Links 5/22/11

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Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano starts new eruption BBC

Vatnajökull – earthquakes during the last 48 hours Icelandic Met Office (hat tip Richard Smith)

Nanoparticles help scientists harvest light with solar fuels R&D Mag (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Pilot whales at risk of being stranded on Scottish beach Telegraph :-(

The worship of female pleasure Salon. This sounds like not just a cherry-picking of Tantra, but more than a bit of a distortion of it.

Children growing weaker as computers replace outdoor activity Guardian (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). Wow, I was a really fat sedentary kid and still had enough grip strength to hang from a chin up bar. Expect to see a lot of osteoporosis in this group when it gets older.

New method ‘confirms dark energy’ BBC

Whoops! Failed Armageddon Prophecies + Predictions ArmageddonLine (hat tip reader furzy mouse). This list has a longer historical sweep than most.

Angelenos furious over special ‘Gold Card’ for traffic tickets LA Times (hat tip reader bruno)

Our revolt is not Obama’s Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

Rising Literacy and a Shrinking Birth Rate Der Spiegel (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: new claims of sexual misconduct add to pressure on former IMF chief Telegraph

Bush-Era Tax Cuts Projected As Largest Contributor To Public Debt [CHART] Huffington Post (hat tip reader May S)

99ers and the Long-term Unemployed Are the Elephants in the Economic Recovery Room Layoff List (hat tip reader May S)

Judge sides with homeowners in foreclosure suit Salt Lake Tribune (hat tip Lisa Epstein). The story is not clear on the legal issues, but the remarkable bit is the servicer admits it has no idea who really owns the note.

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader furzy mouse):

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55 comments

  1. attempter

    Re failed apocalyptic predictions:

    Those are amusing, but from our point of view, the most relevant and pernicious failed prophecy is the utopian promises of capitalism’s “invisible hand” and “trickle-down”.

    How long can elites put off the scheduled day of arrival of stable, broad-based prosperity, leisure, and universal employment at a few hours a week while machines do almost all the work? Especially when the material wherewithal for this already exists and has existed for a long time now?

    To put that question another way, how long will people remain gullible sheep believing in such promises?

    1. psychohistorian

      Attempter asked: “To put that question another way, how long will people remain gullible sheep believing in such promises?”

      Unfortunately, as long as they are brainwashed to do so.

      Look at how little we seem to have progressed since the Enlightenment period in relegating all religions to myth status. The rich elites will discover some new bauble to focus the faithful on and their power and control will extend and pretend forward….until it doesn’t anymore, which can’t happen soon enough.

      1. Tertium Squid

        You’re talking past yourself. Are the people who believe that their conduct MATTERS the problem here?

        I like this quote from one fellow who drove 3000 miles to see something that didn’t happen:

        “I was hoping for it because I think heaven would be a lot better than this earth…”

        Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110522/ap_on_re_us/us_apocalypse_saturday

        We can be critical and ask, “Well, what HAVE you done to make this world less like hell and more like heaven?” The measure is more in the doing (and hoping) than in hoping alone.

        But don’t write them off as delusional, lotus-eating retards. Consider their attitudes instead. The man who thinks the world ends on Saturday is as anti-establishment as it gets. He’s not preventing the end of extend-and-pretend.

        I wish everyone lived like the world was going to end on Saturday. I wish I did.

    2. Toby

      Most are in such a deep sleep only collapse (Whoops, Apocalypse!) can wake them. And even then a viable and alternative story needs to be in enough people’s heads, as well as sufficiently understood and supported, to have a chance of becoming an inherently sustainable and just socioeconomic system thereafter. So, don’t hold your breath, attempter, but do keep up the fight.

      On a very personal note, I announced my resignation from work last week. Working for this system, in a multinational corporation that runs nuclear power plants, has become too much for me, morally, spiritually, emotionally. I now face the difficult challenge of earning enough to feed my family and pay the bills at a lower number of hours per week. Ah, a one man capitalist utopia! All for me and mine! And there’s the rub. Until we understand, culturally, that the systemic properties of hierarchically organized social systems select for growth, that therefrom our debt-based money system forces perpetual growth on us, only a few will be able to listen to their conscience and do something. Building a viable and genuine alternative is very, very hard within the system, and impossible outside it, pre-collapse. So this ‘doomer’ has to do what little he can, with his family’s moral support (it was not an easy decision), while earning money from the very behemoths I seek to undermine.

