Matt Stoller relates the evil logic of monopolies to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Long story short: Russia controls so much of the fossil fuel market (gas, oil, even coal) that they can raise prices whenever they want, such that their invasion actually funds itself! Clever, unless you insist, as I do, that cleverness also be useful, and not just to some dictator or other. Do you suppose Facebook will let me say that Russia causes inflation by hiking fuel prices at will? Or is that an even more loaded question than I thought?
The second item in Bess Levin's February 28 news rundown -- to which you should all subscribe if you don't already -- describes Donald Trump taking credit for the fact that Putin's little Ukraine adventure isn't going as well as he'd hoped, because he "insisted" that NATO nations "pay() their dues," although, as Ms. Levin notes, Donald Trump not only didn't do anything worth taking credit for (because he invented the whole dues-paying story to begin with), but did an awful lot of harm to Ukraine, not least in trying to extort its President. You remember, the first thing for which our House impeached him?
Australian scientists, thinking they've developed tracking devices for magpies that are relatively unobtrusive, are surprised to discover the magpies helping each other get the tracking devices off. Thus the magpies not only demonstrate intelligence and problem-solving skills, but altruism, which they previously hadn't demonstrated to researchers, at least not in a way they'd noticed; one wonders what it was about the tracking device that provoked that response. I guess you never do know what'll bring folks together. Right, Vladimir Putin?
U. Aberdeen/U. Cal. Berkeley scientists theorize that our brains smooth out all of the visual noise our eyes receive by, essentially, "perceiv(ing) in a given moment an average of what we saw in the past 15 seconds" as the "illusion" of a "single visual snapshot." Thus whatever we're seeing at a given moment could be up to 15 seconds old. These researchers looked to understand "serial dependence," which describes a phenomenon in which you would "see" an object or person more or less as you've been seeing it for some time, so you don't have to process new information. In any case, I wonder if that's why I occasionally "sense" that a kicker's about to miss a field goal.
If Mitch McConnell is really worried that Rick Scott's "Rescue America" plan "could expose the party to unnecessary attacks this fall," well, I'd have to say that horse has left the barn. And Sen. Scott's walkback is weak: he can't be so cut off from ordinary Americans that he really thinks any of us care about the fine line between Senator-just-saying and Senator-running-party's-campaign-arm, can he? Then again, this is Rick Scott, America's CEO, we're talking about -- last time he talked to regular folk he was probably chewing them out for something that wasn't their fault. Anyway, he's beyond "when you're explaining, you're losing" and well into "when you're in a hole, stop digging." (Of course, Democrats still have to run campaign ads using the information Mr. Scott has so helpfully provided, but that would be like winning, which Democrats generally only do passively. I'd be happy to be wrong!)
Finally, when I hear that the far-right trucking caravan that started in California won't make it to D.C. because it's just not big enough anymore, I must say I'm disappointed. Come on, fellows! Let your freak flag fly! Come and get your humiliation; you've earned it! This couldn't possibly be because our Supreme Court struck down President Biden's vaccine mandate and because our CDC recently recommended that folks in low- or medium-risk areas can go maskless indoors, could it? (Remember: I've said I didn't disagree with the tactics, only with the message, the entirety of which, as far as I can tell, is waaaaaaaaaah.)