Links 8/18/11

Sorry for relatively few links, I needed to turn in early. I’m also overdue for a post on the Eurozone mess (although this is beginning to feel like Wagner, where you’ve heard the same motifs over and over again and you wonder how the soprano has the pipes to keep singing this long and you feel like a philistine for being fidgety and wishing for it to get to the crashing real final crescendo and be over with).

Otters return to every county in England Independent (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Tuscany Trembling over Big Cat Der Spiegel (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Born to be Viral: How to unmix a mixed fluid New Scientist (hat tip reader Robert M)

The explosive truth behind Fukushima’s meltdown Independent (hat tip reader Aquifer). This is a major story.

Monsanto’s 5 Most Dubious Contributions to the Planet Alternet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Major Websites Using Stealthy ‘Supercookies’ to Track Users Wall Street Journal

Fanbois treat criticism of favorite brands as threat to self-image ars technica. Sheesh, I don’t like being associated with branded products.

A Christian Plot for Domination? The Daily Beast (hat tip Richard Smith)

In Defence of PIGS Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

The great failure of globalisation Jeffrey Sachs, Financial Times (hat tip reader Swedish Lex)

Fun With the Arithmetic: That Crushing Debt Burden Dean Baker

OFA Director Attacks “Firebagger Lefty Blogosphere,” says “Paul Krugman is a Political Rookie” Jane Hamsher, FireDogLake. Team Obama is lookin’ desperate!

Mass. GOP hits Warren over consultants Boston Globe. Not an auspicious start.

The U.K. Riots And The Coming Global Class War Forbes

Land of the Free, Home of the Poor PBS (hat tip reader John M)

Zulauf: “I expect the market to go below the latest lows in September” Credit Writedowns

Wells Fargo’s $3 Debit Card Charge: A Sign of More Bank Fees to Come? Daily Finance (hat tip reader Carol B)

Fed Eyes European Banks Wall Street Journal. So much for the cheery assurances that the banks are in much better shape than they were in 2008.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. mememe

    “though this is beginning to feel like Wagner, where you’ve heard the same motifs over and over again and you wonder how the soprano has the pipes to keep singing this long and you feel like a philistine for being fidgety and wishing for it to get to the crashing real final crescendo and be over with).”

    the answer should be at hand soon as everyone’s neighborhood high-net worth individual & instit. investor should’ve already sent in their distribution request (if desired) for Oct. 1 disbursement.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      Well, there was a real article floating about yesterday regarding a clothing company offering to pay someone (who shall not be named) to stop wearing its clothing. It’s not so far-fetched.

      I liked the fanboi article, but the idea is not just about branded products but also political views and even, gasp, books! (like, maybe…Ulysses…shhhh…he might hear you)

      Love, belief or passion of something seems to become inextricably intertwined with one’s self. And this makes perfect sense. Your preference matrix *is* you.

      And it’s almost an act of self-mutilation to admit that any love, passion or belief is not what one once thought it was.

      People often become quite miserable when their bubble of delusion is pricked, and this seems especially intensified when the delusion is about one’s self-assessment (e.g., getting older is a tough, tough thing for those who were once athletic and/or had a burst of mathematical creativity in their 20s). Association with certain things, like brands (and the associated grouping…”I’m in the Kool Kids Klub”), are barely distinguishable from direct self-assessment.

      [Side note: Have you ever notices that some, say movie, reviews are not really reviews of the movie in question, but more of a long description (and apologia) of the reviewer itself? “*I* understand Formalism” “*I’ve* seen the seminal works in this genre” “*I* know how to use semiotics in a sentence” “*I* have empathy for the human condition” “*I’m really a cool, smart, learned, good guy”]

  2. craazyman

    they should send the Scooby-Doo patrol after that black cat. And even then, they’ll never catch a phantom. ha ha. Nobody knows except those who Know. Can’t believe they’re all shivering in their gardening boots over a ghost cat. (maybe I’ll be proved wrong, but I doubt it(. boooooo.

    1. sleepy

      Could be a phantom, but the article says the cat is most likely an escaped/released pet.

