Friday, September 17, 2021

Bin Laden's Fantasy, Trump's Reality

It was Osama Bin Laden's fantasy to hit the Capitol. One airplane was supposed to strike the Capitol building. He did not think that would bring down the US government. He knew enough not to think that. Any more than hitting the World Trade Center brought down Wall Street. But he meant to make a symbolic strike. He failed. 

Donald Trump succeeded. He did manage to strike the Capitol in a way that was beyond Bin Laden's fantasy. Trump managed to strike fear into the hearts of every lawmaker in that building. 

Bin Laden paid for it with his life. Trump is planning to run for president again. 

What Trump did he did very openly. Everything is recorded in video, second by second, minute by minute. He planned the strike. He implored the crowd to go do what they did. He was not hiding in a cave when he did that. He was addressing a crowd a stone's throw away from the White House. 

That makes Donald Trump a domestic terrorist. A terrorist is going to run for President Of The United States in 2024. And he can do that because he is white? 

Democracy is one person one vote. That is the promise. But you have one of only two parties existing in the country making a full effort to take voting rights away from people who are not likely to vote for them. The democratic way would have been to try to reach out to them and convince them to vote Republican. But that is not in the plan. Instead, disenfranchise. 

If America is a democracy, it is an unraveling one. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

YouTube: September 14

The US in 2002-2003 had a good outcome in Afghanistan. We should just have left then. The central government stood up by the US was corrupt on a galactic scale. Freighter airplanes full of US dollars in hard cash regularly took off for Dubai from Kabul International Airport. The new Afghan elite fleeced the people and bought fancy islands around Dubai with the money, even embezzling from the Da Kabul Bank. In 2008 the island resorts became worthless and Da Kabul Bank collapsed, leaving people in long lines before its branches seeking to recover their life savings. They did not. ......... Pakistan and India have fought 3 wars and a smaller border skirmish, and Pakistan is a much smaller country with fewer allies. Islamabad feels it cannot afford to have a government in Kabul that tilts to New Delhi, lest Pakistan be surrounded. .......... US officials sent out to Afghanistan knew that it was a Washington Ponzi scheme. Billions were disappearing into the pockets of contractors and warlords. Only the arms manufacturers were happy. The US was massively bombing the country every year, the only reason that it was still able to be there. US officials confessed as much to government watchdogs, and

the Washington Post managed to get those interviews and publish them in 2019. Nobody believed in the mission. There was no mission. There was a morass of corruption and incompetence.

Many of the regional warlords under the new government were not easier on women or minorities than the Taliban had been, and were fundamentalists of a different stripe.

Sandwich Recipes

News: September 14 (2)

More workers are facing mandatory Covid vaccination or no job with President Joe Biden warning that “patience is wearing thin” regarding the unvaccinated, particularly as U.S. Covid cases remain high as the highly infectious delta variant spreads....... In a significantly stricter tone, Biden outlined a plan last Thursday to boost Covid vaccination rates nationwide, pressuring private employers to immunize their workforce as well as mandating the shots for federal employees, contractors and health-care workers.

Chinese property giant Evergrande warns again that it could default on its enormous debts listing $300 billion in total liabilities and saying that it could default if it's unable to raise money quickly. ....... Should that happen, the effects would be felt across China's banking system and the wider economy.

Amazon hikes starting pay to $18 an hour and plans to hire another 125,000 warehouse and transportation workers ..... Amazon, now the second-biggest U.S. private employer, set a $15 an hour minimum wage in 2018. Walmart Inc (WMT.N)recently touted average hourly wages of $16.40 ...... Amazon is hiring workers to help run 100 logistics facilities launching this month in the United States, on top of more than 250 that opened earlier this year. Some workers will aid in Amazon's long-in-the-works effort to roll out one-day delivery for Prime loyalty club members.

SpaceX launches first dedicated polar Starlink mission The launch was also the first dedicated launch of Starlink satellites to polar orbit. ........ all future Starlink satellites with have laser intersatellite links ...... SpaceX also confirmed it’s working on a new version of the Starlink user terminal that will be cheaper and faster for the company to produce.

A New Company With a Wild Mission: Bring Back the Woolly Mammoth With $15 million in private funding, Colossal aims to bring thousands of woolly mammoths back to Siberia. Some scientists are deeply skeptical that will happen. ....... Dr. Church, who is best known for inventing ways of reading and editing DNA, wondered if he could effectively revive an extinct species by rewriting the genes of a living relative. ...... whatever benefits mammoths might have to the tundra will need to be weighed against the possible suffering that they might experience in being brought into existence by scientists. ....... “You don’t have a mother for a species that — if they are anything like elephants — has extraordinarily strong mother-infant bonds that last for a very long time,” she said. “Once there is a little mammoth or two on the ground, who is making sure that they’re being looked after?” ...... she applauded the company’s launch and hopes it will deliver scientific advances that could help species that are endangered but not yet extinct. .......

COVID-19 cases in Michigan schools doubled in a week: Where there are outbreaks The University of Michigan is battling an ever-growing number of COVID-19 cases as the school year and game days in a sold-out stadium continue. It tops the list of ongoing outbreaks with 283 reported cases. Also notable, Adams Elementary in Midland County has 30 cases in ongoing outbreaks........ Students are glad to be back to their friends and in-person learning, but Michigan is facing another uptick in COVID-19 cases as the more contagious delta variant sweeps through the nation, ravaging unvaccinated communities and leading to breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals.

China Locks Down City of 4.5 Million as Delta Surges Again after detecting a dozen coronavirus cases ....... The latest outbreak, which has yet to escape the Fujian province, includes 103 cases in three cities thus far. The first cases were detected in two students from local schools through routine testing. Their father, who returned from overseas in early August, was also infected and is considered as the likely origin. ...... The fast and furious measures taken by local authorities reflect the difficulty of containing the more transmissible delta variant and the escalation China needs to undertake to sustain its Covid Zero status.

