Links 4/8/2024

Science This! Some Ancient Theories on Eclipses SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

To Ancient Maya, Solar Eclipses Signified Clashing Gods Scientific American

Hyper-sexual “zombie cicadas” that are infected with sexually transmitted fungus expected to emerge this year CBS


Ocean heat content in 2023 Nature. “With the ocean’s large thermal inertia, deep ocean warming is expected to continue for at least hundreds of years. Thus, the consequences of ocean warming are expected to become even more severe.”

Show me the money! Associations between tree canopy and hospital costs in cities for cardiovascular disease events in a longitudinal cohort study of 110,134 participants Environmental International

INTERVIEW: Building a credible carbon market takes time; ‘bear with us’, says ICVCM S&P Global


Every Time Dr. Jay Bhattacharya Talks About COVID, He Proves He Was Totally Wrong About COVID Science-Based Medicine

Embracing Viruses Anthony J. Leonardi, Easy Chair. The deck: “Societal Todestrieb.”

* * *

Emerging Threats: Is Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A(H5N1) in Dairy Herds a Prelude to a New Pandemic? (letter) Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. “A coordinated “One Health” approach that integrates animal, human, and environmental health MR SUBLIMINAL and profits is essential for effective monitoring.” “One Health” is in what APHIS’s mission statement. However, I can’t help but think Mr. Sublimimal is onto something. Of course, we think of markets as “healing”, for example, so the rhetorical ground is already prepared.

Recent Changes in Patterns of Mammal Infection with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A(H5N1) Virus Worldwide Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC. “Close contact,” yadda yadda yadda, but “continuous surveillance is essential to mitigate the risk for a global pandemic.”


China Confronts the Middle-Income Trap Project Syndicate

China Holiday Spending Rise Shows Consumption Recovery on Track Bloomberg

China conducts ‘combat patrols’ as US holds drills with allies in disputed waters Channel News Asia

‘Invest in China’ roundtable meeting held in Munich, Germany China Daily. Commentary:

Meanwhile, our EV charging station standards come into effect at some point next year:

U.S. Seeking to Dominate Chain of Pacific Islands in Preparation for Potential War with China Internationalist 360°

Is Japan finally becoming a ‘normal’ economy? FT


Myanmar’s army massacred Rohingyas. Now it wants their help BBC

Dear Old Blighty

Thames Water is bust: our politicians need to deal with it Funding the Future

New Not-So-Cold War

Donald Trump’s plan to end war is to force Ukraine to give up territory – WP Ukrainska Pravda

Trump cries ‘fake news’ at report about plan to end Ukraine war by asking ally to give Russia territory NY Post

* * *

Drones attack the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant ABC

Media: Ukrainian military intelligence denies involvement in drone explosion at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Kyiv Independent [nods vigrously].

Ukraine strikes at Russian oil as battlefield desperation mounts The Hill

* * *

Nobody Actually Knows What Russia Does Next Stephen Walt, Foreign Policy

“It’s Time To Slowly Bleed Russia’s Economy Dry” Der Spiegel

Black Sea feeder delivers first containers to Ukraine in two years Seatrade Maritime. To Odessa.

* * *

Do we need Russian peacekeepers? Debates spark in Azerbaijan JAM News

Kyiv’s recurring grief The New Statesman


Israel pulls troops out of Khan Younis to ‘prepare’ for Rafah mission France24

Kirby calls Israeli troop movement in southern Gaza ‘rest and refit,’ not withdrawal The Hill

Google Won’t Say Anything About Israel Using Its Photo Software To Create Gaza “Hit List” The Intercept

South of the Border

In Ecuador, gov’t sees mining as the future. But communities are divided Al Jazeera

Global Elections

How Indian democracy developed east Asian characteristics FT

In Heavily Militarised Kashmir, The Upcoming India Elections Do Not Inspire Hope Madras Courier

Biden Administration

TSMC boosts Biden’s AI chip ambitions with US production deal FT

Lawmakers unveil sprawling plan to expand online privacy protections WaPo


Biden: ‘Israel Has An Obligation Not To Harm My Reelection Chances’ The Onion


Monopoly Round-Up: A Judge Can Break Up Google Right Now. Will He? Lee Hepner, BIG

Digital Watch

How Tech Giants Cut Corners to Harvest Data for A.I. NYT (Furzy Mouse). “Cut corners” + “harvest” = “steal.”

How AI risks creating a ‘black box’ at the heart of US legal system The Hill. “Code is Law.” See NC 2012, and 2012.

Generative AI as Shakespearean tragedy Marcus on AI

Artificial Intelligence–Generated Draft Replies to Patient Inbox Messages JAMA. It does seem that one of the attractions of AI is the possibility that clients or customers will never be able to interact with an actual human, no matter at how many removes.

Blind internet users struggle with error-prone AI aids FT

Startups Weekly: Let’s see what those Y Combinator kids have been up to this time TechCrunch. Must we?


Southwest Boeing loses engine cover. Here’s what to know Reuters. Commentary:

Boeing Boss Gets $33 Million in Pay for 2023, but No Bonus WSJ. I’ll bet that stings.

Baltimore Key Bridge Collapse

Dali post mortem from a Chief Marine Engineer:

Spook Country

Anonymous users are dominating right-wing discussions online. They also spread false information AP. No doubt; they certainly infest my timeline. However, my sticking point with this line of thought is that named, official users have spread far more false information, with far worse consequences, than any trolls, right-wing or not. That goes for Ukraine, Israel, and Covid. And of course RussiaGate and the Iraq War. And that’s before we get to mainstream macro.

Zeitgeist Watch

The Dunning-Kruger Effect Shows that People Don’t Know What They Don’t Know Scientific American

Crying Myself to Sleep tn the Biggest Cruise Ship Ever The Atlantic. If I were trapped in a Petri dish, I’d be crying too.

The new science of death: ‘There’s something happening in the brain that makes no sense’ Guardian (Furzy Mouse). Well worth a read; death is, after all, like sleep, love, and the immune system, an important subject we do not remotely begin to understand.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Multipolarity in practice:

Class Warfare

Here’s Who Should Pay for Everyone’s Ozempic Slate. Big Food -> Big Medicine -> Big Pharma. And wait ’til Big Food figures out the additives to get round Ozempic:

I’d been paid again, and my debt had increased by eight dollars. I’d tormented myself by wondering where the money went, but I knew. I came off shift dehydrated, as they wanted me to be. I got a squirt of Popsie from the fountain by punching my combination — twenty-five cents checked off my payroll. The squirt wasn’t quite enough so I had another — fifty cents. Dinner was drab as usual; I couldn’t face more than a bite or two of Chicken Little. Later I was hungry and there was the canteen where I got Crunchies on easy credit. The Crunchies kicked off withdrawal symptoms that could be quelled only by another two squirts of Popsie from the fountain. And Popsie kicked off withdrawal symptoms that could only be quelled by smoking Starr Cigarettes, which made you hungry for Crunchies . . . Had Fowler Schocken thought of it in these terms when he organized Starrzelius Verily, the first spherical trust? Popsie to Crunchies to Starrs to Popsie?

–Frederick Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth, The Space Merchants (1952).

The Great Medicaid Purge was even worse than expected Catherline Rampell, WaPo

Something Is Starting to Smell Fishy About the Global Seafood Supply Chain Maritime Executive

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

Don’t try this at home!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Antifa

    (melody borrowed from Mrs Robinson  by Simon & Garfunkel)

    It’s one for all and it’s all for one
    Some fine day Mashiach’s gonna show (woe woe woe)
    This is the place we call Jeshuron
    Need we really wait till Judgement Day? (yay yay yay)
    Yay Yay Yay!

    The lands of Greater Israel are not for the gentiles
    Our purity is measured by our wealth
    Armageddon won’t arrive through prophets in disguise
    We’ll stay safe and sound beneath our Iron Dome!

    It’s one for all and it’s all for one
    Some fine day Mashiach’s gonna show (woe woe woe)
    This is the place we call Jeshuron
    Need we really wait till Judgement Day? (yay yay yay)
    Yay Yay Yay!

    We have done away with Arab tribes who might oppose
    Leveling the land and driving new stakes
    Beachfront homes in Gaza built on Palestine’s despair
    Jared Kushner really loves some fancy digs!

