Links 11/30/12

Under Wraps: When the Camels Go Out New York Times

Bacon flavoured shaving cream goes on sale Metro. Eew.

Supersymmetry Fails Test, Forcing Physics to Seek New Ideas Scientific American

Fears weed killer decision a death knell for reef ABC (Aquifer)

Arctic sea ice larger than US melted this year Associated Press

Pharmaceuticals difficult to treat in drinking water Great Lakes Echo (Aquifer). So why is no one discussing a pharma tax?

Keep the net beyond the autocrats’ reach Financial Times (furzy mouse)

Astounding: Miss America contestant will have both breasts removed, and she doesn’t have cancer Jon Rappaport. (furzy mouse)

High-Fructose Corn Syrup Linked to Diabetes WebMD

IMF discovers Chinese over-investment FT Alphaville

Why one of China’s richest men is squaring off against Obama in court Christian Science Monitor (Aquifer)

UK banks face up to £50bn shortfall Financial Times

Birthplace of the Nutcracker Seeks New Recruits Der Spiegel (Lambert)

Greek deal frays as IMF threatens walk-out on debt buy-back impasse Telegraph

Egypt’s draft constitution approved Guardian

UN general assembly recognises Palestinian state Guardian. By contrast, get a load of this headline! The Grey Lady can’t stand to use the word “recognizes”: U.N. Assembly, in Blow to U.S., Elevates Status of Palestine

Bradley Manning: how keeping himself sane was taken as proof of madness Guardian. More accurate: “used to redouble efforts to break him.”

A worrisome report on the eroded combat skills of an Army Stryker regiment Foreign Policy (Lambert)

Catfood watch:

Why rich guys want to raise the retirement age Washington Post (Carol B)

Republicans Reject Cliff Offer From Obama Wall Street Journal

Drones: Despite Problems, A Push to Expand Domestic Use San Francisco Chronicle (Aquifer)

Life in Post-Apocalyptic New Jersey: Climbing the water tower to defend our honor Riverdaughter (Carol B)

Online schools spend millions to attract students USA Today (Lambert)

The Insourcing Boom Atlantic (Aquifer)

McJobs Should Pay, Too: Inside Fast-Food Workers’ Historic Protest For Living Wages Atlantic (Aquifer)

Sales at Nation’s Retailers Fell Short of Expectations in November New York Times. Oh, and now the party line is that Black Friday wasn’t very good.

Recession Big Factor as Birthrate Falls Wall Street Journal. This is a big deal. Everyone forgets that demographers expected the US to show falling population in the 1990s, just like other advanced economies. The 2000 census caught them by surprise. The population rose due to immigration and higher than expected birth rates among Hispanics. Now it seems to be conventional to expect population growth in the US, when that may not continue.

Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Declines Again in November 2012 Global Economic Intersection

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse). One reader’s wife is very involved in saving frogs, so I feel I should show more frog pix:

Here is a bonus, courtesy Mark Ames, who says “She’s telling her dog ‘carry him into the house’ [nesi’ domoi]”:

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  1. Butch in Waukegan

    from Globe & Mail: Stockbrokers more reckless than psychopaths: study

    Perhaps providing support for the study’s findings, trader Alessio Rastani told the BBC in an interview today that he would welcome a financial crash.

    “For most traders … we don’t really care about how they’re going to fix the economy, how they’re going to fix the whole situation – our job is to make money from it,” he said. “Personally, I’ve been dreaming of this moment for three years. … I go to bed every night and I dream of another recession.”

    He added: “When the market crashes… if you know what to do, if you have the right plan set up, you can make a lot of money from this.”

    1. LeeAnne

      Reminds me of Bertold Brecht’s La résistible ascension d’Arturo Ui that starts out with extortion of small grocers by gangsters who wind up like Hitler ruling the world -or trying to.

      Where were these brilliant social scientists when criminal Wall Street traders/traitors could have been stopped? By getting rules changed that increased trader leverage to something like infinity, traders were able to take overwhelm the management function and take over the investment banking function criminally, breaking all the rules until they owned the Congress and got the rules changed retroactively.

      That was when FIRE was a respectfable well paying (well enough paying) 7% of the economy. Its now more than 40% of the economy which is like saying NO ECONOMY AT ALL other than ponzi and manipulation at the highest levels of a global government/BANKSTER cabal causing misery and suffering all over the world.

