Links 5/24/2024

How to Build 300,000 Airplanes in Five Years Construction Physics

How the Soon-to-Reopen Folger Shakespeare Library Came to Be Smithsonian


A Big Tool to Fight Climate Change Is Hiding in Plain Sight The New Republic. Civil forfeiture (!).

Zero-carbon cement process could slash emissions from construction New Scientist

* * *

Climate change could be about to make flight turbulence a lot worse CNN

Something weird is happening with tornadoes Vox

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Natural disasters hit 1 in 5 US adults’ finances in 2023: Fed

* * *

Japanese Study Warns of Deadly Air Pollution Risk from Siberian Wildfires

The Vital Near-Magic of Fire-Eating Fungi JSTOR Daily

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America’s Hottest City Is Having a Surge of Deaths Scientific American. Phoenix.

California’s giant sequoias face a new threat — and the world’s largest tree may be at risk SF Chronicle


Mexico’s drought, heatwave and water shortage are so bad even police are blocking traffic in protest AP


NNU invited to join CDC’s HICPAC workgroup on infection prevention (press release) National Nurses United. Good news, for once.

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Covid Makes A Comeback In Andalusia As Cases Triple Murcia Today

DOH: Philippines keeps low COVID-19 risk despite rise in cases PhilStar

Lying to Ourselves at The End of The World Jessica Wildfire, OK Doomer

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A global pandemic treaty is in sight: don’t scupper it Nature. How unfortunate that WHO completely ruined its credibility by declaring that Covid was not airborne, and fighting aerosol scientists tooth and nail.

Reporting standards for outbreak data: A systematic review (preprint) medRxiv. Systematic literature review. From the Abstract: “The current landscape of data reporting for outbreaks is ad hoc and inconsistent. Public health authorities have discretion to determine when, where, how, and what outbreak data to report. This uneven information flow hampers response efforts by decreasing the accountability and transparency needed to build public trust in the public health response.” As we see all too plainly with the ongoing H5N1 debacle.

* * *

USDA expands support for H5N1 response to more dairy producers Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

Despite growing concerns over bird flu, many US dairy workers have not received protective equipment FOX

Influenza H5N1 and H1N1 viruses remain infectious in unpasteurized milk on milking machinery surfaces (preprint) medRxiv. From the Abstract: “Cattle H5N1 and human 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza viruses were found to remain infectious on surfaces commonly found in milking equipment materials for a few hours. The data presented here provide a compelling case for the risk of contaminated surfaces generated during milking to facilitate transmission of H5N1 from cattle-to-cattle and to dairy farm workers.”

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Long COVID research advocates hammer Biden over ‘minimal funding’ in budget request The Hill

Moderna’s long Covid plan Politico


America must face reality and prioritise China over Europe FT

China says Taiwan drills served to test its ability to ‘seize power’ over island France24. Handy map:

Looks like a blockade to me, as Yves has long suggested.

China pressures Afghanistan’s Taliban to stop attacks on its interests in Pakistan, dangles economic carrot South China Morning Post

Brussels and Washington seek ways to rely less on Chinese shipbuilding output Splash 247


How do you find a bride? The new struggle in crisis-hit rural India Al Jazeera


Pentagon orders all US combat troops to withdraw from Niger Politico


Israel and Hezbollah Inch Closer to War Foreign Policyd

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This 94-year-old Holocaust survivor recommended arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders Forward

ICC prosecutor threatened: Court ‘built for Africa and thugs like Putin’ Anadolu Agency

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From crisis to prosperity: Netanyahu’s vision for Gaza 2035 revealed online Jerusalem Post. From early May, still germane. “AI generated image of Gaza found in the [Prime Minister’s Office’s] plan for a post-war Gaza”:

It almost restores my faith in human nature to consider the idea that for Bibi, genocide might not be the end, but merely a means to the end: Successful real estate speculation. The scheme is more ambitious than that, but let’s start there. Optimism!

This AIPAC Donor Funnels Millions to an IDF Unit Accused of Violating Human Rights The Intercept

European Disunion

Macron tells New Caledonians he will not force through voting reform that sparked riots France24

Battle Machine New Left Review. Spain, Podemos.

Dear Old Blighty

Sunak suffers series of setbacks on first day of UK election campaign FT

New Not-So-Cold War

Rosenberg: Putin’s military purge echoes Prigozhin’s call to act BBC

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‘New ground is being broken’: EU seizes Russian profits for Ukraine Al Jazeera

Putin Allows US Assets in Russia to Be Seized for Retaliation Bloomberg

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Italy repeats it is not sending soldiers for war in Ukraine Anadolu Agency

Biden Administration

Lawmakers formally refer Big Oil investigation to DOJ: “The deception and the deceit must end” Climate Integrity

The Supremes

An extraordinarily important legal decision just dropped, and no one is talking about it Popular Information

The Presumption Against Novelty in the Roberts Court’s Separation-of-Powers Caselaw (PDF) Harvard Law Review. From the Abstract: “After contrasting Burkean minimalism with the originalism the Roberts Court has recently applied in several high-profile constitutional rights cases, this Note traces and critiques the operation of the presumption against novelty in the Court’s recent separation-of-powers decisions. It ultimately concludes that the presumption against novelty produces results that are themselves quite novel, and in so doing expands judicial discretion — and judicial power — at the expense of the democratic process.”


A Reprieve for Assange New Left Review

Digital Watch

AI follies (1):

AI follies (2):

It’s not a “knowledge update” ffs. What an enormous category error (or flagrant marketing hype, take your pick MR SUBLIMINAL Or take both!)

The Low-Paid Humans Behind AI’s Smarts Ask Biden to Free Them From ‘Modern Day Slavery’ Wired. Same for “smarts.”

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How does ChatGPT ‘think’? Psychology and neuroscience crack open AI large language models Nature. The deck: “Researchers are striving to reverse-engineer artificial intelligence and scan the ‘brains’ of LLMs to see what they are doing, how and why.” Too funny. We don’t even know how to debug the stupid things.

International Scientific Report on the Safety of Advanced AI (interim report; PDF) UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. This caught my eye: “[C]urrent techniques for explaining why general-purpose AI models produce any given output are severely limited.”

The Bezzle

State of Wisconsin Buys Nearly $100M Worth of BlackRock Spot Bitcoin ETF CoinDesk

Our Famously Free Press

Selling Your House For Firewood Hamilton Nolan, How Things Work

Linkrot Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic. Worth considering that a paper-based library is far more hardened against the Jackpot than a (power-sucking, water-gulping) data center.

Supply Chain

These Choke Points Pose Global Shipping’s Biggest Risks Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Why the Alabama Mercedes Union Campaign Faltered but Review: How Reformers Doubled Vermont AFL-CIO Membership Labor Notes

Part I: The Case for Sectoral Co-Regulation On Labor. Part II, Part III.

Janet Yellen says many Americans still struggling with inflation FT. No. They are struggling with falling real wages.

Millionaires tax revenue reaches $1.8 billion, on pace to double estimates WGBH. Now do inherited wealth….

Less of this, please:

Antidote du jour (Bernard Gagnon):

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 Dreams  by Fleetwood Mac)

    The West Bank’s populous it seems we can’t outbreed ’em
    Small Arab kids in every town
    No guns in sight which makes it easier to steal it
    So day by day we’re slowly gaining ground

    But we don’t care if they’re mad
    Just as long as they’re surrendering
    What they have
    And they get tossed
    Take what they have
    And they get tossed

    Oh, plunder makes us happy so we’re staying
    Best of all there’s never any paying
    Their women scream and put on quite a show
    But they have known for years they have to go
    Just go . . .

    We will not live with them there needs be a division
    Our Torah grants us all their wealth
    It can’t be helped but they still go to wild extremes and
    Launch more rockets that’s why we expel

    But we don’t care if they’re mad
    Just as long as they’re surrendering
    What they have
    And they get tossed
    Take what they have
    And they get tossed

    Plunder makes us happy so we’re staying
    Best of all there’s never any paying
    Their women scream and put on quite a show
    But they have known for years they have to go

    Oh, plunder makes us happy so we’re staying
    Best of all there’s never any paying
    Their women scream and put on quite a show
    But they have known for years they have to go

    Now go . . .
    Got to go . . .
    Oh-oh-oh just go . . .

  2. The Rev Kev

    ‘Iain Cameron
    Everest a couple of days ago. Why would anyone want to be a part of this? The worst kind of adventure capitalism.’

    Just waiting for a private equity firm to build a toll booth about half way up that mountain that all climbers must pay to climb higher. So when you climb Mount Everest, remember – bring your money with you!

      1. griffen

        Beats me to the punch! The William Le Petomayne Tollway!

        Surely they won’t accept cash in today’s modern world. Gotta get a cut to include Visa…it’s everywhere you want to be.

      2. SufferinSuccotash

        Speaking of shitloads there are reportedly mounds of frozen doo-doo (mixed with used oxygen canisters) along the trail leading up to the peak. But there’s a tee-shirt in it for you!

        1. Wukchumni

          I’ve seen a few graves in the High Sierra, but never a cadaver garbed in green plastic climbing boots and anorak, exposed to the elements, that I needed to walk by to get to the holy grail.

    1. Wukchumni

      It’s such a different scene in my beloved half-pint Himalaya, you’ll always glimpse too many people on the Mt Whitney trail, and seeing as each of the determined ones spent $15 to be able to do their quest-money wasn’t an issue, nor will anybody schlepp their stuff up the mountain for them, you’re on your own in that department.

      The only times i’ve felt surrounded by people were @ Crabtree Meadow and Little Yosemite Valley, where we slept overnight surrounded by a few hundred others. The first is below Mt Whitney and the latter is the approach camp for hiking up to Half Dome.

