Tuesday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘A bill for the bosses’: infrastructure bill sticks taxpayers with oil cleanup costs

    But tucked inside the proposal is $2m in funding that goes directly to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), an organization closely linked to the fossil fuel industry. The draft bill empowers the group to consult with the federal government as it issues billions of dollars in grants for states to plug, remediate and restore orphan wells.
    ……………………………
    On its website, the IOGCC calls itself a “multi-state government agency”. But it also claims exemption from public information laws. Although the group has said it does not lobby, according to ProPublica, it has spent an estimated $100,000 on Capitol Hill since March 2019 lobbying for favorable well-plugging programs – which may explain the group’s inclusion in the bill.

    The IOGCC was originally sanctioned by the government. But as an InsideClimate investigation found, in 1978 the Department of Justice recommended that Congress break it up on the grounds that the group had evolved into an advocacy organization. Its influence, through a membership network it wines and dines, has reached its tentacles into state legislatures across the country, with copy-and-pasted legislation advancing oil and gas interests.

    Same as it ever was.

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  2. wr says:

    Hey EddieInCa —

    I’m wondering what your take is on the IA strike authorization vote. What’s going on?

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Brett Kelman
    @BrettKelman

    The Tennessee state government now recommends vaccinated residents be denied access to monoclonal antibody treatment to preserve supplies for those who are unwilling to get vaccinated and remain most vulnerable by their own choice. A new story from me:

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  4. Mikey says:

    The current narrative on the idiot right re: the Border Patrol whipping Haitian refugees is “those are split reins, not whips! You are WRONG!” As if that makes any difference. It’s pedantry meant to excuse abuse.

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    After the traumas of widespread economic shutdowns during the coronavirus pandemic, America’s restaurant industry is largely open for business again as eateries ranging from high-end bistros to fast-food chains are serving hungry customers.

    But behind the full tables and busy kitchens is a story of a sector still in trouble amid the impact of the pandemic, marked by staff shortages, low wages and fears that safety protocols are still not enough to cope with a virus that is still a threat as the more contagious Delta variant spreads across the US.

    Restaurants across the country have continued reports of struggling to find enough workers to fill open positions, while operating with reduced staff. Workers have attributed these labor shortages to poor pay and working conditions, disrespect from customers, and ongoing Covid-19 safety concerns. Employers have often blamed unemployment benefits, but 26 states pre-emptively ended federal extended unemployment benefits over the summer with little to no impact on job recovery.

    “We are still struggling and they are still not caring, and it’s their own fault these corporations are experiencing worker shortages,” said Iesha Franceis, who works at a Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers chain in Durham, North Carolina, where she makes $11.40 an hour. “We are all still not making livable wages and these companies are still trying to penny pinch any way that they can.”

    It would appear people have had enough of low pay and shitty working conditions.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: BJ commentor Nicole had this to say:

    Not saying Tennessee isn’t being terrible in their Covid handling in general, but monoclonal antibody treatment isn’t generally recommended for vaccinated people anyway (other than those who are already immunocompromised, or are very elderly), so I’m curious what the actual text of the recommendation says (the article was behind a paywall). It’s great clickbait, but it might actually be TN just following the established guidelines.

    She also linked to a WebMD article on monoclonal antibody drugs, but it doesn’t mention their use in the vaccinated.

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  7. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I don’t suppose the tips are lavish at Freddie’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Politicians in Germany have expressed concern over the radicalisation of those who disagree with Covid restrictions, after a 49-year-old German citizen was arrested on suspicion of shooting dead a petrol station worker who refused to serve him while he was not wearing a mask.

    Authorities in the western town of Trier said the suspect told officers he acted “out of anger” after the 20-year-old cashier at a petrol station in the town of Idar-Oberstein, in Rhineland-Palatinate, asked him to put on a mask.

    “He further stated during interrogation that he rejected the measures against coronavirus,” police said.

    According to the state prosecutor, the man said he had felt “pushed into a corner” and had held the victim “responsible for the situation as a whole because he had enforced the rules”.

