Links 3/20/2024

Tracker program finds python mating balls, Florida team says Miami Herald (furzy). Perversion in Florida! Who’d have thunk it?

Who’s going to win the next financial plumbing test? The US, of course FT

American Manufacturers Seek Perfection as Quality Issues Mount WSJ


Wall Street is letting Orwellian doublethink kill climate action FT

CO2 rise is accelerating Arctic News

Global cholera outbreaks deeply linked to climate change: WHO official Anadolu Agency

Peter Pan Accounting Rachel Donald (Micael T).

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants? Not exactly:

Protecting Dark Sky Country Nomea (Micael T).


India stares at summer water crisis as reservoir levels slide Channel News Asia


Hold Your Horses, Health Workers With COVID Still Must Isolate MedPage. But HICPAC will fix that!



China discovers oilfield with over 100M tons of reserve in Bohai Sea Anadolu Agency

Starship rival: Chinese scientists build prototype engine for nuclear-powered spaceship to Mars South China Morning Post (Chuck L).


No bids as house of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi auctioned Channel News Asia. The junta put it on the market, so not a vote of confidence in them. –lambert


Rohingyas have no fundamental right to reside and settle in India, Centre tells Supreme Court WION

Ladakh: Sonam Wangchuk Promises March to Border to Highlight Land Takeover by China, Industries The Wire


Jared Kushner says Gaza’s ‘waterfront property could be very valuable‘ Guardian (Kevin W). And he’s not the only one:

* * *

What Biden Would Do if He Were Serious About Ending the War in Gaza Mother Jones. Robert Ford, a former US ambassador to Algeria and Syria who is now a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute “has called the airdrops the greatest humiliation of the United States by Israel he has ever seen. He is struck by the fact that the US is acting as if it is ‘trying to get supplies into besieged people surrounded by an enemy of the United States.'”

Trudeau government to stop sending arms to Israel once details are worked out, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says Toronto Star

* * *

The War in Gaza Exposes a Disintegrated Israeli Army Haaretz

The Israeli settlers shrugging off sanctions to menace the West Bank FT

Censorship is a crucial complement of genocide Al Jazeera

European Disunion

Defence CEO calls for European version of Israel’s Iron Dome FT

And what will Turkiye make of this? From Politico’s European morning newsletter:


SCOOP — VDL FLOATS GRADUAL ACCESS FOR EU CANDIDATE COUNTRIES: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will today present proposals that would change how the EU admits new members. Rather than the current all-or-nothing approach, Brussels wants to gradually ease Ukraine, Moldova and the Western Balkans into the EU….

The idea: This would allow countries in the EU waiting room to reap some membership benefits, rather than waiting for years or decades while they undertake the necessary reforms…..

No cherry-picking: In a line reminiscent of the Brexit days, the Commission warns that single market rights and obligations “cannot be à la carte” — but that the Union’s leaders will need to discuss which degrees or steps of access should come with what obligations.

Scrapping vetoes — with safeguards:  Most EU leaders have already warned that a Union with 30+ members will be even harder to govern. Brussels proposes moving away from the unanimity requirement (which bogs down decisions on foreign and tax policy) to avoid future deadlocks.

Back in the EU, site of the 21st century’s biggest political disaster Ramin Mazaheri

Down by 5.7% in the EU compared with January 2023 International Affairs (Micael T).

Cars v cows: German automakers call to split EU-Mercosur deal to bypass French ‘non’ Euractiv

Dear Old Blighty

17% hike in insolvencies as ‘debt storm breaks’ Accountancy Daily (Michael T).

The serious search for humour in early English history Times Literary Supplement (Anthony L).

New Not-So-Cold War

Russia Warns West Will Be Ukraine’s ‘Downfall’ 10 Years After Taking Crimea Newsweek

SITREP 3/19/24: French Military Openly Floats 20,000 Troop Deployment Simpilcius the Thinker (Anthony L).

France denies sending 2,000 troops to Ukraine Anadolu Agency

* * *

‘Ukraine Is Fighting for Its Life’ Kyiv Post

Ukraine’s Drone Strikes on Russian Oil Refineries Mark New Phase in War Bloomberg

Ukraine races to build weapons at home WaPo. A fine example of my heuristic that when the verb “race” appears in the headline, the cause of the race is carefully erased from the article. Oh, and this: “Ukraine also surrendered its nuclear arsenal in exchange for guarantees, including from Russia, that the country’s territorial sovereignty would be respected.” Thank heavens. Just imagine, after Maidan, Nazis with nukes. –lambert

* * *

How the ‘Putin at Noon’ trick helped Russia’s sham election EU Observer. Anthony L: “Without comment.”

Putin’s dream, Russian unity, conflict with NATO: Key takeaways from victory speech RT (Anthony L)

* * *

With unsold grain piled high, a Polish farmer faces an uncertain future as war in Ukraine grinds on AP

South of the Border

Brazil’s Bolsonaro is indicted for 1st time over alleged falsification of his vaccination status AP

Honduras Ratchets Up Battle With Crypto-Libertarian Investors, Rejects World Bank Court HuffPo


Why Everything Changed in Haiti: The Gangs United NYT

Clintons led Haiti’s post-earthquake rebuild: Supporters call them lifesavers; critics allege dirty deals FOX


An ‘odor of mendacity’: Fani Willis decision is far from over in Trump election fraud case USA Today

GOP Clown Car

ALEC Pushes Anti-Union Playbook Exposed by CMD

Trump-backed Bernie Moreno wins Ohio GOP Senate primary The Hill

The Supremes

Inside The Ritzy Retreats Hosting Right-Wing Judges HuffPo


Texas’ new immigration law is blocked again Texas Monthly


In Lake Wobegon, All Antitrust Enforcers Are Above Average Matt Stoller, BIG

Our Famously Free Press

A company linked to a large “pink slime” network is being hired by big publishers like Gannett Nieman Labs

Health Care

It’s dirty work aeon

The Bezzle

The Anything Goes Market Demand Curve Steve Keen (UserFriendly).

Supply Chain

Reversion to the mean?

Blinken says US stands by ‘ironclad’ commitments to defend Philippines Channel News Asia. Please, Tony, no. Stick to losing the wars you’re already losing. –lambert

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Pacific Partnership” with its new colonies: The USA is given the power to deny other states access to three previously sovereign nations in the Pacific. Eastern Angle (Michael T).

Class Warfare

Why the world cannot afford the rich Nature

Political Instincts? New Left Review. Important.

Frans de Waal (RIP) and the Origins of War John Horgan

The Coddling of the American Undergraduate Hedgehog Review

What happened to the mythic author? Simpliccius the Thinker

Antidote du jour (via):

And a bonus (Chuck L):

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Antifa

    (melody borrowed from Creeque Alley by The Mamas and the Papas)

    France is twitchy the Ukraine war is glitchy
    Europe’s leaders are losing their minds
    Not that many have the extra pennies
    To honor all the treaties they’ve signed
    Europe used to be where it’s at
    Every livin’ body happy and fat
    High tech suppliers, profits headin’ higher,
    Till one day their pipeline went splat
    It’s all just shuck and jive without Russian gas

    Scholz is a jenny, balls he hasn’t any
    Biden told him what he would do (to Nordstream)
    Scholz thought, ‘Golly, prolly not my very first guess.
    He’ll do what he’s got to do.’

    With Russia sanctions falling flat (that’s a big howl)
    Methane prices went up ‘What’s causing that?’
    LNG suppliers charging ten times higher
    They panicked in the Bundesrat
    Cuz Europe won’t revive without Russian gas

    Building stuff to make war is hard when you’re not sure
    What the price of gas is today
    ‘This is not the Third Reich, we’ve got unions on strike,
    Factories closing every day.’

    Stocks dropped fast with no fuel for the trucks,
    Banks hit the wall as financing destructs
    Markets on fire, flames are gettin’ higher,
    No way of foreseeing that
    Europe took a big swan dive without Russian gas

    Dumbstruck, bad luck, lame duck, amuck
    Hold it all together some way
    Wake up, throw up, mobs of people show up —
    ‘What are all these bills we must pay?’
    Eatin’ humble pie by the mouthful
    Talkin’ to the Yanks is pointless and it’s so dull
    Gaza’s now on fire, situation dire,
    Some day we’ll solve all of that
    Europe cannot thrive without Russian gas

    (musical interlude)

    We’re busted, we’re rusted, the Yankees can’t be trusted
    Ukraine is just about bloody beat
    Europe won’t make it, folks can barely take it,
    Farmers dump manure on the street
    Politicians sounding like some blowhards
    Our lament is all those Polish die-hards
    Thirty-two nations hosting NATO stations
    Armed with old technology
    Europe can’t survive just by shipping in some LNG

  2. ddt

    Not sure how the solar powered ecorobot weeding machine is replacing herbicides when it is actually spraying herbicides. It is not actually pulling weeds. Granted it’s spot spraying so not spraying the whole field rather than what the tweet is saying that it’s pulling weeds.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Also doesn’t work with minimum till or no till farming so not much use to grain farmers.

    2. The Rev Kev

      If they actually work, they could make a mint selling a much smaller version to home gardeners. never met a gardner yet who said how much they enjoy weeding.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I actually find weeding very therapeutic. I wouldn’t want it to be a full time job, but 20 minutes or so a day is quite nice – good exercise on a sunny summer day. And you never know what interesting things might come out of the ground when you give a weed a pull.

      2. ambrit

        Don’t forget the Police Version. It ‘weeds’ crowds and various “unapproved” mass gatherings.
        Imagine how much ‘easier’ Israeli politics would be if “mowing the grass” required minimal Terran human involvement. Everything can then be blamed on “the Algorithm.” “The Algorithm” is the ultimate in a “Rules Based Order.”

        “Step out of line,”
        “The Man comes and takes you away.”
        Only, now, “The Man” is a robot.
        All hail the valiant defenders of Society working in the Drone Deployment Directorate (DDD)!

    3. mrsyk

      Looks delicate. Guessing it doesn’t work that great if your garden isn’t smooth as a runway.

    4. Enter Laughing

      Right. It’s cutting the weeds, not pulling them, and spraying herbicide.

      Do any of these retweeters actually watch the videos they are linking to?

      1. t

        With X, an account is generally required to look at Tweets in any detail. From what I can see, the account looks like “the Dodo” level scammish recycled posts that may be an alternative version of the original tweaked for max views or a particular tone that sells the brand.

        Perhaps there’s more depth and a human behind the account, but I cannot tell.

    5. FredsGotSlacks

      I’ve seen video of a larger machine that does the same thing but uses lasers to zap the weeds instead of using herbicide. Probably much more expensive and requires more energy. Also, I saw one comment mentioning that a smaller version would be great for home gardeners. I had seen a machine, not sure if it was successfully put out, but it would “crawl” around your garden and had a little, mini weedwacker string that it would use to cut down any weeds it found. It wasn’t a “smart” machine but instead relied on some kind of physical barrier or indicator of which good plants not to mess with.

      *The home version was called the Tertill Weeding Robot and it’s not cheap.

      1. griffen

        That image of the wet owl just now reminded me of the cartoon character, Droopy.

        “Hello are you happy?”…

      1. Reply

        I had a close encounter with an owl, noticing via peripheral vision a very quiet and large bird flying by about five feet off my shoulder. Talk about being startled!

        1. zach

          That’s happened to me a couple of times, I think they get a kick out of it.

          Counting hoo, rather than counting coup.

    1. Matthew G. Saroff

      Owls have developed feathers that allow for low noise flight.

