Links 4/13/2024

Survival of the nicest: have we got evolution the wrong way round? Nature (Dr. Kevin)

O.J. Simpson Excited For God To Tell Him Who Real Killer Was Babylon Bee

On your marks, get set, dope! Welcome to the Enhanced Games – the sporting event no one wants Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

Farming robot kills 200,000 weeds per hour with lasers FreeThink (Dr. Kevin)

Joseph Priestley Created Revolutionary “Maps” of Time NEH (Anthony L)

The therapist who hated me aeon (Frederick C). Yikes!

Yes, But Can You Really Explain the Difference Between Morals and Ethics? Literary Hub (Randy K)


COVID vaccination reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes after a COVID infection Nerdy Girls (Dr. Kevin)

Long COVID and post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis and treatment: A Keystone Symposia report New York Academy of Science (Paul R)


Networked geothermal is catching on in Minnesota MPR (Chuck L)

My talk to Stewardship Summit 2024 and a plea for research funding Steve Keen (Chuck L)


China protests EU’s investigation of subsidies in green industries, calling the move protectionist Associated Press (Kevin W)

Huawei Building Vast Chip Equipment R&D Center In Shanghai Nikkei

China’s Belt and Road Leaves Kenya With a Railroad to Nowhere Bloomberg (furzy)

European Disunion

Notre-Dame fire anniversary: Cathedral restoration nears completion Reuters (Kevin W)

Old Blighty

How Rishi Sunak built a close relationship with Blackstone’s bosses Financial Time (Kevin W)


Russia Sends Military Trainers and Air-Defence System to Niger, Says Niger State TV US News (Kevin W)

South of the Border

Elon Musk and Javier Milei share their love of free markets in first meeting Financial Times (Kevin W). So will Musk + say Paul Singer execute a leveraged buyout of Argentina?


‘Operation al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 189: Israel and U.S. brace for Iranian retaliation as ceasefire talks stall Mondoweiss (guurst). As Alex Christoforu pointed out, the retailiation could take the form of a cyber attack. Or a false flag!

‘Disastrous’: Israel-Iran tensions test limits of US policy amid Gaza war Al Jazeera (Kevin W)

U.S. Moves Warships to Defend Israel in Case of Iranian Attack Wall Street Journal. Actually an admission of weakness.

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The US dangles Yemen bait, but Ansarallah doesn’t bite The Cradle (Chuck L)

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Pankaj Mishra: The Shoah after Gaza London Review of Books (Dr. Kevin)

New Not-So-Cold War

>Russia Expects ‘Unconditional Capitulation’ Of Kiev Regime Moon of Alabama

Pentagon’s Ukraine contract for Musk’s Starlink expires – Bloomberg RT

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US bans Russian metals RT. Kevin W: “…but not titanium which they need for their aerospace industries.”

New sanctions against Russia are US signal to Ukraine not to negotiate — Ambassador TASS (guurst)

Army Special Forces students are learning Ukrainian in new language course Task & Purpose (Kevin W)

BWAHAHA, but predictable:

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

96% of US Hospital Websites Share Visitor Info With Meta, Google, Data Brokers Guardian

Imperial Collapse Watch

Blood, chaos and decline: these are the fruits of unbridled western hubris Guardian (Kevin W)

East German history Crooked Timber (JB). GM, who knows a bit about life in the old Warsaw Pact, might disagree.


Arab Comedian EVISCERATES Vote-Shaming Liberals YouTube . DLG, Reality Czar: “Sometimes, what one can use most in life is a good potty-mouthed rant about the horrid state of U.S. politics. Kit Cabello does so in classic Chicago expletive-laden style.”

Democrats used campaign funds to pay Biden’s lawyers – media RT (Kevin W)

Biden hikes cost of drilling on federal lands as Trump courts oil donors Washington Post (furzy)


Trump seeks to give boost to RFK Jr. The Hill

Louisiana High Court: It’s Priests’ “Right” Not to Be Sued for Abuse New Republic (furzy). I don’t see how this would survive a Supreme Court challenge….but that assumes someone has the gas to get there and the Court agrees to hear the case.

Our No Longer Free Press

‘Foolishness’: How Baltimore bridge conspiracy theories obscured facts Scripps (furzy). Get your smelling salts. I don’t recall seeing any of these on Twitter and I was searching. Plus “Tens of millions of views” is actually not that many (this itty bitty site gets ~1.5 million a month) particularly given that on FB and Twitter, at least half are probably bots.

Police State Watch

FBI director warns of potential terrorist attack against US Scripps (furzy). How convenient that this alert comes as the FISA warrant authority renewal is in play.

The Silver or the Lead: How White Collar Crime Prosecutors Get Punished Matt Stoller (Dr. Kevin)


Apple Loses Bid To Throw Out UK Lawsuit Over App Store Fees Reuters


AI’s ‘mad cow disease’ problem tramples into earnings season Yahoo (furzy)

Many AI Products Still Rely on Humans To Fill the Performance Gaps Bloomberg. Just like those self-driving cars!

Algorithmic Management in Scientific Research SSRN. Paul R: “Replace the CEO with a computer!”

Global economy now has its own ‘Three-Body Problem’ Asia Times (Kevin W). This is bogus. Assumes that any economy is tractable, model-or-policy wise.

Class Warfare

DeSantis OKs law forbidding local governments from setting heat-exposure rules for workers Orlando Sentinel

Dollar stores are shutting down across America. They did this to themselves CNN (Kevin W)

Antidote du jour. Cheryl K: “Baby vicuña in the Pampas, Argentina.”

And a bonus (Chuck L):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Antifa

    (melody borrowed from Closing Time by Semisonic)

    White flag time — Russia won this war
    No more missiles or shells to hurl
    White flag time — Ukraine’s 4-0-4
    There’s no such place as that in this world

    White flag time — terms are unconditional
    So stack up your rifles and gear
    White flag time — these trenches that you call home
    Are gone — you can’t stay here

    All of us are weary to the bone
    This is where the winds of war have blown
    Blood soaked black earth waiting to be sown
    Blood and stones

    White flag time — there can be no doubt now
    That your day of release has come
    Some of you’ll go home as you’re hoping
    But it’s jail for Banderista scum

    So throw away your helmets line up by the barracks
    There is nothing here to defend
    White flag time — Mother Russia winning
    Means a world where we can live as friends yeah!

    All of us are weary to the bone
    This is where the winds of war have blown
    Blood soaked black earth waiting to be sown
    Blood and stones

    (musical interlude)

    White flag time — this war was a blowout
    The whole thing was just really dumb

    All of us are weary to the bone
    This is where the winds of war have blown
    Blood soaked black earth waiting to be sown
    Blood and stones

    All of us are weary to the bone
    This is where the winds of war have blown
    Blood soaked black earth waiting to be sown
    Blood and stones

    White flag time — Mother Russia winning
    Means a world where we can live as friends

    1. griffen

      Well done on the lyrics. That song became like a particular type of earworm, try as I might I know most of the words despite not interested or intending to do so.

      Songs from a misspent younger man’s life…but mostly fun, no matter my dour mood (at times) in recalling the middle to late 1990s. I had nearly nothing but the skies were bright and I was ready to report into the ranks of corporate America.

  2. The Rev Kev

    ‘Sharmine Narwani
    🤣🤣The French frigate “FREMM” has abandoned the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, according to French sources.’

    They are receiving a bit of flak for getting out of dodge but it would have been worse if they had stuck around and been hit by an anti-ship missile or a drone. Politically it would have been devastating for Macron. Thing is, if the French Navy could not stand up to Ansarallah in Yemen, then how is the French Army supposed to stand up against the Russian Army in the Ukraine?

    1. Pat

      I’m sure the same could be said of the US. We just aren’t as honest about running out of weapons and ammo.

      Oh hell we aren’t honest about much of anything anymore.

    2. Emma

      Give the French some credit. They have vast experience in tucking tail and running, and they’re really good at it!

      1. Anonymous 2

        Oh, please.

        Combining WW1 and WW2, France suffered nearly 2 million dead. Did any other ‘Western’ country suffer as many casualties fighting in these wars (I exclude the Germans because of course they were on the ‘wrong side’)?

        I assume you are not French? I am sorry but I am tired of cheap shots 80 years on from citizens of countries who kept out of the way much of the time during these wars and suffered far fewer casualties as a result.

        France was overrun by the Germans in 1940 for a number of reasons including because the British, who had not prepared for a land war, were unable to deliver the necessary support and left the scene at Dunkirk. The US, of course, was not even present then.

        1. IMOR

          BIG thumbs up for your first two paragraphs. Any staff and army that outlasted the Germans at Verdun has no apologies to make.
          Cause and effect jjmbled at the last, there, but kudos for pushing back!

        2. Emma

          Sheesh, take it as a complement. They left Algeria and Vietnam when they were clearly unwinnable, rather hang on to the bitter end to please arms merchants and militarists. Ditto withdrawing from Niger and other Sahel countries peacefully. Good on em!

          WWI was a pointless inter-imperialist war between Germany and England/Russia over the corpse of the Ottoman Empire, so all those brave Frenchmen died for nothing. They surrendered without a real fight in WWII because the French elites were much comfortable collaborating with Nazis than going to total war with the Left. So…meh.

          1. Mikel

            By the end of part 2, none of the allies really had any problem with fascism. The problem was the fascist regime they couldn’t control. Industrialists and financiers couldn’t stomach the thought of red.

        3. steppenwolf fetchit

          Colonel Lang often made a version of this point at his Sic Semper Tyrannis blog. He noted how the French Naval Intervention during the Battle of Yorktown permitted the American forces to win the land part of that battle. Some historical gratitude might seem indicated.

          Also, the reason for the fighting and the quality of the fighting are two different things. The French stand at Verdun may have been for no good ultimate reason, but it was not a tuck-of-tail and a running.

      2. c_heale

        Just like the Americans and the British. Remember Vietnam, Afganistan, Dunkirk. The UK ran away from its empire, too.

    3. yep

      They are not receiving flak for getting out of dodge, but for being too cocky. Roosters have testicles required for backing up the noise they make. Chickens don’t.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I still think that militarily it was the correct decision to make. This was not a hill worth dying on. The Danes did not get this sort of flak when they pulled their ship out.

        1. yep

          There is no doubt about that. If they were smart, they would have never gone there in the first place. But they did, because they are not smart but cocky. That’s why it’s funny. :)

          1. The Rev Kev

            It’s all fun and games shooting missiles at helpless, third world countries where you only have guys running around in sandals and carrying AK-47s. That is, until you discover that those very same guys have ballistic missiles, drones, anti-ship missiles, guided missiles as well as the guts not to back down or let themselves be bribed. That kinda takes the fun out of it all.

            1. juno mas

              Yes, the Houti’s are the quintessential asymmetrical warriors: access to premier stand-off weapons, determination, and no expensive infrastructure to target. They’ve lured the US military into a rope-a-dope strategy: expensive military assets wasted on inconsequential targets.

        2. vao

          The Danish ship had to return to its home port because its armament did not work!

          At least the French had their ship in working order.

    4. Skip Intro

      They mention using various systems to ward off the increasingly accurate attacks, and their cost. They didn’t say whether they had run out of missiles yet.
      Meanwhile in Ukraine, the French are just supposed to be killed in order to provoke some outraged escalation from the west. They should have no problem with that task.

    5. scott s.

      Well if the FREMM-design Alsace did expend all its anti-air ordnance, then it is a matter of logistics and clearly NATO doesn’t have sustainment capabilities in the Red Sea / Gulf of Aden.

