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

Quick Takes 4: Covid Mental Illness, IMF Admits Greed Sometimes Bad, & More

The sheer desperation of the US to halt China’s rise is on display with the news that America blacklisted fourty-four flight schools for teaching Chinese pilots.

Ain’t gonna work, sunshine, and it makes you look like petty fools. Also this whole extraterritorial law thing is now beyond tiresome and pissing everyone off. Ain’t anyone but your lackeys who doesn’t want this to end and to see America in the graveyard of empires.


In the sort of lovely Covid news we’ve become used to, it seems that about one-third of everyone who gets Covid gets short or long term mental issues:

delirium, agitation, altered consciousness, hypoxic encephalopathy encephalitis, dysexecutive syndrome, cerebrovascular complications (e.g., stroke), hypoxic encephalopathy, convulsions, neuromuscular dysfunction, demyelinating processes, or parkinsonism through several pathophysiological mechanisms.

Meanwhile, it seems Japan may have entered its’ ninth Covid wave. But remember, children, the WHO told us the emergency is over. Which is, I suppose, true. “The world burning down is now normal and not an emergency. Continue about your business, citizens.”


As long as we’re talking about the world burning down, it seems that tropical forests shrunk by 10% in 2022 – not just the Amazon, but Congo and so on. Chow down on those burgers, you might as well benefit from destroying the world!

And remember all that news you’ve been reading about how renewables are taking over the world! Well it seems that coal use is the highest its been since 2014 and fossil fuels still provide 84% of the world’s energy, because we keep increasing how much energy we use faster than expanded renewables can keep up.

It makes me so happy to see how seriously we’re taking climate change.


Everyone favorite foreign policy realist, Mearsheimer, now has a substack. His first piece is on how the Ukraine war will end (or, sort of, not) and who will win. I find myself in agreement with almost all of it, though this doesn’t mean I agree with Mearsheimer on everything else.

Measheimer notes, as I have, that everyone in the war considers this existential or nearly, and thus no one is willing to go to peace. End of the day, though, it’s an attrition war and Russia is winning it.


The IMF, rather amazingly, has published figures showing what everyone with half a brain and and an ounce of honesty was reporting two years ago, at least, that the largest contributor to inflation is companies taking huge profits. This is important because it indicates even part of the elite has decided that it’s too much: it matters that the IMF is saying it, but the actual content is a yawner.

On the other hand, they did make a pretty chart, so here it is.


Meanwhile, Delaware continues to lead in the important civil rights area of corporate personhood. All people should, after all, have the vote, and it’s simply unfair when they don’t, so Delaware has a bill to let LLCs vote in a municipal election pending. All right minding liberty lovers will no doubt support this extension of rights to society’s most discriminated-against people.


And that, dear readers, is the end of today’s Quick Takes. Remember that this blog is powered by me and I am powered by your donations and subscriptions, which I exchange for kibble, a roof over my head, a computer and some internet stuff which allows me to write. So if you want to give, that would be, well, nice, especially since some large donors decided that my writing that rape is always bad, mmmkay and that Israel is a shitty apartheid state and that supporting an apartheid state makes you bad, was a good reason to stop giving.

(Which is understandable and I don’t blame them, people who support rape and ethnic cleansing obviously don’t like being told these things are, y’know, evil. Though I’ll say that I didn’t expect the whole “how dare you say rape is always bad” freakout. Seemed pretty “mom and apple pie are good” when I was writing it, though I do applaud the level of self-acceptance required to admit you’re sometimes OK with rape.)

Oh, like everyone asking for your cash, subscriptions are great (though I almost never subscribe to anything, so I get it if you’d rather one-time it.) Also, if you’re skint, don’t give. I don’t want money from people who are having trouble paying the rent, affording food or buying medicine.

If you’re a billionaire, or even a deci-millionaire, feel free to give till it still doesn’t hurt. I promise I’ll use at least some of your money to help overthrow your class!


How Over Is Covid?


