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

Quick Takes: Hamas, China Semis and More

It seems that the US has figured out that when you’re genociding someone, that helps the organization resisting genocide recruit:

Biden officials have also become increasingly concerned that Hamas has been able to recruit during wartime — thousands over the last several months. That has allowed the group to withstand months of Israeli offensives, according to a person familiar with U.S. intelligence.

Imagine that. People wanting to fight back against those who killed their women and children. Who would have thought such a thing would happen? It’s so contrary to human psychology.

I’ve been saying for years that the China would catch up on Semis. Here’s Philip Wong, Professor of electrical engineering at Stanford and TSMC’s Chief scientist:

“Years ago we had technical conferences and we see papers from China. Ah forget it! Just… Quality is so bad it’s not even competitive. That was probably in the 80s and the 90s.

Now they’re better than us. They’re better than us! If you look at papers, publications, data from key conferences in the chips business. […] You basically flipped. Years ago the US had the majority of the papers. I remember there were roughly about 40 to 50% of the papers from the US. And China, maybe 20-30 years ago, they were nowhere to be found.

Today, China and Asia, the papers, are more than 40%, almost close to 50%. And the US has steadily declined from 40-50% to 30 to 40%. And the rest of the world, principally Europe and Japan has basically fallen off a cliff.

So the research and development, the research capability in Asian countries, China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and so on have really become the strongest region. In terms of producing good quality research. I’m not just talking about quantity, it’s quality.

The only thing that I see… What the US is still little bit ahead is in coming up with the new ideas. What the Chinese always say: going from zero to 1. Namely starting from nowhere, nothing, and come up with this really new idea. And if I look at what I would call new idea that has not been discussed before, the US still is the principal place where these new ideas come from.

But once these new ideas become known, then… I feel it in my everyday research with my students. Any new ideas that we come up, once they become known… that this is a good idea. The next week it will show up in China. It will show up in China, only that they do it better than you. I can’t, cannot compete anymore. They have better resources, they have more students. They have more, more funding from the government. I cannot compete anymore. I have to get out of that field!”

Why anyone thought it would be otherwise is beyond me. China has more population, more engineers, more scientists and there’s no reason to believe they’re racially inferior. As for culture, China had the tech lead for about 80% of the last 2,000 years, so perhaps their culture doesn’t suck at such things.

Been a while since I wrote about climate. The news is all dog bites man–it’s getting worse.

By the way, if you want to see the coral reefs, don’t wait. This year or next. They’re dying fast and you’ll want to see them while there’s still much worth seeing.

Meanwhile it’s humorous to think of all the idiots whining about Russian influence, when the entire government of the US has clearly been captured by Israel. The political reaction to the ICC decision to indict Netanyahu is instructive:

Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

The best summary I’ve read of why Red Lobster (and a thousand other companies), went bankrupt.

All we did was force Red Lobster to sell its land to our other companies who rented it back at a mark up, force it to purchase marked-up supplies from our other companies, and then have it borrow a ton to pay c-suite bonuses, and boom, it went bankrupt just like that

So, yeah, it wasn’t the all you can eat offers. There’s no recovery for the US economy until PE is made illegal, along with all its practices.

If you wonder why I’m so down on England, take a gander at this. (And the France/Belgium numbers surprised me, at least.)

And, next, electrification progress by country:

So, basically almost ALL of the electrification increases come from China. India, of course, is still a third world country and that accounts for their numbers, but China’s numbers are part of a policy. When you combine that with the fact that China is installing most of the wind, water and solar energy in the world you should understand that China is the only country taking climate change seriously, though they’ve got a long ways to go and are using way too much coal.

This last chart is from 2022, not 2023, but if your eye is keen you’ll notice that China’s line has gone exponential.

Now, of course, per capita the US has more than China, but what matters is the acceleration: China has it and the US doesn’t. Give it another five years and they’ll be the per capita leader, and in ten they’ll be leave everyone else in the dust. Since this is government policy and since Chinese government policy tends to be effective and long term, this is close to a sure thing.

Quick takes are where I shake out everything I read which I thought was important but which didn’t quite rate an article.