      1. digi_owl

        Yeah i got that impression from the US struggles in the area, the logistics are simply not in place to maintain a sustained presence.

        For that they need several ships that can rotate, a port nearby for refueling and rearming, and perhaps a airstrip to speed up resupplying the port in turn.

  3. Ben Panga

    Not yet listened, but the latest episode of Philip Pilkington’s “Multipolarity” looks intriguing. Although I find Pilkington and his co-host a little smug, I usually learn a little.

    “This month, Kim Jong Un unveiled a Bond-villain-like missile with an extending tip.

    On that tip was what looks to be a hypersonic glide vehicle.

    A hypersonic glide vehicle is the real deal. They’re extremely fast. They can manoeuvre at those high speeds. And we don’t yet know if it’s possible to shoot them down.

    On paper, this means that North Korea has more advanced potentially-nuclear missiles than the West.

    On paper, this is bad news.

    But the story gets worse.

    It was almost certainly given to them by the Chinese or the Russians.


    Could North Korea be the vehicle to do for the East China Sea what the Houthis have done for the Red Sea? Undermining US power, and leaving America’s regional allies – in this case Japan and South Korea – scrambling for new, more multipolar patterns of allegiances”

    1. ilsm

      Japan’s long range missile defense depends on US Aegis ships, which Japan owns too FEW. US Navy provides the “rest of the needed picket” ships.

      These ships if lucky can intercept missiles in mid course, which would defeat the hyper-sonic glide vehicles if not yet deployed from the last stage rocket.

      Close in defense is Patriot or such which will likely be defeated by hyper-sonics.

      Japan needs at least 2 radars similar to large US deployed warning systems, and has not ordered the newest ones available from at least 2 US suppliers.

      Japan needs an alternative to expensive defenses profiting the USA contractors.

      Maybe try peace!

    2. Louis Fyne

      If Yoon and Kishida stayed strictly neutral re. Ukraine, Russia would have stayed restrained re. North Korea.

      Since Team Kishida-Yoon hitched their wagon to theAmerican flaming dumpster fire, JP-SK lost all input re. Russian diplomacy w/NK.

      tit for tat. what is so hard to comprehend for DC?

      1. The Rev Kev

        South Korea shipping out all that 155mm ammo to Europe was a spectacular own goal. With that they made an enemy of Russia and now Russia – and China – are bringing in North Korea in from the cold and will not only help it escape those stifling UN sanctions but will probably help develop that country. So hopefully starvation is not something that they will have to contend with again but for South Korea, it will be nothing but an ongoing headache.

        1. Wukchumni


          Underestimate the potential of the Great Shell Leap Forward at your own risk, with consumers tasked with producing 3D printed 155mm shells in backyard MMIC (Mini-Military-Industrial-Complex) factories.

    1. LawnDart

      To my understanding, Huawei has been tasked by China’s government to provide continuous 5G/6G coverage to an altitude of at least 3000M to enable what is being called “the low-altitude economy.” Basically, this will be utilized for the automated air-traffic control of drones (and other aircraft) over urban areas, where “dead-spots” could pose some problems. It is a huge, high-priority project.

      Personally, I feel that their new campus is a lot more humane and people-friendly than the corporate labor camps that sprawl across America’s suburbs and exurbs.

    2. bonks

      I don’t think they should continue emulating European architecture wholesale. There is so much to learn from just The Forbidden Palace alone; it is ornate yet well-balanced, grand yet elegant. China needs to look into its own historical architecture while defining its own version of modernity.

      Hotels like Amanyangyun and the Alilas in China were a good start.

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Survival of the nicest–

    Good book review and an important antidote to a disabling “misconception” in the West. I don’t blame Darwin for it, but has there been a more harmful paradigm come to the fore since the Enlightenment than “survival of the fittest?”

    As the article points out, it has nothing to do with being “nice.” It’s really a matter of survival of what fits into an existing ecosystem. Everything is interdependent, and a long-term, system-wide harmony is the system goal. (What? Not profit?) Fritof Capra has been teaching this for decades.

    And Lao Tzu has taught it for centuries:

    The ten thousand things carry the yin on their shoulders
    and hold in their arms the yang,
    whose interplay of energy
    makes harmony.

    Tao te Ching #42 (Le Guin rendition

    1. NotThePilot

      Agree it’s always good to see push-back against the “Darwinian” bugbear. I’ve never read Darwin directly but I’m not sure he even emphasized competition as much as made out.

      It really is something that’s come up since modern biology ramped up a couple centuries ago though. I think Wallace described cooperative aspects of evolution and Kropotkin wrote Mutual Aid all the way back in 1902.

      What I find interesting (and I think I’ve commented on this here at NC before) is how the political implications sort of live on in current debates in evo-bio, particularly “selfish-gene” reductionists on one end vs. group selection advocates on the other.

      1. Albe Vado

        ‘Survival of the fittest’ isn’t a phrase that even originated with Darwin. Darwinian evolution is ‘survival of the fit enough’. It’s not about absolute dominance, it’s about carving out a good enough niche to enable survival until reproduction.

    2. Lefty Godot

      Evolution as a Religion by Mary Midgley has a good analysis of when some of these “social Darwinist” (and not really attributable to Darwin) ideas got into all the popular science versions of evolutionary theory. A very readable book.

    3. Carolinian

      All those early 20th social Darwinists must have used the Cliff Notes version of Darwin. The theory states that nature runs on the survival of the fittest species, not individuals. Of course individuals have offspring and therefore in nature competition between individuals is part of it. But there’s nothing in Darwin that says social impulses don’t exist and also thrive if they promote species dominance.

      The Nazis styled themselves as the evolved apex of evolution whereas their ultimate fate showed just the opposite. Some vain “exceptionalist” groups these days should look and learn.

      1. Mikel

        Wasn’t it more about adaptations to survive and not the BDSM type of dominance in the minds of Social Darwinists?

        1. Mikel

          I think may be on to something. Social Darwinism has more in common with fetishes (sexual and non-sexual) than with science. :)

    4. GramSci

      Modern woke editions omit Darwin’s alternate title: “or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” .

    5. Rory

      You don’t read so much about it any more, but I remember that a few years back (maybe 10 or more) there was a lot of talk about something called “socio-biology” as an explanation for a lot of human and other animal behavior. If preservation of the species is the foremost goat, then intra-species cooperation makes great sense.

    6. Adam Eran

      Also in this wheelhouse: Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman. Debunks the Lord of the Flies imaginings about what’s natural for humanity.

      The problem … The problem is whether niceness and cooperation can scale.

    7. Procopius

      Social Darwinism, i.e. survival of the most violent and ruthless, has nothing to do with science or Darwin. It’s a vicious ideology spawned by the Robber Barons in the late nineteenth century, to justify their preferred methods of plunder and rapine. Beloved of bullies. Nobody who understands how evolution works believes in it. Of course, that means a lot of credentialed people do believe in it.

  5. upstater

    Who says we can’t have nice things in the US… Sometime between 2030 and 2033, you’ll be able to ride California’s HSR between Merced and Bakersfield at 220 mph! If you want to go to LA, perhaps there will be connecting bus service. On the north end, it only takes 3:40 and 2 connections to get to Oakland.

    California High-Speed Rail board approves Request for Proposals for trainsets

    Maybe President Gavin Newscum will be able to cut the ribbon in his second term. Maybe by 2050 and half a trillion dollars you might be able to go from SF to LA. Maybe.

    1. Emma

      As a radical solution for resolving America’s infrastructure woes. Have we considered just surrendering to the Chinese? White imperialists are always so fond of telling the natives how they brought wonderful infrastructure and civilization. Why not take a break and enjoy receiving that in return?

      If we do it now, Baltimore could probably get a new impact resistant bridge by Christmas and we can have an affordable national HSR system by 2033.

      Also, we do have an infestation of billionaires meddling in politics. Maybe they can help us with that?

      1. Bugs

        The Vietnamese crooked billionaire solution is the way to go. As Lambert says, they don’t **** around.

      2. gk

        More modestly, how about surrendering to Spain or Italy? I expect high-speed trains from Italy to Kufstein (via the longest tunnel in the world) by around 2030.

    2. Wukchumni

      China can build high speed rail all over the country, on time and efficiently done, while we can’t even do HSR from Chinatown in LA to Chinatown in SF.

      Bakersfield to Merced approximates the borders of Godzone, our intrastate bible belt of sorts.

      I can also appreciate the great need to go by Fresno as fast as humanly possible on a choo-choo, I get it. The best thing about the place has always been its airport with its kitschy fake Giant Sequoias just before you go through the security gate. Really user-friendly and you don’t have to park a million miles away, and the best thing is its the quickest way to flee yourself.

      1. Benny Profane

        “China can build high speed rail all over the country, on time and efficiently done, while we can’t even do HSR from Chinatown in LA to Chinatown in SF.”

        Because privately owned property.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Also, existing infrastructure and track beds. HSR requires wider tracks and is heavier. Cities built right up to track beds. High speed lines would need of get rid of a track or cut into more than just private property.

          1. Benny Profane

            Right. Take the Acela line. In lower Fairfield county, Ct., alone, they would have to widen the corridor through some of the most valuable real estate in the country, maybe the world. The eminent domain court battles would make it impossible. A lot of good lawyers live there. Now, stretch that out from DC to Boston.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Just for fun even if you ignored the private property issue, the next problem is actual infrastructure in cities. Sewer, water, gas, and electric are all built right up to the track beds. You can’t just lay down tracks over these either. The HSR tracks are too heavy.

              There are places in DC that need changes to allow double stacking of existing trains. The Potomac is a mess to build across at least where everything is (sorry, metro is never going into PWC). Right now, the trains basically have to unload and reload when the track beds could handle much more. It’s just those improvements aren’t as much fun as going from Berlin to Paris.

              The real problem in the US is sprawl. Getting to city A from B is relatively easy. It’s when you get close where you have a problem. HSR would have to slow down so much to alleviate the real problem as it approached local stops it defeats the purpose of HSR. Trolleys and the development of forgotten urban cores such as Cleveland and Buffalo. No one ever wants to run HSR there though. Then there are zoning laws too. Most 3 or 4 level condo type buildings should simply be required to go up a level.

              The solution in cities like Boston is assisting movement to places like Lowell and bringing back the old short lines and building up. The other issue isn’t so much that people in Boston need to get to Philadelphia as much as people who don’t have access to a major city need access to a major city.

              1. Phenix

                Thank you for the more thorough response. China has taken advantage of being the last to the game. They are able to implement the newest technology and skip over all the issues that arise when making changes in established infrastructure.

                1. Benny Profane

                  It’s easier for the Chinese because the state, or party, own and fund the infrastructure.The transformation over the past forty years never would have happened if that wasn’t true.Even all those empty condo towers were products of local planning and “investment”.

    3. Louis Fyne

      In America, the bulk of rail money should be directed to light rail, airport-city rail, or commuter rail (service between a city center and a bedroom town 50 iles away to make long commutes feasible from areas w/lower home prices)

      inter-city service only works in the northeast and maybe a few discrete cases like south Florida or Dallas – Houston.

      not holding my breath. peeps keep chasing the “build it and they will come” mega-project windmills.

      1. Emma

        Is it though? Somehow 19th century America had no problem building rail through the West and using it to connect the tiny by current standards populations. The Chinese have built HSR through sparsely populated mountainous regions to connect cities like Urumoqi and Lhasa to the rest of the country, and that easy connection is now driving hundreds of millions of tourists to those “remote” locations.

