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Links 9/22/12

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Forest fires: Burn out Nature

Researchers create single-atom silicon-based quantum computer ExtremeTech

Study: Athletes Perform Better Under Pressure When They Make a Fist With Their Left Hand Atlantic. Too bad I have to use my left hand for SHIFT/FN/CTRL/OPT/CMD then.

QE3 will not fix America’s problems, warns Paul Volcker Telegraph

Oil’s mystery fall confounds QE3 critics FT

A Federal Reserve Dove Emerges in Michigan Speech Businessweek

Chicago Fed Study Blasts the Lid Off of High Frequency Trading Economic Populist

Puzzle of falling UK labour productivity Martin Wolf, FT

Coal Era Beckons for Europe as Carbon Giveaway Finishes Bloomberg

Open Source Politics: The Radical Promise of Germany’s Pirate Party Atlantic

Greece grapples with shadow of Golden Dawn FT

Why Greece’s Neo-Nazis Are So Popular Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider. Social services!

Catalan official makes fresh warning to government over independence El Pais

Property porn, as it’s known in the trade FT Alphaville. Handy chart.

Will Japan do to us on gas what we did to it on ore? Macrobusiness

Japan’s no-nuke pledge is already fraying at the edges Asahi Shimbun

Nick Jr. Suspends Production On ‘The Almighty Muhammad’s Porkalicious Toon Jihad’ America’s Finest News Source

Obama officials’ spin on Benghazi attack mirrors Bin Laden raid untruths Glenn Greenwald, Guardian

Final US ‘surge’ troops withdraw from Afghanistan Guardian

Defense hawk wants out of Afghanistan: ‘We’re killing kids who don’t need to die’   AP. Wait, wait. As opposed to?

The Definition of a Quagmire Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker

Afghanistan – now what? Threat Matrix

Jon Stewart: Chaos On Bullshit Mountain Jesse’s Café Américain

Highest income counties in 2011 WaPo. V(ers)A(illes).

Some life expectancies are shrinking Marginal Revolution. Policy success for the 1%.

The decline of collective bargaining and the erosion of middle class incomes in Michigan Economic Policy Institute

Medicare Bills Rise as Records Turn Electronic Times

Troika report on Greece may come after U.S. vote Reuters (Doug Terpstra). How considerate of the Eurocrats to make sure there are no market rumbles prior to the election.

The Scandal of Chevy Volt-Gate! future of transporation

Nationwide Protests to “End the Fed” This Weekend George Washington

Intangible Dividend of Antipoverty Effort: Happiness Times

My Triumph over the Bankers LBR. “Free forever.”

Investors raise $8 billion for REO John Prior, HousingWire

Fusion centers’ lameness thus far trumps potential civil liberties threats Grits for Breakfast.

NYPD aims to prevent iPhone theft, accepting signups for device registry at Apple stores The Verge. What could go wrong?

Glenn Gould: a wilfully idiotic genius? Guardian (with sample)

Why J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ Isn’t Just For Kids WSJ. I remain thankful for having read the original Tolkien hardcovers with the fold-out maps, and having been raised on the Lewis Carroll’s Alice, Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows, P.J. Travers’ Mary Poppins, A. A. Milne’s Pooh, and Lucretia Hale’s Peterkin Papers, all “in the original.” As it were.

* * *

Mission elapsed time: T + 15 and counting*

“Oh, man, not another election. Why do we have to choose our leaders? Isn’t that what we have the Supreme Court for?” –Homer Simpson

Chicago teacher’s strike. Vote: “Chicago teachers will vote Oct. 2 on whether to approve a contract with the nation’s third-largest public school district following their first strike in 25 years, school and union officials said on Friday.”

Quebec. Fracking: ” [Quebec Minister of Natural Resources Martine Ouellet said the PQ will maintain a full-out ban on hydraulic fracturing." Of course, Hydro-Québec... Victory: "'If the PQ is passing today a series of measures which answer to our demands, it is because we have held to our principles, and have defended them with an approach that was combative, yet unifying,' said Camille Robert, co-spokesperson for the CLASSE. 'In the future, our approach will win out over any regressive measure.'"

CA. Charters: "[A] charter high school that opened only last week in temporary space at Sherwood Mall will shut its doors for the final time Friday after a 10-day run.” Creative destruction!

NC. Disemployment: “Today, the NC Division of Employment Security released another disappointing jobs report for August that reflects a weakening private sector exacerbated by the long-term decay in the state’s public sector employment base.” (Only Obama can drown government in a bath tub; see second chart.) … Gary Johnson: “Then Johnson asked the audience, ‘What happens if all of you waste your vote and vote for me as president?’ Then he paused. ‘Then I’m the next president of the United States.’

FL. Foreclosure: “Angela Agrippa made a unique plea to the President today. She’s facing foreclosure and needs help saving her home, so she put her message ["OBAMA SAVE MY HOME"] on her roof” (where Obama might spot it from his helicopter). If only the Czar knew! … Corruption: “After securing $135 million in promises statewide, Digital Domain is the biggest jobs-incentive failure ever in FL. Incentives might still make sense in some cases. But as Digital Domain unwinds, it should provide all the incentive cities like West Palm Beach need to examine their own practices in detail.”

NY.Green Party: “[Ursula] Rozum [here] might not win the NY-24 race, but she will be a factor. The Siena poll released last week found seven percent of voters surveyed said they would vote for Rozum.”

TN. Godwin’s Law: “Its [sic] good to see I’m not the only one willing to stand up to the gaystapo.”

PA. Fracking: “Pennsylvania townships sued, calling unconstitutional the obliteration of their local rights to maintain public health. They won, but are scheduled to defend their rights in Pennsylvania’s supreme court 17 October.” … Fracking: “[Gov Corbett] also lashed out at drilling oppo­nents [during the Shale Gas Insight Con­fer­ence], call­ing them “unrea­son­ing.” “After all the pre­dic­tions of dis­as­ter and the fear­ful warn­ings of peo­ple with no under­stand­ing of the indus­try, Penn­syl­va­nia is reap­ing a bounty.”

