Twigs and Branches

by John Q on January 22, 2023

A new Twigs and Branches post, open for comments on any topic. Please take long side discussions on other posts here. The usual rules on civil discussion apply.



nastywoman 01.22.23 at 10:54 pm

I think it’s high time that Crooked Timber should discuss if Germany should send the Leopards to the Ukraine –
or not!


Ray Vinmad 01.23.23 at 7:19 am

I am curious if people are still getting off Twitter. Other social media sites don’t seem to hold anyone’s attention for long.

Twitter is infuriating and gets worse and worse but it’s hard to replace. I find it’s not hard to avoid tweeting but I still check what others are saying.

It’s not even the time wasted as I can waste time even on google. It’s more the flotsam and jetsam it fills my mind with. (Google is also worse though. Why is this happening?)

It’s very like gambling that way where the one lucky strike keeps you slogging along against your better judgment. Or maybe even panning for gold. That one useful or interesting bit brings me back for more, then I have a cartful of trash and one small nugget. But the hope of finding the nugget nudges me to return even though I would do better giving up prospecting altogether.

A more robust blogosphere would serve roughly the same function of giving us the info that will make things a bit clearer–or it did during the Iraq War. Is it just hopeless or is there some chance of bringing that back/creating an alternative?


Graham 01.23.23 at 8:24 am

Germany has just changed her minister of defence. We know little about the new, but the previous was clearly completely ineffective. Without tanks, Ukraine will be at loggerheads for years, so yes. More pressure increases likelihood that the Russia domestic power balance will be changed, Russia has already seen how poor its army is.


Brett 01.23.23 at 4:06 pm


They should definitely send the tanks. Easier to repair nearby, and lower logistical and training burden than the Abrams.

It looks like Jamaica’s government is looking at nuclear power. If they could actually not have it blow up too much in cost (a big if), then it’s not the worst idea. Jamaica has limited land for utility-scale renewable infrastructure, and the Caribbean is mostly a bad place for offshore wind power. A highly dense power source that doesn’t leave them at the mercy of fuel import prices for electricity would be very helpful.

Singapore should do the same thing, although they should build it on an offshore platform with heavy security.


reason 01.23.23 at 4:23 pm

If you are going to be a minister in Germany you want to be foreign minister. The door to the Defence Ministry is marked EXIT.


nastywoman 01.23.23 at 7:06 pm

and how about bringing the tanks and twitter together
as there was just this… exchange of words on twitter =

I remind you that the Bundeswehr was officially established on the 200th birthday of Scharnhorst on 12 November 1955

and so there are still people in this world who believe that Germany never should have gotten an army again and never should have become a weapons producer

bullshit, I live in Europe long enough, and I have many friends in Europe and America, to know it is bullshit. A cheap, absurd excuse for rusian lackey sholz.

Come on?
He just wants you guys to go first!

John Frost:
double lame pathetic lies:
he knows that abrams is not a tank for Ukraine, as it uses a lot of jet-fuel and has complex sustainment and maintenance.
he just denied by a government spokesperson the OK for Poland, Finland, and Norway for sending their Leopards to Ukraine

‘he knows that abrams is not a tank for Ukraine’
Yes he does but that doesn’t change the point that he believes that it looks really really bad if the country who once deserved NEVER to have an Army again is the first one sending the tanks.

YGermany has had an army for 67 years. how are you not ashamed to use this absurd argument that someone allegedly bothered you in the past. For how many years have the German parasites heard from the US that you are to spend at least 2% on army. and how much do you spend? shame?

‘For how many years have the German parasites…
Stop – please – as it was the US who once suggested that Germany NEVER EVER should have an Army again and to call some people parasites who year for year trooping to America and spend their hard earned Euros in Disneyland is NOT NICE


MisterMr 01.23.23 at 7:35 pm

I recently watched the movie “the eight mountains” and it reminded me very much of Hesse’s “Narcissus and Goldmund”, not in the single scenes but in the general idea, so much that I wonder if the author copied the idea consciously.


KT2 01.24.23 at 2:56 am

Ray Vinmad says:
“Other social media sites don’t seem to hold anyone’s attention for long.”

“Twitter is infuriating and gets worse and worse but it’s hard to replace.”

Yes! I agree. Why is… “(Google is also worse though. Why is this happening?)”

Cory Doctorw has an idea why this is happening.

“Here is how platforms die: first, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die.

“I call this enshittification, and it is a seemingly inevitable consequence arising from the combination of the ease of changing how a platform allocates value, combined with the nature of a “two sided market,” where a platform sits between buyers and sellers, hold each hostage to the other, raking off an ever-larger share of the value that passes between them.”


Neville Morley 01.24.23 at 6:48 am

I get a powerful sense, not least from some of the CT elder statesmen, that I found blogging, both as reader and writer, long after its golden age; in fact I discovered it through social media, and like Ray Vinmad I persist with the bird site partly because this is how I’m used to discovering interesting things to read that I wouldn’t otherwise come across. Question to those with longer experience: how did you learn about other posts? Was it a smaller, more fragmented world in which you tended to read and be read by a limited number of blogs regularly and just occasionally made contact with a different circle? Or were there sites that served as curators/aggregators? In which case, how did they find the stuff they recommended?