      Along those lines a fascinating book came out a few years ago, “The Beast in the Garden”, about the interactions between suburbia and mountain lions in Denver and Boulder, with a wider message about wildlife adaptation to human presence.

      1. craazyman

        Indeed, it may be a released pet in this case.

        But what’s peculiar is that this sort of thing is a common phenomenon. England regularly has big black cat sitings (often it’s theorized that it was “somebody’s pet” that got loose) but there’s never any big cat actually caught. There was a newspaper story two years ago about a man who saw a lion in broad daylight in eastern Tennessee (I know the area well and the story was legit). The lion was never caught or seen again. Black dog sitings are also legendary. There’s never any such animal ever caught or found dead. The stories just fade away.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Once in a while, you hear stories about escaped debt-slaves running free in your neighborhood.

          Most people lock their doors and tell their kids not to play outside.

          1. craazyman

            I think we’ll be hearing more and more stories like that. And I don’t think it’s just my imagination. :)

  3. rjs

    re: “supercookies”…flash cookies have been around for a while; everytime you watch a video you get one deposited (even flash commecial videos)…they’re bigger; take up a lot of KBs…

    regular spyware wont remove them, but there are instructions to remove them and change settings, which you should do with caution, as that may interfer with your freedom to watch videos…

    1. Jeff

      There is a program called Flash Flush that you can
      download for free–on MACs anyway.

      It places an icon on your desktop or in your tray.
      You simply click the icon and it deletes the flash cookies. See my post below re Firefox and its capabilities.

      1. ambrit

        Dear KFritz;
        Thank you! I bow and do obesience in your general direction! I had some fun and scrolled through all the cookies, so many!, and was amazed and a bit chagrined to see who thought collecting information on little ol me, and family, was worthwhile. This computer stuff’ll be the ruination of us yet, consarnit! (Senile cackling.)

        1. KFritz

          Check the thread down the page for more info. I read Krebs and most days to keep track of security issues. The people who post and comment there will keep us non-techies humble! I also have many friends in IT. Have kept my machines well-protected since they day I had to pay someone real money to clean the malware out of my box.


  4. Jim Haygood

    ‘The next few weeks will be extremely volatile. I expect the market to go below the latest lows in September.’ — Felix Zulauf

    ‘I see this as supportive of gold and other hard assets.’ — Ed Harrison

    Two forecasts, two winners, as euro stocks cookie-crumble anew and the barbaric relic blasts through $1,800 resistance like a freaking virtual Maginot line.

    The song remains the same [pace Led Zeppelin]: as long as the ECB continues vaporizing precious capital on supporting euro zone sovereign debt at uneconomic, non-market prices, our fiduciary duty is to smash down all freely-traded assets (starting with equities) until the delusional eurocrats are driven to ruin, madness and abject defeat.

    Au revoir, Jean-Clodhoppeur! Ayez un nice jour, mon pote!

    1. Jim Haygood

      U.S. CPI prints a nasty +3.6% year-on-year, unscoring yesterday’s dismal message from the PPI: Yes, we have no deflation (but stagflation out the wazoo).

      Stocks are getting — as they say in Paris — sauvagement frappé.

      1. aet

        Stagflation: that’s what you get when the hand-outs don’t go directly – but directly – to the poor. Those sums otherwise first have to pass through some very sticky hands, and there must be lots of thorough and mandatory “investigations” by the Government of any individual (as opposed to corporate) person seeking help, and before any such poor individual person sees their first ten cents of Governmental help. Such means-testing is undertaken in the name of “morality” and “virtue”, it seems.

        1. ambrit

          Dear aet;
          It is indeed all ‘seeming.’ I guess this is what we end up with after electing an actor as president. (I seem to remember the Chineese having a similar problem. Remember the “Gang of Four?”)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        However low you set them, they can be breached.

        Fortunately, however high you want to make them so that they are difficult, it’s possible to think people can scale them.

        It matters not what one knows of them.

