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Links 9/4/10

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I’ve got my hands full aping Mum: Orangutan cradles lion cubs in unlikely babysitter role Daily Mail (hat tip reader dearieme)

Strong earthquake rocks New Zealand’s South Island BBC

Viking Experiment May Have Found Life’s Building Blocks on Mars After All Universe Today

Ancient Brew Masters Tapped Antibiotic Secret Science Daily (hat tip reader John M)

Sweat and breath damaging Sistine Chapel’s frescoes Telegraph

BACTERIA MAKE GOLD NUGGETS Discovery (hat tip reader John M)

Horns, claws and the bottom line Economist

Wild chimps outwit human hunters BBC (hat tip reader John D)

Author Simon Singh Puts Up a Fight in the War on Science Wired (hat tip reader John M)

Psychics and Fortune Tellers Being Regulated to Reduce Fraud Time. Lambert Strether asks why aren’t financial fortune tellers regulated too?

Collapse of Kabul Bank Points to Fatal Corruption of Karzai Government Juan Cole (hat tip reader Warren C)

The Purge at Cato David Frum (hat tip reader Sundog)

Megabanks Will Shrink, Bernanke Tells Financial Crisis Commission, Yet Doubts Over Too Big To Fail Remain Shahien Nasiripour, Huffington Post. Yes, Citi is skinnying down, and some others might too but if you believe enough banks will shrink enough (or equally important, that we’ll see less concentration among the top dealer firms), I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

Pending Home Sales Reconfirm the Market is Crashing Michael White, Implode-o-Meter

Is the Economy as Broke as Lehman Was? Michael Hudson

Antidote du jour:
Picture 10

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22 comments

  1. charcad

    r.e. The Purge at Cato David Frum (hat tip reader Sundog)

    The Yiddish word for such an article by such a person is “chutzpah”. Among other achievements Frum once published an article in National Review magazine during Double Agent Buckley’s dotage. This article was basically a proscription list of all who didn’t toe the neo-con line on Iraq and other matters.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Frum

    Says there that Frum was inspired by Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. Frum probably considered it a practical DIY manual to Stalinism.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      It’s definitely chutzpah for a person who engaged in patricide to complain of being an orphan.

      It’s not necessarily chutzpah for a person who engaged in patricide to complain that someone just spit on his shoe.

      Get it straight.

    2. Russ Dryden

      “Frum was inspired by Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago.”
      -Only Frum and his ilk find find the murder of 60 million Christians by Jewish Bolsheviks “inspiring”.

  2. Bates

    Off Topic: “Economist Christina Romer serves up dismal news at her farewell luncheon” Wapo

    After ~ 1 1/2 years Mz Romer and collegues are clueless. Their prescriptions have failed to revive the patient and now she is headed to Berkely to teach economics…the same ecomonics that she and cohorts applied to the US Economy that are failing so miserably. So…we will have a new crop of egg heads that will apply Mz Romer’s economic tactics in some future financial crisis…assuming we ever get out of this one.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/01/AR2010090106148.html?hpid=news-col-blog

  3. attempter

    Hudson nails it again.

    Fuld of course is 100% right. All the big banks are just as insolvent as Lehman, and all their extractions are based just as much on nothing but fraud, emblezzlement, and every other form of financial looting.

    Wherever we see anyone losing his job, wherever we see any spending cut for any public amenity, wherever we see services curtailed, libraries and parks closed, public property alienated for pennies on the dollar (which pennies are then stolen as well), wherever we see any advocacy at all for these cuts, for “austerity”, for gutting Social Security, for how America can’t afford a real health care system, for how America can;t creat jobs and can’t afford to employ, to feed or house or clothe or provide medical care to its citizens, to the very people who create ALL of the wealth of this country, whenever we see or hear any of that, and more, we should always think of one thing only:

    That this government chose to steal what was left of our wealth and use it to Bail Out these hideous criminals, these absolute parasites and thugs and terrorists who have never created one cent of value but have only trashed, vandalized, destroyed, poisoned, and stole, for every moment of their wretched, accursed lives.

    1. liberal

      “Hudson nails it again.”

      Not surprising, given that he understands economics. Most economists don’t, since they don’t appreciate the role land rent plays in the economy.

    2. Glen

      Excellent comment!