    It’s one for all and it’s all for one
    Some fine day Mashiach’s gonna show (woe woe woe)
    This is the place we call Jeshuron
    Need we really wait till Judgement Day? (yay yay yay)
    Yay Yay Yay!

    Was a time when Gaza was the dark side of the moon
    Now it’s emptied out it’s our blank slate
    We’ll bring in the tourists on a grand Norwegian cruise
    Come and spend some money with the Jews!

    Who needs the trumpets of Jericho?
    All Lebanon is waiting in the queue (woo woo woo)
    We’ll start up there with some bombing runs
    When they leave we’ll move in there to stay (yay yay yay)
    Yay Yay Yay!

  2. none

    New world goes up by GDP PPP

    PPP=Purchasing Power Parity. But it needs to be scaled by population and I’d like to see the median figure per capita, i.e. adjust for inequality.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Just divide the number by a corresponding Gini coefficient: the more equal the wealth/income distribution the higher the result.

      It’s crude, but it does adjust for inequality.

  3. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    Further to the link regarding Thames Water, readers may be interested in

    The author is friends with Richard Murphy. The pair often work together.

    Private equity is just getting started. One of the working groups assembled by Blair’s team to write Labour’s programme is composed of private equity specialists. This is parallel to the bank one composed of secondees from Barclays, HSBC, Citi, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. Labour aims to have private sector providers not just own infrastructure and deliver public services*, but to have secondees at all levels and in all corners of government.

    The Bank of England has warned of the fragility of the UK economy due to private equity predation, not just the lenders, including my own employer, but as Labour is infatuated with finance, officials are having to be careful.

    *Further to public services, we have been warned as per

    1. Ignacio

      Thank you CS. From your second link:

      “bringing in the private sector [to the NHS] to help cut ­waiting times”

      This has been tried by the Conservatives here in Madrid for more than a decade. It only results on stepping up administration expenditures without really cutting waiting times. Because the real objective is not to improve anything but redistribute income to some wealthy friends.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Ignacio.

        Over here, these wealthy friends are donating to both Tories and Labour. It’s an investment.

    2. lambert strether

      > Labour aims to have private sector providers not just own infrastructure and deliver public services*, but to have secondees at all levels and in all corners of government


      This certainly explains the brutality with which PLP (and the spooks, the press, and the Israeli embassy) took down Corbyn. Somehow I doubt that Corbyn would have thought much of this scheme, or of the schemers.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Lambert.

        Further to your reference to spooks taking down Corbyn, they also undermined Theresa May and imposed a chief of staff, ex Treasury official and Bank of America adviser, from one of their spook adjacent firms on Johnson.

        Dan Rosenfield joined Hakluyt from Bank of America. Former spook and brexiteer Richard Dearlove was a board director for some years and oversaw that appointment.

        1. Revenant

          Spook adjacent? Spook recycled!

          My MI6 cousin went from Tony Blair’s private sec to Hakluyt to a hedge fund.

          H are currently recruiting. Possibly a sign if the times, McKinsey down and Hakluyt up. The globalisers in WEF may be eclipsed by nationalist man.

    3. JohnA

      I was talking with my GP recently who is around retirement age. He explained that one of the reasons private equity is able to buy up GP practices around England is that unlike his generation, young GPs have so much student debt that they cannot afford to go into further debt to buy into such practices, leaving the field more open to PE predators.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, John.

        I had not thought of the student debt angle.

        Carers, foster parents, adoptive parents etc. have to undergo a medical at a GP. Costs for that at PE owned GP practices have rocketed from £50 to £500 per examination since covid.

    4. CA

      “One of the working groups assembled by Blair’s team to write Labour’s programme is composed of private equity specialists…”

      How could it be that Tony Blair or Blairist policy has so much influence over Labour politics all these years after Blair’s having left the Prime Minister’s office? Also, does this sort of policy intransigence contribute to the very low level of trust in Britain?

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Donald Trump’s plan to end war is to force Ukraine to give up territory – WP”

    So Trump’s big idea is to get the Ukraine top accept the loss of Crimea and the Donbass in exchange for peace. Trump is so far behind the times that it is not funny anymore. The Russians were negotiating that in Istanbul until the west had Zelensky blow up that deal so it is not even visible in the rear vision mirror anymore. It is no longer possible as it would mean that Russia would have to give up the new Oblasts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson and under the Russian Constitution, Russia is not allowed to give up Russian land. In addition, it would turn the war into a frozen conflict which the west is desperately striving for as it would allow them to rearm and re-equip the Ukrainians to continue the war in only a few short years. If a random guy like me knows this, then there is no excuse for Trump not to know it either. But when in this article you learn that ‘Republican Senator Lindsey Graham states that he spends “100 percent of (his) time talking to Trump about Ukraine” ‘ you know that Trump has not learned a damned thing since 2016 when he let in people like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo into his Cabinet who undercut him later on. Does he intend to make Lindsey Graham his Secretary of State if he gets back in? Trump should use some of his wealth to buy a clue.

    1. Bugs

      The treaty text from Istanbul would have given Ukraine sovereignty over the Donbas. Obviously that’s not on the table anymore. At least Trump starts from a point somewhere near objective reality, unlike the Ukraine “peace plan” based in a world of complete fantasy.

      1. yep

        It’s not about objective reality, but about Overton window. Trump starts from a point somewhere stil far from objective reality, but inside an Overton window of the target population.

    2. Es s Ce Tera

      At least it’s negotiate rather than don’t negotiate. Also, if it’s conditioned on receiving US supplies/aid, Ukraine can hardly refuse….

      It’s so strange how people don’t learn from only every US conflict since WW2, US “intervention” is almost always disastrous to the side which relies on it.

    3. Chris Cosmos

      We have to remember what we are dealing with here. Any POTUS must deal realistic with the PTB in Washington. No POTUS can buck the Blob. Trump attempted a few things during his very uneven Presidency–his plan was to give Israel what he could so that he would keep at least one major force (Israel) in Washington from totally opposing him and worked from there. He could get little purchase on power because, clearly, he did not understand how deep the Deep State (Blob) actually is. His approach will be different if he wins office. He will have to bring realists into the picture like Mearsheimer, Sachs, Macgregor, Ritter, and many others who are in the dissident community. US foreign policy must change radically. If Trump indicates he understands this he will get my vote.

    4. Feral Finster

      Howls of “Putin Puppet!” from all sides would make Trump even less able to conclude peace than Biden.

    5. CA

      So Trump’s big idea is to get the Ukraine top accept the loss of Crimea…

      [ The color revolt in Ukraine was immediately followed by denying established rights for Russian speakers. Crimea, which was very largely populated by Russian speakers, was the objective. Loss of the Russian military base in Crimea would have been an existential threat to Russia. Such a loss in and of Crimea had to be prevented, and could never be allowed. ]

      1. Pat

        It was always about the Russian base and even more importantly the port in Crimea. One of the things that pretty much started the coup was America being given the finger when the ousted President renewed the Russian leases (for 75 years iirc). They had to oust him. My bet is that most of Ukraine doesn’t give a fig one way or another about Crimea, just the fanatics and ones who have benefited from American largesse.
        (Similar to how many in America really give a fig about Ukraine.)

        1. Polar Socialist

          It was for 30 (25+5) years and done already in 2010 in exchange for cheap gas.

          What people usually don’t know or remember is that Crimea was an Autonomous Republic within Ukraine. And in 2018 Poroshenko terminated the treaty of friendship between Russia and Ukraine, in which Russia granted Ukraine sovereignty over Crimea.

          In 1991 Crimeans voted, in the first democratic referendum in the Soviet Union, to remain as autonomous republic within the Russian Federation, no matter what happened.

    6. neutrino23

      As if Putin would stop there. Whatever you give him now he’ll push all the way to Poland then the next project will be to destabilize and take over Poland. How many times do we have to see this movie to know what the end will be?

      1. sarmaT

        Why would one even get into the theater, knowing the ending of movie and not liking it?

      2. chris

        Fascinating how you seem to think Putin, and not Big Z, is responsible for destabilizing Ukraine. As I recall, Putin isn’t responsible for 8 years of civil war prior to 2022.

