Links 1/9/2024

Mouse filmed tidying up man’s shed every night BBC (David L)

Wild Burros: Saucy Symbols of the Silver State Travel Nevada (David L)

Moon’s resources could be ‘destroyed by thoughtless exploitation’, Nasa warned Guardian (Kevin W)

2023 Word of the Year is “enshittification” American Dialect Society (Paul R)

The Art Scene Is Dead and the Liberal Class Killed It Russel Dobular. Kevin W: “Saw this guy on Jimmy Dore and it is sad reading.”



Could Direct Lithium Extraction Be a Game-Changer? IEEE Spectrum (Chuck L)

Can $500 Million Save This Glacier? New York Times (David L)

Scientists Discover 100 To 1000 Times More Plastics In Bottled Water Washington Post. Bottled water is endemic here.


To grow or to recut China’s pie, that is the question Asia Times (Kevin W)

Taiwan election: Kuomintang party asks voters to choose between war and peace BBC


Ruling junta surrenders Kokang region in Myanmar’s north-east to Three Brotherhood Alliance ABC Australia (Kevin W)

Old Blighty

>Sunak hints tax cuts to be paid by ‘difficult decisions’ on welfare STV News (Kevin W)

European Disunion

French PM resigns as Macron seeks to relaunch presidency Agence France-Presse (Colonel Smithers)

How France Fumbled Its Africa Ties and Set Off a Geopolitical Crisis Wall Street Journal


‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 94: Israeli forces kill four-year-old girl in occupied West Bank; Gaza’s children face brunt of the genocide Mondoweiss

For Fleeing Palestinians, Gaza Has Shrunk—by Two-Thirds Wall Street Journal. Everything going according to plan!

Update on Palestine: IDF Claims Gaza City Victory Simplicius the Thinker

Chinese giant COSCO halts shipping to Israel Ctech (BC)

Arab leader told Netanyahu to ‘ask Zelensky for money’ – media RT

On Immigration’s Role In The Gaza Carnage Scoop (BC)

Thousands Protest Across Israel Calling for Elections and Netanyahu’s Dismissal Communist Party of Israel (C)

Aharon Barak to serve as judge in Hague genocide hearing Globes. I went to the ICJ site and found no Israel written response yet. BC highlights:

The hearing will take place on Thursday and Friday of this week. Israel will be represented by British lawyer Malcolm Shaw. The hearing will be broadcast live via the court’s website, as is customary.

South Africa will win its case against Israel – human rights lawyer CapeTalk. Certainly on the merits, South Africa would win but that may not be what drives the votes. Ray McGovern on his latest Judge Napolitano show (see particularly starting at 18:30 and again at 21:20), that the ICJ judges will be told of kompromat and/or offered bribes to persuade them to not vote for the South Africa case (recall that for South Africa to win, it needs a certain # of affirmative votes, so an abstention is effectively a vote for Israel).

Don’t Intervene in Yemen Daniel Larison

New Not-So-Cold War

The Sky Is Falling! Andrei Martyanov

Are there any winners in the Russia-Ukraine war? Gilbert Doctorow

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Coimisiún na Meán go off the rails The Gist. Paul R hoists: “”The Irish State announced its new plan to build a porn preference register for most of the EU, amongst other mad things.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Westerners Have An Absolutely Psychotic View Of Airstrikes Caitlin Johnstone (Dr. Kevin)

1/6. Would be nice if we could stop litigating this…

The Tucker Carlson Encounter: Rep. Clay Higgins (Li)

Versus Video: Mike Pence reacts to new poll that 34% of Republicans think FBI was behind Jan. 6 CNN (furzy)

Republicans Have a New January 6 Conspiracy Theory: Deep State “Ghost Buses” New Republic (furzy)


Donald Trump, America’s Comic Matt Taibbi (Li)

Trump’s Supreme Court Blunderbuss Atlantic (David L)

Georgia defendant in Trump election case files motion accusing Fani Willis of impropriety The Hill

Editorial: Trump’s immunity arguments are laughable, unpersuasive — and dangerous to democracy Los Angeles Times (furzy)


House GOP releases Hunter Biden contempt resolution The Hill

Austin faces mounting criticism for going AWOL The Hill. Ultimately a Biden issue….

Austin’s hospital debacle: A timeline of events Politico


China-US migration: How an underground industry is helping people illegally cross the border CNN (furzy)


OpenAI claims The New York Times tricked ChatGPT into copying its articles The Verge (David L). Help me.

OpenAI warns copyright crackdown could doom ChatGPT Telegraph (David L)

What happened to the artificial-intelligence investment boom? Economist (David L)

Why Large Language Models Will Not Understand Human Language Jeremy Hadfield (David L)

Cloud giants offer only limited protection to businesses over AI copyright claims Financial Times (David L)

Study shows that the way the brain learns is different from the way that artificial intelligence systems learn Oxford (David L)

Falling Apart Boeing Airplanes

Before a door plug flew off a Boeing plane, an advisory light came on 3 times MPR (Paul R)

Alaska Airlines jet was banned from long-distance journeys over water after cabin pressure warning light flashed on THREE flights before door blew out at 16,000ft – as Portland school teacher finds missing plane parts days later in his backyard Daily Mail (BC)

United Airlines discovers loose bolts in Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft during inspections Business Insider (Kevin W)

The Bezzle

U.S. spot bitcoin ETFs could win approval next week after last-minute application updates Reuters (furzy)

Elon Musk Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep Matt Levine, Bloomberg. You have to click through to see what the piece is really about: “Is Elon Musk’s drug use securities fraud?”

Class Warfare

Why America hates its children Business Insider

Biden Administration To Unveil Contractor Rule Set To Upend Gig Economy Reuters

‘Only 700 New IT Jobs’ Were Created In US Last Year The Register. So much for “Learn to code.”

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. The Rev Kev

    ‘Spetsnaℤ 007 🇷🇺
    Jan 7

    🇺🇦 Kiev cancels support for veterans of the Great Patriotic War.

    The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine have approved the withdrawal from the agreement of the CIS countries on the establishment of additional benefits and material assistance for participants of WWII.’

    What about a Ukrainian veteran who served in the German SS in the Great Patriotic War? Maybe even one that served as a concentration camp guard. Do they get to keep their benefits and material assistance from the Ukraine?

    1. NYMutza

      What abut the Ukrainians who worked as gunners for the mobile killing units in WWII? Many Ukrainians, along with Latvians and Lithuanians did the actual shooting.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Jee-zuz. It says that-

      ‘his Commission would require adults and minors (children under 18) to send a copy of their passport to websites- including porn sites- and then, also, send them a live selfie so the porn sites could see what they looked like right now. And then the porn sites would run biometric data processing on those images (details unspecified) to confirm they were over 18.’

      This is breathtakingly stupid this idea. I can’t even count the number of ways that this could go south. Ask me a list of 100 things and I could probably come up with one. And what is this about collecting information on ‘porn preferences’. Will there, for example, be a page for ticking them off eventually? Will there be one for nuns in rubber suits perchance? Asking for a friend.

      1. Terry Flynn

        The late great Sean Lock had the issue of “every possible preference” sorted already (though IMHO he had most aspects of humour cornered years ago before the big C took him).

        Scroll to 13:50 in one of his best live stand-ups here for a hilarious take on preferences that AREN’T there. Mild language alert.

      2. Bsn

        Actually, it’s really a money maker. They’ll just use the selfies as the basis for some new, AI generated porn – a win win.

        1. Stephanie

          Yeah, if it’s not already a thing it soon will be: send in a video clip of yourself filmed from various angles and then you too can buy the clip of yourself choking AI-Taylor Swift or other celebrity of choice!

  2. zagonostra

    >The Battle of Gog and Magog

    Early in the morning for biblical study of Gog and Magog, but since it’s in the links, I had to look up: reference to Gog and Magog occurs both in Old and New Testament. If people such as Israeli ex Defense Minister take this seriously, it’s worth getting educated on the subject.

    Two small excerpts:

    Ezekiel 18:19
    And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face. For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.

    Revelation 20:7-9
    And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

    1. The Rev Kev

      This may sound unkind but when I read passages like that as well as the Book of Revelation, I cannot help but wonder if there were magic mushrooms growing wild in the Middle East back then. It would explain a lot.

      1. Wukchumni

        One of the cabin owners is a fervid evang and regales with tales of living for 1,000 years with the big cheese upstairs-as per the Book of Revelation, while we heathen have shit sandwiches down here on this heavenly orb.

        I asked her, wouldn’t that get old after awhile?

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        You mean like what happens when chewing kush at high altitudes? What is that about Dog communicating on mountaintops?

        Revelation is probably just a song.