    The suspect had entered the Aral petrol station at around 7.45pm on Saturday and picked up a six-pack of beer. CCTV footage shows a mask tucked into the back of the man’s trousers.

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A group of disgruntled Republicans has questioned if the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, used political influence to pull a TV ad criticising his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

    According to a statement issued on Sunday, the Lincoln Project was told the ad, Abbott’s Wall, was being pulled just 10 minutes before it was due to air on ESPN during a nationally televised football game between the University of Texas and Rice University on Saturday night. The 60-second slot, which the Lincoln Project said cost $25,000 and was approved by ESPN lawyers, blames the Republican governor for more than 60,000 Covid deaths in the state, against a backdrop of images of the US southern border wall.

    “If Governor Abbott wants to build a new wall, tell him to stop building this one,” the message says, showing a wall constructed from coffins.

    Wood from caskets of all the Covid-19 victims in Texas would stretch 85 miles, the ad claims. It remains watchable on YouTube.

    “We were told it was a ‘university-made decision’” to pull the ad, the Lincoln Project said in a press release. “Did Greg Abbott or his allies assert political influence to ensure the advertisement was not broadcast?”

    Abbott is an alumnus of the University of Texas and appoints members of its board of regents, the Dallas Morning News reported.

    The newspaper said neither Abbott nor university officials responded to requests for comment. Neither the governor nor the university immediately responded to messages from the Guardian.

    Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.

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  10. Kathy says:

    Thinking more about Theranos, I seriously wonder what the hell was revolutionary about it.

    Sure, Holmes’ original idea of an at-home appliance that could run blood tests from small samples (a few drops), would have bene revolutionary. I can’t see everyone rushing out to get one, but people with chronic conditions, or undergoing long term treatments, who require frequent blood tests, would find it invaluable. the idea of having such tests available in the corner drugstore works as well for the less frequent users.

    That’s not what Theranos offered, nor did they ever come close to it.

    All Holmes had was an idea, but no clue how to implement it. By itself, a good idea is nothing. Consider a great idea: a broad spectrum cure. What is that? Why, a substance, radiation, method, device, or something you take when you are sick or injured, and it makes you all better. Wouldn’t that be great? no more disease, no need for vaccines, no need for doctors or hospitals, not even much of a need to take any care of yourself. Just have your broad spectrum cure handy.

    How?

    Don’t know. But it’s a great idea, isn’t it?

    I’ll start rounding up funding later today.

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  11. charon says:

    https://twitter.com/JulianReif/status/1440248133934411781

    https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/full/10.7326/M21-2239?journalCode=aim

    How large is the mortality burden of the US COVID-19 pandemic, and who bears it?

    In a new paper in Annals of Internal Medicine, Heun-Johnson, Lakdawalla, Tysinger, and I measure years of life lost and quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) lost from the pandemic.

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  12. charon says:

    New COVID deaths since March, various countries:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/E_wZH4wVEAUD-ix?format=jpg&name=900×900

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  13. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    My wife is back to not wanting to eat in restaurants, so as the weather turns to cold and snow, I expect our restaurant spending to diminish to near nothing again. And we ate out 2-3 times a week pre-Covid. Yes, restaurants are shitty work environments, but many that have hung on are likely to fail due to Covid continued rampant spread.

    It didn’t need to be this way.

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  14. EddieInCA says:

    @wr:

    Hey EddieInCa —

    I’m wondering what your take is on the IA strike authorization vote. What’s going on?

    I’m as pro-union a producer that exists on the planet, but for the life of me I can’t understand authorizing a strike right now. Seems the latest issue is streaming rates and residuals. I doubt it will come to a strike, but never underestimate the ability of entertainment union members to cut off their nose to spite their face.

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  15. Jen says:

    @Kathy:

    All Holmes had was an idea, but no clue how to implement it.

    Yes. She probably should have written a novel instead.

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  16. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    I will confess the broad spectrum cure was featured in a so-so Larry Niven short story. I don’t recall which it was.

    Holmes also lacked the means to develop her idea. Consider when people like Zuckerberg dropped out to found a tech company, they knew enough about coding to begin building their platform, service, etc. Holmes didn’t know much about biology, blood analysis, medicine, microfluidics, etc., not even to start imagining, much less designing, a miracle device to carry out hundreds of different blood tests on a tiny amount of blood.