Outside baseball. “Work hard and play by the rules”: “As the first woman in my family to graduate from college, I am still the working poor, with no health insurance (and several physical ailments) and no pension. It is extremely stressful and disconcerting to have multiple college degrees and still be in poverty. I’m in my 60s and I will never be able to afford to retire, so I have no choice but to work until I die.” … Fracking: “To the extent that fracking does take place, the least the public can expect is for the oil and gas industry to be held accountable for the damage it causes. Such accountability must include up-front financial assurances. [Frackers should be required to post] dramatically higher bonds.”

Ladies of negotiable affection. Cartagena: “[Charles K. Edwards, acting IG for DHS] told lawmakers Friday* that six women who met with U.S. Secret Service employees in Colombia in April were paid for sex and that other DoD and White House staff [two] might also have been involved.” Gee. And I thought this scandal was put to bed long ago [NC 2012-07-23]. As I remarked then: “If the Republicans don’t inflate this scandal to Travelgate dimensions — if the Rovian dog does not howl in the night — that curious incident would be a strong indicator that they just aren’t serious about election 2012″ (2012-04-19) [* the day where stories go to die]. And, oh yeah, Edwards’s “investigative report will not be released publicly.” Haw.

Grand Bargain™-Brand Catfood Watch. Fiscal cliff: “Slowly and quietly, the U.S. Congress may be arriving at a consensus on how to avoid falling off the ‘fiscal cliff’ on December 31 – by simply putting off its own deadline for most of the major year-end budget and tax decisions.” Two words: “Article I.”

Robama vs. Obomney watch. The empire abroad: “For months, Romney, alongside Obama, has sustained the nondiscussion of a double concern that allied officials see in the presidential election: whether America is now inured to failing to win its good wars, and how much of an obligation that the United States must function as global good cop.” … The empire at home: “Both parties are stout defenders of redistribution to the interest groups of their respective party coalitions. And there is a great deal of overlap. Neither party is going to drown the military-industrial complex in Grover Norquist’s bath tub any time soon. Neither party has the self-immolating intention to cut the welfare programmes that most benefit the middle class.” … Media critique: “[A] Romney speech has all the intellectual nourishment of an abandoned pack of pretzels found in an airline seat pocket. The same is, of course, true of Obama’s campaign appearances, but, in general, challengers are held to a higher standard than incumbent presidents (see Kerry, John)” (Walter Shapiro)

The trail. Swing state Keynsianism: “Unemployment climbed in WI, NH, IA, NC and NV, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The rate dropped in CO and NM, and was unchanged from July in OH, FL and VA. Joblessness in six of the 10 states is below the national average of 8.1 percent.” Guess that’s why they pushed that weak Census sh*t. … Debates: “Gary Johnson, his running mate James Gray, and the Johnson-Gray Campaign filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the central district of CA against the Commission on Presidential Debates, the DNC, and the RNC. The lawsuit alleges that the Commission on Presidential Debates and the two major parties are restraining competition.” If there’s justice, they’ll win. Oh, what am I thinking?

Green party. #S17: “[Jill Stein] declared that America is at a breaking point, and that it’s “time to turn that breaking point into a tipping point,” and she criticized the Dodd-Frank Act as ‘gutless, toothless, and useless.’ As she brought her speech to its end, she pointed to the nearby headquarters of H.S.B.C. and described its ‘greenwashing’ initiatives as a ‘partnership with the devil.’ The protesters wiggled their fingers in the air to signal their support.”

The Romney. Snakebit: “A plane carrying Ann Romney made an emergency landing Friday afternoon after smoke filled the cabin.” … Mediscare: “[AARP] Audience members also heckled Ryan over the course of the speech [on privatizing Medicare], much of which was met with stony silence. [A]pplause mixed in with the boos for much of his appearance.” … Tax returns: “When, exactly, did [the Romneys] satisfy their responsibilities as taxpayers for the years preceding the 2009 IRS amnesty program for anonymous holders of Swiss (and other foreign) bank account holders? Might it have been retroactively, like, maybe, in 2009?” … Point shaving? “[B]efore releasing their tax returns, the Romneys reduced the size of their charitable deduction so their effective tax rate would conform to Mitt’s previous statement that’d he’d never paid less than 13% in taxes. (Had he claimed the full $4 million [charitable] deduction, their effective tax rate would have likely been around 12%.).” Only The Romney could manufacture bad optics from paying more taxes than he had to. …. Point shaving? “The Romney campaign’s approach is more random. One day, Obama is a stealthy socialist. The next day, he’s an incompetent Washington politician. A few days before that, his vice president was making coded appeals to black racism.” Ouch! … Iron law of institutions? “So overall you have several institutional incentives all pushing R presidential campaigns towards, well, mediocrity. There’s pressure from the movement conservative marketplace to create “products” that can be sold to the marks; there’s the danger of a closed information feedback loop; and there’s the personal rush and career rewards that come creating and placing flaps in the press” Ouch! … Track record: “‘You don’t see any mayor in MA out promoting [Romney's] candidacy, because there are none,’ said former North Adams, Mass., mayor John Barrett. ‘We saw the job that he did, and so did Rs. They’re staying on the sidelines because they know.’” Ouch! … Nooners: “The Romney campaign has to get turned around. This week I called it incompetent, but only because I was being polite. I really meant ‘rolling calamity.‘” Ouch! Will Mr. James Baker please pick up the white courtesy phone?

The Obama. The Bill Clinton: “Michelle Obama this week acknowledged that the extended hug between Obama and [Bill] Clinton at the DNCon was ‘the public display of the bromance’ that has been going on for some time.” … Medicare but not for all: “President Obama defended his signature healthcare law Friday and told seniors that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would leave them ‘at the mercy of insurance companies.’” Which, of course, ObamaCare does not do. Oh, wait…

* Slogan of the day: Sailing the seas depends on the helmsman, waging visionary minimalism depends on Obama Thought!

* * *

Antidote du jour:

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86 comments

  1. SR6719

    “We did not seek the formula for overturning the world in books, but in wandering. Ceaselessly drifting for days on end, none resembling the one before.

