Beware! [DOT 15/3/23]

The Ides of March.

Ukraine updates:

The 4-metre-wide board detailing the entire Russian military chain of command in Ukraine


Daughter sues after claiming she ID’d her mother’s rapist through DNA test


Zuckerberg’s Meta to lay off another 10,000 employees


Dick Fosbury, whose ‘Fosbury Flop’ revolutionized high jump, dies at 76

Who asked for this?!

Say goodbye to the old cap on McCormick spice bottles


Have a great day!



    • After Schroeder left Congress she became the President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers and was one of the key figures in the publishing industry during its transition into the digital age. You know how “information wants to be free”? Not under Pat’s watch, and good for her. Much as I dislike paywalls because I’m cheap I also don’t believe that books not in the public domain should be scanned and digitized and made free without the consent of their authors and publishing houses and without recompense.

      Another kind of weird thing is she and her husband ended up in Celebration, Florida, toward the end of her life. That’s that very very strange Disney master-planned community. Apparently she was quite close to Michael Eisner. I bet it was her tireless advocacy of copyright protections. Disney famously keeps getting laws passed to extend their copyrights indefinitely. There will come a time, one or three nuclear holocausts from now, when only two creatures will be left on earth: cockroaches, and attorneys working to keep Disney images out of the public domain.

      • The copyright on Steamboat Willie is expiring next year, 96 years after it hit the big screen!

        Of course Mickey Mouse himself is a trademarked image, not just a copyrighted image, so don’t go putting mouse ears in anything or you’ll end up in the dungeon under the castle at Disneyland.

        • Speaking of Disney and natural and manmade disasters, I read an article years ago about the year that three very destructive hurricanes hit Florida one after the other. It was like two from the Atlantic and one from the Gulf, or vice versa. They converged over and around Orlando, causing all sorts of havoc. You know what wasn’t affected much? Disney World, and they became one of the principal food and water providers for the whole region.

          That was interesting enough, but then the article went on to speculate that the grounds of Disney might be one of the best places in the US to be if there were an unexpected nuclear strike. That’s because there are all kinds of underground facilities running beneath the parks. It’s where all the food is stored, there’s a state-of-the-art air and water filtration system, an intricate network of tunnels that moves the characters around so that visitors don’t see the characters without their full costumes on, all kinds of things. Maybe Pat Schroeder was a doomsday prepper, who knows.

    • White people pretending indigenous ancestry always blows my mind. The vast majority of white people in St Louis are either German, French, or Italian heritage, and hearing some variation of “my great great great great grandmother was a Cherokee princess” was just something that didn’t happen here.

      When I moved to Alabama for school, it was like every white person in the state claimed Native heritage. Some folks actually legit had it, but I guarantee the great great great great grandmother who was a Cherokee Princess named Pocahontas (yes I fucking am not kidding, I heard this from people speaking seriously), that’s some bullshit. I wondered how much of it was based on the genocide and land theft of the tribes and if you said you had some heritage, you didn’t have to think anything negative about how your ancestors were A-OK with the Trail of Tears.

  1. A moment for Dick Fosbury, who probably changed his sport more than any other single athlete in history. Imagine the fortitude it took to look at a well-established sport and say “Nope, you’re all doing it wrong” and figure out a better way, stick with it and also perform so well that everyone else in the sport says “Oh shit, we ARE doing it wrong.”

    I’m not a big “Great Men of History” guy, but Fosbury is a rare exception where it was one guy changing the world. I mean, OK, a small piece of the world, but even that’s pretty good.

  2. So the NY Times published a long piece establishing that masks work to stop airborne diseases.

    Which is good. But why did this piece show up now? Was there any serious scientific doubt?

    No, but the piece quoted the editor of a recent study saying “Many commentators have claimed that a recently updated Cochrane review shows that ‘masks don’t work,’ which is an inaccurate and misleading interpretation”

    Who published that “inaccurate and misleading” interpretation? Well, you wouldn’t know it from this piece, but it was the NY Times itself, in a February 21 bit by Bret Stephens headlined “The Mask Mandates Did Nothing. Will Any Lessons Be Learned?”