        As for the rest of your claims, if you don’t believe people around this commentariat, would you believe General Eric Shishenski? Remember his assessments of man power required to subdue and manage Iraq? Around half million strong soldiers plus support for a country without too much variation accounting for about 170,000 square miles. And back then, remember we hadn’t encountered the serious ex-Bath pushback yet with that estimate. Now, compare to Ukraine. Ukraine has a landmass of roughly 233,000 square miles. It has a population of people in the western portion that are committed terrorists from Putin’s perspective. And he has the potential to raise a lot of people to fight, that’s true. But at current reported levels, his total fighting force and support staff numbers are about 400,000 strong. Nowhere close to what Russia needs to control the whole country.

        So, you think Putin is dumb enough to make a worse mistake than we did in Iraq, and yet somehow, that will put him in a position to roll into Poland?

        Or, if you don’t believe a US General with estimates of support and logistics for war… how about the Germans? Or the French? Guess what they’re not doing despite being right next to Putin? They’re not raising more people for their armies. Their citizens don’t want to fight. Kind of funny how people in the US are much more alarmed about Putin rolling through Europe than the Europeans, don’t you think?

  5. yep

    “Myanmar’s army massacred Rohingyas. Now it wants their help BBC”

    I know almost nothing about the region, but I can tell the Myanmar’s army are the good
    guys just by the title of the article and the source being BBC.

  6. diptherio

    That bonus antidote is AI generated. Pretty obvious if you watch the video – swirls of color where the girl’s hands or the cat’s face should be.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Another tell is that while it’s possible for humans and animals to bond, that bond doesn’t include whoever’s holding the camera.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I found the whole thing as unwatchable as it was all a mess. The problem is that in the years to come this technology may be perfected so you would never know if what you were seeing is real or not. It has already become annoying the number of AI generated images on YouTube.

    3. LawnDart

      Sure looks that way.

      In the same vein, apologies if this was posted already:

      Government Use of Deepfakes
      The Questions to Ask

      In general, the authors argue that deepfakes should not be used as they are likely to reduce the credibility of democratic governments if their use is discovered, though there may be rare circumstances when their use deserves serious consideration. This paper also proposes a process for approving or rejecting deepfakes that ensures that a wide variety of perspectives are brought to the table.

      I read this paper last night, actually early morning… I think that I am totally through with video, except for purely entertainment uses. I did not get the sense that the paper’s authors were strongly arguing against AI deepfakes, more stating how, where, and who should use it: authoritarianist gymnastics from a think-tank.

      It is nightmare fuel.

      1. Vicky Cookies

        Fascinating paper, thanks for sharing!
        No, the authors are certainly not arguing against the use of deepfakes. In the introduction, in fact, they cite an Intercept article which reported on a US Special Forces procurement document from last year which states that they want to use deepfake tech to do what they call “MISO” (Military Information Support Operations – we used to just call it propaganda).

        The authors list the ‘questions to consider’ before employing a deepfake, and further explain them later on. They amount to various formulations of “will this work?”, “will we get caught?”, and “will we get hurt?”

        The fun stuff is in the scenarios these think-tankers thunk up. One could spend a lot of time picking them apart; they are rich examples of the combination of psychological projection, studied ignorance about the world and other countries, and barely-concealed wishful thinking which so cripples our governing class. They are dreaming, and not even particularly imaginatively or creatively. The final two scenarios are pretty funny, however, as they quite openly feature the premise that a billionaire directs the action of a western government. In that, at least, they are not hallucinating.

    4. i just dont like the gravy

      Glad someone pointed it out! I thought Lambert included it as a jab at us Real Life Nature Lovers…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        No no, I’m not that clever. I meant to include a short note asking readers to look into provenance, but I got caught up in doing the crosspost.

  7. timbers

    Climate / Class Warfare / Inflation for deplorables but not so much the elites

    This might be filed under making us pay for climate change instead of corporations that sell carbon and the elites who protect and enrich themselves at our expense thru their policy choices.

    1). More regulations are coming regarding car milage that will add still additional costs to buying already sky high car prices.

    2). In less than 12 months, I have seen 2 new neighbors buy homes and cut down all the trees on their lots to clear their roofs for the sun, and install solar panels. One neighbor cut to the ground 3 mature beautiful oak trees. He will reduce carbon consumption in winter, but I’m not sure about summer with higher ac usage as the sunlight bakes his house.

    3). I was puzzled how expensive air filters for air conditioning entry ducts have become. I found out why: California has mandated all air filters meet Merv 8 rating and their is talk that will be raised to Merv 13 for indoor air filters in the future. Mine old ones were rated Merv 5. The highest Merv rating is 16, beyond that your talking HEPA level of air filtration. Removing particles from the air improves the life of the motor that runs the air circulation. But do we need to make homes to become pharmaceutical manufacturing grade level clean rooms? If so the best way to make it clean is to remove the humans and pets.

    A further consideration in ac filtration is that if the filter is too dense it can wear down the motor that circulates the air.

    1. i just dont like the gravy

      In terms of #2 removing the trees will almost certainly increase your neighbor’s total CO2 footprint, although their energy bill may be lower so as to trick them into thinking they are being green. I’m not even taking into account the habitat destruction from the panels themselves, but the microclimatic effects of removing the trees.

      That’s perfectly fine though they will use that new-found solar energy to play Fortnite and scroll TikTok! Americans are such crazy energy goblins.

  8. Captain Obvious

    It’s Time To Slowly Bleed Russia’s Economy Dry” Der Spiegel
    DER SPIEGEL: What do you suggest?
    Prokopenko: A more intelligent approach: Instead of sealing off the West from Russian money, we could, on the contrary, try to stimulate the outflow of capital from Russia. Every billion less in Russia means less support for the war machine. Even at a time when the Russian Central Bank had already introduced capital controls, tens of billions of dollars were still flowing abroad. Why shouldn’t the West encourage such movements instead of fighting them as it does now? I believe it is time for the West to do everything it can to encourage both the brain drain and capital flight from Russia. That would undermine Putin’s regime. It would be time to slowly bleed Russia’s economy dry.

    A more intelligent approach, aka. completly opposite of current approach, aka Baerbock 360°.

    1. JohnA

      And yet the west is freezing any Russian assets abroad that can be found and talking about seizing them to help support the Ukraine war effort. Not exactly the best way to encourage capital flight from Russia. But then again joined up thinking is not exactly a west ‘free world’ (sic) speciality.

    2. digi_owl

      I think was the initial plan, until Biden declared the SWIFT freeze.

      Get the economy hurting, the oligarchs to leave, and then fund insurrections against Putin.

      But the second Russia was cut of from SWIFT, the oligarchs had nowhere to go.

  9. Robert Hahl

    Re: Building a credible carbon market takes time; ‘bear with us’, says ICVCM

    If you believe that, I have some carbon offset credits to sell you.

  10. yep

    Anonymous users are dominating right-wing discussions online. They also spread false information AP. No doubt; they certainly infest my timeline. However, my sticking point with this line of thought is that named, official users have spread far more false information, with far worse consequences, than any trolls, right-wing or not. That goes for Ukraine, Israel, and Covid. And of course RussiaGate and the Iraq War. And that’s before we get to mainstream macro.

    Anonymous users don’t have an “authority” behind them and readers apply skepticism to their words by default. That is a good thing.

    1. mrsyk

      That article goes on and on about election oriented “misinformation”, never once offers up the idea that our utterly broken democracy is a breeding ground for attempts to explain why it’s so friggin broken. Where is the discussion of the value of a conversation and using one’s brain to perform a little critical thinking. This seems to be just another MSM effort to promote censorship.
      Misinformation is a word that needs to be dropped from political nomenclature. The rampant misuse for (surprise!) misinforming is approaching the status of the true celebrity in the misused words department “terrorism”. (apologies to the moderator)

      1. yep

        Nah. “Misinformation” is a word that is not even in the top 5 of the misused words department list. “Terrorism” is in, but still far from top that is firmily held by “freedom” and “democracy”.

          1. Feral Finster

            I dunno, if the conspiracy theory is pushed by persons of influence and authority, then it is a conspiracy theory.

            If pushed by the powerless, then there *may* be something to it.

            This is actually a useful heuristic in many areas of life.