Democrats cut deal with Manchin to get party behind long-shot voting overhaul bill Senate Democrats are proposing new legislation to overhaul voting laws after months of discussions to get all 50 of their members behind a single bill, allowing their caucus to speak with one voice on the issue

even though it stands virtually no chance of becoming law

. ......... Yet the new proposal will almost certainly fall well short of the 60 votes needed to break a GOP-led filibuster. Plus Democrats lack the votes to change the rules and weaken the filibuster as many in their party want them to do, meaning the plan is expected to stall when the Senate casts a procedural vote on the matter next week. ......... The new bill would make it easier to register to vote, make Election Day a public holiday, ensure states have early voting for federal elections and allow all voters to request mail-in ballots. In addition, the measure would bolster security on voting systems, overhaul how House districts are redrawn and impose new disclosures on donations to outside groups active in political campaigns. .......... In the face of the GOP opposition, liberals have pushed Manchin to agree to a "carveout" -- and allow for a change to Senate rules so such voting legislation can advance with a simple majority of 51 votes. But Manchin, along with a handful of other Democrats, has long opposed such a carveout, worrying it would lead to a slippery slope and ultimately kill a tool meant to protect the minority party's rights. "The filibuster is permanent," Manchin said Monday.

The Tragedy of America’s Rural Schools Outdated textbooks, not enough teachers, no ventilation — for millions of kids like Harvey Ellington, the public-education system has failed them their whole lives. ........ In the United States, communities must pay for their own schools. Without businesses, Holmes didn’t have the tax base to give its children an adequate education. ......... Nationwide, more than 9.3 million children — nearly a fifth of the country’s public-school students — attend a rural school. That’s more than attend the nation’s 85 largest school districts combined. And yet their plight has largely remained off the radars of policymakers. ............. Many don’t have access to broadband internet, and some don’t even have cellphone service, making it hard for young people to tap outside resources. Rural schools have a difficult time recruiting teachers and principals. And long before the pandemic turned “ventilation” into a buzzword for anxious parents, rural children were learning in aging buildings with broken HVAC systems and sewers too old to function properly. ........... Mississippi’s Department of Education doesn’t have any staff members dedicated to rural issues, and its most recent strategic plan doesn’t even include the word rural. ........... Mississippi lawmakers have long known that rural districts can’t compete with wealthier suburban schools. ......... Most of Mississippi’s lawmakers and state school-board members were white. All but a dozen of Holmes County’s 3,000 students were Black. ......... The teachers nodded. Most said they were paying for basic supplies themselves, though they earn less than teachers elsewhere do. .......... while the pay is lower in rural schools, the work can be harder: When a district employs few qualified educators, certified instructors often find themselves having to teach multiple subjects. .......... Lawmakers tried offering cash bonuses, loan forgiveness and mortgage help to attract teachers to rural districts. ......... “I’ve talked to superintendents who say, ‘John, we don’t even get any applications,’” he told me. ........... Just that week, he told the teachers at the Chat-N-Chew, he had started free night classes to show substitutes how to add and multiply fractions, skills they would need to demonstrate on the certification test. ...........

The teachers looked down at their sandwiches, all of which remained untouched. No one looked hopeful.

.......... Henderson drove west until his GPS gave out and cotton blew like snow over the cracked windshield of his Crown Victoria .......... Sewage bubbled from bathroom floors, and mold crept along classroom ceilings. One elementary school was cracked down to its foundation. .......... Students may grow distracted if their classrooms are too hot or too dim to make out the board, and schools with poor ventilation may leave children drowsy as hundreds of teenagers exhale carbon dioxide into the air. ......... If a school district wants a new building, its residents must agree to pay for it themselves by passing a school bond. In wealthy counties, that’s manageable, but Holmes suffered from a two-pronged dilemma: Not only were its residents poor, there also weren’t that many of them, and so each person had to cover a greater share of the cost. ........... Henderson had been telling people that a bond was like a mortgage. If voters approved one, the district would borrow money from the bank, residents’ car and property taxes would go up and then, over the next two decades, the district would use those tax dollars to pay back the loan. ............. he and the board had decided to ask voters to approve an $18.4 million bond to rebuild the one school every student would eventually attend — its high school. ........... A new high school would infuse the county with pride, Henderson believed. ............

Holmes was the poorest county in the poorest state, and Henderson was about to ask residents to collectively raise close to $20 million.

He took a deep breath, then followed the men inside. ............. All Holmes County had to do, Henderson said, was build a new high school. ............ Homeowners would pay somewhere between $33 and $112 in extra property taxes each year, plus another $67 annual fee if they owned a car. ............

the per capita income in Holmes County was just $14,000 a year. Even a few hundred dollars felt like a stretch.

.......... Though Holmes was 15 percent white, all but a handful of the county’s white students attended a private school that segregationists opened half a century earlier on Robert E. Lee Drive, depriving the public schools of the $5,522-per-pupil funding the state would have sent the district. ..........

Half the county spent an hour driving south to break down chickens or work the assembly line at Nissan.

