Links 10/9/2022

Lambert and I, and many readers, agree that Ukraine has prompted the worst informational environment ever. We hope readers will collaborate in mitigating the fog of war — both real fog and stage fog — in comments. None of us need more cheerleading and link-free repetition of memes; there are platforms for that. Low-value, link-free pom pom-wavers will be summarily whacked.

And for those who are new here, this is not a mere polite request. We have written site Policies and those who comment have accepted those terms. To prevent having to resort to the nuclear option of shutting comments down entirely until more sanity prevails, as we did during the 2015 Greek bailout negotiations and shortly after the 2020 election, we are going to be ruthless about moderating and blacklisting offenders.

–Yves

P.S. Also, before further stressing our already stressed moderators, read our site policies:

Please do not write us to ask why a comment has not appeared. We do not have the bandwidth to investigate and reply. Using the comments section to complain about moderation decisions/tripwires earns that commenter troll points. Please don’t do it. Those comments will also be removed if we encounter them.

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Laughter is vital Aeon

This miracle plant was eaten into extinction 2,000 years ago—or was it? National Geographic

R** And The Funniest Thing You’ll Read All Week Heisenberg Report

Too Many Satellites: Astronomers Voice Concern Over Second-Gen Starlink PC Magazine

What Einstein and Bohr’s debate over quantum entanglement taught us about reality Big Think

Climate

Insects will struggle to keep pace with global temperature rise – which could be bad news for humans The Conversation

The TINY Cheap Electric Car You Actually Want! YouTube

Electric vehicles are exploding from water damage after Hurricane Ian, Florida official warns FOX

What to do about climate change (3): Andreas Malm on blowing up pipelines and other forms of property destruction Crooked Timber

Chile’s Easter Island ‘Moai’ statues face irreparable damage after wildfire Reuters

#COVID19

UK ‘blind’ to new immune-evasive Covid variants creating ‘perfect storm’ for devastating wave Independent. If the UK really is a month ahead of the US, this is not good news for this country:

Running out of ways to say the same thing.#ItsNotOver pic.twitter.com/xJrvOlNOad

— Kit Yates (@Kit_Yates_Maths) October 8, 2022

Not that we’ll notice, given the state of our data.

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The marked contrast in pandemic outcomes between Japan and the United States Eric Topol, Ground Truths.

Comparing Japan, the country that has fared the best, with the United States, one of the worst pandemic outcome results, leaves us with a sense that Prof Ian MacKay’s “Swiss cheese model” is the best explanation. It’s not just one thing. Masks, consistent evidence-based communication (3C’s) with attention to ventilation and air quality, and the outstanding uptake of vaccines and boosters all contributed to Japan’s success.

Topol then goes on to push vax/ boosters and Paxlovid exclusively [bangs head on desk]. What is wrong with these people? It really is Military Misfortunes all over again: failure to anticipate + failure to learn + failure to adapt = catastrophic failure. But not in Japan. Or China, or that matter. In the United States, “the most powerful country in the world.” ‘Tis a puzzlement!

Everyone’s Health Is in Your Hands: Biden Admin Blames You Peste. “Public health leaders who haven’t invested in a layered approach — of masks and testing and ventilation and vaccines — blame your behavior, not theirs, for the continuing pandemic.” Well worth a read. Another Five-Eyes country heard from:

Perrottet on the hollowness of his government’s approach to COVID. It’s about giving people a false sense of security for the economy’s sake. #auspoI pic.twitter.com/TEUXAfoBpS

— Prof Geoff Hanmer (@GeoffHanmer) April 13, 2022

“Confidence.”

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How Many Times Will You Get COVID? The New Yorker (Re Silc).

Strokes, heart attacks, sudden deaths: Does America understand the long-term risks of catching COVID? Fortune

Protective Effect of Previous SARS-CoV-2 Infection against Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 Subvariants (correspondence) NEJM. “Protection from a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection against BA.4 or BA.5 reinfection was modest when the previous infection had been caused by a pre-omicron variant but strong when it had been caused by a post-omicron subvariant (including BA.1 or BA.2). Protection of a previous infection against reinfection with a BA.4 or BA.5 subvariant was lower than that against reinfection with a BA.1 or BA.2 subvariant3-5 because of more waning of immune protection over time and a greater capacity for immune-system evasion with the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.”