        1. Dissident Dreamer

          Oh how I hate the word “settler”!
          Autumn leaves settle. Snow settles. Settling is soft, gentle. “Settlers” are not.
          Disputes are settled with fairness and compromise. “Settlers” do not settle.
          I imagine it predates the likes of Frank Lunz but I bet he loves it. I imagine him dreaming of coming up with such an utterly deceptive word for something so horrible and having it enter the lexicon. “Collateral damage” and “enhanced interrogation” are left in the dust.

    2. sleeplessintokyo

      speculation: the anonymous users angle is designed primarily for one thing: to build rationale for government issued USER IDs that will be mandated to use the internet and then linked to use of CBDCs. Some will say this is tin foil.

  11. Ignacio

    “It’s Time To Slowly Bleed Russia’s Economy Dry” Der Spiegel

    So according to the interviewed Prokopenko the big problem in Russia is that living standards are falling because, for instance, Russia cannot import German or Japanese cars. Doomed they are! I think this interview in one of the best examples of the group-think that plagues the Western leadership.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I like her idea of trying to encourage tens of billions of dollars to flow out of Russia in order to starve the economy. There is only one problem. No Russian will send any large amounts of money out of the country as they could not trust the west not to steal their money in some made-up sanctions. Personally I mistrust people who abandon their home country and then work to see that it is destroyed with their help. But at least she personally has fallen on her feet-

      ‘Alexandra Prokopenko is a fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center. She is a visiting fellow at the Center for Order and Governance in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).’

      1. Kouros

        My sister in Germany, working for a long term care facility there told me of a Russian colleague/student that was cut from her funds from Russia to pay her tuition… Basically the west is attacking even the Russian plankton, not only the big fish…

    2. CA

      1) So according to the interviewed Prokopenko the big problem in Russia is that living standards are falling because, for instance, Russia cannot import German or Japanese cars…

      That Russia is supported by the world’s largest economy, largest manufacturer and largest manufacturer of advanced technology cars is unmentioned for a reason.

      2) I mistrust people who abandon their home country and then work to see that it is destroyed with their help…

      As Tolstoy wrote about, there was a class of moneyed Russians for whom what mattered most was becoming European.

        1. Polar Socialist

          True, but for some reason* it has spread around Belarus and Russia, so there are more Prokopenko’s in Russia than in Ukraine. Barely, though.

          * as in all those times in history when the (certain) Ukrainians didn’t feel the need to destroy the Russian within them

          1. Feral Finster

            Well, there are a lot of people in Russia with Ukrainian and Polish surnames (e.g. F.N. Dostoevskii), just as there is no shortage of people in Ukraine with Polish or Russian surnames (e.g. V.A. Zelenskii).

      1. R.S.

        Prokopenko is a journalist, not an economist. Her bio is quite simple:
        UC Berkeley School of Journalism (2009);
        MA in sociology (2018);
        2008-2017 writing for TASS and Vedomosti;
        2017-2022 High School of Economics, and advisor (I’m not sure whether it was an advisor or a consultant) to the 1st deputy chairman of CBR (that is, to Xenia Yudayeva).

        I’ve found only several mentions of hers while working at CBR, and they all were related to media communications.

  12. Es s Ce Tera

    re: Chinese battery swapping stations (BSS)

    One of today’s big financial news items was UCAR will roll out 60 more BSS’es across China in April alone.

    Meanwhile, Janus Electric in Australia launched a successful trial in 2021, swapping stations for converted trucks, offers conversion kits, and I dunno what has been happening with it since…

    1. CA

      March 6, 2024

      China builds first smart zone for EV charging, battery-swapping

      Construction of China’s first smart electric vehicle (EV) charging and battery-swapping demonstration zone has been completed in the eastern province of Jiangsu, which will shorten the queuing time needed for EV charging.

      The zone covers nearly 500 square km in the cities of Suzhou, Wuxi and Changzhou. With about 1,300 charging piles, it is expected to serve over 500,000 new energy vehicle (NEV) drivers, according to State Grid Jiangsu Electric Power Co., Ltd.

      Battery swap facilities, which allow vehicles to change batteries in just 80 seconds, will also be introduced, starting with Wuxi, before being promoted across the entire zone.

      Previously, EV drivers often had to search for nearby charging stations. The new zone uses intelligent algorithms to help drivers find the fastest and most economical charging solutions, including suitable times and locations of charging facilities…

    2. Jorge

      A core problem here is the firebomb question: if a swapped battery kills you, who is legally responsible? Built-in batteries avoid this liability problem.

  13. zagonostra

    >The Dunning-Kruger Effect Shows that People Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

    Not one mention of Plato’s “Divided Line.”

    Reminds me of taking a class on “communications” in college decades ago. During on class, there was a long discourse by the teacher on the theory of the “Conspiracy of Silence.”. She quoted and referred to numerous academic studies. When she paused to ask if there were any questions, I asked if all those studies basically came to the same conclusion as the “Emperor wears no clothes.” She was not amused…

    1. zagonostra`

      I got the name of it wrong of the theory wrong, it goes by the “spiral” or “circle” of silence. I guess I have too many conspiracies on my mind.

      The spiral of silence theory is a political science and mass communication theory which states that an individual’s perception of the distribution of public opinion influences that individual’s willingness to express their own opinions.[1][2] Also known as the theory of public opinion, the spiral of silence theory claims individuals will be more confident and outward with their opinion when they notice that their personal opinion is shared throughout a group.,to%20express%20their%20own%20opinions.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Southwest Boeing loses engine cover. Here’s what to know”

    This one is not on Boeing but on the crew that did the maintenance of those engines for not doing their job or missing signs of wear and tear. But unlike the engine, the Captain fortunately was unflappable.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Do we already know it wasn’t something in the engine that ka-pow’d the covers open? Southwest and Boeing engines have had a lot of issues lately.

      1. Victor Sciamarelli

        Actually Boeing doesn’t make jet engines. It would be a GE, Pratt&Whitney, or some other producer.
        And unlikely something “”ka-pow’d” without causing an engine failure too.

        1. rowlf

          Some aircraft manufacturers have updated their cowlings to require a maintenance key with an attached safety flag to open the cowlings and removal as the last step of closing the cowlings, as this has been a problem for all engines. Perhaps after this incident the airworthiness authorities will require implementation of this modification to older airplanes.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thanks for that YouTube link on that flight incident. I suppose they had to check the runways straight away for bits of panels, bolts, etc. so that they would not get sucked up in another airliner’s engines which would be another disaster. Look at the Concorde. I don’t know about intensely suspenseful as I found it very relaxing to hear a bunch of professionals deal with an emergency while remaining both calm and polite. They all did their job and they did it with aplomb.

        1. .Tom

          It was just like that, well organized and to-the-point communications, in the recordings from the incident when the door plug popped off earlier this year. It is impressive to witness that kind of work.

          1. rowlf

            I tried three times to add a comment but entry of my reply kicked me to the 2:00PM Water Cooler 4/8/2024 instead of this thread. Weird. Maybe something was seen as bad HTML.

            If you train enough you handle the problems better.

            Train hard, fight easy. (Or use the SAC checklist. SAC liked checklists.)

    2. t

      Maybe it’s a case where more than one thing was within a margin and the effect of both things isn’t a factor in the checklist.

      Or one thing was missed. Because someone was off their game, or overworked because someone else was off sick.

      1. earthling

        In that last phrase, you may have misspelled “because the maintenance department was deliberately understaffed to generate higher profit numbers”.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > because the maintenance department was deliberately understaffed to generate higher profit numbers

          … and of those retained, many had cognitive dysfunction from repeated Covid infections….

          1. rowlf

            The airlines were very pro-vaccination for Covid-19 with some making it an employment requirement. Some people left the industry on the subject or retired during the pandemic drawdown. I always thought the airlines would have good data on Covid and vaccinations effects and performance.

            However, both the airlines and air traffic control are having a hard time finding or creating enough certified employees to support operations. Who knew growth could be constrained by labor?

  15. Captain Obvious

    The new science of death: ‘There’s something happening in the brain that makes no sense’ Guardian (Furzy Mouse). Well worth a read; death is, after all, like sleep, love, and the immune system, an important subject we do not remotely begin to understand.