And they wanted white families to choose the public schools over the private one. ............ One year, her class had to use wire hangers to make test-tube clamps for an advanced-placement biology experiment. ......... Young didn’t want her own children to learn in those conditions, so she left. Soon after that she transferred to Madison, to a school with six labs and real, functioning equipment, Young won the national presidential award for excellence in math and science teaching. ........... A white woman called the radio station, offering to pay a Black person to record an ad against the bond. And one day, while Henderson was eating at the restaurant that his sister owned, a white man told a Black woman he wouldn’t support “that bond for a colored school.” ............ State takeovers tend to target districts whose students are largely poor and Black, and most efforts have not addressed the ways racism and poverty have set those children behind. Instead, takeovers rely on the idea that school failure is largely a problem of governance, and so, rather than doing the hard work of fixing the root causes, states simply send in new leaders. ........... State takeovers also haven’t fixed teacher shortages. Though Michigan and Tennessee recruited young people through Teach for America, researchers found that both state-run districts suffered from high turnover rates. ............. The instructor tried to augment their lessons with online homework from Khan Academy .......... When he surveyed the district’s families, he found that more than 75 percent of his students had no way to get online. Many teachers didn’t, either. ........... A block of board members began shooting down every proposal he made. And in May, one resident sent Henderson a Facebook message, promising to have him assassinated so the district could get a new superintendent. .......... They fished for two hours, and eventually, they reeled in their empty lines.......... A state audit later found that half the students in some schools never logged on to their virtual classes. Some teachers didn’t, either. ...... Two other elementary schools, Goodman-Pickens and S.V. Marshall, were using “various websites” to teach science ......... The high school stored its textbooks — most of which were out of date and in poor condition — in a utility closet next to mops, buckets and cleaning solutions. ......... Mississippi would take over Holmes. The local school board would be dissolved ........ Mississippi received more than $2.5 billion in federal relief to spend on its schools by September 2024. Holmes will get $29 million of it. The timeline for spending may be too short to build a new school, and the district can’t use the money to pay teachers’ recurring salaries, but it can use the federal relief to pay for technology, professional development and after-school programs. .......... By the end of his second day, though, he started to worry that the state takeover had done little to change his circumstances. One of his classes didn’t have textbooks, and two others lacked teachers. Soon, he was spending half of most days in the gym with dozens of other kids, waiting without air-conditioning or instruction.

Julie Delpy’s New Netflix Comedy Gives Voice to Women ‘On the Verge’ The talky, slice-of-life series follows four women who the usual rom-com formula says should have figured it all out by now. Turns out, that’s not real life. ........... “There’s almost a cruel thing about women that if we can’t procreate anymore, what are we?” said Delpy, who also directed several episodes. “And then you become a grandmother and you exist again in your seventies. You have this dead zone.” ........... worldly female characters in films where most of the action takes place on a walk, on a train or around the dinner table. .......... Per the usual romantic comedy formula, women in their 20s and 30s are often shown screwing up and struggling to figure things out, and it’s supposed to be cute. ....... “I loved how all our characters were just beginning to find their confidence when they are about to turn 50” ...... and enduring a barrage of passive aggressive insults from her sulking, out of work husband ......... a clothing designer with a trust fund, a vaping habit and a husband who is struggling to accept their gender-fluid son. ........ Despite the characters’ struggles, “On the Verge” is very much a comedy, and Delpy isn’t afraid to crack jokes about serious topics like the stresses endured by working mothers, toxic masculinity or ageism.

In one early scene, Yasmin is interviewed by a woman half her age and is told that she is, basically, too old.

When Yasmin starts to panic and clutches her chest, the young interviewer asks if she is having a heart attack. ............. “Before Sunrise,” shot on a modest budget, proved to audiences and critics alike that

a simple tale about two people meeting on a train and talking all night long

could go on to become one of the most enduring romantic films of the ’90s. ................ financiers and studios were reluctant to back “a show about women in that age range,” she said. ...... Things may be changing, but Delpy harbors no illusions that women over 40 are suddenly the new “it girls.” There’s a moment in “Verge” when Jerry tells Justine,

“You’re in a cultural blind spot” — no one cares about women her age.

News: September 14

Children of America, You’ve Been Gaslit at Lunchtime The feeding of America’s relentless superspreader event ........ The psychological damage of gaslighting is occurring at a key trusted site: our school lunchrooms. Gaslighting destabilizes a person’s sense of truth and reality, and leads to an inability to trust oneself to make good decisions. Manipulating others' sense of reality amplifies the power of the institution doing the gaslighting........ Trust in the person or entity doing the gaslighting is essential for it to be an effective tool to undermine a person’s entire perception of reality. Psychologists and sociologists consider gaslighting a form of abuse. ........... every day in countless lunchrooms across America, as both the New York and Chicago school districts have noted, children are eating and talking loudly, unmasked, in crowded indoor spaces without proper ventilation .......... CDC guidance for schools is outdated because it fails to account for the extremely contagious delta variant. ....... “Prevention of COVID-19 transmission includes physical distancing, community use of well-fitting masks (e.g., barrier face coverings, procedure/surgical masks), adequate ventilation, and avoidance of crowded indoor spaces. These methods will reduce transmission both from inhalation of virus and deposition of virus on exposed mucous membranes.” Without challenging the obvious unsafe school lunchroom, we are severely eroding the trust of our children every day. We tell our kids to do activities outdoors because the virus spreads less there. When indoors, we say wearing well-fitted masks protects them and others, and to not gather indoors with large groups without masks, particularly when the vaccination status of others is unknown. Talking loudly unmasked indoors will spread the virus more easily. These actions will keep them and others safe during the pandemic. Then we send these same students to an unmasked indoor mass gathering each and every day to eat in their school lunchroom. Ever since my kids went back to in-person school, and as delta spreads like wildfire, I’ve been worried about school lunchrooms as potential superspreading events. I asked my daughter how school lunchrooms feel as delta surges. Hand sanitizer doesn’t clean the air. It feels like the Hunger Games. Most people don’t wear their masks correctly and most teachers have given up on trying to make that happen.

7 Things Gaslighters Will Say to Confuse and Control Gaslighting phrases to make you question your reality. ....... 1. "Wipe the slate clean." ........ 2. "It’s all water under the bridge." ........... 3. "I really don’t know what I’ve done." ...... When someone looks sad and confused as you start to make your case (and it’s a tactic gaslighting mothers, among others, often employ), it can force you to stop in your tracks and ease up on your accusations. It also suggests the gaslighter has no idea what the problem is, or what their involvement is. ........... 4. "I won’t stand for lies/dishonesty/a lack of professionalism." ........ Do gaslighters know, deep down, that they’re going to spin a complex web of lies and deceit ........ 5. "I have no idea what you’re talking about." ......... The gaslighter can simply claim to have no idea why you’re upset or angry and no knowledge of whatever it is you might be calling them out for. They just don’t know. .......... And because they play the innocent card so effectively, you’re left questioning if you really are over-exaggerating, or whether they have done anything at all wrong........... 6. "Don’t take it so personally." ........ What the gaslighter is doing in all these cases is invalidating your experience. ........... 7. "Nobody else feels that way." ........ Gaslighters, who are often also narcissists, need to get other people on their side and are masters of coordinating a group of sympathisers. ........ The language of gaslighting is designed to protect the gaslighter while making you call your own experience into question. It’s designed to silence you, warp events from the past, and make the gaslighter look like the good guy and you look like a highly emotional, over-reactive fantasist. ........