Open Thread


  1. Curt Kastens

    Covid has nothing to due with mental health. 12/13ths of people living in industrialized countries suffer from short or long term mental health issues due to environemntal collapse and or industrial life alienation. The number of people in less developed countries who suffer from mental health issues might be lower only because they have not yet learned what a dire situation the world environment is in. But it could be even higher due to the stress of poverty. Though large numbers of people everywhere are unable to recognize that they suffer from mental health issues because they suffer from mental health issues.

  2. mago

    Wow! This reads like a Fresh Hell column from the Baffler.
    Great stuff.
    I find it difficult to believe that anyone could make a provisional case for rape or deny that Israel is a vicious apartheid state, although as Curt Castens notes, theres a lot of mental health issues out there.

  3. different clue

    The question is . . . . does American “have” an empire? Or is American “is” an empire?

    If America “has” an empire, then a lot of non-empire-connected Americans would possibly benefit from the loss or surrender of America’s empire. They might have to figure out how to rise up and mass-slaughter the Americans who benefit from having the empire, in order to stop them from trying to keep it or trying to get it back.

    If America “is” an empire, then the only way to terminate the empire would be to subdivide America into a number of smaller countries. If it worked out right, the Indian Nations could be major winners in such a process as they get effective ownership of their Land and Sovereignty back. Would any non-Indian Americans benefit? it would depend on what they would hope to achieve from and within whatever smaller successor countries they might find themselves in.

    Since many successor Post-America countries arising in the ” former America space” would be Christianazi Satano-MAGAfascist Gilead Republics, hopefully all the decent people living in those Gilead Republics would be able to flee to such Free Cities and Republics as might arises. And hopefully all the Christianazi Satano-MAGAfascist Gilead Republican wannabes finding themselves in the Free Cities and Republics would move to MAGAstan.

    The further question arises in that scenario . . . who gets the A bombs and the H bombs?

    I hope it is just that America ” has” an empire which America could then give up. We could then work on becoming a Semi-Hermit Republic, defecting from the World Free Trade System, and restoring some kind of Survival Economy within our own borders.

  4. GrimJim

    Golly, that final Ukraine map Mearsheimer mentioned sure sounds familiar…

  5. Mark Level

    Well I guess when driving toward the mountain’s edge at 90 mph isn’t good enough, our brilliant Elites have decided that if we speed up to 110 mph we’ll have a good, controlled “glide” downward at that speed (as Karl Rove might say, We’re an Empire now & the laws of physics don’t apply strongly to Empires.) Uhmm yes, the Inmates vote for the Masters of the Asylum, who seem to be even more depraved, violent & incoherent than the poor saps who put ’em in power. Well, that doesn’t usually end well does it. (Going to look at the Mearsheimer piece, thanks for sharing. Yes, he may be a blind pig on Ukraine, at least he still finds enough reality-based acorns to disrupt the Narrative, “Ukraine Will Prevail over the Subhuman Orcs” story the Guardian, Intercept, all the MSM, the brain-dead PBS (Petroleum Broadcasting Corp) “liberals” (deeply reactionary Karens nearly all), etc. continually spew.

  6. Joan

    I have a friend who says she gets “covid brain” sometimes where she’ll go into a fog for about twenty minutes and can’t do the calculations she needs to at work as a nurse. She switches tasks and rides it out, but wow that startled me to hear it.

    I am a monthly subscriber and though it’s not much I do enjoy reading your posts even when we disagree!

  7. Anyone else notice in the last Covid post that excess mortality dramatically increased right after the Covid vaccines came out?
    Perhaps ignoring the Pfizer corporate clinical trial which showed the vaccine group with 24% more deaths was the opposite of “following the science”
    Perhaps more vaccines being correlated with more deaths is because the Covid vaccines increase the chance of dying.

  8. GrimJim

    @different clue

    The United States both *is* an empire and *has* an empire.

    The “Heartland Empire” is the 50 states. The US Heartland Empire has existed since 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. More than half of the then-new “nation” was territory held by non-Colonists (the acquisition of that territory and the continuation of slavery being the two primary goals of the Revolution).

    The Heartland always grew as an Empire. Everything in the 50 states was acquired through conquest (even the Louisiana Purchase was a conquest, traded to the US for consideration). The Heartland has always been made up of conflicting, often inimical cultures and societies.