      3. griffen

        Well it’s possible if John wrote that book while exiled to the island of Patmos. Or he was just a bit lonely, naturally, being exiled for being a follower of Jesus. I heard a few of these fire and brimstone types of sermons growing up in smaller, Independent Baptist congregations.

        “Do you want to spend eternity condemned to never ceasing hell fire?” Seven year old me, um probably not ? I also listened to all manner of teachings on the evils of rock music. Some lessons stick better than others.

      4. digi_owl

        I suspect many a prophet of the day would be medicated as schizophrenic today.

        And as best i can find, sub-species of psilocybe grows just about everywhere so yeah…

      5. Skip K

        Traveling there, I came across a form of loco weed in the Israeli wilderness where Christ was said to wander. Who knows what was looking good after a long fast? Or during a longer mass wandering in the Old Testament?

        It’s my bet for the Burning Bush and other gee whiz excitements Moses came across.

      6. IMOR

        Yes, and actually a common hypothesis among historians and anthropoogists picking it up from either end (psychoactive plants or divine revelatory experiences). Zoroasterian prophets, John on Patmos, the chronicler writing as Ezekiel… .

      1. zagonostra

        Thanks for that tidbit of info, it looks like a film version was made narrated by Orson Welles, definitely have to check out

    2. MaryLand

      Evangelical preachers like John Hagee have been milking these prophecies for years. He is deeply involved with the Evangelicals who want to see the “final war” in Israel. He’s still on tv working the people up with the end of days trope.

      From wiki: He is also the founder and chairman of the Christian Zionist organization Christians United for Israel.

        1. pjay

          That was an entertaining article. Interesting to compare the Old Testament passages from Ezikiel with the New Testament prophecies in Revelations. Who are the Chosen People again? Maybe Hagee and Shmuley Boteach can debate that topic to enlighten the rest of us.

          I’ve never been sure about what Bush actually believed or how much he knew or the extent to which he actually shaped policy. But one thing is certain: Cheney and the neocons were happy to use fanatical Christian Zionists to support their project, just as they were happy to use fanatical Muslim jihadists. Same with the Zio-fascists in Israel. The problem is that the True Believers can’t always be turned off when necessary.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I can’t find it, but my memory is of two articles from the first Shrub term, one with the Gog and Magog story, and one parsing his language. Shrub used Dominionism talk too fluidly to not be bathed in it. The churches he was with were nuts. Shrub really was one of them.

    3. William Beyer

      Back in 2009, James A. Haught, then editor of the Charleston Gazette (West Virginia), reported the following in the pages of that newspaper:

      Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse. Honest. This isn’t a joke. The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to a major European ally, asked for French troops to join American soldiers in attacking Iraq as a mission from God… Oddly, mainstream media are ignoring this alarming revelation that Bush may have been half- cracked when he started his Iraq war. My own paper…is the only U.S. newspaper to report it so far. Canada’s Toronto Star recounted the story, calling it a “stranger-than-fiction disclosure …It’s awkward to say openly, but now-departed President Bush is a religious crackpot, an ex- drunk of small intellect who “got saved.” He never should have been entrusted with the power to start wars.

      1. Feral Finster

        This is why it was important to get an Obama elected. Our european puppets, satraps, flunkies and vassals might roll their eyes at a gauche Evangelical such as Dubya, and they might balk at talking orders from a loudmouth swaggering cowboy like McCain, but Obama made the european political class swoon.

        Suddenly, european opposition to American wars and American empire disappeared, once those wars became Obama’s wars. Who could refuse such a suave, urbane Master? And Obama even started a passel of new wars, without so much as a peep of protest out of the european political class.

        1. urdsama

          Those wishing to be led have no need of a charismatic leader.

          Obama was “charismatic” for about half a term. Then reality set in.

          1. Feral Finster

            Europeans like being slaves. And I never bought into Obama, but my european colleagues acted like the man was Solon, Marcus Aurelius, Solomon, Akhenaton and Jesus Christ, all rolled into one.

            1. c_heale

              Same thing happened with Gorbachov back in the day. Iirc he was very unpopular with Russians.

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        It’s easy for me to imagine a Rasputin-like Cheney using such an argument to get Bush to go along with a second war. It’s true that Bush seemed to have it in for Iraq going back to his father’s little war with Saddam, but maybe there was some last-minute reluctance to pull the trigger so to speak, so Cheney used Bush’s dim understanding of the Bible to provide a little divine guidance.

        That’s not as scary as the possibility that Bush had some dream or vision that involved Gog and Magog. Maybe a vision when he choked on that pretzel?

      1. B24S

        Thank you for the article on the Henry Ford museum!

        A little off topic of Gog and Magog, but…

        Some years back I had the pleasure of meeting Malcolm Collum at the historic races at Laguna Seca, Monterey, Ca. He had moved on to Chief Curator at the National Air and Space Museum, and had contributed a chapter on conservation of historic vehicles at the Ford to a book on NOT restoring certain vehicles.

        I’d contacted him in relation to some Gemini era Spacesuits I have, but introduced myself by sharing an article I’d written about conserving, rather than restoring, a car I have. After reading it, he looked at me and said “You’re one of us!” We discussed the spacesuits (“This glove is in better condition than what we have. How do you store them?” “In a brown paper bag in the back of the closet…”) and the NASA policy on clawbacks- “We’re sending a truck down to Florida where Bezos is pulling Saturn 5 engines off the sea floor. We’re going to say Thank you!, and drive off with them. They’re still ours.”). He told me that the spacesuits are mine, even the one that has a name tag that reads “V.I.Grissom”.

        To close out the tale, he took me to meet the head of FIVA (Federation Internationale des Vehicules Anciens) who is German. I again introduced myself, adding that I’d studied with a German gold and silversmith. “My father went to the US to work for Tiffany” he says. Then he reads my story, and looks at me and says…. “You’re one of us…”

    4. communistmole

      Martin Buber wrote a story with this title. The plot is set during the Napoleonic Wars and deals with an internal Hasidic dispute about whether one should wait piously for the Messiah or whether one can essentially force his arrival through magical practices that are supposed to help Napoleon.

    5. Es s Ce tera

      Surprisingly, it looks like there’s a prevalent belief that Gog and Magog are Russia, Turkey, Iran and Libya, generally the far north. See here. for example, from

      “Magog occurs in the Old Testament on four occasions (Genesis 10:2; 1 Chronicles 1:5; Ezekiel 38:2; 39:6). It identifies a descendant of Japheth in the table of nations, which scholars trace to the ancient Scythians. These tribes lived in the region north of the Black Sea and some consider their territory stretched from Ukraine to Siberia. Further, Ezekiel describes Gog as “the prince of Rosh” (38:2, NASB), which also suggests a location in Russia, although the use of “Rosh” is debated. Thomas Ice argues for “Rosh” being a noun labelling a nation, as against an adjective describing “prince” (“chief prince,” ESV). Hebrew grammar supports this usage and, as a noun, it can be traced to “Tiras” in Genesis 10:2, adding more support for a Russian identity. It thus appears that this invasion includes an army from the north of Israel composed of modern Russians.

      Two other participants are named in this group, Meshech and Tubal, both of which are included in the table of nations in Genesis 10. Scholars agree that Meshech refers to the location of modern Turkey, southeast of the Black Sea. Tubal is always grouped with Meshech and his descendants also occupy modern Turkey. Modern Turkey is increasingly dominated by Islam, moving further away from ties to Europe. It seems that Turkey also participates in this invasion of Israel, joining with the Russian contingent.

      Added to these are “Persia, Cush, and Put” (Ezekiel 38:5), as well as “Gomer and all his hordes” and “Beth-togarmah” (38:6). Persia is clearly modern Iran, another Islamic nation, whose name was changed to Iran in recent times. Cush and Put are more difficult to identify, as is Beth-togarmah. Scholars consider Cush is the nation of northern Sudan, an Islamic one, and Put is Libya, another Islamic (mainly Sunni) nation, and possibly includes Algeria and Tunisia because the ancient borders extended west beyond modern Libya. Gomer’s descendants inhabit the west-central region of Turkey, joining with Meshech and Tubal. Beth-togarmah literally means “house of Togarmah,” who is identified as a son of Gomer in the table of nations (Genesis 10:3). This is another participant located in Turkey.”

  3. Terry Flynn

    The Large Language piece is interesting and taps into certain issues that both people with a “more formalised statistical design background” and “laypeople in places like the UK” tapped in to decades ago.

    Suppose I tell you xy=4; solve for x. I’ve deliberately made this example stupidly extreme to illustrate the point but it shows a huge number of interpretation problems these AIs are going to have in real life: where there is more than one solution and it is impossible without extra information to use correlations to give an answer that is helpful, never mind correct.

