Links 8/22/11

Weatherwatch: The many Welsh words for rain Guardian (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Who we gonna call? Quackbuster! Guardian. I’d be happier with this if he went after the overprescription of psychoactive meds with equal vigor. I recall when anybody who went to a chiropractor or an acupuncturist was treated as a foolish victim of con men, and now both treatments are acknowledged as being useful for certain ailments.

Feinstein: “Service members continue to receive drug linked to permanent brain damage” FireDogLake

Bite Counter is like a pedometer for your mouth USA Today (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Motorola’s Value Found in 18 Patents Bloomberg (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Jubilant Rebels Control Much of Tripoli New York Times

Swedish Banks Told to Gird for Second European Credit Crisis, Frisell Says Bloomberg. From last week but still germane.

Tu quoque is not a eurozone crisis solution FT Alphaville. Pre echoed by LOL Greece: YO’MAMA-NOMICS 101 (hat tip Richard Smith)

Family finances ‘worse than in recession’ Independent (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Big trouble ahead MacroBusiness

China’s blindfolds and bullet trains MarketWatch

Taking the Justice Out of the Justice System Karen Greenberg, TomGram

Obama’s Base Problem Public Policy Polling (hat tip Debra C)

Watch: Rick Perry Really Is Even Dumber Than George Bush Pensito Review (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Republicans at home face Tea Party-style protests from liberal, labor groups The Hill (hat tip reader David C)

Prostitutes Flood Vallejo After Bankrupt City Slashes Police 33% Bloomberg (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

PFI: the conjuring trick exposed Guardian. Debunking public-private partnerships.

Walmart’s online movies overtake Amazon Financial Times (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2T in Loans Bloomberg (hat tip reader Carol B)

Wall Street rating agencies’ corrupt system Al Franken, CNN (hat tip reader Glen S)

This Is All Kinds Of Wrong of the Day The Daily What. Another mortgage horror story.

QOTD: Andrew Smithers Says “Sell The Next 10% Rally” Barry Ritholtz. My sentiments exactly.

Homeowners Need Help New York Times. The editorial calls for principal reductions. Glad to see that this idea is being finally treated as legitimate, but the odds of the Obama administration doing anything other than cosmetic principal reductions (as in they get the soundbite but don’t ruffle the banks) are zero.

Corporate Interests Threaten Child Welfare New York Times. Let’s see if this argument gets traction.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Moopheus

    No, acupuncture has never been shown to be significantly better than placebo effect. Acupuncturists are still basically conmen, they just have better publicists now.

    1. YankeeFrank

      I’m not sure what the “studies” show but myself and friends can attest to its effectiveness treating issues from mild arm and wrist pain to sciatica. Don’t be such a smart-ass, your blinders are showing.

      1. LeeAnne

        I once (in the 1980s) had a nagging pain in my shoulder for a long period of time; no diagnosis worked, and it just didn’t go away until an American Indian healer by the name of Joseph (my hairdresser’s friend) treated me with a healing ritual that included feathers.

        Cure? Instant and permanent.

        Talking cures are not irrelevant or phony. They often work. Thanks for reminding me. There’s a procedure, where you have pain, of meditating on it with acceptance. It works for some people some of the time.

        And, there are no unintended consequences or side effects to these cures. I’ve had unbelievable results, unsolicited, just talking to a doctor who would listen, and voila! -the complaint is gone.

        Dental work is a far different story. Nothing buy money works.

    2. G Marks

      Don’t say that. A friend was taking a course at UCLA which required an acupuncture clinic. Each student brought two people as “guinea pigs”.

      I remember they put needles in gall bladder 39 or such. OMG. I was actually high all afternoon. I asked the clinician why I felt like I was on psycho active drugs like the 60’s.

      He said I could prolong the effects by drinking only water and not eating.

      We were all high all day. I mean REALLY high, like on LSD.

      I was 40 years old at the time. This was no placebo, and I have never been able to reproduce the effects [I tried treatment again 10 years later and nothing]

      I don’t know what they did … but I felt the effects, and I am now cured of idiopathic epilepsy. It just stopped happening.

      1. Moopheus

        I’m going to go out on a limb and make a guess that that’s not the only treatment for epilepsy you ever got.

      2. Jim3981

        I had acupuncture a few times. The first time was amazing for sure. Felt pretty buzzed for an hour or so.