        Everywhere I drive to in North America, I see congested roads and highways. It seems like an unmet need to me.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The congested highways and roads are overwhelmingly intracity traffic. The idea of shopping in NYC and going to Chicago for random reasons in the same day has appeal, it doesn’t get people and trucks off the road.

        2. yep

          19th century America had no problem building rail through the West, because Chinese were doing it. :)

        3. griffen

          Well that somehow in the mid 19th century was tied to Congress acting to aid the building of a trans national rail system, and the original plan of doing so was for export and bulk commercial transportation. Overall there were fortunes built , lost or fleeced from many of the investing public. Jay Gould was particularly adept at advancing his interest in rail based securities vs a giant like Vanderbilt.

          I read an interesting book on the post Civil War era and the rise of economic titans or barons if you would. Covers a lot of this territory, The Tycoons. As it later turned out the rail system proved to be a veritable boon to mass retail, by example in the early days of a Sears and Roebuck.

          Today…yeah we’re getting subsidized incentives for a bevy of EV vehicles that American consumer tastes are not there as yet to accept en masse. Added thought, seemingly we can’t even agree that a national effort to solidify the electricity grid is long term worthwhile.

          1. Objective Ace

            >a bevy of EV vehicles that American consumer tastes are not there as yet to accept en masse

            I don’t think it’s taste. It’s that replacement batteries can cost the price of a new car

        4. ex-PFC Chuck

          Richard White, the author of Railroaded: The Transcontinental’s and the Making of Modern America, Would beg to differ that it went all that smoothly. Take for example this excerpt from the books introduction:

          “These men – Jay Cooke, J Gould, Thomas Scott, Collis P Huntington, Leland Stanford, James J Hill, John Murray Forbes, Henry Villard, and others – are hardly historical strangers, and they have usually been portrayed as bigger than life. . . They were, however, not that smart. Many were clever enough at soliciting money and not repaying debts. The shrewdest of them were masters at controlling and manipulating information. We have their equivalents today. . . With perhaps the exception of Gould, there is a Sorcerer’s Apprentice quality to them. . . This Sorcerer’s Apprentice quality is why I find them so interesting, and so important. They at least gestured toward one of the mysteries of modernity. How, when powerful people can on close examination seem so ignorant and inapt; how, when so much work is done stupidly, shoddily, haphazardly, and selfishly; how, then, does the modern world function at all? It is no wonder that religious people see the hand of God and economists invent the invisible hand. The transcontinental railroads are sometimes fetishized as the ultimate manifestation of modern rationality, but, when seen from within, these astonishingly mismanage railroads are the anteroom chemistry.” pg xxxii

    4. The Rev Kev

      Wouldn’t it be ironic if the US finally gave a Chinese firm the contract to build a high-speed rail from the east to the west coast. And when the Chinese director came out, that he let it slip in an interview that his great, great grandfather worked as a “coolie” on the first transcontinental railroad and was at Promontory Summit in 1869 to see it finished before returning to China-

      1. Splashoil

        The great Swedish mystery writer Henning Mankel wrote a prescient “The Man from Beijing” on this very historical topic.

    5. steppenwolf fetchit

      I would rather have fairly fast rail travel all over America than have a few HSPWE ( High Speed Prestige White Elephant) showcase railroads which won’t help very many people get to and from very many places anyway.

      If we turned the medians of all the Federal Interstate Highways into passenger-only fairly fast railroad lines, we could have fairly fast rail to and from many places. We could call it FedeRail. We could even call it Amtrak 2.0

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Farming robot kills 200,000 weeds per hour with lasers”

    Initially these laser machines were not popular with farmers as they could not hear them at work to tell if they were actually doing their job. But after the company added ‘pew! pew! pew!’ laser sound effects to those machines, those farmers were much more convinced and happy.

    This comment of mine reminds me of something I heard decades ago. The big Detroit car designers started to experiment with car doors so that they would close silently and not make that ‘chunk’ sound. Turns out when they tested it with people, it was highly unpopular as people wanted to hear that ‘chunk’ sound when they closed their car doors.

    1. .human

      One of my favorite sounds is the distintive “click” of high-end coachmakers mechanisms. Slamming car doors to that “chunk” is just so American.

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        Whether “click” or “chunk”, you want to hear something so you know the door is fully closed.

    2. digi_owl

      auditory and tactile feedback is something designers seem to overlook time and time again.

      1. Vandemonian

        Also important for electric vehicles. They can be quite a shock when you saunter across a minor road without paying close visual attention.

        1. digi_owl

          I seem to recall some concern about that from the blind, pondering if EVs needed to be fitted with an external noise maker or similar.

          Heck i have been spooked myself when a ICE car had its noise drowned out by others, and it passed my side view suddenly. This even though i was on a sidewalk and thus never in any real danger.

          Made me question the sanity of all those walking around with headphones and earbuds.

      1. digi_owl

        I think that is also in part to avoid clandestine photographing in locker rooms etc.

        Something that became a real problem once cameraphones hit the market.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I recall reading somewhere that vacuum cleaners designed for Japanese consumers are designed to run a quietly as possible. But vacuum cleaners designed for American consumers are designed to produce noise so that they sound like they are working hard.

      1. Reply

        Dishwasher dB levels mercifully are down, providing relief to stressed people after a day of noise everywhere. Vacuum cleaner sounds are obnoxious, as are so many other household appliances like blenders.
        Did they have to design flimsy housings and fittings that seem to magnify noises, just to save a few pennies on each one?
        Oh, yeah. :(

        Quiet is under-appreciated, or maybe needs a better publicist. :)

      2. Adam Eran

        “Americans are a primitive people disguised by the latest inventions” – George Santayana

    4. Pat

      Our kitchen cabinet doors shutting silently may be a good thing, but no one is then going to drive 55 miles an hour and have their dishes fall out when the door swings open. I want something that tells me the door has shut securely without me having to push on it to check.

      1. digi_owl

        Heh, yeah i recall seeing a video about something like that years back. From inside the car could sound like anything from a V8 to a fighter jet to a Star Trek shuttlecraft.

    5. Jamie

      Pew pew pew made me laugh. When was a kid, the best money I ever made was pulling weeds, aka “rogueing wheat”. Had a friend, whose father owned a massive wheat farm. Got up at 3a every day for the month before harvest, to hand pull Canadian thistle. Crew would quit by noon, because of the heat.

  7. timbers

    Russia and China lift sanction on North Korea and agree on joint actions/sanctions against Europe

    Is this a collective Block? Will there be a Collect East? A New & Improved International Rules Based Order that The West will need to follow? How will one collective Block deal with another collective Block? Will there be a North Atlantic And Pacific Treaty Organization (NAAPTO)? Or will it be North Atlantic and Pacific and Arctic Treaty Organization (NAAPAATO).

    On the battlefield, Dima at Military Summary reports “generals” in Ukraine say things are so bad that withdrawing Ukraine forces back behind the Dnieper will need to happen sometime in the summer. If true, about 40% of Ukraine will be in Russian hands.

    Russian Representative to the United Nations…

    “Very soon the only topic for any international meetings on Ukraine will be the unconditional capitulation of the Kiev regime. I advise you all to prepare for this in advance.”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You seem to have missed that Russia and China issued a 5,000 word statement about their “closer than an alliance” relationship on Feb. 1, 2022.

    2. Captain Obvious

      Withdrawing Ukraine forces back behind the Dnieper, means retreating from Kiev and other cities on the river (and turning them into Kherson, which is a ghost town now). Russian tanks entering capital usually means game over in wars.

        1. Captain Obvious

          Kherson city is not empty from fear of flooding (dam is gone, and the opposite coast is lower) but because it’s on the frontline (on the right bank, which is north/west bank). Artillery shells, and missiles, and drones, have no problem with rivers and flying over them.

          Russians taking whole left bank of Dnieper river, means Ukrainians evecuating 20km (or maybe even more) wide belt all along th right bank. That would lead to a total collapse, unless EU takes most of them.

  8. JohnA

    Re East German history
    “They were also leading a ruined society, occupied by Soviet troops, with few natural resources and where, in contrast to the West, the victorious occupying power indulged in reparatory plunder rather than development aid.”

    This is somewhat disingenuous. The US was relatively unscathed by the war, no invasion, no bombings, no destruction or desperate sieges and countless millions of deaths and disabling injuries. The Soviet Union had to rebuild and simply did not have the resources to offer a kind of Marshall Plan to east Germany, which, while providing aid for economic recovery, was also a means for the US to secure geopolitical influence over western Europe.

    1. Polar Socialist

      The main purpose of the Marshall plan was to provide Germany (and other European countries) with dollars, so that they could buy stuff from USA. Otherwise, it was assumed, the Great Depression would return as soon as the military spending diminished.

      And of course, should Europe find a way to rebuild without USA (as it was bound to do), it would most certainly not need stuff from USA but compete with USA on the world stage.

      1. digi_owl

        I think there was also the fear that if western Europe was left to languish, there would be communist led uprisings happening.

        Lots of guns floating around, and people with resistance experience after all. And some of those resistance groups had communist leanings from the outset.

          1. ambrit

            There was, and probably still is a significant Greek diaspora in the ‘Stans of Central Asia. Many ‘refugees’ from the Greek Civil War were sent to Russia by the Greek Communists. Those people were housed in camps in the desert regions of the old Soviet State.

        1. Polar Socialist

          That narrative that was generated to get the economic support for Europe (specifically for UK in 1947) to pass US congress.

          At first the Truman government tried to be honest stating that the purpose of a huge loan they wanted to grant for UK was to prevent UK from becoming a center for competing economic block, but that didn’t really win any minds in Congress. Only after senator Arthur Vanderberg came up with the idea that the money was needed for preventing the communists taking over in UK, the loan was approved.

          1. hemeantwell

            To buff up your point, it was Senator Vanderberg who said “we have to scare the hell out of the American people” to goose developing Cold War dynamics. It’s interesting to speculate whether that could have been done then if there was anything like the profusion of alternative news sources and analysis and the horizontal communication options we, at least for the present, now have.

      2. Martin Oline

        A lot of money for the CIA’s secret activities was laundered through the Marshall Plan, including funding the Italian fascists and Greek monarchists. See the book Legacy of Ashes for more information.

    2. Wukchumni

      Was watching this effort by the USSR in 1978 and narrated by my favorite actor Burt Lancaster, a 20 part series similar to World At War, and in one of the episodes of postwar Kiev, it didn’t look anything different than any old bombed out Germany city that had been on the receiving end of a catastrophe.

      The Soviets had to rebuild it all, could that be a reason why Moscow has been hesitant to lay waste to it, been there-done that.

      That power plant they blowed up real good the other day, was a chunk of change both ways, with everything needing to be rebuilt.

      They could of done it anytime in the last couple of years, why now?

      The Unknown War (TV documentary). Part 1. June 22, 1941.

      1. Benny Profane

        “They could of done it anytime in the last couple of years, why now?”

        Because Putin has deliberately tried to fight this war in the most humane way he could. At the beginning of the conflict he and Lavrov did a lot of outreach to the non western world trying to make them understand why they invaded, and arguing that they weren’t out to massacre and genocide the Ukrainians, and hoping that the Nazis would finally capitulate, but, now that the Nazis have turned into terrorists attacking Russian civilians, gloves coming off. Putin the other day was asked why he didn’t destroy power plants this last winter, and he said he didn’t because of humanitarian reasons. He also doesn’t need the reconstruction costs, of course, when it comes to bombing Kiev and Kharkiv, both of which seem to be attractive cities, if you check out Google pix. I’m pretty sure our neicons would love to see both cities in ruins, along with Odessa, just to say, “See? See what a homicidal maniac Putin is?” They’re still working on it.