      The rest of the Sierra can be your very own oyster often, and in normal years of snowfall, all the frozen white stuff is pretty much gone by July.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Looking at images of the Mt Whitney trail, that landscape looks pretty bleak. Do they have a problem with people dropping their rubbish along this trail and at the peak like at Mt. Everest? A web page says that ‘Proceed cautiously on this 34.1-km out-and-back trail near Lone Pine, California.’ Didn’t that place used to be called Twin Pines, California back in the mid-50s?

        1. Wukchumni

          You typically start from Whitney Portal-where Bogie breathed his last in High Sierra, not Lone Pine.

          High Sierra 1941


          In the Whitney Zone you have to do your business in a wag bag, endangered feces and all that.

          I’ve never noticed much trash on the ground on the Whitney trail, and not much else in the High Sierra.

          Perhaps i’ve picked up enough trash in 40 years to fill half a backpack up, its so clean out there in our back of beyond, you could eat off it.

          1. Janie

            Way back when, we carried out a gallon glass wine bottle from the lake north of Vogelsang in Yosemite, first one you cone to on the way downhill to Tuolomne Meadows. We always wondered how come whoever carried it up full couldn’t carry it out.

        2. Rod

          Whitney still had a reward of sorts at the top when i was last up there–an open-air pit toilet just down from the shelter
          not a common thing at all and i don’t know how/who serviced it
          stunning view from that throne as i recall

      2. Craig H.

        Anybody who goes sightseeing where you have to carry out your poop is possessed by the same madness as the Everest Trekkers. There are 4000000 lifetimes (approximate) natural wonder available where you don’t need to torture yourself for bragging privileges.

        Nobody cares at all about what you care so much about. Mt Whitney thinks you are an ant.

        1. Wukchumni

          I found one kindred spirit who seems to care about the range of light as much as yours truly, and he wrote a great book about it.

          The High Sierra: A Love Story, by Kim Stanley Robinson

          Now as far as excrement goes, i’m more of a dig a hole and then cover it with a rock, sort. That’s pretty much standard practice for anywhere outside the Whitney Zone.

        2. griffen

          So I will suppose or suggest that not everyone concurs with the opinion offered, or frame of mind. Hiking in the mountains of western NC for sights of prodigious views and waterfalls isn’t gonna be for every living soul. Last year stood within shouting distance of a few buffalo in a SD park. Incredible to be close but keeping distance.

          Yeah I’m an ant to the Great Smoky Mountains…but I try real hard I really do to be a dutiful ant and leave things as they were ( the ” leave no trace ” is more a command than a request, per a few hiking enthusiasts I know ).

    2. Neutrino

      The Everest photo was reminiscent of that Klondike Gold Rush photo where hundreds of would-be miners trekked north. Some even found gold, and others found frostbite.

      The earlier 49er Gold Rush achieved fame in part for the suppliers. This time around, who will sell the climbing equivalent of essential items like pickaxes, pans, tents and sourdough starter? Or prayer flags for spiritual gold?

      1. Wukchumni

        Yes, it has the look of Chilkoot Pass!

        The earlier 49er Gold Rush achieved fame in part for the suppliers.

        In the diary of William Swain, a 49’er from upstate NY, he mentions how everybody is armed to the teeth against attacks by Indians, except the Native Americans want no part of the cholera-ridden gold seekers and stay far away.

        En route many 49’ers jettison a good many items, a favored spot by many is about 50 miles north of Salt Lake City, and Mormons do a land office business-supplying them with spendy food, while picking up all of the nice things that they left for the taking.

        The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience, by J.S. Holliday

      2. t

        Wow! Two hits in one tea break doom scroll. That picture was my first thought and you tool the time to dig it up.

        This was also a great bit of comedy:

        It almost restores my faith in human nature to consider the idea that for Bibi, genocide might not be the end, but merely a means to the end: Successful real estate speculation


        (And I was having a little fantasy about asset forfeiture just the other day after a recent Welcom to Hell World newsletter. Nice to see it in the news.)

      3. ambrit

        I had a floormate at University who’s brother lived in Alaska at the time. He sent his brother a chunk of sourdough, ‘freshened’ by wild yeast spores harvested off of wild blueberries. Thus, “sourdough starter” need not be purchased.
        Our close forebears knew a lot more than we give them credit for.

        1. Grateful Dude

          I make lacto sourdough with yogurt whey. One day a while ago I made some yogurt from yogurt from a local organic store. When it was done, the clabbered milk looked just like a healthy sourdough starter.

          WTF? So I mixed some separated whey (check out BCAAs BTW) with some WW flour. Eureka! The lactose culture loves it. In fact, it loves almost anything flour-like: I use WW flour, plus seed meal, and corn and amaranth flours; oat and rice flours will probably do just fine. Gluten, however, makes the bread less crumby.

          It took a while to revise the bread-making process for wet dough because a dry dough won’t proof, there’s no need to knead a loaf, and just mixing too much collapses it – preserve the lactose proof-rise for the final proofing.

          I mix flour with starter gradually – the culture needs wet food – so it will continue to “proof” (always in the fridge), and then I fold the last batch of flour, with salt, gently into the mix, and proof it in the bake pans a last time and then bake – hot to puff the loaf, ~500 deg F, for about 15 min, and then much cooler, 250-300 deg F, for another hour to bake and dry the loaf, then turn off the oven and let it cool in there so it dries out a little more – it’s dense.

          Great results. And fresh starter is available in any health food store. I’m in Oaxaca so maybe the lacto is different here. DK. Test: mix a little flour with fresh whey. I see a fermentation plume immediately.

    3. Cat Burglar

      If you want to see bald display of any human pathology, just go to any “highest mountain” of any kind, and wait — it will come along sooner or later (one book reported prostitution at basecamp on the north side of Everest, which for me debunks the notion of an inherent value in mountaineering).

      I pretty much avoided “the highest”, unless there was a particularly beautiful route to the top. And if you want to climb the crowded ones, you can always just go in the winter. A couple thousand people climb Denali every year, mainly by just one route; almost nobody climbs Mount Saint Elias, the second highest mountain in Alaska.

      What the Yosemite climber Lito Tejada-Flores wrote in Ascent more that 50 years ago, in Overpopulation And The Alpine Ego-Trip, has always been a good guide:

      …It will mean more than just leaving the city. One will have to put aside certain “city” patterns that have too long accompanied us to the mountains: social patterns of obedience to the group and mass conditioning, or individual patterns of status-driven competition, whether the struggle for ego-reinforcement or the desire to belong to an elite….
      My ultimate conclusion is that a real wilderness experience is the sharing of wilderness with other people, not using it to escape them. (That, however is the subject of a different discussion.) In the meantime, I suggest that we take a new look at how and why we climb. I suggest that the mountains are not overcrowded, but that mountaineers have not been sufficiently ‘spaced out,’ neither sufficiently free nor sufficiently aware. I suggest that there is a simple answer to Francois Villon’s question: ‘Where are the snows of yesteryear?’ They’re still falling.

  3. Stephen V

    Just saying but “almost” is doing an awful amount of work under that AI envisioned Gaza image…

  4. disc_writes

    > Italy repeats it is not sending soldiers for war in Ukraine

    So, given Italy’s record, it means that it will?

    1. The Rev Kev

      It’s all fun and games for Meloni to play at Warrior Princess and breathing fire at Russia but even she knows that having Italian soldiers return from the Ukraine in body bags will sink her political career real quick.

        1. hk

          And many of them didn’t return, period–not even in body bags. If they get them back in body bags today, Italians should consider themselves lucky.

      1. disc_writes

        What the Italian army does is seldom decided by the Italian government.

        Do not believe anything until it is officially denied. And the Italian government has been denying boots on the ground so often it is becoming suspicious now.

        So my idea is that the US will secretly give the green light, the French will lead the charge (of the Light Brigade?), and a number of recalcitrant countries, like Italy, will be under a lot of pressure to go. The Polish will do the real fighting, though.

  5. none

    An extraordinarily important legal decision just dropped, and no one is talking about it Popular Information

    This is a decision by all federal district judge saying that that the qualified immunity doctrine is bogus and the supremes should fix it. Good luck with that.

  6. ajc

    It’s curious that the USDA/FDA/CDC corporate health agencies can prioritize showing that unpasteurized milk on dairy surfaces contains viable H5N1 but faces immense technical & scientific difficulties showing that the extremely money efficient method of 15 sec pasteurization process eliminates it.

    Considering the weasel worded assurances of our corporate health agencies about the safety of pasteurized milk, one has no need to worry about the lack of slow walked research. I mean, we so successfully built ‘herd immunity’ to COVID with schoolkids, I would assume the goal would be the same with H5N1 with the ‘immunity challenge’ being half-pints for half-pints, original antigenic sin be damned.

    1. DanB

      Using A.O. Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, Loyalty framework, the choice public health has made is to be loyal to political/economic elites. Depending as it does on government support, public health has no exit option, and the voice option gets one marginalized, ostracized, “cancelled”, labeled a kook -voice can be career ending. So the best (short-term survival) option is loyalty to the 1%’s view of reality. Therefore, Covid is over, everybody back to work, trust your immune system, and other anti-public health nonsense. For me, as a former member of the public health community, the question was how to break out of this trap and serve the public. (I attempted voice -this was before Covid- and was forced out; and then I taught at several colleges before retiring.)

    2. tiebie66

      I’d think that with the rise of airbornism there will be a decline in fomitism. Perhaps, just as with CV19, fomites are of little relevance?