      1. Zephyrum

        Exactly. But with marketing and PR that would make Goebbels proud, the citizens are persuaded that the enemy is the other party and that hard choices must be made if only we can prevail. Victory will be declared and the victims told they are the winners. Eventually people will wake up though.

  2. dearieme

    (i) “Forcing Physics to Seek New Ideas”: fundamental physics has been stuck for forty years. It’s bio where the advances have come.

    (ii) The notion that HFCS is somehow worse for you than sucrose is pretty implausible. Consuming lots of either may well be bad for you so it might be wise if the US Federal government stopped subsidising the production of HFCS, and the US population developed more adult palates.

    1. petridish


      “pretty implausible”????? Based on what? The veracity and integrity of MONSANTO?

      HFCS is a chemical–it does not occur in nature. Your body does not know what to do with it. IT IS NOT FOOD. It alters a cell’s insulin receptors. Insulin facilitates a cell’s glucose uptake apparatus. Glucose is necessary for energy production, which is to say normal human cell function. Excess fructose consumption (55 LBS. ANNUALLY!!!!) had been implicated not only in diabetes but many cancers which are diseases of cell dysfunction and overgrowth.

      Since HFCS IS NOT FOOD, even though you put it in your mouth, chew it up and swallow it, your body does not recognize it as NUTRITION. So, your body continues to demand ACTUAL fuel to operate while becoming less and less able to utilize this fuel as a result of the deleterious effects of HFCS. The scientific term for this is OVEREATING. Hopefully the consequence of this situation is “plausible” to you.

      1. bhikshuni

        “So, your body continues to demand ACTUAL fuel to operate while becoming less and less able to utilize this fuel as a result of the deleterious effects of HFCS. ”

        The body needs the actual fuel to operate, plus the fuel to process the HFCS, plus becomes unable to utilize fuel
        => net deficit-producing edible anti-fuel (biological fiscal cliff inducer)

    2. Aquifer

      I catch your drift – but here’s another take ….

      “The researchers also responded to questions as to whether or not the stats simply meant those eating more HFCS were just eating more sugar and junk as a whole.

      Independent Link Shows GMO, Mercury Filled High-Fructose Corn Syrup Causing Diabetes

      They stated that there was ‘no overall difference’ in total sugars or even total calories in regards to the studied nations that used and did not use HFCS. In other words, there’s an independent relationship that exists between HFCS use and diabetes.”

    3. cenobite

      At 50% fructose and no impurities, yes, it’s the same as sucrose.

      But it’s never like that. The fructose content can rise to 65% and it’s sometimes contaminated with mercury.

      Fructose is toxic unless consumed with fiber* (like it comes in fruit), and I don’t really have to talk about the toxicity of mercury, do I?


      1. kimyo

        >>and I don’t really have to talk about the toxicity of mercury, do I?

        unfortunately, it seems as if you do. one would think that parents would stop giving their children hfcs once they found out that it contains mercury.
        Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury

        Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies.

  3. JTFaraday

    re: Bacon flavoured shaving cream goes on sale Metro. Eew.

    “He added: ‘Bacon is delicious, people get excited when they smell it.”

    Men. It will probably fly off the shelves.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        @ Valissa, Heh, got a kick out of the photos and captions, just as I have many of the toons to which you have kindly provided links in the past.

        Btw, do you know if any of the cartoonists have drawn cartoons relating to the overwhelming Big Lie propaganda regarding the so called “Fiscal Cliff”, “Austerity”, and the Mayan End Date (since that is the date I believe these people are shooting for before the Lame Ducks all leave town)? “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” featuring the prominent players would also be a fun subject.

        Just asking, thanks… and fervently hoping they don’t succeed.

          1. Chauncey Gardiner

            Thanks, Valissa. Beau coup kudos (or, as Bill Murray said in the film Caddyshack pertaining to caddying for the Dalai Lama… )

          2. Valissa

            Since it’s such a hot meme right now, here are more fiscal cliff cartoons…


            Or they could try this

            The creative class

            The word on the street

            That’s the ticket!