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UN Can’t Feed Rafah Anymore


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – May 26 2024


  1. Jan Wiklund

    It seems that Europeans, along with Africans, West Asians, Africans, Latin Americans, etc etc, must take the difficult step from zero to one.

  2. someofparts

    Years ago by now I read Naomi Klein’s book Shock Doctrine. Since then I’ve also found a stunning little book by a former US WWII general, Omar Bradley, called War is a Racket. The point that is made clear in both books is that the wealthy and powerful, at least within the confines of US hegemony, prefer war. Meanwhile, the majority of ordinary citizens within the US sphere of influence, but globally as well, decidedly reject war.

    This stark difference in interests is explained by what Klein and Bradley demonstrate clearly in their respective books. While the majority of people suffer horribly from war, those wealthy enough to be insulated from it can expect to profit exponentially. The profits, and consolidation of control, that the wealthy enjoy during times of peace expands dramatically during active wars.

    In Ukraine, when the US replaced the legitimate government with the current puppet regime, they got rid of an old law that forbade foreign investors from buying their land. Now US agribusiness monopolies own all of that world class agricultural territory. Not only that, but US aid to Ukraine is coming primarily in the form of loans, which a decimated Ukraine will never be able to repay. So we can add future insurmountable debt peonage to the harms the US plans to inflict on Ukraine in perpetuity.

    In Gaza of course we have been treated to the revolting spectacle of Israelis and people like Trump’s son-in-law openly salivating over the fabulous beachfront condos they will build on the mass graves of Palestinian children. For bonus points of course there are also the substantial reserves of natural gas in what are currently, but not for long, Palestinian territorial waters.

    Closer to home for US citizens, there is a beautiful island off the coast of South Carolina which is a favorite spot for those who want million-dollar beachfront mansions, among them Stephen Colbert for instance. However the problem is that Sullivan Island was the Ellis Island for slaves, back in the day. That island was the first place that most kidnapped Africans, destined for the torments of chattel slavery, first set foot on US soil. Much as the Trump family look forward to enjoying condos built on the mass graves of Palestinians, the Americans already enjoy mansions built on a site that should really be preserved “undeveloped” as a memorial to the suffering of the slaves who first embarked there.

    In the two most recent long-form podcasts currently up at the Duran, participants discuss in careful detail the obvious US push for unending war with Russia, despite opposition to this from the majority of EU citizens. It is also clear from the discussions I have followed about the death of Raisi, that the Iranians (and the Russians as well) understand that this was probably an assassination by Mossad. However, Iran will not publicly acknowledge it as such, because to do so would oblige Iran to launch a hot war against Israel. The subtext that jumps out at me from this is that Israel is knowingly trying to provoke just such a response from Iran.

    I guess when I listen to long, careful, discussions about the desperate bellicosity of the US and its satrapies, I wish that instead of being perplexed by this behavior, people would at least take the insights of Klein and Bradley as a starting point. Begin your thinking about these dilemmas with the idea that the securely ensconced wealthy want war, in stark contrast to the wishes of the majority of global citizens. Begin the conversation there, and then proceed to talk about what on earth we can do about it. In my fantasy world, radical democratization of media globally would be a good place to start, but how that could be done, if it were even possible, is way beyond what this tiny little brain of mind can even imagine.

  3. Jan Wiklund

    And I don’t think that Israel dominates the US government. It’s simply that the US government thinks the Israelis guard the imperialist interests best at the moment. US/Canada, EU and Japan want to keep the others out, and the Israelis are doing it for them.

    They are probably wrong, at least let’s hope.

  4. Jefferson Hamilton

    US is still the leader in people sleeping on the street, woooo!!!!

  5. bruce wilder

    “Moral equivalency” as meme or slogan

    Years ago when I watched weekend news commentary on teevee, I would marvel at how quickly and with such discipline, the Republican Wurlitzer could roll out a set of talking points to dozens of talking heads in response to some event or new development that only happened on Friday.

    Admittedly, even normal, discoordinated human communication is full of cliches, stock phrases. and uninformed, fixed attitudes and prejudices, the mobilization for the manipulation is nevertheless impressive. Should I suppose that any of these eager mouthpieces ever have an actual thought? Or do they just read their assigned script?