    Stephens (or more expansively, the right wing PR ops who fed him this junk) took a study which said there have not been enough rigorous randomized studies with control groups to back a conclusion that masks work, and then jumped to the wildly false conclusion that there was no evidence that masks work.

    But epidemiology constantly works without randomized studies. When clinical evidence shows something works — which it does with masks — it’s considered unethical to deliberately expose a control group to greater harm. Over time, it may be possible to find two different groups where comparisons are possible in a rigorous way, but it’s hard — good luck getting hardcore antimaskers to cooperate honestly with a study when they think Bill Gates is microchipping their DNA.

    And preliminary epidemiological evidence backs the value of mask requirements, but it’s early for results to support what is known on a clinical level.

    What’s ridiculous, though, is the Times hasn’t corrected the Stephens hit piece, and suppressed naming him in the piece establishing the science behind masks.

    Stephens, of course, is allowed by Times editors to publically challenge other Times staff without consequence. But the Kremlinological conclusion of the internal politics is clear — Nobody says nothing about the made man, if they don’t want to end up sleeping with the fishies.

    • I’ve worked in newspapers for a long time, and for most of it, I felt like keeping both an opinion section and a news section were important for many reasons. I am beginning to change my mind on that, and not because Bedbug Bret sucks, as there have always been and will always be lousy opinion writers, or even that the Wall Street Journal editorial board can just openly be racist about the SVB collapse (would it have happened if 12 white guys were in charge? We’re just asking questions here! And don’t remember 2007 at all!)

      I worried about the media literacy of readers when they actually subscribed to dead-tree edition newspapers that clearly laid out what was what and what was where. These days, nobody subscribes and if they are reading, it has zero guard rails on how people interact with non-news content. Sure, they can say “Opinion” at the top, but guess what, if it’s on the NYT site and has the NYT logo and looks like an NYT news story, even if they want to know the difference — and most people who agree with an opinion piece do not! — readers might not get it. Social media has also made first impression in many cases the only impression, which is not inherently the media’s fault, but it is something that needs to be considered for complicated stories, and certainly needs to be thought a lot more about when it comes to breaking news (though that’s way more a cable/TV news problem of having to fill time).

      OK, off soapbox.

    • …it’s disingenuous…but…I guess to me there seems to be a little more to it than it being impossible to find that point made in the pages of the NYT…I don’t know if you read the letters page ever but…as you say…that stephens piece ran on the 21st…& if you look at the letters for the 22nd the four they put at the top are all making variations of your critique of the piece…for some reason there’s a typo that says the piece ran on the 22nd but the link (& obviously the date on the article itself) make it pretty clear that’s specifically what’s being referenced

      …& I share the frustration with the whole…market model, I guess you could call it…that means that if bret stephens didn’t exist then for a paper trying to broaden & shore up its market share of readership in a context where the heyday of the prestige masthead is very possibly in the rear view…they’d be forced to invent him

      …but…in fairness…going after him because he’s in-house & it’s a mea culpa that’s noticeable by its absence could be argued to be…overly self-flagellating…I’m not saying it is…but I can certainly understand how you’d be able to argue that it would be…which might be  a distinction without a difference…but…is arguably something I might admit to finding helpful, if I’m honest?

      …the fact that there remains any kind of a debate about masks is somewhere between a psychological flaw at a societal level & a damaging emergent property of a sort of high-pressure forced evolution of something from an iterative process it seems like we can only dream about divorcing from politics…without which we presumably don’t even get to dream about stripping it out of the press…& it’s not like masks are the first or the last thing to get that kind of remix treatment in the evergreen sales tactic that is the clickbait culture-war

      …so…it’s not like bret in the times…or only the times…has been out there running their mouth that way…or trying to have it both ways for that matter…in many ways the masks & whether or not they work is the vestigial component of the case his effort the other week was in support of…the proxy hot (or at least lukewarm) button he picked for that day…& he presumably picked it because misinterpreting a recent-enough study was a way to re-up on that raft of previous efforts & let it do the heavy lifting of appearing to have something relevant to add to a debate that logic alone would strongly argue ought to have been settled a long time ago…don’t take my word for it…the NYT beat me to it in time for the 4th of july in 2020

      Seriously, Just Wear Your Mask (subtitle: This is not complicated, folks.)