  5. Philip Pilkington


    In the second half of the show Doug Henwood conducts a fascinating interview with anthropologist David Graeber, author of ‘Debt: The First 5,000 Years’ on the nature of debt. In the interview Graeber dismisses the neoclassical view of money as a commodity; vindicates Innes and the Chartalist/State theory of money as a means to extract taxes and discusses how the current system in which international institutions are geared toward extracting debt for creditors has ‘gotten it backwards’ and will more than likely fall apart only to be replaced with a system geared toward debt-relief.



      1. Philip Pilkington

        He makes a bit of a joke about the libertarian ‘private money’ fantasy though. Seems to see it as an historical anomaly reflecting corporate cultural values…



        1. F. Beard

          He makes a bit of a joke about the libertarian ‘private money’ fantasy though. Philip Pilkington

          Actually, common stock is an ideal private money form.

          However, I was referring to liking the host, not David Graeber. Still, Mr. Graeber made some interesting points.

          1. justanobserver

            Why is private stock an ideal form of money ?

            Seems like it is tremendously easy to be fraudulent with stock and stock prices, not too mention I’m not really clear on why having major financial corporations owning most of it would be any better than Bernanke & the Fed Gang.

          2. Philip Pilkington

            Common stock isn’t money. But anyway, Graeber is right. Money is not central to human history, debt is. Money is a peripheral element in all economies — including our own. I hate to say it Beard, but the private money fetish is just the flipside of the gold standard fetish. Both completely ignore history and both will never lead to anything.

            As for Henwood, I don’t agree with his economics or his politics, but he’s a good radio host, gets excellent guests and his newsletter is well worth the rather small subscription fee.

          3. F. Beard

            Common stock isn’t money. Philip P

            Imagine a world without a government backed and enforced banking system and then ask yourself why anyone would accept someone else’s private money?

            There are many reasons one might, but the most compelling is to “share” in the profits of the money issuer.

          4. F. Beard

            I hate to say it Beard, but the private money fetish is just the flipside of the gold standard fetish. Philip P

            Not so. Gold is a ridiculous private money form but common stock is an ideal private money form:

            1) Common stock as money requires no borrowing or lending. Assets and labor would simply be bought with new stock issue. Thus no PMs, usury, or fractional reserves are required. This is a huge benefit since PMs, usury (see Deuteronomy 23:19-20) and fractional reserves are all problematic.
            2) All price inflation is born by the owners of the corporation since every receiver of the new common stock money is by definition a part owner of the corporation. This is an important moral consideration.
            3) Without fractional reserves or even lending, then deflation is not a serious threat.
            4) Since all money holders are part owners of the corporation then they could vote on how much new money is issued and for what purposes. Thus price inflation is under the control of only those affected by it.
            5) The assets of a corporation are typically performing assets though PMs could easily be accommodated too.
            6) Common stock as money shares wealth at the same times as it consolidates it for purposes of economies of scale. Labor problems should be non-existent since the workers would be paid in common stock and thus be part owners. The number of those with a stake in capitalism would increase. The need and desire for socialism should decrease.

            But even if private monies would not be widely used what is the harm in allowing them?

          5. F. Beard

            I’m not really clear on why having major financial corporations owning most of it would be any better than Bernanke & the Fed Gang. justanobserver

            Except for the existence of the government backed and enforced counterfeiting cartel by which they steal purchasing power, corporations would be very widely owned since common stock issue would be the only means to raise adequate capital. Wealth would be very widely distributed without the loss of economies of scale.

          6. Philip Pilkington

            Well, first of all you’re imagining a fantasy world. Secondly, your fantasy world is based on the presupposition that people would only accept money from another person because they could turn a profit from it. If you listened to Graber you’d find that you wouldn’t find that attitude anywhere in history except today. Money/debt used to be based on trust, not profit.

            The problem is that you’re not only constructing your fantasy without reference to the real world, but you’re also putting in your own presuppositions (that profit is needed to make promises). By any historical measure this is a bizarre idea. Graeber is right. It’s the personal fantasmatic equivalent of corporate culture — as he says “everyone wants to be their own little corporation, it’s quite amusing.”