    3. truly

      THE ARTICLE HAS AN INCREDIBLY MISLEADING TITLE! And yes it deserves all caps to say it. (Sorry Yves). All milk that would be on the farm and would be on surfaces of equipment would be unpasteurized. Milk gets pasteurized off the farm, at the plant. Not stan ing for unpasteurized milk here. And not saying that the title is technically incorrect. But it would be more accurate to point out that the virus survives in milk on the surfaces of equipment in milking operations.The title looks more like an attack on unpasteurized milk rather than an admission that the virus has a high survivability rate outside of the cow.

      1. jrkrideau

        I must admit I was a bit shocked about milking parlours’ poor sanitation practices. I struck me that it was something USDA would and should be concerned about.

  7. zagonostra

    >How the Soon-to-Reopen Folger Shakespeare Library Came to Be Smithsonian

    Shakespeare had written five long poems, 154 sonnets and, depending on how one counts them, 37 plays. In his lifetime, only half his plays were published. The other half were in danger of extinction.
    Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

    I know, the article was on the Folger Library, but I couldn’t resist introducing a “conspiracy. ” Indeed there is a cottage industry on the the true authorship of some, if not most, of the work that has been attributed to William Shakespeare. There was even a movie, “Anonymous,” I think was its name, that I haven’t watched. The book Cracking The Shakespeare Code is my favorite on this subject, here the author, Friberg, a professional organist, posits Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford along with perhaps Francis Bacon as the real author . I think his account is credible, there are others and Wiki has a whole section on alternate theories on who the true author was…just speculation, good clean fun.

    1. The Rev Kev

      My own theory is that William Shakespeare never wrote those works but that it was written by another man of the same name.

      1. t

        No doubt. Area was filthy with witty sons of glovemakers. And given what AI has produced so far, we should scap the lot of it for a planet full of monkeys banging away on old Royal typewriters. We can have the robot dogs refitted to change paper and ribbons for the monkeys.

    2. chuck roast

      Nice to see continuing care of the Folger. When I lived in DC I regularly attended Folger Consort offerings. Sublime.

    3. Anonymous 2

      A major problem with the idea that Oxford was Shakespeare is of course that he died in 1604, well before many of the greatest plays were first performed. Many have plenty of references to developments in the early years of King James’ reign, which means Oxford would have to have been able to predict the future as well as be a literary genius if he really were the author of the later plays.

      I am afraid there is a lot of snobbery in the Shakespeare was not Shakespeare school. Just because he did not (as far as we know) go to Oxbridge, an actor could not produce works of genius?

      1. Late Introvert

        I don’t think I’m a snob for noting that he left no library, and his daughters didn’t know how to read.

        1. Bill Malcolm

          Just like 90% of the population couldn’t read in Billy’s time. Schools? What were those in Eluzabethan times? Certainly not publicly funded. Maybe England then was like the Taliban of Aghanistan today — educating girls wasn’t even considered. As for leaving a library — who did in those days? Merely those associated with the church, perhaps. Billy wasn’t an ex-US president.

          Just asking for a friend. We really have not the slightest concept of what society was like 400 years ago.

          1. Polar Socialist

            We really have not the slightest concept of what society was like 400 years ago.

            Of course we do. People at the time wrote a lot about their society, and that society was turning into the information society we live in – a lot of records were kept of everything possible.

            We likely miss many nuances, though. And the poorest classes are of course under-represented, but in the Nordics even they exists in the clerical and judicial books (people were really, really keen on suing each other back in the day).

    4. John k

      Imo all such theories are relatively recent, mostly after 1700 or so.
      Some friends adamantly support them.

  8. .Tom

    For a week or so opening Twitter in Firefox has given me this message “Something went wrong, but don’t fret — let’s give it another shot. ⚠️ Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection (Strict Mode) is known to cause issues on”. I can open the links in another browser to read. Does anyone have more detail? As as cynic I guess Twitter changed their software to require tracking that Firefox doesn’t allow but I really don’t know. I only use Twitter to read items in NC Links.

    1. flora

      Same here. Switching to using Firefox NOT in private mode makes twtr-X work fine. Of course using X-twtr in non-private mode means X-twtr can collect your browsing history, etc. So, clean your browsing history before and after using twtr-X in non-private mode. / ;)

    2. FredW

      I use Mullvad browser a lot on my desktop. It only works in “incognito” mode (no cooky memory or history). It’s what I use for X with no problem. I also use a vpn, and that doesn’t seem to bother X either.
      I just tried it now in Brave ingognito, also with no problem. On the other hand, in each case I’m logging into my twitter account, so perhaps that’s what makes the difference.

      1. DugOutDog

        You can’t use Incognito on AppleTV+. Open a “regular” window – problem solved. So much for focusing revenue generation on hardware.

    3. Randy

      As a bit of an aside to your comment I recently posted that lately the Twitter pages are black background with white print with Firefox. Extremely hard on the eyes and annoying. Somebody replied that the Twitter pages were normal white with black print for them on Firefox. I tried Safari and Opera and got my same result, black background, white print. I am perplexed.

      Sorry Elon Muck for calling it Twitter, it is X, formerly known as Twitter.

      1. juno mas

        Go to “settings” in Firefox and select the “General” setting. Scroll down to “Language and Appearance” see if website appearance is set to “Dark Mode”. I use that setting and X/Twit text appears white on a black background. Change the setting to “light” and see what transpires.

  9. hemeantwell

    Jessica Wildfire is usually on point. This article, in which she relies heavily on cognitive dissonance theory to explain the denial of social problems, isn’t. She kicks off by telling of how people going through the 50s famine in China would proclaim that things are going great even thought they’d been reduced to eating human flesh.

    Assuming the story is true, to characterize this as a product of individually-grounded psychological processes is itself a kind of denial. During that period Maoist forms of ‘ideological struggle’ were brutal, and deviance was heavily sanctioned. If cognitive dissonance was in play, it was because it had been mobilized by the regime, putting individuals in the position of going along or suffering punishment, which in those circumstances might have involved being denied food. Iirc, the most famous of his works, When Prophecy Fails was about how cult members continue to believe that the world was going to end by a certain date even after that date had to be repeatedly adjusted because the world hadn’t ended. They were cult members, fcs.

    Regression away from adequate reality-testing is a potential that is part of human nature, but so is a capacity for reality testing if conditions permit it. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here. Despite her strong social orientation, Wildfire has trouble freeing herself from the myopia of her discipline. I’ve lost touch with the cognitive dissonance literature, but it’s hard to imagine that by now someone hasn’t demonstrated how situationally-determined these rationality failures are. Iirc, Festinger’s most famous work, When Prophecy Fails, was about how cult members continued to believe in predictions of the end of the world after they repeated failed to be borne out. Ok, but they were cult members, stuck in a group with nowhere to go. There may be a workable analogy there with how some college administrators see themselves regarding donor funding.

    1. diptherio

      While her historical anecdote may be somewhat dubious, her diagnosis of the present situation seems pretty on point to me. It seems my liberal parents and I have reached and unspoken agreement to just not talk politics anymore, basically because if we start I can’t help but bring up the extreme brokenness of the world and they (especially pops) can’t really stand to hear it. It’s worked out well for them and at least one of their kids, and I don’t think they want to consider what their grandkids’ lives are going to be like in 40 years if my gloomy outlook turns out to be well founded. They won’t be around to see it, and it’s too painful to think about, so best just not to think about it and continue on as if a Republican getting elected is really the biggest problem we have to face.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        My family is weary of hearing me describe the turn of events I foresee for the future. I am dismissed, ignored, or more often just called a Debbie Downer. No one questions or corrects my presentation of current events or their implications — they just do not want to hear about it. I cannot call their response cognitive dissonance because they seem cognizant of the things I describe. They seem to just prefer not to think about it. “Why worry about what you cannot change?” I have tried to convince them — without success — that if they ignore what is happening they cannot adapt and prepare for it. So far I am not sure even my simple warnings to prepare for hurricane season by keeping some cash, candles, food in the pantry, storing water in the tub, and storing a few days of drinking water, just in case power is lost for a few days.

    2. Jeff W

      Jessica Wildfire is usually on point.This article, in which she relies heavily on cognitive dissonance theory to explain the denial of social problems, isn’t…During that period [of the Great Chinese Famine] Maoist forms of ‘ideological struggle’ were brutal, and deviance was heavily sanctioned. If cognitive dissonance was in play, it was because it had been mobilized by the regime…

      Thanks. Reading the piece, I thought exactly the same thing.

      Whatever its connection to the current state of affairs, cognitive dissonance seems pretty misplaced as a description of what was going on in China in the late 1950s and early 1960s where people would deny or not acknowledge what was going on around them. Those people weren’t trying to avoid the discomfort that arises when their actions and beliefs don’t align, they were trying to avoid the very real punishment that would occur if they acknowledged the reality of the situation. (Perhaps they might have wanted to alleviate some of the discomfort they felt at saying things they didn’t believe—that’s “forced compliance behavior,” a cause of cognitive dissonance—but that’s at a level higher than the one Wildfire is talking about—and, given the exigencies of the situation, that might not even have occurred all that much.)

      It’s bad enough that people use the term cognitive dissonance pretty casually (and incorrectly)—e.g., maybe something happens that someone doesn’t expect and that person says he or she experienced “cognitive dissonance.” Wildfire isn’t using the term that loosely but she isn’t helping matters.

      1. JBird4049

        >>> If cognitive dissonance was in play, it was because it had been mobilized by the regime, putting individuals in the position of going along or suffering punishment, which in those circumstances might have involved being denied food

        How is this that much different from what is now happening? This is a serious question as I can see the cost of social ostracization, deplatforming, and unemployment, even in the worse case the involvement of the legal/security agencies; it is an extremely scary time that we now live in with facing the collapse of everything except the corruption and incompetence painful to do.