    There are also some cargo cult aspects I may get into later on.

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  17. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: Thanks. An article in THR was the first I’d heard about this. Seemed strange to me — I haven’t heard any desire for a strike in the WGA, and we’re usually the first, if not the only, ones to go out.

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  18. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Here’s the revolutionary benefit, as I understand it. So, right now when you need blood tests done, you need different protocols and equipment for most of them. I’ve had almost a dozen little tubes drawn in one sitting, which are in turn sent to different labs (or different departments in the same physical lab). Some need to be cultured, some need to be spun out, etc, etc.

    Everyone focuses on the few drops part, but the revolutionary bit was really the claim that you could take one sample and test for hundreds of different things at one go. It would mean that anything included in that assay would get tested for at virtually every check-up or intervention. It really would have been revolutionary.

    I don’t remember discussing it much with my medical device colleagues but that may have been because they didn’t have a medical device partner of any kind. Medical Device development, approval and manufacturing is highly specialized and a startup wasn’t going to get there without someone who knew what they were doing, so not having a partner or contractor meant they were in very early stages.

    As Kathy mentioned above, there are lots and lots of good ideas. Most of them, especially in Med Devices, never make it to 510K (FDA “approval”) and most of those that do don’t make it to market in any significant way.

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  19. just nutha says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    It would appear people have had enough of low pay and shitty working conditions.

    Lazy ingrate! They’re supposed to be grateful that they have jobs at all. And tents to live in. What’s wrong with people these days?

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  20. CSK says:

    Well, this is…interesting.

    http://www.thebulwark.com/the-failed-game-plan-for-overthrowing-the-2020-vote/

    Where did Trump get these people? Yeah, yeah; I know. Rhetorical question. No one else but crooks and crackpots would work for him.

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  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Another thing that, in retrospect, would have raised flags in the Med Device community: Theranos claims never narrowed or changed in any way. I can’t think of a single complex, new Medical Device that made it to market with the same claims as at the start. It’s not just because of technology, but also because of regulation, because of how it would be covered by insurers and other payers, etc.

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  22. just nutha says:

    @CSK: That’s why she gets $11. The workers who get tips don’t need to be paid out of restaurant revenue. That’s why there are tip credit laws.

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  23. Barry says:

    The big things about Holmes and Theranos:

    1). They had nothing in anybody’s background to justify and claims. It would be as if the commenters here founded such a company.

    2). Every time that somebody asked for proof, they refused to provide it.

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  24. Kathy says:

    On COVID vaccine news, a study out of Israel shows increased protection for infection, as well as mild and severe disease and hospitalization risks, for people 60 and older who’ve received a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

    That’s good, but apparently there are confounding variables. Still, it does show a third dose increases the already high protection.

    This creates an ethical dilemma.

    Regardless of what the Biden administration claims, the more doses that are used in wealthier countries, the fewer doses the doses that will be available for use in other countries.

    In this, too, there are confounders. The number of available doses is not static. The companies involved are producing more doses every day. Some poorer countries may lack the means to handle the ultra-low temperature required by the mRNA shots (though not by the J&J or AstraZeneca ones). And surely there are more issues involved.

    The biggest issue, though, is that what would improve protection most is to get more people vaccinated, say 90-95% of the whole population. This will be feasible by the end of October, as phase 3 trial results show the vaccines are safe and effective for children younger than 12, and by the end of the year could include authorization for emergency use in infants as young as six months.

    the problem, then, remains in the morons who won’t take the vaccines, and whom surely won’t allow their children to be vaccinated either.

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  25. CSK says:

    @Barry:
    Holmes is young, blonde, and beautiful. That was all the cred she needed, apparently.