      Bit by bit. Bit by bit. It’s the only way I know.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Toby;
        You are a brave person and we all support you, at least morally and intellectually. For various reasons, I quit my primary job, (Commercial Construction Trades,) a year ago and we moved from the Gulf Coast to Hattiesburg, (somewhat inland.) We had a cushion built up, and bought a cheap ‘fixer upper’ in an older, peaceful neigbhorhood. The agreement and support of your family is crucial. Situations like this prove the “no man is an island” concept. So far the experiment is working. Consciously choosing to remove ones self from a structurally disfunctional profit only focused environment is unbelievably restoring. Stress levels drop to merely aggravating from self destructive. Your horizons will expand even more as you retake control of your life. You’ll also start to let go of the compulsion to control the lives of the rest of your family. Hard times ahead? Sure, but now with an acceptable purpose to guide you.
        On a snarkier note: your post reminded me of the famous story concerning Carl Jung and one of his patients. The patient was a mid level manager, blocked in his therapy. One day he drags in to the session and announces; “Doctor, I’ve been let go! What a catastrophe!” “To the contrary!” replies Jung. “Now we can make some real progress!”

        1. Toby

          Thank you for your kind words, ambrit. As a former Jungian-Analyst-wannabe it is especially nice to be reminded of the deeper truths and wider horizons undertaking this risk is all about. And well done to you and yours for taking the leap!

    3. Michael H

      Thanks, attempter.

      I agree with what Doug Terpstra wrote yesterday: “Your description of the death of single-payer and public option is maddeningly accurate…”

      And it bears repeating because so many people still don’t understand what happened.

      attempter said: “What happened to Single Payer is simple enough. The administration, liberal groups, liberal bloggers, and the MSM collaborated in pushing a bait-and-switch, by insisting the “public option” was going to be the adequate centerpiece of the program, while Single Payer had a media blackout imposed upon it.”

      If anyone doubts that there was a media blackout imposed on Single Payer, then go back and do a search of NPR’s website during that time period. You won’t find any stories on Single Payer or how to achieve it, but what you will find is a list of NPR’s corporate sponsors, including:

      1. $1 million plus from Farmers Insurance Group of Companies, Prudential Financial

      2. $500,000 – $999,999: Allianz Life Insurance Company, Allstate Insurance Company, Northwestern Mutual Foundation,

      3. $250,000 – $499,999: AARP, The Hartford Financial Services Group, UnumProvident

      4. $100,000 – $249,999: Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

      http://www.counterpunch.org/pace06122009.html

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Amazing, Michael. That’s overwhelming evidence of deep, calculated corruption, beyond reasonable doubt—crimes aggravated by avarice and malice aforethought.

        When the reckoning does finally arrive, it won’t be a rapture for these conspirators. I trust we will not descend into a reign of terror, with bushels of severed heads, but society must eventually make a clean break to a new paradigm.

      2. Francois T

        Too many people do not know (or do not WANT to know) how close to the establishment NPR is. Just remember the Glenn Greenwald – Alicia Sheppard feud about NPR refusal to use the word “torture” in their “reporting”; the insufferable haughtiness and conceit of the National Security Madam of the Press, Dina Temple-Raston, who, instead of answering legitimate questions challenging her reporting will gladly throw at you a “But, you don’t do national security!” (meaning, as, I, THE journalist insider can do it!)

        And don’t get me started about Marketplace (PR for the banks…bitchez!) and their financial reporting. Nothing they’ve report in 4 years about the mortgage colossal mess was allowed to desviate from the banksters’ line or the Beltway Media conventional wisdom.

        That is why I’ve stop giving to NPR…they’ve become “patriotic” a.k.a. toe the govermin line every time they have to.

        1. mike

          You are correct about the use of the word “torture” debate at NPR. NPR has turned into a corporate tool. I often hear their market close news hour report and if the market is up they attribute that to some supposed great news in housing, employment or industrial production. But if the market is down, it’s a quick note of the number and onward to other less useful news.

          There are some decent news shows such as On Point and On the Media, but it’s becoming less and less relevant each passing day. The news casters, such as Lakshmi Singh, speak to their audience as if they are five year-olds, especially if the markets fall or oil prices rise. It’s so embarrassing that I wrote the NPR Ombudsman. I have not received a reply.