    And, more important, do they ever engage in conversation? Modify their expressed views in response to response?

    Presumably, influence influences. But, is there any thinking along the lines of considering, “is this true? Is this right?”

    For myself, I would say, no, no moral equivalence. Israel’s conduct and intent is much more reprehensible in several obvious ways. Readers or listeners who are thinking might be expected to test the contradiction and go another way from where they are being directed. But how many do that? Not many who posted these declarations themselves could have tested the contradiction in their own minds before repeating the slogan.

    Is any space left for an argument? Or are these declarations pictured, a wall, a promise of further bullying?

  6. Mel

    _War Is a Racket_ is by Smedley Butler, I think. Bradley was quite reticent. He co-wrote an autobiography — _A Soldier’s Life_, but that was about it.

    Interesting (IIRC) that Bradley and Marshall refused to vote. Seemingly didn’t want to form a habit of objecting to policies that they might later have the duty to enforce.

  7. talley

    Maj. General Medley D Butler: War is a Racket

  8. DMC

    The best analogy I’ve been able to come up with is a cat being persuaded not to chase mice by the mice offering an unending supply of caviar and pate’ to not chase them, to explain the nature of the relationship between the US Government and Israel. The US holds all the real power in the relationship but the individuals comprising the Legislative and(to a large degree) Executive Branches are all on the payroll and all they have to do is support Israel, no matter what. And woe be to the candidate of either party who is insufficiently servile with regard to the Zionist entity.

  9. GlassHammer

    “China had the tech lead for about 80% of the last 2,000 years,”

    ^This is such a weird thing for its rivals to ignore.

    Even stranger is the many layers of Chinese culture that the West ignores even though it keeps them re-focusing on tech century after century. I mean their concept of Mastery just makes our Protestant Work Ethic look laughable.

    And we lost our concept of Protestant Work Ethic in one generation (maybe a generation and a half if we are being generous.) with the bulk of our software power disappearing in the generation that followed.

  10. Willy

    Gazan recruitment: Whenever you have a malignant narcissist criminal in power, the typical result will be a short-term focus revolving around their own personal immediate needs. One can reason backwards from this too, if they desire. After Netanyahoo is gone your average Joe, Joeseph and Hassan won’t likely be understanding this much, and so more cycles of destructive folly lie ahead, easily taken advantage of by even more malignant narcissist criminals.

    Semis: I’ve seen videos about how they make them, and good god ya’ll. All the stuff involved is at the leading edge of robotics, automation, clean room manufacture… at every possible micro to macro scale imaginable, and far too ridiculously involved and expensive for your average all-American Steve-n-Steve tech duo to try and get going from inside of a garage. These aren’t things a hegemonic nation wants to lose control of.

    China taking renewables seriously: I always found it interesting how China is able to squeeze every ounce of human value out of their farmland. They’ve got significantly less arable land than the USA, yet dominate production in what you’d think are classic western edibles like apples, wheat, squash and potatoes. And we don’t even need to get started on the production of eastern stereotypicals like rice, mandarins, peanuts and tea. Enough to make one wanna bring an air horn to a Shen Yun show. Sure, they got all that population need, but somebody in authority’s gotta be organizing all this, and it works. I forsee the USA responding by either going full Biden (making wee incremental progresses), or to lose all remaining world cred under MAGA.

  11. Purple Library Guy

    When the title said “China Semis” I thought they were moving into the trucking market. 😀

  12. mago

    Biden threatens to bomb Den Hauge if ICJ indicts Israel.
    Supporters hold up signs saying God is on Our Side.
    When I was younger I thought it couldn’t get much madder.
    And now that day’s arrived.
    Born under a bad sign and consigned to live in interesting times until death do us part.

  13. Jorge

    @Mel- not voting on “Big Issues” used to be standard practice for military officers. Local stuff, governors, etc. was fine, but they tried to stay away from federal-level politics.

  14. StewartM


    Biden threatens to bomb Den Hauge if ICJ indicts Israel.

    Source? Or are you being facetious?

    When I googled this, I got this:

    President Joe Biden said for the first time Wednesday he would halt some shipments of American weapons to Israel – which he acknowledged have been used to kill civilians in Gaza – if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu orders a major invasion of the city of Rafah.