    There is a difference between death and dying. Dying is a process that can be reversed in some cases. Near-death experiences are those. Death is the end state. What happens in brain in the proces of dying is chaos not unlike that happening under the influcence of some heavy drugs, or even a dream/nightmare.

    “That’s roughly 800 million souls worldwide who may have dipped a toe in the afterlife.”

    Nope, but they did have a trip of sorts.

    1. sleeplessintokyo

      tell that to the Tibetan monks whose brainwaves have been studied by Harvard medical researchers after death

      1. Captain Obvious

        If those Harvard medical researchers don’t know that, then they are crap at medical research. They should have focused their studies on the Tibetan monks groins that they kick each other into.

  16. WillyBgood

    The article in Der Spiegel highlights the reef upon which Russia will supposedly founder. The money quote from Prokopenko “Thirdly, it must ensure that the economy does not lose its macroeconomic balance. It will be difficult to fulfill all three tasks at the same time. They contradict each other. Stability requires low inflation. In order to keep the inflation rate in check, government spending would have to be cut.” So it is that contradiction of austerity, supposedly the savior of Greece, Italy, etc., is that which will also bring Russia to its knees. Good luck with that.

    1. .Tom

      “Government spending causes inflation” is Holy Scripture. An economist that blasphemes may face serious consequences.

    2. ChrisFromGA

      I didn’t even bother to read the article because I assumed Goebbels-like propaganda.

      But if they’re basing their thesis on inflation destroying the Russian economy, I’ve got to laugh harder.

      1. Skip Intro

        I assumed the headline was just there for a laugh… ‘We have to bleed the Russian economy slowly now (since our attempt to slash its throat accidentally clipped our own carotid instead.)’

        Love to see that double-down on failure is still their big idea.

        1. nippersdad

          “Love to see that double-down on failure is still their big idea.”

          There is a lot of that going around at the mo. I saw this piece by a Rutgers political science professor this morning and it made me laugh:

          “The West lacks a Winston Churchill or Franklin D. Roosevelt to mobilize their nations and meet the Russian threat squarely and unflinchingly. The irony is that Putin is a serial bungler, a strategic nincompoop who could easily be outmaneuvered and outfoxed by a Western leader with the guts to try.”


          “Consider the well-known Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, who still believes that NATO wanted to accept Ukraine into its ranks and that the U.S. engineered a “coup” during the Revolution of Dignity of 2014…..”

          No mention that Blinken said that Ukraine WILL be accepted into NATO just a couple of days ago. They are seeing their careers circle the toilet and are struggling mightily to remain relevant.

          1. JohnA

            I guess said professor never heard the tape of Toria Nuland telling ambassador Pyatt that ‘Yats was the guy’ to take over, and when Pyatt mentioned the EU were not exactly all aboard for the coup, to ‘fuck the EU’.

          2. R.S.

            Trump – check, Hitler – check… but the name rang a certain bell. It sounds Slavic. Yep.

            “Motyl’s parents emigrated as refugees from Western Ukraine after World War II, when the region was occupied by the Soviet Union…”(q Wikipedia)

  17. CA

    Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

    I look forward to this survey every year – the Edelman Trust Barometer

    ( )

    – because I find it’s so revealing of what’s happening in the world.

    Trust is the glue that binds societies together. When trust is gone, society collapses. Because with trust comes legitimacy, and without legitimacy, a political system is… well, illegitimate. And illegitimate governments walk an ever tighter rope, they’re on borrowed time.

    What we’ve been seeing for a few years now is trust falling fast in Western or West-adjacent countries (the UK is now the lowest trust society in the survey, followed by Japan, and with South Korea, Germany and the U.S. not far behind).

    At the same time trust levels in many powerful global South countries is sky high, with China leading the pack, followed by India, the UAE, Indonesia, etc.

    This crisis of trust should be taken immensely seriously in the West. All the hypocrisy, gaslighting, all the lies, all the incompetence are taking a toll that will be increasingly difficult to reverse. Let’s remember one of the most important teachings of Confucius, undoubtedly one of the most profound thinkers in history on governance and how to structure societies. This is straight from the Analects:

    “Zigong asked about government. The Master said, ‘Sufficient food, sufficient weapons, and the trust of the people.’

    Zigong asked, ‘If it could not be helped, and one of these had to be dispensed with, which should be foregone first?” The Master said, “Dispense with the weapons.’ Zigong asked, ‘If it could not be helped, and one of the remaining two had to be dispensed with, which should be foregone first?’ The Master said, “Dispense with the food. From of old, death has been the lot of all men; but if the people have no faith in their rulers, there is no standing for the state.’ ”

    3:44 AM · Apr 8, 2024

    1. Revenant

      As a clarification, the trust surveyed is trust in soi-disant “civil society”: government, media, NGO’s. Frankly, after the last thirty years, these creatures in the UK deserve the darkest scepticism.

      However, the UK remains an interpersonal high trust society. For the moment….

    2. Adam Eran

      Particularly the political right is determined to undermine any legitimacy for governments, regulators or law makers (cf Nancy McClean’s Democracy in Chains), and as usual, the Republicans go for the jugular and Democrats go for the capillaries.

    1. upstater

      Now I know why we have overcast for the eclipse in Central New York State! (Tiny sliver covered, through the clouds)

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Whoo boy, seems like geoengineering will soon begin in earnest based on the following article:

      Linked to yesterday:

      Geoengineering Test Quietly Launches Salt Crystals into Atmosphere Scientific American

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Crying Myself to Sleep on the Biggest Cruise Ship Ever’

    I don’t know how other readers will react to this article but after listening to this writer ramble on & on and seeing the people that he meets aboard that cruise liner, by the end of the article I was praying that a submarine would surface nearby and pump a few torpedoes into it.

    1. Socal Rhino

      David Foster Wallace wrote the definitive take on hating cruises, I think, in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. And he could write.

      1. bonks

        Out of everything that he had written, I enjoyed that story the most, even more than Infinite Jest. His writeup on a state fair was almost equally funny.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I made it into day 3 breakfast when I felt like I started to get norovirus. 19,000 for a suite that overlooks a mall, a nice mall, but a mall. Are they even outside?

      1. The Rev Kev

        That one I could not work out. When you buy a ticket for a cruise liner, is it like a lucky dip in that you are not sure what sort of cabin you will get and just get a surprise on the day? More likely he had the number of the cabin on his ticket but never bothered to check it out on a plan of that ship. Still, $19,000 does not sound like any sort of bargain to me and yet tickets sold out on that ship right from the get-go.

        1. Stephen T Johnson

          Well, it depends.
          There are bookings which are for a specific cabin or suite, there are bookings which are for a certain category of accommodation – or better (i.e. inside, outside, balcony, suite, etc.), occasionally lines will offer “run of ship” deals that you can get whatever accommodation is yet unsold, but those are rare.

          Hope this helps!

      1. digi_owl

        Largest of its kind so far, apparently.

        And currently underway north of the Dominican Republic.

  19. Carolinian

    Re the latest from the Stoller of all understanding–I have an Android phone and almost all of the apps, or at least the apps that I use, were “sideloaded” by me. The Play Store is disabled and you are allowed to do that but not remove it altogether unless the phone has been rooted.

    Which is to say there are alternative ways to obtain and install apps and Google allows you to do this because their lawyers are well aware of the monopoly charge. Also the license for their use of open source Linux to underlay Android undoubtedly has a lot to do with it.

    Of course if I wanted to play an Epic game I would have to turn on the Play Store and you will also need it for things like Google Maps or Android Auto. But then why would you want to use a phone to play video games anyway and I have a better Open Street Maps alternative to Google Maps.

    And finally one big rationale for the app stores of both Google and Apple is that they are certifying their apps against malware and people who, say, do banking on their phones might think that is important.

    All of the above is left out of the highly simplified Stoller account and perhaps the described trial as well. Google has certainly become evil in many other ways but I’d say we’d need more than the self interested complaints of a video game company to be convinced that evil applies to Android. It has given large numbers of people a sophisticated computing device that, at least compared to the iPhone, costs very little.

    1. earthling

      Glad you have been able to work around the android restrictions, and I will bow to your greater skill. I’ve had poor results from trying to do the same. And the average non power user would have poor results.