    Suppose we ask the AI “is famous person X gay?” An AI could be easily fooled by the fact humans interact with questions/surveys/laws in imaginative ways to say what they think (or know) in order not to fall foul of laws (such as those regarding defamation in the UK). It became a “thing” on the BBC satirical show Have I Got News For You pretty much from its start in 1990 when Ian Hislop and Paul Merton quickly realised they could make statements on BBC1 that agreed perfectly with a statement by a public figure but which 99% of viewers would interpret as “the BBC stars saying it *this* way so as to avoid being sued”. Context is king, it changes/morphs rapidly, and AIs, by “learning” from past data, seem destined to be one step behind humans. Most of my career involved designing surveys that avoided unintentional “cues” to the participant that alerted them to what we were really interested in. Humans INTERACT with surveys and in often mind-boggling ways. Statistical correlations are nearly always highly suspect and you nearly always must bring to the table additional information from outside the “main” (or in this case “training”) data. Even then you’ll go wrong without huge dollops of common sense. Intelligence (human or artificial) is not synonymous with common sense.

    1. digi_owl

      Just contemplating the linguistic drift of “gay” over generations, and i see no hope for statistics based language models any time soon.

      Context is king, and computers are even less context aware than most humans (never mind those that are willfully unaware in order to be permanently offended).

      1. B24S

        Yeah, I sure didn’t understand that context when I was 12, and sitting in a movie theater in NYC one afternoon, and some guy sits next to me and asks if I’m gay? I sit there thinking “Am I happy and go-lucky? Well, sorta..” , and things got complicated real fast. He ran out of that theater real fast too…

    2. vao

      Suppose I tell you xy=4; solve for x.

      Since there is an infinite number of possibilities, and without any other information, resorting to Laplace’s principle gives x=y=2.

      Easy, peasy.

      I wonder whether all those AI/ML/neural networks actually apply such rules — with results that may be “interesting”, or in fact utterly uninteresting.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Part of my job was knowing that certain groups of Cantonese speakers steeped in traditional ways seemed to be avoiding the numbers 7 or 9 on rating scales (I knew about 4). Googling why (especially why 7 differs from 9) is unwise at work though was highly amusing when my HK female young colleague explained it to me.

        And like “resorting to Laplace’s principle”, additional context had to be brought to bear.

          1. Terry Flynn

            Flaccid and…..errr, erect…..are the adjectives relevant to the object for which those numbers are slang. And for anyone thinking that the phenomenon of “avoiding/using certain numbers on rating scales being something nobody does these days and your grandma certainly wouldn’t be influenced by……certain things”, I have news for you. You are wrong.

            I remember when people like Ben Goldacre used to write articles showing the utter ridiculousness of those “this is the happiest/worst date of the year” papers which were based on some utter garbage equation. I long for the day someone gets the same attention showing why you should never ever click on an article that refers to “well-being scores or happiness scores”.

            1. JP

              Saw an add today saying “four alzhiemer’s symptoms. #2 will scare you”

              I did not click but I assume that #2 is if you clicked on this add.

      2. El Slobbo

        The easiest answer is x=4/y.
        This has the advantage of always being correct. And I don’t think this would ever stump a large language model.

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Wild burros–

    The first preliminary hearing at which I ever appeared as counsel for the defense was a burro rustling case in Mora, NM. Two brothers were charged with loading up a couple of burros from the Carson National Forest. Didn’t the DA have anything better to do? Well, one defendant, Benji, was an alum of the New Mexico state pen and its extremely violent riot, and the DA considered him a dangerous hombre. The burro rustling charge was an attempt to send him back to prison with another strike, but the judge was a very pro-defendant type, and he actually dismissed the charges in the prelim–very unusual.

    I later represented the brother of the two burro rustlers in a case where he was charged with shooting at some gringos in one of Mora’s favorite pastimes: jousting with pickups and rifles instead of horses and lances. I always suspected that it was Benji who was doing the shooting with the younger brother willing to take the rap because of Benji’s prior conviction, but when the highway patrol officer lied on the stand and was exposed on cross, we were able to get a hung jury (10-2 for acquittal) and dismissal.

    Benji met his end when his girlfriend, traumatized by years of his abuse, picked up his pistol from the bed stand and shot him while he was asleep. The burros in Carson National Park have been safe ever since.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        At least in the 80s, it was a bit of a Spanish Wild West. A little later, I was on the prosecutor side in Taos trying the son of a local patron who ripped off New Buffalo Commune’s pot harvest. Never bumped into Dennis Hopper, but I heard plenty of stories from the DA office’s investigators.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          I was at a club in Colorado in the early 90s and I ran with some good old boys from Texas at the time. They liked to get drunk, try to meet some women, and if that failed, as it most often did, get in a fight. Club was about to close and a couple drunk guys start mixing it up on the dance floor. My TX buddy jumps into the middle of it, ostensibly to “break it up” but he really just wanted to land a few punches on somebody himself. He grabbed one of the other guys and cracked his head on the dance floor loud enough that you could hear the thump of the guy’s head over the music that was still bumping. All of a sudden a guy to my right I hadn’t noticed says, rather annoyed, “Your friend didn’t really need to do that.” I turned to see a short guy in a bolo tie looking pretty peeved, and it was Dennis Hopper. Luckily I didn’t physically bump into him or he might have kicked my [family blog].

          1. Bugs

            He was fresh off winning an Oscar for Hoosiers. Great story. NC has the best comments on the Internet.

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    More on France. For a country that seems strangely mired (although not as mired as the U S of A), the French can still surprise.

    New prime minister is Gabriel Attal.

    He is what Pete Buttigieg aspired to be at a certain point. But then Pete Buttigieg turned into Pete Buttigieg, absentee manager of transport disasters.

    Our commenters with closer ties to France than I (although, admittedly, I am about sixty km from the border and can see some French mountains) will offer more insights than I can. I’d venture: Compared to the stagnation of the U.K., Germany, and the Netherlands, Macron makes an intriguing choice. On the other hand, it doesn’t get France any closer to ending the foreign-policy disasters it is mired in. And I don’t like the whole “post-leftist” blague.

    1. zagonostra

      it doesn’t get France any closer to ending the foreign-policy disasters it is mired in.

      On thing I’ve concluded from the Ukraine fiasco is that France, as well as Germany, Italy and other EU members don’t have “foreign-policy.” The U.S. troops and their hundreds of military installations are for occupation. Granted the occupation was mostly benign and the standard of living was/is better than the U.S., but the conclusion I draw is that EU members of Parliament seek to do the bidding of the same Power Elites that run this country.

    2. Aurelien

      Well, since you ask. It’s purely about electoral politics. Macron has a minority government in the National Assembly, further weakened by the recent fiasco of the immigration law, dependent for its survival on deals cut with a ramshackle coalition that used to be the main right-wing political party. The previous Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, is a charmless technocrat with the charisma of a used tea-bag and has been under sentence of death for a while now.

      Attal’s only advantage is that he is young (34), and possibly that at one point he was a Socialist before defecting to Macron. The idea is that Attal can provide a young and dynamic image for the government to challenge Jordan Bardella, the 29-year old wunderkind of Le Pen’s Rassemblement National, and one of the few genuinely popular politicians in France. Macron is desperate to avoid a disastrous election result in this year’s European elections, and to be seen as the leader who, through his own incompetence, finally allowed the RN to make the breakthrough they’ve been threatening for years. And after that will be the Regional and Departmental elections where, if things continue as they are now, the RN is going to do extremely well. Macron, for whom image is all, is going to use Attal to try to convey a new image of movement and excitement for his lame government. Attal is too young and inexperienced to pose a threat politically, and he’ll be a glorified secretary to the Elysée, to be thrown aside in favour of someone else if he can’t deliver better election results than currently seem likely. If I were Attal, I wouldn’t have taken the job, but that’s politics for you.

    3. Bootstraps

      Buttgag me!

      Assistant federal director of TSA arrested on Port St. Lucie police warrant

      Gee, wonder what exemplarary high scores on the Civil Service exam, as well as outstanding credientals she had?

      Meanwhile, Mexico has built a brand new dedicated passenger rail line from the Atlantic to the Pacific across the Yucatan.

    4. vao

      Macron has been a particularly blatant weather-wane.

      From “NATO is brain-dead” to “NATO is revived by the electric shock of the Ukraine war”, from negotiating with Putin to sending weapons to fight Putin, from standing with Israel to Israel having no justification for bombing women and children, there is no reason to take him seriously in matters of foreign policy; there does not seem to be any consistency, any conviction, any strategy in what he states.

      This is of course quite different from the unflinchingly, rabidly, fanatically pro-NATO, pro-USA, pro-Israel position of the German government — but it is no better for France and Europe.

