Links 4/22/2024

Flaws of Nature: The Limits And Liabilities Of Natural Selection (book review) The Inquistive Biologist

Conflicts push global military expenditure in 2023 to ‘all-time high’ France24

$300,000 robotic micro-factories pump out custom-designed homes The New Atlas


What is Earth Day, when is it and what has it achieved? BBC

Commentary: For Earth Day, invite more greenery into your life Orlando Sentinel

* * *

Climate crisis cooks up costly meals: Why your ‘thaali’ could be on fire Business Standard

‘Once in a century’ flood warning issued for Guangdong as Bei River surges to record levels, China The Watchers

Unleashing Beaver to Restore Ecosystems and Combat the Climate Crisis


Get ready:

Why are we so ill? The working-age health crisis BBC. ‘Tis a mystery! Also, working-ageclass.


China Orders Apple to Remove Popular Messaging Apps WSJ

‘Reform and opening up are not dead’, but today’s China ‘looks risky’: veteran observer David Lampton South China Morning Post

Philippines rejects China’s claim of ‘new model’ in West Philippine Sea Anadolu Agency


‘My hell in Myanmar cyber slavery camp’ BBC


The Israel Lobby with John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (video) Outside the Box Podcast

Col. Douglas Macgregor : Will Israel Go Nuclear? (video) Judge Napolitano, Judging Freedom

Biden marks Passover with statement of ‘ironclad’ support for Israel The Hill

Israel’s head of military intelligence resigns over October 7 attack FT

* * *

Israeli army unit accused of abuses ‘kills Palestinians for no real reason,’ says party leader Anadolu Agency. Labor Party.

US-Israel: Netanyahu vows to reject any US sanctions on army units BBC

Blinken, Gallant speak by phone amid report US preparing sanctions against Israeli battalion Anadolu Agency

* * *

“Glorifying martydom”:

As if entire museum wings weren’t devoted to Christian representations of the same topic. From the Art Gallery of Ontario (for some reason, I can’t get the paintings of martyrs to display):

* * *

‘Netanyahu, Tear down that wall’: German official under fire for tweet i24

Palestinians tear down parts of West Bank ‘apartheid wall’ as Iran strikes Israel The New Arab

* * *

In Gaza’s Hospitals New York Review of Books. Not paywalled, rare for the NYRB.

New Not-So-Cold War

Russian forces launch attacks on 6 fronts over past 24 hours, most actively on Novopavlivka – Ukraine’s General Staff Ulkrainska Pravda

What will it take for Ukraine to win? WaPo

Russia says US support for Ukraine will end as ‘humiliating fiasco’ like ‘Vietnam and Afghanistan’ The Hill

Greece and Spain under pressure to provide Ukraine with air defence systems FT

Christine Lagarde says US plan to raise debt against Russian assets carries legal risk FT

“Historic event for Azerbaijan”: Analysts on the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Karabakh JAM News

Global Elections

First-time voters rejoice in India’s Maoist rebel heartland Channel News Asia

Pro-China party on course for landslide victory in Maldives election Al Jazeera

Biden Administration

TikTok Vows Legal Battle as the US Presses for App’s Sale or Ban Bloomberg

Hakeem Jeffries emerges as Congress’ shadow speaker Axios


Liberals’ Heated Fascism Rhetoric Sidesteps Self-Reflection Jacobin

As Meta flees politics, campaigns rely on new tricks to reach voters WaPo

The Supremes

Supreme Court to hear case on criminal penalties for homelessness SCOTUSblog

Digital Watch

AI and the Complexity of Code Koen van Gilst. Very good.

Understanding Book-Classification ISBN Numbers & the Current Limits of MAMLMs Brad DeLong, Grasping Reality. Also very good.

Why Bloat Is Still Software’s Biggest Vulnerability: A 2024 plea for lean software IEEE Spectrum

* * *

Google squashes AI teams together in push for fresh models The Register. The deck: “You can leave your personal vendettas at home – we have work to do, Pichai warns.” Wut.

Microsoft is a national security threat, says ex-White House cyber policy director The Register

Big Tech can’t hoard brainwave data for ad targeting, Colorado law says Ars Technica. You know they would.

Groves of Academe

Biden condemns ‘blatant’ anti-Semitism at Columbia pro-Palestine protests Al Jazeera. Commentary:

Columbia University faces full-blown crisis as rabbi calls for Jewish students to ‘return home’ CNN

Ivy League anti-Israel agitators’ protests spiral into ‘actual terror organization,’ professor warns FOX

SJP petition calls for termination of Business School professor Shai Davidai Columbia Spectator



NYU, in the last hour:

Hebrew University:

Guillotine Watch

No prison time for developer who bribed city officials for 18 years San Francisco Standard

Class Warfare

The Chicken-and-Egg of Law and Organizing On Labor

The southern gap Aeon

The Long American Counter-Revolution Boston Review. On Gerald Horne.

Taking Slavery West in the 1850s JSTOR Daily

May Cause Side Effects Lapham’s Quarterly. From 2021, still germane.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Antifa

    NUMBERS 19
    (melody borrowed from Magic  by Ric Ocasek as performed by Olivia Newton-John)

    These are your lands
    These are your fields
    Yours are the fruits of the vine
    The harvests and the wine
    They belong to you
    You must be cleansed kill a red cow
    As Moses and Aaron spake
    Its sacred ashes take
    I’m uniting you

    Follow the Torah schematic
    Numbers 19 you’ll obey
    Our Covenant’s not democratic
    You must do all that I say
    Through magic we shall contrive
    The End of Days will arrive
    goyim all left behind on cue
    None of them will survive with you

    Redeem your land as it should be
    Idolaters won’t be spared
    All debts shall be squared
    I will fight with you
    This world will burn they shall fear you
    You are descendants of Saul
    The silver trumpets call
    I’m uniting you

    Follow the Torah schematic
    Numbers 19 you’ll obey
    Our Covenant’s not democratic
    You must do all that I say
    Through magic we shall contrive
    The End of Days will arrive
    goyim all left behind on cue
    None of them will survive with you

    Follow the Torah schematic
    Numbers 19 you’ll obey
    Our Covenant’s not democratic
    You must do all that I say
    Through magic we shall contrive
    The End of Days will arrive
    goyim all left behind on cue
    None of them will survive with you

        1. Willow


          Israel has been working on this for decades and now finds itself cornered in an existential crisis necessitating extreme actions to survive. Israel has likely already tried to go there with Iran but can’t without US air support. Will they use them closer to home on Hezbollah?