            It is quite amusing, because people are clearly basing their understanding of human psychology on a corporate model… and they don’t even realise it! They think its just some sort of innate ‘human nature’!

          7. aet

            “Money is not central to human history, debt is.”

            Too specific, too narrow – the basis of our society is not debt, but obligation. And such is always a felt moral obligation: that’s why criminal behaviour – that is, behavior which harms others – is outlawed in all societies.

            But business is business – bankruptcy carries no moral taint as far as I’m concerned.

            It is fraud and mis-representation, and the wilful blindness to the harm one’s actions cause or may cause to others, which is immoral.

            People are obliged to keep their promises, upon which they know that others have relied, in making their plans.

            It is not just about the debt, or money.

          8. F. Beard

            Secondly, your fantasy world is based on the presupposition that people would only accept money from another person because they could turn a profit from it Philip P

            Not turn a profit; “share” in the profit.

            What’s the matter Phil, you don’t like sharing?

            Common stock directly bypasses the need for usury and you are against it? Why?

          9. Philip Pilkington

            “…bankruptcy carries no moral taint as far as I’m concerned.”

            Eh, of course it does. If I’m a businessman and I learn that one of my potential colleagues was involved in a load of bankruptcies he will become a taboo figure in my mind.

            And I’m not making sweeping philosophical statements when I say that debt is fundamental to human history. I’m simply making the point that, from an economic perspective, its far more important than money.

          10. Philip Pilkington

            Beard, I’m not against it. But I think its unrealistic. You want a ‘New World’, but your ‘New World’ is so much based in the current world that you can’t even see it. Your model of human behavior is corporate in the extreme.

            If a ‘New World’ emerged — which it won’t because history is linear — all your ideas about profits being a key motivation in human interaction would fall apart.

            My complaint has always been that your ideas are Utopian and unrealistic; but in saying this they might have made for a good Sci-Fi novel. Now I’m saying that your Utopia is so ahistorical and so implicitly influenced by contemporary society and culture that it likely wouldn’t make even a very good Sci-Fi novel…

          11. F. Beard

            Your model of human behavior is corporate in the extreme. Philip P

            How else do we get economies of scale, the “sharing” of wealth, and diversity in the economy all at the same time?

          12. Philip Pilkington

            I have no problem with corporations. My point is that your ideas are Utopian. They would require a ‘clean slate’ to be implemented — i.e. some sort of revolutionary overthrow of the order in its totality. But if this happened — it won’t, but it might in our Sci-Fi novel — people would likely not revert to modern corporate social relations. They would likely ‘wind back the clock’ and establish economies based on trust/obligation/debt rather than on some sort of profit motive that’s only been around a few centuries.

            This is the point: even within your frame your ideas are unrealistic. Because they’re ahistorical. Or, to put it another way, they assume that because you and I think in terms of profit then EVERYONE at EVERYTIME and in EVERY PERCEIVABLE FUTURE would organise themselves in the same way.

          13. F. Beard

            They would require a ‘clean slate’ to be implemented — Philip P

            We do need a clean slate which is why I advocate a universal bailout of the population, including savers.

          14. Nikhil

            Isn’t a clean slate mechanism mentioned by David Graeber as always present during credit money times and oddly lacking during our present time? Sounds like he would supporting that part of F.Beards idea.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      Graeber has a source to be mined in Braudel. More to the point for our purposes, is “THE LONG 20TH CENTURY: MONEY, POWER AND THE ORIGINS OF OUR TIMES” BY GIOVANNI ARRIGHGI, which also mines Braudel. The scholarly work, not the ethnocentric Royal British writings of that empire, over the years does develop a clearer picture of money. The people who made lots of money, the merchants, need to protect it. The Italian city states had to pay for protection, directly paying the costs and managing their own security within their mercantile system until they struck up a deal with the Spanish Crown to provide it for them while they would provide the financial expertise for their empire.