  4. toxymoron

    “Forcing Physics to Seek New Ideas”
    Between relativity (read: gravity or mass) and quantum physics (read: particles) there are about 120 orders of magnitude of difference (that is large than the difference between a quark and the known universe). So at least one, and probably both, are wrong, and we still have idiots that want to combine both theories into one.
    Modern cosmology is built upon 4 miracles (big bang, inflation, dark energy and dark matter).
    Perhaps some of the old ideas were better than anything coming out of the 20th century: Newton and Maxwell did have a good explanation of Mother Nature.

    1. Richard Kline

      Agreed. This was one of the first popular press articles I have seen to call supersymmetry a ‘failed theory’ and the Large Hadron Collidor a dead end. None of this should surprise. Supersymmetry only looked ‘elegant’ to a generation of particle physicists socialized to live off of massive government grants to gather in large, groupthink consortiums kneeling around nine-figure pieces of equipment performing peculiar ritual worship. To anyone else the entire notion looked like the worst kind of unbalanced, Rube Goldberg rig up to justify what the believers learned in graduate school rather than to produce actual evidence. The article ends opining that particle physics may gradually dry up and shrink as new recruits go elsewhere. Well and good because the focus on _particle_ behavior is exactly why this entire enterprise has dug itself nose first in to bedrock and will never get to China nor anywhere else even that interesting.

      Here, to me, was a money quote, from a particle physicist: “In the absence of some guidance from experimental data, how do you guess something about nature?” This is exactly what is wrong with physics and has been for two generations now. It recruits mathematically gifted individuals intolerant of anything that does not engage with particular tiny fragments of experimental data the study of which the personally specialize in. It does _not_ recruit individuals any good at all in broad theory. Theorists survey a broad body of evidence and make an inference about the pattern of relationship in the whole, and then suggest an experiment to confirm that. This has been what physics has needed for ever so long, rather than the sort who want bits of data to magically hit the ‘golden mote’ which ‘ties it all together.’ And btw, great theorists are NOT going to be found in herds of 50+ co-authors all sniffing each others’ tails. The theorists who launch a new thing are doing to do most of their thinking on their own, and are going to spend most of their careers being derided as outsiders or even wingnuts before, lo and behold, experimental evidence finally confirms a new, badly needed, because actually functional imago. That’s just how paradigms drop, said The Man. But change is long overdue in a very expensive, very-dead ended field as of now.

      1. tim8alete

        Debit and credit balance sheet acounting is a super symmetrical system that is also failing and for which we must seek a new theory of money. Debit and Credit is an accounting for money theory that dictates a debt money system to serve the accounting theory. A new theory of money, not accounting is required to explain and correct the application pretzel that dogmatic clinging to the super symmetrical theory of debit and credit has gotten us into.

        Seems to me that the new theory is that money is not debt. It is not debt and it does not need to balance anything (except a platinum coin, maybe) at the most fundamental level? Is money simply a thing that “is” and divides to a balance of super symmetrical parts to serve accounting? Or: Is it a granular segmentation to the lowest level unit dollar instance of the macro level sum of all dollars represented by (backed by) the platinum coin? A theory that serves the users of money rather than those that benefit from the accounting theory stated as proof of TNA fact. Their theory. It serves them well, that is a fact. A theory operating in what looks like an alternate reality universe of cognitive dissonance to me.

        Sound like a new theory to think about?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Perahps Money theorists can use some help from them.

          One sees many similarities:

          big bang – when was the money big band and what was the ‘financial’ universe like before that?

          inflation – yes, the money supply has been increasing ever since.

          dark matter and dark energy – they are so dark only the vampire squids know anything about them. Some call it greed and thievery (we are talkingn kleptocracy here).

          concentration of money matter – that’s also an observable phenomenon. In the beginning, these local concentrations looked not too menacing, but when they grew large and after living out their decayed lives, today they create nothing but black holes, ripping apart the Money-Continuum (see my previous post a while back).

          1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

            The Center Of The Universe is a one ounce platinum coin, and it’s money rays forever bask the vastness of the Universe in gentle, warming sustenance. Even Kansas.

          2. tim8alete

            “In Unity We Trust” written on one side of the platinum coin.

            On the other:

            “We also trust that the total of all debt free dollars available in this coin is equal to our Trust in Unity on the other side of this coin.”

            Super symmetry?