    1. QuicksilverMessenger

      Nice work! Side note- the Olivia Newton John Magic was written by John Farrar. The Car’s Magic is a different song

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Christine Lagarde says US plan to raise debt against Russian assets carries legal risk”

    I don’t see what problems there are with legal issues. Just last month I stole my neighbour’s very expensive car and after a time, I went to the bank and got a loan using that car as collateral. Maybe at the same time I should sell it to finance some home improvements. I do find what the Lithuanian finance minister said very interesting when he said ‘The legal system is created — it is not something coming from God — so we can find legally sound ways to have the result that would be beneficial for democratic countries [and] society and not have rules that help the aggressor.’ I take that as part of the Rules Based Order where those democratic counties will be protected by the law – but other countries not so much.

    In thinking this over, I can only think that western leaders are maybe hoping to use those stolen Russian assets in future negotiations. So maybe they will suggest that they will return those assets if the Russian Federation recognizes the right of the Ukraine to go into the EU. More likely they will say that if the Russian Federation lets that money be used in reconstruction, that they will recognize Crimea and the Donbass being part of Russia. And the Russians know that the west will never go back on their word, right? After all, no backsies.

    1. Vicky Cookies

      Two of the rules of the “rules based order” are “finders keepers” and “no backsies”. It’s a mindset more than anything else, and an incredibly selfish and myopic one, childish, even. Like liberalism in general, it can only make sense if you continue to exclude the exceptions: universal human rights (except for the poor, and Palestinians); private property rights (except for Rrrrrrussians, and the poor, and Palestinians); liberty, equality, fraternity (except for Hatians, and the poor, &c.). This kind of legitimized hypocrisy seems likely to eventually run out of space, at which point we’d be left with quite naked authoritarianism, justified by just how awful whatever groups are being expropriated and killed are. Scratch a liberal…

      By the way, couldn’t you justify stealing your neighbors’ car and using it as collateral if your neighbor was one of the out-groupers?

      1. ambrit

        The “official” ‘reason’ for stealing one’s neighbour’s automobile, according to the Neo-liberal Compendium of Style Handbook is that one is more powerful than said neighbour.
        Theft is a special case of Transactionalism.

      2. The Rev Kev

        In all seriousness, one of the main rules of the Rules Based Order is that “might makes right”. So as an example, the big nations of the EU get to push around the smaller countries of the EU. The G-7 try to push around the other 180-odd nations around the world which is really wearing thin. Israel bombs and pushes around it’s neighbours as they have impunity. It is the code of the schoolyard bully.

        But problems arise when that does not work anymore. The Collective West tried to push Russia over but Russia pushed right back. Israel pushed Iran but then Iran proved that it could push back as could Hamas. Western nations go to China to order it around and are surprised when the Chinese tell them to take a running jump. France tries to keep it’s control over African nations but then they tell France to get the hell out. And it is happening more and more.

        1. The Heretic

          The strong do what they can; the weak endure what they must…. Thucydides

          However if hubris blinds the strong to their own weakness, and exploitation of the weak makes the strong lazy and decadent; and if the whips of the strong force the weak to become strong, a Thucydides trap becomes inevitable.

          And US foreign policy has demonstrated substantial blindness and wickedness since 1960’s… and China and Russia know that they are strong; and if they do not display the fecklessness and fickleness of the US, it will be logical for the remaining weaker nations to change allegiances.

          We in the west will not enjoy those changes.

      3. Martin Oline

        Miss Cookies puts her finger on it – (except for the Palestinians, Russians, Haitians, and the poor, &c.). The United States is the exceptional country. The rules we make up apply to everyone else except us.

        1. britzklieg

          Send the Marines! – Tom Lehrer

          When someone makes a move
          Of which we don’t approve
          Who is it that always intervenes?
          U.N. and O.A.S.,
          They have their place, I guess
          But first send the Marines!

          We’ll send them all we’ve got
          John Wayne and Randolph Scott
          Remember those exciting fighting scenes?
          To the shores of Tripoli
          But not to Mississippoli
          What do we do? we send the Marines!
          For might makes right
          And till they’ve seen the light
          They’ve got to be protected
          All their rights respected
          Till somebody we like can be elected!

          Members of the Corps
          All hate the thought of war
          They’d rather kill them off by peaceful means
          Stop calling it aggression
          Ooh, we hate that expression!

          We only want the world to know
          That we support the status quo
          They love us everywhere we go
          So when in doubt
          Send the Marines!

    2. Louis Fyne

      EU-US is delusional….in that it is a reasonable guess that the Kremlin is ok with sacrificing $300 billion (or whatever the real number is) if it means having freedom of action.

      If anything, the most self-destructive action that Brussels and/or DC can take is confiscating those assets.

      US-EU have no levers against the Kremlin.

        1. The Rev Kev

          The whole point of Project Ukraine was that so the Russian Federation could be broken up and that western oligarchs could go in and pillage the tens (hundreds?) of trillions of dollars in resources of that country. Now that that operation is a bust, those oligarchs must be expecting or even demanding some compensation for their support of this project and that $300 billion would help nicely.

          1. Joker

            $300 billions are peanuts in these clashes of empires. A participation trophy of sorts. It’s a month’s worth of US debt increase. Honeypot is a trap, and they know it, but just can’t keep themselves from grabbing it.

      1. Milton

        Does anyone have figures as to what constitutes the $300B. Is it Treasury money? Central bank; private elite?

    3. voislav

      This is another way of US screwing over the EU. 98% of the money is in the EU (Belgium), so should courts later decide this was illegal, EU would be on the hook for it. Of course, money would be long gone by then, pilfered away by Ukrainians or spend on US weapons. EU would have to repay the money or risk blowing up its financial system and the money would just have come from imposing austerity measures and cutting back social spending, there would be no other way.

      1. Anon

        It’s really looking like war or collapse. I once thought Europe was being left in the cold as a burn it and run tactic, but I’m getting the faint impression they’ve been softened for conscription. Can’t have Poland go it alone. Either Russia faces war, or gets an almshouse across the street. Wow. In other news, Brexit was timely, no?