    5. bidule

      My own attempt to a portrait…

      Gabriel Attal is born in a moneyed family and, after a pretty common cursus (studies in law and politics) immediately entered the polical career in the (now pretty much extinct) socialist party. In other words he belongs corpse and soul to the “moyenne bourgeoisie” (PMC in USA), and never worked nor has ever had to work in his entire short life.

      The comparison with Pete Buttigieg is spot on. In 2018, he made a name during the Alexandre Bennalla scandal. Bennalla was a Macron’s bodyguard catched on video hitting protesters for no purpose. Neither the police nor the judiciary tried to arrest him or even ask any question. Bennalla was obviously protected by Macron himself and flyed free of any charge in sunny places around the world. There were even some inuendo about suspicious personal relations between Macron and Bennalla. Attal, then a freshly elected and quite obscure lawmaker, went public and very vocal on TV and radios, protecting Macron, busy to deflect public attention and anger against LFI (the Mélenchon’s opposition party) which tried to make the best use of the affair. He showed, like Buttigieg during the Night of Long Knives, that he was ready to do whatever it takes to make Jupiter (the nick name of Macron) great again. This obsequiosity gave him second tier jobs in the successive governements, speaker in the Castex legislature and secretary of Education under Borne, who has been fired yesterday, despite belonging to the inner circle of our monarch for a long time.

      Recently, on fall of 2023, a couple of affairs brought more lights on our youngest prime minister. He first forbid the abaya (a muslim outfit) in schools, and since immigration, intentionally confused with islamism, is an issue here, he was able to score easy points, and not only on the right. Following just after: Samuel Patty was a adolescent bullyied to suicide in his school. The parents wanted him to be moved elsewhere and wrote a letter to the administration. The letter and the reply (very harsh, very contemptuous) were later published and enraged the public. Attal catched the ball: he threw under the bus the official who was bearing the responsability (Charline Avenel, groomed by Macron who had to door-revolve her to a private schooling company managed by one of his financer) and shifted the blame on the public school: never waste an occasion to prepare for the privatisation (sorry, necessary “reforms”). Nevertheless: more points scored, anything regarding the public service is a fat target.

      These two last “faits d’armes” (or maybe the fact that he lives with Stéphane Séjourné who is also an adviser of Macron) propped him at light speed to the top of the ladder.

      He is coming from nowhere, his teeth are scrapping the floor, he has no idea nor conviction whatsoever — and therefore he has a straight line destiny: he is obviously deemed to succeed to Macron, whom he is pretty much the younger clone…

      He is our Pete Buttigieg indeed. Our version is no more competent in anything, but our “bourgeoise” has hight hopes in this chemical mixture which, contrary to your attempt, has succeeded — and will certainly prove to be more effective and lethal. Call it “the french touch”.

    6. upstater

      Macron made this appointment to lock up the Islamist and immigrant vote for his En Mache! party in the 2027 election year.

    7. Bugs

      Attal is Mini Me to Macron’s Dr. Evil. Le Dauphin where there wasn’t one before. The parley will fail.

  6. Wukchumni

    They also tend to set up shop near natural cold springs and hot springs, like Spencer Hot Springs and Soldier Meadows Hot Springs, which they treat as a big ol’ burro drinking fountain.
    We see free-range burros all the time in the right spots near hot springs, as often its one of their few water sources, especially in the desert.

    Make sure you don’t leave your shoes or smelly clothes anywhere they can get to them and keep food stored in the same fashion when camping @ hot springs, as they are quite opportunistic in regards to your stuff.

    What a difference a year makes in regards to precip in Cali, this time last year the Sierra was swimming in snow, oodles of it.

    Started my 45th year of skiing yesterday on somewhat thin gruel, with occasional dirt smears showing through the piste de la resistance in spots, but its all good, you go with the conditions you have-not the conditions you want.

  7. Richard H Caldwell

    Am I being unfair in suggesting that Boeing should be nationalized for the collective interest of U.S. citizens? It has been abundantly clear for some time now that this corporate entity seems completely and seriably unable to do the right thing on any issue except hypeing its own stock price. With our defense and travel systems so dependent upon the company, we would be exceedingly foolish to allow it to continue its program of self destruction at our expense. The collateral damage to the rest of us is just too great. Time to take it over and set things right.

      1. The Rev Kev

        It’s more likely that Boeing would spend big money on training their workers, paying them solid wages, and then encouraging them to join a union to protect themselves.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Chinese giant COSCO halts shipping to Israel”

    I wonder how many other shipping companies will also look at the present situation and bail out on shipping goods to Israel. They cannot be happy about having their expensive ships do the Red Sea run right now and are the profits even worth it? Even if they sent their ships around Africa, you cannot call that a win either. It takes another week or two to get to Israel that way but probably the profit margin would be the same. But that week or two extra is time they they could be making other runs to other countries so they would be losing profits there. And if COSCO is bailing out of Israel, then that company could be picking up those extra runs for themselves.

    1. Christopher Fay

      Where’s the volume? Israel with a population 9 mil is equivalent to a large city. The China-origin freight will be sent to Greece, Turkey or France then reshipped to Israel with some added cost and delay. COSCO going direct through Suez gives them a week’s lead compared to European shippers. Complaints will be similar to European air carriers complaining about China Airlines flying direct over Russia from eastern China to Europe while European airliners have to navigate around Russia.

      Europe, see foot, shoot it. It’s part of life in the Garden.

  9. Terry Flynn

    Only 700 coding jobs? I *did* learn to code. That’s……1792 jobs.

    Hmmm, not sure I’m helping my case here……

    1. neutrono23

      Coding is not the same as IT. Many more people write code to support products than are in IT.

  10. upstater

    re Alaska Airlines jet was banned from long-distance journeys over water after cabin pressure warning light flashed on THREE flights before door blew out at 16,000ft – as Portland school teacher finds missing plane parts days later in his backyard

    My brother is a pilot in Alaska. He is concerned about the 737Max 9s on flights between Anchorage or Fairbanks to Seattle. There are very few airports in SE Alaska and Western BC that can accommodate the 737max 9 in an emergency. There are places where suitable airports are a full hour away. So not flying to Hawaii is one thing, but what about the dozens of flights between Seattle and Alaska?

    Regulatory capture and financialization are beautiful things.

      1. The Rev Kev

        That is not a bad question that. Not bad at all. I have another. Is there only one of those ‘plugs’ on a Boeing 737 Max 9 or are there any others? If there were, did they have people assigned to the seats next to them?

        1. tet vet

          My understanding from a reliable source is that Alaska has a unique seating configuration on these models and the emergency row doors at that particular location are covered up and inoperable so that is not possible for a passenger to be seated next to it. It also means that their version of the plane has one less exit row than all others.

    1. ilsm

      Aircraft pressurization systems are things of immense danger:

      The USAF KC 135 depot did a pressure test, required after working on hatch seals etc.

      The scuttlebutt: the depot built a test set and did not calibrate the pressure sensor, over pressurized the hull, and crushed/popped the airframe. It could be asked were the aircraft overpressure plugs functional or did anyone think that no one could run the pressure too high so no blowout plugs? I got this one fourth hand!

      That said not too long after Vietnam I recall a few USAF aircraft returning from flights with missing “parts”……

      That and ground mistakes were mostly human error.

      The investigation on this 737 MAX 9 should be “interesting”.

      The first “why” is usually why did the aircraft (crashes it is ‘departed controlled flight’) divert from flight plan? Likely answer cabin depressurized.

      Second why: why did the cabin depressurize outside scheduled testing?

      It gets interest going forward with why’s.

      Might take a team half a year.

      1. Glen

        Pressure testing (high blow) is performed at the factory on every airplane, applying enough pressure to open the pressure relief valves on the fuselage:

        Pressurisation Valves

        But with the pictures posted yesterday on The Air Current, assuming the rest of the door plug was installed and rigged properly, it might pass that testing:

        United finds loose bolts on plug doors during 737 MAX 9 Inspections

        And yes, things can go seriously wrong during pressure testing:

        747 test blows nose door in Everett

        The “nose door” on a 747F is pretty much the whole nose of the airplane:

  11. vidimi

    I’m not a fan of the word ‘enshittification’.

    Doctorow, who I’m fairly certain is a NC reader, took the NC term ‘crapification’ and, well, made it shittier.

    He is great at documenting the abuses of capitalism, though. Especially the depravity of Big Tech.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Agreed here. ‘Crapification’ is a much better word and more descriptive than ‘enshittification’ and a bit less pretentious as well.