    And then one ill-fated day the finest player of us all got lost in the forests of madness.

    But there is no greater madness than the present organization of life.”

    Will Self: Walking from his home in London to Heathrow, then from LAX to Hollywood:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGWF-VzIqPI

    1. SR6719

      And then there’s Baudrillard’s effort to come to terms with Los Angeles.

      Instead of discovering LA by walking from LAX to Hollywood (as shown in the film above) he describes flying over Los Angeles at night:

      “There is nothing to match flying over Los Angeles by night. A sort of luminous, geometric, incandescent immensity, stretching as far as the eye can see, bursting out from the cracks of the clouds. Only Hieronymus Bosch’s hell can match this inferno effect. The muted fluorescent of all the diagonals: Wilshire, Lincoln, Sunset, Santa Monica. Already, flying over San Fernando Valley, you come upon the horizontal infinite in every direction. But, once you are beyond the mountain, a city ten times larger hits you. You will never have encountered anything that stretches as far as this before. Even the sea cannot match it, since it is not divided up geometrically . . . . Mulholland Drive by night is an extraterrestrials vantage point on earth, or conversely, an earth dweller’s vantage point on the galactic metropolis.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s like a big illuminated chessboard, with pieces made of single-family-homes in the squares.

      2. SR6719

        Good analogy MLTPB,

        Yeah, like that, or like New Jersey suburbia (as I remember it from childhood) if you can imagine it stretched out to infinity, where most of the houses are painted pink, rose, bright green, lilac, buttercup, fudge, and so on, and where highways crisscross through the towns, almost like man-made geological networks of concrete, giving the whole landscape a kind of mineral presence.

      3. Ms G

        Raymond Chandler’s (I think?) take on LA:

        “A bunch of suburbs in search of a city.”

        (if there reference is wrong, do chime in)

      4. SR6719

        No, Ms G, I think you got it right. Chandler once called LA: “A city with all the personality of a paper cup…”

        But speaking of Raymond Chandler, here you have this enormously talented writer, but one who, in my opinion, ended up writing pretty conventional detective novels.

        If only he had used all that talent to go in another direction, and focus on description (instead of characters and plot), such as describing Los Angeles or describing crime scenes, in *painstaking* detail, because he did this better than almost anyone, it’s just that he didn’t do it nearly enough.

        But then, if he’d written Robbe-Grillet style, L.A. noir detective novels, he might have had a cult following of weirdos, but probably wouldn’t have sold many books, so there’s also that to keep in mind…

        :)

        1. Ms G

          I hafta disagree with you there. RC wove the details of the city into character and plot so finely that you couldn’t tell where one ended and the next began. Just like in real life, though fiction portrays that web of humans and context better than many vehicles. For me, RG never could (or did) match that feat of virtuoso. I lost interest in the post modern fiction writers from france pretty quickly, as I found them sterile and dehumanizing and too clever by half (compared to real experience). I do very much enjoy our little reparties though!

        2. SR6719

          All right, so we’ll agree to disagree on RC vs. RG.

          But one last thing: I rarely click on on other people’s youtube links, so I don’t really expect anyone to click on mine, but if you’re interested in seeing some black-and-white views of old Paris, from the 1950s leading up to the 1968 student uprising, then you can follow Guy Debord on his pub crawl between the 2:00 min (app.) and the 5:30 minute marks of the Obsessed by Walking film above.

          To me this is the most interesting part of the video, but some might not make it through the first two minutes, and so they’d miss this part.

        3. Chandler Nerd

          If one has looked at a bio of Chandler one will find that Chandler spent a good part of his formative years in England and Europe — he was the only survivor of his unit in WWI — take these and combine with British art of understatement — for me, Chandler describes the city of Los Angeles (and others) every time he develops / describes a protagnonist (if there is one present), antagonists and even the ancillary characters which often serve as chorus. I also like to think he owes a small debt to the author of Day of the Locust, Nathanael West.
          (Have become an amateur noir scholar while unemployed for some 18 months–recently returned to work and most likely will not be needed soon–May have to abandon legitimate work and see if Eddie Mars is hiring)

          1. Ms G

            Chandlernerd. Thank you for connecting RC to Nathaniel West — a literary giant in the area of LA, lost or seeking souls, and the noir underbelly of USA.

        4. SR6719

          Chandler Nerd,

          I may have another look at Chandler, perhaps I dismissed him too quickly.

          So many writers, so little time. But one of my favorite detective stories is a work that’s supposed to be non-fiction, that is, The Warren Commission Report on the JFK assassination. The best way to read it (parts of which can be found online) is like you would a detective novel, or a work of fiction, which is precisely what it is, even if that wasn’t the intent.

          The British writer J.G. Ballard once said:

          “The Warren Commission’s Report is a remarkable document, especially if considered as a work of fiction (which many experts deem it largely to be). The chapters covering the exact geometric relationships between the cardboard boxes on the seventh floor of the Book Depository (a tour de force in the style of Robbe-Grillet), the bullet trajectories and speed of the Presidential limo, and the bizarre chapter titles – ‘The Subsequent Bullet That Hit,’ ‘The Curtain Rod Story,’ ‘The Long and Bulky Package’ – together suggest a type of obsessional fiction linking science and pornography.”

        5. SR6719

          Typically the day old links of the day get very few additional comments (which suggest almost no one is reading them) therefore considering it’s unlikely anyone will read this anyway, I might as well take up some space in order to defend Robbe-Grillet’s style of writing.

          In RG’s masterpiece “Jalousie”, the word jalousie in French can of course refer to one of the window blinds which are often described and through which the narrator observes many of the scenes, or it can refer to the the emotion of jealousy.

          One way of reading the novel is not the “conventional” one of detached “pure surfaces”, but one in which extreme jealousy is implied but never defined. The unnamed narrator, a jealous husband, silently observes his wife (referred to only as “A…”) interacting with Franck, a neighbor. He suspects they are having an affair, and is so consumed by jealousy that it threatens to destroy his sanity.