TM 01.24.23 at 1:24 pm

KT2 8: Interesting link, thanks! Now I understand better why anybody pays for facebook ads etc. even though they are mostly ineffective.


engels 01.24.23 at 4:20 pm

I would say smaller and less fragmented: there seemed to be a very small number of bloggers who relentlessly hyped each other. It was incredibly un-diverse by today’s standards (both in demographic and political terms) and especially on the right there were a lot of very well-off people (Guido Fawkes and Harry’s Place immediately spring to mind) posing as anti-establishment Everymen. The main advantage over Twitter apart from the longer format was a strong commitment to free speech, which has long since disappeared anyway.


engels 01.24.23 at 5:09 pm

I’m not sure about enshittification, I think it’s more that all these things are essentially ponzi schemes. As time goes on and more people join, more and more network power accrues to the people who got in early, but the majority who didn’t grows bigger and more discontented.


marcel proust 01.24.23 at 5:20 pm

@Neville Morley: How did they find stuff? Some, like Brad Delong, read with comprehension quite promiscuously & linked to much (still does, but much less to blogs nowadays than to research, news, etc.). Other blogs had very good comment threads in which there were often links. When this site averaged a post or more per day, the comment threads were much more active, the set of commenters were much more diverse and they often linked to interesting pieces. Also blogrolls.


TM 01.25.23 at 11:05 am


engels 01.25.23 at 6:42 pm

A side point: when/why did people on here start addressing each other with fictitious Twitter handles?


MisterMr 01.26.23 at 10:00 pm

I’ve been told (bi israely aquaintances of my family) that Israel new government is going seriously right wing, with orthodox jewish (religious extremists) faction having a lot of power in the governing coalition, but I never heard of it on the news sites I follow.

Is anyone following it? Is “fascist” a word that can’t be applied to Jews?
(for clarity by “fascist” I mean right wing extremist, in particular on culture war issues).


TM 01.30.23 at 12:35 pm

Finally a little bit of reason at the NYT:

Population Decline Isn’t a Problem (and ‘More Babies’ Isn’t a Solution)

MisterMr: I don’t know what news sites you follow but “Israel’s new government is the most right-wing ever” and similar headlines have been all over the news. Sadly, the recent killings (including a 14 year old boy) and expulsions of Palestinians have gotten little attention and no pushback from anybody in the “West”.


LFC 01.30.23 at 5:39 pm

MisterMr @16

I’m not sure what news sites you follow, but this has gotten a fair amount of attention in U.S. mainstream media (I’m aware you’re in Italy, not the U.S.). Yes, the right-wing parties have a lot of power in the governing coalition. In addition to bad policies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they want to, e.g., weaken the independence of Israel’s judiciary, which is connected to the fact that a corruption case vs Netanyahu has been winding through the courts there for a long time. On whether the word “fascist” can be applied to Jews, of course it can, just as any political label can be applied to anyone whom it fits. That said, I see little point in debating whether these parties are fascist; they are on the extreme right end of Israeli politics. There have been domestic demonstrations vs them.


LFC 01.30.23 at 7:38 pm

It’s not true, istm, that the Israeli raid in Jenin got little attention. And ditto for the attack on a synagogue in E. Jerusalem by a Palestinian. Both have been covered. Anyway details of what’s been going on are readily available. There are sites no doubt that specialize in the Mideast or one can go to standard sources (in the Anglophone context) like BBC, NYT, WaPo, PBS NewsHour etc. (This directed at MisterMr.)


TM 01.31.23 at 8:50 am

re 17: the moment of demographic reason at the NYT didn’t last long:
The “population bomb” (Ehrlich 1968) was a horrible and very damaging metaphor but have they learned? “Italy’s exploding population of old people”, oh my.

“If Italy does not get serious about encouraging young families and working women to have children, “it will remain and forever be a country that gets older,” said Alessandro Rosina, a leading Italian demographer”
Bullshit! Nothing lasts “forever”, the big cohorts that are now entering retirement age won’t live forever. “The combination of low employment for women, the fleeing of young professionals and families, little immigration, low birthrates and radically (sic!) increased life expectancy amounted to a demographic disaster, he said.” Hyperbole. We’ll see how far the neofascists are willing to go with pro-natalist policies. My bet remains that women won’t be impressed with government appeals to fulfill their duty as birth machines.

LFC 19: “Both have been covered. Anyway details of what’s been going on are readily available.”. Of course you can find sources online. But there wasn’t much coverage in the mainstream media. The ongoing demolition of Palestinian homes in occupied territory wasn’t mentioned in the NYT at all afaict.


John Q 01.31.23 at 7:20 pm

TH: I’ve been dumping on this stuff forever, but to no effect


TM 02.02.23 at 12:02 pm

Is “fascist” a word that can’t be applied to Jews?

Apparently yes:
“Israel’s Far-right Finance Minister Says He’s ‘A Fascist Homophobe’ but ‘Won’t Stone Gays'”

Very little coverage of this outrage.


engels 02.02.23 at 2:31 pm

the big cohorts that are now entering retirement age won’t live forever

They don’t need to live forever to make life very uncomfortable for younger people with different interests who find themselves outvoted and outbid on everything.


Tm 02.03.23 at 8:57 pm

Another interesting data point concerning ChatGPT:

Engels 23: I raised that point myself, on the other thread. It sucks big time. But what do you suggest: producing more babies now so that 18 years from now there will be more young voters? Great idea. Sure that’ll solve our problems.


engels 02.04.23 at 12:43 pm

Replace the House of Lords with a House of Zoomers.


engels 02.05.23 at 12:11 am

producing more babies now so that 18 years from now there will be more young voters? Great idea. Sure that’ll solve our problems

Yes let’s not do anything that doesn’t have an immediate benefit. Reforestation—pah!

Comments on this entry are closed.