    4. Wukchumni

      1945: Imaginary divisions will save the fatherland!

      2025: Imaginary division of motherland Russia assets will save the west!

    5. Feral Finster

      Basically, the US and its various buttbois (EU, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, etc.) will coordinate action in order to discourage people from moving their assets into what they believe may be a safer haven.

      The cleanest dirty shirt and all that.

      But it is coming.

  3. voislav

    The Wapo piece on Ukraine is a dozy. Boils down to Ukraine mobilizing 300K men, equipping a 100K strike force, secretly concentrating them in Zaporozhye and striking towards the Sea of Azov while somehow managing to achieve surprise so that Russians have no ability to respond before Ukrainians cut Crimea off.

    Not even copium at this point, full on fantasy.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      A month or so ago, I chatted to City economist who works with Starmer. He reckons that the reason that last summer’s counter-offensive fizzled out is that Ukrainian forces did not listen to their US advisers, but this time it will be different.

      1. JohnA

        Thanks Colonel, my understanding was that the Ukrainian army started using the NATO tactics taught them but soon realised they were useless and reverted to what worked better, albeit also not that great against Russian attrition tactics.

      2. ilsm

        Ukraine used the late Cold War “air-land battle” strategy, but NATO did not donate the air part, bc HIMARS was not around in 1990.

        Ukraine was under led and unprepared.

    2. Benny Profane

      The whole point is to keep the whole thing from collapsing before November and the election. After that, they don’t give an F. And, it’s actually very similar to the fantasy of Biden holding on to the WH.
      Think of these Trump prosecutions as in the same boat as the Great Counteroffensive.

      1. ArvidMartensen

        Idk. What would happen in a security state that owns one party and hates the other, but hides behind elections.
        if I was writing my novel, the answer would go like this.

        1. Trump is winning the polls.

        2. Voting day comes and then polls close. Somewhere around the world, maybe from Italy or Israel, there is a satellite controlled computer “glitch” in US voting machines which may only be a millisecond long, and in that millisecond the numbers reverse and Biden wins. It’s a miracle!! Not only that but the Dems now control both Houses.

        3. Trump voters, having had 4 years of ‘we wuz robbed’, get fairly antzy with demos and such, maybe a march on Washington? Police in riot gear lob various chemicals into the crowd to disperse them and arrest anyone looking like a leader. They use monster robot dogs to rough people up and scare the tar out of everybody. Horses are so passe.

        4. A law is hastily enacted asap to make it illegal to even question the results of a ‘democratic election’, with say a mandatory 10 years in the slammer.

        5. Leaders of the protests are jailed by compliant judges

        6. The msm is full of well-paid analysts proving how the polls were unreliable for this and that reason so that Biden was always going to win. And that only the stoopid knuckle dragging deplorables were stupid enough to believe Trump had a chance

        7. Life goes on. Biden stumbles down his red carpets, loses his train of thought mid sentence and gets lost on stages and dutifully sends billions to whatever war the US has started today.

    3. Cat Burglar

      Michael O’Hanlon has scored another hit!

      And who could forget his past chart toppers?

      A War We Just Might Win (2007)

      Guarded Optimism About Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan (2009)

      How To Win In Iraq (2014)

      The Costs Of Iraq Are Clear While the Benefits are Fuzzy (2013)

      I was glad to see he did a 2023 interview, Policymakers Need To Know More History.

    4. Feral Finster

      The point is to keep the juice flowing as long as possible before the call goes out for NATO to intervene openly.

    5. Snailslime

      So, in the words of Dima “Greatest Ukrainian Counter Offensive 2.0”?

      Well, why not?

      After all it worked brilliantly first time around.

      And of course to this day nobody has ever explained how or why even a hypothetically successful cutting off of Crimea would lead to a ukrainian victory and the end of the war.

      1. OnceWere

        Too right it’s different. Last time the watchwords were combined arms warfare, western training & western technological superiority. Not a word about those in this plan – just a 150,000 man surprise meat wave on a single 20 mile front.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          But this time, there won’t be an ad with a bunch of Kiev soldiers going, “shhhh.” It’s full proof.

        2. Neutrino

          Anything to win the newscycle. After all, that is what really seems to matter.
          Don’t worry about those eventual casualties. The future discount rate is approaching infinity as the copium doses and foreign aids increase.

      1. Martin Oline

        Your enemy cannot anticipate you if you don’t know what you are doing – Joe Tzu Art of War

  4. The Rev Kev

    ‘Arnaud Bertrand
    This is crazy. Israel arrested a renowned feminist scholar teaching at Hebrew University in Jerusalem – who is a dual American and Israeli citizen (!) – because she accused Israel of genocide in Gaza and questioned reports of mass rape on Oct 7th.
    Her family and colleagues are now reporting she’s being tortured, and subjected to extremely degrading treatment.’

    Having dual American citizenship means zip. It certainly did not help Gonzalo Lira in a Ukrainian prison, especially when he told of his torture at the hands of the Ukrainians after he was released. And the Biden White House gave the Ukrainians a pass to get away with it after he died in prison the second time.

    ‘Know what’s going on.’

    1. Trees&Trunks

      Dual citizenship in general may be great for travelling back and forth and often for job purposes, but as soon as you have legal problems it is mostly a curse. Each country can say “please, contact the embassy of the the other country”.

    2. Feral Finster

      Neither the United States nor Israel cares about its citizens once they are inconvenient.

      Legal protections also are not worth squat when the rulers don’t want them to.

  5. Wukchumni

    I’ll bomb Iran before Christmas
    You can plan on me
    Please have snow and mistletoe
    And presents, er, a meshugoyim fee

    Christmas eve will find me
    Not far from where the radiation light gleams
    I’ll bomb Iran before Christmas
    Its my only scheme

    I’ll bomb Iran before Christmas
    You can plan on me
    Please have some snow and mistletoe
    And presents, 30 pieces of silver-the usual fee

  6. The Rev Kev

    ‘Max Roser
    One big lesson from humanity’s history is that pandemics happen all the time.
    Our ancestors couldn’t do much about them, but our situation today is different — and so I think we should learn this history lesson and reduce the risk of pandemics. This chart is from @salonium’s history of pandemics:

    That was a very interesting chart and have saved it to my ‘puter already. A minor quibble though. It mentions the 1889–1890 Russian flu pandemic but was that not actually a Coronavirus pandemic? I am sure that IM Doc labelled it as such some time ago.