    Yeah, I’m frustrated with Biden’s policy too. But I think everyone should keep in mind that Bibi is a cornered sociopath, and there’s this threat (Wikipedia):

    The State of Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons. Estimates of Israel’s stockpile range between 90 and 400 nuclear warheads,[2][5][6][7][8][9][19] and the country is believed to possess the ability to deliver them in several methods, including by aircraft, as submarine-launched cruise missiles, and via the Jericho series of intermediate to intercontinental range ballistic missiles.[20][21] Its first deliverable nuclear weapon is thought to have been completed in late 1966 or early 1967; which would make it the sixth country in the world to have developed them.[2][22][23]

    Israel maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity, never officially denying nor admitting to having nuclear weapons, instead repeating over the years that “Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East”.[24][25][26] However, in November 2023, amid the Israel-Hamas war, the Israeli minister of Heritage, who was a member of the war cabinet,[27] publicly stated that dropping a nuclear bomb over Gaza was an option.[28][29]

  15. StewartM

    Biden officials have also become increasingly concerned that Hamas has been able to recruit during wartime — thousands over the last several months. That has allowed the group to withstand months of Israeli offensives, according to a person familiar with U.S. intelligence.

    Yeppers, when TikHistory (on Youtube; excellent on military history; bad (Austrian Economics) on everything else, particularly economics) once had a episode on “why did Germany resist so long in WWII?” Bad Tik offered up the lame excuse of ideology, when the obvious reason was–Allied bomber, particularly British night bombing that deliberately targeted the civilian population, stiffened rather than weakened the German will to resist. After all, it has done it everywhere else (Vietnam, for instance).

    There’s no recovery for the US economy until PE is made illegal, along with all its practices.

    Or more so, no recovery until the investor class is stripped of having any direct sayso in how US firms are run. Both workers (co-ops) and customer-run companies (mutual companies) are likely to be run better.

    Meanwhile it’s humorous to think of all the idiots whining about Russian influence, when the entire government of the US has clearly been captured by Israel. The political reaction to the ICC decision to indict Netanyahu is instructive

    During all the talk of Russian election interference of 2016, ever notice how Trump’s reachout to Israel to intervene was not-discussed in the media at all? Bibi too has many reasons to replace Biden with Trump.

  16. someofparts

    Smedley Butler – my bad. Thanks for correction.

  17. capelin

    The ocean-heat graph is interesting, it would seem to reflect the effect of the big underwater volcano near Fuji a couple years ago that injected tons of seawater into the upper atmosphere. Water being a more potent greenhouse gas than c02 or methane.

    Heard it on that CBC science show, buddy was saying it was the driver of the last couple years of burning.

    I wonder if those Canada street-sleeping numbers are summer or winter…

    Isn’t Klein on the wrong side of Palestine? Among other things.

  18. someofparts

    Talking with Laith Marouf at Garland Nixon’s podcast, Marouf speculates that the assassination of Raisi was an attempt by Israel to provoke Iran into a hot war. If he is right, I get the impression that Iran, with lots of support from Russia, is following the tradition of being the force for restraint in dealing with provocations from the crazies.

    Trump spews lots of hot air about draining the swamp, but it looks like the Asians are actually doing it. I hope and pray they can weaken the bloody-minded west to the point of internal collapse and please, please, please keep our crazies from using nukes. I keep hoping they can rid our house of vermin without burning it down, but I am certain the vermin would rather see the whole place go up in flames rather than concede an inch.

  19. Mark Level

    I don’t know if Raisi died in an accident, or if it was an actual assassination. I think far more substantive is what happened recently to Slovak leader Robert Fico. This is proven by the fact that the Georgian leader was called by one of Ursula van der Leyen’s (van der Lyin’?) minions, & warned that the new law there to make foreign NGOs reveal their funding might result in something like what happened to Fico happen to him!! The threatened party put this on Facebook, then the threatening minion said his comments were “taken out of context.”

    This was covered with some other items by Alex Christoforou here– Also, even the MSM admits Fico’s shooting was motivated by him not funding the failed Ukranian neo-Nazis war.