      3. MLS

        I would be careful about drawing too many conclusions based on that list of donors:

        Farmers Group, Prudential, Allianz, Allstate, and all those you listed are primarily property/casualty insurers, although some of them have some long-term care policies. I don’t see what kind of vested interest they would have in preventing a single payer system (I don’t stop insuring my home just because the gov’t pays for my health care).

        Further, the AARP supported the single payer option if I’m not mistaken.

    1. ScottW

      I trust Mr. Obama is keen with the idea of other Nations flying a drone (hopefully purchased from a U.S. company) deep into our airspace to kill someone they consider a high value target. Of course they will respect our sovereignty in the process. It’s like this man got such an adrenaline rush off of killing OBL that he needs to find another person to kill to get the same high. Reminds me of the gangland killings in Los Angeles. Revenge, revenge, revenge.

  2. ambrit

    Wait a minute here. We’re all excited about the Rapture and end up with a cute furry Son of Satan??? (Haven’t I seen his adorable face hidden cleverly in a lot of those Investment Fund ads?)

      1. ambrit

        Dear Dave of Maryland;
        (You any relation to the original State Poet Laureate?)
        G-Spot on old man! The Salon piece did indeed refer to that movement as “cult like” in its’, ahem, lay out. But I must hang my head in shame, (“What? Nothing for the men?”), in the face of a seminal piece of Semantic Punmanship. As the meditation leader says, “Assume the position!”

        1. Dave of Maryland

          On a serious note, there is a male guru somewhere in the US who brings supine women into orgasm merely by passing his hands above their naked bodies. Never actually touches them. Looks horribly frustrated as he does so. A friend in Oz told me about it, but I see I neglected to save it to my porno folder. There was an impressive video.

          Feminism has a lot to answer for. A man takes a woman to bed to have a proper orgasm.

          A woman takes a man to bed to have his orgasm. Which, with clothes on, is the same reason she rides roller-coasters. For the sheer thrill of it. To find out how Paul differs from John. To learn Dave’s secret.

          Bringing a woman to orgasm, during coitus, is no big deal. It’s a simple technique which most men can master. Mantak Chia described it in one of his books, it’s basically an old down-home cock tease. I’ve done it, back when I had a few less gray hairs. I can tell you that any man who claims he gets women off is lying, unless he can explicitly describe the female response. Every bit as clear and obvious and unmistakable as a man’s orgasm. I’m still waiting to hear.

          But not all women will let a man do that to them. The second woman I tried it with gave me a clear mental message: Stop the crap, I want a fuck. At the time I did not understand, but I do now.

          The problem with female orgasm during coitus is that it leaves the man stranded. She’s going off, so what do I do? Wait until she comes out of it? That’s going to be a letdown. Try & match her? How? She’s contracting four or five times a second, try stoking to that! It’s so easy to just keep her & the cock-tease going, until the man gets bored and comes himself & ends the session. Which won’t make the woman happy.

          Which might be why I’ve never seen the technique in any porn film. Not professional. Not amateur. What we’ve all seen, what O-ming is doing, is masturbation. Not the same thing.

          Why would a sane woman want a man to bring her to orgasm? She can have hers anytime. She wants his!

          “Educated” men are now so dysfunctional that they are routinely apologetic when they finally come. Drives women bat-shit crazy. As if the roller coaster screeched to a halt at the very bottom of the first drop. You’d want your money back!

          A woman processes the man’s orgasm as her own, whereupon she radiates it back to the man, who finally understands her. The best part of the entire process is the five minutes that come after. I now think of a woman’s genitalia as her finest sense organ, for that is what it is. Men stand exposed and naked to women in ways far beyond a woman’s being naked before a man.

          I will never again take women & their sexuality for granted, but, on the other hand, just as men fail to honor women with sex, a great many women fail to pay attention to the man & his main event. For every dysfunctional male, there’s an equally dysfunctional female. These are O-ming’s best customers, or so I would bet.

          PS: The same technique makes for great phone sex. Whereupon the man will quickly discover how voracious many females are. They will call every day for their fix.

          Dear Yves, why would you put the link, if you were not hoping for something juicy?

  3. Malcolm

    BUSH era tax cuts that were extended by Pres Obama

    The link is to HuffPo, which in turn picked up the article from the Soros funded non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which goes by the ‘official’ sounding acronym CBPP.

    http://www.offthechartsblog.org/what%E2%80%99s-driving-projected-debt/

    So what exactly is the chart depicting and what are its assumptions? The chart is showing debt to GDP expressed as a percentage and then projected out to 2019.