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Florida man releases study:

Study’s methodological flaws (tiny n; no change in all-cause mortality; death certificate causes-of-death are inaccurate; high-risk patients were getting vaxxed at time of study; no unbiased control group; no look at long-term benefits) make using it to set policy an awful idea. https://t.co/3GycHfrMOZ

— Bob Wachter (@Bob_Wachter) October 8, 2022

DeSantis v. Wachter is like Godzilla v. Mothra, but no doubt at some point a detailed takedown will be done. (Wachter is a winner of NC’s coveted “Sociopath of the Day” award.

China?

Can Xi Jinping Reopen China? Foreign Affairs. The deck: “Ending the Havoc of Zero COVID—Without Causing a Crisis.” Remarkable that “havoc” is whatever gets in the way of Western profits. The deaths of a million or so elders would not be “havoc.” I mean, it wouldn’t be in the United States. Meanwhile:

Clubbers partying it up whilst flaunting their red health codes a pretty good barometer of general sentiment in Shanghai towards covid zero, in my opinion. pic.twitter.com/68UPp94Hfv

— Cameron Wilson 韦侃仑 (@CameronWEF) October 8, 2022

Well, I was young and stupid too. But I don’t recall being held up as an exemplar for public health policy.

China on high alert as Covid cases rise ahead of Communist party congress FT

What would be the advantage of a US weapons depot on Taiwan? South China Morning Post

China ‘began stockpiling PPE months before Covid outbreak’ Telegraph

European Disunion

People in Poland Are Burning Trash to Stay Warm This Winter Bloomberg

Dear Old Blighty

Inside the Thatcher Larp London Review of Books. “Until Liz Truss, no one had ever thought to try Larping as a system of government.”

Julian Assange’s Judge and Her Husband’s Links to the British Military Establishment Exposed by Wikileaks Declassified UK

New Not-So-Cold War

Crimean bridge explosion leaves Russian supply lines exposed FT. The deck is more realistic: “Ukrainians celebrate symbolic blow to cornerstone of Moscow’s control of annexed territories.” More symbol manipulation. This video seems well-attested:

Reportedly the first train to test the rail portion of the Crimean Bridge after today’s explosion. https://t.co/jH9KJmm42z pic.twitter.com/h1Y7f8FcV5

— Rob Lee (@RALee85) October 8, 2022

So, if the trains are running, Russian supply lines weren’t exposed for that long, were they? Still, massive triers, the Ukrainians. They might give it another go. (I’ve also seen well-attested videos of cars going over the bridge on the undamaged roadway, but that’s of little importance, strategically.)

Russian governors warn of ‘desire to seek revenge’ and threaten missile attacks on Ukraine’s ‘big cities’ as top Putin propagandist calls for total war and return to brutal Stalinist-era operations in response to Crimea bridge explosion Daily Mail. Well, since the whole tempest-in-the-sea-of-Azov turned out to be another Ukrainian stunt, no doubt Russia can meditate a more measured response. As for revenge, if the United States were in the same position, The Blob would be yammering about “the need to preserve American credibility,” which is nothing like revenge, not at all.

Russian dash cams are a genre unto themselves:

Witnesses close up to the point of the Crimean bridge collapse. pic.twitter.com/1NhoVrhmdT

— Dmitri (@wartranslated) October 8, 2022

Brass ones, for sure.

If snark had export value, Ukraine would be the richest country in Europe:

The міст is on fire 🔥 #CrimeaBridge #кримськийміст #CrimeaIsUkraine pic.twitter.com/lWMIP11LU4

— Olga Turkevych (@OTurkevych) October 9, 2022

Wrong part of the bridge, wrong number of explosions. But funny!

The other side of snark:

I mean this is a video of, among other things, some civilians getting burned to death. Reacting with sarcastic little gifs of Seinfeld shrugging is just evidence that even when war is very far away and abstract for people still it makes them vicious. https://t.co/P0pvkUFK1h

— Liam Bright (@lastpositivist) October 8, 2022

I wonder about the driver of the truck. The explosion took place in the right, ocean-side lane, not in the left lane, which would have damaged the other side of the bridge more, and the railroad bridge, too. This implies that the driver was not a suicide bomber, since a suicide bomber would have sought to maximize damage. That implies our friends the Ukrainians planted explosives in some poor random schlub’s truck (or our spooks did, who knows).