It’s so confusing to be on the receiving end of a gaslighter’s comments that you may even find yourself shocked into silence.

.......... displaying charm, feigning innocence, and faking an attempt at reconciliation—is likely a classic case of the gaslighter using their manipulation techniques to place the other party on the back foot. ........ If you need help in overcoming the effects of gaslighting, please seek out the help of a suitably qualified therapist.

7 Stages of Gaslighting in a Relationship How gaslighters emotionally manipulate, traumatize, and exploit victims. ........ At its worst, gaslighting can reach the level of mind control and psychological abuse. Gaslighting tactics include creating a negative narrative about the gaslightee and an unequal power dynamic. ........... Gaslighting is a form of persistent manipulation and brainwashing that causes the victim to doubt her or himself, and ultimately lose her or his own sense of perception, identity, and self-worth. ........... In its milder forms, gaslighting creates a subtle, but inequitable, power dynamic in a relationship, with the gaslightee subjected to the gaslighter’s unreasonable, rather than fact-based, scrutiny, judgment, or micro-aggression. At its worst, pathological gaslighting constitutes a severe form of mind-control and psychological abuse. Gaslighting can occur in personal relationships, at the workplace, or over an entire society. ........... By staying on the offensive, the gaslighter eventually wears down their victim, who becomes discouraged, resigned, pessimistic, fearful, debilitated, and self-doubting. The victim begins to question her or his own perception, identity, and reality. ......... In a gaslighting relationship, the gaslighter elicits constant insecurity and anxiety in the gaslightee, thereby pulling the gaslightee by the strings. The gaslighter has the power to grant acceptance, approval, respect, safety, and security. The gaslighter also has the power (and often threatens to) take them away. A codependent relationship is formed based on fear, vulnerability, and marginalization. ........... As a manipulative tactic, the gaslighter will occasionally treat the victim with mildness, moderation, and even superficial kindness or remorse, to give the gaslightee false hope. In these circumstances, the victim might think: “Maybe he’s really not THAT bad,” “Maybe things are going to get better,” or “Let’s give it a chance.” But beware! The temporary mildness is often a calculated maneuver intended to instill complacency and have the victim’s guard down before the next act of gaslighting begins. With this tactic, the gaslighter also further reinforces a codependent relationship. ..............

At its extreme, the ultimate objective of a pathological gaslighter is to control, dominate, and take advantage of another individual, or a group, or even an entire society.

By maintaining and intensifying an incessant stream of lies and coercions, the gaslighter keeps the gaslightees in a constant state of insecurity, doubt, and fear. The gaslighter can then exploit their victims at will, for the augmentation of their power and personal gain.

Are Gaslighters Aware of What They Do? Do gaslighters know they're manipulative, or do they do it without realizing it? ......... Some people who gaslight others are aware of their actions and have even studied how to improve their techniques. A gaslighter who is unaware of their actions continues their behavior because of the "payoff" or "boost" they get from it each time.

Childhood experiences, a desire for control, or a personality disorder are common reasons a person may gaslight others.

........... Gaslighting is a pattern of manipulation tactics used by abusers, narcissists, dictators, and cult leaders to gain control over a person or people. The goal is to make the victim or victims question their own reality and depend on the gaslighter. ........... Some gaslighters may have learned it from others—in many cases, their own parents. If a parent lives with addiction or other mental health issues, gaslighting may be used to manipulate a child into keeping quiet about abuse and/or addiction.

Gaslighting may be used by a parent in order to alienate the child from the other parent.

............ in parental alienation, one parent may depict the other as a “deadbeat” and tell a child about the other parent’s “transgressions” in order for the child to align with the “reporting” parent and see him or her as the hero. .......... In the case of a person who has a personality disorder such as antisocial personality disorder, they are born with an insatiable need to control others and deep-seated anxiety. ..........

It can be very difficult to get ego-syntonic gaslighters into treatment; they believe nothing is wrong with them.

A gaslighting spouse or partner may either refuse to go to therapy, or if they do attend with you, they may tell the therapist that you are the problem. If the therapist recommends that the gaslighter changes a behavior, the gaslighter will label the therapist as incompetent. ........... dependency is one of the goals of gaslighters. .......

If a gaslighter is not aware of their manipulative behavior, that does not make it acceptable—it is still pathological, and it is still their responsibility.

Inside the cult of crypto “How’s this for a disruptive technology,” a user wrote on July 11 2010, enthusiastically describing a decentralised, peer-to-peer digital currency with no central bank, no transaction fees and beyond the reach of any government. Using computers to solve cryptographic puzzles would earn people “bitcoins”........ By 2013, DeRose, then aged 31, ditched his successful computer consulting business and threw himself wholeheartedly into the mushrooming cryptocurrency world, becoming a popular if controversial podcast host. ......... .. By 2017 — when the price of bitcoin took off like a rocket, going from under $1,000 per “coin” to almost $20,000 — early discussion had calcified into rigid dogma that bore little relation to reality. Bitcoin and its zealots were the strongest example of this, DeRose felt. ............ Cryptocurrency has over the past decade become a broad movement with its own language and symbols, driven by a constellation of prophets with varied but overlapping gospels, who treat both external and internal dissent as blasphemy and promise adherents that they form the intellectual vanguard to a bright new future........... many other classic hallmarks of culthood — apocalypticism, the promise of utopia for worthy believers, shunning of external critics and vitriolic denouncement of heretical insiders — are increasingly dominant. .......... “Crypto is essentially an economic cult that taps into very base human instincts of fear, greed and tribalism, combined with economic illiteracy as a means to recruit more greater fools to pile money into what looks like a weird, novel digital variant of a pyramid scheme,” argues Stephen Diehl, a crypto-sceptic software engineer. “Although, it’s all very strange because it’s truly difficult to see where the self-aware scams, true believers and performance art begin and end. Crypto is a bizarre synthesis of all three.” ........... Crypto’s most ardent proponents predict it will eradicate inequality, wipe out corruption and create untold wealth. Most cults make similarly expansive promises. And as the gulf between promise and reality grows, things get dark...........