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  26. MarkedMan says:

    Josh Marshall has a good editorial over at TPM. It’s behind the paywall so I’ll post a bit here:

    This is what that submarine deal is about. Maybe Australian PM Scott Morrison made this dramatic move in part with the election calendar in mind. Maybe France’s reaction has been so over the top because French President Macron has his own election coming up. Maybe the Biden administration didn’t think clearly enough about the domestic policy situations in these two countries. But these are all momentary frictions and contingencies. The important reality is that Australia feels increasingly threatened by China’s aggressive military and economic posture in the region and wants great power defenders and its own ability to punch back. It finds a United States, which has its own core interests in East Asia and sees those increasingly threatened by the same Chinese assertiveness. The two countries find themselves each having something the other feels it needs … a lot. It’s a logical match for the way each country is seeing its interests.

    The fact that France is offended or that the US could have handled it better isn’t the real issue. What is important is that all players see that the US now sees its most important interests in East Asia. Europe comes second on the US priority list.

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  27. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Everyone focuses on the few drops part, but the revolutionary bit was really the claim that you could take one sample and test for hundreds of different things at one go.

    I can see that.

    The focus on the “few drops part,” is two-fold: 1) Holmes kept hyping that up, 2) if a venous draw is needed, then the at-home blood testing dies.

    Anyone can prick their fingers and extract a few drops and place them into a small container. Getting a hypodermic needle into a vein safely and filling up a larger container requires special training, and it’s not easy to do on one’s self alone.

    It would still work in nursing homes, say, and maybe for people who have home care of some sort.

    @Barry:

    Just so. And to the points above as well, Theranos should have engaged in the research necessary to develop the desired technology. They never did that. of course, a research firm is harder to sell as a tech start-up with a unicorn valuation.

    This brings up something else. there are a number of large companies that make machines for all sorts of medical analyses, be it blood, other body fluids, or imaging of several types. I have to assume at least one has had the same idea as Holmes, and might even be working on it. The notion has been floating about in the science popularization literature for years. And if it were as simple as “dilute the samples more,” then they’d already have done it.

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  28. Mu Yixiao says:

    I run my web browser with ad-blockers, script-blockers, and cookie/tracking blockers.

    Every once in a while I need to look at a page in an unblocked window (because the entire page is one giant mass of scripts and doesn’t render). When I do that, one thing screams in my head:

    How the hell do people tolerate this?!

    It’s like my computer is having a seizure.

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  29. Mimai says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    How the hell do people tolerate this?!

    The arch rhetorical question.

    Companion question: Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?

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  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I agree. The important takeaway is that neither the US nor Australia is going to let China gobble up the South China Sea and bully everyone in the neighborhood.

    For all the criticism of the US as a bunch of swaggering nincompoops on the world stage, we have advantages China does not. Start with the fact that China did not save the world order after WW2, we did. China did not stop the USSR, we did. And we have generally used a fairly light touch as world hegemon and are trusted in matters of maintaining freedom of navigation both on the ocean and in the air, as well supporting international financial institutions. Finally, we have Hollywood, which is a powerful tool for portraying the US as essentially benign.

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  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    I don’t use ad-blocker because it makes me a free rider. A website has expenses and they pay their bills with ads. When a site gets overly obnoxious with pop-ups I avoid the site, but I don’t want to penalize reasonable content providers for the sins of a few.

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  32. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    I have to assume at least one has had the same idea as Holmes, and might even be working on it

    Oh, lots of people are working on it and have been for a couple of decades, at least since “nano-technology” became a buzzword. Here’s a random 2013 writeup of a specific effort. As in most things, it is a lot harder than it seems.

    Let me add something to my comment about how it should have raised eyebrows they weren’t narrowing their claims, if only due to regulatory concerns. First, let’s throw out the home-testing claim for now. It’s a huge, huge hurdle, so you would want to get the product to market with traditional labs first, and then expand on that. Let’s say they had 100 tests that could be done at once. The challenge is that they would have to get approval for each test, meaning (1) prove safety and efficacy, 2) demonstrate the product was developed under an FDA audited quality system, 3) prove that they could reliably manufacture and deliver the product as designed. They would need to show this for every test, as well as show that each one was as good or better than the existing tests. Since they are using new technology, it may fall under the much more onerous regime reserved for new methods (pre-market clearance) as opposed to the less burdensome substantial equivalence (510K) regime. Trying to do this for 100 tests at once is… insane. So what you would do is determine what small number (2-4?) of tests could benefit from getting all done at once. Maybe there are 3 tests that are always done together but require three different and expensive pieces of equipment. Their first application to the FDA would be for the simplified lab machine, and only once they got that off the ground would they start to expand – even if there wasn’t a technology reason to do this.