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Sweden Finds Evidence of “Gross Sabotage” at Nord Stream Sites Maritime Executive

US Media’s Intellectual No-Fly-Zone on US Culpability in Nord Stream Attack FAIR

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Germany Blames Sabotage for Train Outage WSJ. Hmm.

Are You The General Of Carl von Clausewitz’s Dreams? Take This Quiz To Find Out! Defector

The Caribbean

Venezuela Wants Cash in Reboot of Caribbean Oil-for-Beans Pact Bloomberg. Commentary;

For the context that outlets like @business never provide: PetroCaribe was launched in 2005 by Hugo Chávez. It provided 17 Caribean nations w/ oil on favorable payment plans, often in exchange for food or other products. It was a great step for a region plagued by US imperialism pic.twitter.com/3UMxkRUN8K

— venezuelanalysis.com (@venanalysis) October 8, 2022

Biden Administration

US purchases $290 million of drug for use in radiological and nuclear emergencies The Hill. Sending a message?

#SmithfieldTrial: The Most Absurd Miscarriage of Justice You’ve Never Heard Of Hadar Aviram

Healthcare

‘The Cash Monster Was Insatiable’: How Insurers Exploited Medicare for Billions NYT (Re Silc).

Police State Watch

Alabama Said Prison Strike Was ‘Under Control.’ Footage Shows System in Deadly Disarray. The Marshall Project

EXCLUSIVE: Rookie San Antonio cop, 25, fired for shooting and injuring boy, 17, eating cheeseburger is married ex-soldier who was once commended for his FIREARMS skills Daily Mail

Our Famously Free Press

The News is Just Guesswork Now Matt Taibbi, TK News. A media critique of this Times piece: “U.S. Believes Ukrainians Were Behind an Assassination in Russia“:

Along with the strings of phrases about how that the U.S. wasn’t happy about “Ukraine’s aggressive covert operations” (“took no part,” “would have opposed… had they been consulted,” “admonished,” etc) came a passage promising that despite this, there have been no “known changes” in the “provision of intelligence, military and diplomatic support to Mr. Zelensky’s government.” Taken altogether, you can read this as a thinly veiled hint, as in: “Hey, stop whacking people outside Ukraine, or we’ll cut off all the Javelins.”

That makes some sense, but then you’re right back to the first and most glaring fact of the article. You can threaten Zelensky with the yanking of weapons shipments all you want, in private. Why do so publicly, while also announcing to the world that Ukraine engaged in cross-border assassination?

“‘Food riots any day now, corruption like there was no tomorrow, no one can live on his salary, fortunes being made, and the place bleeding to death…. [T]he embassy is a nuthouse, more spooks than straight guys and all pretending they’ve got a secret.’ ‘How long do you give it?’ ‘A week. Ten years.’” –John LeCarré, The Honourable Schoolboy, of Phnom Penh during the Vietnam war. Or?

Tech

There Is No Such Thing as A.I. Art Common Sense

DALL·E 2 vs $10 Fiverr Commissions Simon Berens

How John Deere plans to build a world of fully autonomous farming by 2030 CNBC

The Bezzle

Even After $100 Billion, Self-Driving Cars Are Going Nowhere Bloomberg. No capital allocation problems in Silicon Valley, no sirree.

Millions in Cryptocurrency Vanished as Agents Watched Helplessly Bloomberg

Realignment and Legitimacy

How Hitler’s Enablers Undid Democracy In Germany The Atlantic. Somehow the role of German industrialists and the Social Democrats in enabling the rise of Hitler always gets overlooked in think pieces like this.

Imperial Collapse Watch

National Guard struggles as troops leave at faster pace AP

F-35 jet deliveries can resume following waiver for Chinese-origin alloy, Pentagon says Reuters

Class Warfare

The 40-Year Robbing of Rural America In These Times

Where Is All The Book Data? Public Books

More than a piece of furniture: it is sometimes as if these old pianos have souls The Conversation

Antidote du jour (via):

I am here for geckos. Bonus antidote:

Nothing else matters but the gecko in the window pic.twitter.com/KnARfk1Bd7

— quantifiably bitchy (@cultmenephila) October 3, 2022

More a meta-gecko, I grant. All the gecko action takes place off-stage.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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Lambert Strether