      1. nippersdad

        Just to be difficult: “Will no one think of Thomas Crapper’s reputation?”*

        Poor guy. He invents and produces all this nice equipment to get effluent out of the house and then his name becomes synonymous with the refuse he is trying to get rid of. He didn’t turn anything into “crap”, he improved the process of getting rid of it. I think that is both ironic and a category error. For this reason I vote for “enshittification” over “crapification”, because that would seem to apply more closely to the process of turning perfectly good asparagus (or whatever) into feces.


          1. nippersdad

            Those members of Thomas Crapper’s estate (that have not already changed their names) thank you for your kind words of consolation in this fleeting moment of linguistic controversy.

            I couldn’t begin to tell you how I got here (because I cannot remember myself), but Chaucer would appear to agree that “enshittification” is a better term for the debasement of materials via greed than “crapification”:*

            “In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer often uses excrement for signaling illicit greed for money: the friar desirous of wealth in The Summoner’s Tale befouled by the fart; greedy religious punished by the image of Satan’s anus; the avaricious pardoner insulted by a turd. Excess desire, greed, and lust are punished by excess in the form of shit. The body politic is controlled by insulting the human body, by using its own filth to cleanse homeopathically.”**

            So, anyway, that was fun.


            * Argumentum ad verecundiam (argument or appeal to authority).
            This fallacy occurs when someone tries to demonstrate the truth of a proposition by citing some person who agrees, even though that person may have no expertise in the given area.

            1. zach

              Top marks for instigating this ordurous line of inquiry. Not that anyone’s asking, I would tend to agree more with the use of the term “crapification” for it’s flexibility of use – you can dress it up or dress it down, no need to caution “earmuffs!” if your god-fearing neighbor’s kids are in earshot.

              However, your remarkable employment of fallacy, and presence of mind to consider the feelings of Mr. Crapper, have thoroughly convinced me of the inherent correctness of your position.

              Nippersdad ’24.

      2. t

        Another complaint. The barging bin rip-off version is unpleasant, more difficult for a native English speaker to say, and needs to be explained.

        But as I always say, build a better mousetrap and some clown will build a not-quite as good version that will outsell that better mousetrap.

        Seems like a significant percentage of the Mondo 2000 crowd were just hacks.

    2. Terry Flynn

      I don’t intrinsically dislike the “newer” word, but I’m pretty certain that it’ll run into the same problems that the UK satirical site “NewsThump” did in its original form (being a word that would get it censored into oblivion). The NC crapification term might be a little more tame, but realistically has potential to gain much more traction across the wider internet.

      Don’t let perfect be enemy of the good.

    3. cfraenkel

      The meanings are different. ‘Crapification’ has meant the general, across the board making things worse we’ve all suffered through. Cory’s term has a more specific usage – the three stage, deliberate process of giving away investor capital to capture users, taking away the value to end users to capture the middlemen, then taking away the value from the middlemen once they’ve been captured as well.

      The end result may be the same to us consumers, but replacing a well built product with cheaply built, poorly designed crap to make higher profits (the general case meaning) isn’t the same, and more importantly doesn’t incur the monopoly downsides we’re seeing at Amazon, Google, Facebook et al.

      I suspect the new term was a deliberate embellishment of the older one – a particular, nastier form of the earlier variety, so the words might as well be also.

  12. Wukchumni

    Bibi, Bibi, Bibi, I’m gonna leave you
    I said Bibi, you know I’m gonna leave you
    I’ll leave you when the election time
    Leave you when the election comes a-rollin’
    Leave you when the election comes along

    Bibi, Bibi, Bibi, Bibi, Bibi, Bibi, Bibi
    Bibi, I wanna leave you
    I ain’t jokin’, Netanyahu, I’ve got to ramble
    Oh yeah
    Bibi, Bibi, I be leavin’
    We really got to ramble
    I can’t hear AIPAC callin’ me the way it used to do
    I can hear it callin’ me a turncoat back home

    Bibi, oh
    Bibi, I’m gonna leave you
    Oh, Bibi
    You know, I’ve really got to leave you
    Oh, I can hear the populace callin’ me Genocide Joe
    I said you don’t hear AIPAC callin’ me the way it used to do?

    I know, I know
    I know I never, never, never, never, never gonna leave you, Bibi
    But I gotta go away from this place
    I gotta quit you, yeah
    Oh, Bibi, Bibi, Bibi, Bibi
    Bibi, Bibi, Bibi, oh
    Don’t you hear them callin’ me Genocide Joe?

    Oh, Hasbara, Hasbara, I know, I know
    It feels awkward to have you back again
    And I know that one day, Bibi, illegal settlements really gonna grow, yes, it is
    You’re gonna go wrecking Gaza City every day
    Come what may, every day
    Oh, my, my, my, my, my, my Bibi
    I’m gonna leave you, go away

    So long, see, Bibi
    It was really, really good for the MIC
    You made them happy every single day
    But now, I’ve got to go away
    Oh, oh, oh

    Bibi, Bibi, Bibi
    That’s why they’re callin’ me Genocide Joe
    I said that’s what they’re callin’ me back home

    Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, by Led Zeppelin

    1. The Rev Kev

      For a second there I thought that you were going to do a riff on that old 70s song “Idi Amin – the Amazin’ Man song” (4:49 mins)

      ‘Bibi, Bibi, Bibi the King, most amazin’ man, there′s ever been
      He’s the general, the president, the king of the scene
      Bibi, Bibi, Bibi the King’

  13. vidimi

    re europe’s largest condom manufacturer

    are they the largest firm producing condoms or the firm producing the largest condoms? /snark

    1. The Rev Kev

      I am just imagining a very cold European winter, people with no money to pay for heating anymore who will have to get by with going to bed early with lots of blankets, lots of them being young couples…and no condoms.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      Your question is analogous to the conundrum of whether Joe Blow is the Arthur Andersen Professor of Accounting, or the professor of Arthur Andersen Accounting.

  14. zagonostra

    >Austin faces mounting criticism for going AWOL

    What is the issue? Failure to follow protocol? Right of American people to know. Not for me. More like another indication that the gov’t is being run by a “shadow government.” I don’t believe Biden is making key decisions and I don’t think the Defense Dept. is controlled by Austin. As far back as 1964 scholars have been writing on the topic, but most people will turn away since it’s just conspiracy theory talk.

    [From Wikipedia]

    Books written by former CIA employees have to be approved and censored by the agency itself; Wise and Ross were never CIA employees, so the agency had no power to censor the book.[3] Nevertheless, John A. McCone, then director of the CIA, tried to censor the book.[4] Ronald Steel of Commentary stated that “Random House was reportedly urged to suppress the book”.[5] The agency created a plan to buy as many books as possible from bookshops, but the agency did not go forward with this as Bennett Cerf, the president of Random House, informed the CIA that the company would order additional printings if the CIA bought the first printing.[3]

    1. nippersdad

      I tend to agree. Those headlines read to me like “Oh Noes! We lost our figurehead for a week, and someone may have noticed that nothing changed.”

      If you can’t count on the military to provide replacement meat quickly and effortlessly then all truly is lost.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Oh noes, same principle seemingly applies to Ray-Bans in Chief, who is on vacation or mentally vacant most days.

        But the beatings to improve morale, and confirm TINA is still the Queen Perpetual of Our Reality, go on regardless.

        Guantanamo is still open, where’s my $600, the Israelites keep murdering the Semites… plus ca change…

      2. pjay

        There is also the added bonus that Republicans can make partisan hay by shrieking about this Threat to our Republic all over Fox News and other media outlets, providing one more distraction from those massive military issues that we *should* be discussing.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Agreed. biden is “commander”-in-chief. What a joke.

      And just by the way, according to sundance at The Conservative Treehouse, scuttlebutt has it that austin’s “elective” procedure was bariatric / lap band surgery.

      1. nippersdad

        Getting ready for the group photos before his triumphant return to the board of Raytheon? That is the most forward thinking thing I have heard about him yet.

      2. Duke of Prunes

        I have to say I’m skeptical about “elective” surgery scheduled for New Year’s Eve. Personally, I would never “elect” to have major surgery the day of/before a major holiday… Not just me either, my heart surgeon (major heart center) only does elective surgeries on Mon and Tues (so patients have a better chance to heal before the skeleton weekend staff takes over). I had open heart surgery twice and only spent a 2-3 days in the ICU each time so why was he there for over a week? I’m more of the opinion that he’s trying to hide a major health issue, and others are trying to out his major health issue.

  15. zagonostra

    >Israeli MK (Ofer Cassif), Causes Uproar in Knesset After Signing Petition Accusing Israel of Genocide in Gaza

    Sole vote in Knesset supporting UN Genocide inquiry. Reminds me of Vito Marcantonio, the only member of the House of Representatives that voted against entry into Korean War. Seems that politicians with moral integrity are mostly lone voices in a room of war mongers.