      The nation building of the modern state and the great powers of Europe, today’s core, begins with ruling society with money in the sophisticated complexity of a social order where a strong central government builds up a bureaucracy and tax collecting capacity, to pay debt service on loans from their merchant allies. The expanding territory of empire provides the expanded markets for the merchants to safely conduct business, which allow them to focus exclusively on endless accumulating profits and forming financial capital. This in turn, is lent to the state for more empire/nation building. Expanding the power and with it the opportunities for more profitable business transactions.

      The nations growing middle class, growing fat on the expanding empire, provide the tax revenue to repay the war loans from the upper class of merchants, who become along with the state royals, the aristocratic rulers of society. This alliance of guns and money is what capitalism is, not merely the rule of markets or money by themselves. If money ruled the world, the merchants would never have to go into their pockets to pay for armies in the first place. And if money ruled the world, they never would have gone into partnership with state. Together, they unleashed a world system of political power expansion, imperialism, fueled by a complex economic system, business focused solely on the endless accumulation of capital, to form the cycles of capitalism, which seem to always include an intensified financial phase.

      1. reslez

        Thomas Friedman’s Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention states that no two countries with a McDonald’s franchise have gone to war with one another. According to Wikipedia, this theory was refuted by NATO’s bombing of Serbia and definitively smashed by the India/Pakistan conflict. At any rate, it seems obvious that globalism falls apart if war is any factor in elite political calculations. How in the world can you have free trade with your military enemy?

        Friedman believed his theory of conflict prevention held true because the middle class of developed nations had no desire to go to war against each other. But the truth is the ruling mercantile elite of these nations are the ones with no desire for war. As long as they profit more from globalism and “peace”, we will have them. The military is used for sopping up third world countries.

    2. Susan the other

      I can’t quote cites but this interview kept reminding me just how basic an animal we are. In the last year or two there have been a couple or three studies on how dogs, monkeys and (I think) parrots, keep track of how fairly they are treated. There is a deep innate sense of fairness among us all, is my bet. I know and remember (I keep a mental account) when somebody else got the best treat or when I got forgotten altogether. And I keep track of it in my brainstem or someplace involuntary. It just happens automatically. Maybe my vagas nerve. Who knows. We all know that look we get from our dog when they feel slighted, right? So I am certainly ready to believe Graeber when he says Debt is a question of morality, not of economics. Economics is just how you shuffle it all around. Debt is intended to promote good things. Not take on a life of its own. We owe each other no matter what. We owe it to each other not to impoverish each other. Yatta yatta.

  6. Jim Haygood

    Huge demos in Spain, against official expenditures on the pope’s visit. From El Pais:

    Laity, fundamentalist Christians, republicans, gays, atheists and the indignados began their tour yesterday to criticize the “pageantry and public expenditure” of World Youth Day [a Catholic church-sponsored group] with songs, banners, puppets representing Ratzinger, a fake Popemobile and music of a band and batucada [samba drums].

    About 5,000 people, according to police sources, joined the protest across the Puerta del Sol, a symbol of the 15-M movement. Pilgrims and protesters converged on the center of the square half way through. A police cordon separated them as they engaged in a war of songs.

    “Benedict!” chanted the pilgrims. “… is a Nazi!” responded the protesters on the other side of the row of officers.

    Two girls were praying the rosary in the middle of the crowd while the rest sang the Alleluia with guitars. “I am a sinner, sinner, sinner,” answered the organizers of the march, who also shouted: “I paid for this backpack!”

    According to World Youth Day, the day has cost 50 million euros paid from their own funds. Among the expenses not included are the use of public buildings and an 80% discount on public transit fares for pilgrims.

    1. jumpjet

      His Holiness would win some major points with me if he addressed the protesters directly. He should tell them he stands in solidarity with their anti-austerity movement, and remind them that the Catholic Church is the natural ally of all the world’s poor.

      I don’t think he will, but he should.

  7. Nick

    I had a quick question, and would be forever grateful if so ebody would answer it for me: how do capital inflows cause the receiving country’s economy to become instable? It’s come up a lot in Econned, the book, and I cant seem to connect the dots.

    1. financial matters

      Large capital inflows and outflows are often speculative in nature and damaging to the underlying economy causing inflation on the ingress and recession on the egress. Capital controls try to moderate these excursions.