Coinbase is now one of the industry’s biggest trading venues, and earlier this year listed its shares at a $76bn valuation

— more than the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange owner ICE. “I went from thinking, ‘Oh, cool, I can program money’ to thinking I was part of a movement, a revolution founded on this technology,” Neil recalls.......... Many new cryptocurrencies appeared pointless. Even the promise of bitcoin itself started to lose its lustre on closer inspection of its economic, social and technological merits. ......... Today, Neil says the cryptocurrency movement is actively harmful to its members and the environment. “I think nerdy types like me got fooled because bitcoin made us feel cool, like a Revenge of the Nerds type thing, so we were incentivised to not ask ourselves hard questions. And then, the non-technical people got fooled because they didn’t understand the technology,” he says. “So, it created a powerful pair of blinders.” ............. The idea that cryptocurrencies are a cult, though not a new criticism, may seem unfairly pejorative to what is now

a $2tn market with tentacles reaching around the world and across industries

. Like many new technologies in human history, crypto has attracted genuine investors and utopian ideologues, technocratic dabblers and bored punters, scam artists and sharks. Nor is the crypto world a homogenous blob. It boasts myriad distinct tribes and schools of thought.........

Many pedigreed venture capitalists are convinced that the digital asset industry will prove revolutionary. El Salvador has even adopted it as an official currency.

......... For many of those dabbling in cryptocurrencies, the goal is simply to get rich, not to build a new world order.

“When Lambo?”

is a common phrase on crypto forums, with members wondering when they’ll be rich enough to buy a Lamborghini. In practice it can be tricky to disentangle crypto belief from crypto greed........... In 2008, Nakamoto released the whitepaper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, and the first bitcoin was mined the following year. ....... Though its lack of a single leading figure and its amorphous online footprint marks it out from traditional cults, some say the cryptocurrency movement bears a striking resemblance to another progeny of the digital age:

the QAnon super-conspiracy

. ........... “Both have doctrine passed down by a mysterious unknown founder, puzzle-solving, and internet meme culture and lots of predictions about politics/economics that are completely unfalsifiable,” says Diehl. “They’re both rooted in this ideology that claims to oppose a common enemy: corruption and untrustworthy intermediaries, and both see the internet as the way to finally eradicate those problems in some great apocalyptic event.” .......... Both QAnon and the crypto world are characterised by evangelists that understand and mediate their prophets’ truth through everything from tiny blogs to Telegram, TikTok and Twitter accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers. ............. Crypto-cultism promises a social and financial revolution that will energise technological innovation, all the while rewarding the worthy with vast wealth. ........ “After years of studying it, I believe that cryptocurrency is an inherently rightwing, hyper-capitalistic technology built primarily to amplify the wealth of its proponents through a combination of tax avoidance, diminished regulatory oversight and artificially enforced scarcity,” Palmer wrote on Twitter this summer, announcing his permanent withdrawal from the industry........... “These days even the most modest critique of cryptocurrency will draw smears from the powerful figures in control of the industry and the ire of retail investors who they’ve sold the false promise of one day being a fellow billionaire,” he added.

“Good-faith debate is near impossible.”

.......... Scientologists, LaRouchians and NXIVM have all attempted to smear, frame or hack critics. ........ “I get all kinds of insults,” he says. “Every time I criticise cryptocurrencies, they tell me you are defending fiat because you are an employee of the government, you want to continue the scam of national currencies which are Ponzi schemes, you work for an entity which extorts money from people with guns.” .............. A more common way that crypto-cultists combat FUD is to simply refuse to engage with it, instead herding into echo chambers on YouTube, Clubhouse or WhatsApp messaging groups where only positive content can be found and discussed. ........... The flipside to shunning outside criticism is the need to police internal dissent. Alternative ways of thinking pose a challenge to the authority of cult leaders in their group, with ex-members of movements such as Scientology often attacked by their former fellows. Crypto is no exception. ............. “Their career depends on them being right, their financial stability may depend on them being right — because they hold their wealth in crypto — their friendships may depend on them being right,” he says. “To admit they are wrong would be literally life-changing.” ......... “There’s a large swath of internet neurotics that take it upon themselves to homogenise the herd by chastising the deviants in their midst,” DeRose observes. Nonetheless, he feels confident that in time the cryptocurrency phenomenon — for all the zealousness of its adherents — will eventually go the same way as one of the most infamous financial calamities in history.

More workers are facing mandatory Covid vaccination or no job
Chinese property giant Evergrande warns again that it could default on its enormous debts
Amazon hikes starting pay to $18 an hour
SpaceX launches first dedicated polar Starlink mission
A New Company With a Wild Mission: Bring Back the Woolly Mammoth With $15 million in private funding, Colossal aims to bring thousands of woolly mammoths back to Siberia. Some scientists are deeply skeptical that will happen.
COVID-19 cases in Michigan schools doubled in a week: Where there are outbreaks
China Locks Down City of 4.5 Million as Delta Surges Again
Democrats cut deal with Manchin to get party behind long-shot voting overhaul bill
The Tragedy of America’s Rural Schools Outdated textbooks, not enough teachers, no ventilation — for millions of kids like Harvey Ellington, the public-education system has failed them their whole lives.