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  33. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    If sites have reasonable ads, I leave them be. But 7 different videos and flashing ads? Nope.

    And that’s on sites that are supposed to be serious news sites.

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  34. Michael Cain says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    I don’t use a script blocker, since so many sites use JavaScript to download the actual content and handle the layout. The best of the ad blockers seem to filter the ad scripts out as well as the static ads.

    I do go one step farther than you — I have a piece of JavaScript that runs against almost every page I download that goes through and replaces the wildly varying fonts and sizes with a small set of consistent ones. Occasionally I turn it off and the variation just drives me crazy. I started writing the script one day when I decided there were just too darned many pages where you wanted to find the designer, shake them, and demand to know, “Did you study ugly and unreadable in school, or are you just naturally gifted?”

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  35. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The book had way too much information, and some of it got kind of blurry. There was mention of “laboratory developed tests,” which I gathered did not require FDA approval. This seemed odd to me. Also some mention of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as a relevant regulatory agency.

    There is one part involving a pitch by Theranos to supply their machines to the Army for use in Afghanistan right in the battlefield. The officer overseeing part of this determined they did not meet a bunch of regulatory requirements, and Theranos had no regulatory compliance officer, or much regards for regulations or compliance.

    It was a gigantic mess.

    The big part of the problem, IMO, was running a healthcare/medical device/lab company as a tech start-up. Contrast with, say, Moderna.

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  36. flat earth luddite says:

    @Mimai:
    Coffee. The correct answer is always coffee. Or if close to bedtime, scotch/brandy/whiskey, etc.

    Of course, I can drink quad ‘spros at 1 am and sleep like a baby, but YMMV.

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  37. flat earth luddite says:

    Students in Boston rode a party bus, complete with a stripper pole and neon lights, on a field trip due to the ongoing national school bus driver shortage.

    Eleventh grade AP Language & Composition teacher at the Brooke Charter School in Boston, Jim Mayers, tweeted about the experience on Sept. 17…

    Actually, I’m torn between the casual (albeit apologetic) tone in the reporting and quotes, and the realization that things sure have changed…

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  38. wr says:

    @Barry: “2). Every time that somebody asked for proof, they refused to provide it.”

    And all those great Leaders of Civilization who had invested — the Kissingers and George Schultzes and all the rest — they just nodded and smiled.

    We are ruled by idiots.

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  39. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Finally, we have Hollywood, which is a powerful tool for portraying the US as essentially benign.”

    True… but they’re also spending a lot of time and effort portraying China as essentially benign so they can get into that market.

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  40. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I started writing the script one day when I decided there were just too darned many pages where you wanted to find the designer, shake them, and demand to know, “Did you study ugly and unreadable in school, or are you just naturally gifted?”

    I’ve had to set the minimum font size for my system because people insist on using really tiny fonts–because “it looks right on their screen”.

    And don’t get me started on the gods-damned “grey on white” text craze.

    There are days I fire up Lynx just so I can read something (it’s also a great way to get past paywalls, nobody thinks to look for Lynx anymore).

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  41. CSK says:

    @wr:
    As I said, given Holmes’s looks, they were thinking with their dicks.

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  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: With men, it’s the default setting.

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  43. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Seems so. How many of Sarah Palin’s male fans would have been so gaga over her had she been a dumpy 65-year-old?

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  44. just nutha says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Yeah, those ones are annoying, but I simply click away back to my home page when that happens. I figure that when their readership drops enough, they’ll work on figuring out what’s wrong. Most of the places I visit, the ads are pretty inobtrusive though.

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  45. just nutha says:

    @flat earth luddite: I used to be able to do that. But about 25 years after I stopped taking theophylline and ephedra combo meds for asthma, caffeine (along with alcohol and, apparently, nicotine more recently) started affecting me more. Mystifying.

