactical nukes on the Ukrainian border. Makes me wonder about another link in today’s Links – “Exclusive: China presses Iran to rein in Houthi attacks in Red Sea, sources say.” Why would the Chinese do that? As long as the US Navy is tied down in the Red Sea trying to do the impossible, then that means that the US Navy is not off China’s coast doing their usual provocations. Besides. the Chinese must be learning heaps about US tactical doctrine by observing them at work in the Red Sea.

  12. Carla

    Much to my disappointment, does not unlock the “Uncommon Wealth” article in The Times Literary Supplement…

  13. Ghost in the Machine

    US scientists proposed to make viruses with unique features of SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan US Right to Know. Oh.

    This was also recently put on preprint.

    Endonuclease fingerprint indicates a synthetic origin of SARS-CoV-2

    “The restriction map of SARS-CoV-2 is consistent with many previously reported synthetic coronavirus genomes, meets all the criteria required for an efficient reverse genetic system, differs from closest relatives by a significantly higher rate of synonymous mutations in these synthetic-looking recognitions sites, and has a synthetic fingerprint unlikely to have evolved from its close relatives. We report a high likelihood that SARS-CoV-2 may have originated as an infectious clone assembled in vitro.“

    1. pjay

      The U.S. Right to Know website has several useful bibliographical pages on this topic, for example:

      Articles like this will continue to trickle out. But it will not matter, because this is yet another case where the mainstream media has demonstrated a “strenuous lack of interest” on a topic that would seem to be of great public interest. As Paul Thompson indirectly demonstrated with his excellent ‘Complete 9/11 Timeline’ work, even if hundreds of relevant stories appear scattered through mainstream sources, it is possible to keep the dots disconnected, the big picture invisible, and the public disinterested if they lead to someplace we don’t want to go.

      1. Ghost in the Machine

        You could be right. It is difficult to imagine keeping this from common knowledge given the increasing burden of Covid on society. But, alas, I have been wrong about this type of thing in the past. I mistake information coming out on sites like NC or podcasts as representing an incipient general realization. But, this is not correct.

        1. Reply

          That is a story for the current age, with much frustration.

          The Future Awareness is already here, it just isn’t evenly distributed.

        2. Susan the other

          I failed to note the name of the podcast, but yesterday I stumbled on it. It was a report on the latest discoveries of an Italian virologist and a German specialist who have been studying the mechanism of long COVID. The young Italian doctor was leading some new research into how COVID goes underground and long. He seems to have discovered that it hides not just in our cells but also in the natural bacteria we all have. One comment was that antibiotics could thus kill the little hosts and guests simultaneously. That sounded hopeful. I’m wondering about our own cells that carry those fragments of COVID where they can survive and cause auto immune-like problems. Anybody else see that podcast? It was hard to follow, but very interesting.

  14. ChrisFromGA

    It looks like the “grand bargain” trading Ukraine money for border security (money for nuthin’ and no security, for free?) is dead.

    The night grand bargains died

    Sung to the tune of, “The night Chicago died” by Paper Lace

    Grand bargains are tough, with the specter … of a sellout
    Back in the USA
    Here comes the Orangemanbad!

    In the chill of a DC night
    In the land of the dollar bill
    When the time of grand bargains died
    And they talk about it still

    When a man named Freeze Frame Mitch
    Tried to make that town his (family blog)
    And he called his gang to war
    With the forces of Mordor

    I heard old Freeze Frame cry!
    I heard him bray the night grand bargains died
    Brother what a night it really was
    Brother what a fight it really was
    Glory be!

    I heard old Chucky cry!
    I heard him pray the night grand bargains died
    Brother what a night the people saw
    Brother what a fight the people saw
    Yes, indeed

    And the sounds of the battle rang
    Through the halls of the partisan sides
    Til the last of the moderate gang
    Had surrendered up or died

    Sinema was stylin’ in the street
    With da bomb heels on her feet
    And I asked someone who said
    “Bout a hundred deals are dead!”

    I heard Zelensky cry
    I heard him bray the night grand bargains died
    Brother what a night it really was
    Brother what a fight it really was
    Glory be!