    The Outer Empire, aka the Provinces, the Borders, and the Satrapies, were acquired starting with the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, violently affirmed by the Spanish-American War in 1898, and much expanded after WWII; some might consider the acquisition of the northern half of Mexico as part of the “Outer Empire,” but it is now thoroughly settled by the Anglo Imperialists, and so part of the Heartland. Alaska and Hawaii are still on the verge of that Heartland.

    The Provinces include various Territories, such as Puerto Rico and other overseas possessions.

    The Borders include Central and South America and Canada; these regions are to the US as Tibet, Xinjiang, and Outer Mongolia are to China.

    The Satrapies include most of Europe, Japan, and bits and bobs here and there internationally.

    Most of the peoples of the Satrapies would love to be independent and free; their rulers are so far still addicted to being satraps. But if the Outer Empire fell, they would all be better off, in the long run.

    Same for the Borders, mostly, though they’d have a hard time at first moving their international trade. China would be eager to grab everything they could, of course, if the American Empire doesn’t take them out in spite when they fall.

    The Provinces mostly want to be free, but frankly, only Puerto Rico could possible survive on its own. And then it is likely to be inundated with refugees from the former US.

    The Heartland Empire, as you say, when it balkanizes — it is going to be UGLY. Lots of hate and jealousy, pent up centuries of it, will explode, making the Yugoslav collapse seem like a cakewalk by comparison.

    The problem is that it is no longer a proper geographical divide, though there is a general divide — New England, Atlantic Coast, Dixieland, Midwest, Great Plains, Mountains, and West Coast. New England might survive as a major federation of states; so too might Dixie.

    The rest of the areas will be up for grabs between the Urban (generally Liberal) and Rural (invariably Conservative) divides. Each side will try to do in the other; the rural areas will try to starve out the urban areas, the urban area will respond by sending out armed militias, and then the real fight begins.

    But the truth is, the cities cannot survive without the resources of the countryside, and the countryside cannot survive without the resources of the cities.

    And neither can survive when the oil stops flowing, which happens within a matter of weeks after the first encounters between militias. No company can support the drilling, piping, refining, and shipping needed to get oil and gas ANYWHERE with that kid of stuff going on. When the FedGov collapses, so does ALL national and international trade. No UNITED states, no DOLLARS, no oil, no gas, no tech.

    Same for coal. Same for the solar and wind grid, which require an ENORMOUS amount of maintenance.

    So, whatever instigating cause of the fall of the FedGov means suddenly, all tech in the US falls back to a pre-oil, and in most areas, pre-coal era. No electricity beyond small areas, no internet, no phones (all based on fiber these days), no more trade on the interstate. Nothing.

    You want more guns and bullets? Food to feed your militia? Better have gold or something of value that someone can take for it. Also, better have access to the sea. No one is going to fly expensive planes into an American warzone!

    So cities, towns, and villages in the interior quickly collapse to complete anarchy. Cannibal-level anarchy. Cities and states on the coast, which have something to trade other than piles of useless dollars, can trade for guns, bullets, tech, food, whatever they need, as long as the gold and goods remain in quantity to trade.

    Texas will be a force to reckon with, with their oil and refineries, if everything remains intact. And if Mexico does not invade. The Texas militias, without US Army high-tech, are inferior to the cartel armies, and you can bet they will be united enough to put paid to the Anglo traitors once word gets out that they are putting Mexicans in concentration camps if not outright enslaving them.

    Because you KNOW that’s going to happen.

    Same for Florida.

    Dixie falls into anarchy in a race war when the Anglos outright try to re-enslave all the blacks.

    The Atlantic Coast might survive, if they can figure out what to trade. Right now they’ve got nothing. A Navy-based MilGov might set up based in Norfolk. They’ve got plenty of people with skills there. Maybe hire out as naval mercs?

    New England would revert to colonial times. New York City would become a wasteland.

    California has plenty of resources to offer, but the Urban/Rural Civil War will destroy the entire infrastructure. After a decade or so I imagine China will move in and just take it over.