      Here’s a comment I left at Prof. Thomas blog regarding a discussion on potential tax credits to spur the economy:

      “The Continued Dubious Use of Carrots in an Age with No Sticks:

      Why is there such “soul searching” for tax cuts or tax credits or whatever mechanism which would reward job creation? These are pitiful attempts at best, and serious diversions at worst.

      What happened to moral hazard? It now seems to be an obsolete term. Could this be related to the fact that no serious investigation of the vast fraud and corruption? Has any economist modelled what happens to cost of “rewarding” any type of behaviour on Wall St and at TBTF banks when there is absolutely no downside to cheating, lying, corruption, and fraud?

      The single biggest failure during the 2008 Financial implosion was to bail out bankrupt companies. Failure is an absolutely necessary component to “self correcting” markets and more importantly, self correcting behaviour. Failure brings the transparency created by the wealth of information uncovered in criminal and civil trials. Failure realigns economic and societal rewards and punishment.

      This is not a new idea:

      http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/15/return-of-the-bezzle/

      If fact, what has been most noteworthy in the recent crash is the almost complete lack of punishment for what is a huge bezzle.

      The problem with trying to use normal incentives during the current depression, is that once we reward crime so massively, it becomes almost economically impossible to get anything but more crime.”

  4. eric anderson

    re Simon Singh/War on Science

    Of course there are those who fight scientific “consensus” merely to support personal prejudices, whims, or what they view as “common sense.” But Semmelweis, who was more scientific than any of his detractors, should be a lesson because entrenched biases are as prevalent in the scientific community today as ever. Max Plank said, “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

    Singh bemoans mindless opposition to vaccines, yet The Atlantic Monthly published a critical and nuanced piece last year — “Does the Vaccine Matter?” — which undermines the advice the “experts” have been dispensing on the swine flu vaccine. On the other hand, I’ve read of population studies suggesting that certain childhood vaccines confer some cancer immunity. There are pros and cons, but the cons are probably underreported and perhaps even denied by the “authorities.” Singh says it is a question of “Who do you trust?” Indeed. The Atlantic is not all-knowing and all-seeing, but I find them more credible than the heads of NIH and similar gov’t spokesmen who, IMO, have too-close ties with the pharmaceutical industry. Read the article — some groups are likely to benefit, some are not. In which group are you? Maybe you’d like to know. The “consensus” may not tell you.

    WRT my pet peeve, climate science, it seems the models keep falling short in tests of basic predictions. (Ahem. Where IS that equatorial mid-troposphere warming? Hmmm?) Yet we keep getting “consensus” warnings of dire consequences based on those models. In addition, many of the authors of climate science papers seem to have failed courses in statistics. Again, who do you trust? I am Fox Mulder. Trust No One.

    We surely need a more scientifically educated and mathematically literate population. If better science education is truly an education in sound methods of science, and not indoctrination into the latest fads embraced by the majority of scientists, it could lead to even greater and more incisive questioning of current scientific dogmas. I wonder if Singh would then continue to defend the status quo.

    1. bob

      “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

      Amen. How old are you?

    2. liberal

      The Atlantic is not all-knowing and all-seeing, but I find them more credible than the heads of NIH and similar gov’t spokesmen…

      That’s a strange stance to assume, given that the Atlantic publishes Jeffrey Goldberg.

    3. bob goodwin

      Very nice comment, Eric.

      I would only add that Science has always done poorly when it became the weapon of choice for a political class. Those bad habits come and go with each generation, and seem to only pass when the adherents die off.

      1. Anonymous Jones

        It would truly be a nice comment to the extent that it actually described the reality of what goes on in eric’s head. Read his other comments, however, and if you truly believe that he is not in fact fighting “scientific ‘consensus’ merely to support personal prejudices, whims, or what he views as ‘common sense,’” then you’re as delusional as anyone else.

        I’m a skeptic. I truly, “Trust No One.” eric is an imposter, trying to convince himself (and occasionally others) that he has real credibility, that he has really investigated all the facts and that the world just happens to coincidentally be exactly how he always wanted it to be (and how he was told it should be when he was younger).

        He’s a man of faith. These monologues he engages in weekly at this site are nothing more than groundwork, trying to fool himself that he actually *has* been impartial. But he has not. He knows less than he thinks he knows, no matter how many times he claims to want more “incisive questioning.” He only wants more “incisive questioning” on the things he hopes are not true, not the things he hopes are true.

