The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Open Thread

For discussion of topics unrelated to recent posts. No direct discussion of Covid will be approved. (Indirect, like on shortages, etc…) is fine.


Audio Recordings of “Political Concepts” to Chapter 3


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 2, 2022


  1. Z

    Harris-Sanders 2022!
    It’s now or too late … and maybe too late anyway


  2. Ché Pasa

    Happy(?) New Year!?

  3. bruce wilder

    James Glassman and Kevin Hassett were right: Dow-Jones 36,338.30

    Can collapse be far away?

  4. DMC

    A happy, safe and prosperous New Year to all. Let’s all try to put Global extinction off for another year.

  5. bruce wilder

    Arctic sea ice extent 2021 at the end of December is the highest in recent years and the 2nd highest in 18 years according to the US Snow and Ice Data Center.

  6. Z

    I’m not losing hope. I’ve heard Mars is beautiful.


  7. different clue

    @Bruce Wilder,

    That’s good news about the Arctic Ice. Now . . . . are they measuring the volume of the Arctic Ice as well as the lateral extent?

    And what is the Arctic Ice extent at the end of summer and just before the start of the re-freeze season? Has anyone been tracking that trend?

  8. bruce wilder


    my no doubt short-lived New Years’ Resolution is to consider that I might be wrong or more precisely that like many of my contemporaries, I might be invested in simplistic narratives that make me innocent and the Others, evil and stupid.

    I have been following artic/antarctic sea ice extent change for a long-time and I don’t think this is “news”, but it is a useful reminder that I have probably deceived myself a bit with expectations of a directionally steady trend, when I know on some level that climate-change is introducing chaotic perturbation of a chaotic system.

  9. bruce wilder

    in the spirit of challenging false presumptions, this little survey of American foreign policy under Biden:

    I am still looking for that “lesser evil” I was promised. So far, it has been false hope and “nothing fundamentally will change.”

  10. different clue

    @bruce wilder,

    The problem is . . . is this measurement of Arctic Ice measuring its lateral spread, or its total volume, or both, or not?

    If the total ice volume is still going down, then the big ice melt is still straight-line continbuing, even if a lesser volume of ice is smeared thinly over a greater surface area. ( On the upside, a thinner smear of ice over a wider area would reflect back more sunlight before it could degrade to heat here at the surface.)

    So it would be nice to know what the volumes of Arctic Sea ice are , as well as the surface areas.

  11. Mark Pontin

    I’d pay more attention to Siberia. The methane in and under the permafrost there is far more easily released — and yes, of course, forecasts presuming a steady melting are imbecilic given that phase shifts are a very basic fact in physics — and potentially a trigger for a Neo-Eocene or Neo-Permian atmosphere.

  12. Mark Pontin

    Graph of current Chinese average life expectancy vs. that of US; US trending rapidly down — plummeting, in fact — while Chinese trends upwards quite steeply at approx. 28 degree angle: –

    This on top of 800 million moved out of poverty. I wouldn’t say it’s quite game, set, and match to the ChiComs — the US can still launch a nuclear war against China — but close to it.

  13. different clue

    @Mark Pontin,

    We should probably pay attention to all of it, as best we can. There are so many feedbacks, feedforwards, feed-circle-rounds, etc.

    I suspect the Arctic Ocean ice coverage is both a trailing indicator and a speeding-up secondary cause. Enough heat shrinks the ice coverage. Shrunken ice coverage lowers the high-latitude albedo and permits even more faster heat buildup at the high latitudes.

    Enough heat-buildup will thaw the Siberian permafrost and release the Methane Kraken. Which will drive even more heatup even more fasterer.

    And so it goes, round and round, unless organized mankind drains the skycarbon back down very fast now. Or unless God sends some volcanoes or a Maunder Minimum 2.0 to reduce the incoming sunlight so much as to reverse the heat buildup even with all the skycarbon, sky N-Oxes, etc.

    And of course the ChinaGov might get tired of waiting around for a dilatory and frivolous West and go ahead and surround the earth with a high-atmosphere sulfur shroud all on its own.

  14. different clue

    @Mark Pontin,

    Here is a link from Naked Capitalism showing one of the ways ( only one, but still . . . a real way) that China has gotten so overall rich lately.

    “GameChangers 2021: How IUU Fishing Plundered Latin America’s Oceans Insight Crime. IUU = illegal, unreported and unregulated. Handy map:'”

    Here is the link itself.
    GameChangers 2021: How IUU Fishing Plundered Latin America’s Oceans Insight Crime. IUU = illegal, unreported and unregulated. Handy map:

    Here is the twitter-thread with the relevant map.

    In the fullness of time, as America fades from power and then from existence and then from memory , China will replace America as the most hated nation on earth. Southeast Asia and India will end up saying . . . ” At least America never stole every last drop of water we had”. And Latin America will end up saying . . . ” At least America never stole the very last fish from the sea off our coast.”

    I hope those pro CommuNazi hasbarists who keep praising China here on these threads live long enough to experience the full force of Chinese Hegemony. And I believe that some of them are. And that is a good thing.

  15. different clue

    addendum: ” And I believe that some of them are young enough to live that long. And that is a good thing.”

  16. Jim Harmon

    An even better thing – from my perspective – is that I’m 78yo so I won’t be around for the worst of it.

  17. Astrid

    The end of America is coming faster than expected. Don’t assume that Baby Boomers, especially ones who are still working, will be spared. And the lack of empathy on display for younger people who will never have a future is unsurprising.

    I’ll take my chances with the CPC and the Chinese. They are self interested and have messed up from time to time, but they’re positively angelic compared to the last 500 years of European history. They’re also capable of achieving goals as a society, making course correction as needed, and pushing for positive change. So much so that I am seriously thinking about moving there if they ever reopen their borders. It’s restrictive and conformist and the culture is still pretty messed up and the economy is bananas sometimes, but at least I wouldn’t have to worry about the guys with black American flags or the Karens freaking out about putting on a damn mask or pretending to care about any member of the Uniparty again.

    Cope and Godwin yourself as you wish, meanwhile –

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