      …& again this last december

      It’s Time to Wear a Mask Again, Health Experts Say (subtitle: A high-quality, well-fitting mask is your best protection against infection from the coronavirus, influenza and R.S.V.)

      …presumably because…they don’t want to lose readers to a virus any more than they want to cut loose the ones that come to their pages to read stephens…more than a few of which are guaranteed to be hate-reading that shit…wouldn’t surprise me to find out those were in the majority as it goes…but…that part makes the kind of sense I don’t much like but don’t think they can afford to ignore at their bottom line?

      …given the nature of a “debate” that “we” knew going in was going to break against the obvious science in stark contrast to the norms in much of the far east post the H5n1 stuff in the ’90s

      How the split over masks sums up America’s chaotic coronavirus response [WaPo]

      …bret’s side of the fence was always going to fall a certain way

      …& they weren’t…but even at WaPo, where a few days after the “noting new” thing they put this out

      We conducted the largest study on masks and covid-19: They work

      …it’s not like a study involving people in bangladesh was going to get #teamfreedumb to reverse course…& even WaPo isn’t trying to beat back that tide much at this point…or rather…for a while

      …it took bret three weeks or so to come up with his “fresh” take…the study came out at the end of january & aside from not supporting his conclusions seems to have come from a mostly-legit source that’s part-funded by the danish government…so I guess I’d assume he went looking for the most recently published mask study he could find, content in the knowledge the people who already agreed with the side he planned on taking wouldn’t break the habit of a lifetime & trouble themselves to read the thing after he’d told them it said what they wanted it to….then he just ran it through the same f(x) routine he uses for everything else…where x=[thing dems argued for is bad & wrong, actually]

      …so…it’s not like it isn’t a red flag…but hemingway & his romantic notions of the contest aside…it’s what they do to the bull while he’s focused on charging at those that does for the poor beast…& I’d rather not feel like I’m casting myself in that part…particularly if in doing so I’m implying the likes of ol’ bedbugs gets to consider themselves a matador

      …apologies for the wall of text…but I happened to see your comment as I was getting to the end of listening to this

      …which is an episode of a thing that goes by the name of “the media show” & I think got the title “we need to talk about gary”…where the topic of impartiality was discussed primarily as it relates to the little bit of bother lineker…or…from another point of view…the government & its cronies…have been causing for various slices of the BBC hierarchy…& one of the weaker speakers made the perhaps-less-forceful-than-it-deserved-to-be point that it wasn’t like the relevant concerns were only a problem for the BBC…or uniquely handled badly…& elsewhere someone drew a comparison with the way the state broadcaster in…I think it was germany…but it sounded like the claim was “in most of europe” didn’t get assailed the way the BBC does by privately-funded broadcasters & publishers*…& it reminded me that in at least some ways what gets us is as much what we don’t get done while pushing back on things we shouldn’t need to as what the other lot manage to do with the extra time that buys them not being put on the defensive that way

      …still…like the lady on the radio said…I don’t think there’s a silver bullet…so…make of that what you will, I guess?

      [ETA: * …pretty sure there was a bunch of koch money that went into pushing the whole anti-mask thing as a political shorthand]

      • There’s a huge problem in this day and age, as the Times knows very well, in publishing disconnected pieces on both sides when one of those sides is flat out wrong.

        The problem is the value of isolated false pieces in constructing an online Potemkin Village that suckers the many, many people who only subscribe to bad faith aggregators.

        What makes it worse is that Stephens’s falsehoods appear to be untouchable. He is allowed to offer rebuttals of others at the Times, but the paper itself cannot, and the best they will do is dump them into the letters page. It’s essentially anti-SEO.

        What’s worse is that the nonsensical time gap you’ve described is a frequent sign of an organized campaign which Stephens is likely participating in.

        The right knows that one bad piece by itself isn’t sufficient to cause an uproar. The reaction pieces in other media need to be prepped and scheduled to create the illusion of a controversy. The trolls need to be lined up to flood comment sections.