After 9/11, the U.S. Got Almost Everything Wrong A mission to rid the world of “terror” and “evil” led America in tragic directions. ......... ............. an all-encompassing, no-stone-unturned, whole-of-society, and whole-of-government fight against one of history’s great evils. .........

As we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday, I cannot escape this sad conclusion: The United States—as both a government and a nation—got nearly everything about our response wrong, on the big issues and the little ones.

........... the War on Terror has weakened the nation—leaving Americans more afraid, less free, more morally compromised, and more alone in the world. A day that initially created an unparalleled sense of unity among Americans has become the backdrop for ever-widening political polarization. ........... The aftermath of the first crash was live on the nation’s televisions by 8:49 a.m. Though horrified, many Americans who saw those images still went on about their morning. In New York, the commuter-ferry captain Peter Johansen recalled how, afterward, he docked at the Wall Street Terminal and every single one of his passengers got off and walked into Lower Manhattan, even as papers and debris rained down from the damaged North Tower. ...............

Rice proceeded with her 9 a.m. staff meeting, as previously scheduled

......... he looked out the window at the bright blue sky and wondered how a plane could have hit the World Trade Center on such a clear day. ........... To walk through Bill Clinton’s presidential library in Little Rock today is to marvel at how low-stakes everything in the 1990s seemed. .............. But after that second crash, and then the subsequent ones at the Pentagon and in the fields outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, our government panicked. There’s really no other way to say it. Fear spread up the chain of command. ...........

The initial fear seemed well grounded. Experts warned of a potential second wave of attacks and of al-Qaeda sleeper cells across the country.

............. After the critique that federal law enforcement and spy agencies had “failed to connect the dots” took hold, everyone shared everything—every tip seemed to be treated as fact. ............. According to one report soon after 9/11, a nuclear bomb that terrorists had managed to smuggle into the country was hidden on a train somewhere between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. This tip turned out to have come from an informant who had misheard a conversation between two men in a bathroom in Ukraine—in other words, from a terrible global game of telephone. For weeks after, Bush would ask in briefings, “Is this another Ukrainian urinal incident?” ................ Rather than recognizing that an extremist group with an identifiable membership and distinctive ideology had exploited fixable flaws in the American security system to carry out the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration launched the nation on a vague and ultimately catastrophic quest to rid the world of “terror” and “evil.” .............. the Bush administration’s lies, obfuscations, and self-delusions that led from Afghanistan into Iraq, “In the after-shocks of 9/11, a reeling America found itself steadied by blunt-talking alpha males whose unflappable, crinkly-eyed certitude seemed the only antidote to nationwide panic.” ............ The depth of our leaders’ panic and the amorphousness of our enemy led to a long succession of tragic choices. ............ Before 9/11, the United States had a considered, constitutional, and proven playbook for targeting terrorists: They were arrested anywhere in the world they could be caught, tried in regular federal courts, and, if convicted, sent to federal prison. .......... In an odd case of geopolitical life imitating Hollywood, the Kiefer Sutherland counterterrorism fantasy vehicle


premiered just as Bush drew his new lines on the War on Terror. The show’s ticking-clock drama and line-crossing protagonist taught Americans that stopping evil meant doing evil, that torturing suspects got results and saved lives. The Fox show was a huge hit, its graphic violence and torture a key selling point to audiences. ............ The CIA actually adopted the Sutherland approach within weeks of the show’s premiere. The agency set up “black sites” around the world to hold terror suspects and force them to talk. ........... The spy agency hired outside psychologists who designed brutal and scientifically unsound techniques—including beatings, forced nudity, dietary manipulation, sensory deprivation, chaining prisoners in stress positions for hours at a time, confining them in mock coffins, depriving them of sleep, throwing them against a wall, and waterboarding them—that the U.S. called “enhanced interrogation.” ..............

Twenty years after 9/11, it’s unclear whether a single meaningful piece of intelligence came out of the torture program

........... Trump even promoted Gina Haspel, who had overseen a black site in Thailand, to director of the CIA. ......... The CIA, NSA, and FBI had all overlooked pieces of the plot; bureaucratic inertia and interagency jealousy had prevented the sharing of intelligence that might have disrupted the looming attacks; the CIA had even known that two of the hijackers, known al-Qaeda operatives, were inside the United States. ............ the biggest change, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the largest government reorganization since World War II, has consistently proved to be a mistake. ........... beyond its flawed bureaucratic structure and organizational chart, the DHS has the wrong DNA. ........ Homeland Security has helped set up scores of so-called state fusion centers, little-scrutinized entities that ostensibly promote intelligence sharing among multiple levels of government but, in practice, have targeted people, such as members of antiwar groups, who do not remotely qualify as terrorists. The department has also accelerated the militarizing of local and state police departments, which recast themselves as potential front-line responders to terror attacks on the American homeland. Billions of DHS dollars have flooded into America’s cities and small towns and, coupled with programs from the Pentagon, provided police officers with weapons of war—heavily armored military vehicles, rifles, grenade launchers, and other tactical gear. ............ the transformation of our nation’s police from local guardians to GWOT warriors created more distance between officers and the communities they patrol, and exacerbated the tensions that led to the Black Lives Matter movement. ............. New agents and officers were sent into the field before background checks were completed. (“We made some mistakes,” one CBP commissioner told me in 2015. “We found out later that we did, in fact, hire cartel members.”) ........ A rare bright spot in the period just after 9/11 was that people around the world reacted to an attack on us as if it had been an attack on them, too. But nearly every step the U.S. pursued in the War on Terror from that point forward cost us friends. ................

Afghanistan, at the start, appeared set to be a remarkable victory. Within weeks of our invasion, in the fall of 2001, the U.S. was winning a limited, focused war

, yet the Bush administration turned to invade Iraq, starting a war of choice loosely justified through the same bad intelligence and fear-mongering that underlay so many of the government’s other decisions. The Iraq debacle led to defeat in Afghanistan, too, despite trillions of dollars in spending and far too much bloodshed in both countries. ................... In an embrace of cynicism and realpolitik, we relied on allies—most notably Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia—that made our fight more bloody and more costly.