    1. Tom B.

      Let us not forget Barbara Lee, sole congressional NO vote for the AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force) in 2001. Can’t recall if it’s still in force …

    1. mrsyk

      I’ve about given up on commenting on the climate. What’s the use? I would remind everyone here that fire season will be starting soon. It’s got the potential to be a doozy. Don’t forget to stock up on N-95 masks to protect yourselves from wildfire smoke.

      1. Bsn

        Yes, we gave up about 5 years ago. Now we spend our caloric energy (non fossil fuelled) on preparation, adjustments and helping friends and family – and checking in with NC friends each afternoon. Bon Courage!

      2. Alice X

        What’s the use?

        I wouldn’t want the next generation to think I wasn’t paying attention. They are ones who will really be suffering, I will be gone.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Elon Musk Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep Matt Levine, Bloomberg”

    ‘You have to click through to see what the piece is really about: “Is Elon Musk’s drug use securities fraud?”’

    I have seen this question asked in other articles. Could this be a scheme to try to get rid of Musk by questioning if he uses drugs which influence his decisions? Using some obscure law to challenge his fitness to run his corporations? Kinda like they are trying to do to Trump using lawfare. They may want to be careful here as Musk might challenge those charges by pointing out widespread abuse of drugs my major corporate executives elsewhere. Last I heard, Wall Street uses so much Bolivian Marching Powder that it has to be delivered there in an armoured van.

    1. NYMutza

      Netflix has a documentary about Adderall – Take Your Pills. If Musk is taking Adderall he’s got lots of company.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Are there any winners in the Russia-Ukraine war?”

    I would list a few other factors. Russia also wins in that there will now never be US tactical nukes on their border. The people in the Crimea will be secure. The people in the Donbas win as they will no longer be slaughtered and ethnically cleansed from their lands. And after fighting off the combined efforts of some forty countries, Russia can now look on to a NATO that has revealed itself to be a paper tiger that has now itself been virtually demilitarized with painful proof that US promises to their allies mean nothing.

    But things go from worse to worse for the Ukraine. It should be noted that ‘The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense says it has purchased 50,000 sets of women’s uniforms for the first time since the start of the conflict. The announcement by Defense Minister Rustem Umerov comes a day before an expected parliamentary vote on amendments to the law on mobilization.’ Ukraine burning their seed corn.

    And a Ukrainian MP was suggesting that the children should be sent to factories to make shells for the Ukrainian army because they did that in WW2.

    1. nippersdad

      So, women sent to the Eastern Front and kids sent into Kinzhal magnets. Once all of the SS guards in search of bennies emigrate to Canada there will be no one left. They are managing to ethnically cleanse their own ethno-nationalist state within a couple of years. That has to be some kind of record.

      1. Benny Profane

        Don’t kid yourself that a lot of those Nazis will wind up here, too. It happened once before.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Perhaps they’ll be put to good use as torture consultants, like the US did with Klaus Barbie after WWII.

        2. NYMutza

          There already are lots of Nazis and neo-Nazis in law enforcement and the military here in the good old US of A.

      2. Feral Finster

        The dead children, doubtless to be neatly laid out for new footage, is entirely intentional.

        If this were happening in a country that the United States does not like, they would call them “human shields”. But since Ukraine is an American pet, it is A Testament To The Ukrainian Spirit or some other such bullshit.

    2. Daniil Adamov

      “Russia also wins in that there will now never be US tactical nukes on their border.”

      What is keeping the Americans from putting nukes in Finland, Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, if they so decide?

      “The people in the Donbas win as they will no longer be slaughtered”

      God willing, but so far that hasn’t stopped.

      1. Benny Profane

        “What is keeping the Americans from putting nukes in Finland, Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, if they so decide?”

        A decisive Ukraine loss to Russia, and the entire country turned into a rump state with no military and a pathetic economy. Look at what’s going on in Poland right now after they were all rah rah gung ho for this debacle.
        Kissinger’s oft quoted statement about being America’s friend should be on wall plaques everywhere in Eastern Europe.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          Oh, it should. But what about the events of the last thirty years makes you think such an outcome would have any influence on the thinking of either American or Baltic elites?

          1. Benny Profane

            American, no. Baltic states, yes. They have to choose at this fork in the road, and, watching Ukraine in all it’s stupidity should help them choose.
            They now have the most experienced and well trained army in the world right there. And getting bigger. And it protects trillions in cheap resources, and the well educated.

            1. cosmiccretin

              “…watching Ukraine in all it’s stupidity should help them choose”.

              If only that were so! It didn’t help the Finns choose. Amazingly, the converse is true – namely, that it actually incentivised them to choose to join NATO and thereby to permanently prostrate themselves in slavish obedience to the whims and deranged policy-objectives of Washington DC.

            2. JTMcPhee

              My guess: Baltic leaders are in bed with the neocon globalists. Like Bareback, they don’t care what their “voters” think or want. Mission creep, barring kinetic action by Russia which might not maintain a careful enough watch, will cue up another missile crisis, or some other janky pranky threat by Nulandia. USUK has been working away on bioweapons — don’t think USUK has any institutional restraint on them, especially if western elites have vaccines and antidotes in hand.

  18. Wukchumni

    The Art Scene Is Dead and the Liberal Class Killed It Russel Dobular.
    Did the internet kill art in all guises?

    There hasn’t been anything noteworthy really since it came along, aside from merry pranksters such as Banksky,.

    Movies have largely sucked, Hamilton was the only thing I can remember as far as theater goes, and it wasn’t much.

    Good luck finding the great 21st century American novel, or any country’s for that matter.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I should mention that Flora too also mentioned this article in Links the other day. But like you say, it is the arts right across the board such as plays, movies, books, etc. It’s all late stage empire this.

    2. Acacia

      …and get ready for AI “art” (sigh).

      As for movies… check out Albert Serra’s Pacifiction.

    3. griffen

      I dunno, certain movies have stood apart and not to discuss any franchises or MCU myriad offerings. just listing a couple of personal ones off the top of my furrowed brow…

      No Country for Old Men
      The Departed
      There Will Be Blood
      Hidden Figures
      Green Book
      Added, The Founder (Michael Keaton is excellent, and the roles for both of the brothers are well portrayed too)

      I have one novel, The Peripheral, authored by Gibson, which released in 2015 I believe.

    4. Camelotkidd

      Dobular explains why liberals have become insufferable with this statement–“the censorious Victorian lady in high dudgeon pose that has become the liberal class default setting over the past 10 years or so…”

    5. bobert

      That was a great article and captured my (from a distance) impressions of the state of the arts perfectly. I have trouble finishing movies these days; even the decent one’s seem to lack a sense of immersion and just aren’t compelling. I recently watched the latest installment of Kenneth Branagh’s ham fisted take on Hercule Poirot. It wasn’t utterly terrible but it was totally uninspired with canned characters like the dreary Tina Fey as a 1950’s mystery writer from New York weeping “moxy” as if from a septic wound and with the wisecracking lingo that one would totally, unexcitedly expect. The PBS Poirot was light years ahead of this soggy offering.

      A sign of the times in filmmaking and TV is the compartmentalization of the viewer’s opinion. How often I have been discussing a film or television show with someone and, when I waxed critical as I often do, have been told “Yeah, that part was bad but I really like the rest of it.” or something similar. For me, once the veil of immersion has been broken, it’s a wash.

      1. Morincotto

        That’s an way of viewing things that I have always had trouble understanding.

        There probably isn’t a single movie or TV show I like that doesn’t have parts I dislike, often even severely.

        If or rather when so inclined I can spend hours criticizing all my favorites.

    6. Carolinian

      Jumping out of my time machine from the 1960s American commercial movies from that era were no great gift either. Overproduced versions of B’way musicals were the Marvel of that day and television rather than pixels the big threat and simultaneous source of much of the talent. Meanwhile people at the time were writing off Broadway itself as passe. Having lived in NY for awhile it never left me very impressed with one or two exceptions–I suspect it still wouldn’t. More of a tourist thing?

      The arts wax and wane. There’s hope yet.

    7. Geo

      It didn’t kill art but it definitely killed the mainstream which is what most people know about art. All art is now behind algorithm silos and get buried by “new content” before they have a chance to gain traction, and marketing dollars are spent on targeted social media buys so those outside targeted demos never hear about it.

      Had a recent music video debut on Rolling Stone’s homepage and it garnered just over 600 views because no one goes to Rolling Stone for music anymore. Had a 1/4 page glowing review of one of my movies in the LA Times and four people showed up to the theater because no one reads the paper anymore. The days of Siskel & Ebert, Rick Deez, and the Tonight Show introducing new art to the masses is long gone and everything is either marginalized niche or lowest common-denominator over-priced mainstream gruel.