    What it does not show is the size of the debt nor does it show how that is projected to change. Neither does it show GDP nor its projected change. There is no indication of what assumptions were used for inflation nor the interest rates applied to the debt. In the fine print you will note that debt is not defined as “gross’ debt but something called public debt that excludes things like Social Security. Not in the fine print but critical to the argument is the arbitrary depiction of the Bush/Obama tax cuts as debt.

    Here’s the bio of the author of the article:
    http://www.cbpp.org/experts/index.cfm?fa=view&id=25

    1. Jim Haygood

      A slightly different chart in The Atlantic, based on the same underlying CBPP data, appeared in the links for 5/19/11.

      As I pointed out in a comment, one of its assumptions is:

      We did not include the costs of the [Medicare Part D] prescription-drug program in this analysis because we could not estimate those net costs with the same confidence that we could estimate costs, based on CBO analyses, for other Bush-era policies — namely, the tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the 2009-2019 period that is this paper’s focus, CBO now expects net outlays for Part D to total approximately $825 billion (over $115 billion in 2019 alone), but some fraction of that will be offset by savings in Medicaid and other programs that we are not able to estimate.

      Right — we couldn’t estimate how much less than $825 billion Part D would cost, so we just set the estimate at zero … and then propagated the meaningless result across the internet.

      Don’t hire these artful fudgers as your tax accountants, unless you fancy some jail time.

    2. Jimbo

      Fact seldom acknowledged by Dem lawmakers:

      75% of the Bush tax cuts accrue to households with net income below 250K a year, and given the median wage stagnation over the last decade, it would be suicidal for Dems to increase taxes on the working and middle-class.

        1. Jimbo

          Ambrit, during the negotiations last December, Ezra Klein of the Wash Post published some charts that demonstrated this. Over the next decade, HHs with net income over 250K would save about 1T dollars. HHs with net income below 250K would save about 3T dollars. Obviously, on a per-capita basis, the wealthy (defined as HHs with net income over 250K) benefit more from the cuts. But on an aggregate basis, the working and middle-class benefit more.

          So the question Dems have to ask themselves is the following. Would it be fair to ask the working and middle-class to pay 3T more in taxes over the next decade, if it meant that the top 2% of HHs would pay over 1T more over the same time period.

          1. ambrit

            Jimbo;
            I get the viewpoint here, even if I don’t buy into it. So, the Dems problem is to present it as a case of “shared sacrifice” while pushing the regraduated income tax as a “moral crusade” issue. Unfortunately, from my political corner, (heavily influenced by old style English Trades Unionism,) this trick will take some inspired leadership. You see my problem, I’m sure.

      1. wunsacon

        So, you’re saying the bottom 98% gets 75% of the benefit? Think about that.

        Since the relative amount of money we each have means more than the absolute amount in circulation, you have to be wealthy to like these tax cuts. For the bottom 98%, these “cuts” have been tax increases on them, as a greater portion of the economy’s production went towards luxury goods chasing the extra marginal demand from the class, the wealthy, who received the greatest benefit from these cuts.

  4. Patrick Cover

    The 99ers article you put a link to here was a good read. The jobs situation and unemployment is awful and the jobs created versus what was lost in this recession is shocking.

  5. John Puma

    Social Security is NOT a debt.

    There is a $2.5 trillion SURPLUS in the Social Security trust fund.

    There is debt OWED TO the trust fund but that is because that fund was not protected from raiding, as Gore was mocked for suggesting it should be.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Who owes the debt to the Trust Fund? ==> U.S. Government

      Who is the 100% owner and operator of Social Security? ==> U.S. government

      On a consolidated accounting basis, the Trust Fund is inter-subsidiary debt and cancels out.

      Social Security does not have a penny to its name, other than what the U.S. Treasury choose to give it.

      1. scraping_by

        Well, unless you think Reagan was lying all along with his plan to build a surplus. You mean all those certificates they printed and filed in Maryland were bogus? You mean after paying in with FICA taxes we don’t get to be repaid with income taxes? You mean this was pushing the general fund tax burden onto the middle class?