        In the following treatments, I almost always fell asleep on the table with needles in me.

      3. Roger Bigod

        It’s mostly woo, but with some documented effects on endorphins.

        “It is noticeable that acupuncturists tend chiefly to advertise their abilities to treat precisely those ailments which are chronic but intermittently better or worse (headaches, acne), or which have a strong psychosomatic element (impotence, asthma), or which are guaranteed to clear up rapidly anyway (the common cold), and are therefore are profiting from the placebo effect and regression to the mean.”

        1. Francois T

          Asthma as a “strong psychosomatic component”?

          As a physician, I’d be interested to read more about that. Of course, a patient with asthma under a lot of stress will have an enhanced propensity to suffer an attack or worsening, but quite frankly, the term “strong” irritates me more than a bit. How “strong” is it? How has this been determined? Are we talking case reports here? Observational studies? RDB trials?

          Links please! PubMed, JAMA, NEJM, Nature, BMJ, CJAM are acceptable, Natural News is not.

          1. Dave of Maryland

            When my wife recently had a sudden and severe and inexplicable inflammation of her left eye, one of the people we tried was my favorite Chinese herbalist.

            As my wife’s asthma was a complicating factor, the doctor said to chop pepper and ginger and put it on her back between her shoulder blades.

            I used jalapenos. I thought mincing would work best, but that only made uncomfortable lumps. So big crude chops, but not very much of either pepper or ginger. A tablespoon each, more or less.

            A single day’s treatment got Elizabeth off inhalers for at least a week. This was no more than a couple of months ago. She had me buy more ingredients at the store but hasn’t made me chop them up & put them on as yet.

            I’ve got books full of old-timey recipes like this, though this one isn’t in them. The Smith Family Physician ought to be on your bookshelf.

            What doctors have now are patent medicines, and they’re no better now than when they were sold from the back of a wagon.

      4. Alex

        …I have never been able to reproduce the effects [I tried treatment again 10 years later and nothing]

        There’s a journal dedicated to this kind of thing. It’s quite famous, but not at all prestigious. Actually, most scientists who involuntarily come to the journal’s attention are quite embarrassed about it.

        1. Dave of Maryland

          Acupuncture and Chinese herbs lowered my blood pressure from (tell me if I get these in the right order) 180/125 to more or less 140/95, in my late 50’s. Took over a year. This was with no reduction in salt intake, which has always been generous, and with no western drugs whatever. My Chinese doc wrote me up on her website, but I am modest.

          Over on the local do-it-yourself meter at the supermarket, I occasionally see 130/85. Which is dang near NORMAL. I’ve had high blood pressure my entire life. When I was 20 it measured 120/90.

          Everyone sneers at this stuff until they see it work. Everyone sneers at the Chinese herbalists, until, in the intake interview, they ask things like, how do you sleep at night, how are your ears, how is this, how is that. These things have meaning for them, because they see all your various parts as connected. Western doctors see a pile of spare parts. Your choice.

          I wouldn’t let a western-trained quack doctor (House comes to mind) anywhere near me, and the times when I’ve panicked and let them, I’ve regretted it. There are still better systems than Traditional Chinese Medicine, including a not-quite-here souped up version of TCM, but we must be patient a little while longer.

          Dear Yves, dear everyone: If your doctor looks at you and doesn’t know what the problem is, If your doctor schedules test so he can “find out”, he is admitting he is INCOMPETENT. RUN. No excuses.

          Medicine is a complex study. Different doctors know different things. Doctors have quirky and unique abilities. The right doctor, the one in a hundred, can fix you. Even if 99 others can’t. A doctor who runs tests is a doctor that doesn’t know. Find another.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Wrong. There is clinical evidence it helps for knee pain, with lots of studies on rheumatoid arthritis, which is a chronic condition. The WHO, among others, has published reports on the efficacy of acupuncture for pain relief and in reducing inflammation. My insurance even pays for acupuncture for pain. And you know how insurers are re medical necessity….

      1. Roger Bigod

        IIRC, the medical system in France pays for homeopathic “medicine”, so willingness of third parties to pay isn’t dispositive. And homeopathy is pure superstitious junk, without even the entertainment value of woo.