            The whole equals the sum of its parts.

            Would you rather have money that net sums to unity or money that net sums to zero?

            Account symmetry net sums to zero. Money sums to One. Unity is One.

            If you know which money system is which then you get it.

            Not so hard to see, theoretically.

      2. bhikshuni

        I respectfully disagree with both of these posts, and have the evidence to disprove the propositions.

        Firstly, general relativity does mathematically account particles (light in as a wave tensor over 3 d space), and the four observed physical forces (gravity, electro-weak, selectro-magnetic, and nuclear) are very well-understood for the purpose of most practical applications (like the computer chips and wireless transmissions that make it possible for you to read this, for example).

        Furthermore, accountability for gravity and macro-aggregations of particles and forces are well-integrated into models including particle physics via special relativity, for example, where the binomial expansion of the denominator in E=mc[1/(1-v^2/c^2)] happily models the macroscopic world.

        On the other point, Hubble telescope and decades and centuries of experimental physics have confirmed redshifting cosmic background radiation, for example (there are countless others), by which experimental physics constrains, refutes, or confirms theoretical physics.

        However, there are some valid points, that we do reach certain practical limits for verification of many theories; these are not only from the outer physical world but with respect to the wiring of our brains, limiting the types of logic we can apply (although sometimes we succeed anyway, as in the case of quantum mechanics, which defies “logic”).

        I think a better question here for NC readers is :

        Could economists and politicians better function as physicists, and use empirical data to prove/disprove theories, as we do in physics?

        To put it another way, if physics worked like economics, every other flight you would get on would crash. From the millions of people on earth who die unnecessarily from starvation alone is proof of the failure of economics to function like physics!

        Strange to see NC readers take a swipe at physics!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You made two valid points.

          One about countless clues (experimental), and yet, being inductive in nature, all it takes is one failed test. One can inquire about whether we have a failed test. If you have a failed test, I think you have to come up with something new.

          You mentioned also the wiring of our brains. That I also agree. It is very likely the world is what is it (to our perception) becuase that’s how the brain is constructed. And if the brain is faulty and has some contradictory features in its design, the world we perceive will be like that also.

        2. tim8alete

          Does the concept of unity express itself in the binary duality, super symmetry of the world of physics?

          Is unity only a metaphysical concept of the mind confined to theory with no application?

          I think I can see how it might express itself as super unity (platinum coin) rather than the symmetry of debit and credit in the money world. You are probably right about the first comment. I am not so sure it applies to mine.

          We can make symbolic unitary things in our world like a platinum coin from which all money derives. At least all we need. We can alternatively make symbolic super symmetrical things like debits and credits. We can choose which theory we create is better depending on purpose. Bankers like symmetry theory of money. I like unity theory.

          I think that Unity is a higher level conceptual object than binary symmetrical duality. You have to go into our minds to find unity theory or, alternatively out of this world.

          What is the test of theory? That it works in the world to which it is applied?

          1. Tiresias

            “With our thoughts we make the world” – The Buddha.

            Yet if the thoughts of all these big-brained scientists can’t make the world of the ultra-small really what they think it should be either their brains are not yet big enough to create a complexity sufficient to meet the requirement, or both their – and the Buddha’s – theory was wrong to start with.

      3. Invient

        You may be interested in Konstantin Meyl’s theories…

        I’m not a physicist, I apologize for this likely wrong interpretation of this prof Meyl’s work.

        From what I understand, he went back to maxwells equation and where physicists have zeroed out the effects of a particular field ( electrostatic, I think it was), he determined the functional form. He believes tesla was manipulating this field in his transmission experiments.

        I’m buying one of his books on amazon, a reviewer made the case that what he has discovered is a subset of quantum mechanics that may very well be exploitable for the purpose of power transmission over long distances with minimal loss… If this is possible, it would solve one of the biggest problems with the renewable forms of energy production, transmission.

      4. different clue

        I wonder how many of the “subatomic particles” supposedly “discovered” by high speed particle accelerator and smasher experiments are really little bits of precipitated “matter-ized particle-ized condensed” energy.
        I mean, if E = mcsquared, then why can’t m = E/csquared?
        What if some of these subatomic particles are anthropogenic?