        By the letter of the law, as it was put into place when the fund was changed from pay-as-you-go to building a surplus, that’s money owed to the baby boomer generation and those who come after. Not paying back the surplus, with interest, is default. Saying that the same government collects both taxes is irrelevant to the individuals who paid in, and now are supposed to be paid out, from the fund.

        Now, if you’re simply going to disappear Social Security by an accounting identity, that’s a whole different matter. If you try to do it with a budget line item, the way Reagan did welfare reform, you’re at the least violating the law and and at most, running a serious personal danger. Robert B Carleson, Reagan’s policy flack, admitted in his memoir Government is the Problem that changes were put in the budget without debate or notice to “roll the Democrats”. If the citizens who support and are supported by SS are going to be rolled, it’s an entirely different segment of society. Welfare recepients tend toward the weak and lost. The people who built Social Security built this country.

        If the Treasury’s going to default on anyone, it ought to be the Fed. A government shouldn’t have to beg a private corporation for its own money.

      2. marian

        Rubbish. The US Government is not the owner, it is the Trustee of the Social Security Trust Fund. Believe me if any trustee ‘borrows’ from a trust fund, the fact that he is the trustee of the fund to which he ‘owes’ the money does not cancel the obligation.

        1. ambrit

          Friends;
          As originally designed, the Social Security system appears to be a simple “transfer of wealth” regime. Regardless if it is owner or Trustee, (I lean towards the latter interpretation myself,) the Social Security Trust Fund holds substantial debt instruments issued by the Federal Government. Theoretically, if the USFG defaults, the Social Security Trust Fund stands to take a substantial haircut. So, the Fund might consider forcing the USFG into recievership. (Interesting thought, who would have standing to fill that position?) Worst case scenario, the “shareholders” of the SSTF take compensation in siezed USFG assets, like Freddie and Fannie? Then everyone over 63 or so could literally become Rentiers. Talk about taking stock in America!

          1. marian

            During the Reagan administration, everyone agreed to increase Social Security payroll taxes to a dedicated fund to finance their retirements. the idea was to create a surplus to fund the baby boomers’ retirement and happily that has succeeded. We are funded through 2042. The fund is a dedicated fund–that means it is like any other trust fund, held by the trustee (hence Social Security TRUST FUND) for the benefit of its beneficiaries: Americans who reach retirement age. It is not a part of the income of the trustee!

            The fund has made investments like any other trust funds: in the most secure investment in the world, US Government debt. If the US government is planning to default on payments to its debt holders, the Chinese, and people all over the world should be told now.

            Republican politicians are just saying they borrowed the money and don’t want to pay it back.

  6. Patricia

    Absolutely right, from Ahdaf Soueif in “Our Revolt is not Obama’s”:

    “In the end, our revolutions are not by or for or about the US. We in Tunisia and Egypt, and soon in Libya, Syria, Yemen, are looking for ways to run our countries to the benefit of our people and the world. We see that democracy is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition. “Democratic” systems are failing their people, in Britain, in India, in the US, as millions fall into poverty, banks take precedence over hospitals and universities, the environment is degraded and the fabric of society frayed, the media are compromised, and politico-business scandals are standard entertainment.

    The world needs better; and that’s what we’re working for.’

  7. Philip Pilkington

    Re: Female sex stuff…

    “The 40-something founder of OneTaste, a center dedicated to “mindful sexuality,” is about to give a live and impromptu demonstration of orgasmic meditation (“OMing” for short)…”

    ‘OMing’? Come one (no pun intended), you can do better than that. ‘OMGing’– that’s what you want…

  8. Francois T

    Re: Our revolt

    That’s powerful stuff

    In the end, our revolutions are not by or for or about the US. We in Tunisia and Egypt, and soon in Libya, Syria, Yemen, are looking for ways to run our countries to the benefit of our people and the world. We see that democracy is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition. “Democratic” systems are failing their people, in Britain, in India, in the US, as millions fall into poverty, banks take precedence over hospitals and universities, the environment is degraded and the fabric of society frayed, the media are compromised, and politico-business scandals are standard entertainment.

    The world needs better; and that’s what we’re working for.

    Nobody understands the virtues of freedom and democracy better than those who have been deprived of it.

  9. Jim

    “Bush-Era Tax Cuts Projected As Largest Contributor To Public Debt”

    Bin Laden’s objective was to bankrupt the US. It wasn’t terrorism at all. Look’s like he has had a lot of help from out very own government.

    The unfunded wars.

    The tax cuts.