      I find the duopoly phone operating systems both to be incredibly coercive and limiting, it’s always a struggle to try to set them up to suit my own needs, and often the final answer is; you can’t do that thing you want to do, or ‘we will force you to use our cloud or be surveilled to do that simple local task”. I say this not as an idiot but as someone with decades doing complex technical work on computers.

      This duopoly is way too big for its britches. We need true competition, not 2 ever more controlling walled gardens. I applaud anybody who can get a shot across the bow of these tech giant hydras.

    2. cfraenkel

      True (ish), but do any of your points have much relevance to monopoly power?

      The power at issue is the ability to put a moat around the population to track them online and extract monopoly profits from developers and advertisers. Sure, you can sideload, but no one does (in the % of market sense; yes, you’re a genius, but my mom has trouble with the stock play store as it is). You’re suggesting that people make their phones not work with their car?

      And how does the *feature* of providing (supposedly) better security through the Play Store go away if Google is forced to allow competitors to offer an alternative? No one is forcing customers to use those alternatives if they want peace of mind for their banking. And that’s before claiming that screening for malware and the like justifies 30+% of revenue forever, and the loss of applications where that revenue tax makes the application non-viable.

      1. Carolinian

        I’m not defending Google’s malware defense–just saying that the article ignores it along with the other factors that I mentioned. They are somewhat relevant.

        Search out F-droid that offers “.apk” files that can be directly downloaded and then loaded using the “developer mode” that all Android phones have. To enable developer mode tap on “about phone” seven times (no really). And that’s all there is to it. There are other direct apk sites or you can save the apk file from a different phone and use it. While elderly people may not know about this it’s not exactly complicated or “pro” level and I think it’s safe to say that Epic gamers likely know all about it.

        Bear in mind Google was only following Apple’s lead with the 30 percent. The reason they make so much money off the nickel and dime app store charges is that most of the world can’t afford an iPhone. Meanwhile there are the phone companies posing a further barrier to OS variety. Arguably they are the real monopoly problem.

        1. digi_owl

          Developer mode is not even needed. From day one Android has had a “unknown sources” toggle under security settings. After that f-droid is an apk away. Only pain is that one needed to update each app individually when installed from f-droid. But Android 13 now provides a way for them to be handled in bulk.

          The thing about Android is that it was not an in-house Google project. It was a startup by Andy Rubin, who had previously been the CEO at Danger Inc. The company responsible for the T-Mobile Sidekick.

          Anyways, Android was pretty open and laid back until Google management felt they needed to go head to head with Apple’s media store offerings. From then the restrictions has kept creeping in, in order to placate the “MAFIAA”.

    1. lambert strether

      I decided it was OK because the account didn’t seem to be in the NFT business, and most of the AI “art” I’ve seen has a sort of unholy, Lovecraftian luminescence that this does not have; it just looks like badly done HD. Also, I have a soft spot for snow leopards and wanted the pairing. Readers?

      1. mrsyk

        Snow leopards have the capacity to pull off Disney level schmaltz. Fake but made me smile none the less.

          1. The Rev Kev

            ‘They’re creepy and they’re kooky
            Mysterious and spooky
            They’re all together ooky
            The AI Snow Leopards’

          2. diptherio

            Creepy and I don’t like encouraging the waste of resources that these AI bots require. Also, the fact that it’s paired with a BS heartstring-tugger story…no thanks.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > BS heartstring-tugger story

              Normally I have highly resistant to heart-tugging stories (as I think my links show) but I have a soft spot for snow leopards, as I said.

              1. flora

                Ah, it found your weak spot, as the Nigerian bank scams are wont to do. This isn’t a criticism. Not at all. It’s a what? A warning about accepting with less rigor something that appeals to one’s weak spots than one might insist on with emotional appeals to one’s not weak spots?

                And, oh, do I have weak spots, so many, which I have to rigorously and sternly guard against being manipulated online or over the phone. That’s the whole scam behind fake so-called grandchildren’s calls to a grandparent saying they’ve been arrested and please send bail money. Now AI can mimic a grandchild’s voice. Sheesh

                Maybe NC could use a category like “Is it real or is it Memorex AI ? I don’t know.
                The scams are quite elaborate now with digital stuff.

                1. flora

                  Adding: the announced AI sarcasms or humor bits aren’t in this category. They’ve announced themselves as AI, as fake videos.

        1. Glenda

          weird – but I liked the last photo with her black and white cape with the trim in an alien script.

          1. flora

            And the extra 3 fingers from a hidden hand held in her right hand. / ;) (where did those come from? heh)

      2. Sutter Cane

        It’s very clearly AI generated, and frankly I come to NC in hopes of avoiding such monstrosities, so this is very off-brand for the site.

        Lambert, with all due respect, if you didn’t immediately clock this as AI generated, your bs detector needs an upgrade.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Lambert, with all due respect, if you didn’t immediately clock this as AI generated, your bs detector needs an upgrade.

          A few points. First, I loathe AI-generated art-like entities (both as art, for AI’s effect on human artists, and for the waste of resources). Second, I had intended to add a note on provenance after “Don’t try this at home,” but I was up against the deadline. I meant to circle back after posting but I got wrapped round the axle writing the introduction to the cross-post on vaccine hesitancy.

          I don’t think BS detection is a general skill; I think it depends, to an extent, on the type of BS. What I did was check the account to see if they were in the NFT business (no), and look at the color handling. My timeline is filled with AI garbage that is meant to look like paintings or photographs. The AI garbage on my timeline all has a very distinctive feel to the light, like a combination of Thomas Kinkade and H.R. Geiger, not present in this video. I could see that the color in the video was off, but I put that down to some sort of crude rendition like HD in photographs. I am not a video person at all, it’s time-consuming.

          Fifty lashes with a wet noodle for lambert!

      3. Mikel

        Fake from start to finish. It’s a fake glossiness that almost hurts the eyes.

        The facial expressions like their eyes may have been facing one thing, but they weren’t “there.”
        The skin of the girl looked like a mask of some kind.
        For such an encounter, why the bizarre slow mo for something that would have been more amazing without that effect ? How high up were they supposed to be for a shot of a girl with a leopard? Why not capture the sounds of the girl and cat interacting instead of that soundtrack?
        So much did not add up.

        1. cfraenkel

          The videos seemed to be generated from a still photo. (notice how the effect gets dramatically worse as the clip progresses away from the starting image). The only interesting thing about it is someone felt such a horrible end product was worth it. Yuck. It suggests that at least some of the audience isn’t even looking…. like maybe they’re developing a ‘skimming’ version of speed reading for media?

          1. Mikel

            And a big giveaway for most of these is the audio. What they choose for sound (mostly some kind of music backing track) and in what situation. Then, even with sound, that has its own affects that make it unreal.

            1. digi_owl

              I see this more and more thanks to videos being forwarded from Tiktok, as apparently you can’t post a silent video there.

          2. digi_owl

            Speaking of generating video from stills, lately i have been reading about something called gaussian splatting that looks like it was lifted directly from the original Blade Runner.

      4. Mikel

        I have to add this:
        Time and money being spent making fake AI seem real instead of addressing problems there is already technology and skill to addres is a huge flag.
        And underneath there seems to be this ideology that all of this should be put aside until the alleged day when algorithms can do it.

      5. Jonhoops

        Those were some pretty funky RunwayML or Pika generations. Surprised you were fooled into thinking it was just bad HD compression.

        Another tell was the fact that the girl was not the same in various photos. Current models have a hard time with character consistency, although that is changing quickly. The other things that jumped out were the girl wearing leopard spot clothing, and the too pretty face of the older version of the girl. This happens all the time with the image generators where the AI confuses colors etc. because they are not that good at separating terms in the prompt. You also have to actually work a bit to get normal looking people rather than idealized faces.

        As good as these generators are getting it is still quite easy to pick out the fakes, especially if no effort was put into the generation. Also after generating thousands of images you get quite good at recognizing the AI’s style, especially for one prompt images. You really have to push the bot with intention or you will get something pretty obviously AI.

        Video is still not there at least until SORA and Emo are released, and even then they aren’t perfect.

        1. Revenant

          The tiger? Leopard? Snow leopard? Make your mind up! has different coloured eyes at different points.