Their own officials funded and even harbored the very terror networks we were fighting.

These countries’ brutal and corrupt governments were so morally bankrupt that they became recruiting posters for future Islamic extremists. .............. In Afghanistan, we made common cause with awful men—warlords and corrupt politicians who pillaged communities, laundered and stole American taxpayer money, trafficked drugs, and made backroom deals with the people we were supposed to be fighting. ......... We propped up a government that never reflected the will of the people and that looked so illegitimate to its own citizens that it collapsed in days as American forces withdrew this summer. Its leaders were among the first to flee. ........... Xenophobia quickly overcame leaders’ better angels, particularly on the right. A war that began against an identifiable ideological group—one condemned by others around the world

and whose membership likely numbered only about a hundred hard-core adherents

—morphed into a larger fight against “terror” broadly, where extra suspicion would fall on tens of thousands and then hundreds of thousands..............

Hate crimes against Muslims jumped—as did hate crimes against Sikhs, from people too lazy or filled with animosity to bother to understand the difference.

.......... In the 20 years since 9/11, thousands of Americans have succumbed to mass killers—just not the ones we went to war against in 2001. .......

Since 9/11, more Americans have been killed by domestic terrorists than by foreign ones.

............. Political pressure kept national-security officials from refocusing attention and resources on the growing threat from white nationalists, armed militias, and other groups energized by the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim strains of the War on Terror. ..........

The coronavirus has killed the equivalent of the 9/11 death toll every three days for the past 18 months. The total death toll surpasses the entire population of Wyoming.

........ Historians someday will study this moment and wonder how our society was so fragmented as to fumble a crisis that, in technical terms, we were well equipped to handle. .........

Looking back after two decades, I can’t escape the conclusion that the enemy we ended up fighting after 9/11 was ourselves.

The new economics of global cities As economies reopen, activity is spreading outward from city centres ....... Before the pandemic cities seemed invincible, with economic and cultural power becoming ever more concentrated in tiny geographical areas. In 2000 the total daily salary bill for everyone working in inner London was twice what it was in the outer boroughs; by 2019 it was three times as high. Over the same period job growth in Sydney’s inner districts was 40% faster than elsewhere in its metropolitan area. ........... The exodus from urban areas at the start of the pandemic, which was motivated by fear of catching the virus and which many assumed would be temporary, now looks more permanent and indicative of a deeper shift in preferences. .........

Some parts of San Francisco feel more like an abandoned rustbelt city than a tech hub.

........ Like an egg broken onto a pan, economic activity is gradually seeping outward from the centre. ......... In America rents in the 300 densest postcodes have fallen by 5% since the pandemic began, but are unchanged in the 300 next-densest areas. ......... emptier offices and fewer tourists in cities could mean less employment for low-wage workers such as baristas and taxi drivers. .......... a world of remote work, and thus of less vibrant cities, could be one in which people find it harder to make personal bonds and soak up knowledge from others. ........... low-skilled service workers in cities bore much of the brunt of the downturn, as well-paid folk retreated to their home offices ........ Were people stuck at home all the time, making new connections and discovering new ideas would be difficult. However, even spending just 30% of working time at the office—the current average across American cities—might not hit innovation all that much. ..........

At home white-collar workers can complete taxing tasks in peace, giving them time to collaborate when in the office.


productivity growth in America has speeded up during the pandemic, instead of slowing down.

A perfect storm for container shipping Will prolonged disruptions shift the pattern of trade? ......... The average cost of shipping a standard large container (a 40-foot-equivalent unit, or FEU) has surpassed $10,000, some four times higher than a year ago .......... Some are even reportedly being trucked from China to Europe then shipped across the Atlantic to avoid clogged Chinese ports. ........ Container ships lug around a quarter of the world’s traded goods by volume and three-fifths by value. ........ At the end of August over 40 container ships were anchored off Los Angeles and Long Beach. These serve as car parks for containers, says Eleanor Hadland of Drewry, a shipping consultancy, in order to avoid clogging ports that in turn lack trains or lorries to shift goods to warehouses that are already full. The “pinch point”, she adds, “is the entire chain”. ........ Shipping was “so cheap that it was almost immaterial” ........ Few experts think things will get better before early next year. The prolonged dislocation could even hasten a reordering of global trade. ........ Expecting a collapse in trade, shipping firms idled 11% of the global fleet. In fact, however, trade held up and rates started to climb. And, flush with stimulus cash, Americans started to spend. ......... In the first seven months of 2021 cargo volumes between Asia and North America were up by 27% compared with pre-pandemic levels ............ rates on all routes have rocketed because ships have set sail to serve lucrative transpacific trade, starving others of capacity. .......... “All ships that can float are deployed,” remarks Soren Skou, boss of Maersk, the world’s biggest container-shipping firm. .......... In July the industry moved 15m containers, more than before the pandemic. Yet the average door-to-door shipping time for ocean freight has gone from 41 days a year ago to 70 days ........ a dockers’ strike on America’s west coast in 2015 caused similar disruption, albeit only in the region. It still took six months to unwind the backlog ......... the top ten firms have 80% of capacity compared with 50-60% a decade ago. ........ for most products, shipping costs tend to be a small percentage of the overall cost. ......... “Just in time” may give way to “just in case” .......... supply chains can be made sturdier by using data to provide better “visibility” such as over which suppliers and shipping companies do a better or worse job of keeping to timetables and ordering goods earlier. ............

the combination of trade war, geopolitics and covid-related disruptions may together lead trade patterns to tilt away from China.