      On the down side, these feathers do not shed water like most birds can.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “With unsold grain piled high, a Polish farmer faces an uncertain future as war in Ukraine grinds on”

    There may be good news for those Polish farmers coming soon-

    ‘The European Commission is expected to levy a duty of €95 ($103.20) per ton on cereals from Russia and Belarus in the coming days, the outlet (FT) said, adding that tariffs of 50% would also be placed on oil seeds and derived products.

    It would be the first time that restrictions were placed on Russian food products and would drive prices up by at least 50%, “eradicating” demand, the article stated.

    The expected duty will be set at the maximum allowed under the World Trade Organization’s rules, the report indicated.’

    So grain prices will rise which will be good news for those farmers. For consumers, not so much. Russian grain exports to the EU are not large but the high prices may be used for justification in letting in more Ukrainian grain-

    1. Feral Finster

      In other words, it kills two birds with one stone. It reminds Poles of their traditional folk enemy, while continuing support for Ukraine.

      That it doesn’t actually help Polish farmers much is beside the point,

  4. upstater

    Doomers need not apply… real solutions for real people.

    Can Climate Cafes Help Ease the Anxiety of Planetary Crisis? (NYT of course!)

    The groups, which allow people to talk through their emotions around environmental change, have sprung up across the country, including for therapists.

    In a small room in Lower Manhattan, a group of eight New Yorkers sat in a circle sharing kombucha and their climate fears against the background of pattering rain and wailing sirens.
    In Champaign, Ill., a psychotherapist facilitating a meeting for other therapists held up a branch of goldenrod, asking the half-dozen participants online to consider their connection to nature.
    And in Kansas City, Mo., a nonprofit that runs a weekly discussion on Zoom began its session with a spiritual reading and a guided meditation before breaking into groups to discuss topics like the ethics of childbearing amid a fast-rising global population and concerns of resource scarcity.
    All were examples of a new grass-roots movement called climate cafes. These in-person and online groups are places for people to discuss their grief, fears, anxiety and other emotions about the climate crisis.

    Maybe there can be organized brunches, too. Looking for Pharma to take this one on.

    1. lambert strether

      Yes, the answer on climate is better vibes. Let us prepare ourselves, if we are not prepared already, for another across-the-board collapse by the PMC*, including at the ethical level.

      * As ever, there are exceptions and contradictions

      1. chris

        I agree. Though I don’t know what to prepare for in this case. Most of the people I know who are freaking out about climate change to the point where it requires therapeutic discussions are useless. The success or failure of anything they’re doing is irrelevant to me. Irrelevant to the world really.

        They’re not willing to give up streaming video, or their smart devices, or fancy coffee, or Uber, or be cold, or hot, or a cushy job, various self-care routines, or airplane trips, or grow their own food in sufficientquantities, or give up Amazon… these are useless people who are so self-absorbed they can’t do anything to help other people. What does it matter if they discover they can’t do anything to mitigate climate change?

    2. i just dont like the gravy

      This is so unbelievably grim. Let’s talk about our feelings over a couple lattes instead of actually doing something. America in a nutshell.

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      I have to differ with the response trend here on two counts.

      First, this sort of thing seems squarely in the tradition of the Catholic Workers or the anarchist union, the CNT, in Spain. Both tended to the needs of their communities as a way of organizing people. In our age, if you want a shot at organizing the educated, tending to psychological needs is one way to bring them in. And the organizing potential of these cafes was pointed out in the article:

      The attendees broke into small groups. Though they were frustrated by local, state and national policies, they felt hopeful. They were flush with ideas on how to channel their energy: composting, gardening, propagating, clothing swaps and mending circles, pushing for certain legislation, joining book clubs and writing groups, and even going back to school to further their education.
      “The truth is that like this is such a long fight, it’s an intergenerational fight,” one attendee told the large group after the smaller discussion groups reconvened. “We have to come with a resilient mind-set, where we’re ready to lose a lot of battles and just know that our presence in the greatest struggle will be worth it.”

      Second, the impact of coming to a full understanding of our situation is devastating for people. I’ve watched it happen in classes explaining our climate catastrophe. People retreat from one line of defense to the next until they finally hit the reality of our situation, and many are impacted mightily. What better place to turn that disorientation and despair into solidarity with others who can now organize to do something?

      Concrete material benefits, etc. are all well and good, but the fact is that the biggest barrier to our making the changes necessary to avert the worst is the dominant worldview which, in our society, is held by the rich and the poor. Unless some omnipotent, benevolent and enlightened dictator comes to power magically, those worldviews have to change before the policies will. These cafes are one way of addressing that.

    4. Sub-Boreal

      Relevant to this discussion: Why the impacts of climate change may make us less likely to reduce emissions.


      Non-technical summary

      A widely held belief is that once the impacts of warming are experienced more directly and substantially, especially by affluent populations, the necessary support for a politics prioritising ambitious emissions reductions will follow. But consideration of the indirect socioeconomic impacts of warming suggests this could be false hope.

      Technical summary

      There is some evidence to support the common intuition that, as the direct impacts of warming intensify – particularly in the affluent Global North – a politics ambitious enough to confront the climate emergency may finally find support. However, it seems at least equally likely that the opposite trend will prevail. This proposition can be understood by considering various indirect impacts of warming, including the widening of socioeconomic inequalities (within and between countries), increases in migration (intra- and inter-nationally) and heightened risk of conflict (from violence and war through to hate speech and crime). Compiling these impacts reveals a considerable and highly inconvenient overlap with key drivers of the authoritarian populism that has proliferated in the 21st century. It highlights the risk of a socio-ecological feedback loop where the consequences of warming create a political environment entirely at odds with that required to reduce emissions. Such a future is, of course, far from inevitable. Nonetheless, the risks highlight the urgent need to find public support for combined solutions to climate change and inequality, which go well beyond the status-quo. This is necessary not only for reasons of economic and climate justice, but in order to mitigate political barriers to carbon mitigation itself.

      Social media summary

      As the impacts of warming are experienced more directly and substantially, we may vote for precisely the wrong people.

      1. FredW

        Not to mention: looming resource wars, and vicious cycles like moe heat leading to more air conditioning, more energy needed to repair a flooded community, etc.

  5. timbers

    Clintons led Haiti’s post-earthquake rebuild: Supporters call them lifesavers; critics allege dirty deals FOX

    Living in a neighborhood with many Haitians nearing retirement, I once asked a 20-ish Haitian if he would be voting for Clinton or Trump? He was not the political type by any means but replied:

    Clinton? Oh no. We know what they did. You won’t see us voting for Clinton.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      This was the Clintons at their most scummiest. From that article, the earthquake also destroyed over 97,000 homes and damaged over 188,000 others. ‘The Clinton Foundation, along with a new foundation established by Bill Clinton and former President George W. Bush, raised around $90 million in support of the cause, with $36 million from the Clinton Foundation and $54 million from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.’

      The Clintons promised to use that money to rebuild Haiti and if I recall correctly, they only ever built 30 homes. Just 30. So whatever happened to the rest of that money? Nobody knows. They were literally making a huge profit on people’s misery. When I read about this, the cool image of Bill Clinton playing a saxophone disappeared and the one of Bill & Hillary being just gutter scum replaced it. Nothing that I have read about them since has changed my mind.

      1. mrsyk

        This was the Clintons at their most scummiest. Imo, this is normal mode of operation for the Clinton cartel. Bipartisan too!

      2. timbers

        Probably also…didn’t Bill help keep in power a nasty leader who massively suppress wages in Haiti so his rich friend could make more $$$ ?

        1. digi_owl

          So basically the behavior of USA across the global south since pretty much the declaration of the Monroe Doctrine?

      3. skippy

        The entire project was to get the Pro Sports Garment industry centered in Haiti back up and running, billion+ dollar industry … civil infrastructure and housing was way down the list IMO ….

      4. yancey

        Sounds like they were one step ahead of Jared Kushner and his planned ocean front communities for Gaza’s rebuild. In the Clinton’s case, per their policy of public/private partnerships, they built nothing much and the public money ended up in their private pockets. Oh well.

        1. jefemt

          I keep waiting for Kushner to lend his father in law some dough for bail… didn’t he and Ivanka make some serious coin when they were in DC jetting around the mid-east?

          It’s like waiting for my royalty check from Musk for his use of my share of lower earth orbit by Starlink…

      5. t

        This is why people entering the US who originally from Haiti are refugees, but anyone from Central or South America is part of the invasion of illegals who should be shot on sight – according to the FOX News style book.

        And now Hilary is out there trying to prop up Biden….

      6. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Rev.

        Some of the Clinton operations are run out of Canada for regulatory reasons.

        About 15 years ago, a friend / former colleague who had just begun work on development projects after some years in the City was invited to a talk in Toronto. After work, some attendees were invited to a reception at the home of a motor parts heiress of Austrian origin.

        My friend is a bit nosy, likes people watching and a bit of gossip, and noticed a photo of Clinton with the heiress in a clinch. She got the impression that the photo was placed strategically, so it would be noticed.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you.

            As we say, with a knowing smile, in Blighty, “You may very well think that, but I could not possibly comment.”

    2. CA

      November 6, 2015

      US Political Intervention in Haiti Has Caused Instability and Aid Efforts Have Largely Failed
      By Mark Weisbrot

      When a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, killing more than 200,000 people, former President Bill Clinton said that the reconstruction would provide an opportunity to “build back better.” Some $9.6 billion was pledged by the international community, including the US government. But nearly six years later, although about $7.6 billion has been disbursed, there is not much to show for it…

      August 4, 2014

      Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for Dominican Republic, Haiti and Mexico, 1977-2022

      (Percent change)

      August 4, 2014

      Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for Dominican Republic, Haiti and Mexico, 1977-2022

      (Indexed to 1977)

  6. Wukchumni

    The North-South civil war in California horse racing escalated on Tuesday with Santa Anita’s operator saying the Arcadia track might have to close if state officials approve a proposed new northern schedule.

    The apparent threat, in a letter from 1/ST Racing executive vice chairman Craig Fravel to members of the California Horse Racing Board, came as the CHRB prepared to meet Thursday and consider a plan by northern interests to replace soon-to-close Golden Gate Fields with a longer meet at the Pleasanton fairgrounds.

    In the letter, first reported by the Los Angeles Times and made available to the Southern California News Group, Fravel writes that California racing is “at a crossroads” and its economic problems can be solved only by focusing on the big tracks in Southern California.

    Horse racing has been dying for years in Cali, and Santa Anita is worth scads more as residential rather than the current ‘oval office’ which includes room to park 40,000 cars in it’s expansive parking lots.

    Arcadia has been quite a favorite locale for Chinese to purchase homes there and goes by the nickname of ‘Arcasia’.

    1. Nikkikat

      I am a long time horse racing fan. I have a passion for these beautiful creatures. Racing has moved forward in many good ways the last 10 years ago. There are a lot of good changes that have been beneficial to the horses. The closing of the tracks has been especially hard.
      Hollywood park was my track. More working class than Santa Anita. The people there were
      Wonderful. I shed some tears. The history of the great horses that ran there. Affirmed, Citation and I must include a local favorite, lava man. Santa Anita was a favorite of mine too. The beautiful mountains in the back ground, the statue of Sea Bisquit, John Henry and the great Zenyatta. California racing has gone down a hill the last few years. I also belief the
      Northern California situation does not bode well. I think that there will only be Del Mar
      Left. I too am quite worried. When I visit old friends equine retirement the place is full of California horses that have retired. I saw them race. I loved them and followed their careers.
      But, a lot of the people involved in racing there only care about the small boutique tracks
      Like Del Mar. Everything is about a buck now. Wish I could have a better outlook, but
      Santa Anita will probably become condos.