    2. Jim

      Nick, torrential capital flows into Spain went into the real estate sector,pushing up salaries and benefits. Other sector also had to raise salaries, to stay competitive. Upshot? Spain’s labor market priced itself out of the global economy.

    3. scraping_by

      Capital inflows are often held as debt in a currency other than local. Add interest, processing fees, local currency devaluation, and the debt grows from convenience to annoyance to crushing burden.

      And it can also be a prize for local group competition. Occupational groups, political parties, ethnic groups, ambitious individuals, etc. might play the game a little too hard for civil life.

  8. rich

    Goldman Sachs VP Changed His Name, Now Advances Goldman Lobbying Interests As A Top Staffer To Darrell Issa
    Thursday 18 August 2011

    Has Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) turned the House Oversight Committee into a bank lobbying firm with the power to subpoena and pressure government regulators? ThinkProgress has found that a Goldman Sachs vice president changed his name, then quietly went to work for Issa to coordinate his effort to thwart regulations that affect Goldman Sachs’ bottom line.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Marine Biology Factoid Du Jour- the squid and
      cuttlefish all can alter their skin color to fool or remain safe from their prey.

  9. Jeff

    Super Cookies:

    Use Firefox, change preferences to
    “Never Remember History”,
    check the
    “Tell Websites that I don’t want to be tracked” box
    and close and reopen the browser between sessions.

    Also, don’t forget to install Flash Flush.
    Flash installs its own cookies in its resident

    Firefox has an incredibly powerful and free add on,
    Ad Blocker Plus that works.

    You can track the sometimes hundreds of scripts that websites vainly attempt to open on your browser and selectively look at them if you want.

    All that being said, I don’t know if the supercookies are stopped by Firefox, but if any browser can do it, they will.

    1. KFritz

      Don’t think there’s any need for any add-ons for flash cookies. Following the directions in this article, plus clicking on the “lock-icon” tab of the Adobe control plan and check “always ask” will keep a machine free of flash cookies.

      I don’t use ad-block anymore. I do have No Script,, and Request Policy, installed. These were recommended by Brian Krebs of long ago.

      Any suspicious web addresses can be run through aggregate sites:

  10. Paul W

    Yves, you should get used to Wagner because this particular version should go on for years. What is really wearing me down is the endless string of experts and their simplistic resolutions to the “European crisis”. Most have no clue of the depth and complexity of the problems associated with building the institutions which will attempt to govern Europe in the future. The most reassuring thing I have read recently was the Spiegel interview with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble, one of those responsible for trying to guide Europe through the maze. I’m sure most readers found him evasive and vague. I found him patient, thoughtful, realistic and yet optimistic. There are no easy answers and quick fixes. Everyone, especially financial markets, should stop expecting them.,1518,780248,00.html

    1. aet

      Americans and Brits in particular seem to think that complex matters of international relations should be as black and white in terms of heroes and villains, and as easily comprehensible, as the morality plays which pass for entertainment in those societies.

      I wish they’d grow up, and stop believing their own propaganda.

    2. Jim

      Saw Wagner, and remembered from my consulting days, when first drafts would cite Wagner as source: Wild A** Guess Not Easily Refuted.

  11. Jeff

    Just want to say a Big Thank You to Yves Smith for
    the best and most erudite site out there. I tell everyone that likes the Fluffington Post to get their eyeballs over here. They can learn about new things, refine what they know and be raised to a higher level.

    I used to admire Arianna…now I detest her. What a sell out. Maybe she was a covert GOP operative the whole time and built her site to sap the progressive energy in
    this country and then divert it into vapid gossip and mega advertising.

    Thank you Yves.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Unfortunately, there is no complete escape.

      Her site is linked here from time to time.

  12. Sock Puppet

    I look forward to Yves apologizing for thin links. It seems that every time she does that there’s a bumper crop! Thanks Yves.

  13. colinc

    Wow! 1220 hrs Eastern time and not a single comment about the Fukushima article! When “life” is all about money, all other priorities rescinded!