    2. bob

      I started reading up on string theory and quickly realized that none of it was based on any observable or measurable evidence. It was complete fiction without any sort of basis in reality or plot. Bad science and bad reading.

      Yes, the people that supported it admitted that right off the bat, but yet kept on going, basing further “research” on past fiction, covering it with some impressive looking math.

      Not unlike econmics.

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        That would explain a novel I read a while back written by a string theory mathamatician turned sci-fi writer. The novel was a real mess.

    3. Aquifer

      STM shamen have the right idea – some magic mushrooms, a trance and voila – real insight not only into how the universe works but how to travel around in it … and whether they are particles or waves doesn’t seem particularly relevant ….

      Of course that will never be considered “legitimate” because you can’t fit it into an equation – sigh – too bad …

      As some old Brit once wrote – there are stranger things under heaven and earth than are discovered in a super collider, or something like that ….

  5. wunsacon

    >> The Insourcing Boom Atlantic (Aquifer)

    Ugh. “Insourcing” again. And it’s from the Atlantic. Why bother?

    1. wunsacon

      Maybe ~5 years ago, a headline mentioned “insourcing” of a few hundred jobs by Big Tech Company X. On the very same day, a headline mentioned Big Tech Company X hiring tens of thousands. And when there are cuts, the bigger cuts happen in the US. The shell game is so obvious…

      “Insourcing” is a marketing term to convince people losing their jobs that they’re gaining jobs.

      1. Aquifer

        That may be the case – except that all the reasons given for “insourcing” make a great deal of sense …

        If i have understood Yves critiques over time properly – much of the problems of Amer business have been management, not labor cost, issues and as the labor cost differential has decreased, while shipping costs and the time lag have assumed greater importance – these management issues become more glaring …

        I really liked this article because it indicated, to me at least, that just maybe business folk were getting wise to the idea that there is so much lost when designers are separated from producers from consumers – that one of the best ways to actually “improve” a product is to have the producer/consumer have direct and immediate input into the design/production process, and, in spite of all the hype about “virtual” reality, CAD can only go just so far – this process is best facilitated by actual physical proximity – “hands on”, literally …

        If you have ever conceived/designed/fabricated/used a product – you will know exactly what i mean ….

        1. Aquifer

          to clarify – if you have been actively engaged in a process from beginning (conception) to end (use) of a product, you will know what I mean …

          1. JohnL

            Agreed. For a parallel, consider insourcing your food, i.e. growing your own or at least buying locally and making your own versus buying frequent flier food at the supermarket. Many advantages.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Growing food yourself is a good idea, but take a bit of effort (well worth it though). But one can at least cook at home more often – one of the many benefits is seeing what you are putting into your body.

            But doing these (growing and cooking youself) will cost jobs though, unfortunately.

          3. Synopticist

            Yeah, but theres a degree of hope there are least.
            A lot of outsourcing went ahead for what were almost “fashionable”, as opposed to economic reasons. Loads of firms, or parts of a firm, where doing it, so others copied them out of inertia or managerial ideology, without studying the numbers too hard, or thinking too much about the consequences.

            Now with rising wages in the east and higher fuel prices, once a significant number of firms start bringing jobs back to the West, the same process might occur in the opposite direction.

            Even if those jobs are not as well paid as in the past, the accumulator effect for industrial employment is really high, so thats got a good thing.

          4. JohnL

            @mltpb – I think that buying local organic food creates jobs, moreover meaningful jobs growing good things, rather than production line jobs in some far flung food factory.

          5. different clue

            If “grow your own” is done correctly and as part of a plan to “save money here” in order to “spend it there”, it could end up costing jobs which deserve to be costed in order to grow jobs which deserve to be grown.

            How many jobs are created all along the chain by growing and then selling a million pounds of sugar? As against how many jobs are created all along the chain by growing and then selling a million pounds of honey? Or a million pounds of maple syrup? Which of those three sweetener-producing activities also create “more jobs per pound” or “more jobs per calorie” or per whatever?

            How many jobs are created for every 1,000 pizzas sold by Dominoid’s or Pizza Hurt? How many jobs are created for every 1,000 pizzas sold by Floyd’s Mansion of Pizza? Or to make it more apples-to-apples, per thousand dollars of pizza sold by Big Pizza as against per thousand dollars of pizza sold by Floyd?