    I heard old Chucky cry
    I heard him pray the night grand bargains died
    Brother what a night the people saw
    Brother what a fight the people saw
    Yes, indeed

    Then there was no sound, at all
    Election clock up on the wall ( tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-tock)
    Then the door burst open wide
    And the Murphy stepped inside
    And he kissed Sinema’s face
    And he brushed her tears away

    The night grand bargains died
    (Na-na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na)
    The night grand bargains died
    Brother what a night the people saw
    Brother what a fight the people saw
    Yes indeed

    The night grand bargains died
    (Na-na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na)
    The night grand bargains died
    Brother what a night it really was
    Brother what a fight it really was
    Glory be!

  15. Not Again

    “I Am Done Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils. I Will Not Vote for Joe Biden in 2024.” In These Times

    In what world is Joe Biden considered the lesser evil? Three wars in three years. A half million dead Ukrainians, 30,000 dead Palestinians and God knows how many Houthis have been killed.

    Biden killed more people than cancer did last year.

    1. neutrino23

      Thanks for the heads up. And all this time I thought it was Putin who was murdering Ukrainians and Netanyahu who was murdering Palestinians. He sure is effective considering how senile they say he is on Fox News.

    1. flora

      I’m pointing out this para wrt the Ogalalla Aquifer water draw down for irrigation of commercial crops like corn and wheat.

      “Bain has won over some ranchers. Bob Winderlin, a former full-time rancher in Scott County, is one of the people now participating in the program so his land will see potentially less impacts from drought and water loss. Grasslands help reduce water runoff and filter water into river basins. They also help keep soils cooler and keep more moisture in the ground.”

      The grasslands left as grasslands reduce the water draw down that would occur for irrigation if the grasslands were converted to cash crop farming. The map in the KCUR article shows the proposed grassland conservation area overlying the Ogallala Aquifer. Keeping the areas grassland will protect and lengthen the aquifer’s life as a usable resource by offsetting part of the cash crop irrigation draw downs, imo.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Maersk ships in US Navy convoy forced to retreat under Houthi missile attack”

    I suppose that you can call this a tactical win for the US Navy and a strategic defeat. It was a tactical win in that none of those ships were sunk or badly damaged. It was a strategic defeat in that not only did those two Maersk ships exit the area but Maersk itself announced that they will no longer be going through the Red Sea. And I believe that Maersk are contracted to carry US military cargoes so you wonder if that was what those to ships were carrying. If it included explosives, that might explain why they just bailed the area.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      I read somewhere that the container shipping rate hikes are going to be passed on to wholesalers on Feb. 2.

      Any economists here who can predict how long that takes to work its way to the end consumer?

      Best to buy that new appliance, this weekend?

      1. jefemt

        I’d bet the cost-pass along effect happened 18 months ago….

        Can’t wait for the next round of greed/ shrinkflation. My bet… lowered demand , belt tightening, and eschewin’ on stems and seeds…

    2. Skip Intro

      It looks like the Houthi-enforced economic sanctions on Israel and their partners in crime may be more effective than the NATO-enforced sanctions against Russia.

    3. johnnyme

      The latest escalation:

      Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched a missile Friday at a U.S. warship patrolling the Gulf of Aden, forcing it to shoot down the projectile, the U.S. military said Friday.

      The attack on the destroyer USS Carney marks a further escalation in the biggest confrontation at sea the U.S. Navy has seen in the Middle East in decades. It represents the first time the Houthis directly targeted a U.S. warship since the rebels began their attacks on shipping in October, a U.S. official said on the condition of anonymity because no authorization had been given to discuss the incident.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I understand that Grade 8 kids are about 13-14 years old while this County is in rural Kentucky. How much of that material is still Grade 8 material? The author Robert Heinlein talked how he had his father’s school books from rural Mississippi and they were a revelation. He was saying how a lot of that material in those school books was no longer taught in grade school but at the college level. And this was in the 60s/70s that he was talking about this. Those kids learning in a one-room school with ages mixed together managed to be taught kids a high level of education and they were not the country bumpkins that many people think of them as.

