Links 4/23/2023

Links 4/23/2023 1

The eccentric pioneers of vegetable electricity BBC

How America’s most endangered cat could help save Florida National Geographic

UC Irvine biologists discover bees to be brew masters of the insect world (press release) University of California, Irvine

Central banks load up on gold in response to rising geopolitical tension FT

US banks on alert over falling commercial real estate valuations FT

The laziness tax: Why your money isn’t accruing high interest Felix Salmon, Axios


The Climate-Killing Monster in Your Basement HellGate

How rising sea levels will affect New York City, America’s most populous city ABC

A Guide To Sustainable Gardening Family Handyman. “Permaculture” mainstreamed! Part of “Trusted Media Brands,” with a capital “T”. Frankly, I rather like this venue, even if it’s rather blithe about using common household petroleum-based materials like packing peanuts. No doubt future issues will contain many fascinating DIY proxies for the approach of The Jackpot.


“We Want Them Infected” – My Book is Done! Science-Based Medicine.

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The Spike The Tablet. “The ruthless efficiency of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein makes it an extremely dangerous bit of biology. But also, this spike is itself a pathogen.” Then again, commenting on this study in PNAS (Links 4/21), KLG wrote:

Regarding the occludin paper from PNAS, I participated in similar research in my previous life. Traveling today, but after a rapid read the data look very solid and convincing. Just another reason why spike was the wrong vaccine target? Maybe. It has been a long time since I have thought about this, but occludin does exactly what the name implies. It is essential for maintaining the tight junction seal between cells in every epithelial sheet of cells in the body (so far as I know). TMI but this seal separates the apical from basolateral domains of epithelial cell membranes. So, in addition to forming giant, multinuclear cells the process might also contribute to vascular leak? SARS-CoV-2, like all viruses, is very “smart” at what it does. And syncitium formation is one mechanism many viruses use to spread. Crafty little devils…

Periodically, I comment that “we don’t know anything.” That may be true for “the spike” as well, as well as the vaccination paradigm based on it. Interesting times.

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Trouble at WHO (1):

Well, that depends, doesn’t it?

Trouble at WHO (2):

But see: “Common Names” for Notable SARS-CoV-2 Variants: Proposal for a Transparent and Consistent Nicknaming Process to Aid Communication World Health Network. Why not at least engage with this reasonable proposal?

Implications for CDC from End of COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration (PDF) NACCHO. The URL: “CDC-PHE-Talking-Points-Final-4.13.2023.” This is interesting:

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For more on CDC’s “green map,” see “Why Did Covid Daily Case Counts and Covid Wastewater Readings Diverge in March 2022?

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Las Vegas Strip Has a Scary Covid-Created ‘Fatal Fungus’ Problem The Street. “Nevada’s entire congressional delegation wants help from the CDC.” Let me know how that works out.

Fungal Diseases and COVID-19 CDC (MV). “COVID-19 likely increases the risk for fungal infections because of its effect on the immune system and because treatments for COVID-19 (like steroids and other drugs) can weaken the body’s defenses against fungi.” See this thread at NC in 2021.

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Weird SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in mink suggests hidden source of virus in the wild Ars Technica. Poland. Nevertheless.


Shifting production from China is impossible, says shipping boss FT

Lawmakers war-game conflict with China, hoping to deter one AP. Terry Pratchett, Jingo:

“If you would seek war, prepare for war.’” “I believe, my lord, the saying is ‘If you would seek peace, prepare for war,’” Leonard ventured. Vetinari put his head on one side and his lips moved as he repeated the phrase to himself. Finally he said, “No, no. I just don’t see that one at all.”

Climate change is displacing a million farmers in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta – but for most, migration is not an option Globe and Mail


Commentary: India has the world’s biggest population but won’t count it Channel News Asia

Gunshots in Khartoum New Left Review. Sudan.

European Disunion

Cooking pots banned at anti-Macron protests in France, drawing ridicule South China Morning Post. Toujours de l’Audace (1):

Toujours l’audace (2):

Toujours de l’Audace (3:

The media critic in me notes that the last two videos are neither wide angle or aerial, hence the real size — and composition! — of the manifestation is unknown. Nevertheless, interesting tactics!

‘The Champagne of Beers’ leaves French producers frothing AP

Dear Old Blighty

Russia scholars split over sanctions work Times Higher Education. The deck: “Academics who act as court experts in return for up to £20,000 are under a ‘corrupting influence’ claims one Russia analyst, while another expert says fees help pay his mortgage.” “Scholar” is not a synonym for “academic.”

Back-to-school influencer ad spend finally revealed after 2.5-year battle Schools Week

New Not-So-Cold War

Intense battles for Bakhmut continue, numerous attacks repelled near Mariinka – General Staff report Ukrainska Pravda. Since this is a Ukrainian source, I assumed we could conclude that Bakhmut is already taken, but apparently not.