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  46. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    I do something similar, while I allow ads to exist, but not pop ups and I allow Javascript for most sites, I have 2 browser apps that are godsends, one allows me to turn off javascript by the URL and the second deletes all cookies for a website when I close the tab that the site was displayed in. Also I have an app that keeps HTML5 video from auto running. For really awful sites I use Reader View, which presents only the text and certain images.

    Makes for a better internet experience.

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  47. just nutha says:

    @flat earth luddite: Maybe not as much as we think. The last charter bus that Kotesol rented to take members from Daejeon to Seoul for the International TESOL conference there had a karaoke machine in it. Certainly different from the contract with Seattle Transit for school transportation we grew up with, though. Among other things, the busses weren’t even yellow and had no STOP flag that stuck out into the lane when the kids got off.

    Still, the stripper pole is wasted when the students aren’t even permitted to get out of their seats during the ride.

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  48. Jen says:

    Ya don’t say…

    Two GOP operatives indicted for allegedly routing money from Russian national to support Trump campaign

    Federal disclosures from that period make clear the donation went to support Trump’s election, though the recipient is not named in the indictment. Authorities allege Benton arranged for the Russian national to attend a fundraiser “and get a photograph with” the candidate, “in exchange for a political contribution.”

    Benton and Wead “concealed the scheme from the candidate, federal regulators, and the public,” according to the indictment.

    The court filing does not name Trump, but details in the indictment match a $25,000 donation that Benton made in the fall of 2016 to a committee that jointly raised money for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, campaign finance records show.

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  49. Michael Cain says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    And don’t get me started on the gods-damned “grey on white” text craze.

    I don’t check it everywhere, but for a couple of news sites I read regularly that went overboard with it, an adjust_gray() routine gets call.

    The worst thing is that there’s some amount of regular maintenance required for sites like the NYTimes and WaPo. Lots of places use content management systems, but theirs in particular generates some of the most god-awful deeply-nested HTML you can imagine.

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  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Had she been a dumpy 65-year-old,

    Rich Lowry probably wouldn’t have been so smitten when Palin dropped her first wink. In his own words he “sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, “Hey, I think she just winked at me.” And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can’t be learned; it’s either something you have or you don’t, and man, she’s got it.”

    Men are dogs. The ones who aren’t are either really good liars or gay.

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  51. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    AdBlock+ (with “Allow Acceptable Ads” turned on)*
    ScriptSafe (which allows you to select which scripts are allowed to run on a page-by-page basis)
    Privacy Badger (blocks tracking cookies, but allows 1st-party cookies)

    * I just went into AB+ to find the name of the “Acceptable Ads” feature and found out that they’ve added block options for push notifications and those damn cookie pop-ups! Woo Hoo!

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  52. Kathy says:

    @wr:

    I felt some retroactive dread to the Orange Ass years, when I learned “the rest” included Jim Mattis.

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  53. Mu Yixiao says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Men are dogs. The ones who aren’t are either really good liars or gay.

    Considering the number of times I’ve had Broadway chorus-boys sniffing after me, I’m going to disqualify the latter group from that statement.

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  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: HA! Wasn’t thinking of the men on men angle. I only got hit on a couple of times over the years. A friend once said that I “screamed hetero” in all ways.

    shrug I dunno.

    She was a lesbian so maybe she was more in tune to sexuality than I, a straight man, needed to be.

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  55. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    When I reread Lowry’s words just now, I felt a surge of vicarious embarrassment.

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  56. Kathy says:

    I caught the headlines in travel blogs yesterday that the US will end the travel bans, but didn’t give it much thought.

    Then it hit me.

    The new rules will require everyone who comes to the US to be fully vaccinated, as well as to show a negative COVID test no more than three days old.

    This means foreigners looking to get vaccinated in the US won’t be able to enter the country anymore. No more vaccine tourism.

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  57. CSK says:

    I’m reading Pat Conroy. Sweet Jesus. The man’s motto must have been: “Never say in ten words what you can say in one thousand.”