          The narrator’s subjective mind is trying desperately to remain purely objective, and in this way hang on to a reality that no longer exists, in order to keep from becoming unhinged.

          And so, according to this interpretation, RG’s Jalousie can be read as an emotionally charged thriller, the exact opposite of what many readers expect.

          In order to hold off the madness of jealousy, the narrator observes the world with an eye to detail that, (depending how you read it), is either demented to the point of being batsh*t insane, or brilliant and pure genius, with genius defined here in Genet’s sense, as finding a way out.

          It’s up to the reader to decide which, in excerpts such as the following:

          “The shadow of the column, though it is already very long, would have to be nearly a yard longer to reach the little round spot on the flagstones. From the latter runs a thin vertical thread which increases in size as it rises from the concrete substructure. It then climbs up the wooden surface, from lath to lath, growing gradually larger until it reaches the window sill. But its progression is not constant: the imbricated arrangement of the boards intercepts its route by a series of equidistant projections where the liquid spreads out more widely before continuing its ascent. On the sill itself, the paint has largely flaked off after the streak occurred, eliminating about three-quarters of the red trace”

          1. Ms G

            Re “Jalousie”. It’s a philosophical rumination disguised as a “novel” (my .02 cents). That’s why I’ll read Celine (Voyage Au Bout de la Nuit especially) instead (or Balzac, or Maupassant).

          2. SR6719

            Ms G,

            But I love both Céline *and* Robbe-Grillet!

            How could you not love a writer who came up with lines such as:

            “There is no rest for the humble except in despising the great, whose only thought of the people is inspired by self-interest or sadism.” – Journey to the End of Night

            or

            “My trouble is insomnia. If I had always slept properly, I’d never have written a line.”

            Death on the Installment Plan

  2. Jim Haygood

    From the NYT Medicare article:

    Hospitals that received government incentives to adopt electronic records showed a 47 percent rise in Medicare payments at higher levels from 2006 to 2010, compared with a 32 percent rise in hospitals that have not received any government incentives, according to the analysis by The Times.

    Some experts blame a substantial share of the higher payments on the increasingly widespread use of electronic health record systems. Some of these programs … allow doctors to cut and paste the same examination findings for multiple patients — a practice called cloning — with the click of a button or the swipe of a finger on an iPad, making it appear that the physicians conducted more thorough exams than, perhaps, they did.

    DOH! Why would anyone expect productivity improvements to benefit the payers — much less the customers — in a system with no effective competition? That only happens in industries such as (say) consumer electronics, where if your prices aren’t competitive, shoppers go elsewhere. In centrally-planned health care, patients don’t even know or care what the prices ARE.

    Welcome to Obamacare! This train wreck is what happens when 535 KongressKlowns, two-thirds of whom are lawyers, fantasize that they can centrally plan 14% of the economy.

    If I were the CFO (Chief Fraud Officer) at a health care institution, every cloned bill would carry the digital signature of the late Linda Green, of mortgage robosigning fame. After all, the fedgov drones are never gonna notice!

    And I’ll guarantee you that each bill would include a digital rectal exam, as a cherry on top. Bend ovah, please! …

    1. LucyLulu

      “Some of these programs … allow doctors to cut and paste the same examination findings for multiple patients — a practice called cloning — with the click of a button or the swipe of a finger on an iPad, making it appear that the physicians conducted more thorough exams than, perhaps, they did.”

      My first assumption wouldn’t be that they were falsifying records and claiming exams not done. Instead physicians might be documenting findings not previously recorded by hand due to being less time intensive with EHR. Much of documentation is documenting routine and repetitive findings. Having worked on clinical software development, good software SHOULD provide default selections for common findings that allow the clinician to quickly glance through and modify or unselect any portions that don’t apply.

      Perhaps billing has increased because less services are being denied or unable to be billed due to lack of sufficient documentation. Having also worked in settings on this end of the equation, if the records don’t specifically document adequate criteria to demonstrate the need for a service (including need for continued stay in hospital setting), and its proper administration, insurers, including public insurers, will deny payment.

      For example, in a psych hospital, if nothing is documented for a 24 hr period that specifically demonstrates a patient is showing risk for self-harming behavior, perhaps a statement, then a higher reimbursement level for the use of suicidal precautions would not be covered. If it isn’t in the records, it is considered not to have happened.

      Another possibility is the conscious attempt by providers to bill for more services and thus increase revenues. Ex: Mr. G had an MI and is hospitalized in the ICU. His family practitioner stops by and chats for a few minutes. This visit is not billable. If instead, the FP listens to heart and lungs during visit, FP has spent no additional time out of schedule and now can bill for exam. Do providers game the system? Of course. “Code creep” is a known and costly problem with Medicare. Over the last decade, what doctors used to bill as ‘brief visits’ are now billed as ‘intermediate visits’ and intermediate are billed as ‘extended’, etc (there are 5 levels, they’ve creeped up one level), as a way for physicians to deal with what they feel are inadequate reimbursement levels.

  3. LeeAnne

    Yes, I know its been said many times, but it bears repeating on this day of peaceful demonstrations against the privately owned US monetary system above any ‘rule of law.’ -beyond the right of Kings, beyond anything the Vatican ever dreamed of; beyond anything most citizens can imagine; the very audacity (see Timmy Geithner testimony before Congress back when his arrogance was inexplicable) keeps them in power:

    ““While the Fed’s Washington-based Board of Governors is a federal agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act and other government rules, the New York Fed and other regional banks maintain they are separate institutions, owned by their member banks, and not subject to federal restrictions.”

    For that reason, the New York Fed alleged in the lawsuit brought by Bloomberg to force the Fed to reveal some information about its loans – Bloomberg LP v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 08-CV-9595, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan) – that it was not subject to Federal Freedom of Information Act.”

    THIS IS DEMOCRACY? This is a REPUBLIC? to our enemies and friends everywhere, the FED exploiting all of the people all of the are not the American people. The FED is made up of lying worthless bankers.