    1. Jeff W

      I loved the infographic but wondered about the Black Death killing 50–60% of Europe’s population, an estimated 50 million people, between 1347 and 1353. That seemed high to me, having grown up with the traditional estimate of about a quarter to a third. (And, as a kid, I read Robert Silverberg’s alternative history novel The Gate of the Worlds, which is based entirely on the premise that three quarters, rather than one quarter, of Europe’s population died in the Black Death, leading to the conquering of Europe by the Ottoman Empire.) That 50–60% estimate is based on the work of Norwegian historian Ole Benedictow, who is something of a Black Death maven—he, in fact, raised the high end of that estimate to 65% in a 2021 revision of his earlier work.

      Meanwhile, other researchers, analyzing historical deposits of pollen as proxies for agrarian activity, have cast doubt on estimates that high, arguing that we’d be able to see a shift in pollen species as farms became fallow and pastures became overgrown—and we don’t. (Only about a third of the 21 regions looked at by the researchers show such a shift.) The lead study author said “We cannot any longer say that [the Black Death] killed half of Europe,” but declined to give a firm percentage as to the death toll arising from the plague.

  7. ambrit

    Jackpot adjacent musings.
    I woke up this morning with this question in my mind: What if the mRNA “vaccine” spike protein is a mutagen?
    Then I read down to the timeline of Pandemics. The “serious” outbreaks mentioned casualty rates in the millions and some tens of millions. Apply Jackpot Thinking here. The ‘preferred’ outcomes of a Jackpot appropriate pandemic should be in the billion range. Yes, that’s where our multi-daca-cidal elites heads are at.
    I am really rooting for the Peasant Revolt Team this morning.

  8. Wukchumni

    Gooooooooood Moooooooorning Fiatnam!

    Robbing St. Petersburg to pay appalling price was a given, waist deep in the big muddy on maneuvers, and the big fools said to push on.

  9. Bugs

    Springtime for Zelensky was a flop in ’23 but maybe, just maybe, we can rewrite the ending and Broadway will make it a hit in ’24?

    We’re marching to a faster pace
    Look out! Here comes the master race

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Russia says US support for Ukraine will end as ‘humiliating fiasco’ like ‘Vietnam and Afghanistan’ ”

    The Russians must see that the Ukraine is about to become a horrible debacle for the west but particularly Washington and Brussels. Probably more so for Washington as there is a Presidential election in a little over six months which the Democrats are frantic to try to win. The Russians can see how laws are being twisted and abused – Constitutional laws too – just so old Joe gets another term. So the Russians must be playing it careful in the Ukraine. If they go for big arrow offensives, this might panic Washington – and Brussels – to the point that they might be stupid enough to send ground troops and aviation. But with a slow grinding action against the Ukrainian military, there is no specific point that would set off such a panic but the trends themselves are tending to immobilize the west with performative theater actions in their support of the Ukraine. For the Russians, it must be a case of softly, softly, catchee monkey.

    1. yep

      And they are constanly offering the enemy a golden bridge to retreat across, according to Chinese instructions.

      1. alfred venison

        the golden bridge manifests in weird and wonderful ways : there’s a clip on telegram of a Ukrainian PoW recounting how he indicated to a Russian drone operator that he wanted to surrender. The drone operator then escorted him to the nearest Russian position where they were waiting for him and accepted his surrender.

          1. ambrit

            “At least this guy should be able to survive the war.”
            Yes, but will his wife? The end days of the original Reich saw a wave of vigilante style killings of “traitors” and “families of traitors.”
            The collapse of any Gangster Regime is always a scene of horror and terror.

    2. Trees&Trunks

      Since the American death&misery mongers are not spreading death&misery in the world for any other higher purpose but only for profit, they cannot be humiliated. They do not really believe in any of the spreading democracy crapola or the new Hitler stuff they put forward as a reason to bomb the next country. In what way are you humiliated when you are a pure nihilist?
      The profit part of the death&misery machine is working perfectly well and no ground to feel humiliated at all: 1) for profit 2) tax payer financed through bought politicians.

      The total silence after Afghanistan say that humiliation is not part of the mental landscape in Washington.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        i prefer some form of narcissism for a mass-psych diagnosis of the ruling class.
        it fits 1:1 with what i have observed with my mom and aunts….and it turns out, they feel deep deep but secret shame…and a general sense of unworthiness…also deeply secret, even to themselves.
        now all in their dotage(another analogous feature to western masters), they are edging towards the nihilism you speak of.
        but this is only after the dementia sets in(cant keep up with their own BS)…as well as after them being wrong about oh so many things has become impossible for even them to deny….so its a triple down into “who gives a damn…its what i want, and thats it!”
        ive found this way of modelling global events, and the actions of Our Betters within them, to make a lot more sense…
        sadly, such people….and perhaps such cohorts…sometimes lash out in nihilistic violence at the end.

    3. Feral Finster

      The ground troops and aviation are coming, regardless of anything Russia does or doesn’t.

      Had Russia acted decisively from the outset, they would have presented the West with a fait accompli.

      1. urdsama

        I keep seeing people say this, without anything to back it up.

        While Russia made a few missteps in the beginning, they have done a good job since then of controlling the flow of events on the ground and in the air, with only a few disruptions.

        I see no evidence the outcome would have been better with some fantastical fait accompli.

      2. Kouros

        What aviation?

        against a decent AD system? People will want to buy cheaper AD systems instead of fighter jets….

        1. Anon

          As we keep reminding them; Ukraine is not The West. The West may yet become Ukraine… I think Finster’s point is that the Russians would have far less on their plate had they acted sooner. Europe, though weak, can still injure them severely. As pyrrhic as that may be, one need only look at the AFU numbers to appreciate the quality of Western leadership.

          1. Kouros

            Russia was not prepared for the all out war unleashed by the west, it had to be as ready as possible for such an onslaught. And we all see the extent of it, when even Tolstoi and Cheaikovski are banned… The Feral kitten never seems to at least acknowledge these facts.

