Links 11/26/2021

Links 11 26 2021

The Elephant Who Could Be a Person The Atlantic

How dogs became humans’ best friends: from Neanderthals to now Nature

The Secret Broker: What could possibly go wrong? Everything. Stockhead

Corporate Profits Hit a Record High in the Third Quarter AEIR (Furzy Mouse).

Pension Funds Should Never Rely on Correlation (forthcoming) (PDF) Ronald Lagnadoy, Nassim Nicholas Taleb Journal of Alternative Investments. From the Abstract: “The central decision for a pension fund is the allocation between stocks and bonds, often relying, for intellectual backup, on metrics and methods from Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT). We show how, historically, such an “optimal” portfolio is in effect the least optimal one, as it fails to protect against tail risk and under-allocates to the high-returning asset class. MPT fails in both risk control and real-world investment optimization.”

How Your 401(K) Is Helping Destroy the Amazon Rainforest The Intercept

The Terror Of Electronic Money Ian Welsh

‘Super jelly’ made from 80 per cent water can survive being run over by a CAR — and could pave the way for soft robots Daily Mail

Thankgiving Wrap-Up

Stouffer’s Targets People Spending Thanksgiving Alone With New Single-Serve Frozen Family The Onion

How to Talk to Your FoxNews Loving Relatives at Thanksgiving! The Big Picture. From 2019, still germane. You can apply over the leftovers.

An American Holiday Forged in War War on the Rocks and Lincoln and Thanksgiving National Park Service

Bleak:

Slide into your long weekend with our Great Gratitude PDF Kit! Fill out a cheerful checklist 😊 blessed bingo card 🙏 thoughtful thank you card template 🙌 and more (yes, there are stickers). https://t.co/VzO3W409sT pic.twitter.com/2WC4NkBXzs

— Adobe Acrobat (@Acrobat) November 24, 2021

Fake Reference Prices Truth in Advertising. Self-protection for Black Friday.

Climate

How the weather shapes history (unlocked) The New Statesman

#COVID19

Heavily mutated coronavirus variant puts scientists on alert Nature. See Yves’ post on this new variant, B.1.1.529. The deck: “Researchers are racing to determine whether a fast-spreading variant in South Africa poses a threat to COVID vaccines’ effectiveness.” My heuristic for the word “racing” is that the first causes of the race are always endogenous to whatever system the article describes or alludes to, and unstated within it. In geopolitical terms, if worst comes to worst, note that powers in the Anglosphere — defined as the US and UK, and their former colonies, South Africa and India — aren’t doing well on the optics right now. This would be the third time — Kent, India, now South Africa — where Anglo incubation reservoirs spilled over into floods of infection. China could consider itself fully justified in never “opening up,” with obvious consequences for a “return to normal” in the supply chain.

* * *

Interactive Ventilation Tool CDC. I love this. Not only did CDC put this up one day before Thanksgiving, so people had no time to prepare their home ventilation strategies for guests, a year into a pandemic known to be airborne, too. Oh, and no mention of Corsi boxes, showing nobody at CDC researched ventilation measures people on the ground are actually taking. (A single result for “Corsi” on the CDC site, and that irrelevant.) I repeat my call for CDC to be burned to the ground, the rubble plowed under, and the earth salted.

* * *

The Best and Worst Places to Be as Covid Reopening Gathers Pace Bloomberg. Even leaving Bloomberg’s business-centric conception of “best” aside, I have the feeling stories like this are going to look pretty stupid in a few days.

Relationship among state reopening policies, health outcomes and economic recovery through first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. PLOS One. Final paragraphs: “The idea of fear as a primary driver of the sharp reduction in consumer card spending during the emergence of the pandemic is supported by the data and related literature. On the other hand, our main finding is that the recovery in consumer card spending following the first wave of the pandemic was more related to state decisions to reopen from the lockdowns than the trends in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 at the time. In this case, reopening decisions are a powerful mechanism to influence population behavior, and the timing of these decisions may affect both the economic and the health outcomes in the current and future pandemics. This correlation explicitly indicates the importance of planning and implementing resilience in governance strategies to assure appropriate management of future pandemics.” Whatever that means.

Why Retailers Are Fighting a Vaccine Mandate Before the Holidays NYT. Ka-ching.

* * *

The forgotten Covid jab that might have no side effects in kids: Novavax vaccine made in Teeside set to become fourth approved shot and UK has 60million on order Daily Mail

China?

A new variant of the Covid virus discovered in southern Africa, experts warn: its power may exceed delta What China Reads

Supply-Chain Crisis Only Getting Worse With China’s 7-Week Port Quarantine Bloomberg. Paraphrasing, the CCP should risk workers’ lives so Western rentiers can make bank (and Western consumers consume). Let me know how that works out.