  4. LeeAnne

    THIS IS DEMOCRACY? This is a REPUBLIC? to our enemies and friends everywhere: the FED exploiting all of the people all of the time are not the American people.

    1. psychohistorian

      Being that it is a consortium of private banks who are less than opaque, we don’t know if there are any American owners, do we?

  5. Kokuanani

    Just a reminder: Neil Barofsky will be featured in FireDogLake’s book salon today @ 5 pm EDT. http://firedoglake.com/

    You can follow the discussion without registering/creating an account. To ask him a question, you’ll need to register.

  6. Schofield

    Why if a society agrees to give agricultural subsidies for economic reasons should it not give subsidies to electric cars for environmental reasons?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am also for givig money to grocery shoppers… not all, but only fresh, organic, locally grown, food consumers.

          1. LucyLulu

            And most places in the country, having a car is required for such things as having employment. There are no trains or subways running, and buses are limited in places like Peoria and El Paso. Perhaps better to subsidize transportation infrastructure so more people would have the same option?

      2. ambrit

        Dear ForReal?;
        “..how about subsidizing people who don’t own cars?”
        It’s called Mass Transit, and it enables urban complexes to function. It’s best done by municipalities. The proof of that is in the conditions poor people in “Third World” countries endure in their ‘private’ jitneys and buses. We can’t let those pesky poor people ever forget the “connection” between wealth and standard of living now, can we?

        1. YouDon'tSay?

          True enough Ambrit, although I for one wouldn’t mind seeing a little bit more direct connection between the subsidy and the subsidized in this case. My indirect/insinuated point was that the proper way to think of “electric” cars is as “coal burning,” as that’s where most of their “green” electricity comes from. Electric cars are little more than another way for a car culture society in its death throws to squirm as it goes down. And they’re mostly just toys for rich folks anyway, as they’re priced out of reach for the unwashed masses for the most part.

          1. ambrit

            Dear YouDon’tSay;
            Too true that. Present day electric production is mainly coal powered, I’ll admit. But don’t rule out some game changing innovation, like room temperature super conductivity, or ‘zero point’ electric generation. Then the parameters will shift and we’ll in all likelihood be arguing about rare earth prices or home fusion reactor safety.
            I remember reading about the ‘advance’ of civilization being coterminous with the expansion of energy resources available. Well, wood burning ended in deforestation, coal burning created wage slaves, nuclear burning is creating ecological ‘adjustments,’ and whatever is next will have its’ own problems. However, solving problems is what humans are good at, else we’d still be fleeing cheetahs across the plains.

          2. joel3000

            Electric vehicles can be an improvement dependent on the quality of the electricity. The Eastern US is coal heavy so it generally isn’t a direct improvement. The Western US is much more reliant on natural gas for its fossil source. It’s probably an improvement to drive an electric vehicle run on electricity from the Western state grid.

            The big win w/ electric vehicles is that they can run on renewable electricity, and if you’re going to have cars that is the cleanest way to do it. Biofuels, except in the case where they can be made from a waste product, are not a great alternative when you include the carbon sequestration value of land with a native ecosystem against that of modern agriculture.

            The world cannot go to an electric vehicle version of where it is now and have any hope of being sustainable. We need to lower VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) and lower the energy cost of that VMT. Vehicle electrification can assist in such a transition, but is hardly a panacea.

  7. taunger

    You left out “The Once and Future King” by T.H. White, which I have been reading with my son for the past 8 months. The writing, word choice, pacing and description have kept him enthralled for over 400 pages. Its great.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      So I did, and I read that too! However, the version I read didn’t have the lovely line drawings which, from John Tenniel forward, are such a lovely feature of the other books. And I also left out Dr. Doolittle…

      1. ambrit

        Dear LucyLulu;
        Speaking of Lewis, “The Screwtape Letters” were fun to try and explain to the kids.
        Really, all of the well written Science Fiction is worthy of mention. Fantasy though, that is questionable. Good Fantasy follows the mythic themes and story arc. Tolkein could do it. So did Lindsay, Eddison, h—, even Ronald Reagan. Makes me want to go and dig out my copy of the Eddas.

  8. jsmith

    Nice Pilger article showing:

    1)how South African apartheid never ended but was actually the inspiration behind the “invisible apartheid” of neoliberalism and its spread around the globe.

    Yo, don’t fret racists! Israel’s still keeping old-school apartheid legit! 2 Legit to Quit? Holla!

    2)how Nelson Mandela was really the prototype for the corporate sell-out action figure equipped with Hopey-Changey Swivel Joints and Back-stabbing Knife Hand Grip.

    “When I interviewed Mandela in 1997 – he was then president – and reminded him of the unbreakable promise, I was told in no uncertain terms that “the policy of the ANC is privatisation”.

    Wait, you mean Morgan Freeman was a BAD guy?!

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32515.htm

    1. jsmith

      Bonus – Spot the Liberal Spinelessness Game!

      As an extra, read the article and try and spot the exact line where Pilger takes a big step back from actually having made a significant statement – y’know, one which might rumple some liberal feathers – and instead seeks to soft-sell some of his earlier statements which might paint certain people in a bad light.

      ALTHOUGH I’m not surprised at Pilger’s weakness it really shows how any leftish writer today seemingly just can’t make a unequivocal statement that is devoid of any back-peddling conciliatory horsesh*t peppered into it.

  9. YesMaybe

    Haha, that quantum computer link had me going until the last sentence: “It is now quite reasonable to believe that there will be readily available, commercial quantum computers in the next few years.”

    Not to diminish the scientific work the article is about, of course. But the fellow who wrote the article is clearly living in a fantasy world, given what the scientists actually did.

    1. Tom

      Good catch. Quantum computing is overhyped and poorly understood. The engineering is very far away from building a computer that won’t be the omniscience-machine its often believed to be.

      1. direction

        Overhyped is right. Nanotechnology will change the world rapidly once it is finally developed, but we’re a long way off. I audited a course given by a very young Eric Drexler back in the late 80s. There would always be a cluster of his older, non-student associates seated in the back of the lecture hall like groupies. Everytime there was any mention of cryogenics to preserve someone so that they could live in this fabulous future world of self assemblers, the groupies would titter and giggle in an eerie fashion. Guess he’s already reserved his spot in the freezer. good luck with that.