      2. Neckmann

        I read a comment at Moon Of Alabama that Russia announced all six reactors at Zaporhozhia NPP are now in cold shutdone. Therefore no need to stay connected to the Ukrainian power grid. Perhaps then no need for the Ukranian power grid at all.

    3. vao

      That same article includes the following statement regarding the coffee crisis in the GDR:

      Such was the disgust provoked that the East Germans engaged in one of the most successful programmes of development aid in history, creating the Vietnamese coffee industry from scratch (the world’s second-largest producer) in order to satisfy domestic consumption.

      Under French rule, Indochina was already exporting coffee (to France and China) — though admittedly producing much less than other French African colonies, and much, much, much less than Brazil (that represented 65.6% of the world production in the decade preceding WWII).

      The Vietnamese coffee industry was therefore not “created from scratch” — more correctly “re-created” from what remained after the disruptions of WWII, 1st, and 2nd Indochina wars.

    4. Carolinian

      The article says we are becoming more like East Germany even as our elites push the democracy versus dictatorship line. Some of us agree and think that if Biden could make himself the new Stalin he would be happy as a clam.

      Of course for all his ruthlessness Stalin was a lot smarter than Biden.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Actually we have improved on East Germany-

        ‘By the time that East Germany collapsed in 1989, the Stasi employed 91,015 employees and 173,081 informants. About one out of every 63 East Germans collaborated with the Stasi.’

        But nowadays everybody has their own personal Stasi informant in their pocket or handbag. Progress!

      2. ArvidMartensen

        Almost anybody is smarter than Biden. That’s what makes him so appealing to the people who really run the show.

  9. LawnDart

    Re; Survival of the nicest

    I came across a good companion piece to this yesterday, just substitute mathematics for biology– the presentation makes it easy to understand.

    The Evolution of Trust

    Game theory has shown us the three things we need for the evolution of trust:
    1. REPEAT INTERACTIONS: Trust keeps a relationship going, but you need the knowledge of possible future repeat interactions before trust can evolve.
    2. POSSIBLE WIN-WINS: You must be playing a non-zero-sum game, a game where it’s at least possible that both players can be better off — a win-win.
    3. LOW MISCOMMUNICATION: If the level of miscommunication is too high, trust breaks down. But when there’s a little bit of miscommunication, it pays to be more forgiving.

      1. LawnDart

        Thank you for your thanks– my aim is to please.

        I feel that the creators of that piece did a wonderful job, so more thanks to them. It would find a good home in a high school sociology class, in my opinion.

        I’ve bookmarked it for my own future use.

  10. The Rev Kev

    The French military deployed CAESAR self-propelled guns to Slavyansk.
    The brigade artillery group includes 12 to 15 wheeled howitzers and auxiliary Renault trucks. The equipment was stored at the Starokramatorsky Machine-Building Plant from Dnepropetrovsk.’

    If the French are sending in CAESAR self-propelled guns, that is a pretty big investment for them. They are ramping up production of them in France but even then, it takes about 18 months for them to manufacture each one. And the Russians have proven time and again that those CAESARs burn pretty well-

    1. ambrit

      The real story here is that, if they really are sending French Foreign Legion troops into the Ukraine to man these howitzers, then France is de facto at war with Russia. That might have been the underlying reason why the French frigate moved out of the Red Sea. The Russians might have warned the French that Russia will “help” the Houthies all they can to sink French naval assets, after the Foreign Legion enters the Ukraine.
      This is getting interesting.

    2. IMOR

      There were some CAESAR in place in Ukraine very early on. The open public natute of this and the gonest admission of official French troops feployetd in-country to opetate them is what’s diffetent…
      …and what guarantees their speedy elimination, per recent Putin statements.

    3. Albe Vado

      That production time is beyond insane. In WW2 the average production time for an entire tank, once the teething problems had been worked out and production was in full swing, was about two weeks.

      I get that modern weapons are more complex, but they’re not that much more complex. It should not take a year and a half to make what is essentially a big truck with a cannon strapped to the back. Evidently the French are not anymore serious people when it comes to weapons manufacturing than are Americans. It’s as much a grifting parasite industry as anything in the US.

      I don’t want it to happen (if it did it would escalate and we’d all die), but an actual, full-scale open war against western Europe would eventually do away with all these supposed bottlenecks and much of the grifting as necessity focused minds and expectations. Suddenly people would rediscover it doesn’t actually take months and months and months to weld and bolt together a truck.

      1. The Rev Kev

        They actually got that production time down to 18 months whereas before it was 44 months aka three years and eight months.

  11. The Rev Kev

    Re the Vicuña in the Antidote du jour. Never even heard of them before but that fawn looks very cute. And it seems that Vicuña wool is some of the finest in the world-

    ‘Vicuñas produce small amounts of extremely fine wool, which is very expensive because the animal can only be shorn every three years and has to be caught from the wild. When knitted together, the product of the vicuña’s wool is very soft and warm. The Inca valued vicuñas highly for their wool, and it was against the law for anyone but royalty to wear vicuña garments; today, the vicuña is the national animal of Peru and appears on the Peruvian coat of arms.’

    1. bonks

      It is still a garment for the elite class. A Vicuña sweater from Loro Piana retails from $8000 and up.

      1. The Rev Kev

        That Wikipedia article also notes that-

        ‘In 2022, the Argentine government’s National Council for Scientific and Technical Investigation estimated that “Andean communities receive around 3% of the value generated by the vicuña fiber chain.” ‘

    2. Big Farmer

      and boy after today’s links do we need an antidote—we live in an Orwellian world: surveillance, thought police, war mongering in the name of exporting a democracy that we do not have, long Covid…

    3. B24S

      In 1975, I travelled to Ecuador and Peru for the purpose of buying woven goods for resale. From Otavalo, Ecuador, to Cuzco, Peru, I bought chompas (belted sweaters), socks, gloves, blankets, shoulders bags, etc. (and managed to get almost completely ripped off by a “friend” upon return to the USA).

      Llama wool is somewhat coarse. Alpaca is much softer, and Vicuña is a magnitude softer yet, rather luxurious even. There was no commercial Vicuña trade then, the little things were too endangered at the time.

      When I left Peru, Customs inspected my goods to ensure there was no Vicuña in them, as it was mui contrabando. US Customs was only interested in powdery substances; I got strip searched for the offense of a Coca leaf I was using as a bookmark.

      My grandmother, a textile designer, had traveled a similar route after WWII, before moving to India to work for their cottage industries program for the rest of her life. So I brought my mother a sample of pieces, and we compared them to what her mother had returned with decades earlier. The designs and patterns were surprisingly similar over the years.

      But where my pieces might have sections of “soft” Alpaca between the coarser Llama wool, my grandmothers’ pieces had Vicuña.

    4. icancho

      This looks more like a young guanaco, aka chulengo.
      Vicuñas don’t live anywhere near the Pampas, but up in the altiplano.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That is a pretty big message from the Chinese. They are saying that it does not matter if you are only from a small country, we will treat you with the respect that we would give for a major country. in other words, for the Chinese all countries are entitled to equal respect.

      The leader of Micronesia may have only gotten to meetup with a 3rd-tier bureaucrat in DC but if Hillary was still SecState, he would have not even gotten that without a hefty donation to the Clinton Foundation. And the bigger the donation, the higher the tier of leader that you would have been able to see.

      1. Adam Eran

        Disrespect is kind of the point of Empire. If you disrespect your children, they’re adept at becoming cannon fodder–why else would they put up with a drill sergeant?

        Disrespect small nations–“we can coup who we want” [in Bolivia], says The Elon–and you throw your weight around like a bully in international affairs.

        It doesn’t take much thinking to realize this is a strategy that plants blowback wherever it’s used… but it’s the Amurrican way!

      2. vao

        That is a pretty big message from the Chinese.

        It actually is a double message: the other part, unambiguously conveyed to the visitor by the official pageantry with lines of soldiers, flags, colossal venue, etc, is that China is a true super-power.

  12. griffen

    OJ Simpson…yeah I saw that in a text thread yesterday. Here is some useful advice, albeit post mortem for the deceased former NFL great. You lived much of your life after 1995 as a mostly free man, except for that loony episode in Vegas to reclaim your collectibles. Eternity may be a little less kind, if there exists a thing called karma.

    Respectfully I’m hoping the Goldman family and Brown family can finally rest now that the man is dead. To my knowledge they never received much after a civil trial ruled that Simpson owed them north of $30 million.

    1. Benny Profane

      I don’t know. Nine years in prison is not really “mostly free man” territory.

      1. griffen

        Yeah I’m sure it wasn’t a trip to Club Med or the Henry Hill depiction from Goodfellas. This is why I did suggest it was mostly free post 1995, following the results from the double murder trial and the massive TV coverage labeled Trial of the Century.

        Let me think a little more on the calendar year math & I might come back to that.

      1. griffen

        Now my mind can not help but wonder, how a few instances in say the past 15 to 20 years have proliferated with the aid of the interwebs and say a once small but stealthy report organization like a TMZ. Most of my thoughts will generate more direct from my sports knowledge.

        – Michael Vick and the pit bull / dog fighting training
        – Duke lacrosse scandal ( “preppy” Duke players made a nice, easy target )
        – Aaron Hernandez murder allegations
        – Persistent rape allegations in the Baylor football program
        – Penn State and Jerry Sandusky

        People can be so weird. And at the worse, revolting.

        1. Wukchumni

          We were pitched news in only a few ways, with magazines still having impact even though being the slowest knowledge transit route.

          Immediacy often came from the radio, with TV hot on its heels, followed by newspapers-always a day short with the news.

          I remember the dribs and the drabs that emerged from the OJ saga, only wanted to make you want to know more, and old media was the perfect conduit, slowly doling it out.

        2. Mikel

          I put Sandusky in the same camp as the latest high profile traffickers because I don’t all the young boys were for him only.

        3. Milton

          From Wikipedia:
          Former Green Bay Packer Randall Brent Woodfield was dubbed the I-5 Killer or the I-5 Bandit by the media due to the crimes he committed along the Interstate 5 corridor running through Washington, Oregon and California. Before his capture, Woodfield was suspected of multiple sexual assaults and murders. Though convicted in only one murder, he has been linked to a total of eighteen murders and is suspected of having killed up to as many as 44 people.

        4. Belle

          It’s worth noting that two of those scandals had links to prominent Republicans, namely Joe Paterno (Penn State) and Ken Starr (Baylor). Add in the scandals involving the Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, Independent Fundamentalist Baptists, and Institute for Basic Life Principles, along with the Bob Jones University and Patrick Henry College scandals, it’s clear that right-wing beliefs are more than willing to ignore sexual scandals, at least if it involves them.

          1. griffen

            Yes the hypocrisy on display in modern organizations is seemingly without end. One recent example I had neglected to include was the debacle from the competitive field of women’s gymnastics…ie, Michigan State…

            As a child and teenager I was raised in an independent fundamental Baptist church, of a few varied brands of church. I can tell you nothing of the like ( aka, no widening scandals of abuse or financial chicanery) occurred there, aside from modern humans not always finding church life compatible to one another ( mostly from interpersonal relationship differences ). No one lives in glass houses after all.