      1. Wukchumni

        Vigors was my favorite thoroughbred, equine white lightning ran his races backwards lagging far behind early, only to mow ’em down in the stretch…

        The big problem now is short fields, not uncommon to see races with 4 to 6 horses running. Nobody likes to wager on races like that~

        One of the inequities of racing is that it costs about the same to board and train a bad horse as it does the best horse, and again with the money angle, there’s no money in it for cheaper horses.

        Hollywood Park was more of a racing factory to me, with jets flying fairly low right over on final approach to LAX, Del Mar was kind of an ugly track in nice surroundings, Santa Anita was my favorite.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, both.

          The toffs, often Tory and in league with bookies, running, or is that ruining, British racing would like to do the same here. Last week’s jumping festival at Cheltenham and Ireland’s performance added to their discomfort.

          The flat season in Blighty begins at Doncaster on Saturday.

          Season’s greetings to NC’s racing fraternity.

          1. ambrit

            Ah, is spring here so soon?
            All the best for your handicapping this season!
            I’m wondering if the accelerating segregation of wealth in America might have something to do with it. An hour at the track would set you back a few dollars for parking and whatever bets you placed. Many “middle class” Americans could afford to go to the track back then. Wealth was a bit more spread around. Disposable income was available for the betting inclined. today? The sport seems to have shrunk to match the available pool of bettors. Add in ‘Offtrack’ betting and you, at least in America, siphoned off lower income bettors from the tracks proper.
            Anyway, horses are one of Natures more elegant creations. Strength allied to beauty gives us the emblem of freedom and competence lacking in the prosaic world we inhabit.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, Ambrit.

              I hope you are well.

              Spring has sprung in Blighty. Some lambs are out.

            2. Pat

              Saratoga is surprisingly affordable if you can trek a little (Parking can be steep so the further you can walk the better.) But you can bring a cooler and sit at various places near the track or paddock for less admission than the cost per person for most movies today. It is not uncommon to see a family or group claim a couple of benches just off the track and rearrange them around the coolers and strollers. The picnic tables near the paddock apparently go fast.

              It is a madhouse on the big stakes days, but there are still great horses to be seen even on weekdays.

              Not sure how long it will last though NY racing is losing out more and more.

        2. Lee

          When I was a kid Silky Sullivan was a famous come from behind horse. Before your time I’m guessing.

          There were other great closers—Whirlaway, Stymie, Calidoscopio, Needles, Gallant Man, Carry Back, Forego, Zenyatta, and Alydar—but none could hang so far back, let the field get so far ahead, and still win. Called the “California Comet” and often ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Willie Shoemaker, Silky Sullivan once fell 41 lengths behind the field yet still won by three lengths, running the last quarter in 22 seconds.

        3. Nikkikat

          I really loved the people at Hollywood. I loved Santa Anita under Frank Stronachs daughter
          Took over. Everything about money. Couldn’t sit in the clubhouse anymore unless you bought some kind of party ticket that was just a money grab. I don’t want to buy a ticket that gets me a fancy sandwich and a beer. I also thought everything became rather snooty.
          Reminded me more of Del Mar. as you say not a good track to watch a race at all.
          I moved to Kentucky last year and kind of the same here with Keeneland, it’s a nice track
          But I am more comfortable at Churchill downs. Yes, the 3and 4 horse races got ridiculous
          No way that’s good for bets. I guess I’m more a horse fan than a gambler. The great Zenyatta
          Was at Hollywood park. Loved her.

  7. mrsyk

    Trudeau government to stop sending arms to Israel once details are worked out,
    hahahaha details you say.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Because Biden doesn’t care about brown lives, and he expects people not to care in November. Has anyone heard about his pier? He’s like Shrub. He will probably have a “cutesy” video at the correspondents dinner of Biden building a pier.

        1. Nikkikat

          That pier is a joke. I understand the idea to do that was israel. We are being owned by these horrible racist people, I include Biden in that group. I have never felt so horrible about the actions of my own country either. So let’s sit back and starve these people. I also blame this mess on Tony Blinken. We got rid of Nuland, Tony should be next.

          1. Michaelmas

            Nikkikat: I have never felt so horrible about the actions of my own country.

            Why now? The US had far more people killed far more people brutally in either Jakarta and Chile, for instance — 30,000 dead is a mere drop in the bucket compared to what was done there — and bore more responsibility in that it was the prime mover behind those mass killings, whereas with Israel it’s only aiding and abetting.

            1. Em

              This is your reaction to someone expressing their humanity and outrage at seeing a calculated ongoing genocide live streamed over the past 5.5 months?

              Yes, the Europeans killed far more people in their conquest of the Americas and inflicting famine in the Irish and the Indians. Yes the Germans and Japanese killed far more Russians and Chinese than whatever the West accused “Mao” and “Stalin” of doing. Yes the Americans killed millions in each of their ultimately unsuccessful wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and by proxy in Iran and Yemen – and we weep over our tens of thousands of combatants while not sparing a thought for their millions subjected to decades of murder and mayhem. The bloody list is nearly endless…

              And yet, for simple minded me there is something uniquely evil about the pierofdeath and the latest assassinations against people trying to secure safe food delivery to northern Gaza. If that makes me incapable of taking in the big picture, so be it. Seeing the cruelty of the West on full display against innocents changed me. I cannot forget and I will not forgive.


          2. Feral Finster

            Of course the pier is a moral figleaf, an attempt by Biden to have it both ways while fooling nobody as to which side he really is on.

            Cynical, even by Biden standards.

          3. JTMcPhee

            How far gone is Nuland, actually? You know she is still skulking around in Neoconland, and will emerge from the primordial ooze in a new horrid guise.

            The real terror in scary movies, of course, is the sudden realization that you can’t kill Freddie or Jason… much less Freeland, Kagan, Bolton… be afraid, be very afraid…

          1. ambrit

            Good heavens! You are closer to the truth than you know. The longer term outcome of the Post Katrina ‘rebuilding’ is a gentrified Gulf Coast. So, a condoized Gaza strip is par for that course. Drive out the lower classes and recolonize the land with an “upper” class population.
            A concrete, visible end result of the increasing segregation of wealth in our “best of all possible worlds.”

  8. zagonostra

    >Climate geoengineering

    It appears that Tennessee is following New Hampshire in prohibiting what some people, including myself, think is happening over our skies right now. Whether you think it is happening, it is gratifying to know some States are seeking pro(retro)active legislation to prohibit.

    From legislation:

    WHEREAS, it is documented that the federal government or other entities acting on the
    federal government’s behalf or at the federal government’s request may conduct
    geoengineering experiments by intentionally dispersing chemicals into the atmosphere, and
    those activities may occur within the State of Tennessee

    1. Lee

      That’s a start but, as I’m sure you’re aware, the main problem with such limited jurisdictional prohibitions is that the wind knows no boundaries. There is a good fictional yet not implausible treatment of this subject in the book Ministry for the Future.

  9. Wukchumni

    Jared Kushner says Gaza’s ‘waterfront property could be very valuable‘ Guardian

    I have a great idea for Jared’s all-inclusive resort on the waterfront in Gaza, call it:

    ‘Club Meddle’

    In lieu of cash, everybody at the resort will use beads that look an awful lot like Uzi rounds~

    1. griffen

      Club Epstein…Club Clinton which of course must feature both a yoga/wellness clinic and a cozy closet for hosting private servers, classified docs and at Club Biden, maybe enough room for a vintage Corvette. Club Supremes will feature it’s own private boat dock for Harlan’s ” charter yacht”…

      Club Trump, Club Bannon, and of course a Club Pence where even dullards can let it all go whilst staying properly attired and sober.

      Above is all intentional sarcasm for our ruling classes and high minded asses.

    2. Carolinian

      If Trump is going to bring back Jared then Biden is starting to look better. He needs to tell the son in law to stifle.

      1. Feral Finster

        Biden’s son in law will not develop Gaza. Biden will let someone else do that, with Young Hunter maybe getting a cut of the action.

        1. Em

          All three of Biden’s adult children married in the tribe, so maybe they get cut in on some oceanfront timeshares. Yes, what are the odds that three ostensible Catholics all married into a group composing 1.5 percent of the population!

          Not that Biden needed any personal connections to Judaism to be more Zionist than Israelis, as he’s shown since at least the 1980s.

  10. Wukchumni

    Tracker program finds python mating balls, Florida team says Miami Herald (furzy)

    A cold-blooded cotillion
    Sadie Hawkins convergence
    New pythons emerge

    Burma Slave

        1. Wukchumni

          ‘I’ll have consomme of constrictor for starters, and weevil toast with potato bug spread’

    1. griffen

      Adds new meaning to the terms of catch and release I will suppose. What a big slimy ball we weave when our implant trackers help us to deceive!

      Bonus points to the male python named “Hisstopher”.

    2. ambrit

      That would be the South Florida Ophidian Debutant Season.
      But that would be ‘egging’ the ‘cuddle puddle;’ a pudding of mud no doubt.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “SITREP 3/19/24: French Military Openly Floats 20,000 Troop Deployment”

    ‘This was backed by a new video from French TV which shows French Lieutenant-colonel Vincent Arbaretier openly discussing the types of military deployments the 20,000-strong French contingent can undertake in Ukraine.’

    The idea seems to have a picket line on the Dnieper river and to dare the Russians to cross it. So now the Dnieper river is going to be France’s red line? I believe that France has about 8 brigades and it sounds like they want to send about half their force to the Ukraine. With enough ammo for 4 days fighting. And being at the end of a several hundred long supply-line. Most of the fighting that France has done the past few years has been against guys with AK-47s and sandals. And they will come up against battle-hardened Russian brigades who have been fighting combined arms for the past two years. How will those French troops go against Lancet drones taking out all their heavy equipment and transport. So I surmise that the whole thing is a huge bluff with Macron playing with the lives of his soldiers. The Russians will be forced to attack them otherwise they will find themselves in a game that wherever a NATO force has taken up a position in the Ukraine, that ‘the floor will be lava.’

    1. flora

      After African countries kicked out the French last year, well, those troops have to go somewhere, I guess. / ;)

        1. The Rev Kev

          Maybe he is afraid that at the next election, the slogan will appear – ‘Macron. The Man Who Lost Us Africa.’

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I think the baked in economic pain and the genocide are driving this ironman of Europe routine. That is all. Macron doesn’t want to acknowledge he is a lame duck or how history will view him. French TV discussed potential troop deployments instead of every other more pressing issue.

            Losing Africa won’t matter but inflation will. Macron’s popularity can sink so far the congress might act despite him. Billions for Ukraine, nothing for Palestine, and inflation at home. Macron doesn’t want to be Blair’s sidekick.

          2. flora

            Losing more troops in Ukr won’t solve the Africa problem.

            I don’t know when the West decided its preferred narratives are more important than actual reality as a guide to foreign policy, or any policy.

          3. zach

            I doubt it, he can’t run again. The French presidency is limited to two 5 year terms; 2008 constitutional reform.

    2. CA

      Real per capita GDP in France was over $56,000 in 2022, while just over $1,500 in Niger. Niger has actually lost ground economically over the last 45 years of French influence.