    Same for the PacNorthWest. Though the coastal cities and rural regions are more divided. If the coast is lucky, the Anglo-Survivalists of Idaho and such will be satisfied just consolidating what they hold; if not, they will waste their time trying to conquer the coast, and no one wins.

    Everything in between is Mad Max Wasteland, with maybe a few hard points of light here and there, in a few ruined cities.

  9. GrimJim

    h, and one proviso. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the coast of the Great Lakes could, in the long run, be a major center for cultural survival of sorts.

    Largest freshwater source in the world. Even better after the Collapse, once the massive immediate pollution influx clears. Lots of resources in the city ruins. Even with climate change, decent local climate (something very Florida-ish, I expect).

    The storms will be the issue. Sand and dust storms off the former Great Plains. Thundersnow out of the north. Mega-hurricanes spinning off massive thunderstorms from the south. The weather will be horrible, so everything has to go under thick glass (gardens on roofs under reinforced multi-panel glass) and/or “underground” (i.e., in built-up former city buildings).

    Something of a society might survive in that region for millennia. Again, barring too much fallout, of radioactive, chemical, and/or biological sort. If everything goes nuclear, and/or they don’t get the nuclear power plants shut down properly in time, that’s all moot…

  10. Scott Weinstein

    Dear Ian ,

    It’s really important that we who believe Covid is real and vaxxes are a good risk not overstate dangers of Covid illnesses. Our credibility is always being challenged.

    You made this eyeopening claim that 1/3 of Covid patients get mental health issues. That is not supported by the study you cited, nor the references associated with the study.

    Even anecdotally Ian, just look around at everyone you know that’s got Covid. I don’t think you could split the statistical noise of those catching Covid from those getting sick or injured without Covid – suffering some mental strain.

    Now, if you want to test mental health issues of those hospitalized with Covid – especially those hospitalized in an ICU, that is another claim. But again, ICUs can be a source of mental trauma regardless of the cause.

    If people were not already suffering from psychiatric issues, very few of them who caught Covid develop new ones.

    Best wishes as always,

  11. Ian Welsh


    I grant I am relying on the abstract, but this seems fairly unambiguous:

    “There has been a considerable increase in the number of individuals with such psychiatric conditions as depression, acute stress disorders, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). About one-third of patients with COVID-19 are reported to have developed short and long-term neuropsychiatric conditions such as delirium, agitation, altered consciousness, hypoxic encephalopathy encephalitis, dysexecutive syndrome, cerebrovascular complications (e.g., stroke), hypoxic encephalopathy, convulsions, neuromuscular dysfunction, demyelinating processes, or parkinsonism through several pathophysiological mechanisms. “

    Short term and long term means that for many people the issues don’t last, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    I am, as always, willing to retract/correct if I have misunderstood.

  12. Tallifer

    I read the Mearscheimer essay carefully, because he is obviously intelligent and perceptive, but fortunately all his points are countered by either even more perceptive analysts and scholars (such as Phillips O’Brien and Mick Ryan) or the facts on the ground and map themselves. His gloomy predictions do bear reading however, because nothing is fair or set in stone in love and war.

  13. Mark Level

    Hey Grim Jim, thank you for the detailed forecast of the DSA’s future feuding– a columnist in our free weekly here calls the inner empire The Divided States of America. I have only minor quibbles with your take, I do not think the rural areas can easily withhold resources from sale without cutting off their own nose to spite us Urbanist’s faces– see how Europe is now poor (UK economy sinking in deep depression, etc.) due to the counter-productive sanctions on Russia. And even after admitting that the sanctions were entirely counter-productive (I think even Janet Yellen has gone there, if the Bankers’ tool admits it, it’s clearly impossible to deny.)
    Anyway, lucky me, 2 years ago I retired early and moved here to within less than a half mile from Lake Superior in Duluth, Minn. (I prefer the Blue State side, no desire to live in Wisconsin!!) Yes, Lake Superior is between 10-16% of the world’s freshwater (I hear different claims from diff. sources) so I think we have more survivability than most places do. . . hey Tallifer, that’s some great “alternative” data you’re getting there!! Hopium is Copium, I guess. If this were 1968 I’m sure you’d be telling us that those little yellow folks in Vietnam clearly want American freedom and not the evil yoke of Communism. We’ll all entitled to our beliefs, but some of us, when proven wrong (I have been, many times) try to figure out why and do better in the future. Others need not bother, evidently. I’m sure it feels great to have “all the answers” though.