    2. Roger Blakely

      Yves placed this Babylon Bee post as the second link on the list, and it caused me to snort some coffee out of my nose.

    3. Adam Eran

      I’d suggest karma is, in mathematical terms, chaotic. Tiny changes to initial conditions produce dramatic effects. A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon, and, through a series of interactions with the weather, produces a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.

      In OJ’s case, playing a brutal sport (30% of those who play get brain injuries) may have made brutal solutions to personal problems at least believable.

      So (in contrast to Ellen, who would humiliate and scare guests on her show)…Be kind to one another.

  13. CanCyn

    Really torn about the baby elephant video. I have no doubt that elephants are in trouble and need human help and no doubt that tourist dollars are needed for that help. And much as I’d love to cuddle with a baby elephant, the video is adorable I think it would be much better if we just sent money and watched from afar.

    1. Ben Panga

      You are being too generous I think. That looks very much like one of the old school tourist trap elephant parks in Thailand. The parks, mainly in the North, do not care for the elephants; they train them by beating from an age younger than the guy in the video.

      Similarly, any elephant park that features elephants playing football or doing any tricks like painting or whatever also uses beating to train the elephants. Elephants would not otherwise do such things.

      There are lots of elephants in Thailand that are in bad situations, partly because they are no longer useful as beasts of burden, partly because they are used in tourism then discarded. Often they get sold to unscrupulous tourist parks.

      I’d recommend caution and research before deciding where to donate to.

      There are a couple of more progressive elephant parks but they don’t generally let humans play, especially with young elephants. At most they allow joining bath time with adolescent elephants. These centers take in distressed elephants, often transporting them at fair expense across the country. They can be visited, and very much appreciate donations

      1. CanCyn

        Thanks for this response. I have no doubt that you’re right. It is kind of a cognitive dissonance thing for me – can’t help but be moved by an elephant calf seeming to have fun but the other part of me knows that this interaction is probably not the result of good treatment and care.

        1. Ben Panga

          I understand completely CanCyn. Your instinctive reaction of joy shows empathy and love, nothing wrong with that!

          It’s a shame we have to be suspicious of such beautiful seeming videos.

  14. Captain Obvious

    Survival of the nicest: have we got evolution the wrong way round? Nature (Dr. Kevin)

    What kind of people write these articles? Survival of the fittest never meant survival of bullies that terrorize everyone around and are “hardwired for conflict with one another”. It was never about physical fittest (though more muscles are usually helpful), but about fitting in the environment and adopting to changes in it. I understood that even as a teenager, very long time ago, and thought it was obvious.

    Fundamentally, Silvertown proposes, cooperation in each of these situations stems from selfishness. Animals did not evolve to act for the benefit of their species, but to spread their own genes. Cooperation happens because mutual benefits are better, biologically speaking, than working alone, …

    I guess we have just discovered that social animals live in a society. We are yet to discover that some ants and bees do not spread their own genes, but give their own lives for the benefit of the society they will not live in, because they will be dead. That happens to be polar opposite of selfishness.

    Similarly to other organisms, our evolutionary heritage makes us social, but whether that sociality is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is a moral, not a scientific, question.

    Nonsense. Some things are scientifically ‘good’, or ‘bad’, because they benefit, or not, the society. In those cases moral codification happens after scientific one. For example, having sex with family members is immoral in most societies. Why? Because people have tried it, and it resulted in not-so-healthy kids. Back in the day people didn’t know what DNA is, but they did notice a pattern. Only after that, it became morally bad (unless you are a royalty :) ).

    1. Kouros

      What took the longest in the evolution of life was first the development of eucaryotic cells, which was a result of a merge between a bigger and a smaller procariotic cell, which became the mithocondria, thus leapfrogging the energetic potential of the host cell…

      Then was the development of multicelular organisms, which involved the cooperation of individual cells, which had to be nice with eachother…

      So yeah, these are prima facie examples of the “survival of the nicest”

      1. Kouros

        And the best example example of non-cooperation is… cancer, when the cancerous cells go all by themselves… and end up killing everyone, including themselves…

        Now that is a nice metaphor, eh?!

        1. Captain Obvious

          Yea. I wrote another paragraph about comparison with the current state of the World, but it made the comment way too long, so it had to go.

  15. CA

    Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

    No-one does gaslighting like John Kirby, this is truly world-class: “China has no reason to view US alliance with Japan and Philippines as any kind of a threat”. *

    “We – the most warlike country on earth who keep stating that our number 1 objective is to contain you – just put together a military alliance with 2 of your neighbors, including the last country to have invaded you, and specifically say that alliance is designed against you. Why would you see this as any kind of threat?”

    * US says China shouldn’t see Biden summits with Kishida, Marcos Jnr as a threat

    9:47 PM · Apr 12, 2024

  16. pjay

    – ‘The therapist who hated me’ – aeon (Frederick C). Yikes!

    Yikes is right! Thank you for posting this essay. It is *so* relevant to so much projection in our polarized world today, especially by “authorities” toward their “ignorant” lay-audience-patients-subject-rabble. But it can serve as a model for all of our self-referential interpretations of the Other when we impose our worldview without any real communication.

    “O’Shaughnessy’s essays illustrate human susceptibility to indoctrination and the potential for dogma to override common-sense ideas about what is reasonable in relationships with other people – including, of course, children. They also illustrate the dangerous tendency of inward-looking and self-regulating communities to error and harm…”

    “Successful psychotherapy requires, above all else, that the therapist attune herself to the other person in the room. Any set of presuppositions is a potential obstacle to that task. If O’Shaughnessy wasted part of my childhood for three frustrating years, it wasn’t because she meant to do so, but because she could perceive me only as a device to play out already fixed ideas.”

    Wise words not just for psychotherapists, but for all of us.

    1. hemeantwell

      Generally speaking, first generation followers of Klein were inclined to “wild analysis” that could occasionally yield impressive responses from patients by articulating their primitive fantasies but were often either very premature or just off the mark, and their methodology was not flexible. They were also inclined to absurd levels of feuding with other analysts more oriented to Anna Freud’s ego psychologically-oriented methods. An analyst whose work I find very valuable, Fred Busch, has written in painful detail about their withering attack in 1936 on Marjorie Searl’s work, who proposed much more careful work with patient’s “resistance’ than Kleinians thought warranted. They literally barraged her at meetings in a way that recalls what I’ve read of thought reform burndowns; she eventually collapsed and retreated to a cubby hole.

      The writer is certainly entitled to his legitimate grievance. But his broad reference to Kohut, who did question the Oedipus complex, at the times to the point of rejecting it, made me think of what IM Doc posted elsewhere today about the lack of critical thinking and process among researchers. My encounters with Kohutians have at times left me boggled by their inclination to focus on narcissistic injury, to the point that they will elide addressing very evident conflict. I won’t take the time to work up the context, but I’ve seen one of them talk about dealing with a patient who was lying, they both knew he was lying, and lying in such a way as to make the therapist look foolish and unworthy of the patient’s attention. Instead of talking about how the patient was trying to demean and devalue the therapist and haughtily maintain his dishonest version of reality, the therapist tried to talk with them about a brief reference to feeling depressed about doing poorly at school.

      I for sure don’t want to claim that such therapeutic work has significantly contributed to the current pickle we’re in, but if directly influential it wouldn’t help, and it does reflect a broader tendency to, simply put, believe you can endlessly defer having to reckon with the value and impact of your thoughts and actions. As far as Klein goes, some of her work was eventually recognized as being of great merit, e.g. the cluster of dynamics around projection, devaluation, and idealization, all very pertinent if you’re interested in teasing out a psychoanalytic take on the cartoon show that passes for US foreign policy.

      1. hemeantwell

        ack, I left out that Klein’s work on projection, devaluation, and idealization linked up with discussion of manic defenses and a corollary sense of omnipotence, which gets us onto even more familiar ground.

    2. flora

      It made me think how so many confused children in the US are being told by “therapists” they are this or that and should do thus and such to their bodies before they’re even old enough to sign a contract or vote.

    3. Es s Ce Tera

      For reasons I’ll never know my mother also insisted I see a series of psychiatrists and psychoanalysts of various flavours and schools throughout my childhood, well into my pre-teens. However, unlike with Michael, quite a few of mine did determine through extensive testing that I was a normal kid, albeit with a higher IQ. I think part of the reason my mother put me through this was she disagreed with their conclusions.

      I recall my various shrinks were always candid with me, explained their results, even showing me their reports and notes, my files even, so very unlike Michael’s experience where he had to discover O’Shaughnessy’s writings afterward. I was the sort of kid who would often spend time afterwards researching anything I didn’t understand. I don’t recall disagreeing with any assessments, but I also don’t recall anyone discussing Oedipal complexes based on where or how I sat. HOWEVER, had I as a kid read any such I wonder if it would have led to some sort of complex about seating arrangements and cushions.

      What also strikes me about Michael’s story is my shrinks were always pleasant, seemed to look forward to my visits, enjoyed our conversations, to the point where I had come to think this was the norm. I think mine just generally liked working with kids, chose it, and perhaps O’Shaughnessy did not? Is there evidence she actually liked kids at all?

  17. John

    Biden warns Iran. Biden foursquare with Israel. US positions warships to defend Israel. Did the US not just send big bombs to Israel? Does the US not kick in 3.8 billion a year for the defense of Israel? Do not Congress and the President kiss the hem of AIPAC’s garment?

    I thought Israel had the most powerful military establishment in the Middle East. I thought Israel was a valuable ally. I thought Israel was the only democracy in that part of the world. I thought Israel was teaching Hamas a stern lesson.

    Something does not add up here. I detect a strong odor of mendacity ot perhaps it is nothing more than b—s—.

    1. The Rev Kev

      In the news media it has turned weird. There are all these Biden warnings about how Iran cannot be allowed to attack Iran – but deliberately not mentioning why Iran would want to do so. The media is tying to make out that for unknown reasons, that Iran suddenly announced that they want to up and attack Israel who were just innocently just standing there. But if the whole thing blows up into a war between the US and Iran, then they will call it a win on their part. Israel right now is just like the Ukraine. Another country that wants to snag other countries into what could turn out to be WW3 to benefit themselves.

      1. Benny Profane

        It’s really remarkable how the MSM was all over this yesterday. Do they think the Iranians are so dumb to enter stage left on queue?

        1. The Rev Kev

          I doubt that it will be an attack on Israel itself but will be on an Israeli asset such as one of their secret bases in another country. The Iranians aren’t stupid so will calibrate this attack to a fraction of a degree.

          1. Polar Socialist

            Based on his sources Elijah J. Magnier seems to be assured that Iran will hit Israel proper. Targets like IDF Chief of Staff’s headquarters and so on. He’s talking about 100+ missiles and drones, and it kinda appears as if US forces in the area are preparing for something like that, too.

            1. The Rev Kev

              That would be a declaration of war between Iran and Israel which would automatically draw in the US. I get the impression that if pressed, Iran will press back but will avoid an all-out war which nobody would benefit from.

              1. Polar Socialist

                What if, just to speculate, the Iranian government has come to the conclusion that a war with Israel is inevidable, since The West is not making any attemps to get Israel under control. Obviously the world has entered anarchy, where no international body cares about laws and agreements anymore.
                Also, the apparent failure by Israel to suppress either Hamas or Hezbollah, and US failure to prevent Yemen from closing the Bab al-Mandab signal that the balance of forces in West Asia has turned for The Resistance.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  Looks like I was wrong and the Iranians did it anyway. I wonder if the US or Israel will take it to the UN Security Council? There though, they might have to explain that this was not an attack but a counter attack which would bring up the Consulate bombing and which they had buried.