      August 4, 2014

      Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for France, Niger and Mali, 1977-2022

      (Percent change)

      August 4, 2014

      Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for France, Niger and Mali, 1977-2022

      (Indexed to 1977)

    3. Skip Intro

      This is an interesting strategy on the part of Micron. I also heard talk of stationing French targets in Odessa. It is a funny thing to deliver your soldiers explicitly as hostages. If France puts a garrison in, say, Odessa or Dnipro, then either they warn the Russians where they are, or they have little deterrent value. If the Russians know where they are, then either they wipe them out and call the bluff, or they try to work around them. Either way, the French forces won’t be able to move around or engage in effective combat. Acting as some intentional tripwire sacrifice that will incur a French/NATO military response, they will immediately be targets for a ‘nationalist’ provocation.
      If they are on the border of Belarus, would they actually engage invaders? For how long? Are they still provocation targets?
      Is it a bluff, or insanity? Where have we seen pols in political trouble escalate self-destructive wars to cling to their careers recently? From Bibi to Zelensky, it is just the done thing.

      1. Carolinian

        Is it a bluff, or insanity?

        Made you look. Now we are all talking about Micron, er, Macron.

        Clearly these armchair generals including my Lindsey should be leading their would be troops into battle. Then they could meet mr Kinzhal up close.

      2. Mikel

        Put it in terms of a nuclear armed country saber rattling at Russia.
        Then ask if it’s insanity.

        Where all the greenies at? How green do you think a massive war will be?

        1. Feral Finster

          The european Greens learned long ago that submission to American hegemony was the price for political power.

        2. JTMcPhee

          Per wiki, France has about 290 nukes, about 96 on SLBMs on four boomer subs. About 54 air-launched nuke-armed not-hypersonic missiles. And zero land based missiles, thanks to wise policies of former French diplomats. The Israelis may have more nukes than France. I’m sure the Russians give due consideration to the French “force de dissuasion,” formerly de Gaulle’s “force de frappe.” As Macron says, “I fart in your general direction!”

    4. Feral Finster

      At every western escalation, we hear that the West must be bluffing.

      And every time, it turns out that they are not bluffing. In fact, it is Russia that is loathe to escalate, while the West is itching for war.

      1. hk

        That is, IMHO, something to be afraid of. Russians won’t back down all the time. See Feb, 2022, as an illustration, and those reactions might be much bolder than expected. (I think everyone was surprised at the scale, at least in geographic terms, of the SMO: given the sizes of the forces available and the battlesscape, I expected a limited intervention, well, limited to where the fighting is taking place now.). I would not put it past Putin to glass, say, Brussels to make the point after certain red lines are crossed–a direct and undisguised attack by NATO on Russia, perhaps, conventional or otherwise. Of course, I also fully expect that that would be condemned by the surviving Western talking heads as “full scale” and “unprovoked” action or whatever….

        1. Feral Finster

          Russian backing down has led to this. The West sees it as contemptible weakness.

          I know enough about fights to know that appeasing a bully doesn’t work.

          1. Stephen T Johnson

            I don’t believe in the post-2022 period Russia can be fairly accused of backing down – just (possibly excessive) caution, and huge reluctance to escalate.

            Now, had the Istanbul deal not been torpedoed, we’d have a rather different kettle of drones, but, well, contrafactuals are just that

    5. Willow

      A picket line along the Dnieper or Belarus border needs at least 150k troops, possibly closer to 300k to be effective given Russia’s evolution into a much superior operation. As usual rule, what’s talk about isn’t the objective. In this case Odesa, for which 20k troops may have a chance. As I noted yesterday, without Odesa there’s no chance of retaking Crimea. And any deployment needs to be a close to NATO borders as possible to allow air support and missile defence.

    6. JustTheFacts

      If this the interview from LCI (the video on Simplicius’ website doesn’t show up on my web-browser), the lieutenant-colonel was unfortunately referencing the use of unconventional weapons multiple times. He seemed to be suggesting that if French troops encountered the Russians on their “highly mobile” patrols, and conventional weaponry did not suffice, France would use nukes. It was pure insanity. The pretext being that France was defending NATO, the EU, and a country soon to be in the EU… Presumably Germany and Poland each sending 2500 soldiers is part of this ridiculous scheme.

      Why do I consider it insane? France setting itself up as a tripwire for Russia does not mean Russia blowing some French soldiers off the planet will result in Article 5 being invoked (that’s defensive for your own territory). Would the US intervene to help France? I somehow doubt it, what with Trump wanting to get rid of NATO. So France is on its own with its little nukes (“notre bombinette” to quote Pompadour). France could launch its entire arsenal of 200 nukes against Russia, but Russia is enormous while France is tiny. Furthermore Russia has 7000+ nukes with which they can ensure no one survives in France or neighboring countries. And there comes a point where one must ask oneself whether it’s better to nuke the other before they nuke you. Moreover, the Russians have demonstrated they can shoot down hypersonic targets launched by an ICBM so they might be able to defend Moscow and Saint Petersburg anyway.

      I feel like our leaders are children, pretending to be adults, who don’t remember how devastating war is, while Russia still does, since 27 million dead is not something one forgets easily. Russia is therefore cautious, while our leaders play silly escalation games, and either end up calling Russia aggressive when it tries to remind them what is at stake, or weak when Russia does not respond. I wonder how much it has to do with Putin’s history: his older brother died during the siege of Saint Petersburg. Another leader (Zhirinovsky, Medvedev…) might have hit the West hard by now. On the other hand, the Russians do seem to be telling the French they will be returning home in coffins, so perhaps their patience is finally exhausted.

      I do wish Macron would go back to “macroning” (the Russian neologism for talking a lot but saying nothing) instead of acting. Even better, if he were sent back to the kindergarten, and let someone else handle the reins.

    7. Revenant

      How would this even work? If France pickets the left (eastern) bank of the Dnieper with 2k men, France can hold perhaps 6m per soldier so a total of 12km, arm to arm. Any further apart and, unless France’s rules of engagement including shooting at Russians, Russia will just stroll between French forces up to the Dnieper and use them as human shields from Ukrainian bombing.

      If they picket the right bank of the Dnieper, what’s the point? Russia desires to go no further, except in Kherson / Odessa coastal strip.

      It only makes sense if they literally form a human chain around Odessa. And then you just starve them out like the Nigeriens did!

  12. digi_owl

    I seem to recall that EU previously tried introducing a half way house for membership, around the time Poland et al wanted in. In the end it was EFTA, sans the Swiss, that ended up there. End result is that Norway had probably implemented more EU directives than most full members.

  13. mrsyk

    Scrapping vetoes — with safeguards: , That smells like a power grab. And I love warns that single market rights and obligations “cannot be à la carte”. Are we at brunch? I’ll have the eggs Benedict please. I’m amazed at how long VDL has survived (politically).

    1. The Rev Kev

      The EU Commission and VDL hate it when they have to get the agreement of all members before doing something major. They want majority votes where the major members will vote one way and force enough smaller members to vote with them to get something passed. Look how the EU threatened Hungary with economic destruction because they disagreed with sending good money into the black hole known as the Ukraine. They have even suggested stripping members states of their voting rights to get their way.

      1. IMOR

        Works for the bloodthirsty, ignorant nimrods in charge at the EU either way: as you describe, or any few of the officeholders can lean on the micro- and failed state majority their admissions craze created (Moldava! Kosovo! ZSlovenia! Bosnia-Herzagovina! Ukraine!) to force things through even if, e.g., France, Italy, Spain and Neterlands all oppose.

    2. Feral Finster

      “I’m amazed at how long VDL has survived (politically).”

      I’m not. VDL has faithfully carried out her American Masters’ bidding.

  14. timbers

    Immigration – Texas’ new immigration law is blocked again Texas Monthly

    It’s comforting to see the American judicial system spring into action to defend our constitutional freedoms, racing at warp speed holding rushed same-day meetings and oral presentations immediately after a capricious and bad Supreme Court ruling, and issuing even before those rushed meetings, a late night order countermanding our leaders ravenous actions of pink misting innocent American citizens and children….oh wait different case…never mind.

    New heights of Lawfare.

  15. digi_owl

    I can’t help think that the ongoing dynamic between USA and China is similar to the one between USA and UK as USA was industrializing.

    1. Lee

      Great minds and all that. I made the same point yesterday when in a friendly argument over U.S. – China relations with a fellow codger with whom I meet regularly to solve the world’s problems while imbibing refreshing beverages.

    2. hk

      UK, for most part, didn’t want to go to war against US through most of 19th century. Even in 1812, it was us that shot first, so to speak. Now, otoh, it is the US, the declining power, that is itching to fight the newly industrializing power.

  16. mrsyk

    Brazil’s Bolsonaro is indicted for 1st time over alleged falsification of his vaccination status I dislike Bolsonaro, but this is a bit too reminiscent of the current DoJ fishing trip on Trump. More: Gleisi Hoffmann, chairwoman of the Workers’ Party, whose candidate defeated Bolsonaro, celebrated his indictment on social media. She said she hopes the former president stands trial in many other cases, including for his alleged attempt to sneak $3 million in diamond jewelry into the country and the sale of two luxury watches he received as gifts from Saudi Arabia while in office. That’s not even sofa change.

    1. fjallstrom

      Lula was thrown in jail through US sponsored lawfare, paving the way for Bolsanaro. So maybe the gloves comes of now that Lula is back?

      1. mrsyk

        Seems that way. I like Lula. I just wish actions could be straight lines. Prosecutions on small calls seems to be counter to building broad public support, and instead smells like political prosecution whether right or wrong.

    2. Feral Finster

      Of course it’s a fishing expedition. Not only that, but all would be forgiven, if Lula were to change his tune on Ukraine.

      Like Trump, any stick will do, to beat a dog. If all they can get on Trump was that someone pulled the tags off a mattress in a Trump hotel, then this will be framed as the most heinous crime since the foundation of the Republic, or perhaps going back to Gethsemane.

  17. diptherio

    Here’s another one for the Climate/Environment beat:


    Offset is a platform that aims to generate high integrity, premium carbon credits from industrial sabotage and direct actions. At the heart of our work is an innovative new methodology for quantifying the climate benefits of political actions that publically disrupt carbon flows.

    This methodology is applied to numerous case studies in the Carbon Neutralisation Registry. We are currently seeking public submissions of further cases of industrial sabotage and direct action for analysis.

    IANAL and all that, lol.

  18. communistmole

    apropos Swiss-proposed Ukraine peace talks:

    “Officials told POLITICO recently that China is trying to persuade Europe to let Russia sit at the table for future peace talks, potentially in Switzerland — or Beijing will boycott such meetings.

    That message was amplified, they say, during Chinese special envoy Li Hui’s European tour earlier this month to discuss the future of Ukraine. On the public record, the Chinese foreign ministry said Li vowed “support [for] the timely convening of a peace conference with equal participation of all parties.”

    Over recent months, Beijing has been trying to rewind Europe’s move toward de-risking, which it views as coming under the influence of the U.S. ”

    1. The Rev Kev

      It won’t work. The basis for that conference remains Zelensky’s 10-point plan which basically requires Russia to surrender. Even if Russia was there, Zelensky made it a law in the Ukraine to make it illegal to negotiate with President Putin. I think that China here then is just going through the motions as it would look worse if they did not try.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        It certainly may not work, in the near future, but China stepping up like this is a big warning sign, particularly for Europe.

        Time to put the crack pipe down, and if you don’t, we won’t show up at any more of your farcical “peace” summits.

        The next move after that is China starts putting export bans on goods delivered to Europe.