        The arrest today of Guo Wengui is a good reminder of how this works. He was a big money guy with a strong link to Steve Bannon who was behind a healthy chunk of the antivax network.

        I’m sure that Stephens himself is too prissy to deal directly with Guo or Bannon, but the antivax network and Stephens undoubtably have go-betweens who coordinate the outrage cycle. The Times and Stephens know how this stuff works, they just want plausible deniability, and that gets ensured by Stephens carefully covering his tracks about how this even came to his attention in the first place.

        • Side note on Guo Wengui — he used Tony Blair (!) as a reference when he bought a $67 million penthouse. Blair of course was incredibly tight with Wendi Deng (formerly Murdoch), Deng was tight with Jared and Ivanka, Guo belonged to Mar A Lago… is he really anti-Xi, is he trying to keep all of his options open, who knows how this will all shake out.


        • …maybe it’s a phraseology thing…I don’t know…but you tend to go with “the problem is”…like in that second paragraph…but coming as it does immediately on the heels of “a huge problem in this day and age”…that’s…often where I start to wonder if I’m going to struggle to follow what you’re aiming to say

          …if “the problem” isn’t the same problem as “a huge problem in this day and age” then there’s got to be enough problems that singling out one to describe as “the” problem…maybe isn’t helping your reader follow the line of reasoning you’re trying to sketch out…I try to do my best to work my way through what you say but…despite the best efforts I’ve managed to find the time to attempt…you seem to take the suggestion that there might be a broader context or a more fruitful approach than repeatedly tilting at this particular windmill to the exclusion of the rest of that stuff as some sort of denial of the underlying criticism…which it isn’t…just to be absolutely clear about that part

          …we’re talking about opinions about opinions at this point…& mine is that I don’t find it helpful to rise to that bait in that way…it’s too much of a hamster wheel for my tastes…it takes up energy I could be putting to more productive use…that I’d include talking about something else to be on that list is…again…an opinion…but it’s not because there’s nothing to it any more than the fact I think we shouldn’t need to argue about whether or not masks are effective is an indicator that I think they aren’t…quite the opposite…I think both things are well beyond being settled

          …the time gap you characterize as nonsensical is a simple function of how long ago that stuff got settled with respect to the timeline of the covid pandemic…there were certainly blunders in the public health messaging along the way but the fact that it was clear to anyone with the wit to see it that the wearing of masks was a social benefit in advance of the 4th july holiday in 2020…& that by the tail-end of the following july even a reasonably staunch proponent of the wearing of them was publishing stuff to the effect that it was no longer a net positive to try to get people to do so by mandating it mostly tells me that going back to that well in late-february of 2023 paints bret as scraping the barrel in want of better grist to that mill

          What makes it worse is that Stephens’s falsehoods appear to be untouchable. He is allowed to offer rebuttals of others at the Times, but the paper itself cannot, and the best they will do is dump them into the letters page. It’s essentially anti-SEO.

          …they don’t appear untouchable to me…even in the times…so…if I had more time maybe I’d go looking for examples of why that is…but…the man is a walking caricature…honestly the fact that the obvious place to look for people saying the same thing you were is the letters page in the same paper the following day isn’t a factor of that being the only place you can find it…it’s a function of it being the place it seemed most obvious to me to look…which is why I often do…did in fact at the time…& was therefore the first place I went in my head…before turning to google to spit the thing back up again…so the example I went with might have been lazy…but I don’t think trying to save myself some time undermines the point I was trying to make

          …similarly…while I wasn’t surprised to recognize the other articles I cited once I dug them up…the actual digging part took me less than a minute for the whole clutch…& that letters page was literally the top hit in a google search that I promise was entirely unimaginative in terms of parameters…so I don’t think it’s anti-SEO per se…but assuming by that you intented a shorthand for the amorphous multi-headed hydra of the algorithmic blender that produces the factoid-smoothie of stuff a lot of people passively absorb from “the news”…I don’t disagree with that part, either

          …like you say

          The right knows that one bad piece by itself isn’t sufficient to cause an uproar. The reaction pieces in other media need to be prepped and scheduled to create the illusion of a controversy. The trolls need to be lined up to flood comment sections.