    Nonetheless, I still have to wonder when, if ever, “enough” people will realize that the “problems” exposed at Fukushima, Deep Water Horizon, Chernobyl, Bhopal, etc. are not “outliers” or “one-off” events. These are merely instances where these systemic failures escalated to their inevitable, catastrophic conclusion. Has anyone seen the story regarding the 700 water-main failures per day being experienced in Houston, wherein the mayor states that over the past decade or so there were “only 200 per day?” There are thousands if not tens of thousands of these events, across the USA and globally, just “waiting” to happen. All the while industry lobbyists pour millions into law-maker coffers to repeal more regulation which will only result in greater, more imminent probabilities for these mass-destruction scenarios. We have met the “real terrorists” and they is us!

    1. Jim Haygood

      Large-diameter pipes full of reactor coolant water are quite heavy. Hold them at their two ends (the flanges) and shake them, and the center portions will vibrate like a violin string.

      Conceivably their earthquake resistance could be raised by adding more pipe supports. In a refinery, that would be a relatively simple matter. But in a nuke plant, with strict limitations on radiation exposure, adding numerous pipe supports would be a large undertaking. The cost might even imply scrapping some plants, rather than upgrading them.

      Reinforcing earthquake resistance is technically feasible, but may not be economically feasible.

    2. Lyle

      Actually the water main break rate in Houston is to be expected. Houston has a clay soil that swells when it is wet and shrinks when it is dry. The city (and all of Texas) is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in history. The soil then is shrinking, leaving pipes in compression or unsupported. Just like I suspect the roads in Houston are one big pothole right now. So some problems are totally predictable. A few years ago during another drought the same problem occurred in Houston.

    3. aet

      Get a grip.

      “Monitoring of newly released radiation in the air has been stepped up by about a factor of ten after levels fell below detection limits. The dose rate at the site boundary from newly released radiation now is just 0.4 millisieverts per year – within normal operating limits.

      With the site now substantially stabilised and radiation release all but stopped to both air and sea, the issue of disposition of caesium-137 in the wider area is becoming the main focus of attention. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is now beginning analysis to support the return of residents to the zone 20-30 kilometres from the plant. It will need to assess the extent of contamination in each individual area as well as potential remediation measures.”


      And yeah global warming has Texas by the balls, that’s why we need nukes.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Perhaps you are joking — higher temps are associated with higher rainfall, since temperature drives evaporation from the oceans.

        It’s the combination of cool and dry which lowers crop yields to the point of destroying civilizations.

  14. ScottS

    Welcome back (C)otter!

    I thought journalists were obligated to use puns in headlines, on threat of defenestration.

  15. VietnamVet

    Life is Strange. Today, I learned about “Firebaggers” and “Krgthulu”. News radio reported that the Double Dip Recession is commencing.

    The Grasping Reality blog quotes Kenneth Rogoff; “the real problem is that the global economy is badly overleveraged, and there is no quick escape without a scheme to transfer wealth from creditors to debtors, either through defaults, financial repression, or inflation”. History has returned with vengeance.

    Without a haircut on the bad debt, taxes on the wealthy and programs to stop outsourcing jobs and money, the Forbes article predicting the Coming Global Class War is too accurate.

    President Obama, a Man for the Elites, is the wrong President at the wrong time. Perhaps, if history plays Variations, after the Teabagger Corporatist President grinds the economy into an Austerity Depression; in 2016 a real “New Deal” President will win the election.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Saw that too. So much for the enlightened, liberal Cuomo administration. That’s medieval — the modern version of burning witches.

      1. Valissa

        Here in MA, where possession of less than an oz is a mere $100 misdemeanor, an extremely petty theft can get you a year in jail!

        Athol man jailed over theft of $12

        An Athol man has been sentenced to a year in jail for stealing $12.

        The prosecutor said that may seem harsh, but it wasn’t the theft was so shocking, but where it happened, and who witnessed it.

        Authorities say 37-year-old John Hayes took the money last September from a Jimmy Fund can in the lobby of the police station, in front of his 13-year-old son.

        It should be noted that Athol is in a relatively poor (relative to eastern MA) rural town in western MA.