      1. Bsn

        Being a retired teacher of 13-14 year olds in SW USA, the standards being taught in today’s schools are nowhere near those on the link this morning. Sad but true. Children are much more capable than people (and testing corporations) think. Even second language learners can do much better than is expected of students in today’s schools. Less articulate students become easily duped adults.

        1. hk

          Caveat: I’m out of date by about 35-40 years, so things may not be this way any more.

          What I know from my own youth is that East Asian schools threw the hardest material at everyone: in US, only kids who are pretty good at math take algebra, say, at 7th or 8th grade. Every 7th grade i SK has to take algebra as a rule. Rather few US kids get all the way to calculus in HS. Every 11th/12th graders in East Asia will get to calculus. This may make life harder for middling students, but if you throw the good material, more stick (and not just the textbook stuff either). I tend to think that, in education, that’s a good thing.

          1. Reply

            The movie Stand and Deliver had inspirational stories about kids in east Los Angeles learning calculus. The star was Edward James Olmos, known to many in those days from his role in that 1980s iconic show Miami Vice.

            When kids are encouraged, they can accomplish great things. What a radical concept!

          2. Feral Finster

            People who were educated in the USSR were astounded that I made it to university without having first mastered basic subjects such as multivariable calculus.

          3. Laura in So Cal

            I can confirm that very few kids take calculus in high school. My kid took both Calculus A & B his junior and senior years. He struggled a bit (not the least because his junior year was on-line only due to covid). There were 2 classes of maybe 60 kids total out of 500. So maybe 10-15%. This was at a fairly good public high school. There is a local magnet “hybrid ” public school where the really high performing kids can go, I’m sure the percentages are higher there.

      2. Ken Murphy

        There is a lot of solid stuff in that exam. Stuff that most adults should know.

        When Dad was stationed in England in the 70s I went to a local public school (Willingham County Primary School, FWIW) for 2 1/2 years. The American schools didn’t catch up until I was in high school, and it took TAG classes to keep me engaged. Then again, I was a reaalllyyy precocious kid who was reading my Mom’s Open University texts when I was done with the encyclopedia and dictionary. Special thanks to Mme Garner, who started me on a lifelong path of learning French. Maintes sont les remerciements tel que je sois ravi de cette habilite.

        1. Reply

          Many a rainy afternoon lent itself to poring over encyclopedias. What a discovery for a young child of those frigates! There were different versions, like Britannica, Colliers and World Book so going to a friend’s house brought more opportunities for research and adventure.

          Somehow, the modern world’s Wikipedia and other instant resources may not provide the same tactile thrill to oldsters, even with the availability of so many links.

          1. Jabura Basaidai

            ah yes – being in my mid-70’s my early schooling and even high school (4yrs of Latin) was good and back in the day there were door to door salesmen of encyclopedias which of course we had and provided many hours of fun reading –

          2. Wukchumni

            I read the 1966 version of the World Book encyclopedia from Aachen to Zydeco mostly in the bathtub over the course of a few years when I was 8 to 10 years old, and what a scattershot way to learn!

            I still have it, the ‘M’ is a bit waterlogged from when it went in the drink, once upon a time.

    2. Joe Well

      Does anyone think that test is anything but a joke?
      Many 8th grade students today are already taking algebra, and I imagine most are taking pre-algebra. Arithmetic for 8th graders is remedial level stuff.

      And the prescriptive grammar of diagraming sentences and declining nouns in English is mostly a waste of time.

      Spelling words read aloud as a major portion of the exam? No concern is they know what they mean? Really?

      If an 8th grader today is at grade level, they should pass the math portion of this test with flying colors and the rest of it is just silly. The issue is not standards or curriculum. The issue is how many are not at grade level due to rampant absenteeism and chaotic schools.

      1. zach

        My recollection of public (by the US definition) middle school, is of math teachers who themselves barely understood the topic they were expected to instruct. As a result, when I enrolled in a private high school, freshman year I barely managed a C- in algebra 1, did slightly better in geometry sophomore year, skated by in algebra 2 by virtue of taking a class with a teacher known to be an easy grader (and who would happily give you answers to test questions, during the test, if you approached her desk with that bovine look), and took a made-for-seniors-who-are-bad-at-math class called functions, trigonometry, and statistics in order to graduate.