        For example, this is one of the reasons for people either ignoring or coming up with fatuous (to me) or at least problematic explanations for the growing homeless encampments or small crowds that I can find within thirty, maybe forty-five minute drive. I can always drive down to LA’s Skid Row which is mind blowing in a horrific way. Skid Row was small decades ago and San Francisco’s homeless population was tiny in the 70s with it only really growing in the 80s. I could see the same in the rest of the state.

        This is a problem throughout the state of California. However, people still insist that it must be laziness, mental illness, and drug addiction that is the problem. Huh, a massive increase in laziness, mental illness, and drug addiction are the only causes of homelessness? And all in only fifty years? And the empty storefronts everywhere? And the insane cost of housing? Of medical care? People will acknowledge one fact and then another, then be unable to accept the connection. It is as if their minds cannot accept even modifying their preconceived beliefs. It must be the personal fault of the homeless for being homeless. However, all their friends and family are much the same enforcing their beliefs with new excuses. The news and social media, television, family, friends, coworkers, your boss.

        Now, Covid-19, masking, global warming, climate change, the environment, the massive corruption in the political system, Ukraine, Gaza? I can easily find the facts, interviews, books, personally explain, explain the decades of massive amounts of propaganda warping their minds, even give personal testimony on climate change and disappearing insects (which comes from living in the same general area my entire life), but people create a worldview that they must maintain so that can remain mentally and emotionally stable. Often they need to maintain them to keep their families, friends, their jobs and losing any of those can ruin your life especially in these horrible times. This not bringing up an increasing number of issues as Team Blue or Team Red, Team Liberal-Democratic or Team Conservative-Republican has decided and that is that.

        People refuse to change their minds, frequently without being consciously aware of doing so, because to do so increasingly mean taking great risks, often connected to their entire social network including their job, which are reinforcing their beliefs anyways. The American government does not have to directly get involved most of the time and then usually peripherally as the system created does the work. If that does not work, then the three letter agencies can get involved. This environment has been deliberately created at least in part and mimics what happened in China, Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States in the past.

        So, we have a regime consisting of several major political factions connected and spread across the government, corporations, and international organizations manufacturing a society that relentlessly imposing viewpoints designed to influence and manipulate you into their specific preformed faction, an increasingly chaotic, dangerous environment, which makes accepting change difficult, the increasing cost of changing beliefs, which can mean losing family, friends, coworkers, employment, if you express them. A society increasingly authoritarian, veering into totalitarianism, that will punish you for saying the wrong thing including the wrong vocabulary, which can change for apparently no good reason. Much easier and safer to conform.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Speaking out and making a fuss are dangerous. Outwardly conforming is wiser in these times. The u.s. is not a free country.

          Expressing opinions to family or close friends holds different risk for what I believe are very different reasons. We may be nearing times when family, friends, and neighbors will report wrong thoughts of others to the State authorities. Though near we are not quite there yet. I believe expressing wrong thought to family or close friends makes it difficult for some of them to continue their outward conformity. Wrong thoughts raise too many questions and provoke too many other disturbing thoughts. Much easier and safer to keep smiling, accepting, and not thinking too hard. After all, with any luck the Collapse will not arrive that soon — several decades … the end of this century. By then, I’ll be gone. You’ll be gone. [IBG.YBG] Let’s just party on until our music stops.

          “Cognitive dissonance” or willful blindness and oblivion?

          1. JBird4049

            I got younger members of the family would still be middle aged in thirty years. Considering the age that one side of my family lives to, I might still be although I would very creaky. Let’s try to avoid another Bronze Age Collapse.

            However, the foolish dolts trying to create an American nacht und nebel would be happy to have finks and narcs working for them, which means any success attempt to avoid that will be less likely to succeed. Too often people wanting to remain in power as well as their supporters do not think about the long, not really, unless it is for their preferred ideology or group to remain in power. That phrase about wanting to rule in hell instead of living in heaven comes to mind.

  10. Wukchumni

    The recent deaths attributed to bark beetles occurred in the Giant Forest, Muir Grove and New Oriole Lake Grove, all in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, according to the park service. Giant sequoias have been documented as severely decimated by beetles in Cedar Flat, Redwood Mountain and Squirrel Creek groves, also located in the two jointly managed parks.

    California’s giant sequoias face a new threat — and the world’s largest tree may be at risk SF Chronicle

    I first heard of the beetles being on tour among the Brobdingnagians a few years ago, and now that they’ve taken up residence in the Giant Forest where a dozen of them are among the largest of all Giant Sequoias, its not a matter of if, but when an angry 1/8th of an inch invader takes down all of the mighty trees who pretty much all live together in familial groups as their diminutive cones never fall far from a tree.

    The groves so far stricken are tantamount to a Michelin guidebook for the beetles, all spread out within the confines of Sequoia NP, with outlier groves on either bookend. No groves in Sequoia National Monument have been hit so far by the fab 4 (Chinese numerology joke-not Liverpudlian) thankfully, but its just a matter of time, I’d guess.

    Now would be a good time to do a bucket list sojourn to see them, before they kick the bucket…

    Similar to Europe’s wine vines being killed en masse in the 19th century French wine blight, only to be bailed out by American vines unaffected by the tiny aphid invader, salvation might appear in the guise of many ex-pat Sequoias around the world-the oldest examples being close to 2 centuries in the ground.

    1. Old Jake

      Western Red Cedars (a species of cypress, as are most “cedar” trees in the western US) are dying at an accelerating rate in my area, the northern Olympic Peninsula. Reduced water availability, increasing temperatures, and bark beetles share the blame. Douglas firs and “regular” firs seem OK so far. I’m adding a few Oregon White Oaks to my little spread, though I won’t live to see them mature (30 years or so). My contribution to future generations of the little critters that abound here.

  11. OliverN

    The funny thing about that AI answer “no African countries start with a K” (and then immediately contradicting itself) is that it’s actually been there for a while, I remember checking this 2-3 months ago.

    The source I found is a crude joke, you start by saying “fun fact, of 54 african countries, none starts with a K” which baits someone into saying “Well what about Kenya?” and then you reply with “…Ken ya momma (blah blah blah)”. Gottem!

    So the source of the “information” is a joke, which the AI doesn’t realise. If anything, having those two pieces of information next to each other (No recognised African country starts with a K / Kenya starts with a K), creates a new piece of misinformation, which is “Kenya is not a recognised country”

    1. The Rev Kev

      Wasn’t it 4chan that convinced American media a coupla years ago that the “OK” hand sign which goes back generations was actually secret code for white supremacy or something? You’d have to be pretty stupid to believe something like that but the media and all good thinkers swallowed it hook, line & sinker. So can you imagine groups like 4chan feeding in all sorts of rubbish into AI via datasets to see if it gets adopted? If it shows up in results, then that hacker wins credit.

      1. digi_owl

        That MSM started taking 4chan as gospel truth is perhaps the worst that could happen.

      2. Terry Flynn

        I still find the number of (usually USA) YouTubers using the Commonwealth/British “V insult” to indicate two as a jolt. Whilst it got largely replaced by the US middle finger even before I hit 20, most of the population in UK would recognise it and more importantly if it is being used as an insult.

        Yet a lot us of can’t totally unlearn a deeply ingrained insult from childhood and it elicits a brief “wtf?” when YouTubers use it. People who think they’re being clever claim it was never an issue because there are well documented videos of Churchill doing it during WW2 to the Brits. But somebody told him to “stop doing it wrong” at some point because all of his later use was palm outwards (to indicate V for victory or peace) and stop telling his people to family blog off!

          1. Terry Flynn

            That made me laugh and simultaneously illustrated how a physical gesture can be used to convey real feelings without it becoming a “major issue”.

            It reminds me of the convoluted stuff the Monica and Ross characters on Friends had invented as children to “flip the bird” without their parents knowing they were doing it.

            The insulting V sign in UK is now sufficiently ambiguous that it can be used with plausible deniability. Which makes it even funnier.

      3. Jabura Basaidai

        first time i went to Brasil was told immediately the first time he saw me make the ok sign to not do it because it meant something derogatory and a lot different from ok

    2. digi_owl

      Bingo. These LLMs are pure statistics machines. Any sense of context (something even humans struggle with, if we do not willfully ignore it to create a scene, and where most of our “humor” arise from) go so far above them that it risks kicking the ISS out of orbit.

      Never mind the internet adage known as Poe’s Law.'s_law

      1. Terry Flynn

        Yep. As I have mentioned before, a large section of the British population who were fans of early seasons of Have I Got News For You (HIGNFY) – which promises a corker tonight having actually been filmed 24 hours after Sunak called the election – know that saying something in just the right way means “we mean the exact opposite and this is how we avoid getting sued”.

        On a separate note, I’m the last person to defend AI but in statistics, using two-way and higher order interaction terms in estimation is a good way to capture context effects. The AI current methods (largely built on most likely next word or simplistic models of context mathematical scientists binned 40 years ago) seem unbelievably dumb to me and these examples show why.

    3. R.S.

      Thank you for clarification. AFAIR there was a story just recently where AI suggested adding glue to pizza sauce so the cheese wouldn’t fall off, and it also came from a joke? The mechanical idiot just imbibed the words without any context whatsoever.

      1. Wukchumni

        ‘I’ll have the number 6 combo, deep dish pizza with mozzarella, mushrooms, Italian sausage, Elmer’s & pepperoni.’

        1. R.S.

          I recommend topping it with some Pattex Classic. For the smell and a colourful experience.

      2. digi_owl

        It was traced back almost verbatim to a Reddit comment.

        And frankly Reddit should be considered diluted 4chan whenever one venture beyond the heavily moderated (or should one say policed?) and admin sanctioned sections.