When Dictators Find God But over the last several years something interesting happened: Authoritarians found God. They used religious symbols as nationalist identity markers and rallying cries. They unified the masses behind them by whipping up perpetual culture wars. They reframed the global debate: It was no longer between democracy and dictatorship; it was between the moral decadence of Western elites and traditional values and superior spirituality of the good normal people in their own homelands. .......... Xi Jinping is one of the architects of this spiritually coated authoritarianism. Mao Zedong regarded prerevolutionary China with contempt. But Xi’s regime has gone out of its way to embrace old customs and traditional values. China scholar Max Oidtmann says it is restricting independent religious entities while creating a “Socialist core value view,” a creed that includes a mixture of Confucianism, Daoism, Marxism and Maoism. ........... Last week, the Chinese government ordered a boycott of “sissy pants” celebrities. These are the delicate-looking male stars who display gentle personalities and are accused of feminizing Chinese manhood. This is only one of the culture war forays designed to illustrate how the regime is protecting China from Western moral corruption. ...........

The Chinese internet is apparently now rife with attacks on the decadent “white left”

— educated American and European progressives who champion feminism, L.G.B.T.Q. rights and such. ............ Vladimir Putin ... the regime is casting itself as “the last bastion of Christian values” that keeps the world from descending into liberal moral chaos. ......... The culture war is going full blast there, too, with the regime restricting the internet, attempting to limit abortion, relaxing the fight against domestic violence and imposing blasphemy laws and a ban on supplying information to minors that supports “nontraditional sexual relations.” ............ Even wannabe authoritarians in America and Western Europe are getting in on the game. ....

many of the so-called Christian nationalists who populate far-right movements on both sides of the Atlantic are actually not that religious.

.......... pluralism is the opposite of decadence and is a spiritual-rich, practically effective way to lift human dignity and run a coherent society.

What Game Theory Says About China’s Strategy China itself has been accused of salami-slicing tactics with its encroachments in the waters around Taiwan, in the South China Sea and on its border with India in the Himalayas. (The Chinese term for salami-slicing is “can shi,” meaning nibbling like a silkworm.) ......... The strategy is to move against a foe in small increments, always staying below the threshold that will provoke a response. .......... Tell a child not to go in the water and he’ll sit on the bank and submerge his bare feet; he is not yet “in” the water. Acquiesce, and he’ll stand up; no more of him is in the water than before. Think it over and he’ll start wading, not going any deeper; take a moment to decide whether this is different and he’ll go a little deeper, arguing that since he goes back and forth it all averages out. Pretty soon we are calling out to him not to swim out of sight, wondering whatever happened to all our discipline. ................... Getting a reputation for being a little crazy, and occasionally overreacting, is another way to deter a salami slicer.

5/8/23 Update: Goshen (NY) puts Third World corruption to shame, thanks to greedy, corrupt, unethical lawyers like Andra Dumais. ..... I toppled a Third World dictator and German Radio called me Robin Hood On The Internet. I am not going to get intimidated by some small-town racist. Andrea Dumais is a small-town racist. ....... You are treating me worse than the people 2,000 years ago..... The Soviet bureaucracy of a judicial process.


Actor Michael Rapaport calls out AOC over Met Gala dress AOC has repeatedly called for increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans ....... Tickets for the famed event can fetch at least $30,000 and it attracts some of the most influential players in fashion, movies and culture. Rapaport seemed to take particular offense at a politician—who he said should be a "public servant"—hobnobbing with the glitterati. ......... She has repeatedly called for increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for progressive policy initiatives, such as climate-friendly infrastructure and expanded access to free health care.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

The Mu Variant

WHO says it is monitoring a new Covid variant called ‘mu’ The World Health Organization is monitoring a new coronavirus variant called “mu,” which the agency says has mutations that have the potential to evade immunity provided by a previous Covid-19 infection or vaccination. ......... Mu — also known by scientists as B.1.621 — was added to the WHO’s list of variants “of interest” on Aug. 30, the international health organization said in its weekly Covid epidemiological report published late Tuesday. .......... The variant contains genetic mutations that indicate natural immunity, current vaccines or monoclonal antibody treatments may not work as well against it as they do against the original ancestral virus, the WHO said. The mu strain needs further study to confirm whether it will prove to be more contagious, more deadly or more resistant to current vaccines and treatments. ........... Mu “has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape,” the WHO wrote in its report Tuesday........ The agency is monitoring four variants “of concern,” including delta, which was first detected in India and is the most prevalent variant currently circulating in the U.S.; alpha, first detected in the U.K.; beta, first detected in South Africa, and gamma, first detected in Brazil. A variant of concern is generally defined as a mutated strain that’s either more contagious, more deadly or more resistant to current vaccines and treatments. ............. It’s also keeping a close watch on four other variants of interest — including lambda, first identified in Peru — that have caused outbreaks in multiple countries and have genetic changes that could make them more dangerous than other strains. ............ The new variant, mu, was first identified in Colombia but has since been confirmed in at least 39 countries, according to the WHO. Although the global prevalence of the variant among sequenced cases has declined and is currently below 0.1%, its prevalence in Colombia and Ecuador has consistently increased

Is the mu variant in California? What to know about the new WHO 'variant of interest'

WHO monitoring new coronavirus variant named Mu Health body says Mu, or B.1.621, first identified in Colombia, has been designated as a variant of interest ........ The Mu variant, also known as B.1.621, was added to the WHO’s watchlist on 30 August after it was detected in 39 countries and found to possess a cluster of mutations that may make it less susceptible to the immune protection many have acquired. ........ the Mu variant “has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape”. Preliminary data suggests it may evade immune defences in a similar way to the Beta variant first discovered in South Africa ......... While the variant makes up less than 0.1% of Covid infections globally, it may be gaining ground in Colombia and Ecuador where it accounts for 39% and 13% of Covid cases respectively. ........... At least 32 cases of the Mu variant have been detected in the UK ....... most were found in London and in people in their 20s. Some of those testing positive for Mu had received one or two doses of Covid vaccine. ........ Part of the concern about Mu comes from the particular mutations it carries. One genetic change, the P681H mutation, is found in the Alpha variant first detected in Kent and has been linked to faster transmission. Other mutations, including E484K and K417N, may help the virus evade immunity defences, which could give the variant an advantage over Delta as immunity rises into the autumn.