        The issue is standards and curriculum, as well as rampant absenteeism and chaotic schools, along with the abandonment of instructors by school administrators and local, state, and federal agencies. At the risk of sounding like your right-wing uncle, at the heart of it all is the breakdown of the nuclear family unit – breakdown due to parental absenteeism by way of career-mindedness, overemployment in order to survive, or incarceration.

        Not such an easy fix!

        1. Joe Well

          Your criticism is typical of criticism of public schools: it’s anecdote rather than data, and not really grasping basic concepts like academic standards.

          I know people who had the reverse experience, going from public schools to private schools or vice versa. We could swap anecdotes all day. In the end, we’d be on an intellectual plane with people who question global warming because it snows some days.

          As for standards: they are published for every state. That doesn’t mean that all or even most classrooms are meeting them, but there has been endless arguing about them and more arguing about them is unlikely to make a difference.

          1. zach

            Friend, you did not offer any data either, and while your criticism was reductive, mine was holistic and included your viewpoints as part of the problem.

            If by academic standards, you mean “teaching to the test,” how is that at all important now that many colleges don’t even require or care about SAT test scores? If you add more concrete information to your position, I will happily partake of it.

            I confess, the only information i have is anecdotal, from teacher friends and personal experience. If that somehow disqualifies me from having an opinion on the matter, please, again, shine your good light of wisdom on my barbarous ignorance. I would ask though, is a weatherman necessary, to know which way the wind blows?

            And i agree, an argument about education in an internet chatroom is unlikely to effect any noteworthy change.

    3. Jason Boxman

      If you click through, the question about describing forms of government was interesting. Today, fascism would be on that list along with communism.

  17. PlutoniumKun

    A Counterintuitive Effect of Global Warming The Atlantic:

    I hope the author knows more about Global Warming than medieval architecture – in fact, medieval cathedral builders (at least of the Gothic variety), got it pretty much right from their first try – the Basilica of Saint Denise. The magnificent high point was reached within a century or two with Chartres Cathedral.

    But to the point of the article – there has always been a worry that while overall climate models have proven remarkably accurate over the past few decades (contrary to what some believe, late 80’s models have, three decades on, been mostly spot on with their predictions), they may not be very good at identifying trigger points.

    Even climatologists sometimes implicitly assume that climate change is a gradual process, but anyone familiar with studies of the past ice age will know that all evidence points to the extreme rapidity of some major changes – not even over decades, sometimes over just a few years. You can see evidence of these rapid changes written all over the glacial tills in the northern hemisphere mid latitudes.

    So there always has to be a risk of a very sudden and cataclysmic change in climate – the world has seen several of these in the past 20,000 years, mostly in the unstable period from around 12,000 years ago over the next 2-3 millennia. These are still poorly understood. This is why its vital to take our foot off the CO2 pedals, even if its too late to hold to 1.5degrees warming, or even 2 degrees warming. We don’t know where those tripwires are, we should do everything we can to avoid them.

    1. CA

      January 12, 2024

      Global Warming Acceleration: Causes and Consequences
      By James Hansen, Makiko Sato and Reto Ruedy


      Record global temperature in 2023 helps reveal acceleration of global warming on decadal time scales. The proximate cause of the acceleration is increase of Earth’s energy imbalance, specifically a substantial darkening of the planet (decreased albedo) equivalent to a CO2 increase of more than 100 ppm, although it is difficult to apportion the albedo change between aerosol forcing and cloud feedbacks because of limited global measurements. Large 2023 warming is consistent with key findings in Global Warming in the Pipeline: * reduced aerosol cooling and high climate sensitivity. We expect record monthly temperatures to continue into mid-2024 due to the present large planetary energy imbalance, with the 12-month running-mean global temperature reaching +1.6-1.7°C relative to 1880-1920 and falling to only +1.4 ± 0.1°C during the following La Nina. Considering the large planetary energy imbalance, it will be clear that the world is passing through the 1.5°C ceiling, and is headed much higher, unless steps are taken to affect Earth’s energy imbalance.