        1. hemeantwell

          Largely agree, but I’ve routinely found good computer fixit advice there,though you should sift for consensus.

      3. diptherio

        It gets even worse. They apparently trained their statistical text generators on The Onion, so now Google’s AI will tell you that geologists recommend eating at least one small pebble a day.

        Also: you can use gasoline to make spaghetti spicier and a parachute does not reduce the injury of jumping out of a plane.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “‘New ground is being broken’: EU seizes Russian profits for Ukraine”

    Even taking the interest is still theft. Consider this. You have a $100 in the bank but then one day the bank decides to freeze your bank account. A year goes by and the interest on that money is also seized and sent to somebody else without even asking you. But then you have to consider the inflation rate. Suppose that it is 4% so that means that after 1 year that $100 is now only worth $96. Normally the interest rate on the money you have invested counterbalances that loss through inflation and may generate even a bit of profit. Not here. You are losing that money at a steady rate so the same must be true of that $300 billion of Russia’s money that the west seized.

    1. NN Cassandra

      It’s also completely pointless. Fine, you guys have altered two numbers, subtracted from one and added to other, how does that create more shells, tanks or whatever it is supposed to pay for and which the West can’t produce anyway? It of course doesn’t, what it does is to allow politicians to have in hand piece of paper and pretend that it shows it’s Russia who is paying for the war, not the Western populace.

    2. Milton

      Give me the name of that bank which offers 4% on passbook accounts. I always get a kick out of my statements which show I earned $0.16 so far this year.

      1. Wukchumni

        Just think though, with the miracle of compound interest, you can probably double the money in that passbook account of yours, in say 4,237 years.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I suspect that when you have several hundred billion dollars to play around with, that you will be offered more interest than the average passbook account will give you. :)

        1. Neutrino

          Everyone has access to the Treasury Direct accounts to earn more money on T-Bills. The rates there have been in the ~4-5% range, and you can open an account for $100. There are variations on that through brokerages.

            1. randy

              And they are north of 5% on T-Bills. As a plug for NC, I heard about Treasury Direct here. Thanks!

      3. Screwball

        My bank (5/3 and I hate them) gives us .01% on balances from $1.00 to $100,000. How nice of them. Look into Treasury Direct. Create an account and link it to your bank. You can buy all kinds of T-bills, bonds, CDs etc. I made 3.81% last year which is way more than the .01 the bank with no service, no interest, and no answers will give me.

    3. CA

      As for interest or investment returns on American portfolios, Vanguard mutual funds might be looked to as benchmarks. A range of Vanguard funds are simply very low cost indexes. I am not advertising the company, only suggesting that Vanguard is simply a guide to interest or investment returns from a range of low cost money market funds to bond and stock and real estate indexes..

  13. Zagonostra

    Michael Tracey
    Speaker Mike Johnson addressed a celebration of Israeli Independence tonight in Washington, DC. He rejoiced that Israel is “the fulfillment of promises made millennia ago to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” and proclaimed his thanks that “the Zionist dream has become a reality”

    Has anyone noticed the similarity between Michael Johnson and whatever life form took over Stephen Colbert body and inserted a necon/neoliberal computer program in his brain?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Speaker Mike Johnson has just invited Bibi Netanyahu to address Congress where no doubt he will receive multiple standing ovations like before and female Democrats will probably dress in blue and white-

      The rest of the world will just love this and there is no way that there will be any blowback to this. Speaker Mike Johnson also seems to be keen in getting the US into a shooting war with Russia as well.

      1. Wukchumni

        I see Bibi is going to the Samsonite Option. or maybe he’s an American Tourister man?

      2. Pearl Rangefinder

        It really is amazing to watch the United States go out of its way to torpedo every shred of legitimacy and soft power that it has carefully built up since the end of WW2. It’s like they can’t piss it all away fast enough!

      3. Screwball

        Unbelievable. Not really. I think Johnson is one of the biggest creeps I have ever seen, and given all the other creatures of DC, that’s saying something.

        Every day these people prove how truly awful they really are by being even more awful.

        1. pjay

          People like Johnson are especially scary because they actually seem to believe in their own righteousness and that of the causes they fight for. Mike Pence was the same way, though he had no power and even less charisma. For all of his evil actions and intentions (and they were very great), I never had the impression that Dick Cheney believed any of his BS justifications for anything. To me, Cheney was pure will to power – he did whatever he could get away with and lied with impunity, but I don’t think he’d risk a suicidal WWIII for a “just cause.” Guys like Johnson actually think they are God’s warriors. Let’s get that Temple built and get on with it!

        1. ChrisFromGA

          Johnson is our first non-partisan (or bi-partisan) Speaker, uniparty owned, and the MIC’s hidebound stooge.

          Quite possibly he’s a prototype for the future, where Congress simply tears down the facade of having two parties that represent distinct interests, and instead pulls back the curtain revealing that brick wall Frank Zappa referred to.

            1. jobs

              It’s also about to clarify where voters stand on candidates that support countries committing genocide.

  14. Mikel

    “America must face reality and prioritise China over Europe” FT

    There was something very awkward about that entire analysis.

    So I checked out the byline:
    Elbridge Colby

    “The writer is a principal at the Marathon Initiative and served as Pentagon lead for the 2018 National Defense Strategy.”

    So about Marathon: “How to secure American freedom and prosperity in this more competitive age is the organizing national security question of our time.

    The mission of The Marathon Initiative is to develop the diplomatic, military, and economic strategies the nation will need to navigate a protracted competition with great power rivals.

    Marathon is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization. It is funded by private individuals and foundations, as well as by grants from or contract work for the U.S. Government. Marathon does not seek or accept funding from corporations or from foreign sources.”

    Automatic BS detector goes off, because the entire “problem” with China is based on miscalculationns and f ups of American industry that the think tanks and govt are trying to bailout.

    But then I go back to the name: Colby.
    Could it be?
    But of course: Elbridge’s grandfather was an American intelligence officer who served as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) from September 1973 to January 1976.

    1. digi_owl

      I’m becoming convinced that the whole 501 thing has become a massive graft. A way to mask corruption as donations that gets turned into managerial salaries for “failkids”.

    2. Maxwell Johnston

      Elbridge Colby starts out OK and even acknowledges that China’s economy is No.1 in PPP terms; good for him. But then we go downhill precipitously:

      “…..China seems to be doing almost everything consistent with preparing for a war with America. It is attempting to sanction-proof its economy…..” So China wanting to be immune to the USA’s ongoing weaponization of its post-WW2 control of the world’s financial infrastructure is tantamount to revving up the war engines? Oh please, Elbridge, spare me. It gets much worse from that point onwards. The comment section on FT is entertaining, though. Not all the FT’s readers are eating Colby’s dogfood.

      William Colby (Elbridge’s grampa) came to my MBA school in 1991 and gave a presentation shortly before I went to the USSR (soon to become RU). He was adamant that “Gorby will survive.” Oh dear. Colby Grandpere was neat, trim, well-spoken, intelligent, and…..utterly incapable of predicting the future. As I suppose all of us are. But most of us don’t go around giving speeches and exerting backstage influence.

      On a somewhat related note, the article “How to Build 300,000 Airplanes in Five Years Construction” was absolutely fascinating (even to non-technical yours truly). Producing physical things is hard. China and RU seem to be very good at producing physical things. Given that China/RU seem to be on excellent terms, and that the collective west (aka Borrell’s Garden) seems keen on alienating China/RU at every opportunity, this doesn’t bode well for the future of the collective west, methinks.

      1. jrkrideau

        Re How to Build 300,000 Airplanes in Five Years Construction”

        The first line: “It’s no secret that the Allies won World War II on the back of the U.S.’s enormous industrial output” had me choking. US exceptionalism at its best.

        There is no doubt that US industrial output had a huge effect in helping win/shorten the war but “Allies won World War II on the back of the U.S.’s enormous industrial output” sounds a bit overdone. Especially as the USA didn’t even get into the war until, in practical terms, early 1942.

        Baring a really, really, disastrous defeat to the British Empire and Commonwealth in the Indian Ocean or in India, the war was essentially won. Germany was doomed after Kursk and at their best I just don’t think the Japanese had the resources and logistics to beat British India and China. It would have been a much longer and nastier war though.

  15. Mikel

    How does ChatGPT ‘think’? Psychology and neuroscience crack open AI large language models Nature. The deck: “Researchers are striving to reverse-engineer artificial intelligence and scan the ‘brains’ of LLMs to see what they are doing, how and why.” Too funny. We don’t even know how to debug the stupid things…

    This is worse than people want to belive. These are alleged scientists and researchrs going into a project and adopting marketing terms as scientific ones. Or, even worse, helping to pass off marketing as science.

    1. Steve H.

      I’m beginning to think the public offerings are in the Tax On Time/Firehose of BS tranche. Compare with:

      > China creates LLM trained to discuss Xi Jinping’s philosophies The Register

      By restricting the data set to an individual, a certain level of internal consistency can be assumed. If the LLM just cut-and-pastes a response that Xi actually said, so much the better. If it does create new sentences, even a Gish Gallop of phrases is likely to have coherence. (A friend asked how to clean a mirrored globe, and was cautioned to be careful lest breaking released witches.)

      What’s online contains contradictory information, bot feces, flat disinformation, and the public AI’s lie-lie-lie (Kenya?). I’m pretty sure there are useful AI’s, but they’re proprietary and behind closed doors. Someone once said, The business of Wall Street is inside information. What’s the use of inside information if you share it with the public?

      1. Mikel

        “I’m pretty sure there are useful AI’s, but they’re proprietary and behind closed doors.”

        If it makes you feel better…you should hope so.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Not perhaps useful according to many, but Youtube video compression is “AI-powered”. Meaning that the compression algorithm can “reason” about the datastream and make “smart” predictions about the next pixels – thus good compression.