      3. Procopius

        According to Russian statute, conscripts may not be sent out of the country. In February, 2022, Russia simply did not have enough volunteers in their army (aka “contract soldiers”) for a big attack. It probably was a miscalculation, but they were also up against a deadline of March, 2022, when Ukraine was going to invade Donbass. The result is that now overall Russian armed forces are 15% larger than in February, 2022, and many more of them are volunteers.

        Secondly, I keep seeing reports of how Ukrainian Forces are mostly holding against Russian forces which are taking “horrendous casualties.” I don’t believe it. I believe the Russians are doing everything they can to minimize casualties, and they’ve taken a year to train their troops, rather than throwing them into battle after a month of “training.” The Russians may only be gaining 100 meters a day, but that’s every day, and they aren’t being pushed back.

        Of course, I may be wrong.

    4. edgui

      I can imagine. When in a few months the press will talk about “Russian interference in the US elections”, this is what they will be referring to. The financing of a lost war of controlled intensity according to Russian geopolitical objectives.

  11. Paco

    > AI and the Complexity of Code Koen van Gilst. Very good.

    Really? All I see is a check for the hour. The requirement includes the word “Friday”

      1. Late Introvert

        One of the reasons I left software dev is because they wanted me to learn that crazy Object Oriented crap-ola. It’s impossible to read and takes way more time.

        The other reason I left is because I was approaching 40 and that’s a death sentence if you’re not a manager. And the final reason was I had to leave SF to afford a house, and that was 20 years ago. Can’t imagine what it’s like today.

  12. midtownwageslave

    COVID perspective:

    As a member of God’s chosen colour spectrum, I can’t help but notice how the brick and mortar shopping experience has changed from pre-pandemic times.

    Being followed around in stores by staff is nothing new, but post 2019 the nature of retail asset protection has taken a different, more aggressive, tone. Is it that mask wearing is a universal shoplifting signal?

    Heaven forefend someone not wanting to contract a biosafety level 3 pathogen that could result in disability, or worse.

    I suppose propaganda does indeed work.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “China Orders Apple to Remove Popular Messaging Apps ”

    A shot across Washington’s bow for attempting to try to take Tik Tok from China? Can you imagine if Twitter was still running in China and China came up with a law saying that Twitter’s world-wide operations now had to be based in China as it might be stealing Chinese people’s data. And that two of China’s political & financial bigwigs came forward with a plan to take it over and run it? That would be crazy that.

  14. ChrisFromGA


    (Melody from “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult)

    With a purposeful grimace and a terrible scowl
    He pulls those pivot mongers rate cut dreams down

    Helpless traders with unrealized gains
    Scream bug-eyed as bond yields hit max pain

    He picks up the VIX and he throws it back down
    As he leaves IRAs pillaged and Fed heads beclowned

    Oh no, Jay Powell has got to go, go go Bondzilla! Yeah
    Oh no, muh REITs went broke, you know, g-g-go Bondzilla! Yeah

    [guitar solo]

    Oh no, Jay Powell has got to go, go go Bondzilla! Yeah
    Oh no, muh REITs went broke, you know, go go Bondzilla! Yeah

    Bondzilla, zilla, zilla, …
    [Speaking Japanese; translated to English]

    Japanese central bank to Powell!
    Japanese central bank to Powell!

    Bondzilla spotted near your shores!

    Initiate QE immediately!
    Initiate QE immediately!

    Oh no, Jay Powell has go to go, go go Bondzilla! Yeah
    Oh no, just like Tokyo, we must fight Bondzilla! Yeah

    History shows again and again how compound interest points out the folly of men – Bondzilla!

  15. GM

    Why are we so ill? The working-age health crisis BBC. ‘Tis a mystery! Also, working-ageclass.


    Someone with a contact at the BBC told me today that the original article (not written by Triggle) was intended to be mostly about Covid, hence its inclusion in the Coronavirus section, but was censored before publication & Triggle’s rewrite doesn’t mention Covid at all.

    Unverified source obviously, but makes sense.

    1. LawnDart

      Seems that the “c-word” gets burried everywhere:

      Mortality has increased markedly in Russia

      …mortality increased from 301 thousand to 331 thousand, or by 10%.

      Mortality, on the contrary, has grown markedly. However, there is the influence of the leap year, as well as the aging of the population. Even with the same life expectancy, simply due to aging, mortality would increase by 1-2%. Excluding the influence of the leap year, mortality growth was not 30 thousand, but about 20 thousand, or 6-7%. In other words, life expectancy is reduced. What proportion of mortality growth is attributable to losses in the SVO is unknown. But the younger the ages, mortality is growing, the stronger the negative impact of this on OIE. Last year, it was 73.5 years. In 2022, mortality from external causes increased for 7 thousand. Data for the last year is not yet.

      Yeah, machine-translation– sorry.

      But check-out the Life Expectancy chart on this page:

      Since 2020, life-expectancy EVERYWHERE has fallen off the cliff.

      When this becomes common knowledge, will governments be able to meet their people’s demands?

      1. Feral Finster

        “When this becomes common knowledge, will governments be able to meet their people’s demands?”

        What on earth makes you think that governments care?

          1. Feral Finster

            Good point. The populace seems resigned to the fact that government is at most apathetic, at worst openly predatory, but nothing that can be done about it, any more than one can vote bad weather away.

  16. t

    I’ve always thought the view of humans as the end of the line has something to do with the general view of evolution as leading to the best and the mistanding of “the fittest” as the ideal. The illustration from knuckle-walking ape, then a line various ancestors, and finally a fully upright man is something most Americans have seen and I think that, generally, is what people learned.

    Or maybe it’s just not reading. Evolution is definitely one of those topics that was appently better understood before color TV. Articles in mid-century general interest magazines assume a more nuanced understanding than what the Smithsonian would today.

    1. digi_owl

      Basic thing is that the written word can pack more information in a few pages than any tv show can pack in a half hour.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        More important than the information, writing can quickly be referred to. Anything on video is a pain, hence it just passes like the wind then all you think about is the presenter’s charming demeanor in time for a commercial for Lockheed Martin and America’s Petroleum.

  17. digi_owl

    The size of computer code is an “accident of history” as so many layers of abstractions and security has been laid on top of each other.

    To network these days we use bespoke protocol (often JSON) over HTTPS over TCP, where as a few decades back it may have been straight TCP. This because sysadmins blocked all but HTTP traffic as it was deemed little used by most of the staff, and quite often a security risk.