                  Just read now that in a way that they did not go after Israel itself but targets in the occupied territories. Smart move as that would have Israel explaining in the UN that those occupied territories are actually Israel too.

          2. Kouros

            The Israeli fellows supporting UAE in its occupation of Socotra Island, belonging to Yemen?

          3. Vandemonian

            …or perhaps a false flag event. I suspect Israel might know how to organise that. Please note that I have avoided (almost) any mention of Building 7.

        2. pjay

          They have been pushing this message all week, including Biden’s macho “don’t” warning. And as The Rev says, there is almost no mention of *why* Iran might want to strike Israel. Just like Ukraine indeed – another “unprovoked” attack on a “democratic” country just minding its own business.

          1. Vandemonian

            I’ve ceased to be amazed by how often reporting in the mainstream media provides evidence of a collective belief that history started yesterday. Absolutely no long view, no sense of cause and effect, no understanding of how and why the “west” came to be in such a mess.

    2. NotThePilot

      I think your nose is working perfectly, John. I personally think it’s related to America having to exercise power through “image manipulation” more and more. Everything the US government is saying vis-a-vis Iran makes a lot more sense if you interpret it as a sad attempt to manifest the way they want this to play out.

      Obviously, the Iranians are smarter and more patient than that, and maybe less obviously, they don’t need to play along. This is getting into things I don’t know for sure first-hand, and things I’m not sure I want to discuss publicly anyways. No, Mr. friendly NSA agent, I do NOT have any access to top-secret sources or leaks or anything, just put subtle little details together from mainstream sources.

      But I’ve noticed these things get no play on even non-mainstream sources, which makes me suspect either:
      1. I am totally just imagining things or
      2. There is a lot of effort being put into keeping them quiet

      So I won’t get into details, but I’ll just say this: A lot of people who have become cynical about American / Israeli power are seemingly becoming more realistic about Iran too (as a civilization and a power). Even then, I think most significantly underestimate what Iran is capable of in a war. And yes, that includes them not being afraid of Israel’s nuclear arsenal, and not because they’re suicidal but because they have sufficient deterrence.

    3. flora

      Latest joke I’ve heard: When B got elected he said, “now I’m the US president.” Then someone told him that Bibi was still the US president. /ba-dum-tshhh

    4. Feral Finster

      Such people care nothing for facts, truth evidence or logic, except as they are useful. They know full well that they are hypocrites.

      They do not care.

    5. Procopius

      I thought Israel had the most powerful military establishment in the Middle East. I thought Israel was a valuable ally. I thought Israel was the only democracy in that part of the world. I thought Israel was teaching Hamas a stern lesson.

      This all may be true, but Iran has just demonstrated unmistakably that the United States and Israel cannot stop an Iranian attack, if they decide on one. This time it was 300 drones and missiles — not even their best. Next time can/will be more, probably much more. They’ve been extremely patient with Israel’s provocations up to now, but they’ve just demonstrated that there is a limit.

      Of course they don’t want a war with Israel/U.S. Israel wants the U.S. to go to war with Iran. Biden seems to be OK with that. I’m not, but I’m only a voter. Who cares what I want?

  18. The Rev Kev

    American shareholders tried for a long time to lobby for compensation for this company or to find a buyer, but it did not work. Russia took everything. There will no longer be any British, American or Dutch owners of strategic industries in Russia. After the asset freeze, Putin signed a decree confiscating the assets of foreign companies and citizens associated with enemy countries. So everything is legal.’

    Even if those shareholders were able to find a court to take the Russians too, the Russians would merely point out all that had been seized off them the past two years as a sort of precedent. So now all that land is going back to the people that owned it originally and I’m sure that they will put it to productive use and certainly not use GM crops. But there will be wailing in corporate America.

    1. Skip Intro

      They can just write a check on a ‘frozen’ account and let the lawyers in the west fight among themselves. Sanctions are coming, smoke ’em if ya got ’em.

    2. Es s Ce Tera

      What is with the ‘fertilized’ in “thousand hectares of fertilized farmland”? Why does it matter if it’s fertilized or not….

  19. Neutrino

    Heifers, symbolism, et al. The countdown is on.

    Get yer red hot eschatons. Got yer eschatons right here.

    1. pjay

      Perhaps Iran could retaliate for the Consulate bombing by launching a few missiles toward the Red Heifer barn. I am generally very much opposed to animal cruelty, but in this case an early “sacrifice” might postpone a more cataclysmic action by religious fanatics. And if a few of the latter were taken out at the same time, well… I’d feel worse for the Heifers.

      Just a thought.

      1. Ignacio

        Iranians have seized an israel-owned commercial ship in Hormuz. -No link because I read it in a Spanish media. By now there must be hundreds of reports on this

      1. pjay

        I was searching for info on the “Red Heifer” controversy a few weeks ago and happened on this CBS story. It seems some Christian Zionist ranchers in Texas have helpfully supplied some pure “Red Heifers” to Third Temple zealots in Israel with hopes of getting us to the End Times more quickly. Given recent events I thought this passage was interesting:

        “At the recent National Gathering for Prayer and Repentance in Washington, D.C., Mamo spoke of his heifers and his hopes for a Third Jewish Temple. The gathering was convened by U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, who gave a keynote prayer before a who’s-who of evangelical leaders and congresspeople spoke. Many American evangelicals believe the red heifers will usher the second coming of Christ.”

        So not only is Johnson a hero of warrantless surveillance, he is also “Red Heiffer” adjacent, at least. “Mamo” is Rabbi Yitzchak Mamo who leads one of the Third Temple groups in Israel that is caring for the heifers until the big show.

        I say load those missiles.

        1. steppenwolf fetchit

          The American Rapturistians support the Israeli Red Heiferists in hopes of getting WWIII started in order to get Christ to come again. For now the Red Heiferists and the Goat Sacrificers and the Hilltop Settlerists and etc. are a minority in Israel, but the American Rapturistian goal is to support them so thoroughly for so long that they become the commanding power over all Israeli governance and institutions and use the ownership of Israeli government which the Rapturistians are working to help them achieve to tear down the Mosque and attempt to build the Temple.

          The Rapturistian goal is to set off WWIII and if the Rapturistians and Armageddonites are correct in the long game they are playing, Christ will come again and rule for a Thousand Years and all the Jews will be killed and sent to Hell ( except for a mystically-arrived-at number of 140,000 of them).

  20. ilsm

    Seems to me the IDF’s Syria embassy attack (Gaza!) is convenient to dissuade attention from the on-going geopolitical debacles in NATO and NE Asia.

    As well as covering for the economic [roller coaster] wreckage from recent fiscal and monetary escapades.

    1. Glen

      That could be, but I think the IDF is trying to get America pulled into it’s war with Iran. Biden’s stellar diplomacy was on full display:

      Biden says he expects Iran to attack Israel soon, warns: ‘Don’t’

      Let’s hope there is some real diplomacy happening instead of just threats.

      One could almost say Macron is trying to do the same thing – pull America into Ukraine by deploying there, and then screaming for help when the inevitable happens.

      Biden doesn’t want to do any of this; he’s lose the election. But suppose bad things happen and he decides he has no choice. I don’t think America is going to be capable of “coming to the rescue”.

      Been meeting with more of my old USN buddies, and they gave me a more through picture of how the USN got so bent out of shape. All the work/functions/etc that the USN did internally with sailors and government employees was outsourced in the 90’s because “private companies are less expensive”, but since then that’s turned into roughly four times more expensive. I heard stories that Army was in similar shape. The big base in Afghanistan had only about 5,000 military who would go on patrols (which got reported in the news), and 40,000 contractors doing everything else traditionally done by the military (heard that from a retired Navy tech that was there as a contractor.)

      1. Feral Finster

        “One could almost say Macron is trying to do the same thing – pull America into Ukraine by deploying there, and then screaming for help when the inevitable happens”

        Of course that is the plan, although I suspect that Macron first will demand “european solidarity” before precious American lives are put at stake.

  21. Mark K

    Re: Joseph Priestley Created Revolutionary “Maps” of Time

    Given his revolutionary and Dissenter views, it’s odd that Priestley’s Chart of Time omits the English interregnum. The detail of the Chart in the second illustration shows Charles I reigning right through to 1660 — head or no head, I guess. (He was beheaded in 1649).

    1. brian wilder

      That is odd. Theory would be that Charles I was immediately succeeded by Charles II, so it is not about erasing the interregnum.

  22. Garry Marshall

    Hey, gang, it’s time to discuss assisted living. These episodes… The hate… Just spiraling now.

  23. NotThePilot

    To the original Bertrand tweet Yves posted, with Hubert Védrine, he’s actually bringing up a really insightful point.

    It’s a huge part of why Western polities are so messed up, whether domestically or internationally. Even as common people despise the elites in particular, many fall in line mindlessly behind any expression of the drive to proselytize and eliminate traces of meaningful difference.

    Funny enough, because he just came up a couple days ago, but this is something Spengler specifically talked about. It’s sort of implicit in Nietzsche too, especially his criticisms of crusaders and similar types. Spengler saw the proselytizing urge as directly related to the West’s basic cultural patterns though, not something that could be specifically teased apart.

    I actually disagree with that take though and think Védrine mentioning “Christendom” is key. Maybe it’s because my religious views are a weird melange overwhelmingly from outside Western Christianity, but I think there’s a sort of deep, generational trauma in the West stemming from how much of it was Christianized. I’m specifically struck by how many, especially crusader-wannabes, essentially project the history of Europe’s Christianization (e.g. under Charlemagne) onto the spread of Islam.

    I think that’s a big part of where the West’s urge to proselytize and totalize comes from. You essentially have cultures whose religious beliefs were violently crushed, with an artificial replacement enforced by a collaboration of Roman priests and initially Frankish heavies. And all these centuries later, even as many of others were assimilated into the culture, and many no longer believe in the outer religious forms, these cultures still haven’t processed that trauma en masse.

    So where a healthy, cohesive worldview exists for most cultures, there’s a nagging void among Westerners. In a sense, bad faith. Unfortunately, instead of confronting it directly, many will find it easier to temporarily assuage that nagging void by attacking whatever reminds them of it, precisely what Védrine sums up as “alterity”.

    1. bayoustjohndavid

      Vedrine makes a good point, but some of the response tweets are also correct, stuff like:

      It’s not some inherited tendency to proselytise that causes the leaders of the West to behave as they do – it’s the need of financial capitalist imperialism to find ever more opportunities for “investment “

      Bertrand replied to a similar tweet that it was a mix, a belief in cultural superiority enabling cynical calculations. People conditioned to think we have spread…whatever, democracy in the preceding link, can easily be misled. Guess we need to make isolationism respectable again just to counter the willingness to interfere with every country they tell us to.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        of the many things i say that gets folks upset with me IRL, suggesting that USA is 1. an empire.2 . an empire in terminal decline. 3. that usa has not spread freedom, but rapine and plunder. and 4 that, ergo, we are not a very nice country……are the things that get me in the most trouble.

        that i have arrived at these conclusions…not because some chicom space ray took over my brain….but honestly, and on my own…doesnt matter.

        way out beyond the merely partisan and/or ideological triggerwords, norms and approved discourse of everyday american life…these things are deeply embedded….and wont be dislodged easily.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            one problem, is that i never utter the shibboleths necessary to all and sundry:
            to wit(from the guardian thing on hubris):
            “As well as its role in supporting Israel’s massacre in Gaza, the west must reflect on how it fostered the conditions in which a Putin-like figure could emerge in Russia. The Putin regime, of course, bears responsibility for Russia’s hideous invasion of Ukraine: the US isn’t the only powerful state capable of violence and destruction.”

            dude coulda been me up until that point,lol.

            aside from the Freedom Fries Phenomenon, and the general rush, around here, away fro foreign food to american comfort food…what killed my cafe in late 2001 was me running my mouth when people asked me what i thought(i was a fool, and assumed they were sincere in that request…they were not,lol)

            1. Pat

              Huh, what. Our actions have produced far greater national nightmares than Putin, mostly in South America and the MidEast.