          Laughable AI creation.

      6. Angie Neer

        I found it seriously creepy. In addition, I figure if the photos are fake, the story is as well. Even if it’s “just an antidote,” any whiff of AI fakery is shocking in this forum I so highly respect. In fact Lambert’s point about AI being automated BS was a major clarifying insight for me.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > In fact Lambert’s point about AI being automated BS was a major clarifying insight for me.

          Well, I did get the general principle right! Unfortunately, the moral of the story is that I need to watch more video to detect the fakery. That strikes me as a horrible waste of time — plus, apparently I would need to turn the sound on my computer up; no thanks — so perhaps I should avoid the medium entirely. (There are some Rolling Stones audios out there that have come out of nowhere and purport to be soundboard recordings… So maybe everything is going rotten.)

          What strikes me is what did the account hope to gain? I scanned down the timeline quite a bit; they’re not in the NFT business; all the other tweets struck me as banal (though I confess on my “snow leopard” search another video came up that was obviously fake, even to me). I guess people simply pass these things around? What for?

          1. Angie Neer

            > What for?
            When it comes to dreck on the interwebs, I don’t even bother asking that question anymore. People have a lot of bizarre motivations, including “because I can.” With AI in particular, I’ve been surprised by the number of engineerie and otherwise tech-inclined acquaintances who find the novelty absolutely irresistible.

          2. digi_owl

            Sometimes it is about the long con. The account will post and forward banal feelgood stuff to build up followers, and then at some point flip it over to some PR spiel.

            Seeing it more and more on Reddit where various politically laden groups have limited activity to accounts being a year or more old and with a certain minimum positive vote score.

            Thus PR companies etc will mass create accounts that will spam more open groups with images and videos to rack up the minimum points before brigading said political groups.

            1. flora

              Ah yes. The work toward ‘believability.’

              “See, my AI work is believable. Hire me.” / ;)

  20. Jason Boxman

    From How Tech Giants Cut Corners to Harvest Data for A.I.

    MAD in pillaging your own users:

    Some Google employees were aware that OpenAI had harvested YouTube videos for data, two people with knowledge of the companies said. But they didn’t stop OpenAI because Google had also used transcripts of YouTube videos to train its A.I. models, the people said. That practice may have violated the copyrights of YouTube creators. So if Google made a fuss about OpenAI, there might be a public outcry against its own methods, the people said.

    Matt Bryant, a Google spokesman, said the company had no knowledge of OpenAI’s practices and prohibited “unauthorized scraping or downloading of YouTube content.” Google takes action when it has a clear legal or technical basis to do so, he said.

    As I said 18 months ago, they’re stealing all the data. This is the largest theft in history. Granted, an easy to call to make. Nonetheless.

    And it’s still garbage in garbage out. As a researcher linked to here recently had said, these are blackbox systems and there will always be an unknown number of exploits. The attack surface is large, but unknownable.

    1. mrsyk

      I’ve noticed a degradation in google search results just over the last couple weeks. Incoherency and conflicting information abound.

      1. matt

        google search results have been degrading for a while now. they have no incentive to provide good service. i now use a combination of duckduckgo (which is built off of bing and has its own issues) and directly into wikipedia or scholarly search engines. im not the only one to move off of it, there are a lot of youth who use tiktok as a search engine directly, as they feel the results are more pertinent and trustworthy than google. (source) (the reliability of tiktok is its own thing, but i think its primarily demonstrative of people realizing the decay of google as a search engine. and the internet as a whole.)
        im more worried about people who believe the misinformation. i’ve read stuff on the r/teachers subreddit about students just copypasting the first thing out of search results despite it being blatantly wrong. (which itself a symptom of learned helplessness and how children aren’t always being taught to think critically about their sources.) might be making it easier to propagandize and spread misinformation. i dont know if theres any good research done on the subject. its clearly being caused by the general western decline due to reaching late stage capitalism, but the effects of this causing a positive feedback loop of misinformation inspire some fear within me.

    2. jsn

      AI omerta.

      Trust needs to be completely monetized before the internet is made completely useless and the last nickle of profit will come from the last meaningful bit.

      Informational grey goo coming up in 10, 9, 8, 7…

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Drones attack the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant”

    Gosh darn it, the International Atomic Energy Agency still can’t work out who is bombing and droning that nuclear plant. Such a mystery, just like the NS2 pipeline bombing. But ABC News knew which is why the sub-heading read ‘Ukrainian military drones struck the dome of the plant’s sixth power unit’

    And then there is at the very bottom of this article-

    ‘This story has been corrected to delete reference in the lead to the drone attack being launched by Ukraine. Russian officials have claimed that, but Ukraine did not comment.’

  22. Lena

    Solar Eclair Report: Here in the path of totality, we had a thunderstorm last night. My comfort cat, 14 years old, was very agitated and needed to be comforted. This morning, it is sunny and clear. Cat is happily snoozing, full of Chicken Paté Fancy Feast (up several cents per can this month). Everything is calm, the hundreds of thousands expected in town are nowhere in sight. Where are they? Where is my 600 bucks? Where is the pen of my aunt? Great mysteries, yet to be solved.

    1. mrsyk

      Been spoiling the house pride on cocktail shrimp, 8.99 per lb cooked, cleaned, and frozen. Cheaper than the tins of premium cat food they subscribe to, and I’ve been promoted to head steward.

    2. mrsyk

      On my path to totality, a family crisis rises and is felled and we still got time to smile at each other. There’s magic in the air.

    3. Revenant

      The UK solar eclipse in 2001-ish was trailed as an amazing event. Cornwall, one of the few places in the totality, was catastrophised by the media to brace for millions of visitors bringing chaos. A retired brigadier was appointed to run the emergency planning.

      I drive down an empty A30 to St Ives in record time and parked in town (unheard of!), chortling at the signs greedy farmers had erected every mile of the journey offering overpriced camping / parking / viewing in their fields.

  23. ChrisFromGA

    Jamie Dimon says rates could spike to 8 percent

    Bond Yields A-Risin


    I see some bond yields a-risin’
    I see trouble on the way
    I see Yellen gas-a-lighting
    I see bad times today

    Don’t go around tonight
    Well it’s bound to take Powell’s life
    There’s some bond yields on the rise

    I feel hot air a-blowin’
    I see Fed clowns coverin’ rear ends
    I fear inflation overflowin’
    I hear there’s no money to lend

    Don’t go around tonight
    Well it’s bound to take Jay’s life
    There’s some bond yields on the rise

    Hope you got your WIN button ready
    Hopium is really gonna die
    Jamie says, we’re in for nasty weather
    Ribeyes will cost you your left eye

    Well, don’t go around tonight
    Well it’s bound to take Jay’s life
    There’s some bond yields on the rise
    Don’t go around tonight
    Cause the Fed gave up the fight
    There’s some bond yields on the rise!

  24. Alan Roxdale

    Dali post mortem from a Chief Marine Engineer:

    Probably the best inside-industry video I’ve watched all year.

    The stand out revelation was that this very scenario, power loss while maneuvering close to bridges, is in fact a well known and common practiced scenario in marine shipping training simulations, and almost always results in a collision. The video describes it as the “Kobayashi Maru” (no win scenario), with no way for the Captain to cheat.

    So we currently have a situation where large cargo vessels the world over are one power loss away from taking out every single major bridge they pass by. One might ask for minimum speed limits, barriers, or tow ships given the stakes here. My assumption is such tings did once exist but have since been excised for “efficiency” reasons.

    1. mrsyk

      Hard to work in “tug boat escort” with “precision scheduling”. Dolphins are infrastructure investment, nope, that won’t do.
      Has a single scalp been claimed over the Key Bridge debacle? We are not a serious country.

    2. Craig H.

      The last time I was on a ship going into a major harbor we had a tugboat in front of the ship from the harbor entrance until about 100 yards from the dock. Also the captain of the ship gave the tugboat captain a fifth of whiskey as a gratuity.

    3. scott s.

      I have been chief engineer in a steam ship and assistant engineer in gas turbine ship, also built a land-based diesel engine plant (ARS-50 salvage ship) and cruiser (CG-47) gas turbine plant at the Great Lakes training center for propulsion sailors. Not a merchant sailor by any means, but I don’t think the things you mention have ever been a “thing”.