      There’s rare exceptions of course (horror movies, dance music, and self-help books being genres that seem to still have breakthrough potential), but the only way to find truly original art is to bypass the algorithms and actively search for it. Mine the music on Bandcamp and you’ll find brilliant new music, scroll through the showing at art house theaters (even if they aren’t local) and you’ll find out about brilliant underground films, etc.

      Over the years I’ve learned to have a more active relationship with the art I experience because the passive allocation of discovery to ad campaigns, PR, and algorithms was only delivering vapid trash.

    8. Albe Vado

      We’re actually in a golden age of modestly budgeted films, and still in the post-Sopranos era of prestige TV (though to some extent the formula there is definitely getting long in the tooth. There can be a unique misery to a bad attempt at a 10+ hour season of serial storytelling).

      Mainstream Hollywood is absolutely in freefall, almost entirely dependent on superhero and scifi action schlock with incrediblly bloated budgets, a business model where it’s only a matter of time before it collapses entirely and drags down most of the legacy studio system with it.

      But film and television as a whole are honestly in a very good place because with the plethora of streaming services there’s an endless appetite for ‘content’. Which has lead to an environment where basically anyone can get a script produced if the projected production cost is only a few million. A lot of these suck, but there’s so much stuff right now that the amount that are genuinely good is still significant. I can understand having a perception that it’s all trash though, because there’s so much of it, and trailers these days all tend to look the same. Finding good stuff tends to be heavily reliant on word of mouth.

      And if Netflix, Peacock, etc aren’t directly funding something, their services provide a distribution outlet for dramatically less cost than the old theater and DVD model. So, for example, if something like the Irish publically funded film board wants to produce some low or modestly budgeted bleak character drama, they can feel pretty safe in doing it because some service or other will be willing to fork over money just to have something new to add to their service next month.

      The streaming model itself is going to burn out as people cancel their subscriptions after watching everything they care about; it’ll probably get whittled down to three or four over time (and then in a way we’ll be back to the old ‘only three TV channels’ model).

      Beyond film and television, modern American novels may genuinely be a wasteland, but that was generally never America’s forte to begin with, comparatively speaking.

      Music is as good as ever, but it has the double problem of genres having changed, and many people seem to have the attitude that ‘it sounds different from my youth, therefore it’s bad’, and also being incredibly atomized. Whatever your tastes, chances are new stuff you’d like is in fact being made, but good luck finding it in the sea of YouTube and SoundCloud (even legacy genres are often well serviced, but mostly outside the English speaking world, in Japan especially).

      There’s also the impossibly wide and deep world of video games (where indie development has also been massively boosted by digital distribution) but there’s a huge generational divide here. Lots of critics simply refuse to acknowledge or engage with them, and even if one of them wanted to make an attempt, where would they even start? Most of us who are into video games grew up with them and know the landscape, as it were.

      Art, however pretentiously or not one might want to define it, is in fact alive and well. It’s either just hard to find, or exists in forms that ‘serious critics’ refuse to accept.

      1. Carolinian

        Don’t think it’s very original to opine that art follows technology. People used to be a lot better at verbal and written story telling because that’s what they had. In music more expressive instruments allowed for greater emotional range. In theater the motion picture allowed for real locations, closeups of faces, editing for suspense and many other story telling tools.

        In our current age computers have arrived to permit far more realistic fantasy depictions and so creativity heads off in that direction until some start to realize that pre-imagining everything for the audience is starting to deaden audience imaginations and that of the artists as well.

        So I agree that art is anything but dead. The next big thing has simply failed to happen yet and so art moguls are stuck in the past. Also maybe the ones in charge are simply too old and perhaps too rich.

  19. digi_owl

    “Why America hates its children Business Insider”

    USA is a colonial nation. Thus it has from the start been built around attracting the barely adult, put them through the wringer, and then spit them out on the street when the healthcare costs starts racking up.

    It may abolished overt slavery after the civil war, but how it the current health insurance system anything other than economic chains that tie people to corporations for life?

    1. jefemt

      I have to say, the Headline grated.
      America seems to hate all age groups. It does like to create groups, identities, then pit them against each other. And when I say America, I am speaking about the Government and the people we put in there by voting- license and consent for politicians who must pass the litmus test of the monied class.
      The worst government money has bought.

  20. Mary

    Re. Literacy rates

    From that most informative website:

    “California has the lowest adult literacy rate”

    Ex public school teacher here.

    What do you expect? For decades, bilingual education was the norm, promoted by a politically correct fool, State Superintendent of Education, Bill Honig, plus a series of subsequent intellectual shipwrecks, who pushed all manner of educational “reforms” and fashionable gobbledegook moving the state away from assimilation via learning English and encouraging the brightest and highest achievers. They were ignored in favor of special training, standards and ongoing certifications to assure that every teacher could educate a tiny minority of intellectual cripples, in foreign languages, thus leading to career teachers leaving, to be replaced with mostly young women who treat it more like a temporary job until something better.

    And these illiterates are automatically registered, in seven different languages, to vote everytime they do any business at the Department of Motor Vehicles, get their ballots by mail, have weeks to send them in. What could go wrong? California is doomed until the Democratic supermajority is flushed.

    p.s. California teachers and state employees, CALPERS and CALSTERS are broke and you may not get that pension you were counting on in the Phillipines, Mexico, Montana or Monrovia. Of course “It’s all Putin’s fault…”

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Great comment, thanks.

      Reminds me of something Douglas MacGregor said on Napolitano the other day. “The Russians and Chinese should just sit back and have a beer and a smoke. Nothing they could do to us could be as bad as what we’re doing to ourselves.”

      1. Feral Finster

        Like the stupid things that a stupid person who inherits a great fortune does with that fortune.

        1. nippersdad

          That seems to be an American tradition. IIRC, the Vanderbilt fortune only lasted a couple of generations because (slight simplification alert) they spent all their time importing French chateaux to build mansions in New York City only to then tear them down when they became unfashionable. Those people knew how to blow a lot of money.

          Amusing aside, though, Cornelius became so anal retentive that he died of exhaustion after eight months of trying to evacuate his bowels. I imagine there is a lesson in there somewhere, but I am not qualified to opine on it.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Is CA still trying to teach Ebonics (aka slang) as a separate language? Perhaps they’ve rebranded that effort in today’s DEI craze?

      Side note: I really wish I knew fewer ex public school teachers who were disgusted by the dumbed down curricula they were expected to teach. One of my best friends stopped teaching math after 30+ years due to differences with administrators who thought they knew better than she did after decades of actual classroom experience.

      1. zach

        I was enrolled in an engineering program at a 4 year state technical school. I took a class called “physics (with calculus)” as part of the degree. After grading the first test (of i think 3 big tests not including the final), the professor had a talk with the class, long story short he basically gifted everyone a letter grade above what they scored.

        So, sure, lower ed doesn’t prep kids for “real”/college level coursework but… It’s not like the people who are teaching the industry leaders of tomorrow are necessarily all that concerned about their students actually having a grasp of the material. If you’re a tenured or tenure-track professor, how does it look on you if all your students are failing? Especially in an era where students can easily destroy a professors reputation on “rate my professor” type sites? And with college degrees being passed out like achievement trophies these days, it’s never difficult to replace anyone who puts a tarnish on the institutions graduation rate.

  21. Will

    Interesting article today about Toronto’s short term rental bylaw and how well it’s fared in regulating AirBnB. Verdict? Not great.

    For context, our bylaw is described as “extremely restrictive”.

    >>> Rotman, who oversees all of Canada and 17 U.S. states for Airbnb, said Toronto’s bylaw is both “extremely restrictive” in terms of its regulations and “extremely robust” in terms of its enforcement.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      This is the problem. My better half helped pass short term rental restrictions in our city where the practice had gotten severely out of hand. That’s great and all, but when I ask who has been enforcing the measures to really make sure that any short term rentals are in an owner-occupied house, I get crickets. I’m quite sure the local short term rental owners didn’t all start obeying the new regulations just out of the goodness of their hearts when $$$ is involved. I know some that did – those who had attracted a lot of attention to themselves and had received numerous neighbor complaints – but surely not all.

  22. JM

    I didn’t follow the lead up to this, but it seems a private company contracted with NASA to launch a moon lander that went up over the weekend. It promptly broke and seems like it’s essentially lost, and seems destined for an impact with the moon. This is the one that has someones remains onboard, which raised objections from the Navajo Nation which were over-ruled (ignored maybe?).