        1. Skip Intro

          China is running a diplomacy mission to offer the west a chance to relent. It is obvious that they won’t, but now ‘the forms have been obeyed‘, and the next stage may commence.

          1. ChrisFromGA

            China and Russia’s slow, deliberate pace definitely contrasts with frantic, panicked knee-jerk moves and verbal assualts from the west.

            Exhibit “A” – Lunatic Austin saying “US won’t let Ukraine Fail” as if they had anymore control over the situation.

            Ukraine is already a failed state, begging for foreign troops to come defend large chunks of their remaining territory. It’s essentially becoming Somalia with Western weapons and blackops to launch terror attacks at Russia.

            1. Feral Finster

              “Ukraine is already a failed state, begging for foreign troops to come defend large chunks of their remaining territory. It’s essentially becoming Somalia with Western weapons and blackops to launch terror attacks at Russia.”

              From the western perspective, that is perfectly agreeable, desirable, even. Sure, Ukrainians suffer, but nobody in Washington, Brussels or Kiev cares about them.

      2. Feral Finster

        It’s not intended to work. Putin could agree today to every one of Zelenskii’s points and the West would only demand more.

  19. CA

    Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

    This is really cool: China has developed a new type of nuclear reactor to power spacecrafts for large-scale space exploration, which can provide “efficient and continuous power supply for at least 10 years”.

    With power of 1.5 megawatt, it’s “7 times more powerful than a rival system being built by Nasa”, and can power a high-mass vessel for a round trip between the Earth and Mars in just 3 months. In contrast the Starship under development by SpaceX would take at least 7 months just to reach Mars, meaning it needs a much larger life support system.

    More details here:

    Starship rival: Chinese scientists build prototype engine for nuclear-powered spaceship to Mars *


    8:17 PM · Mar 19, 2024

    1. Michaelmas

      CA: In contrast the Starship under development by SpaceX would take at least 7 months just to reach Mars, meaning it needs a much larger life support system.

      Meaning everybody aboard would die or be riddled with cancers from cosmic radiation by the time they got there.

      With Musk’s chemically-powered rocket, too, the flight would take 9 months-plus when Mars was at its closest, not 7 as you have it.

      Musk’s proposal for a Mars trip with his Starship is generally ridiculous and unscientific. Besides the longer time in transit and greater radiation exposure, his ship will have no reaction mass — i.e. no fuel — to make the trip back. Yes, that’s right — he’s making sketchy noises about how the crew will mine fuel on Mars once they get there. (The ones who haven’t died of cancer, I guess.)

      Chemical rockets are ridiculous for space travel beyond the Moon, though we’re going to continue to need them to get out of Earth’s gravity well.

      For a nuclear rocket, on the other hand, three months for a trip to Mars is slow, if you have that right. NASA is planning on a 45 day flight, half the time you say the Chinese are forecasting.

      1. cfraenkel

        In CA’s defense, the 7 months was lifted straight from the SCMP article. Not a confidence builder re the rest of the article. Among other things, they were just testing out the lithium cooling plumbing and power generation system, looking at high temperature material survivability – all very interesting, but a long long way from ‘build prototype engine’.

    2. Pookah Harvey

      Why is NASA falling behind China? This headline in today’s Bloomberg might be a clue.
      “Hiring Booms at SpaceX and Blue Origin Making It Hard for NASA to Attract Talent”

  20. Pat

    I finally see a resemblance between owls and cats. Aww memories.
    The if looks could kill vibe that wet owl is giving off was the exact same look I got from the late great Thurber and Stewart, and for much the same reason. The first after he slipped off the edge of the bath and landed in it. The latter after he knocked over the open container of laundry soap and had to be bathed to get it all off.

    1. flora

      At this point it’s a cynical waiting game by the West, imo. It won’t take much longer to starve every Gazan. So form committees, talk, make arrangements, talk some more, deeply sympathize, etc. so that in 2 or 3 or 4 months you can arrange for aid to arrive. By then too late.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        This does seem like the plan. Send “strongly worded” messages to the I guvmet, do a few token gestures or things like the floating pier that I want anyway and then wait for the inevitable. Too bad they don’t have Bill Clinton out there with his trembling lip and feeling their pain. Sigh. I hate this timeline.

  21. flora

    Welp, I guess the US now now officially a banana republic. Is that why the southern border is left wide open, to intake millions of people who know how to live in a banana republic and expect little else?

    From twtr:

    NEW: Biden’s Justice Department shatters historical precedent imprisoning Trump Trade Advisor Peter Navarro for contempt of Congress, destroying a 250-year tradition of honoring executive privilege.

    Obama’s DOJ didn’t prosecute Eric Holder and Lois Lerner following contempt referrals after they invoked executive privilege.

    1. griffen

      Well the man snubbed a Congressional subpoena so there is that. I guess he coulda or shoulda showed and plead the 5th. Navarro is a buffoon of a sort on trade and tariffs, so I have no plan to hold a vigil or light a votive candle whilst he serves.

      Wait a sec, upon review wasn’t someone else of notoriety also in recent defiance of a likewise Congressional subpoena? For the life of me the thought of who that were, it is escaping me this morning.

      *I do have bananas on hand so the republic is assured of one key aspect; there will be bananas available for purchase.

      1. Expat2uruguay

        Navarro was a critic of the TPP and NAFTA. Also, he publicly clashed with Fauci and promoted treatments like hydroxychloroquinine, so this is why he’s likely pursued beyond the limits of the norms fairy

    2. undercurrent

      I don’t know, but it feels kinda nice to see Navarro do some time. More time would be even nicer. These are the kind of people who make life in the US so unbearable for so many. Let the rich eat other like the snakes, er, pythons that they are. They can swallow each other alive, and that goes for trump and biden too. As for “tradition,” the one preeminent law that rules the legal process in this country, is that the rich shall be served. My mother worked as a cleaning ‘lady’ in a local hospital for fifteen and a half years, and her retirement pension was one dollar for every year she worked. So, in 1979 she retired with a pension of $15.56 per month. I remember where I came from. Her lifelines were SS and Medicare, and I don’t doubt for a second that people like Navarro spend sleepless nights wondering how they can get their grubby hands on that.

      1. flora

        I remember thinking it was kinda nice to see A. Jones booted from utube and social media because “Eww, A. Jones!” That’ll teach ’em. Cancel culture didn’t stop with Jones, though.

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        I agree. Let them have at each other. But I don’t just want to see Navarro. It’s Brennan and Clapper I’d like to see in orange jump suits. Last time, Trump’s “Lock her up” was just another failed promised along with “drain the swamp.”

    3. Feral Finster

      “Obama’s DOJ didn’t prosecute Eric Holder and Lois Lerner following contempt referrals after they invoked executive privilege.”

      Why does this surprise you? When you do something illegal in service of the class interests of the PMC, then the norms fairy makes it okay!

  22. Otto Reply

    re: Reversion to the mean?
    Data in the graphic is from 2009. Would be interested in seeing if the trend continues using more recent stats.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “What happened to the mythic author?”

    A very interesting read. So where are the famous authors like there used to be? It seems that the PMC has turned book writing into their own private garden with those not meeting their standards being weeded out. Certainly a Hemingway would never be tolerated in their garden. Like the movie industry, it does not seem to matter how much money they lose but they will stick to their own principals as they know that they are right. In future literature classes, the early 21st century will be regarded as a wasteland of writing with hardly any of the authors of this period being remembered much less still read.

    1. Carolinian

      One should also talk about how the gatekeeper function of publishing has declined in a time when vast swaths of past and–to the knowing–present writing is available as free pixels. The internet has been a disruptor of the knowledge world in general.

      Bezos’ Kindle may have been an iffy hardware product but in the long run a profound cultural product. These days I read as much as I always did but from screens.

    2. Rainlover

      This article explains in detail why I can’t find any good books in the library anymore. Thank goodness I continue to receive great recommendations from the NC commentariat, obviously a well-read crowd.

      1. Lee

        Your tastes may differ but here’s a couple I really liked: Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra (also adapted as TV series), and Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. I also like his Aurora.

        We have a lot of little free libraries in the neighborhood where I find the occasional gem. Just finished a volume Best Short Stories From 1958, and found a copy of Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

        1. Laura in So Cal

          So I don’t know if I liked Ministry of the Future, but it definitely was interesting and I’m not mad I read it. The first chapter is so gripping and horrifying and the rest of the book doesn’t match it.
          However, it uses an interesting narrative structure that I’ve read in books three times this year. Basically, the books are a series of short stories with characters that intersect and even maybe repeat, but in my opinion this causes the reader to lack a sense of “propulsion” thru the book. All the books are dystopian in some way so maybe this structure gives you a break? Other books that used this structure:

          Arboreality. A novella which follows people on Vancouver Island over time with both economic and climate change challenges. I really liked this one.

          How high we go in the Dark. Short Novel about a Pandemic unearthed by archeologists. Super Sad and I’m not sure I liked it, especially the more sci-fi direction that happens later in the book. Well written, I thought, but seriously sad.

    3. flora

      I’ve started buying old classics in history and literature off ebay and craigslist or at garage sales (never from Amazon). They seem to be disappearing from libraries. Even my uni’s library system has entered a deal with some outfit to make a lot of even old, off copyright publications, even pre-copyright publications available only in electronic form, although they still have the hard copy books in their stacks. Lemme tell ya, there have been lots and lots of complaints to the library from the faculty and staff, so I’m told by the librarians when I called to complain that I knew they had an old 1800’s book in the stacks but the system wouldn’t let me check it out. If students now want to read electronic copies that’s fine. Why put the kibosh on faculty checking out the physical book if that’s how the faculty prefers to read? And so begins my effort to build a decent home library of works both recent and past on many subjects.

      1. Ghost in the Machine

        I have also been buying hardbacks copies of classics and other works I think are important for a personal library to pass down to the kids. So far they are good readers. I just need to start getting them onto some non fiction.

    4. DJG, Reality Czar

      What happened to the mythic author?

      Simplicius lets a few prejudices show, and Simplicius’s ideas of a mythic author seem to veer toward Burroughs. But Burroughs didn’t have the influence that Simplicius attributes to him. And mythic Bret Easton Ellis? Mythic Jay McInerney? Come on. Jacqueline Susann was a better writer.

      The problems in U.S. literary culture and in publishing are many:
      –Publishing. We used to call them the bean counters. They let in the bean counters and then forced editors to surrender to the marketing department (not the brightest pack of lightbulbs). Result: Crap literature. But: Always Be Closing!
      –Culture as zero-sum game. Everyone has a “right” to be published. Everyone is a writer! It isn’t a skill that one cultivates for years. (Damn: I’ve wasted so much time when I could have Always Be Closing!)
      –Flavor of the month: I’m so old, I recall the days when publishers put out big bricks by Indian and Indian-American authors with dreamy photos of the authors on the dust covers. Then the flavor of the month changed.
      –The WWW is a good way of selling books because the WWW is a form of distribution. It may not be a good way of getting the word out.
      –All artists should work for free. Heck, musicians can’t make money. Why should I as a fiction writer and playwright have the gall to think that I should make money off my writing…
      –Gatekeeping. There’s all kinds of gatekeeping in the U.S. of A., now more than ever. But one must recall that the late, not-so-lamented John Updike was a gatekeeper for the New Yorker.
      –And, sorry, Simplicius, complaining about gayfolk in the arts? Really? At least he mentions Baldwin respectfully. But there are also Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, W.H. Auden (mythic), Elizabeth Bishop, Edmund White, Mark Doty, Henri Cole. One can go on. I will note that Simplicius fails to take note of mythic Tony Kushner. Odd, that lapsus.