    And more and more the same with local software that is wrapped in a virtual machine or container in order to isolated them from each other and the file system unless explicitly approved through dialog or configuration by sysadmin/user.

    Meaning we are basically running a OS inside a OS to run software that talk to each other over protocols on top of protocols, all to work around sensible at the time security decisions.

    But all this require dedicated staff to figure out and maintain, and the private users are swept along in the process.

    And when something inevitably breaks, we find ourselves being bounced from automated “support to automated “support” until the only thing left is to try to shame the corporations on social media.

    Effectively we have automated Kafka (ironically also the name of a piece of software originally developed by Linkedin and these days maintained by Apache)…

    1. cfraenkel

      The counterargument is that this ‘bloated’ layered approach is much much more reliable than the wide open wild wild west of the ’90s. I for one never want to juggle IRQs (or in the Mac case, extensions) ever again!

      Sure, the machines would be blazing fast and the code tiny and clean in a world where you can trust *everyone else* is going to behave, not cheat or cut corners to get to market faster/cheaper. Or abuse the openness to harvest consumer data for the marketing grift of the week. Find that world first, then complain about bloated code.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “No prison time for developer who bribed city officials for 18 years”

    Perhaps he was a major political donor to Nancy. Certainly he has friends in high places or else he would be in the slammer.

    1. Feral Finster

      By definition the developer has important friends, if he was bribing city officials for 18 years.

    2. neutrino23

      I’m pretty sure Nancy Pelosi has no influence with local judges. I skimmed the local news stories about this and it seems that the issues were that the charged crimes don’t carry the possibility of long sentences, this was his first offense, he had performed socially beneficial public works and had a young child. As I recall the prosecution asked for something like 18 months and the judge considered everything and gave him probation and a fine.

      I suppose to fix this we’d need to reform the penal code to assign minimum sentences to white collar crimes. If judges don’t want to imprison “upstanding citizens” then we might find other punishments like banning them from working in business for several years or maybe make them volunteer in a soup kitchen for a few years.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “US-Israel: Netanyahu vows to reject any US sanctions on army units”

    Supposedly it was an Ultra-Orthodox unit operating in the West Bank but I have little doubt that the Biden White House will buckle on this. Blinken is refusing to acknowledge the problem and is ignoring it for example. But more to the point, when Biden put some nominal sanctions on some Settlers, it was not long before he was forced to lift some major restriction on those Settlers causing celebrations in Israel over their victory.

  20. antidlc

    RE: Why are we so ill? The working-age health crisis BBC. ‘Tis a mystery! Also, working-ageclass.
    by Nick Triggle.

    Something else he wrote back in October, 2023:
    Changing nature of Covid: Is it just a regular winter bug now?

    But there is plenty of evidence to suggest the virus is on its way to becoming just another respiratory bug to contend with, alongside flu and others maybe lesser known, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinorvirus and adenovirus.

  21. Screwball

    Of course (from the NYT – no paywall best I can tell);

    Government Surveillance Keeps Us Safe


    Although Section 702 can be used only to target foreigners abroad, it does include Americans when they interact with foreign targets. Not only is such incidental collection inevitable in today’s globalized world; it can be vital to U.S. security. If a terrorist or spy abroad is communicating with someone here, our government must find out why.

    To the bold; pull the other one.

    1. Feral Finster

      So why not just jettison the entire Fourth Amendment? Because safety?

      Oh, whom do I think I am kidding? The Bill of Rights has long been a dead letter.

      1. Ranger Rick

        Third party doctrine declared that your Fourth Amendment rights end as soon as your information leaves your immediate physical possessions. Throw in a concerted effort to prevent people from owning anything, and voila, the government can search everything of yours because someone else owns where it’s stored. It’s the interstate commerce clause loophole writ large.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          i hafta figure out/remember every time, so im just now getting in to this evil stupidity( )

          i had my fones where i was staying tapped(confirmed by fucking with them…saying “bring the package to x at y time” and then watching from a vantage)
          long ago, pre-internet, pre-cell fones.
          and ive been on a no fly list, during the second bush darkness(that hasnt ended, mind you).
          (for yelling at congressmen(my employees) from my bed during the 7 year slog to get a hip…and prolly from being at latoc for years, too)

          i assume, since 1999, and as a rule, that i am being surveilled.
          especially on electronic devices.
          (waves to nsa)

          its had no real effect on me, really…any of it….i dont want to fly, and i dont care if “They” know what i think(just ask)…and i dont do any bidness, except for in cash….dont even have a debit card.

          but it pisses me off.
          because they do not have the Right.
          and i believe in my soul that it is very wrong, in any case.
          this article, so far, is just over the top and literally Orwellian…in the strictest sense:”Big Brother is Your Friend”.
          Fie, Fie, Fie!

          and dammit…i talk to people in foreign countries all over the place….even Russia…every day…right here, on NC.
          and so does everybody on faceborg and twitter and in comments sections and disqus and so on.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      The problem is that the goal from the beginning of the Petroleum Age has been to use all of that oil molecule. Plastics are the result of that along with kerosene (air transport), diesel (land and sea transport), and gasoline. What will be done with the refining products used for making plastics? Pour it in the river?

      If anybody were inclined to get rid of plastics, they’ll also need to get rid of the demand for the other oil molecule products.

      1. Revenant

        All of the feedstocks for plastics can be used in combustion applications, as gases or liquids. Indeed, it costs money to reform simple low weight hydrocarbons into plastic feedstocks.

        We make plastics because some of them are indispensably useful. The problem is more of them are disposably lazy.

        Most organic chemists would argue that oil’s too good to burn!

    2. Rod

      Yea why don’t we??
      Here’s one reason we couldn’t stop:

      Thanks for another article and putting it out there as:
      The theme for Earth Day 2024 is Planet vs. Plastics, a commitment to call for the end of plastics “for the sake of human and planetary health.” The theme’s proposed goal is to reduce the production of plastics by 60% in 2040 and ultimately build a plastic-free future.

      Make every day your own Earth Day by doing what you can do and trying to get others to commit likewise.