          …a big chunk of the phenomenon I take you to be railing against is predicated on a pavlovian pattern of call & response…&…speaking for myself…I don’t find…as I said…playing the part of a bull with a bunch of red flags being waved in my face to be in my interests…so I’d rather talk about that stuff in a different way…telling myself or others things about bret stephens & his relationship with the times that feel like they fall under the heading of “self-evident” (to me) feels like too narrow a lens through which to examine what you started off by describing as a huge problem…& to me part of what makes it huge is that it’s broad, deep & wide-spread in a way that focusing on the bret stephens or the NYT of it all as a singular exemplar is giving the point less legs to stand on than there are on offer

          …so…I dunno…maybe that’s just me…& if I’m honest I’d rather read about what other people think than thoughts I’m well-acquainted with on account of not being able to escape them…you clearly think about this stuff a lot…I’d like to know more about the conclusions you draw & the reasoning behind them…styling the editorial team at the times as the kremlin & taking a pop at bedbug boy doesn’t tell me that stuff…so I throw out whatever happens to be on the top of my head that might provide an opportunity to bring that stuff up in as many directions as I can & hope for the best

          …one way or another I suppose you might say I find it instructive…but I’ve never particularly doubted that might just be me, too

          …the bannon associate thing is morbidly fascinating but I don’t think I’m going to have gotten to the bottom of it in time to have much about it in the DOT tomorrow…but…if I had the time to spare I guess one thing I’d think about pursuing would be who this guy is & whether what he’s tweeting about is true…because if it is…that right there seems like a great cue to break out the popcorn & the tinfoil hat?

  3. Exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui has been arrested in NYC in a massive fraud case:

    He’s a major backer of Steve Bannon — Bannon was found and arrested on Guo’s yacht for his own fraud charges.

    Guo has been a huge backer of rightwing politics — he was a top sponsor of the recent CPAC –and he has driven a huge amount of disinformation, including the Q stuff, antivaxxers, and election denial.

  4. @splinterrip seems BBB made the big gains here…..i have some doubts about them…as they still seem fairly nationalistic…but its a lot better than wilders….and baudet fucking tanked…turns out being openly pro russia does you no favours here.

    aaan coalition gubment…. so they are likely to be the big dog in opposition to the ruling parties once the dust settles

    • …anyplace where the people pitching for maybe-russia-is-in-the-right strike out goes in the win column for me…so that’s a relief

      …I confess I’m not exactly up on the pros & cons of the BBB lot…but…in that grass-is-greener way that being over-familiar with what a piss poor job the UK did with a coalition government part of me likes to think in a sort of blissfully ignorant way that places where coalition government is the norm are…sort of like a better vaccinated kind of democracy when it comes to one bunch of nutters getting the whip hand over the asylum

      …is that way off base in a “this time it’s different” sense…or just SNAFU but the situation normal part is a lot more complicated & probably worse than you think from the outside looking in?

      • coaliting gubment is frustrating….as only the moderates are able and willing to work together to form a majority coalition

        no one party is ever likely to win an outright majority for themselves

        sooo…no hard swings to the left or right are likely…..the left is too divided…and the right is impossible to work with as they dont compromise on any of their wants in favour of just stomping their feet and stopping the gubment from working till they get their way… nobody not on their side wants to try and form a ruling partywith them anymore….

        so yeah….the moderates are frustrating….but it beats a sudden swing to the right…..much as it also stops a sudden swing to the left….so yeah….pros and cons….and they are the same thing

        • …cheers for that…in the sense of a reply to question

          …& maybe a modest cheers to that…in a lesser-evil sort of a way…worst form of government…except for all the others…& all that sort of thing?

          • oh hey no worries

            last night i was not yet aware of how big a win BBB was having tho

            they are going to be a problem….. and the gubment trying to work around them is going to cause some seriously pissed off voters…

            looks like we are going to be having interesting politics for a while here……

            welp….at least we voted out the crazy fascist party

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