      So there are plenty of good writers around, contemporary with Burroughs and post-Burroughs. Percival Everett is finally getting more press. Colson Whitehead. I keep hearing people singing the praises of Octavia Butler. bell hooks. I was lucky enough to know Stanley Crouch, who healthily twisted my perspective a few times. (Simplicius reveals his whiteness by not giving attention to blackness.)

      He never noticed Joan Didion? Or that Camille Paglia created a ruckus?

      Here in Italy, I admire Melania Mazzucco. Natch, she is hardly available in English. Then there is Elena Ferrante, who appeals to the Anglosphere. Alda Merini, no longer alive, but still widely admired as a lyric and poetic poet. And I could go on. Even Italian writers of “gialli” (mysteries / police procedurals) are stellar. I’m thinking of the wildly witty Alessandro Robecchi.

      And a final dirty little secret: The rise of the M.F.A. in writing in the U.S.A. signaled / caused a decline in the quality of U.S. writing. It has been notable. Standardized “product,” in search of an outlet.

      1. Carolinian

        Thanks for dissing Updike.

        And can one gently suggest that we had great gay writers back when they were on the outs and in the pronoun era it seems a lot more like special pleading. My own fave Gore Vidal didn’t even like the term gay and suggested we are all more or less bidirectional and if everybody is then nobody is (he didn’t go so far as to say that). Liberation of the bedroom isn’t quite the same thing as marching through Selma.

        I’d say it’s the culture that has changed more than the education or the people. The Me Decade never ended.

      2. Bugs

        I’ve always despised Updike. Sort of like noblesse oblige made him take up the pen. I think you’re wrong about Brett Easton Ellis though. He’s a brilliant writer, with some great personal faults, but those are excusable, in light of his novels. Rushdie never got his due, and that’s sad but maybe how it goes. He’s had plenty of material rewards.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        I didn’t agree with all of his tastes, but I do think he has a point. I am very hard pressed to think of any fiction authors that are culturally prominent and considered a must-read when new work comes out who started being published in the last 20 years or so. I’ve never read a Stephen King book and don’t plan to, but he was (and is) very popular. Is there a 21st century equivalent? I’m probably missing something and definitely open to suggestions.

        Granted, popular books like King’s are a different bird than what’s considered “literature”, and sometimes authors who can really write and have something to say don’t get noticed right away. William Gaddis comes to mind – nobody read his first novel when it came out in the 50s, and I never heard of him until his 4th novel in the early 90s won the National Book award. Perhaps there are some newer gems that haven’t come to light yet.

      4. zach

        You have my enduring respect for wading through that entire post, getting out the other side, and authoring a coherent critique.

  24. Samuel Conner

    Thanks for the Steve Keen link; I really need to spend more time reading his material. Perhaps I should experiment with his “Minsky” economic modeling tool, too. It might be fun, and perhaps even remunerative, to anticipate how CBO forecasts will fail.

    Reading that item, the thought occurs that if Shakespeare were writing today, there would be a play in which the phrase, “first thing we do, let’s kill all the economists”, appeared.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Here’s a look at Minsky:

      A point that Prof. Keen makes in this discussion that attracted some (what I interpret to be) derision in skeptical commentary at the recent “Lords afraid of MMT” post is that

      * net financial assets of the government + nongovernment sector are necessarily zero (a consequence of double-entry bookkeeping)

      * to demand that the government be in a condition of positive net financial assets necessarily entails that the nongovernment sector have negative net financial assets

      do we really want the non-government sector to be in debt to the government?

      * Banks must have positive net financial assets. If the government is not in a position of negative net financial assets (ie, is not “in debt” to the non-government sector), then the non-bank private sector will necessarily be in a position of negative net financial assets, in debt to the bank sector (and perhaps also to the government). This does not appear to me to be a good place for the non-bank private sector to be; in a downturn that debt may become unserviceable, leading to widespread liquidation, Mellon style, of private economic actors.


      Minsky is free and open source. I suspect that the learning curve is not shallow.

      1. zach

        I am an avowed ignoramus in all things accounting and economics, so please excuse what is likely an all-to-obvious observation. IF

        “Government spending in excess of taxation is financed by the government going into negative financial equity to the same magnitude, which creates equivalent positive financial equity for the non-government sectors… ”

        is a true statement, and the fiat currency issuer’s responsibility is to maintain liquidity (at all costs seems like an odd thing to say here), wouldn’t the issuance of debt (which I’ve alternatively heard described as “leverage”) necessarily imply that the gov’t/fiat issuer has fundamentally abdicated some zone of responsibility?

        In other words, the debt (leverage), still acts as the same handbrake on economic activity that it always has, just that it’s been seemingly inverted in the MMT worldview. The gov’t/fiat issuer MUST continue to issue new currency (by issuing debt), otherwise the wheels comes off.

        Economics and accounting is something I only understand by standing far away and squinting, but it seems like a fairly robust theory atc. As long demand exists, and gov’t obliges new issuances…

        “…who controls money controls the world.”

        ps written language was the world’s first fiat currency.

    2. cousinAdam

      I recently subscribed to Steve Keen’s podcast “Debunking Economics” w/ co-host Phil Dobbie on Substack. Best $5/mo investment in my quest for better economic understanding, imho. Keen is quite the ‘quick wit’, a regular bloke that you’d look forward to sharing a few pints with and with his co-host they make their topics understandable to the amateur. He occasionally puts up articles that are also very accessible but will sometimes show some (often original) statistical equations that make my eyes cross and my head hurt. I also subscribe to Stephanie Kelton’s The Lens and Matt Stoller’s BIG (the priciest at $8/mo, but hey, he’s fighting the good fight! And of course big hat tip (and annual C-note) to Yves and co. who’ve shown me the way. Even on my mediocre SS income, the ROI is inestimable. While I’m at it, let’s not forget the World’s Best Commentariat!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Just read that myself. Was it because he misread the people so badly and consequently got heavily defeated in those two recent referendum questions? If so, shows you the danger of smoking your own supply. I wonder who will replace him?

    2. CA

      Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

      Extraordinary video of the Irish Prime Minister lecturing Biden to his face – Biden who loves reminding people he’s Irish! – on why “the Irish people are deeply troubled about Gaza” and why “the Irish have such empathy for the Palestinian people”.

      The Irish PM says: “We see our history in the Palestinians’ eyes, a story of displacement, of dispossession, a national identity questioned and denied, forced immigration, discrimination and now hunger.”

      11:27 PM · Mar 18, 2024

      1. Revenant

        Very drily done, CA. I suspect you might be right….

        Either that or there is a great scandal about to break over him. Sex or money, maybe both.

        In fact, perhaps all of the above: the US three letter agencies are about to push him under the bus and this is a desperate attempt to get in front of the mob and call it a parade. It won’t work of course, he cannot be allowed a second chance. I duly expect him to be BURIED in scandal.

        Let’s see….

    3. CA

      Though I am unfamiliar with Irish politics, I do know that Leo Varadkar has been highly influential as Ireland went from serious lagging in Euro Area real per capita GDP to being second highest next to Luxembourg. Per capita GDP for Ireland in 2022 was a remarkable $132,359 or just above that of Singapore.

      1. fjallstrom

        A large chunk of the GDP growth was the EU forcing US multinationals with HQ in Ireland to be taxed in Ireland. I don’t remember all the details, but it was close enough to the Euro crisis that I remember going “wait a second, if the Commission is saying that Ireland had higher GDP all along, doesn’t that mean they just admitted that Ireland also had lower debt/GDP?”

        But logic doesn’t account for much, so they just never admitted being wrong.

    4. ami

      We are a coupla weeks away from the local+Euro elections. The economy is doing pretty decent but there’s a malaise in the land.

      Leo Varadkar’s biggest fan is Leo Varadkar. Big into self promotion – annoyingly so. He’s often given to off-the cuff, grandoise pronouncements – such as he alone can persuade the Irish nation that we should become a member of NATO. (Not working, though have been come ”confrences” – but an American CEO of some war Corporation stated categorically that Ireland should subordinate its army and sovereignty to the British Military. Not a good PR look, to says the least!)

      Imo, Varadkar knew he was stepping down as Taoiseach before going to Washington – hence his fairly honest and accurate statement of how a majority Irish would view the Palestinian situation – quite a few Palestinian flags flying around the county – including a local gov building.)

      The PMC neo-liberal project is stalled. Their main objectives of monetising everything and building a solid PMC-centred middle class is as good as it going to get (bar water privitisation). Those that got, have it, and the rest of us are just foundering in turpitude. Society and culture solidifying into a mass without personal or communal content. No center – void – nothing. Shopping I suppose.

      The referenda played a part, no doubt. The Fine Gael party knives have been taken out and Varadkar’s political instincts are very sharp. The present coalition Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are both solidly PMC neo-liberal parties in all aspects. They can count on a solid 30 – 40% of the electorate as their base. Those that got. Their marginal voters are those affected by inflation and maybe a notion of loss of national identity. But they vote with their pockets at the end of the day. If they lose votes, those votes might gravitate further to the right.

      My two cents, two likely successors are Simon Coveney or Heather Humphries. The former has ruled himself out. Hmmm! Poisoned chalice? He’s a natural selection as he’s an orthodox neo-liberal economic fanatic with a good bit of media coverage. Humphries is all that as well and an avowed anti-celtic/traditional Ireland proponent. She’s big into unlimited immigration. Pascal Donohoe, minister for Public Expenditure and ”Reform” – more austerity of the poors? Simon Harris, Helen McEntee? It’s really a guessing game and even the pundits are stumped. ID politics might well play a part.

      It’s circle the wagons until after the locals/Euros. Stop a drift more to the right? Get into gov one more time next year or just let Sinn Fein take on a moribund economy next time with the usual media dogs writing sensationalist stories and the Corporates and bigger local businesses cleaning house to stagnate the economy? A big roar-back by the PMC with the usual Right-wing support now legitimised but essentially powerless to alter anything fundamental? It’s the best of times and the worst of times.

      Hopefully Plutonium will be back and give a more concrete assessment from the Capitol.

  25. lyman alpha blob

    Tying a few things together here, yesterday afternoon in WC I posted this link to a recent Archdruid post where he discusses the downward trend in population – An Unfamiliar World

    He notes that declining population isn’t good for one set up people in particular – capitalists who depend on growth:

    “…imagine for a moment that population contraction was already under way. In the neighborhood where you live, there are fewer people who need to buy or rent a home this year than there were last year; there are fewer people shopping at the neighborhood stores, using the services of the neighborhood banks, working at the shops and factories, and so on. What happens to housing prices, rents, business profits, local tax revenues, measures of gross productivity, and the like? On average, they go down. Extrapolate that same process to your state or province, your country, and the world, and see how it works.

    Now remember that housing prices, rents, business profits, local tax revenues, and the like don’t exist in a vacuum. In today’s world, all of them are used to prop up a vast hyperleveraged structure of investment and debt which gives the privileged classes of the modern industrial world their wealth and their influence. Your mortgage or rent payment, your purchases at the local grocery, and the sales tax the clerk adds to the bill are tiny bricks in a financial Tower of Babel soaring far beyond the dreams of skyscraper-builders—and it all depends on growth.