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  58. sam says:
  59. Beth says:

    @CSK:

    There are a group of writers that if I see their name on the article I will just ignore it, because they are useless morons. Every once it a while I miss the name and get a couple paragraphs in before I think “oh, it’s one of the morons.” Lowry and Frum are the worst offenders.

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  60. charon says:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/duty2warn/status/1440408169646149636

    Woodward says Milley believed Trump was in “serious mental decline.”

    We warned about of his symptoms of organic cognitive decline (see below).

    Add a malignant narcissist decompensating because he lost. Trump could have done ANYTHING.

    https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/3404007002

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  61. inhumans99 says:

    @Beth:

    David Frum? I thought he was one of the good ones, sure he may have been more contrarian in the past or whatever it is that is supposed to annoy folks like myself, but unless I am mistaken he has had some great columns over the last several years.

    Now Lowry, yeah….between his getting starbursts and tight in the pants whenever he looked at Palin and asking us to apologize to DeSantis because he supposedly showed us all the way on how to correctly manage the pandemic, well, the man has had two of the worst hot takes I have ever seen on multiple subject matters over the past 10-20 years.

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  62. CSK says:

    @Beth:
    Lowry I haven’t glanced at since he made an idiot of himself over Palin. But I agree with @inhumans99: that Frum has recently written some worthwhile things. Frum surely is no Trump fan.

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  63. Beth says:

    @inhumans99:

    I can’t stand Frum. Almost every column of his I read I think to myself, “what is wrong with this guy?” I think he’s a Bushie that wants to sanitize the past, but would gladly go back to that garbage in a heartbeat if it was fashionable.

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  64. Jay L Gischer says:

    My sense is that if sex appeal were all Elizabeth Holmes had going for her, she would not have fooled anyone or got anywhere. The guys you mention, I think, have had many, many women try to snow them with sex appeal over the years. Maybe some were successful on some level, who knows.

    Thing is, Holmes tried to emulate her hero, Steve Jobs, who was notorious (at least here in Silicon Valley) for his “reality distortion field”. Which is a kind way of saying he constantly lied his ass off and got away with it. Because he was that good. Also, he had a bunch of other skills he brought to the table, not to mention being pretty good looking himself. (not that a lot of decision makers were women, but lots of Apple customers were, and are).

    It’s known how much she idolized and attempted to emulate Jobs. She had a closet full of black turtlenecks – just like Steve.

    I’m sure she studied and understood just how much to say, just what to show, just how to make it all seem real. She studied just how to make everything seem bold and exciting. In fact, this is the job of an entrepreneur. They make stone soup. It’s the job description. And yeah, being good looking and female didn’t hurt. But wow, if you think that’s all that happened, you might get a very rude shock one day.

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  65. CSK says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Surely her looks didn’t hinder her cause.

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  66. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    @CSK:

    I don’t think she’s that good looking.

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  67. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Reading it I still say, “WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?????”

    I mean, I once was walking with my wife and spotted a sweet young thing in Spain and WALKED STRAIGHT INTO A STREET SIGN which almost knocked me on my ass. My wife looked at me with great disgust and never said a word.

    I don’t know why women put up with us. And I’m still smarter than Lowry. Well… Not quite as embarrassing anyway.

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  68. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Beth: I’m with Beth. His anti trump stands don’t quite absolve him of his pro Bush sins. And I’m a forgiving person.

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  69. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I’m sure she studied and understood just how much to say, just what to show, just how to make it all seem real. She studied just how to make everything seem bold and exciting. In fact, this is the job of an entrepreneur. They make stone soup. It’s the job description. And yeah, being good looking and female didn’t hurt. But wow, if you think that’s all that happened, you might get a very rude shock one day.

    Jay? I want you to take this in the best way: Be very careful, you might well get a very rude shock one day.

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  70. Jay L Gischer says:

    @CSK: I’m pretty sure I didn’t assert that they did. In fact, I read myself as saying the opposite. So, then I guess we agree?

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  71. CSK says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Oh, I’m sure she did study the techniques of entrepreneurship.

    But let me leave you with a quote from one of my acquaintances: “Women don’t understand what happens to American men when they see a blonde.”