      2. Ms G

        “overhyped and poorly understood”

        sounds just like financial trading algorithms — and look how far into the real world those were allowed to penetrate!

        1. psychohistorian

          Ms G said: “sounds just like financial trading algorithms — and look how far into the real world those were allowed to penetrate!”

          sounds just like financial trading algorithms — and look how far into the real world those ARE allowed to penetrate! Fixed it!

  10. leftover

    Re: heckled Ryan/at the mercy of insurance companies
    The AARP audience demonstrates how dunking those Shapiro™ brand pretzels in the artificially flavored and presweetened ObamaCare® Kool-Aid makes them much easier to swallow…and the perfect hors d’oeuvre for our conscientious host’s dinner plans

    1. Synopticist

      Rather, I think, good numbers of middle class, retired, comfortably off naturally conservative white folks have realised that the 47% includes THEM. Republicans always used to be able to re-assure people like that that they weren’t the welfare queens that needed purging.

      It’s a monument to the ineptness of the Romney campaign that they can’t even fool the people other republicans have managed to fool, all the time, any longer.

  11. JTFaraday

    “A. A. Milne’s Pooh…all “in the original.” As it were.”

    My 18 mo niece was looking at a Pooh picture book (not in the original, as it were) the other day, pointing at things in it and asking me “what’s that, what’s that.”

    When I said “that’s Pooh bear,” she suddenly looks up at me and points at her butt, as if to say “you mean like that?”

    Never thought of it that way myself. Too funny.

    But now that I think about it, I had a similar interaction with one of my nephews, who was a little older at the time and who really looked askance at the poor bear when given the response. I could never figure it out. Mystery solved I guess.

    Kids these days.

  12. F. Beard

    re Nooners: “The Romney campaign has to get turned around. This week I called it incompetent, but only because I was being polite. I really meant ‘rolling calamity.‘ :

    Peggy Noonan apparently considers herself a Christian so it must frustrate her that the cultist she’ll vote for looks like he won’t win. Maybe she’ll just stay home and avoid the conflict between her religion and her politics?

    This election is a hoot since it should separate conscientious Christians from the Republican Party.

  13. kevinearick

    It’s lile a sculpture. as the midirection hiding the fusion/fission is chipped away, participation increases exponentially, because some recognize their position faster than others.

    men are built to think long term and women are built to think short term, so a majority of women control the economy in the short term and ainority of men control it in the long term. get over it.

    Capital will be reformed, a new middle class will develop, blah, blah, blah. learn to take joy in your work, family, and the rest will take care of itself.

  14. briansays

    Re: AfPak
    From Lawrence

    “Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them. Actually, also, under the very odd conditions of Arabia, your practical work will not be as good as, perhaps, you think it is.”

    “Men have looked upon the desert as barren land, the free holding of whoever chose; but in fact each hill and valley in it had a man who was its acknowledged owner and would quickly assert the right of his family or clan to it, against aggression.”

  15. readerOfTeaLeaves

    More on Romney’s tax returns. Among other details, he owns shares in Gazprom.
    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/09/21/169378/romney-releases-2011-income-tax.html

    And from Lambert:

    Tax returns: “When, exactly, did [the Romneys] satisfy their responsibilities as taxpayers for the years preceding the 2009 IRS amnesty program for anonymous holders of Swiss (and other foreign) bank account holders? Might it have been retroactively, like, maybe, in 2009?” …

    Might I offer at Question Of The Day submission for this one?

    From Reuters, Nov 2009:

    A high-profile U.S. lawsuit against Swiss banking giant UBS AG led the bank to agree earlier this year to promise to reveal the names of 4,450 client accounts held by Americans. Those accounts at one time were worth a total of $18 billion.

    While IRS officials were still analyzing the amount of offshore assets declared in the amnesty program, Shulman said, “we are talking about billions of dollars coming into the U.S. Treasury” from the new disclosures….

    …The Swiss Justice Department said it would hand over the names of wealthy American clients of UBS with accounts holding more than 1 million Swiss francs ($986,200) where there is a reasonable suspicion of tax fraud….

    …The IRS said the criteria will identify the accounts it is most interested in and those that would be hardest for the agency to identify on its own. The criteria apply to UBS accounts held between 2001 and 2008 by U.S. citizens.

    Ann Romney’s accounts were at UBS.
    So yeah, the fact that Romney is so reluctant to release his tax returns back prior the 2009 IRS tax amnesty for cheating on taxes by way of private Swiss accounts is more than a bit suspicious.

    1. LucyLulu

      There must be a reason he won’t release earlier returns. It’s already common knowledge, with the two returns he released, that he makes extensive use of exotic tax avoidance strategies available only to the wealthy. Trying to avoid attention to that isn’t needed. Also, allegedly, he has released the percentage of taxes paid so it isn’t he’s hiding payment of low tax rates. It’s something else, previously undisclosed he doesn’t want the public to know about. Being one of the UBS tax evaders would be a reasonable assumption if Ann held Swiss funds in the account. Do we know anything about her UBS account?

    2. LucyLulu

      Would it tell us anything we don’t already know about Romney if the list of UBS accounts was released? He’s made it clear that he only believes the 47% should be held responsible for paying taxes and/or condemned for making use of tax code policy to avoid them.

      One of the morning shows recently had a chart that showed how the Bush tax cuts eliminated the last of the progressive nature of income taxes. Each quintile of taxpayer by income earned pays roughly an equivalent proportion of taxes. For example, they stated that the top 1% earns 21% of all income and pays 21% of all taxes. In the past the top 1% earned a smaller proportion of the income and paid a proportionately larger share of taxes.

  16. ambrit

    Friends;
    As usual, the felicitous links reading pieces on the Links engenders can hyperlink ones’ consciousness. The Greenwald piece on Benghazi has a link to a really good piece on Drone Warfare by one James Jeffers, who actually managed drones for the British Army in Afghanistan while serving there. Do click over and read it, it mentions in passing the expansion of domestic drone usage.