      1. skippy

        “the large planetary energy imbalance” – in a nutshell, as it were.

        I wish this was the way AGW was presented and not the 2 degree temp one, gives all the deniers and skeptics lots of fodder for propaganda = the seas will boil … sark …

        When in reality its rapid increases in storage and release of energy globally. Just as we here in Australia are experiencing right now. The West is copping biblical persistent heat whilst he East is experiencing never ending rain and T/storms, now we have cyclone season proper starting …

        Then when we have a wee break on the East the heat from the West flows through, rinse and replete. Then after its is all done its projected to get dry dry just before bush fire season, right after everything has been growing non stop due to wet/humid/warm/hot conditions. This next month is going to be a hoot.

      2. skippy

        For presenting as such an astute person its curious about the non reply, some then ponder why the unwashed are easily manipulated, as some of the informed can’t be bothered – spoils the mental esthetics …

        You might have to get your mind dirty mate …

  18. PlutoniumKun

    What Happened to My Search Engine? Ted Gioa, The Honest Broker

    How lock-in hurts design Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic

    They both tell a very similar story and its hard to argue with them.

    I’ve been planning some travels for the first time in a few years and its striking how its gotten more difficult to book journeys and accommodation than a few years ago. The most popular hotel booking engines have become gamed to the point of being largely useless, just contacting them directly is much better. My travel agent declared defeat when I asked them to give me a price on a complex series of flight connections – I found it much cheaper to book each flight separately (at the risk of course of missing connections). I found connections that even the much vaunted Google Flights couldn’t find. Online train booking has gone backwards if anything. For the first time in years I’ve bought travel books just to help me find the right places to stay and find local travel options. Unfortunately, as nobody seems to buy them anymore, lots are very out of date.

  19. icancho

    Amusing that in the same page that shows a Spelling, Grammar, etc. test from 1912 we also read in the letter from the US Embassy in UK that “… we want to ensure the good people of the UK that …”

    1. Ken Murphy

      I assure you, that was likely auto-corrected (or maybe these days AI-generated).

      When typing on the iPad I seem to spend half my time fighting with the auto-correct. If it asked if that was what I intended to type (yes, yes it is, which is why I typed those letters you stupid computer), it wouldn’t be so bad. But it presumes to decide what is shown on the machine, something for which I didn’t ask.

  20. NotTimothyGeithner

    Pre-Covid, this math is close on what the lower half would be taking. Many kids will already be in proper algebra with more in pre-algebra, a smattering in geometry. The other stuff looks right. Obviously it’s more focused on regional geography, but kids get asked similar questions. The civics questions look standard.

    The US has plenty of education problems, but the official standards aren’t that bad. Part of the problem is now the kids are so weak they simply aren’t ready year to year.

    Conjugate I. We don’t make people do that as adults, but we know how to do it because we were taught it in school. Decline I: I, you, he/she/it, we, you (plural), they. Even kids in 8th grade Spanish 1 classes are conjugating verbs.

    If I understand “voice of the verb,” they are asking the student to change a good sentence into a bad sentence. James was struck by William.

  21. flora

    Oh wow. There is so much wrong with this. FDA is not rebuilding my trust.

    FDA Final Rule: IRB Waiver of Informed Consent for Minimal-Risk Investigations

    “On December 21, 2023, FDA issued a final rule providing an exception from the requirement to obtain informed consent when a clinical investigation poses no more than minimal risk to the human subject and includes appropriate safeguards to protect the rights, safety, and welfare of human subjects.”
    FDA Final Rule: IRB Waiver of Informed Consent for Minimal-Risk Investigations

    1. Reply

      FDA, where the F is silent. On occasion, the D and even the A seem to be.
      Imagine a world with transparency, objective science and no conflicts of interest.