          Frankly, it doesn’t take much to make an “AI”, since it’s a behavioral definition more than anything else. If a device (car, phone, Alexa) interacts with people simulating even a low level of intelligence, that’s AI. Or if an algorithm can “reason” about the data input, it’s AI.

          How the AI does what it does under the hood, that’s where the things get interesting. Or complicated, depending on your point of view.

          Let’s take parsing/producing natural language as an example. At the simplest level you can have a dictionary and you just try to match input to that dictionary sending the result to a decision tree for canned output. Next level you have a naive Bayesian filter that tries to use the same vocabulary to create a context from the input and send the result to a decision tree – this is like spam filters operate, and algorithms that flags websites content.

          Next up is Large Language Models (LLM), that basically just predict the next word in a sentence based on the pre-calculated probabilities (a.k.a. training). Input is the seed it starts to build output on. And one level up (currently) is the Natural Language Processing (NLP) where the system is trying to “reason” the rules and vocabularies out by itself – maybe supervised, maybe not – so that it can “understand” the input and generate output accordingly.

          Just to repeat, if it wasn’t obvious – if you use a spam filter in your email inbox, you’re kinda benefiting from a “useful AI”, is all.

          1. JustTheFacts

            A correction: LLMs learn functions that predict the probability distribution of the next word (i.e. which words are likely, and which aren’t). Training learns weights (not probabilities) which let the function generate that probability distribution.

            It’s slightly more complicated because reinforcement learning is used to “punish” the function when it says things the human trainers find bad and reward it for doing things humans think “good”. Unfortunately that’s usually not about correcting for truth but for ideology. xAI’s Grok supposedly actually just trains for truth.

            Then there’s prompting which is adding extra instructions hidden from the user to every command the user gives it. Hence Google’s ahistorical black female vikings.

      2. R.S.

        It’s a good point. The quote is
        The service is built on a corpus of government documents… Among the docs in the corpus is a knowledge based on the book “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”…
        It’s a curated set of texts, on a more or less consistent set of topics, within one context. I guess that if we train a model even for a single person, but on their body of work (the one that includes public texts, drafts, personal letters and notes, etc etc throughout their life), the results may turn out to be not that coherent.

    2. t

      We already know how it “thinks.” Good ol Ed had a recent piece that’s an easy read on wide but not deep.

  16. nippersdad

    That Holocaust survivor on the ICC article had some interesting insights. I was wondering how they could forget that the Palestinians had the legal right to resist their occupation, and then there was this:

    “In the Financial Times piece, the panel members emphasized that they focused on how the war is waged, not why or by who. “It is important to understand that the charges have nothing to do with the reasons for the conflict, ” they wrote.”

    I guess that also covers why they would indict two of the Hamas members from the political wing that had no idea that Oct. 7 was even going to happen. It is also interesting that they are still using long debunked talking points to shoe horn Hamas into the indictment as well. The Hamas indictments may just be the Trojan Horse that helps to get Israel into the dock; they will never stand up in court.

    But perhaps the most satisfying thing that happened this week was to see Lindsey Graham get pawned by the audience when he says that they will soon be coming after the likes of himself: “Yeah, you can clap all you want to….”

    Hate to tell him, but we are going to be clapping even harder when he is on the stand trying to defend himself at the Hague.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Rosenberg: Putin’s military purge echoes Prigozhin’s call to act”

    In Russia the word is out that no matter how high your rank, it will not protect you if you indulge in heavy corruption. I think that they realized that large scale corruption acts an a drag anchor on the military. But how many such arrest do you hear in the west? David Petraeus got busted but it does not seem to have effected his post military career any. And remember the “Fat Leonard” bribery case with Admirals and the like in the US navy? Just this week a judge dismissed felony convictions of 5 retired US Navy officers because of “prosecution errors”. And it was not the defence that asked for this but came at the request of the government itslef-

    So you wonder about high-ranking officer corruption in other countries like the UK, Oz, France, Germany, etc.

    1. digi_owl

      Because the rot reach all the way to the top. The higher ups just hide it behind their kids and spouses rather than partake directly.

    2. Polar Socialist

      I think this Rosenberg person is on par for a western Russia correspondent – this investigation has been going on way before Prigozhin’s little mutiny, and is not touching the people he was blaming. I guess BBC assumes connecting this to Prigozhin makes arresting corrupted officers actually nefarious act – a purge, if you will.

      The timing likely has more to do with the presidential elections in Russia than any cunning master plan by Putin. Of course, the oligarchs and the industrialists already being tamed, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s now the turn of the siloviki to be reminded of the real priorities.

  18. Will

    German prosecutors charge climate activists with forming a criminal organization.

    “There is sufficient suspicion that the five accused agreed with other members of this subgroup to commit crimes together over a long period of time,” they said. “The association of people was not only intended to last for a longer period of time, but also served to pursue an overarching common interest.”

    The “crimes” include trying to switch off oil pumping stations, block airport runways and throw mashed potatoes at a Monet painting.

    Seems the Germans are really serious about people using designated protest zones.

  19. SocalJimObjects

    The United States has had one Muslim President. I debugged the issue and have narrowed it down to the following article: :)

    When I was doing my Master’s Degree in Computer Science, I took a couple of AI classes, and I still remember one researcher telling me that AI models have always had problems dealing with sentences like “The Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump did not correct a man who said President Obama is Muslim”, I don’t remember the reason now, but in the end the model will simply encode the last part of the sentence i.e. “President Obama is Muslim”.

    At least 10 years have passed, so it’s sad to see that the field hasn’t seen any progress on that front.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘At least 10 years have passed, so it’s sad to see that the field hasn’t seen any progress on that front.’

      I think that AI is worth about $100 billion right so that is progress – of a sort. But that is the metric that is seen as most important. Who cares if it is rubbish and turns the internet into garbage.

  20. Wukchumni

    America’s Hottest City Is Having a Surge of Deaths Scientific American. Phoenix.
    My buddy from Tucson is in Tiny Town for a month as he always vamooses from there for the torrid summer as hell sets in, and folks in Tucson mostly live surrounded by nature, whereas those in Phoenix as he calls it, a ‘Hot Los Angeles’ or ‘Kleenex’ in a more descriptive disparagement, seems surrounded by concrete & asphalt, only adding to the heat.

    1. ArcadiaMomny

      Um, I am in the old pueblo for my son’s tennis tournament and it’s hot. Phoenix has grass and trees. Very rarely have does anyone have trees and even a small patch of grass. As I recall, Tucson uses more water per capita than Phoenix. You would not believe the number of old farts using a hose to spray down their patios, driveways and sidewalks.

      Phoenix has plenty of nature and you can actually get a job there. The three degrees of difference in temperature is meaningless.

    2. JBird4049

      There is landscaping and architecture that can reduce the need for water and artificial cooling. You can always use the native California plants. It is not desert proof, but the ecology can go years without rain and often in high heat. Then there is xeriscaping. People might not like the look of that, being in a freaking desert creates problems. The technology for doing both the buildings and the landscaping so has been known for centuries. Building anything, forget about an entire city, in an arid county to me is crazy, but it has been done successfully with the right methods. Doing so with endless concrete and water in the typical American way is just insane.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Doing so with endless concrete and water in the typical American way is just insane.

        It’s obvious from the air that the cities let alone the farms won’t last (at least in their current form).

  21. doug

    AI is being used for Windows 11 hints. I have recently upgraded and the garbage generated (from MS I think) is often way off, and sometimes dangerous. I don’t get the enthusiasm, at all . For now, they seem to be labeling it as such and can easily be skipped.

  22. CA

    Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

    This Financial Times article by former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy @ElbridgeColby is insane, it puts us straight back to the 19th century.

    He literally proposes a plan for continued Western domination of the world that would involve a war on 2 fronts against both China and Russia. He writes that the US should focus all its military might on Asia to ensure it has primacy there over China, and fight a war for that purpose if need be, and Europe should rearm in a massive way to face Russia. As he explains it, poor little America doesn’t have enough resources for global domination on its own anymore, which is why it needs help by rearming Europe so they can share the burden.

    That’s it, that’s the gist of the article.

    Which makes the “America must face reality” title for the piece deeply ironic and cynical: what “reality” are we talking about here? Because I think that over 90% of the planet wouldn’t quite agree that this way of seeing the world is “facing reality”. Quite the contrary, they’d argue it’s holding on to a deeply troubling imperialist and supremacist vision of the world that has historically caused untold suffering…

    It gets better. Why should the US, and not China, be the dominant power in China’s region, you ask? Because see, America can’t afford a “potentially hostile power dominating the most important industrialised region of the world” (actual quote from the article).

    It doesn’t matter apparently that Asia is “the most important industrialised region of the world” in huge parts THANKS TO CHINA! In other words it’s akin to saying “thanks guys for building such a vibrant economy in this place, we’ll take it from here…”

    Another hilarious yet deeply depressing part of the article is when he describes China as “doing almost everything consistent with preparing for a war with America”. Don’t you think that maybe, just maybe, this is China “facing the reality” that it’s surrounded by US military bases and facing an America that keeps repeating its primary goal is to contain them and building multiple military alliances with their neighbors for that very purpose? Isn’t it in the realm of possibilities that it might have something to do with that? And that as such the solution isn’t upping the ante with yet more military buildup around China? How would the US react if China were to somehow decide that the US couldn’t be the dominant player in America and were to progressively encircle the place militarily, making military alliances with Mexico and Canada: wouldn’t it “do almost everything consistent with preparing for a war with China”?