  14. different clue


    If your scenario plays out as predicted, then I may already be in a more survival-possible place than most . . . Southeast Michigan ( which is part of the Great Lakestan region).

    Of course, if we are analyzing ” America” as being itself an Settler Empire, then I wonder how Canada will fare during the coming Great Delamination, since Canada is also a Settler Empire. If Canada really is the kinder gentler Settler Empire which Canadians believe itself and themselves to be, then Canada’s future will be kinder and gentler. There may be less delamination. The Native Indigenous First Nations might spot an opportunity to regain significant percentages of their land, power and resources. Various divisions and fracture planes which Americans are not necessarily trained and educated to see or predict will open up.

    Here is an interesting example of that. Here in Ann Arbor we had a remainders and overstocks bookstore called Afterwords Books. I got a lot of nice books there. ( It might still have an online presence). The owner was from Newfoundland. I remember during one of Quebec’s ritual drives for Independence-or-something, that the Quebec Leadership demanded that Canada declare Quebec to be a ” distinct society”. The Newfoundlandish owner of Afterwords Books was extremely bitter about that. He said, as best as I can paraphrase, that there was and is precisely nothing distinct about Quebec. Quebec is just a French-language Ontario. Newfoundland was the real and actual Distinct Society, being strictly dependent on codfishing for 5 whole centuries. And being treated as a third world colony by Quebec and Canada both. Canada, after all, was happy to open Newfoundland’s codfishing grounds to all the industrial fish-mining fleets of the world who of course crashed Newfoundland’s codfish down to zero. And Newfoundland was run as a hydroelectric colony of Quebec.

    So I would expect that if Canada were to delaminate badly enough, that Newfoundland might make a break for independence if they think Canada was too weak to stop it. How a Free Republic of Newfoundland would interact with the Maritime Provinces is beyond my power to predict or even guess at.

    One thing that might encourage the Canadian Peoples to retain some measure of unity would be the effort to prevent the inflow of a hundred million foodless waterless Americans and another hundred million foodless waterless Mexicans, Caribbeans, Central Americans, etc. when Global Warming has turned most of Mexico, the Southern US and the Caribbean into a non-inhabitable ” Venus-lite” deathscape. Canada would need to maintain some unity to build and man the Big Beautiful Wall needed to keep out 200 million foodless waterless climate refugees.

  15. Scott Stiefel

    I’ll believe corporations are people when the state of Texas executes one

  16. capelin

    “”I grant I am relying on the abstract, but this seems fairly unambiguous:

    “There has been a considerable increase in the number of individuals with such psychiatric conditions as depression, acute stress disorders, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). About one-third of patients with COVID-19 are reported to have developed short and long-term neuropsychiatric conditions such as delirium, agitation, altered consciousness, hypoxic encephalopathy encephalitis, dysexecutive syndrome, cerebrovascular complications (e.g., stroke), hypoxic encephalopathy, convulsions, neuromuscular dysfunction, demyelinating processes, or parkinsonism through several pathophysiological mechanisms. “”

    And I’m relying only on this quote, but one modifier for “about one third” would be; what percentage of non-covid infected people (of similar demographics – ie generally sicker, older, to begin with) – exhibit these same symptoms? One minus the other.

    Add in the omni-present noise and stigma and drama of “having the Covid” amidst our bonkers handling of the whole thing, and yeah, there probably is a useful signal in there. But I wager it’s a far cry from Covid-the-bug directly causing a third of it’s victims mental illness.

    Ian, I kinda like your writing style on this post. Tell us what you really think : )

    Those energy-use numbers are telling. We are not serious. What’s the carbon footpring of the Ukraine war.