    That’s why the global economy has been lurching and shuddering like a worn-out truck in recent years, and why the privileged classes of the modern industrial world have shed their former habit of remaining out of the limelight and are gathering at places like Davos to insist, in shrill and plaintive tones, that the world ought to do as it’s told. It’s also why these same privileged classes, through a network of nongovernmental organizations they control, are luring as many people as possible to migrate illegally to Europe and Anglophone North America. Why? Because if it weren’t for the ongoing flood of illegal migration, western Europe, the United States, and Canada would already be deep into population contraction, and the entire structure of power and wealth that depends on economic growth in those areas would have come apart.”

    This morning I went back to yesterday’s links and saw this comment from Jason Boxman where the financial institutions are bragging that increased immigration has led to higher GDP and also kept wages down.

    Last night I was at a city council meeting where the liberal goodthinkers in my town are trying to delay a process that would put city offices in a beautiful old school building so it can be used to house recent immigrants instead. This in a city with housing unaffordable to anyone in the working class. Where hundreds of USians are living rough in tents year round. But the most liberal want to prioritize recent immigrants over US citizens, not only by providing housing but fast tracking them into jobs. Those would be the low paying jobs like janitor in the mega “non profit” hospital that rakes in squillions every year, or staffing all the new hotels with cheap labor.

    Really not sure how so many well meaning people became disconnected from how this all really works, and instead play the useful idiot for the mega rich elites. All this “helping” by the liberal goodthinkers will only ensure that more and more locals will no longer be able to afford to stay. At least until the population really starts collapsing.

    If that’s what it takes to get rid of this cancerous capitalism, I say bring it on.

    1. vao

      What happens to housing prices, rents, business profits, local tax revenues, measures of gross productivity, and the like?

      Let me have a go at the “housing prices and rents”. They will not go down, rather, they will go up.

      With less people, swathes of housing units will no longer be maintained, then degrade, become uninhabitable, become condemned property, and thus reduce the housing capacity.

      Lack of maintenance may happen because:
      1) it is no longer profitable for the landlord to maintain a building whose occupation ratio is too low (because people die without replacement);
      2) there are no heirs for a property (because people die childless), and nobody buys the estate (because supply exceeds demand);
      3) there is not enough qualified personnel (because the population is shrinking) to maintain all the stock of building.

      Housing units may also become uninhabitable because the networks necessary to make them livable — water, gas, electricity, sewer, roads — will see their own maintenance curtailed (as a consequence of lacking local tax revenue, not enough qualified personnel).

      This can happen relatively fast — especially with the kind of junk construction techniques that have become so prevalent in the past few decades, vandalism, and other security issues (e.g. fire hazards).

      The reduction of habitable buildings, increased maintenance costs, and the proportionally higher overhead due to infrastructure (the power plants, water treatment plants, roads, etc, were dimensioned for a much larger population and cannot be scaled down) means that ultimately the level of housing prices and rents will not diminish. What is going to happen is that fewer landlords and real-estate companies will cash them in, while the others will go bankrupt with their buildings underutilized, unaffordable to maintain, going derelict and turning to ruins.

    2. tegnost

      Thanks for that link, I read it yesterday.
      Thought provoking when combined with IM Docs passage in the private equity in accounting post.
      It seems to me our society is getting top heavy.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        I echo the likes.

        I always appreciated the Archdruid. We’re an impatient species … I want my collapse, and I want it now!

        Have to admit that TPB are very clever at inventing new ways to kick the can. Fake GDP, extend and pretend, and now … a greasy AI bubble!

      2. ambrit

        Curious that. I cannot find the post by IM Doc you mention in the comments after the Private Equity in Accounting post.
        Divergent timelines on the Internet?

    3. Carolinian

      Of course historically our vast country always had a labor shortage, which is to say a cheap labor shortage. Hence the slavery and, later, all those immigrants from Europe.

      Also, thanks for the link.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        You’re welcome! And because I like to catapult my own propaganda, I would once again like to frame it as a business surplus rather than a labor shortage. I don’t know the actual numbers off the top of my head, but I would guess that significant portion of the GDP produced by slaves came from the tobacco industry, an industry with no good reason to exist in the first place.

        1. Carolinian

          That Greer is practically a must read.

          As William R. Catton Jr. pointed out trenchantly many years ago in his book Overshoot, this is the situation the human population of Earth is in just now. The invention of fossil fuel-powered technologies and the breakneck extraction of fossil fuels that followed provided the industrial world with a resource base equivalent to ten spare planets. That was why population figures started rising in the nineteenth century and went into overdrive in the twentieth: all those additional resources temporarily boosted the carrying capacity of the planet to levels never before reached, and allowed our species to experience an immense population boom.

          etc. Biology is destiny. Time for our national thinkers to wake up and smell the coffee.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Indeed. I was surprised to see in Greer’s post that the reproduction levels were below replacement not just in the West, but in Asia now too.

            So how did that happen? It certainly wasn’t from any leadership advising people to have fewer children, at least not recently – China’s one child policy ended a while ago if I remember right. But recent research has shown that non-human animal populations tend to self regulate. When food is scarce, they somehow have smaller litters. Mother Nature does seem to take care of things somehow in the long run, and she’ll take care of us, too, if we with our giant brains can’t learn to stop overdoing it.

  26. Steve H.

    > Political Instincts? New Left Review. Important.
    >> In the 1950s, Arrow recycled an insight originally proffered by the Marquis de Condorcet, stating that it was theoretically impossible for three voters to ensure perfect harmony between their preferences

    Siu> Another common deficiency is failure to pay adequate attention to the optimal sequencing of actions. The significance of proper sequencing can be shown by the Condorcet effect. In 1785 Marquis de Condorcet in Paris stated that an intransitive ordering in group decision may arise from members with transitive orderings… If a and b were first matched up against each other and the defeated alternative dropped from further consideration, c would emerge as the final choice. If c and a were first matched, then b would emerge as the final choice. If b and c were first matched, then a would emerge as final choice. You should be careful then about the sequencing of actions in activities like public relations, group decisions on alternative options, and multiparty confrontations.

    So the period of oscillation in the decision process determines the outcome. Jäger does note the time element later in the essay:

    >> Instead, it may usher in postmodern renditions of ancien régime peasant uprisings: an oscillation between passivity and activity, yet one that rarely reduces the overall power differential within society.

    Those who don’t want the overall power differential reduced can use sequencing techniques to reduce social cohesion:

    >> Chimpanzee aggression is especially contingent on the availability of food; the easiest way for researchers to provoke squabbles is to give one group of chimps in a compound more food than others.

    The last quote is from

    > Frans de Waal (RIP) and the Origins of War John Horgan

    The ‘Political Instincts’ essay seems to be working through abstractions, as tho humans are binary social-or-not. Nowak shows that there are multiple types of cooperation, to the point that group selection can dominate kinship relations. Those on the upside of the power differential must keep larger antagonistic groups from forming (‘group selection’) as a matter of policy (‘There are individual men and women and there are families…’).
    Just as humans are Both social-and-not, the notion of aggression as inherent v conditional is a misleading premise:

    >> De Waal has also demonstrated that shifts in environmental conditions can dramatically reduce primate aggression.

    de Waal is one of the subjects of National Geographics ‘The New Chimpanzees’ [1995]. It’s worth the hour to watch.

    1. cousinAdam

      Reminds me of what turned out to be a basic principle of the ‘art’ of hasbara (decades before I ever heard the term). While in Tel Aviv, a local explained the challenge of how Israelis debate – “two Israelis but three arguments!” Worthy of a chuckle at the time but nowadays? ‘ Nuff respect to Archdruid, btw. To describe his writing as prolific is a major understatement!

  27. Ghost in the Machine

    China discovers oilfield with over 100M tons of reserve in Bohai Sea Anadolu Agency

    Let’s see. About 7.5 barrels of oil per ton -> 750 million barrels of oil. Looking up the latest daily world oil consumption yields about 97 million barrels, let’s call it 100. So, about 7.5 days of oil consumption! For perspective…

    1. CA

      “China discovers oilfield with over 100M tons of reserve in Bohai Sea”

      For “perspective”:

      The Bohai Sea oil discoveries by China have been ongoing for years. Bohai field reserves already make it the largest metamorphic rock oilfield worldwide. Also, China has been discovering other offshore and onshore oilfields these past few years and has reached the point of energy self-sufficiency overall which is critically important when confronting an American policy of “containment.”

      China has been methodically searching for domestic resource stores, and successfully working on technology for resource recovery.

      1. Ghost in the Machine

        We will see. Maybe self sufficiency for a bit. Then shrinking like all of us.

        As for fossil fuels, it does seem that geopolitical fears are going to bias us towards sucking them dry. Climate disasters may prevent that. Or nuclear war

    2. i just don't like the gravy

      Nate Hagen’s metaphor of the bigger straw sucking up the same finite resource is applicable here

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Nate’s latest “Frankly” talks about AI as another big straw and the context of Musk’s remark about a 10x increase in computing power needed every 6 months. Blackouts and brownouts for us while the billionaires figure out how to better and more “efficiently” manage us.

  28. Carolinian

    The Simplicius article on the woke-ification of the publishing industry twins with the story about the increasing insularity of the university environment. Of course this is obvious to those of us old enough to remember anything different but it may be more a matter of degree than true difference. After all the rebellious ’60s followed the highly conformist ’50s and were in turn smitten by the Me-centric 70s. Claims for the greatness of all those one time Great American Novelists like Mailer may have been exaggerated.

    In any case these days I only read nonfiction where real events don’t have to adhere to theories. These nonfiction shelves at the library are also a lot more woke, but oddly those DEI books are the ones that, where I live at least, never seem to be checked out.

    1. Bazarov

      The works of those luminaries of the 50s, 60s, and 70s–like Ginsburg, Burroughs, and Mailer–have not aged well at all. Pretty mediocre to bad, in my experience.

      American fiction just isn’t very good. Put in the context of the rest of the world, too many of our best writers are second-raters. Like the Ancient Romans, our knack is for politics and economics, not the literary arts, though we may occasionally produce a Virgil.

      Probably we peaked early. I would say America’s best writers are 19th century personalities like Melville and Dickinson. I’m also fond of Henry James, who’s Americanness is somewhat disputed as he lost his US citizenship when he became a naturalized Brit

      There’s an argument to be made, however, that America’s more contemporary achievements are in non-mainstream works–specifically science fiction. I’m sympathetic to it. Personally, I rate Gene Wolfe as the most talented author America produced in the 20th century, far superior to the likes of Hemingway or Kerouac.

      1. Partyless poster

        I would rank Cormac McCarthy number 1 for American writers, doesn’t get more epic than that.

      2. Martin Oline

        I love libraries and thrift stores because I’m cheap. If you find a book at a thrift store it is almost like you are meant to. Besides Cormac McCarthy there is William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and William Gay, all southern writers and all safely dead. With the all the unease and turmoil that will soon grip Africa, I would recommend checking out the library for Susan Williams’ books in non-fiction. Her books are contemporary to the political turmoil of this recent century.

      3. britzklieg

        Robert Stone, Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Heller, Saul Bellow, Phillip Roth, Don DeLillo, Paul Auster, Phillip K. Dick, James Dickey, T.C. Boyle, Thomas Pynchon, Gore Vidal, James Hall…

    2. flora

      an aside: Unis are now offering degrees in disinformation management. I kid you not. Unis received grants to begin these programs. You can guess who the usual suspects are making these grants. Talk about insularity of uni environments!