  16. Hugh

    The UK riots have entered the phase of reaction and repression. A lot of it is positively Dickensian. I saw a report where a mother who had not taken part in the riots was given a pair of shorts by someone who had and got several months in jail for it. Then there are the reports that families are being evicted and thrown off welfare if any member was involved, or I should say alleged involved because these actions are taking place before any conviction. In any case, look how quickly and severe the response has been.

    Then look at the bankers who stole trillions sitting on their knighthoods still enjoying the fruits of their looting and the prestige of their social position.

    Why didn’t British judges deliver up to them the same quick and dirty justice they gave to the poor and disenfranchised? We all, of course, know the answer to that. Britain is every bit the kleptocracy we are. One system of laws, or rather exemption from law, for the wealthy, and a draconiam law for everyone else.

    The British use of repression is an indication that the UK has entered into a revolutionary process. That is cycles of repression are used to instill fear in the underclasses. They engender harder and harder responses, more secretive, more directed, more violent, more ideological, more revolutionary. Inequality is the source of revolution, but repression is its school. I see no movement of liberal social reform to compete with and supersede it.

    Kotkin in the Forbes piece touches on the class divide but fails to see looting behind wealth and opportunity inequality and the revolutionary character of what is happening in the UK, and here.

    1. KnotRP

      The elite are good at repressing the lowest quintile,
      which tends to act out in obvious visible ways that
      are easy to deal with.

      Wonder how the elite will fare when the quintile
      right below them decides to act….

  17. KnotRP

    > The great failure of Jeffrey Sachs, Financial Times

    Oh look, Jeffery is hooking for the tollbooth pimps now.

    (Yves, why are you providing the lamp post for a
    known hooker?)

  18. Richard Lyon

    I just love the Ring analogy. Angela as Brunhilde and Sarko as Albrecht. It would be loads of fun to fill in the other characters.

    1. ambrit

      Wonderful! Now maybe we’ll find out just how far down and out America would have gone if FDR hadn’t been elected.

  19. Cynthia

    Weird: Stocks Crash On Geithner’s 50th Birthday, Just Like It Did For Obama’s

    Read more:

    [Then again, it’s not so weird given that crashes have become commonplace in the market these days. And crash-like moves in the market will continue to remain commonplace until the market finds a bottom. As to WHERE this bottom is and WHEN it will occur, your guess is as good as mine.]

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This is getting too intimate, but I feel like I need to know a few more persons’ birthdays.

  20. ScottS

    Re: Mass. GOP hits Warren over consultants — Boston Globe

    At least Joan of Arc won some battles before being burned at the stake. A new pucelle is in order.

  21. Foppe

    Just read one of the most obnoxious articles I’ve seen in ages. To wit: The Atlantic Monthly explaining that problem the US has is that it has become “too meritocratic”, and that this means that “the middle class” will have to get used to the fact that they have shit jobs.
    “Can the Middle Class be Saved” (choice quotes)

    Ultimately, the evolution of the meritocracy itself appears to be at least partly responsible for the growing cultural gulf between highly educated Americans and the rest of society.</b
    …Removing bureaucratic obstacles to innovation is as important as pushing more public funds toward it.
    …Regulatory balance is always difficult in practice
    …It follows that with improvements in the K–12 school system, more-stable home environments, and widespread financial access to college, we eventually could move to a 50 percent college graduation rate overall.
    …a larger proportion of Americans may need to take work in occupations that have historically required little skill and paid low wages.
    Even as we continue to strive to perfect the meritocracy, signs that things may be moving in the other direction are proliferating. The increasing segregation of Americans by education and income, and the widening cultural divide between families with college-educated parents and those without them, suggests that built-in advantages and disadvantages may be growing. And the concentration of wealth in relatively few hands opens the possibility that much of the next generation’s elite might achieve their status through inheritance, not hard or innovative work.

    Note especially how the author finishes the last paragraph. The problem isn’t that they’re being ‘unreasonably exploitative’ or however he would euphemistically call it; the fear is that “the next generation will inherit its status”.

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