    Also, Blinken has threatened Slovakia with severe sanctions if they try to find out who is funding the 25,000 NGOs (forgot where I heard this some time back) actively stirring up another attempted color revolution there. And Christoforou also covers the German Genociders’ putting up a vote for an official international Srebenica Memorial day to demonize the Serbs & stir up more tension in the Balkans generally. (After all, that worked out so well in WW’s I & II didn’t it?) Most countries in the UN abstained, simply wanting to stay out of such virtue signaling (the West is always great & never supports genocide, amrite?) but the measure passed. There is no gutter that the Germans won’t burrow down into to promote international war.

    In other words, the failing west is desperate, it’s like a threatened scorpion in a corner stinging out at everything nearby, possibly including itself.

    Oh, and something else from the Grayzone yesterday also involving the corpse-eating, dead-eyed ghoul Blinken. When he just visited “Keev”, their foreign minister took him for a meal to the famous cafe that is Azov & Neo-Nazi themed, a photo of them at a booth in front of the Wolfsangel symbol & separately a shot of the wall showed a black swastika with other regalia, & one wall commemorates the burning death of 50 protesters by Rightist thugs during Maidan inside the Trade Union building. So Blinken, who went to (not) negotiate Israel-Palestine Peace “as a Jew” parties in a Nazi themed restaurant. Amazing. And as Max Blumenthal noted, Blinken’s stepfather Samuel Pisar was freed from a Camp by the Red Army, something Blinken will never admit.

    Meantime (end of the Christoforou update), BoJo hosts the Azov Battalion in the British Parliament, & they are also touring the Greek parliament.

    “Are we the baddies?” I think everyone, even the protagonists of 2 ethno-nationalist genocide efforts knows the answer at this point. How long will the RoW (rest of world) sit things out? I guess we’ll have to stay tuned.

  20. Mark Level

    Sorry, TMI & one typo. Blinken threatened Georgia, not Slovakia, over the proposed law to reveal who’s funding their myriad NGOs.

  21. DMC

    A good discussion on whether or not Zionism trumps Neo-Liberalism is The Prime Motivation behind American policy, foreign and domestic. I’d see the Zionists as merely the largest and/or most vociferous of the various factions of the larger oligarchic whole(i.e. “Wall Street”).

  22. Curt Kastens

    Niether Shoup nor Mearsheimer go deep enough down the rabbitz hole.
    They only go as far as one is authorized to go.

  23. Chipper

    It’s the ICC that in The Hague, not the ICJ

  24. bruce wilder

    Both the ICJ and the ICC are headquartered in The Hague. The former is an organ of the United Nations and handles disputes between states. The latter, governed by treaty, investigates and tries individuals with regard to crimes of international concern and consequence.

  25. mago

    Yes Chipper. Quite so. Possibly the least of things I’m getting wrong these days. (I actually meant to say ICC but got alphabetically challenged.). Thanks.

  26. different clue

    Capelin raises an interesting question about the role of water vapor in global warming.
    Water vapor is supposed to be a greenhouse gas, but it is also a heat releaser gas in that when it recondenses into water droplets ( which may then coalesce to form precipitation or not), it releases all the heat of vaporization it absorbed in the process of going from liquid to vapor to begin with. This heat then has to go somewhere. Some of it would be re-radiated into space as infra-red radiation. Some of it would be retained by various greenhouse gases.

    So what per cent of the otherwise outgoing IR radiation which is stopped from reradiating out into space by the greenhouse gases is prevented from reradiating out by water vapor specifically? As against what percent of the prevented reradiation is prevented by all the other greenhouse gases other than water vapor?

    I hope somebody has an answer to this because I want to know whether water vapor is a significant IR re-radiation obstructing gas on par with the other greenhouse gases, or whether that is a recently floated talking point coming from the Murdoch Media?

  27. capelin


    The scientist said that H20 vapor was “10x the greenhouse gas as either C02 or methane” (perhaps because it’s denser).

    I think you might be confusing “water vapor” with “steam”. There is a thermal state shift at liquid-to-steam, as there is at liquid-to-ice (and reverse). That’s different than bits of water being absorbed into the air by osmosis. Or volcano.

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