  29. Jason Boxman

    From: American Manufacturers Seek Perfection as Quality Issues Mount

    The zero-defects philosophy took shape in the early 1960s when defense contractor Martin sought to eliminate errors from Pershing missiles. The company had relied on inspections to find problems as small as a loose valve but refocused on prevention, exhorting workers with posters and rallies to do their jobs right the first time—followed by extensive audits.

    Martin’s quality director, James Halpin, wrote in a book about the initiative that errors plunged as hundreds of employees racked up long streaks of perfection. One solderer made nearly 500,000 connections without a mistake, he wrote, while another worker put together 50,000 defect-free assemblies.

    It’s almost as if the source of value is labor.

    Naw, can’t be.

  30. Lefty Godot

    Sad to hear that Frans de Waal has died. I do think all the discussion about the origins of war and our genetic propensity for violence needs to distinguish between the phenomenon of personal and gang violence, on the one hand, and organized mass violence by military forces, on the other, because I don’t think the same factors are motivating them. Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Blood Rites is the best account I have read of the fine distinctions between interpersonal aggression and war making on a societal scale. I bet many combat veterans appreciate this also. An older work that may be relevant: Thomas Hardy’s “The Man He Killed” is one portrayal of how a soldier experiences killing…I think training of recruits since Korea has been designed to make killing an automatic, adrenaline-fueled response, to keep these second thoughts out of consciousness.

    1. CA

      March 24, 1996

      The Mark of the Beast

      The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals.
      By Frans de Waal.

      Following publication of “Origin of Species,” even those sympathetic to evolution found themselves facing a seemingly insuperable problem. Physically, our development from apes was plausible, but what about our vaunted morality? One of Darwin’s correspondents wrote of the impossibility of accepting “that man’s reasoning-faculties & above all his moral sense cd. ever have been obtained from irrational progenitors.” Darwin responded that natural selection operated on communities as well as individuals, so that groups of social animals tightly knit by altruistic bonds would fare better than those riven by selfishness. But modern population genetics rejected the idea of “group selection.”

      Accordingly, evolutionary continuities have been sought in intelligence, language, tool making — anywhere but in morality. Now a respected ethologist, Frans de Waal, tackles the problem from a novel angle…

  31. Screwball

    Tony Bobulinski will be in the news today, or at least he should be. I would like to watch this hearing but I can’t. I’ve watched enough of them to know my blood pressure will not handle it.

    I can only imagine what the spin doctors are up to. Should be highly entertaining.

  32. Feral Finster

    “And what will Turkiye make of this? From Politico’s European morning newsletter:”

    Nobody in the EU cares what Turkiye thinks about it. In fact, Turkiye has figured out by now that EU membership will always be a bait and switch.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Turkey is better off without the EU. They control their monetary policy, and foreign policy, and can play Russia and the US off of each other. Why would they want to be hamstrung by a bunch of bureaucrats in an increasingly irrelevant continent?

      I think Erdogan figured that one out a long, long time ago.

  33. Michaelmas

    Just in at the NYT –

    Biden Administration Announces Rules Aimed at Phasing Out Gas Cars:
    The regulations would require automakers to produce more electric vehicles and hybrids by gradually tightening limits on tailpipe pollution.

    archived —

    original —

    Interesting. Has a notably oblivious ‘ let them eat cake/stats’ vibe, given that US auto manufacturers can’t or won’t manufacture EVs at prices most working-class Americans can afford, even as the way American cities are laid out for car-owners only and the fact that public transport is poor to non-existent mean that working-class Americans will have no way to get work without ICE cars.

    Granted, Chinese EV manufacturers can make EVs at prices that are affordable for Americans. But you know the US automakers and others are going to lobby all-out for tariffs to prevent that happening.

  34. s.n.

    oh those Benjamins…from today’s Guardian Live ME blog:

    Independent US presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr has said he does not support a temporary ceasefire in Gaza.

    Speaking to Reuters, he told it Israel was a “moral nation” that was justly responding to Hamas provocations with its attacks on Gaza.

    Asked if he supported a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, Kennedy told Reuters: “I don’t even know what that means right now.”

    Kennedy said that each previous ceasefire “has been used by Hamas to rearm, to rebuild and then launch another surprise attack. So what would be different this time?” he said.

  35. cfraenkel

    Re the WSJ on seeking perfection in quality. Curious timing after the recent post on auto defects doubling since 2019 or so. ctrl-f ‘cost cutting’ yields of course zero hits. The closest they get is:

    Sedgwick Senior Vice President Chris Harvey said undertrained workers, the increasing complexity of products and more sprawling supply chains are contributing to quality problems.

    The first thing you learn as a product designer is the old iron triangle: good, fast, cheap – pick two. It’s telling that the WSJ can’t bring itself to mention the obvious common factor running through all the recent woes – Jack Welch style financialization & ‘lazer focused’ attention to cost cutting.

  36. Jason Boxman

    This is the stupidest timeline:

    Even though the city maintains high vaccination rates, that single case set off an outbreak that raged for nearly 10 months, the largest in the country in decades. The city declared a public health emergency for the first time in more than 100 years.

    “We had more than 100 chains of transmission,” said Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city’s health commissioner at the time, and now the president and chief executive of United Hospital Fund.

    “Keeping all of that straight was a challenge,” she recalled. “And to have to investigate over 20,000 exposures like that, that was huge.”

    Working with community leaders, city officials hurriedly administered about 200,000 doses of vaccine. More than 550 city staff members were involved in the response, and the final cost to the city’s health department topped $8 million.

    Nope, not SARS2, this is measles. For some reason, measles illicitness a robust public health response. Meanwhile.

    Measles is among the most contagious of diseases; each infected person can spread the virus to as many as 18 others. The virus is airborne and can stay aloft up to two hours after an infected person has left the room, spreading rapidly through homes, schools and child care facilities.

    Measles cripples the immune system, allowing other pathogens easier entry into the body. A 2015 study estimated that measles may have accounted for as many as half of all infectious disease deaths in children.

    (bold mine)

    Do you know what other virus also harms the immune system, and spreads through the air, like smoke?


    We truly are living in a hellscape. I wonder when we’re going to accept measles can’t be stopped, and we should just let it spread again? How about mosquito borne illnesses? Sure, why not! They’re endemic in tropical and subtropical regions elsewhere, after all!

  37. ChrisFromGA

    I will officially retire the term “Dread Pirate Powell” if today’s Fed meeting does not result in at least some hawkish guidance from Jay and his merry band of currency debasers.

    I thought this guy was serious until December. His new nickname will be “The Manila Folder” if credit markets don’t tighten.

    AI bubble, to da moon!

  38. XXYY

    the genius of Asia was to take the factories we sponsored there…

    In the late 80s and 90s I remember thinking that Chinese elites were playing Western elites like a violin. Western leaders were giving away the entire store for the slight inducement of lower wages, meanwhile setting themselves on a path of not being able to do anything themselves and being completely dependent on foreign manufacturing. Rather than having to spy to get foreign industrial secrets, Chinese leaders must have watched in amazement as the West taught them every hard-won industrial secret they had, and paid them to learn it!

    At the time I was amazed at what a minority viewpoint it was that this was going to come back and bite us in the ass in short order. But now that we have seen the very low quality of Western leadership, it is more understandable.

    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      . . . ” Coming back to this, the genius of Asia was to take the factories we sponsored there, to free ourselves of doing any thinking or work, and use them to restore Asia at the centre of the world. Where it had been for much of human history. /1″ . . .

      ” ‘We’? –White man?” ( as the old joke goes) . . . ‘We’ didn’t ask for any of this. ‘Them’ ( the Republicans and Clintonites) did it to ‘Us’ against all the opposition ‘Us’ could muster. ‘Them’ imposed their Forcey Free-Trade on ‘Us’.

      I don’t mind Asia being back at the Center of the World the way it used to be. Back when Asia was at the Center of the World, it was not colonizing and settlerizing the Indian Nations of North America.

      I don’t mind America existing on the fringe of an Asiacentric world as long as America has its own balanced survival internal economy. That won’t happen as long as the Forcey Free-Trade supporters and governators are alive to prevent it from happening. It could take some kind of American analog of the Maoist Revolution by Americans for Americans to force a Survivalist American Republic into existence.

      How do you say . . . ” America has Stood Up!” . . . in Mandarin?

  39. Willow

    >20,000-strong French contingent to Ukraine

    French Lieutenant-colonel Vincent Arbaretier openly discussing Dniepr & Belarus border means these aren’t the objectives for deployment of French troops. Each option would require at least 150k troops to be effective while current trial balloons suggests a European blocking force of only 60k possible. Additionally, each of these options is too far away from European borders to get necessary air and anti-missile defence support. Which means deployment, if it happens, will be somewhere else. Almost certainly Odesa. Other less likely possibility is Lvov.

    West can’t allow Russia to control the Black Sea. Losing Odesa would be a huge loss because it means retaking Crimea is no longer even a remote possibility. UK in particular is obsessed with taking Crimea from Russia which would block Russian fleets from the Black Sea and consequently the Mediterranean. The weird thing is why France is going there? There is nothing to gain for France. 20k troops in Odesa will be like shooting frogs in a bucket. Air & anti-missile support from Romania may hinder the Russians somewhat but it only takes a few missiles to get through to generate a casualty rate which would have severe political consequences.

    So why is Macron going there? Is it grandstanding to show France is the military leader of Europe without actually implementing the plan? Hoping rest of Europe says ‘non’ and allowing France to shelve project Ukraine with some honour. Or is this a deliberate attempt at distracting European public from what’s going on in Palestine? Allowing Macron (and other European leaders) to avoid making any serious decisions about Gaza?

    A much darker possibility is that Macron’s masters actually want a (limited*) war between Europe and Russia in order to: constrain Russia from taking any part in the upcoming Middle East conflict; force US (voters/politicians) to side unreservedly behind Israel to ensure strategic dominance in Middle East is maintained; moving world’s focus back to Ukraine to avoid having to address moral dilemma of Gaza.

    *whether things will remain ‘limited’ will be at Russia’s discretion..

    Just when markets are at all time highs, we may get an April surprise..

    1. zach

      Well, Mr. Putin is a bit of a sentimental type. For sake of argue, say the nouvelle French contingent settles in Odessa – sure, a laughable force of 20k doesn’t stand a chance against the righteous might of Russian grievance, but, and it’s a big one, if the French bivouac somewhere like… I dunno… pick any historical structure (preferably built by Catherine, or during Catherine’s time?)… kind of a bit like taking a whole city hostage ain’t it?

      Time to do it is now also, I read in the papers that the Russian’s are gonna storm west of the Dnieper, sure shootin’, any day now they’ll be knockin’ down the gates of Odessa, taking back all their Russian things and stuff, after that Transnistria, then I even heard someone say they’re gonna have to march all the way to PARIS(!) again… that Martyanov, when he gets on one, i tell ya.

      I detest repeating myself, but in the words of that other great Frenchman of yore, “a battle won is a battle which we will not acknowledge to be lost.” A war against the “west,” fought in Ukraine. Expectations ought to be tempered – all things in moderation.

      Including moderation, by the look of things…

    2. Martin Oline

      I believe that Micron is polishing his CV for a future job in or rather on top of the EU political structure. He can’t be president again being limited to a maximum of two terms. Like the Jefferson family of TV serial land he is planning on “movin’ on up.” The French economy and the lives of French soldiers does not concern him in the least. He is planning to be in Brussels therefore he has to prove his willingness to do anything for his new masters. What was that old Goldwater slogan? “Extremism in the defense of liberty ambition is no vice”

Comments are closed.