        [Full disclosure: I'm a skeptic on climate change as well. I'm just not as delusional about my own hypocrisy and impartiality as eric is. The other difference is that I don't care as much about climate change because it does not affect my faith one way or another. I understand the world is outside my control, and I don't need to devote my life to disproving something that in no way threatens my worldview.]

  5. John

    Regarding science and medical science in particular, the reason people don’t trust doctors and medical researchers is because they are only interested in money.

    For example, many people (including myself) suffer from acid reflux. If you go to most doctors for help, they will put you on some medication that isn’t good for you long term. According to an article I read, the pharma companies made something like $13 billion on prescription acid reflux meds in 2007. They are probably making $20 million or more in annual revenues today. It’s a huge business.

    Recently, I discovered that I can completely eliminate my acid reflux by eating watermelon, sweet potatoes, or one of the other ‘Most alkaline’ or ‘More alkaline’ foods listed in this chart:

    https://sites.google.com/site/healthguy99/home/foodchart

    Alkaline foods also have other physical benefits as well. Why aren’t doctors taught this in school? Is it because the pharmaceutical comanies write the medical text books?

    1. liberal

      Regarding science and medical science in particular, the reason people don’t trust doctors and medical researchers is because they are only interested in money.

      I agree re doctors in general, but re the linked article, presumably chiropracters are also in it for the money.

    2. Jim Haygood

      And the US economy is suffering from Asset reflux.

      Please do not advocate for the president to eat watermelon.

      Thanks in advance. ;-)

  6. wunsacon

    Remember the H1B-related link some days ago? Well, look at this survey:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/110580/survey-fewer-workers-wanted-this-labor-day

    Jobs in math, computers, health care? Going down. Employers are going to say they can’t hire from the existing pool of talent and need to hire H1-B’s? (Of course, because they always say that!) Bah!

    Jobs in sales and management jobs — especially in NYC and DC (bwahahaha!)? Increasing! Two thoughts on this. First, do we reaaaally need more of these?? The cities/industries that created our problems are expanding! Second, if anything, apparently, the H1-B program should be used to recruit people for sales and management jobs. That, I would like to see.

  7. burnside

    Many thanks for David Frum on Cato. Comments to his post provide all the confirmation one could wish that his concerns are timely and valid.

  8. dearieme

    ‘Max Plank said, “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” ‘ Indeeed he did. But I remember reading about a psychologist who looked into the matter and decided that he was wrong.

  9. KFritz

    Re: Horns….Rhinos

    Don’t know what function the horn serves. Wikipedia contained no pertinent info. Why not conduct a legal harvest of the horns fr/ living rhinos and sell the damn things? The inducement to poachers is gone & the effort can be subsidized w/ proceeds fr/ sales. Also the horns can be analyzed & perhaps some combination of synthetic or naturally occurring chemicals devised to replace rhino horn.

  10. KFritz

    Memo to David Frum: it’s as old as the hills, but ‘if you go to bed with dogs, you’ll wake up w/ fleas.’ If you associate w/ scabrous ideologues, if you ARE a scabrous ideologue, don’t be shocked when they behave like…scabrous ideologues.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Well, they found out a year or two ago, that chimps are smarter than college students (or was it college professors).

    So, it shouldn’t be too surprising that chimps can outwit hunters (This doesn’t imply college professors are smarter than hunters).

  12. sharonsj

    In one of the articles, the writer wonders why the rich banks got bailed out and hot the hapless homeowners? The answer is simple. The banksters can afford a huge chunk of bribe money while the homeowner can barely afford food and medicine.

    Take a look at the bailouts and handouts favored by both Republicans and Democrats. They give money to the rich with no strings attached. (Why cap those outrageous bonuses when you expect the recipient to donate to your campaign?) They give money to car makers (who then outsource the jobs anyway). They give tax breaks to the rich while waging two wars, thus driving up the debt, and tax breaks to corporations that outsource. They hand over millions of captive consumers to the health insurance industry and call it reform.

    And, best yet, they collude with BP during the worst environmental disaster in our history, and lie about how bad it is. Yeah, I’m running out to buy Gulf shrimp because of that unique and tasty oil-based flavor.

    No wonder I’m hiding in the house and not spending any money.

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