China Evergrande soccer stadium taken over by government -source Reuters (Furzy Mouse).

Crumbling decor and ‘refugee zones’: These ‘Syrian style’ cafes are China’s new trend France24

Myanmar

ASEAN Invites Minister From Myanmar’s Shadow Civilian Govt to Climate Conference The Irrawaddy. Meanwhile:

Please expose this picture too. pic.twitter.com/DFYrfvzjuO

— Starry (@seraphicguitar) November 25, 2021

Plain-clothes security guards in an upscale mall.

Covid-19 Surges Back Vietnam Weekly

India

India to tighten Covid-19 testing for tourists amid new variant concerns Straits Times

Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed vows to lead army ‘from the battlefront’ Al Jazeera

African nations mend and make do as China tightens Belt and Road Reuters

In Africa, Blinken sees limits of US influence abroad AP

UK/EU

New, New Labour:

Starmer on Boris Johnson saying ‘fuck business’: “I can promise you that the only ‘F words’ I’ll be using are ‘foreign investment’, ‘fair trade’, ‘fiscal policy’, and ‘fiduciary duty'”

— Jon Stone (@joncstone) November 22, 2021

Post-Brexit Britain needs friends to halt Channel crossings and French police face ‘titanic task’ as smugglers up their game Politico

France cancels UK invitation to migrant crisis talks after Johnson letter FT

A public mental health model in Italy earns global praise. Now it faces its demise NPR

RussiaGate

It Wasn’t a Hoax David Frum, The Atlantic. No, not Iraq WMDs, silly.

Syraqistan

Israel, Iran, US: Playing with Fire Tikun OIam

Qatar’s migrant workers have faced exploitation and servitude. Now they’re fighting for change. NBC

World Cup host Qatar used ex-CIA officer to spy on FIFA AP. America’s intelligence community is metastatizing.

Supply Chain

Poor conditions and low pay for truckers helped fuel supply chain crisis NBC. Risk off:

The thing that absolutely blew my mind is learning that truck drivers do not get paid until the container is loaded onto their truck at the port, effectively taking on the entire risk of delayed shipments that literally every other link in the chain is better equipped to handle

— nemanja (@nemanjaYVR) November 25, 2021

Sudden Freeze-Up Disrupts Supply Chain on Russia’s Northern Sea Route Maritime Executive

The Groves of Academe

The Goldstrike Is a Fight for the University’s Soul Tribune

Our Famously Free Press

‘Bitter,’ ‘Angry,’ ‘Enraged’: Reality Winner Blasts the Intercept After 4 Years in Jail Rolling Stone

Zeitgeist Watch

Flash mob smash-and-grabs continue at high-end stores in Los Angeles LA Times. Reminiscent of the Tiflis bank robbery, but somehow I doubt today’s version of Joey Steel is behind it.

Class Warfare

The Left’s Covid Failure Unherd. Speaking of which:

Compared to white people, age-adjusted death rates have been:

28% higher for Latinos
30% higher for Black people
60% higher for American Indians

in the US, from August 1st, 2021 to present.

— Justin Feldman (@jfeldman_epi) November 26, 2021

And:

If you’re manufacturing a consensus that vaccines alone, with no NPIs, are the only way forward, devaluing the unvaccinated by painting them as the Trumpist political enemy that will respond to few if any policy levers, the reality of persisting racial inequality is inconvenient

— Justin Feldman (@jfeldman_epi) November 26, 2021

Thanks, PMC, good job (modulo PMC expatriates, of course).

The Unvaxxed Lefties Hiding in Plain Sight New York Magazine. I love the “enemy within” framing in the headline. Anecdotal, but telling (about the author, too. The enforcing begins in paragraph nine).

Will social democracy return? Branko Milanovic, Global Inequality

The Reshoring Imperative American Affairs

Antifa And Its Origins The American Conservative. Two sentences struck me: “Unlike the modern left, traditional Marxists prioritized the welfare of the working class against bourgeois owners of capital.” Meaning, to me, that the “modern left” is just another flavor of liberal. And: “Despite his authoritarianism, Il Duce was considered a leftwing reformer until his alliance with Nazi Germany.” Well, er.

Individuals matter Dan Luu. Yes, this is from 2021.

“Work Lunch” The New Yorker. I don’t know what’s come over The New Yorker. This is actually good.

Antidote du jour (via):

Musical interlude:

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See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

This entry was posted in Guest Post, Links on November 26, 2021 by Lambert Strether.

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.

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