    Anyhow, conclusion: I feel like eating crazy pills when reading articles like this. But I, and the world at large, need to “face the reality” that this is America today: a power dominated by an extremely aggressive imperialist ideology. And we shouldn’t resign ourselves to this, we need to do our outmost to call it out and stop this insanity before it’s too late and they trigger the devastating world war they’re actively preparing for.

    America must face reality and prioritise China over Europe

    1:48 AM · May 24, 2024

  23. Mikel

    International Scientific Report on the Safety of Advanced AI (interim report; PDF) UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. This caught my eye: “[C]urrent techniques for explaining why general-purpose AI models produce any given output are severely limited.”

    I’ll bet it’s “limited”…can’t be tracing all that stolen IP back to its original source.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > can’t be tracing all that stolen IP back to its original source

      Ha! So not only is it theft, they’re aware of it. Discovery should be interesting.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Pluralistic: Linkrot (21 May 2024)”
    About 20 years ago I had a favourite website just disappear from the net with no warning. So since then I made it a practice to save a copy of any page that I really like or want to be able to refer back to. The fact ‘that 38% of the web of 2013 is gone today’ confirms this idea. If you do not have a copy on your computer, then it could be all gone tomorrow. And who is to say that the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine will always be there?

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Linkrot could be a short term problem. Who is to say that there will always be enough electricity to power the Internet. Who is to say there will always be new computers to replace the computers that die? The bits in hard drive memory do not last as long as books printed on acid free paper. What will become of the backups to the backups of digital archives replacing so many of the books on our library shelves where public libraries are still supported?

  25. Alice X

    NYT on the ICJ order for Israel:

    Top U.N. Court Orders Israel to End Rafah Operation

    “The court considers that in conformity with obligations under the Genocide Convention, Israel must immediately halt its military offensive and any other action in the Rafah governorate which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,” the court’s president, Nawaf Salam, said in reading the ruling.


    Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, did not immediately comment on the decision. Mr. Netanyahu would shortly hold an emergency consultation with other top government officials to discuss how to move forward, his office said in a statement.

    Some of his right-wing allies were quick both to denounce the move and that Israel would not comply. Itamar Ben-Gvir, the far-right Israeli national security minister, said Israel ought to fully discard the judges’ order. “There ought to be one response: the conquest of Rafah, the escalation of military pressure, and the utter shattering of Hamas until the achievement of total victory,” he said in a statement.

    Back to the rules based order, no?

    1. Alice X

      More from Julia Conley at Common Dreams

      ICJ Orders Israel to ‘Immediately Halt Its Military Offensive’ in Rafah


      The court ordered Israel to “open the Rafah crossing for unhindered provision at scale of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.”

      It also said Israel must “ensure the unimpeded access to the Gaza Strip of any commission of inquiry, fact-finding mission, or investigative body mandated by the competent organs of the U.N. to investigate allegations of genocide.”

      The ICJ’s rulings are legally binding but Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who in April called for the “total annihilation” of Rafah and other Gaza cities, said Friday that the government “will not agree” to stopping its military assault.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        I often bash the EU bureaucrats, but I have to call out Josep Borrell for making an honest statement:

        Borrell EU has to choose between rule of law and backing Israel

        Now, of course we have to see how they choose. But at least give him some brownie points for framing it correctly.

        Compare and contrast with serial liars Biden, Mike Johnson, and Blinken who are in such a deep forest of lies and contradictory statements on Israel and Gaza that they couldn’t escape even with satellite phones and a team of Navy Seals on standby to rescue them.

        1. Alice X

          Thank you, yes, Borrell’s statement is among those in the Al Arabiya link below. Each of the pronouncements by international bodies contrary to those that the rules based order ordinarily applauds, when against its own adversaries, chips away at the hypocrisy.

          Drip by drip, until there is a flood.

          The masks have long been off, for those who would see.

      2. Calidonia

        This AIPAC Donor Funnels Millions to an IDF Unit Accused of Violating Human Rights

        Check out the largest landowner in California, Stuart Resnick. Donates millions.

  26. DG

    I am so impressed by Rep. McCaul and his Ukraine map. He talks of Russian’sanctuaries’ and Ukraine’s ‘hands tied behind their back.’

    When I recovered from having ‘the vapors’ I realized I had flashed back to the Viet Nam war when ‘sanctuaries’ and ‘hands tied’ were common discourse. I was amazed Rep. McCaul’s map even looks like Viet Nam war maps.

    I guess he was too young to fight in Nam but I am certain he knows we never lost a ‘battle’ there. So he wants to try again?

    I hate to tell him, but things did not go well for the US of A in Viet Nam.

    1. The Rev Kev

      He really wants American weapons to attack targets in Russia itself and figures that there is nothing that they can do about it. Can you imagine if the Russians did a map like that for the US? Of course the Ukrainians will not restrict themselves to military targets but will go after civilian targets as well as part of their terror campaign. So how will Russia react? No idea. Maybe they will kill ALL of the power in the Ukraine. Declare that the US is part of this war now and go after the CIA building in Kiev while shooting down all those drones feeding attack data to NATO/Ukraine. Put a bounty on any westerner in the Ukraine. Cut oil production to make oil prices go higher just in time for the election. So many options.

      1. ilsm

        Western weapons are too few, too light, unreliable and could do no more than attack front pages with more smoke and flash awe.

        Knock out a “keyhole” or three…..

        US is back to Saigon level politics. Difference is now its puppet is a comedian, not a chosen general.

        Zelenski is beyond his term of office but that is okay; voting and self government are passe, everywhere

    2. The Rev Kev

      Not sure but I think that that map that Rep. McCaul showed came from The Institute for the Study of War.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Having most of the S&P gains attributable to one stock usually doesn’t bode well.

      I was reviewing some of the investment options in an educational savings account and it was amazing how poorly they perform vs. the S&P. Just putting your kids college fund in one stock (NVDA) would have paid huge dividends which runs totally contrary to the standard investment advice about diversification.

      It was also interesting to see how many “equity” funds had real estate or fixed income hidden inside, with corresponding negative effects on historical performance over the past 5 years. The target date funds are particularly underperforming losers.

  27. The Rev Kev

    “”How to Build 300,000 Airplanes in Five Years”‘

    A fascinating article this but I feel that it is incomplete. There should have been two further articles. One would have been about finding and training the tens of thousands of pilots that flew all those aircraft. The second, which would have been more interesting, would have been about recruiting and training all those workers for those aircraft factories. Where they came from, how they got to work there, what their lives would have been like.

    1. Ranger Rick

      From what I hear, the factories / munitions plants paid better than anyone else, especially if you were a woman who needed to support herself. On one side, my grandmother worked in one of the aircraft factories while my grandfather was away in the Army. On the other, the great-grandparents took care of the family while the men were parachuting into Europe.

      Some of the wilder stories revolved around the “secret factories” on the West Coast. Onboarding into these factories was done on just as much a massive scale as the work itself. This Smithsonian article makes a reference to how informal the process was. People really did just self-organize to accomplish a national priority.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thanks for those two links, especially the first one. The first one tells a remarkable story of this period which I never heard about. With the second one, I suppose that that aircraft plant was mostly women worjers but after it closed down at war’s end and reopened a few months later as a car plant, the workers now were probably the men returning from the front.

  28. Ignacio

    Battle Machine New Left Review. Spain, Podemos.

    I do not agree with much of what is written there. In his first days after leaving politics Iglesias in the guise of a journalist did an awful job on project Ukraine joining the MSM in the propaganda war against Russia in a way that showed comprehensive assimilation by the Caste he used to despise before. A shame, IMO. Errejón is IMO a better political animal in many senses.

  29. CA

    Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

    Quite a huge story by Reuters: “Putin wants Ukraine ceasefire on current frontlines”, according to “four Russian sources” close to Putin. *

    Not the first time Putin indicates readiness for a ceasefire, most notably during the Istanbul negotiations at the start of the war.

    Hopefully this time there will be a genuine attempt to actually make it work, as opposed to pressuring Ukraine to fight on…

    * Exclusive: Putin wants Ukraine ceasefire on current frontlines, sources say

    6:36 AM · May 24, 2024

    1. Kouros

      He removed the page. This is bogus nevertheless. It would be against the constitution to do that, since parts of Donbas, Zaporoje, and Kherson are still under Ukrainian control. Plus, the political objectives have not been achieved, and the Western combine still peddles the Zelensky peace formula…

      1. Snailslime

        Dima of “Military Summary Channel” fame believes it and ties it to the Ukros supposedly hitting and taking out (with heavy NATO RSI help in planning the attack of course) somewhere in Southern Russia some important part of Russia’s early warning system that keeps an eye on the nuclear capable missile launchers the US stations in eastern europe.

        Dima has a long history of falling for all sorts of ukrainian and western BS, so a healthy dose of scepticism is of course warranted, scepticism both about the attack happening as claimed and about Putin’s supposed conclusion from it and it’s connection to the Reuters claims, which all has more than a whiff of wild conjecture on Dima’s part.

        But the mere possibility of NATO directly attacking part of Russia’s strategic nuclear deterence infrastructure can’t be dismissed out of hand, it IS quite disturbing, completely unsurprising if true, incredibly dangerous and crazy and to be taken deadly serious at the same time.

        The fact of Russia apparently not reacting for now by itself makes me sceptical as well, but perhaps that has to do with me hoping that Russia would react decisively to such insanity.

        But admittedly thinking some more about it is hard to decide which would be more worrying and disturbing, Russia retaliating in kind or the possibility of Russia NOT retaliating in kind.

        The later arguably would indeed mean bowing to the most blatant possible form of nuclear blackmail and would if the sudden willingness to freeze thing was real after all indeed mean that Russia really already capitulated, even if it doesn’t look like it on the battlefield, and that all was for nothing.