  22. CA

    Exclusive: China presses Iran to rein in Houthi attacks in Red Sea, sources say Reuters

    [ With regard to Reuters, such reports about China are repeatedly incorrect. Such reports repeatedly invent Chinese positions, which in this case have been to explain that the problems in the Red Sea are to be resolved by a ceasefire in Gaza and that Chinese shipping is avoiding Israeli ports. ]

    1. CA

      Rather than criticize the Reuters report, which appeared only speculative, I should have simply set down what Chinese media have been reporting about a meeting between Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and American national security advisor Jake Sullivan:

      January 26, 2024

      Wang-Sullivan Bangkok meeting to continue high-level contact momentum
      Third venue creates more pragmatic, solution-oriented environment to discuss thorny issues
      By Wang Qi

      Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold talks with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Bangkok during their visit in Thailand, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Friday, as the two countries continue their momentum of engagement and communication despite multiple issues on which they are at odds.

      The high-level contact between Wang and Sullivan, scheduled for January 26-27, according to the White House, is one of the most authoritative communication mechanisms between China and the US. Issues of urgent mutual concern, such as the Ukraine crisis, Red Sea tensions, the Taiwan question and the South China Sea disputes, are expected to be discussed.

      Chinese experts believe that a meeting in Thailand would help create a calm and pragmatic atmosphere for dialogue, as it is consistent with the two sides’ choice of a third venue, such as Vienna and Malta in 2023…

  23. griffen

    Lessons from a lifetime in investing, quite an interesting article and that it covers an arc of time beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s on through today. The notion of the initial example, of a fund manager putting practice to a broadly diversified holding of UK equities as opposed to owning UK issued gilts is much like what one might notice from the Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger approach. Buying and holding, rarely selling but on occasion one has to punt on a losing trade.

    Interesting times in the 1970s…the inflation of that era is known but the US moving from the gold standard arguably unleashed some wild animal instincts as well (along with a broad push to deregulate the banking sector among other key US sectors). Not always a good thing, necessarily, as the US moved from the S&L debacles of the late 1980s and then forward to the biggest of them all since the Depression Era, what I like to term the Global Cluster Mess.

    I don’t have a blueprint for the future myself*…not too long ago it was, perhaps, quite unlikely that a Sears or a Montgomery Ward could find themselves extinct from the US business world. Life comes at you fast, so the saying goes.

    *Hard to predict, since it hasn’t happened yet. Thanks Yogi Berra !

  24. flora

    Denver hospital system facing economic trouble due to increase in uncompensated care. From Mishtalk:

    Denver Health at “Critical Point” as 8,000 Migrants Make 20,000 Emergency Visits

    On a side note,many hospitals are dropping accepting Medicare Advantage insurance for the same reason: uncompensated care.

    Hospitals are dropping Medicare Advantage plans left and right

    1. Stephen V

      On the Great Tea Controversy of 2024–
      First comment!
      Larry the No. 10 Downing St. Cat:

      While we’ve got you, we need a conversation about what constitutes a biscuit.

  25. Dessa

    ‘Outrageous’ tea recipe involving pinch of salt draws US embassy comment

    This is undoubtedly the most consequential tea-related incident in the history of these two nations. Let us pray that this doesn’t escalate any further.

  26. Dessa

    Survey: Surprising number of managers want sick employees to come to work

    “Twenty percent of managers said they’ve encouraged workers who weren’t feeling well to still come into the office — 20%! That blew my mind,”

    Did they mean surprisingly low? Us low-wage schmucks fully expect to be sick-shamed.

    1. bobert

      In a related vein, a friend who teaches high school was recently told that the “COVID excuse” would no longer be accepted when accounting for poor classroom performance.

  27. Hastalavictoria

    Vietnamese :No Surprise

    First encountered this phenomenal people in the RDU Triangle N.C in 98 when heading up a electronics manufacturing turnaround.

    They absorb knowledge like a sponge.Understood also
    one of the reasons why they won the Vietnam war and I have ‘bored,’ for Vietnam workers ever since.

    They would be my first choice of all the nationalités I’ve worked with across a wide range of manufacturing sectors.

    The worst? Well let’s say the Vietnamese would have finished the war a lot earlier if they were fighting us Brits.

    I once picked a High School year book in an English Book Shop .A lad in some Californian School.By Christ you had a hell of an educational system then. remember he was doing Latin, German,Calculus etc.Mightily impressed me

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