    The part “D” prescription drug benefits.

    The US chamber of commerce helping US corporations export jobs to China.

    It’s all designed to collapse the US economy some would lead you to beleive.

  10. ambrit

    Dear Philip Pilkington;
    As Dave of Maryland so masterfully showed, (I know, I’m sounding like Waylon Smithers here,) t
    he melding of The Rapture/End of the World with the “female sex stuff..” and the cute goat/Son of Satan imagery has to be more than coincidence. Could it be Divine/Infernal Intervention?
    As for the Oming thing: (1)- Ohming: The search for connection with the subtle “energy currents” of the Universe. (The Inverse Square Law applies. The more “Square” you feel yourself to be, the harder you try to be “Hip.”) (2) OOOOming: A syncretic movement attempting to revive ancient estatic practices. (See “The Story of O” for a brief run down.) (3) AOUMing: The appropriation of previously respected Eastern traditions for immoral purposes. (The Bagman of Rajneesh was a notorious recent example. His movement was whelped in the appropriately named Indian city of Poona.) (4) O Ming: A prurient interest in ancient Oriental obliquity.
    So, as we can see, nothing really new here. Now, if she were in Utah…

  11. Hugh

    I can’t help seeing our era’s religiosity, of which the End of Days episode was just the most recent example, as an expression of existential angst. We can talk here with a certain amount of intelligence and specificity about how things work in politics and the economy, both here and around the world, who did what to whom, and how all this ties in the world we actually have and are likely to have.

    Most people don’t have this. They have the specifics of what has happened to them and the people they know. They have a profound, but vague, feeling of their own disempowerment. They have an imprecise sentiment that those who rule them are not serving their interests, without really being able to formulate who their rulers even are or that they are being ruled, not governed. They know something is wrong, things aren’t working, but they have no coherent analysis of what that wrongness is or where it resides.

    The result is various forms of denialism colored by an existential angst. There is the flight, not to religion, but to religiosity. They want certainty, not substance. They don’t care what the Ten Commandments say. They are more concerned where they are posted. The Sermon on the Mount says nothing to them. What they want is to reject the science and knowledge that has inflicted this world on them. So we have a hodge-podge of anti-evolutionism, anti-feminism, anti-climate changism, anti-governmentism. The one common factor is that they are all anti- something. Nor is this meant to belittle these people or dismiss them as nuts. They are in pain and trapped like the rest of us, and this is how they deal with it. The poverty of their view is not in its passion but in its targets.

    I should add that this type of reaction is not peculiar to us. It is worldwide, from Jewish settlers to Hindu extremists, from Afghani Taliban to their American Christian counterparts.

    It is against this backdrop that a few embraced the End of Days story. To dismiss thes story as stupid is to miss the point. It was a pantomine of good and evil, where the good guys are ordinary people and they not only win but are rewarded. The expression may have been misguided and foolish, but isn’t this what we here actually want?

    1. Michael H

      I agree. Last night I had trouble sleeping and so, scanning the AM dial on my radio, I found a program in which people who believed May 21st would be the end of the world were encouraged to call in and discuss it.

      The host was making fun of them, but listening to these people it became obvious that most were experiencing severe economic distress. One woman said it was such a struggle to pay her bills, that life was such a struggle, even though the world had not ended on May 21st she wasn’t giving up hope it would end soon. Whether by earthquake, flood, tidal wave or nuclear war, it made no difference to her as long as it ended soon.

      Speaking as an atheist, these people who try to escape from difficult circumstances into religiosity, or whatever, do not deserve to be mocked by smug, rich as*holes such as Bill Maher, and others, who probably never experienced a single day of economic hardship in their lives.

      1. Anonymous Jones

        More unintentional hilarity. Accusing a stand-up comic of never worrying about his next meal. More ignorance, please! Feed me more! You clearly know what you’re talking about, except you have no idea at all you’re completely ignorant of everything you posit. Oh well. Ha ha…funny. Love it.

        1. Michael H

          Anonymous Jones:”…. you’re completely ignorant of everything you posit”

          Attacking any rich person, or expressing the least sympathy for any poor person, is bound to be offensive to someone like you, therefore I take this not only as a compliment, but as the highest form of praise.

        2. Silsbury

          How to describe Anonymous Jones?

          Hmmm…let me think. Abhorrent is a word that comes to mind. That will do, for a start.