      Oh, and Happy Earth Day regardless…

    3. Vandemonian

      My preferred solution to the plastics problem is to mandate a reverse supply chain. I take my used milk container back to the supermarket; the supermarket sends it to the wholesale supplier; the supplier sends it to the manufacturer; manufacturer to the plastics plant.

      All of a sudden plastics are no longer “someone else’s problem”, and there’s less profit in willful pollution.

      We tried out a half baked solution to this in Oz, with supermarkets promoting a scheme for everyone to recycle plastic so that it could be re-used. Turns out it was all smoke and mirrors and greenwashing. The accumulated used plastic was unsorted and filthy, and the Asian country paid to process it refused to accept any more. Turns out the Australian company paid to collect it was just piling it up in a giant warehouse. Now, when we dutifully put out our our bin of recycling next to the one for rubbish, it goes straight to landfill.

      1. Feral Finster

        Most Americans are apathetic.

        From the ruling class perspective, that is fine. It doesn’t matter whether corporate imperialist muppet Tweedledee is elected over corporate imperialist muppet Tweedledum on 22% turnout, as long as the winning muppet follows orders and that muppet’s directives are carried out by the appropriate functionaries.

    1. Screwball

      The last line that can be read;

      Do members of Congress work for voters, or for the Pentagon and the Intelligence Community?

      At this point the answer seems obvious.

  22. Tom Stone

    American Universities are certainly educating their students about the importance of Freedom of Speech.
    “Boy, I’m going to educate you like a red headed stepchild”.

    1. Emma

      I wonder if China and Russia could largely reverse their demographic problem by simply not facilitating collection of American medical and education debt. Imagine the education debt that was intended to enslave young people to the Western capitalist system, instead become an impetus for them to completely break free from it!

      1. CA

        “I wonder if China … could largely reverse their demographic problem by simply not facilitating collection of American medical and education debt…”

        Should the word “American” be omitted or changed to “American-style”?

        Education for students in Chinese national schools before college is largely free, supplemented for meals and even boarding when necessary, and is low cost and aided when necessary for college students. Medical insurance is widespread and becoming ever more so. Medical costs such as for drugs are always kept low.

        1. Emma

          No, I meant that young Americans (and potentially other westerners, as austerity lead to increasing educational debts) may simply escape to China or Russia to avoid paying their onerous education debts.

          The full tuition at Columbia is now more than $90K per year. And they’re graduating into a precarious job market where most of them will never be able to afford home ownership unless they have substantial parental help. Running off to escape that debt in the more dynamic economies of Russia and China may become very appealing for many.

    2. flora

      Columbia and Yale and other ivy admins are terrified of losing deep pocket donors’ support. Students? First Amendment? pshaw!

  23. Jason Boxman

    From China Orders Apple to Remove Popular Messaging Apps

    “We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree,” an Apple spokesperson said.

    Contrast with the other story today about Microsoft as a national security concern, and their unwilliningness to include robust logging by default for government agencies. Clearly, in the US, the rapacious capitalists call the shots.

    In a real war, China is going to eat our lunch, without a doubt.

  24. Feral Finster

    “Greece and Spain under pressure to provide Ukraine with air defence systems FT”

    I thought we were duly assured that there were no more air defense systems to send.

    Of course there are. Russia again let a good opportunity slip away.

    1. Snailslime

      Yeah, you’re right, they secretly grow on trees that the US has huge monoculture plantations of.

      What we have been “duly assured” was that there weren’t really any more airdefense systems that Western countries could send without this reducing their already lackluster ability to defend their own airspace.

      Rational and sovereign countries that take their legal obligations seriously indeed wouldn’t send anything more at this point.

      But western countries are neither sovereign nor rational and yes, laws, constitutions and even the rules of NATO mean nothing when not convenient.

      And to be fair, since nobody ever threatened their airspace in any way, with nobody ever being seriously concerned about any sort of aerial attack, it’s not like it was a topic on anybody’s mind.

      Nobody will realize any difference between having airdefense and having none at all.

      Doesn’t change the fact though that there’s not anywhere near enough for Ukraine to ever have more than a fraction of what was already destroyed again and even then their ability to stop russian missiles and even drones was always severely limited while the Russians capabilities and techniques for detecting and eliminating them have vastly improved.

      1. Feral Finster

        “Doesn’t change the fact though that there’s not anywhere near enough for Ukraine to ever have more than a fraction of what was already destroyed again and even then their ability to stop russian missiles and even drones was always severely limited while the Russians capabilities and techniques for detecting and eliminating them have vastly improved.”

        We keep hearing this, we’ve been hearing this for over two years, even as the West sends more. So what do NATO planners know that we do not?

        Moreover, if the West truly were out of weapons, why does nobody take a Macron aside and tell him to quit letting his mouth write checks that his @ss cannot cash? Assuming that there is nobody in the Champ d/Elyssee as informed as commentators on a message board seems a tall ask, just sayin’.

        1. Snailslime

          I see nothing that would convince me that the political decision makers in Paris get their information or the majority of them from anywere else but the mainstream media.

          But I guess all those active duty NATO officers and NATO adjecent think tank people who have countless times publicly pointed out that NATO is in no way, shape or form prepared for war with Russia don’t know anything either.

          The fact that politicians and politicized, ideologically fanatical generals insist on a war in no way constitutes proof that they are remotely adequately prepared for it, much less capable of winning or avoiding a complete disaster.

          Otherwise lots of wars that countries were woefully un(der) prepared for never would have been started.

          Well, I suspect the Russians quickly dispatching whatever additional airdefense Ukraine wouldn’t impress you a bit.

          And if they really start a larger offensive over the next couple weeks nothing they achieve will be “enough”, when they eventually take Kiev it will be meaningless because they didn’t already do so in 2014, same with Odessa or even they reached the polish border.

          Concerning war with NATO one last time, when NATO “leaders” are as psychopathic as you insist, and I fully agree on that, war with them is unavoidable, ultimately regardless of whatever Russia does.

          They can’t be deterred, at most for a brief moment.

          And hardcore psychopaths not only will gamble with lifes, even their own, they are also (and that’s kinda the only “good” news) usually quite incompetent in anything except the act of climbing the social ladder and holding on to their position despite endless failures.

          And that is of course quite sufficient in our pathocratic societies, but when push comes to shove they are very unlikely to make for skilled or particularly successful warleaders and are exactly the type of people most likely to start a war even when they are NOT adequately prepared and do NOT have a realistic plan for victory.