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  72. Mikey says:

    Another example of how fucked up the American health care “system” is, and how badly we handle it. This is something that simply doesn’t happen anywhere else in the developed world.

    Their Baby Died in the Hospital. Then Came the $257,000 Bill.

    Brittany Giroux Lane gave birth to her daughter, Alexandra, a few days before Christmas in 2018. The baby had dark eyes and longish legs. She had also arrived about 13 weeks early, and weighed just two pounds.

    Alexandra initially thrived in the neonatal intensive care unit at Mount Sinai West. Ms. Lane, 35, recalls the nurses describing her daughter as a “rock star” because she grew so quickly. But her condition rapidly worsened after an infection, and Alexandra died early on the morning of Jan. 15 at 25 days old.

    A flurry of small medical bills from neonatologists and pediatricians quickly followed. Ms. Lane struggled to get her breast pump covered by insurance because, in the midst of a preterm birth, she hadn’t gone through the health plan’s prior approval process.

    Last summer, Ms. Lane started receiving debt collection notices. The letters, sent by the health plan Cigna, said she owed the insurer over $257,000 for the bills it accidentally covered for Alexandra’s care after Ms. Lane switched health insurers.

    Ms. Lane was flummoxed: It was Cigna that had received the initial bill for care and had paid Mount Sinai West. Now, Cigna was seeking the money it had overpaid the hospital by turning to the patient.

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  73. MarkedMan says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Steve Jobs, who was notorious (at least here in Silicon Valley) for his “reality distortion field”. Which is a kind way of saying he constantly lied his ass off and got away with it

    Jobs’ reality distortion field wasn’t about lying. That’s just lying. Jobs’ reality distortion field was to take small things about his products and make them seem like coolest thing you ever saw. I saw this in action at every product reveal but I never saw him lie about anything. He didn’t have to.

    People also often complained that he claimed Apple invented everything. But Jobs rarely made a claim of invention. What he said was that Apple made the best, most well thought out products. That they didn’t employ technology before it was ready and didn’t do things just because they seemed cool. They had to be useful. Correct or incorrect, he believed it.

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  74. keef says:

    Tell me something I didn’t already know. For anyone willing to be honest, John Solomon had this two years ago. I don’t expect that honesty to come here.

    https://nypost.com/2021/09/20/dem-plot-to-steele-the-white-house-anatomy-of-a-political-dirty-trick/

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  75. Wr says:

    @keef: Yeah. Turns out one of the guys Trump pardoned was funneling Russian cash into his and McConnell’s campaigns. Maybe you and Moscow John Soloman want to post about that.

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  76. Jax says:

    Wonder where Teve went off to? Don’t recall seeing him commenting for a couple days!

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  77. DrDaveT says:

    Eddie in CA, I’d be very interested to hear your reaction to this GAO Report. (My reaction was, at first, “Well duh….”)

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  78. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @CSK: Yes, even though he’s one of the first widely known writers I’ve met in person.

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  79. CSK says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:
    I’m working my way through South of Broad now. Are Charlestonians really that crazed?

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  80. Jay L Gischer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It does work both ways. What I’m saying is “she’s good looking” or “they thought with their dicks” is reductive.

    I did a little math. Like Kathy, I don’t think she’s that good looking. I estimate there are maybe 10 million women in the US who look as good as Holmes. That’s not saying she’s bad, just that she’s nice looking in a way I enjoy but don’t find super exceptional.

    So, my guess is 10 million. I estimate that 5 percent of all people are sociopaths. So then, 5 percent of nice-looking women are sociopaths, that’s 500 K. However, we don’t see 500K women pulling off what Holmes pulled off, we in fact witness lots of them failing. Some succeed, some have lower ambitions and don’t hit the radar, but most of them don’t really hit the big time like this.

    That suggests to me that there are other factors in play.

    To continue, looks are important to a con game, regardless of gender. But charisma – which is decidedly NOT the same thing as looks – is more important. Consider Danny DeVito. Not a good looking man, but loads of charisma. Which he uses for good as far as I know.

    And charisma is part natural, but part skills. Holmes had mad skills, is what I’m saying. The sort of looks she had are not that rare, but her skills were.

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