    2. Tertium Squid

      So, I like this, but “denialism” is just as ugly a trap as our enthusiastic culture of greed. There’s a huge difference between hoping some outside force will make everything better and doing something one’s self. I don’t mean “going out and finding a job”, but doing those things to make the world a more loving, more connected place. Beats self-medication I suppose, but negative belief doesn’t get one anywhere.

      Whether we accept the existence of a God or not, no irresistible force will ever remove the utility of individual decision making and action, and its potential to affect our lives and the lives of others.

      It’s easy to feel helpless, and I think the political and corporate elite want us to feel that way, or at least feel like passive subjects of power. But each of us every day does a thousand things, each with potentially enormous and long-lasting consequences.

      I am in a religion where the goal IS that new, good society, where the good guys have it in their power to win any time they want, everyone looks out for everyone and:

      Your problems are my problems
      and
      My problems are yours

      I grew up in it, never quite grasping the import of this focus and direction. Now as an adult it is inestimably encouraging, to know I am working towards something, instead of against something else.

  12. Ep3

    Re: Out of shape children

    Dont these kids have gym class at school? Of course, the gym class I would have at my school involved someone telling us to entertain ourselves while he sat around and collected 60,000 a year. The kids generally ran wild. It was basically a free hour to do homework. The gym teacher would also be a sports coach and spend his time getting his team ready to go. So imagine this person only teaching gym all day every day and doing this all year. Also, if you weren’t “athletic”, i.e. on one of his teams, he didn’t worry about getting you in shape. The teacher just focused on potential and current players and making sure they had all the time in the world to practice. Finally, after this chaotic hour was closing out, the “tougher” males would terrorize certain weaker males in the locker room. And mr. 60,000 a year just looked the other way because that is “character building”.
    Another thing I think. I think parents are so busy in today’s world, with the pressures of both parents working and debt and job insecurity, it’s easier for parents to plop the kids down in front of mr. Xbox to occupy them while mom & dad get a breather. Thanks Obama. Way to contribute to blowing up families and destroying the health of the next generation by instead of saving them, you saved the bankers.
    So it’s too bad. I wish kids could run and play more.

    1. End Teacher Salaries

      The solution is obvious: Give Mr. 60000/yr only $2 an hour. If he does his job well, he can make more from parents tipping him.

    2. ambrit

      dear EP3;
      As you point out, the quality of the ‘educator’ is indeed the defining factor. Back in middle school I had an ex-USMC DI as gym coach. This man took his job seriously, that was the difference. Even today, in my advancing decreptitude, I’m not afraid of a five mile bike ride or a hundred yard sprint. (Performance is another matter entirely!) Thank you Coach Kouchilakous.
      The other factor is the mis application of resources attendant on the focus on test results. Tests are easy to quantify, critical thinking is not. Lots of schools now do not offer realistic gym classes. Someone has to do the heavy lifting. Why not train as many as possible to at least give it a real try. Your society can only benefit.

  13. financial matters

    Judge sides with homeowners in foreclosure suit Salt Lake Tribune (hat tip Lisa Epstein). The story is not clear on the legal issues, but the remarkable bit is the servicer admits it has no idea who really owns the note.

    “””Benson conducted a 90-minute hearing in the Geddes lawsuit in which he intently grilled both sides over various legal questions. But what seemed to sway him was the admission by attorneys for the foreclosing entities that they were not sure who actually owned the couple’s mortgage note.

    Homeowner attorneys have argued that because entities such as Bank of America do not own the actual notes, which are in the hands of investors, they cannot legally institute foreclosure proceedings. Benson said the Geddeses made a sufficient case to allow them to demand evidence of who owned the note on their home.

    “I think it went into a securitization pool,” he said. “But we don’t know.””””

    They ‘think’ it went into a securitization? How bad is that??

    It also begs the question of what happens to homes that were actually foreclosed on. Say the house is awarded to BofA but was actually owned by an investment pool. Then the house gets laundered to some 3rd party. Much investigation needed here.

    1. Skippy

      Is *secur[e]itization* just another word to convey meaning…cough…clean air act et al, *pools* just another way of saying portal to an electron dimensional vortex.

      Skippy…methinks the rabbit we peruse is multidimensional, regulators and legalese committed to wet ink are, but, yesterdays drinks expelled, all whist thing about too-nights selections, we may only…sniff the parchment…to divine past quaffs…taste matures.

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