        No, I think that one would be the more worrying and disturbing option.

      2. CA

        Thank you.

        I know too little to independently evaluate such a Reuters report. Since there is evidently no additional support for the Reuters report as yet however, I now think the report must have been and continues to be incorrect. I am grateful for the correction.

    2. CA

      Updated report from Reuters:

      May 24, 2024

      Exclusive: Putin wants Ukraine ceasefire on current frontlines
      By Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Osborn – Reuters

      MOSCOW/LONDON – Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to halt the war in Ukraine with a negotiated ceasefire that recognises the current battlefield lines, four Russian sources told Reuters, saying he is prepared to fight on if Kyiv and the West do not respond.

      Three of the sources, familiar with discussions in Putin’s entourage, said the veteran Russian leader had expressed frustration to a small group of advisers about what he views as Western-backed attempts to stymie negotiations and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s decision to rule out talks.

      “Putin can fight for as long as it takes, but Putin is also ready for a ceasefire – to freeze the war,” said another of the four, a senior Russian source who has worked with Putin and has knowledge of top level conversations in the Kremlin.

      He, like the others cited in this story, spoke on condition of anonymity given the matter’s sensitivity.

    3. alfred venison

      The Reuters story been knocked on the head by the Kremlin (translation via Andrei Martyanov).

      MOSCOW/LONDON, May 24 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to halt the war in Ukraine with a negotiated ceasefire that recognises the current battlefield lines, four Russian sources told Reuters, saying he is prepared to fight on if Kyiv and the West do not respond.Three of the sources, familiar with discussions in Putin’s entourage, said the veteran Russian leader had expressed frustration to a small group of advisers about what he views as Western-backed attempts to stymie negotiations and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s decision to rule out talks.

      Martyanov’s response is classic Martyanov in full flight. (I confess I relish his writing when he’s angry).

  30. JustTheFacts

    It almost restores my faith in human nature to consider the idea that for Bibi, genocide might not be the end, but merely a means to the end: Successful real estate speculation. The scheme is more ambitious than that, but let’s start there. Optimism!

    How history rhymes… It was all about exterminating Untermenschen to get Lebensraum for the 3rd Reich too… and they too had pretty pictures.

  31. Tom Stone

    Sometimes when I’m trying to explain a simple concept to someone who I know is intelligent and well educated their response is to take half a step back, and then they get “That Look” on their face.
    It happened to me again this morning when I was explaining the superiority of Virtual lottery tickets to Paper lottery tickets.
    1) Realistically, they are just as likely to be winning tickets.
    2) I can have the same fantasies about being obscenely rich.
    3) I don’t have to worry about the IRS or a bunch of relatives I never knew about wanting a cut.
    4) In a week’s time I can save enough for a (small) cup of Coffee.
    There’s no downside I can see, so why do I get “That Look”?

  32. spud

    wisconsin should have used $100 million dollars as seed money for a state owned bank.

    as far as qualified immunity goes, good luck getting rid of it. its the backbone of state repression.

    the poorer americans get, the harder free trading oligarchs swing that hammer.

  33. antidlc

    After reading the Jessica WIldfire link, I began to wonder…

    Does it ever dawn on Jerome Powell (caught COVID twice) and Sen. TIm Kaine (long COVID sufferer) that their health was sacrificed for the economy?

  34. SD

    I have an atavistic aversion to “AI.” I’ve never used any of the websites on offer. I’ll do whatever I can within reason not to touch it.

  35. hk

    Listening to Matt Hoh on Judge Napolitano’s podcast right now, and his remarks about the insane and irrational enthusiasm for war among British elites (apparently, he was giving testimony at the British House of Lords, along with persons from US and British intel services–the experts all thought the Ukraine was is totally lost and the Lords thought they were all Putin puppets, basically).

    This makes me think about the state of Germany in early 1918. Between the propaganda and, up to a point, illusory “facts” (e.g. German army was still occupying parts of France and Belgium and they had just knocked out Russia out of war), German public remained convinced that they were winning, while the military and political leaders knew that there was no way for them to continue the war and they should quit while they could. So the German surrender (for all intents and purposes) came not just as a shock, but a surprise that came out nowhere for them and set up the country for all sorts of conspiracy theories (“stab in the back” comes naturally to people who thought they were winning and suddenly finds that they lost.) Doubtful that British elites, let alone public, really understand the “facts” on the ground in Ukraine (they may “know” the facts, but they don’t have to believe it–b/c it’s not affecting their lives.) I always thought that this is why World War 2 had to be brought to its bloody conclusion, despite the huge human losses of 1944-5 battles: Germans (and Japanese) had to know, every one of them, that they lost.

    But what does it mean for the current conflict? It seems that the only way that the Western leaders (and their supporters–i.e. the Western elites) would know that they have been beaten is to have T-90s crush through Buckingham Palace gates, or even down the Pennsylvania Avenue. This is not to say that Russians have any plans for attacks on the West or anything. But that is the only way that the Western elites can be convinced that they lost.

    1. CA

      Listening to Matt Hoh on Judge Napolitano’s podcast right now, and his remarks about the insane and irrational enthusiasm for war among British elites (apparently, he was giving testimony at the British House of Lords, along with persons from US and British intel services–the experts all thought the Ukraine was is totally lost and the Lords thought they were all Putin puppets, basically).

      [ Important and convincing and seemingly still more broadly shared, but quite irrational. Possibly Renoir “Grand Illusion” offers an explanation. I need to watch the film again. ]

      1. hk

        Yes, but Grand Illusion was not actually broken by the events of 1918. Quite the contrary, the events of 1918 mixed with the Grand Illusion to give birth to “stab in the back” myth because the war did not come to Germany, at least not with the full slate of horrors. I don’t think the Western elites will break out of this illusion until they see the horrors of war upon themselves or if they meet their maker. One hopes that they don’t take too many of others with them on the way to whatever afterlife they wind up in, assuming there is any….

        1. skippy

          On that note …

          What China just did to the U.S. Military is SHOCKING and Taiwan is in Trouble – Danny Haiphong

          So now after a few decades of total failure by Western military antics around the globe, acerbated by new conflicts via proxies like the Ukraine and now dramas in Israel, not to mention some ex corporatist colonies just saying – NO – its interesting to watch the West just resorting to really bad propaganda/gaslighting and ridiculous posturing.

          The idea that the West can be everywhere at the same time as multipolarity unfolds across the globe is just nuts. Everything in the West has been asset stripped for financial extraction for the benefit for a few, society has been endlessly torn apart by and for some out of whole cloth ideological program regardless of its endless failures [old utopia is just around the corner tropes], Mfg and Military is just a mess.

          Best bit is none of it was force on them … totally self inflicted …

            1. skippy

              YES … It does not need to attack and that is what the West would like for gaslighting PR means I.e. endless streams of liberty and freedom democracy hand waving.

              China just can blockade and its done and dusted, corp media can implode and nothing changes.The West can not challenge China on its door step or the name brand will be completely and forever rubbished for all too see.

              1. SocalJimObjects

                The West NEEDS China to attack Taiwan though, and I have no doubt they’ve gathered enough dirt on the DPP leadership, but that alone is not sufficient for Taiwan to declare independence because despite everything this island does have a robust democracy. Ultimately voters will need to decide, and right now, the yays don’t have enough votes because most people here are fine staying on the current path.

                The Chinese government know that time is on their side, and as long as they keep that fact in mind, there’s lesser and lesser chance of a hot war happening in East Asia, because Japan and South Korea too are facing severe demographic issues. China’s population is also dropping, but at the current rate she will outlast all the other East Asian countries.

        2. CA

          “Yes, but ‘Grand Illusion’ was not actually broken by the events of 1918…”

          Thank you for the powerful comments.

    2. Daniil Adamov

      Hmm. In other words, they are much more delusional than German elites in 1918, who did know they were losing? I wonder whether the key decisionmakers in the West today are truly in denial or are just pretending to be, because the truth is politically impossible to admit. If the latter, their behaviour wouldn’t be very different. They’d just let it die very slowly without ever acknowledging fault. They’d get away with it. Large sections of the public would remain fooled, though, I think, not everyone.

      1. yep

        German elites, and plebs, in 1918 could see the front in the Balkans collapsing. That’s how everyone knew they were losing. Modern German/USA elites/plebs look at the map and see that the front is still holding, and have to ask “experts” to tell them who is losing.

  36. XXYY

    Researchers are striving to reverse-engineer artificial intelligence and scan the ‘brains’ of LLMs to see what they are doing, how and why.”

    I have been banging my personal alarm gong over this ever since AI became a thing back in the late seventies.

    Even if ai-based systems worked very well (they don’t), they are an almost perfect black box in the sense that no one understands how their input is transmuted into their output. This makes them fundamentally unsuitable for any system where the output is important.

    Imagine an archetype medical AI system. You write your question on a card and slip it into a slot in a black box, and a minute later another card comes out the other side with an answer. Q: “What is wrong with me?” A: “You have brain cancer.” Q: “My head hurts, what is wrong with me?” A: “Nothing is wrong with you, you are perfectly fine.”

    Now of course, these answers might be perfectly correct! But it’s clear that this arrangement is completely unsatisfactory because we don’t understand how the answers were arrived at. Furthermore, if an answer turns out later to be wrong, we don’t know how to adjust the black box to keep it from happening again. Even if the answers are right some of the time and wrong some of the time, that’s unsatisfactory as well because we can’t differentiate right from wrong with this system.

    A usable, working system requires transparency as well as accuracy. That way, you eventually learn whether the system is trustworthy and on what basis. Furthermore, a transparent system is potentially fixable, since you can see the interior moving parts and hopefully adjust them so the system becomes better over time.

    AI systems obviously have none of these properties.

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