              Although thinking about it, maybe deep down their real question/concern is that somehow American interference led to Russia electing someone both smart and Uber competent who actually loves his country and wants its to do well by its people.
              Oh and that ends up showing how stupid and craven the leadership of America is for those who are paying attention.

              As an aside I have spent much of the last decade referring to Israel as the neighbor from h3ll. I was so wrong. Israel is hideous to other countries and their people, but America until recently was the worst thing that could happen to countries that had something they wanted.

              1. yep

                “Although thinking about it, maybe deep down their real question/concern is that somehow American interference led to Russia electing someone both smart and Uber competent who actually loves his country and wants its to do well by its people.”

                They have seen what has happened in former Yugoslavia, and realized that they are next.

          2. Mikel

            Lifted from the comments in that article:
            “Dr. Vlahos,
            You can add misanthropy as the fifth pillar. Our regime’s final mission seems to be The Abolition of Man. Ultimate liberation; transcending the oppressive limits of our humanity through absorption into the cyborg Utopia under construction. The revolution against God leads to hatred of mankind.”

            1. Snailslime

              I don’t think I buy that.

              Hatred of humanity seems to be very much baked into Christianity or perhaps rather monotheism itself.

              And of course the entire transhumanists, singularitarianist “philosophy” also very obviously feeds from the same trough.

              Even if an ideology is explicitely patricidal that doesn’t mean it isn’t shaped and deeply informed by the predecessors ideology it IS attempting to replace.

    2. Antifa

      The agents of Western imperialism certainly have the same religious zeal as Christian zealots out to convert the whole world, but behind all that is the inescapable need for capitalism to grow. About 3% per year is very comfortable.

      If capitalism does not grow, profits cannot grow, wages and salaries and bonuses do not go up, careers do not flourish, roads are not kept up, bridges fall down, and yet things cost more for the rising generation.

      All money gets squirreled away, and parceled out only as needed. Government becomes just about the only employer. Foreign wars soon look like the only way out.

  24. Mikel

    “I just love how baby elephants have no understanding of how absolutely massive they are so they just behave like big dog pic”

    Can’t help from comparing that real and live elephant interaction with this 4/8 Antidote du Jour that was computer generated:
    “An Afghan girl kept a tiger cub that she thought that was a cats .
    That’s is now a big snow leopard.
    That Afghan girl still visits the mountain of Pamir Badakhshan and playing with her friends” #animal #Leopards #tigers#WrestleManiaXL #knacking

  25. Alice X

    ~Pankaj Mishra

    From the piece:

    In 1982, shortly before Reagan bluntly ordered [Menachem] Begin to cease his ‘holocaust’ in Lebanon, a young US senator who revered Elie Wiesel as his great teacher met the Israeli prime minister. In Begin’s own stunned account of the meeting, the senator commended the Israeli war effort and boasted that he would have gone further, even if it meant killing women and children. Begin himself was taken aback by the words of the future US president, Joe Biden. ‘No, sir,’ he insisted. ‘According to our values, it is forbidden to hurt women and children, even in war … This is a yardstick of human civilisation, not to hurt civilians.’

    When they tell you who they are, believe them!

    I wonder what Wiesel would say today.

  26. flora

    re: Mike Benz twt

    My uni got a chunk of that money to set up a new undergrad program for ‘countering disinformation’.

    1. Kouros

      Especially where it hurts more… Don’t kill them, just bleed them of money and profit. And then say that the proceeds will be used for the reconstruction of Gaza.

    2. SocalJimObjects

      Rather than a barrage of missiles, what I would do is load the ship with explosives, have a couple of willing martyrs plus the existing crew pilot the ship and ram it into the Haifa port. Probably more effective than anything else.

  27. Alice X

    ~Farming robot kills 200,000 weeds per hour with lasers

    Well, that is this year’s new improved model.

    Last year’s model:

    The Autonomous Weeder can eliminate more than 100,000 weeds per hour and weed 15 to 20 acres of crops in one day — for comparison, Myers said a laborer can weed about one acre of his onions per day.

    So that was 15-20 laborers replaced, but now double that.

    But we’ve already been doing that with poisons, so this would seem like a victory. No finer points are drawn in the piece on other externalities that might be a net negative, like rare earth requirements with adverse mining aspects.

  28. Mikel

    At @Heritage, I decode the ‘democracy’ censorship trick

    — Mike Benz

    The last part of the clip is the most quote worthy:
    “They’ve given over 60 million dollars just in the past year to specially constructed censorship labs – counter misinformation labs – within universities. It’s now a growing profession where undergraduates and PhD students are staking their professional careers on the rise of the censorship industry. And it’s all constructed around a democracy predicate, which again simply means the control and the ability to overthrow a government that is not doing the bidding of the US foreign policy establishment.”

  29. Ranger Rick

    That little tidbit on morality and ethics brings to mind an old explanation for wisdom and intelligence. (“Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit, and wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad.”)

    In other words, the primary difference between ethics and morals is categorization. The link defines the moral category as something felt rather than intuited, which adds an interesting sensory wrinkle to it. I think there is something to that, as many moral versus ethical battles revolve around living and suffering.

  30. Synoia

    And it’s all constructed around a democracy predicate, which again simply means the control and the ability to overthrow a government that is not doing the bidding of the US foreign policy establishment.”

    Do you mean it operates like a a communist (Totalitarian) Government or absolute Monarchy? Either way the will of the people appears absent.

  31. Jeff W

    O.J. Simpson Excited For God To Tell Him Who Real Killer Was Babylon Bee

    O.J. Simpson jokes aside, am I the only one who hates this use of “excited for”?

    One can be “excited for” people in the sense of being very enthusiastic on their behalf or “excited about” things like upcoming events, e.g., like God revealing who the real killer is, but being “excited for” God doing, well, anything sounds not only wrong but agrammatical to me. (We still retain the distinction in “happy for” vs. “happy about,” I think.)

    I suppose it’s part of a more generalized preposition slippage because there’s something similar going on with “waiting for” and “waiting on”: “I’m waiting on Jane”—which, to me, sounds like what the waitstaff does in a restaurant—is used for “I’m waiting for Jane” (i.e., she hasn’t arrived yet).

    Yes, I’m probably fifty years out of date—or maybe it’s all some regional difference that has become widely accepted—but still.

  32. flora

    re: La. priests’ rights.

    “I don’t see how this would survive a Supreme Court challenge….but that assumes someone has the gas to get there and the Court agrees to hear the case. ”

    I don’t know, considering that most of the current Justices were Opus Dei approved nominees.

    One wonders if the La. Supreme Court is similarly approved of by Opus Dei.

  33. flora

    re: Snowden’s twt.

    The B admin makes no secret of trying to end-run the Constitution. They’ve said so many times.

      1. Hepativore

        Was there really ever any doubt that it would? Both parties prioritize bipartisanship when it comes to pushing surveillance and funding the MIC.

        The US government represents an interesting paradox. While we have more formalized rights than many citizens of other countries on paper, our government routinely ignores them to the point to where they are largely moot.

        The 4th Amendment might as well no longer exist as the Bush Jr. administration largely put the final nail in its coffin. Now, our political and corporate elites are working hand-in-hand to destroy the 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments as well. I mean, the enforcement of Constitutional rights by the US has often been arbitrary, but now our leadership is making no pretenses about disregarding it entirely.

      1. Polar Socialist

        It seems that Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has officially announced the strike. Presumed to be several waves of Shahed 136 drones followed by cruise missiles.

    1. Belle

      Not much of a fan of wars, but I have been so pleased to see someone standing up to a bully since 2022, when Russia finally sent troops to liberate Donbass and beyond.
      It would be interesting if they followed the 2020 playbook and used the old stuff first.
      One hopes that among the targets include Israel’s offensive bases. It would also be interesting to include the Negev Nuclear Research facility.

      1. yep

        Standing up to a bully have been happening all along, but the bully had more muscles and also better control of the media space.

    2. furnace

      This is huge. Whatever the outcome, a direct attack on Israel has never happened; this changes things forever. Seems like there is major coordination between the Resistance factions as well.

      1. Belle

        Uh, Saddam did launch missile attacks on Israel in the Gulf War. Still, this is the first organized attack in a while.
        As for Resistance coordination, I hope so. From the River (Jordan, Dneiper) to the Sea (Mediterranean, Black).

        1. furnace

          You’re absolutely correct; I wasn’t aware. The point (mostly) still stands, though. This salvo is the first of potentially many, if the zionists decide to retaliate. It’s qualitatively different from the Gulf War.

          1. Captain Obvious

            What’s different is the balance of power in the region, and the World. Those Iraqi Scud salvos were just an attempt to throw a few punches back before succumbing. The tables have turned in the meantime.

        2. digi_owl

          In some futile attempt at getting Israel directly engaged, thus potentially getting the Saudis etc to withdraw their support.

      2. pjay

        I’m not sure about that. I just watched the NBC News story on this. A bunch of drones lumbering slowly toward Israel. NBC actually used the phrase “slow motion” to describe it. Israeli, US, and British planes seem to be ready for them. We’ll see if there is any follow-up by real missiles. But based on the breathless network coverage of what seems so far like a pretty non-threatening attack, it sure sounded like a lot of theater to me. Makes me wonder if there were any face-saving deals made behind the scenes. But I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.

    3. Daryl

      If the videos (if legitimate) going around are anything to judge by, they didn’t pull punches.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        An attack on diplomats is an announcement of total war or outright piracy. Any notion Israel is a normal nation state ended when there wasn’t a flurry of concessions.

      2. Acacia

        Iran now saying this is just a foretaste of what could happen:

        Al-Jazeera reporting:

        Iran’s mission to the United Nations said its drone and missile attack on Israel was in response to Israel’s April 1 attack on its embassy in Damascus, Syria, and that the “matter can be deemed concluded”.
        Iran also warned Israel against retaliation, saying its response “will be considerably more severe” should the “Israeli regime make another mistake”.

        Will Israel and its vassals choose to escalate?

  34. Wukchumni

    Every part of the Sierra Nevada is perfect in its own way, but the southern Sierra possesses all of the granite majesty, wildlife and pristine water with a fraction of the visitors. The Kaweah River perfectly embodies this wilderness area as it begins high up in Sequoia national park and tumbles nearly 10,000ft in 20 miles to reach the foothills town of Three Rivers. It’s one of the steepest watersheds in America, and at times it feels like it is barely contained by its own banks.

    “The cliffs” is a swimming hole just within the Sequoia national park gate, making it an excellent beginning and/or ending to adventures in the area. Despite being only a five-minute walk from the road, most people fly past on their way up to see the big trees.