        Acupuncture may have some effect via endorphins or stimulation of autonomic nervous system, but a lot is probably placebo effect of having a nice person take in interest and try to give good care. Which is fine. You spell “relief” the same way whether the science is a little conjectural. But chi and the meridians is woo. Charming, but woo nonetheless.

        1. Anon

          Yeah, yeah.

          I find it funny that Luc Montagnier, when he’s sharing a Nobel for Medicine for figuring out HIV, is a genius, but when he’s researching homeopathy dilution effects, he’s a nutcase.

          (He’s been snapped up by the Chinese, and now works at a university in Shanghai, with what I should imagine are a shedload of resources.)

          The knee-jerk reactions to Montagnier’s current research interests remind me of nothing so much as Paul Feyerabend’s hilarious Objections to Astrology: A Statement by 186 Leading Scientists (in Against Method).

          Question: does the placebo effect work on animals?

          1. Skippy

            Depends how is it administered and to which species.

            Skippy…gross generalizations are not a true / false equivalency, more like home to mystics.

        2. Bill

          I’m always amused when people throw
          around “placebo effect” as if it is an
          explanation for something, or anything.

          “Placebo effect” is not explanatory, but
          rather descriptive: it means “something
          happened, but we don’t know what”.

          Rationally, offering “placebo effect”
          as an explanation, is known as an “ansswer”
          that “begs the question.”

          IOW, offering the “placebo effect” indicates
          an ignorance of the real answer…

          Alles klaar ?

          1. Anon


            Which is why it’s so strange that Luc Montagnier is ridiculed for attempting to research homeopathy.

            The “homeopathy is pure, superstitious junk” crowd gets upset when a Nobellist in Medicine even thinks it worthy of consideration.

            I mean, how dare he?.

            Because we know it’s rubbish, don’t we? Why would anyone even bother to look?

            And when vets use homeopathy on animals and it works, well, that’s just… the placebo effect.

  2. dearieme

    “Rick Perry Really Is Even Dumber Than George Bush”: but is he dumber than John Kerry? Let’s have a properly demanding standard here.

    P.S. None of these three schmucks is as dumb as Teddy Kennedy was, surely?

    1. Anonymous Jones

      I would be so fascinated if we had some sort of machine that could examine thoughts like these and allow us a sort of autopsy of their genesis and how they navigate past all the logic firewalls in the brain.

      Is it just some instinctive, almost atavistic desire to be part of one clan versus the other, harkening to a primitive sense of fandom, and that no logic can ever penetrate this instinct?

      It’s just so bizarre to me. It’s not that I don’t know it exists. It’s just so different that I can’t comprehend it, hardly on any level. I guess I like sports teams, but even then, I can identify the a**holes and the incompetents among the players for my squad. I don’t just blindly defend them by finding a counterpart on the other squad who’s worse.

      In any event, fascinating.

      1. NOTaREALmerican

        It’s all explained in the book titled: “True Believers”.

        A large percentage of the human population have brains “wired” to worship. What they worship might be different from brain to brain but – in the end – worshiping a political “ism”, a particular “ism” sociopath, a Deity, a particular Deity sociopath, a sports team, or a particular sport’s team sociopath are all the same thing.

        All the non-true believers can do is try to protect themselves from the majority that believe.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Guy Lerner echoes Andrew Smithers’ forecast of a bounce in equities:

    The “dumb money” is extremely bearish. Insider buying is occurring at a very high clip and it slightly exceeds those levels seen at the March 2009 lows. The Rydex market timers (our last hold out) have finally turned bearish. These kinds of extremes in sentiment have not been seen for 12 months. The rubber band is stretched, and I am bullish.

    Lerner is an MD who’s become a market technician. He’s pretty solid and data-driven.

  4. EmilianoZ

    Jane Hamsher’s account of her time in jail is pretty interesting:

    “One woman had to poop and she just really did not want to do that in a 6 x 8 cell with 13 other women in the room. She asked the guard if he’d let her do it in the restroom down the hall. He wouldn’t.”

    “When I got outside, the 350 organizers said that only about 10-15 of those who were arrested were being released, so approximately 50-55 are in jail until Monday. They said that the Park Police told them that they were keeping the others as a “lesson” that would “discourage” anyone who wanted to take part in the daily sit-ins over the course of the next two weeks.”