    1. jhallc

      Yes, that’s the very same one that was linked the other day. About $100 million dollars worth of taxpayer money was contracted by NASA to Astrobotics, a private contractor, to include experiments onboard for a number of missions. There were partial remains and DNA from 70 people onboard as well. Just another small step in the neo-liberal “enshittification” of NASA. There…I used the newest word. Only need to use it two more times and its mine, which shouldn’t be hard.

  23. LadyXoc

    Re: France. What’s happening in the Sahel has got to hurt. From Radio War Nerd: Why did France never make their African colonies into overseas departments? Answer: Because then France would’ve had to invest in infrastructure and bring the quality of life (medical, education, etc.) up to metropole standards. I’d like to see some news on the decolonial project currently underway in post-Francophone Africa. Ibrahim Taore is a fascinating character and the YT shorts of him are electrifying. Lots of hard men wearing face masks with machine guns. Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso: looking to the future with full knowledge of the past.

  24. Joe Well

    Re: US has only a 79% adult literacy rate

    I actually clicked through and that ad-choked site has a table, “Literacy Rate by Country” that shows the US with a 99% literacy rate, seemingly contradicting everything else they claim?

    This topic is worth exploring, but that site is not the one to do it.

    1. Feral Finster

      No way that 79% of Americans are functionally literate.

      I’ve met chimps and monkeys that are clueful than the average frustrated American, and don’t get me started on europeans.

    2. scott s.

      What does “literate” mean? There’s a wide range of writings out there that purport to be “English” or en-Latn-US in computer-speak (its own form of literacy). Am I “literate” with X/text messaging? Probably only minimally. And are “emojis” required in literacy testing?

  25. ChrisFromGA

    Re: IT jobs not happenin’

    If I recall correctly the BLS classifies “information” as jobs kind of weird, per Wolf Street:

    Information includes facilities where people primarily work on web search portals, data processing, data transmission, information services, software publishing, motion picture and sound recording, broadcasting including over the Internet, and telecommunications.

    So, if you’re working for a software company, you’re classified as in “information” but if you’re the sys admin for a trucking company you’re in “transportation and warehousing.”

    Not to say that there isn’t some truth the narrative that these jobs are not so hot as they once were. AI has a lot of potential to get rid of entry level IT work, including customer service (help desk) and junior coding jobs.

    And speaking of AI, the solution offered by the Register quote is to “learn how to AI.” I don’t think that is going to be very fruitful unless you’re a short timer. What they really mean is “learn how to train AI to replace your job.”

  26. Wukchumni

    Over 300 million almond trees in Cali and the price has dropped from $4 a pound to $1.40 from overproduction, what to do?

    California almond processor SunnyGem’s latest marketing campaign promotes its unrefined, 100% virgin, cold-pressed almond oil as a healthy complement to salads, baked goods and vegetable sautés — as well as an aphrodisiac that comes in an elegant bottle.

    “Almonds are known to have strong aphrodisiac qualities as they are rich in omega-3 fats and magnesium and can help to better pump blood throughout the body,” stated a promotional email last week announcing SunnyGem’s recent launch of the product.

    1. Nels

      Marlon Brando in

      Last Tango in Paris

      “Bring me the butter…”

      Think almond oil would work as well?

    2. cousinAdam

      Overproduction, huh? Almond orchards are rather thirsty, and dependent on hired honeybee hives for pollination. Commercial beekeepers and their bees have been clobbered by “ hive collapse syndrome”, believed to be caused by use of neonicitinoid pesticides favored by the growers. Get ‘em while they’re cheap (before they’re gone)

      1. cousinAdam

        Adding, I am a big fan of the products. Almond milk is my go-to for breakfast cereal and I was first turned on to almond oil for massage back in the early 90’s. A neighborhood shopkeeper sold a bottle of rather pricey Crabtree&Evelyn brand saying “you’ll love it! The only drawback is afterwards you’ll crave a cookie!” I’m sure it would have worked just fine for Brando (see comment above)

  27. thump

    re: Tweet from Deborah Lupton about BA.2.26 and JN.1

    Here is the underlying article:
    New, highly mutated COVID variants ‘Pirola’ BA.2.86 and JN.1 may cause more severe disease, new studies suggest

    It describes the results of a couple laboratory studies:

    In one study, researchers from Ohio State University performed a variety of experiments using a BA.2.86 pseudovirus—a lab-created version that isn’t infectious. They found that BA.2.86 can fuse to human cells more efficiently and infect cells that line the lower lung—traits that may make it more similar to initial, pre-Omicron strains that were more deadly.

    In the other study, researchers in Germany and France came to the same conclusion. “BA.2.86 has regained a trait characteristic of early SARS-CoV-2 lineages: robust lung cell entry,” the authors wrote. The variant “might constitute an elevated health threat as compared to previous Omicron sublineages,” they added.

    It also included this from one of the researchers:

    Another, perhaps larger concern of Liu: the possibility that COVID recombines with another, more deadly coronavirus like SARS or MERS, which had case fatality rates around 10% and 34%, respectively. … “Anything can happen,” Liu said. “It’s really hard to predict what’s going to come next, but nature can do amazing things.”

    which is a speculation I don’t recall seeing during the whole pandemic, much less that it had ever happened.

    I would think that if BA.2.86 were more severe, we would have seen a sharper rise in deaths by now, but as always, it’s complicated by previously acquired but waning immunity, etc.

  28. CA

    January 7, 2024

    Xi’s Solution for China’s Economy Risks Triggering New Trade War
    China’s shift toward high-value add manufacturing threatens to further raise trade tensions with the US, Europe and others.
    By Bloomberg

    [ The point of the article is that China has no right to develop economically, China is a threat to the United States by simply producing fine solar and wind products, a threat to the United States by producing fine electric vehicles and batteries and what China should be limited to is selling cheap socks to Walmart. Of course, the US has prohibitive tariffs against Chinese EVs and batteries and renewable energy products but the British still need to be protected.

    However, the Chinese have just had another fine year of growth and Chinese economic policy makers know that Robert Solow found that growth in a maturing economy is ultimately primarily driven by technology advance and China assuredly means to advance in technology from here no matter US economists who would rather have a forever sock-selling China. ]

    1. CA

      August 4, 2014

      Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China, European Union, India, Japan and United States, 1977-2022

      (Indexed to 1977)

      August 4, 2014

      Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China, Germany, India, Japan and United States, 1977-2022

      (Indexed to 1977)

      August 4, 2014

      Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China, Indonesia, Brazil, United Kingdom and France, 1977-2022

      (Indexed to 1977)

  29. Tom Stone

    It’s a long time until November and at the moment I don’t see a path that leads to a Biden win.
    In 2020 it took a “Maga Terrorist Plot” to kidnap Whitmer ( Courtesy of the FBI) and both the CIA and the FBI discrediting Hunter’s laptop to eke out a win by 70K votes.
    And this latest Covid wave (And the next one) is going to have consequences that will include more loss of executive function as well as more immune dysregulation amongst the populace.
    And that loss of executive function will be particularly acute among Healthcare workers who have been continuosly exposed to the virus.
    That loss of function was made apparent to me in my last visit to my primary care person, I no longer have any faith in his competence.
    One thing that has seldom been explicitly stated here is that Covid will at some point mutate into something more immediately deadly, and that even absent that the immune dysregulation means that a LOT more people will be dying from a variety of causes.
    November is a long way away…

    1. Skip Intro

      The dead are particularly hard to poll, but I don’t expect them to go for Joe, despite how much they have in common. In any case, turnout is unpredictable.

  30. icancho

    The excellent Simplicius suggests, in regard to Israeli actions and policy “Where does such inhuman barbarity stem from, you wonder? I believe it is a case of simple unrestrained human nature.”
    I’d suggest, rather, that it reflects decades-long indoctrination, general propaganda and (important, this) long-term impunity of action. Current events are nothing more that a high-tech, high intensity, version of what’s been going on for many decades, without any effective murmur from our so-called moral leadership. That’s what it takes to divert people from following their natural generous impulses when faced with forlorn infants.

  31. John Beech

    America does NOT hate it’s children . . . it just doesn’t give a shit. Not just about children, but about anybody. Kind of how a drowning man will drown the lifeguard given half a chance, I suspect Americans are so intent on surviving the dog-eat-dog environment, kids get hind teat. Or so I theorize when in the depths of my cups – sigh.

  32. CA

    “To grow or to recut China’s pie, that is the question…”

    A saddening rhetorical question meant to undermine Chinese development accomplishments and plans.  China has been growing fast these 45 years and intends to continue to grow fast.  Through these years, China has managed to end poverty for the 1.4 billion.  China is  now working especially on improving the economic security and well-being for those who have already gained so dramatically, as well as working on general growth.

Comments are closed.