      What HAS changed greatly are the pollution regulations which affect both design and operation of shipboard systems.

    4. ilsm

      I listened to 5 or 6 minutes.

      The engineer had no direct knowledge of MV Dali, nor any insight into the investigation as exists.

      When he talked about the main propulsion I stopped.

      In port MV Dali does not use main propulsion, but a front/bow electric thruster.

      How 4 of 4 generators could be deficient….

      I am not confident we will get to root cause!

      Any bridge w/o dolphins is susceptible to collision.

  25. Feral Finster

    “Donald Trump’s plan to end war is to force Ukraine to give up territory – WP Ukrainska Pravda”

    O please. If Trump does anything short of push The Button, the howls of “Putin puppet!” will be overwhelming.

    Hell, even if Trump did push The Button, Team D would kvetch that Biden would have pushed it sooner and bigger.

    1. Belle

      That’s what they did when he bombed Syria at the word of HTS! An action far more treasonous than his attempt to copy Alexandra Chalupa- and one which no Democrat sought to impeach him for. (Not even Tulsi.) Also when Trump told a lie that the media totally ignored…or repeated.

  26. Feral Finster

    “Drones attack the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant ABC

    Media: Ukrainian military intelligence denies involvement in drone explosion at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Kyiv Independent [nods vigrously].”

    All entirely predictable. Simplicus wrote about it last summer.

    1. chris

      Yes. I can’t believe our officials are actively trying to instigate different kinds of nuclear disasters rather than resign themselves to a loss. They don’t seem to care whether bombs blow up a nuclear facility or nuclear bombs blow up civilian infrastructure, as long as something blows up.

      1. Feral Finster

        Don’t think that they would stop with this. And no, Blitzkrieg, that isn’t because I want this.

        It’s just a simple fact- the sociopaths who rule over us would kill us all rather than cede hegemony.

        And yes, Putin will be ritually blamed, regardless of facts, logic or evidence, or the lack thereof.

  27. chris

    Anyone else recoiling in horror over the details in the Hill article about the Naughtzis desperation? It sounds like we’re doubling down on the notion of warfare = destruction of civilian infrastructure combined with economic pressure.

    But… The US doesn’t make essential components for a variety of industries. The US has no answer to drones or the newer Russian missiles (see the Red Sea debacle, and everything in Ukraine so far). The US has a lot of exposed and open infrastructure. Why, in God’s name, are we co-signing this insanity when it could be so easily turned on us?

    And if this is how Big Z is “not retreating” on the battlefield I’d hate to see him advance :/

    1. Feral Finster

      The United States is confident that Russia will not respond in kind, and so far, that confidence has borne out.

    2. John D

      Basho, a Japanese poet, wrote, after visiting land where a bloddy battle occured the year before, that: where the grass had been smashed down durng battle, it now grew lush and green, the river was no long stained in blood, but ran pure.” He observed the leather helmet of a fallen samuri, which was now inhabited by a cricket.

      And so, the larger forces clash and there is chaos. Then, it all subsides and things return to their
      normal cycle.

  28. CA

    “U.S. Seeking to Dominate Chain of Pacific Islands in Preparation for Potential War with China”

    Repeated American threats have shown the nature of American diplomacy from the beginning of the Biden administration.

  29. Emma

    Eclipse Day! Checking in from the lake shores of Magog, Quebec, about 5 hours further north and east of the original destination of Watertown, NY to ensure clear skies. So far the roads are not busy and each of the five beautiful lake front parks checked out had plentiful parking space.

    Saw one Florida license plate. Haven’t encountered anything international yet.

  30. Lena

    Solar Eclair Update:

    Here in the path of totality, the traffic is unusually light. Barely any traffic at all in fact. Lots of empty parking lots. It’s very quiet. We were told that hundreds of thousands of people would be coming. Businesses were all geared up, blah, blah, blah. So what happened? Were people scared away by predictions of large crowds? Or do they just not give a hoot about the incredible awesomeness of this once in a lifetime thing? (I admit it means very little to me.)

    I’d be interested in hearing from people in paths of totality around the country if you care to share. I’m in the Midwest. Are you getting huge crowds from out of town? Is it a business boom or bust? Are the T-shirts going to go to waste?

    1. nippersdad

      Slightly off topic, but we had a total eclipse in Atlanta back in the Eighties. The neighborhood I lived in had almost total tree cover, so as I was walking to the park to view the eclipse, late as usual, I noticed that the spots on the cement sidewalk were changing shape; from no real shape, to oblongs and ultimately to millions of quivering crescents. It was spectacular!

      Best seat in the house ultimately turned out to be under the trees.

    2. Mikel

      Traffic…probably people not wanting to risk fender benders from people taking a look at the sky.

    3. Screwball

      NW Ohio here – Seneca county. Our town is in the totality zone. Just drove through town – plenty of people at a park, quite a bit of traffic. Streets are all no parking. More people than usual, but not excessive.

      Now I’m off. Going to try to record this with my security camera that I wrapped some glasses over the lens.

      Starts at 1:55

    4. Alice X

      I picked up a girlfriend in Ann Arbor and drove to near the center of totality in Ohio (it strikes me as a lot like Iowa but without the charm). The traffic all the way to past Toledo was beyond my worst expectations, stop and go very slow, and I have a manual! Then off the X-way it was clear sailing, I had guessed a spot in the boonies wouldn’t be mobbed and that proved correct. We met one other couple who had come down. Got to the destination with 10 minutes to spare till totality, I’d planned on at least an hour. The sky was a very light haze, but it didn’t matter, it was spectacular. The trip back was proving to be nearly as bad so we bailed and went overland. I got some pretty good pics with my complicated (for me) four thirds camera, which I had been practicing with the last several days. Eight hours+, when it could have been four. But Wow, was it ever worth it!

    1. Lena

      It’s very still here. Our storms came through last night. If you are in the Eastern US, you might be getting that front pass you this afternoon.

      The light is definitely changing now. Cat woke up, got more Fancy Feast, seemed a little confused (“Is it nighttime?”), then settled back down.

      I’m heading out with my special glasses. Totality coming soon.

  31. Pat

    If America and/or states like NY, who seem to want to ram electricity everything including electric cars, on the population were serious about this they would be looking at what China has done, especially these battery exchange stations. And that isn’t even getting to the electric train expansions also mentioned in that thread.
    But we are so captured that nothing can be done without private money especially infrastructure products. So they know they are encouraging both wasteful methods of electrical transport and ones that do not fit with the current situations in America.

    1. digi_owl

      Funny how trains, planes and cars are seen as modern marvels. Yet nobody wants to live anywhere near the infrastructure required to use said marvels.

  32. Angie Neer

    What’s with the AI-generated “Afghan girl and tiger cub”? In my book, that is a nightmare, not an antidote.

  33. Willow

    > “It’s Time To Slowly Bleed Russia’s Economy Dry”

    Solution to overheating Russian economy would be to increase immigration of German engineers and rest of Germany’s disenfranchised industrial workforce – and give West/Europe a really good poke in the eye..

  34. Willow

    > Israel pulls troops out of Khan Younis to ‘prepare’ for Rafah mission

    Preparing for Rafah or something else? Iran’s delaying retaliation until after Ramadan means that it’s likely Iran’s action won’t be token and could very likely lead a further Israeli escalation.

  35. chuck roast

    China Confronts the Middle-Income Trap

    Roubini, whom I genuinely admire, demonstrates his best inside-the-box-thinking. Trying to get a handle on the dynamics of the Chinese economy is mostly beyond my klutzy fingers, but it is clear to me that Xi is determined not to let China fall into a post-industrial financialization trap. Jack Ma was soundly spanked when he blithely attempted to kick off his internet borrowing platform…the road to hell as far as I’m concerned. Xi sent a very long and clear message to all the econo-geniuses Roubini mentions in has article. They can dabble in their market oriented theories all they want, but if they insist on tampering with the socialist model they will wind up with klutzy fingers too.

  36. Dagnarus

    From the Ben Aris tweet.

    Except USA you have to go down to 7th place to find another white Christian country

    Isn’t Russia a predominantly white, predominantly Christian country?

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