    “When Barack Obama was elected, he said that the earth would now begin to heal. Yet last week, he and Michelle took separate jets only a few hours apart to Martha’s Vineyard.” (This reminds me of Yves calling Obama a “patrician wannabe”)

    1. BetaSheep

      We can’t have a bunch of nonviolent protestors engaging in civil disobedience while we dedicate the MLK Memorial, now can we?

  5. Deb Schultz

    Re This is All Kinds of Wrong of the Day: This is a perfect example of Jamie Galbraith’s point about the criminality of the current financial system. The contract of the HAMP included the stipulation of no early payment of monthly mortgage premiums. Galbraith is saying that this sort of contract is clearly vicious and that it is a feature, not a bug, of the current system. His point is that hoodwinking the weaker parties to contracts is now the standard business model, thanks to collusion between legislators and lobbyists who both serve vested interests.

    1. Francois T

      Don’t forget the 5 rear echelon motherfuckers of the Supine Court conservatard wing who considered that consumers should not have the right to band together to defend their rights.

      Of course, corporations CAN band together to flood political campaign with unlimited money.

      To the first cretin who comes up with “the unions too gna gna gna!”… Anyone who tries to compare union money with the colossal amount of corporate money is dishonest as well as ignorant and math challenged too.

  6. Keating Willcox

    A recent study showed that acupuncture works as the irritation at the needle site produces some sort of chemical reaction…Acupuncture works by inserting needles into certain points along the body’s nervous system. The needles are thought to stimulate skin and muscle nerves, releasing the body’s natural painkillers – endorphins and enkephalins – into the pain pathways of the spinal cord.

    Read more:

    1. Dave of Maryland

      Since you asked, acupuncture works on tertiary chakra points, as needles are not appropriate to work on the primary and secondary centers directly. Acupuncture frees up the body’s energy circulation, thus restoring proper energy balance. This is sometimes enough by itself to restore damaged chakras to health, but if not, there are other solutions that work directly on chakras. Regrettably, once we get to the primary and secondary chakras, there is a lot of wishful thinking.

  7. Johnny Clamboat

    The story on the bankrupted city of Vallejo does not mention that penison costs went up after bankruptcy, nor does it mention a 7% raise given to police 1 year ago.

    If labor costs were the #1 reason for the filing, what was the point of filing?

  8. VietnamVet

    Old Age, Arthritis and the Links are depressing:

    1) The Eurozone will break apart.

    2) The Obama Administration is Corrupt.

    3) Prospect for the American Housing Market is dismal.

    4) Whenever the economy starts to revive the rise in petroleum prices kills the recovery.

    This is all wrapped up in the Reagan Revolution, the Fall of the Soviet Union, and the End of History. Mussolini Corporatism rules the Western World. Marketing and Ideology promise a turnaround but it will never happen with Apple, Bank of America, Comcast, Boeing and Exxon in charge.

    Jobs for Americans has to be priority one to stimulate demand. Banks need to be broken apart and bad debt wiped off the books. Planning for the end of the use of petroleum for transportation has to begin. Electrify America’s railroads.

  9. babaganush

    re Perry

    I’d like to see a Perry/Palin combo run for president. The entertainment value would be through the roof! Fact-free-make-it-up-as-go-shooting-from-the-hip-draped-in-the-American-flag-with-cowboy-boots. That’s show bizz.

    The destructive power of a lie is stronger than truth.

    1. epic

      It would be epic.

      Mr. Parry, what is the best way for america to get out of it’s rut?

      Mr. Parry- Kill all of the “liberals” who want to make government “work”

      Ms. Palin- I have advocated that for a while.

      But Mr. Parry, you wish to be elected to head a government that you think most people would be better off without?

      Mr. Parry- Yes.


      Mr. Parry- there you go with your liberal bias again.

      Ms. Palin- Rick, can I look at your hand quick, mine doesn’t have an answer on it.

      Mr. Parry- I think all my answers rubbed off when I was trying to draw on this “liberal”. My trigger finger gets itchy.

      Ms. Palin- You have a gun with you right now?

      Mr. Parry- Yes

      Ms. Palin- I thought they only came attached to helicopters, can I see it?