  17. StewartM

    Grim Jim,

    I don’t agree with the gold stuff. If it gets as bad as you say, we’ll go back to a barter economy, as gold is functionally as useless as paper money.

    But what you didn’t include in your scenario is the effect of possible foreign interventions. Who might try to take advantage of this? And what happens to the US nuclear arms stockpile?

  18. different clue

    If one got physical cellular-level damage to certain brain structures from covid infecting them, and the damage to those structures resulted in damaged functionality of whatever brain-mind functions are executed through those covidamaged structures, one could have cerebro-somatic damage manifesting as ” mental illness”.

  19. Carborundum

    It’s impossible to know in the absence of a cite, but they may well be referencing a fairly influential Lancet article from back in 2021 ( In paired sample reviews of health records they found that about a third of COVID-19 patients had some form of neurological / psychological outcome in the six months after a confirmed COVID diagnosis. The wrinkle that goes unmentioned in the article reported here, is that this was a *new* outcome for only a minority (about 13%) of patients.

    I’d be more sanguine about the dangers of “hot takes” commentary like this if I hadn’t seen how influential it is in the policy sphere. Those of us who actually read reports and the references cited are increasingly retiring, trying as best we can to amass sufficient financial resources that we can be insulated from the piss poor Twitter-fuelled decisions an army of millennial PoliSci grads sells to the political echelon. Good luck to those without that insulation.

  20. Ian Welsh

    Thank you Carborundum.

    I’ll note that the people who have run the world for the last 40 years did a piss poor job outside of a few areas (China, mostly, though they’ve fucked up badly over the last 15 years but not yet beyond recovery) and completely bungled Covid. Either they aren’t reading the reports or they aren’t understanding what they mean or they aren’t listening to those who do, or those who do don’t get the larger picture well.

    After the CDC and WHO’s performance in the pandemic, I’m a lot less trusting of the so-called experts. “Not airborne” and all that. But then even when I was young I noticed you could usually find credentialed “experts” on both sides of issues, sounding reasonable.

    Wouldn’t worry much about Twitter, Musk is doing his utmost to drive it into the ground and he’s getting results.

    Unless you have a lot of money it will only partially insulate you. Things are going to get a lot worse. If you’re hooked into public utilities and not seriously politically connected, you’ll be vulnerable.

    You’re one of the commenters I appreciate most, in part because you have an insider’s perspective (but only in part), but that perspective does have certain disadvantages.

    Never much liked Poli.Sci. Ironically, I find anthro and sociology, if you’re careful, to be the most useful social sciences, mostly because they get the least respect, so it’s possible to do real work in them sometimes. They seem to be getting defunded fastest, of course.

    The economics discipline, of course, is worthless unless you need a hired “expert” opinion and they proved it in the run-up to the financial crisis and in their general behaviour over the last 50 years.

  21. Curt Kastens

    I saw this you tube video by this guy named John Campbell a few days ago. I looked up his wikipedia entry because I thought to myself. This guy is trying to convince me that something is true based upon meta data and published scientific studies.
    When read his wikipedia entry it said that he has stated that he believes that the meta data has been cooked. I happen to agree with that assessment. But John Campbell can not have it both ways. He can not say that the data is cooked and then try to use that data to make a point.
    My view is that it is impossible to even have a scientific discussion of about the Corona Virus incident because it is possible that there is no realiable data on which to base a discussion. And it is not possible to trust what anyone is who claims to be studing the virus says about the virus because, unless one is directly involved in the research, we outsiders can no longer trust any self proclaimed expert or even a group of experts because there are to many financial and politcal motives to promote one view or another which provide a stong motive to lie. Massive lying has occured since this outbreak began. It can not be scientifically proven who is lying. Very early in the incident alternative views of the incident were supressed as being misinformation.
    That means that it is not possible to judge the performance of any government during the incident. Except one could wonder if a supposed shut down when everyone can still gather at the local grocery store is actually a shut down. Especially when it would not have been that difficult to create a system in which everyone picks up their grocieries drive through style.
    On the other hand there are plenty of other issues that we can use to condemn the powers that be.

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