          But if war with NATO is unavoidable, it might still be the best Option to try and keep them feeding their weapons and their own troops piecemeal into the relatively contained and controllable ukrainian theater to be eliminated there for as long as possible.

  25. XXYY

    Biden marks Passover with statement of ‘ironclad’ support for Israel (The Hill)

    Long time watchers of US politics will note the following: Not only are statements of support from US politicians useless and meaningless, but they actually become more frequent and emphatic the closer the US gets to throwing someone over the side. I suppose it’s kind of a “the lady doth protest too much” thing.

    Biden himself seems to be an especially virulent exemplar of this.

  26. pjay

    – ‘Hakeem Jeffries emerges as Congress’ shadow speaker’ – Axios

    “Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a master legislative tactician, heaped praise on her successor: “He is fabulous. We’re so proud of him.”

    “Democrats did something virtually unheard of in modern politics on Thursday, crossing the aisle on the House Rules Committee to save the foreign aid package. They did it again the next day on the House floor.”

    “We wouldn’t be voting on this right now if it weren’t for Hakeem … He’s the one who created the system that Johnson could follow and get this done,” said a House Democrat.”

    It’s amazing what the Democrats can do when there is a cause that they really believe in – like war or genocide or pushing us toward WWIII. It’s great to see the mechanisms of “democracy” in action. The System works, just like I learned in my 8th grade Civics class!

  27. Ranger Rick

    Re: Pichai quote
    I feel like there should be a short explanation and a couple of links on of how Google got to this point.

    This is the latest in an ongoing series of very public failures of management at Google. Reportedly the internal culture at the company is so rancorous they outclass even Microsoft, itself famous for the level of backstabbing and general viciousness between its business units. This seems to be the product of what one might conservatively call an over-enthusiastic HR department. Employees were encouraged by messaging describing the transformative and influential potential of their work, and then shocked that they were both not in control of that work and ultimately not actually being transformative or influential. So they take to open revolt, to predictable consequences.

  28. Wukchumni

    In the real world, you simply can’t have crazy price disparities as we’re seeing in the cost of doing business in war.

    Cheap drones are performing knockouts slinging explosive stones at Goliath’s spendy missiles & tanks, i.e. ‘columnkaze warfare’.

    It’d be as if 65 inch HD TV’s were $400 elsewhere, and $40,000 here in the USA, that’d never work.

  29. Bruce Hall

    China doesn’t stop with medicine precursors; it actively exports fentanyl precursors for the illicit drug trade.

    1. CA

      China doesn’t stop with medicine precursors…

      [ This is incorrect. China has long strictly regulated exports of the chemicals in question in line with an agreement with the Trump administration. Agreement with the Trump administration has been renewed with agreement with the Biden administration. ]

      1. Revenant

        Fentanyl is a medicine. China exports its precursors in line with international agreements.

        Or are you accusing China or running a state drug-dealing empire. North Korea is also accused of this. Funnily enough, there is no mention of the generals in Burma, the warlords in Afghanistan, the CIA in Iran-Contra or nameless factions makimg Captagon in the Middle East….

    2. Emma

      And I will start caring when you show evidence of Chinese agents selling meth in Appalachia and the Rust Belt. Better yet, show me a Chinese private airline dedicated to transporting drugs and weapons or maybe some Chinese gunboats sailing up the Mississippi enforcing extraterritoriality over American law enforcement.

      1. ambrit

        Phyl and I would “make a day of it” to go see that Chinese gunboat over at Natchez. Hopefully, the officers onboard that vessel can hire “native” compradores. I could use the extra yuan.

          1. ambrit

            And definitely Chow Yun-fat playing the part of Jake Holman, played by Steve McQueen in the 1966 Robert Wise film version.
            I can just visualize the Chinese gunboat surrounded by a swarm of hostile Jon boats.

      2. Snailslime

        It’s at least a many decades old western propaganda point cropping Up in popular culture like the James Bond movie “Thunderball” where SPECTRE is mentioned to be paid by Red China to introduce chinese narcotica into the US.

        Ah well, at least they are shown to do the dirty work of both sides in the Cold War.

        While China itself was indeed victimized that way at least twice, by the British Empire and later by Imperial Japan.

        No doubt the CIA would absolutely LOVE to flood China with highly addictive, deadly drugs and would gleefully jump at the opportunity.

    1. Dissident Dreamer

      Caitlin was a little behind the times. 285 bodies have now been recovered at the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis with another 200 expected to be found at the first site examined. There are two other mass graves at the same hospital so we can expect at least 1000 Palestinians were slaughtered by the Israelis and their bodies covered by bulldozers.

      Those who can face it need to concentrate on what really matters.

  30. XXYY

    AI and the Complexity of Code

    This piece is idiotic. The author seems to think that LLMs have “thoughts” and will use their experience to do things “better” if you tell them to.

    LLMs have no “thoughts”. They are just trying to figure out which plagiarized material they have seen is most consistent with the prompt they have been given, plus some extra randomization to make their output seem more “lifelike”, or at least less “machine-like”.

    Nothing profound, or even new, is going to come out of this process. It’s just a cut and paste of something that other humans have done before (or perhaps what previous AIs have claimed that other humans have done before, and so on).

    But note this interesting fact: because you, the human, are not involved in generating the output, you are in no position to judge the quality of the output, since you didn’t learn anything in the process of generating it. So the main thing you get out of an AI-based workflow is an increasing amount of ignorance of your field, and, doubtless, an increasing sense of awe that the AI is generating material that you can no longer create or even understand. As a result, your organization is pumping out products that no one understands, not even the people who “created” it.

    It’s easy to imagine that the end result is companies like Boeing all over the landscape, pushing out things that don’t work, and which no one knows how to fix. I don’t see anything good going on here.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Unfortunately, I agree with this and have observed some if it first hand – people using ChatGTP and its cousins not understanding the results, but running with it because it was fast and easy and sort of looks correct. It doesn’t look to end well. I keep hoping we experience some small blow-ups – not too damaging, but damaging enough that people rethink their approach. Probably expecting too much.

  31. KFritz

    My operating system is Ubuntu. NYRB paywall is in effect for Chrom(ium), Firefox, and Opera.

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