    From the road, it’s about a five-minute walk to the river. Take the well-defined trail down the hillside and then follow the path upstream a few hundred feet. The main pool is immediately recognizable for its high granite walls, which channel the river into a narrow chute. At the top end, a waterfall spills into the cañoncito, with excellent jumping rocks and ledges on both sides. It is reliably deep but be sure to inspect the landing for yourself. You never know what trees or boulders may have washed into the swimming hole between visits.

    The Cliffs Sequoia National Park

  35. Wukchumni

    On your marks, get set, dope! Welcome to the Enhanced Games – the sporting event no one wants Guardian

    China Peak Mountain Resort in Lakeshore, California was having a pretty solid start to their season. Last week saw 70-94 inches of snow, letting the resort finally open up. Then there’s this week’s storm, which could bring the same deep conditions. Unfortunately, the resort has gotten some backlash for trying to enforce a policy that bans smoking kush on National Forest land.

    Blazing up while shredding is a popular pastime among skiers and riders, but it’s not typically legal at ski resorts. This is especially true on federal National Forest land, where a violation of the ski resorts contract could result in a revocation of the agreement. According to the Fresno Bee, numerous guests complained about the smell of marijuana across the resort over the weekend. On Sunday, China Peak issued the following statement on their story:

    “If you choose to use marijuana at China Peak you will be removed from the resort for the day, no exceptions. If there is any resistance your season pass will be voided for the rest of this season and you will not be allowed to purchase a pass in 2022/23.”

    Skiing off into the trees either means you gotta take a leak or spark up a doobie, as there is a lot of enhancement going on and always has been on the slopes.

    It might seem counterintuitive that something that slows down time is a good combination with the fastest non-motored thing a human can do on land, but there you have it.

    In my ‘Enhanced Games’ I’d make contestants do the downhill run on mashed potatoes spring snow, icky stuff that literally grabs your skis from underfoot, the faster you go.

  36. Wukchumni

    Dollar stores are shutting down across America. They did this to themselves CNN

    To lose 99 Cents ONLY Stores in the west was a major blow to a certain segment of shoppers, who always counted on deals.

    The idea that Dollar General has so far been untouched in the downturn is interesting, as it really isn’t a Dollar Store, everything sells for up to around $100, and the feel of the stores is more of an uber-7/11, than a tiny Wal*Mart. And who would ever do all their shopping @ a 7/11?

    One of the reasons cited for closing down all 371 99 Cents Only Stores was shoplifting, and I stopped in Tehachapi @ a Home Depot, and really wished I’d brought a metal cup to clang against the cages of 85% of items now locked behind metal doors.

    I asked the young clerk what happened?

    He said, they’d been getting killed by shoplifting, and walked over the $96 worth of goods i’d selected to the cashier for me, not so much out of a courtesy, they don’t trust anybody now.

    1. Belle

      Recently, in an area opposite the country and the perceived politics from California, some guys stole a few thousand in tools from a Lowe’s.
      In regards to cheap stores, there are quite a few Daiso (Japanese) and Miniso (Chinese) stores in California. Kind of like the Asian equivalent of Dollar stores, with a few things they don’t have.

  37. Louis Fyne

    The fate of the Mideast and cost of gasoline during your summer road trip literally rests solely on the action of Bibi over the next 100 hours. Biden and Team USA is just along for the ride

    that’s one helluva tail wagging the dog.

    1. Glen

      I went out and tanked up my truck. It gets good mileage for a full size truck (over 22/mpg, better on the freeway), but still, a 26 gallon tank leaves a hole in your wallet.

      But I figure this means this will resolve peacefully (I hope, I pray) since I over reacted to the news so it’s money well spent!

      But I do think if Biden commits US troops, he’s gonna lose the election. That might be the only thing holding him back.

  38. The Rev Kev

    And in today’s Clown World-

    ‘Speaking at the United Nations Security Council briefing on Friday, Japan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Shino Mitsuko, condemned Moscow’s actions against Ukraine while lashing out at what she called “repeated nuclear rhetoric by Russia.”

    “As the only country that has ever suffered atomic bombings during war, Japan will never accept Russia’s nuclear threats, let alone any use of nuclear weapons. The catastrophes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki must never be repeated’

    But never once mentioned who actually nuked those cities.

    1. Joker

      They did the same thing on last Hiroshima bombing anniversary, in Hiroshima. It almost sounded like Russians bombed them.

      1. digi_owl

        Even after the bombing it was preferable for the Japanese to surrender to USA as they had quite the history with Russia/USSR already.

        1. Joker

          They had history with everyone in the region. Karma is a bitch, and USA let them get away with crime, just like with Nazis of various flavors. The Japanese guys that conducted human experiments didn’t even have to change names or relocate to Argentina.

  39. Acacia

    Re: Royal Australian College of General Practitioners paper

    Multiple studies have shown an increased risk of myocarditis after vaccination with mRNA encoding SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. […]

    The tweet notes the publication as “reportedly” sent to General Practitioners in Australia.

    Any confirmation?

  40. Carolinian

    Finally getting around to reading the LRB long read The Shoah after Gaza. Thanks for this. One of the points the article makes is that Jewish Americans didn’t used to be so Holocaust centric and indeed many after that war saw the whole thing as a holocaust and the camps as a part of it–not what it was all about.

    One of those Jewish Anericans was Pauline Kael and she was attacked for dismissing the very long documentary called Shoah–perhaps as a “self hater.” But she never wore her Jewishness on her sleeve although her soft spot for Barbra may have been a hint.

    The late 20th was an intellectually healthier world for all of our melting pot ethnicities. But it was all or mostly mental. The failure to truly defeat the dark forces of capital and violence can perhaps be blamed for our current intellectual stupor.

    1. Alice X

      barncat first posted that in the 3/22/24 links. I reposted it on 3/23/24. I believe on 3/24 there was further discussion.

  41. Ben Panga

    Hegemony never looked so weak …

    U.S. concerned Israel will respond to Iran without thought to potential fallout

    Some top U.S. officials are concerned Israel could do something quickly in response to Iran’s attacks without thinking through potential fallout afterward, according to a senior administration official and a senior defense official.

    Those concerns stem in part from the administration’s views of the approach Israel has taken to its war against Hamas, as well as the attack in Damascus.

    President Joe Biden has privately expressed concern that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to drag the U.S. more deeply into a broader conflict, according to three people familiar with his comments.

    The White House believes Israelis are not looking for a wider war or a direct war with Iran, but U.S. officials can’t be certain, the senior administration official said.

    U.S. officials have privately expressed frustration with Israel’s decision to strike the Iranian consular building in Syria.

    “I don’t think they had a strategy,” the senior administration official said. “The Israelis don’t always make the best strategic decisions.”

    Senior leaders at the Pentagon also have privately expressed frustration at the timing of the Damascus strike, according to the senior defense official, because it had the potential to be “catastrophically escalatory.”

    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      Perhaps we should consider the possibility that Bibi’s strategeric decisions are about how to keep a state of war going for years in order to delay his upcoming trial for years. Maybe that is Bibi’s sole and only personal goal here.

      And that would make him very obedient to Smotrich ben Gvir demands. Because if he doesn’t follow their instructions about what to do, they will leave his coalition and let it fall and let new elections play out and let Bibi go to trial and maybe jail as punishment for not following Smotrich ben Gvir’s orders.

      1. Polar Socialist

        I don’t think the right-wing nutters want to have several rounds of elections right now – they have once in a few lifetimes chance to start the war they have dreamed of for generations.

  42. Acacia

    Al-Jazeera reporting:

    This attack has been a test of Israel’s air defence capabilities and it seems to have passed that test pretty conclusively with the help of the US, the UK, France and Jordan. Israel has shot down the vast majority of more than 200 drones and missiles that were launched against it.

    Note “with the help of” here, i.e., Iron Dome alone can’t defend Israel. Also, in the second sentence, does “Israel” then actually mean “Israel, the US, UK, France, and Jordan”, in which case maybe we should say “Israel, Jordan and FUKUS shot down the vast majority…” etc. …?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      As Alexander Mercouris discussed long form at the top of his show today, the Financial Times reported that the US and Iran were coordinating what would be attacked so no one would be hurt. So this was all a big show.

      However, it does seem to have produced that everyone the Gulf save apparently Jordan said no use of our airbases, which is a huge blow:

      1. SocalJimObjects

        Not sure why Iran was willing to work with the US on this, haven’t they learned anything from Soleimani’s killing? No matter what, the optics look very bad for Iran, unless they are preparing an even bigger attack down the line.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Iran being able to hit Israel with drones and missiles direct from that country is enough of a victory. Enough got through that Iran can claim the win as the Israeli Iron Dome and the US Navy could not stop all of them. Those screaming, panicking crowds on the streets in videos online show that at least some Israelis have realized that Iran can hit them back if they hit Iran again. Lots to unpack with this attack as there are several layers at work.

          1. Acacia

            Yeah, if nothing else, this was a good test of the limits of Israel’s defense system, such as it is (i.e., requiring extensive air support from several other allies). The Iranians probably learned a fair bit they could “apply” in any future missile attacks.

        2. Ben Panga

          The win is avoiding a full war with Israel, no?

          Seems like everyone except Bibi is trying to contain things. Iran can claim victory/save face; Biden is saying Israel should see this as a win; Gallant’s initial comments seem muted.

          1. Polar Socialist

            The win is showing that Israel’s actions will have consequences, which will change the calculus both in Jerusalem and Washington. Biden already announced that USA won’t participate in any Israel retaliation.

            Also, with one stroke (pun intended) Iran took the mantle of the Hero of the West Asia from Yemen probably forcing Turkey to come up with something serious, too. My hunch is that Jordan chose poorly by taking an active part in the defense of Israel, but the pressure (from US) must have been immense.

            1. digi_owl

              Jordan has probably been in the US pocket, much like Egypt, since the 1994 peace treaty signing.

        3. digi_owl

          Didn’t something similar happen during Trump where Russia was forewarned of a US cruise missile strike in Syria so they could get their people out of the way?

          1. yep

            Not to mention when Iran attacked US bases in Iraq, warning Iraqies (and indirectly USA) to move away.

              1. steppenwolf fetchit

                I wonder what other prominent Iranians Trump will decide to assassinate with missile strikes if he is re-elected President?

        4. SocalJimObjects

          I am betting the 60 billion dollars of whatever will be heading to Israel next week!!! Netayahoo is probably crafting his Thank You letter to the Ayatollah as I type.

      2. Acacia

        As Alexander Mercouris discussed long form at the top of his show today, the Financial Times reported that…

        Yes, but he doesn’t give a citation. I watched the first minutes. Title…? Author…? Date…? URL…?

        We’re supposed to use Google to hunt this down, behind paywalls, and given the state or search…?

        Or are citations and evidence to support claims beneath discussion…?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Mercouris does not make up his citations and FT is paywalled, so this is more accessible.

          At least he made clear what day it ran. A lot of YouTubers who reference print pieces don’t do that.

          1. Acacia

            It’s not a question of making up citations. It’s a question of not providing them.

            And it doesn’t sound to me like he states the publication date.

            I have now read six different FT articles on this conflict, from the 12th to the 14th — pasting URLs to go through the paywall for each one — and I am not finding what he’s talking about.

            Respectfully, the issue here is that without a real citation we cannot effectively use any of this information in a discussion with others. We cannot use it to persuade others. If I say “Alexander Mercouris says that the FT says…” and then my interlocutor says “got a link?” — at that point I’ve got nothing more than handwaving and appeal to authority.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              So why don’t you complain to him? Ask him to read exact titles or put the link below as Brian Berletic does.

              His email address is his full name, no punctuation, at

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