  17. Francois T

    Yes, the language in the above post is rather colorful and doesn’t strive for niceties and exquisite conversation with the likes of Lady Windermere and the Baroness of the Organic Poultry.

    But there ought to be a limit to the indecency and sheer psychopathology of the paid shills and liars that pollutes our politics.

    J’ai dit!

  18. Seal

    What if the oil price decline before the election were a huge manipulation – some Fed or government entity shorting the market or selling out of the Reserves. I bet we see new S&P highs in October

    1. Synopticist

      Thats always a possibility, but wouldn’t it show up somewhere if the govt were selling off reserves? The wingnuts must suspect that’s happenning already. Bit of a risky tactic.

      The receding prospect of a Romney presidency may be effecting the markets though, with it’s baked in certaintly of a war with Iran.

  19. Hugh

    We should have been out of Afghanistan by mid-2002. Instead we have had ten years of an army looking for a mission to justify its presence there. Since al Qaeda was dislodged from its bases there, we have had no policy reason to be in Afghanistan. This lack of policy is crucially important. What we have been doing in Afghanistan is rather like grabbing some random passerby and trying to perform a heart-lung transplant on them without asking their permission or bothering to ascertain if they even need one.

    It is considered exceedingly bad manners, and even a trifle treasonous and un-American, to say that American soldiers died for nothing, or worse a mistake, but that is exactly what happened in Iraq and continues to happen in Afghanistan. It is a poor, backward country, endlessly corrupt and divided into warring clans, tribes, and ethnicities. Most of our so-called local “allies” are not much different than the Taliban. Indeed ally by day and Taliban by night describes many of them. On top of it all, and although it never gets the central focus it deserves, Afghanistan is the world’s chief producer of opium. Making Afghanistan safe for opium growers seems to have been the only real success of our decade there. American soldiers had to die for this?

    1. SR6719

      Hugh: “What we have been doing in Afghanistan is rather like grabbing some random passerby and trying to perform a heart-lung transplant on them without asking their permission or bothering to ascertain if they even need one…”

      And if that isn’t bad enough, the unnecessary heart-lung transplants are being performed by Dr. Benway:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgpfmehW7iE

    2. Susan the other

      Jesse Ventura just said that in 2008 AlQaeda shut down opium production in Afghanistan and that was what really brought down Western banks. I’m willing to think that might be totally true. And he also said that we are determined to stay in Afghanistan now not just to re-establish heroin traffic, but because the southern mountains have a huge deposit of lithium, used in all our electronics. I think Afghanistan is critical also to control rogue oil traders out of Iran.

    3. jsmith

      But the epidemic of Russian heroin addiction I’m sure is just a lucky consequence, right, CIA?

      I mean, we sure do spend a lot of money sponsoring subversive “democracy” groups (especially youth groups) that “push” – snicker – the ideas that Putin’s like super evil and like Russian elections are like totally bogus and like wanna hit a hit of this sh*t…

      Hey, this sounds like a job for Gary Webb!

      Oops, sorry.

      Also, if any of you really want to lose some weight through reverse peristalsis this afternoon check out the Russian street drug krokodil and what it’s being doing to people.

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

      Here’s an overview of our heroin handywork.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/25/us-russia-heroin-idUSTRE70O22X20110125

      Russia has one of the world’s biggest heroin problems, with up to three million addicts according to local non-governmental organizations. Twenty one percent of the 375 tons of heroin produced from Afghanistan’s opium fields now finds its way through central Asia into Russia, according the United Nations. (By contrast, China, with nine times more people, consumes just 13 percent.) The Russian government estimates its citizens bought $17 billion worth of street-traded heroin last year — about seven billion doses. The addiction kills at least 30,000 Russians a year, which is a third of the world’s total heroin-related deaths, adding to pressures on the country’s already shrinking population.

    4. YouDon'tSay?

      Chalk it up to the costs of maintaining an empire and leave it at that. There are those who know what we don’t and who count on that advantage to maintain their advantage and continue the ongoing uneasy “status quo.” Rest assured, you don’t want to know what they don’t want you to know and just leave it at that. Can’t we all just go shopping and be happy?

  20. reslez

    “If the Republicans don’t inflate this scandal to Travelgate dimensions — if the Rovian dog does not howl in the night — that curious incident would be a strong indicator that they just aren’t serious about election 2012

    This is all part of Karl Rove’s plan to give Jeb Bush the Whitehouse in 2016: Obama’s term in office makes George W. Bush’s cataclysmic reign look like the good old days.

  21. Synopticist

    On the gaffe thing.

    In the UK we generally define a political gaffe as when a politician inadvertantly says sonething which is true, but people don’t want to hear. Obama’s “bitter people clinging to guns and religion” is a perfect case in point.

    Romney’s managing to redefine a gaffe. For him, its a poltician saying something which everyone knows is UNtrue, but which he obviously beleives anyway.