  10. Cynthia

    “The Big Gaddafi” is a must-read by Pepe Escobar, the Brazilian-born war correspondent who coined the term “Pipelineistan”:

    “…He had always known why they came to pee on his carpet. Because he didn’t hand the Brits, the Frogs or the Yanks the oil concessions they wanted. So now those unspeakable Saudi bastards started propping up these fanatic al-Qaeda-related types – just like they did in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

    Western ‘banksters’ invented an ‘alternative’ Central Bank – with HSBC’s help to rob Libya’s money. They also invented a new, to be fully privatized, national oil company, managed by Qatar, to rob Libya’s oil…

    Well, if this is the kind of paradise NATO plus those “democrat” Saudis and Qataris wanted, the Arab Dude would abide – and make their lives hell. A free market free-for-all, an Africom base in the Mediterranean, a flimsy puppet government, a Libyan Karzai – and a vicious guerrilla force fighting them till Kingdom Come. Afghanistan remixed.

    Blowback will come – and it will be a bitch.”

  11. Sock Puppet

    “UK riots were product of consumerism and will hit economy, says City broker”

    The recent riots in London and other big cities were the product of consumerism and will have profound impacts on the economy, a leading City broker has said.

    Unusually for City analysts, the report by Tullett Prebon focuses on social and political rather than economic issues. It says: “The consumerist ethos, in which a materialist vision is both peddled and, for the vast majority, simultaneously ruled out by exclusion, has extremely damaging consequences, both social and economic.”

    “We conclude that the rioting reflects a deeply flawed economic and social ethos… recklessly borrowed consumption, the breakdown both of top-end accountability and of trust in institutions, and severe failings by governments over more than two decades.”

  12. PQS

    Re: Principal Mods/NYT article:

    I would like to see a correlation between people who are trapped by underwater mortgages and unemployment….specifically, how many people could get a job if they could unload their home and/or reduce the payments without declaring bankruptcy or other life-destroying moves?

    Sure would be a great talking point.

  13. TM

    Hmm…Bankfiend hiring a defense attorney.

    Looks like Obama has finally figured out that constantly blowing wall street with the zest of an nympho exhibitionist will not help re-election.

  14. Typing Monkey


    In general, companies and their lawyers handle recalls directly. They answer patient queries and pay claims for reimbursement. Typically, companies accept a treating physician’s recommendation when it comes to determining if a device should be removed or replaced.

    In DePuy’s case, it is Broadspire’s physicians, not the patient’s own doctor, who, in effect, make the final decision on whether a patient’s hip should be replaced. While Broadspire physicians cannot directly override a patient’s doctor in terms of treatment, they make the decision on whether to pay. That can effectively rule out surgery for patients who cannot pay.

    “Doctors who are evaluating these cases are being paid indirectly by DePuy, and research suggests that even when we are very well-intentioned we can be influenced by conflicts of interest,” said Kristin Smith-Crowe, associate professor of management at the University of Utah, who specializes in business ethics. “This is a bit of a red flag in terms of the way this situation is set up.”

  15. Typing Monkey

    I’m going over the $1.2Tr Fed giveaways, and I’m a little curious about some of these institutions.

    Who the hell is Guggenheim Partners, for example? And why did they get over $12bn? Were they really paramount to the financial system’s continuance?

    How about Hudson Castle Group (also got over $12bn)? Shinkin Central bank? Northcross Capital?

    How did nobody lose their jobs over this?

    1. Typing Monkey

      Incidentally, how much would Buffett have made on his bet if Goldman didn’t get the $70bn free float from that program?

  16. rd

    Vallejo is simply making a complete transition to a service-based post-industrial economy. It is one of the few service industries that is very difficult to out-source overseas. Now they just need to figure out how to classify the work so that it can be appropriately taxed.

    1. rd

      BTW, Vallejo appears to have elected to largely de-regulate their city and allow for the invisible hand of the free market to determine the optimum mix of industries. Therefore, it would be illogical to come to the conclusion that the expansion of this new service industry is a bad thing for the community since it would be irrational for prostitutes and pimps to negatively impact their community where they work.

  17. Foppe

    Some three-quarters of economists who do forecasting for the private sector say tax revenue should rise as part of efforts to tame unsustainable budget deficits, according to the survey released Monday by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE).

    By contrast, 19 percent said tax reform should be done in a “revenue-neutral” way, and 5 percent said reforms should reduce tax revenues. About 250 business economists participated in the NABE survey.

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