Modern Trench Warfare Footage Erik Zimerman, My Publication

Ukraine: Stalemate in an attritional war? Indian Punchline

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Ukraine Situation Report: The Brutal Wait For Ukraine’s Counteroffensive The Drive

Ukraine’s Counteroffensive: Will It Retake Crimea? Council on Foreign Relations. Generally pundits label this sort of thing a “delicate dance”:

A successful counteroffensive will create a wave of national confidence and reduce feelings of national exhaustion at the same time. The challenge for Ukraine’s leaders will be finding a way to harness these powerful sentiments to obtain an outcome that looks like victory but stops short of the country’s maximalist aims.

Will Goldilocks please pick up the white courtesy phone?

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The EU is not ready for Ukraine BNE Intellinews

Ukrainian diplomat says Kyiv will not join NATO in parts Anadolu Agency. Not even as part of Poland?

Zelenskyy signs ban on Russian place names in struggle over national identity Deccan Herald

Spook Country

The Discord Leaker Was a Narcissist, Not an Ideologue Foreign Policy

Democrats en Déshabillé

Lock Him Up! Ranking Democrat Suggests Possible Criminal Charges Against Journalist Matt Taibbi Jonathan Turley, The Hill

Illegal aliens who are LGBTQ ‘may not be detained’ under Democrats’ new bill FOX. So, once it was “give me your tired, your poor” but apparently the poor are no longer a “vulnerable class,” at least in Liberal Democrat Thought.

Claims that fueled Missouri GOP crackdown on trans care ‘unsubstantiated,’ university says Kansas City Star. “The review found that the university needs a more formal approach to documenting parental consent and responding to public engagement. It recommends requiring specific written consent [that seems reasonable] prior to prescribing gender-affirming medications and says the university has already updated its protocols.” I think I prefer “sex change surgery” to the glozing mealy-mouthedness of “gender-affirming care,” a catchphrase that suddenly grew like kudzu all over everything (yes, there are aspects of such “care” that are not surgical, but surely surgery is the canonical end state of the process).


Trump’s misleading evocation of the Presidential Records Act Glenn Kessler, WaPo (Furzy Mouse). Dude. Presidential records found right in Clinton’s drawer Washingon Times (2022). That’s drawer, singular. Where Clinton kept his socks.

How Our Team Overturned the 90-Year-Old Metaphor of a ‘Little Man’ in the Brain Who Controls Movement Scientific American. If only we could do the same for Bond Villains in politics.

Sports Desk

Social cohesion:

Everest 2023: Miracle Rescues on Annapurna Alan Arnette. Heroism, to be sure. However, having read Into Thin Air, I’m skeptical of the entire “summit” industry.


How a Google Antitrust Case Could Determine the Future of AI Matt Stoller, BIG. Musical interlude.

Google’s Rush to Win in AI Led to Ethical Lapses, Employees Say Bloomberg:

Shortly before Google introduced Bard, its AI chatbot, to the public in March, it asked employees to test the tool.

One worker’s conclusion: Bard was “a pathological liar,” according to screenshots of the internal discussion. Another called it “cringe-worthy.” One employee wrote that when they asked Bard suggestions for how to land a plane, it regularly gave advice that would lead to a crash; another said it gave answers on scuba diving “which would likely result in serious injury or death.”

Google launched Bard anyway. The trusted internet-search giant is providing low-quality information in a race to keep up with the competition, while giving less priority to its ethical commitments, according to 18 current and former workers at the company and internal documentation reviewed by Bloomberg.

Hard to believe. Google?

Artificial Intelligence in the Garden of Eden Peggy Noonan, WSJ

Supply Chain

Geopolitics, container shipping rates and an ominous sign from Taiwan Freight Waves

Feral Hog Watch

Minnesota Lawmakers Move to Thwart Growing Eurasian Hog Problem Field and Stream

The Jackpot

‘It’s like an infectious diseases textbook from the turn of the century’: Doctors alarmed at rise of ‘retro’ diseases Toronto Star. Immune system dysregulation?

The End of Rapid Population Growth Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis. “The slowdown in population growth is due to a collapse in childbirth around the world.” So let’s not overshoot on driving down life expectancy, mkay?

Class Warfare

Working Sick: Americans With Long COVID Struggle to Make a Living Capital and Main

Wells Fargo workers’ union effort pushes shareholder proposal Banking Dive

I’m a medical resident. I want to pause the drive to unionize hospital trainees STAT. Worthy of excoriation….

Universal Public Services: The Power of Decommodifying Survival Jason Hickele

Rural Americans are importing tiny Japanese pickup trucks The Economist. In Japan, kei:

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Compare bed sizes of the kei with the Ford F35150:

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From the photos, I can’t actually measure the truck bed of the tiny kei vs. the mightily bulbous F150 to see whether the kei can actually carry more stuff, but despite my well-known hatred of bloated and monstrous American vehicles, I think we can agree — as we see the F150’s bed atrophy over time — that the F150’s proportions show something other than a quest for pure functionality is at play.

Antidote du jour (via):

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See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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