  22. Ep3

    Re: EPI sotry on collective bargaining in Michigan

    I have lived in Michigan all my life, son of an auto worker. There are a couple things this story lacks in background for the state. First, we haven’t had ultra wealthy groups of people (we have the devos’s and such, but not wall street and Hollywood). Second, our significant racial factor. As I have mentioned before here on this site, if you thought of Michigan as a political map, on the left we have Detroit. And then moving west across the state once you reach grand rapids and holland, you are very right wing. Our upper peninsula is mostly right wing as well.
    Starting before 1980, manufacturing began leaving Michigan and the country, just as textiles had 25 years before that. What this has done has begun stratifying incomes of residents. As the article discusses, with a strong collective bargaining blue collar workforce, employers were forced to pay competitive wages, which had happened here. Yet with a complete gutting of union jobs, not even educated jobs pay well. Some may say the unionized teachers still lead this fight. But teacher jobs aren’t easy entry. And this is where the arguments that low unemployment in jobs requiring a degree mean high unemployment in other sectors can absorb workers. A worker can’t get laid off from manufacturing and immediately move to jobs requiring higher education. Yes, they can seek job retraining. But two things happen; first, the worker may end up liquidating savings during the course of the retraining, then, as is happening in Michigan, without high competitive wages, employers can begin cutting wages and benefits for new hires. The statement “well those overly high auto jobs are going away so this new lower wage we are providing you will end up being high”.
    I will finally say that one of the keys to having high wages for workers is the value of the product they sell/produce. How can we justify paying McDonald’s wage workers $25 an hour with extensive benefits when the hamburger they produce only sells for 89 cents? Consumers won’t allow such inflation. And then as our economy continues to shift to a service economy, how do we measure the true value of a service? With our hamburger, there is a floor created by the cost of the inputs involved. But what floor is there in the value of a haircut? The only input is the wage of the barber. And what says that that wage has to be $10 an hour? Where can the barber improve his efficiencies to increase his margins? Which returns to our hamburger comparison. The cost of goods is one of two expenses where a business can increase margins; the other being labor. All other costs are mostly fixed. Most businesses cant improve their telephone efficiencies. But they can utilize labor and food costs and maximize those. So where does the barber improve his margins?

  23. kevinearick

    So, on the implicit of the looking glass multiplexer, you have independent farmers, labor and capital, the drive, controlled by a minority of males in direct democracy, distilled from the explicit side of capital, govt and middle class, controlled by a majority of females in a representative democracy. bernanke didn’t know it, because all he could study was the explicit side, but greenspan had been riding the clutch, which a minority of females warned him against, wiping out the relays to each event horizon gear. now, bernanke only has main drive, and he i riding the clutch, like pushing the car to the top of a hill, putting it in 5th gear and starting the car, only to repeat at the bottom of each hill.

    when the bank starts wiping out gears, labor gets out and starts building a new drive system…

    1. YouDon'tSay?

      Assuming there’s anything left for labor to actually build with and that the bank hasn’t successfully absconded with it all.

  24. Herman Snittles

    You got me! I read the entire Porkalicious Toon Jihad article before I noticed it was from The Onion. I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of it (but I was laughing) and it occurred to me half way through the article to wonder if they would have a Jesus version of the same cartoon where Jesus starts a church for medical marijuana growers called “Church of the Burning Bush.”
    Good job!

  25. LucyLulu

    One meme being circulated is that the Bush tax cuts will have to be allowed to expire, thus going over the fiscal cliff, to allow GOP members not to violate their pledge to Grover Norquist not to raise taxes. Once the tax cuts expire, then some of the cuts, but not all, can be reinstituted, and voila, the GOP will have voted only for tax cuts.

    Not to mention the additional bargaining power this will give the Democrats assuming Obama wins again and they keep the Senate as expected. Even NC, just last week which had been conceded to Romney, has converted to a blue state! And despite higher than national average unemployment levels that just climbed another half point (9.7% in August).

    We’ll take some more “hope for a change”, Alex.

    1. YouDon'tSay?

      No, sorry Lucy Lulu. There is no more hope, change, or hope for change. Thanks for playing! But here’s your parting gifts…

      1. Synopticist

        No, Ok, but Romney not winning might at least prevent things getting much MUCH worse, rather than people having merelly to put up with the same, grim sh*t.

        1. LucyLulu

          With Obama war with Iran is a possibility. With Romney it becomes a certainty. There will be little difference in domestic policy. One of the two will be the next president. Not going to war with Iran is the better outcome. There will be other conflicts in the region to tempt our involvement over the next decade or two. The country needs to decide if they want to continue as the world’s policeman. We maneuvered into being the world’s only military with the capability when we managed to eliminate the USSR as a global superpower. As a consequence, responsibility for world peace has been delegated by the global community to fall on US shoulders. (Flash of genius: We donate our military, the whole shebang, to another country. Say, Canada? And they agree to protect the U.S.)

          As to those who disapprove of voting for the ‘lesser of two evils’, I’ve voted third party to express my dislike for the two choices a few times over the years. I doubt this election will be any different than my prior experiences. The third party candidate will get a small percentage of votes that unless they tip the outcome of the election, will be paid no attention. Certainly, everybody should vote their conscience, I’m not saying they shouldn’t. However if the vote is being made with the intent to send a message, be prepared to be disappointed when the message is not received.

          We’ve become well-versed in strategies that don’t work. Will we ever get to try the ones that work? Until we get money out of politics, policy will cater to favoring inequality, to the detriment of the economy. The problem is that removing the influence of money requires our Congress critters to pass legislation that is counter to their self-interests. How many people will voluntarily reduce their income or endanger their job security? It’s quite a conundrum.

          1. ambrit

            Dear LucyLulu;
            Did I read you aright? “..we managed to eliminate the USSR as a global superpower.” Huh? We, as in the United States, had very little to do with the demise of the old Soviet Union. They managed it all on their own. As far back as the Seventies people with clear sight were predicting the eventual unraveling of the “Evil Empire.” The economics were not right for Russia to be a world super power for long. Also, the ruling elites focus on their own wealth and prestige doomed the system they had established. The Logic of Empire demanded that doom. America is now following the same doomed path. Russias’ Empire devolved into its’ previous autocratic form. (Think Comrade Gengis Kahn and his Peoples Golden Horde.) Here’s hoping Americas’ Empire will devolve into a Federal Republic.

    1. F. Beard

      I agree. The Bible stands on its own if sufficiently read. I’ve had to unlearn tons of crap I got from so-called Christian authorities.

    2. ambrit

      Dear k;
      Look on the bright side. You could have ended up like me with too much “Hardy Boys” and “Lucky Starr.”

  26. LucyLulu

    Romney and Obama are running a close race in Florida. Romney is doing better with the senior voters, while Obama leads with younger ones. So what does the Romney campaign do when invited to speak at the AARP in Miami? They send Ryan in to talk about privatizing Medicare, and he gets a negative reception. Who ever woulda thunk?

    Romney’s campaign is running a very effective losing strategy. Too effective not to be intentional. Rumor has it they’ll be pitching the need to repeal handicapped access requirements to an audience of wheelchair-bound veterans.

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