  6. Richard Kline

    Regarding the UN vote endorsing Palestinian ‘state-likehood,’ on the surface we see a total repudiation of US Israeli policy in the region. There is a deeper level to what ostensibly is a very small step, however.

    In struggles of the weak against the mighty, victory comes first in the ability to endure, second in the court of public opinion, and third and finally in material changes of conditions which are unambiguous defeats for the mighty. What we see in the vote is that, having won the first level, the Palestinians have now won the second level as well, and decisively. Access to the courts in the Hague is only a bonus, though one that may well become crucial in the next few years.

    No one respects those who can’t endure. One pities them perhaps, but friends and/or allies aren’t won by the desolate. The Palestinians have endured in open struggle since the First Intifada begun literally a generation ago; have endure increasingly brutal police state abuse; have endure massive firepower criminally applied. They have emgerged from the first level of confrontation because enduring was a defeat for Israel. And they have done that on their own, given no manpower and trivial material support by any state actor, and only very little money to work with even while those in Palestine endure conditions directly analogous to the Ghettos of the Second World War (prior to the actual Shoa, however; there are levels of atrocity and that is not yet seen, thankfully, in the present time).

    The second level, the court of public opinion, is the crucial one. Without winning wider support, the weak are at great risk of being wornd down or attritted out. With meaningful, exterior, political support, though, the weak are buoyed, their ability to raise material necessities is greatly enhanced, both directly and indirectly, and the might are encumbered. If final victory is to come, one needs the vote of many in the community of nations. Palestine and the Palestinians have now demonstrated that they have won in the court of public opinion, and that Israel and the US have, deservedly, lost there.

    The UN vote in itself is an ‘immaterial gain,’ yes. Hamas isn’t impressed for one because they are desperate for food and munitions and their logic is one of firepower and endurance. They have been directly responsible for much of the first level of victory. But from the political and organizing standpoint, the UN victory is huge. An _essential_ component of Israeli policy since the 1920s has been to deny the Palestinians the status of ‘people.’ Such status presently only comes to people who own a ‘sovereign state’ franchise. This evil policy of the Israeli state and its predecessors in now largely rendered worthless: Palestinians are recognized as people with rights. Second, the Palesinian image has been historically terrible, both through Israelie propanganda, through US-Euro racism to be frank, and through Palestinian terrorism to be frank as well. The Un vote indicates how completely Palestinian imagery has been rehabilitated, not least due to the decline of Palestinian terrorism in default to overt combat.

    Don’t mistake that UN vote as a mild evolution. It is, literally, a change of state. The results may build slowly but they go in different directions than before.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘U.N. Assembly, in Blow to U.S., Elevates Status of Palestine’ — NYT

      Even the circumlocution ‘elevates’ grates badly on the ears of the Lobby.

      Doubtless the Times-Titanic has received thousands of hasbara posts, urging that the gratuitously upbeat word be changed to the more neutral ‘modifies’ or even the slightly pejorative-sounding ‘tweaks.’

      Our national shame is to be represented by the likes of Israeli mouthpiece Susan Rice:

      “Today’s unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path of peace,” U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said. “Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.”

      Yep. And young Suzy’s working tirelessly to make her malediction come true.

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        I’ve been wondering who the idiot was that gave the Palestines all the beachfront property. Any moron should’ve known the Jews would be coming after it.

        Now if they had given the Palestini people the kvetch wrenching desert property with the crappy views, there may have been a chance for peace in Israel!

  7. ambrit

    A report from the Boxxstore trenches about the “holiday” shopping season.
    Where I work, that good old DIY Boxxstore, the dreaded Black Friday was a bit of a fizzle. A strong initial surge and then, mediocrity. Our store didn’t make ‘target.’ Sales were decent for a friday, but not spectacular. Lots of people were disappointed at the ‘sameness’ of the merchandise on offer. One woman uttered to her friend as they walked past me; “Where are the real sale items?”
    What I like to call the ‘Cheap Junk Factor’ was in evidence. Like the woman in the NYT article said; “How many TV’s do you need?” A large cohort of the early shoppers had done their homework online and showed up with the early birds looking for specific items. This crew did remarkably little impulse shopping. One big or mid-level ticket item, and off they went.
    The other aspect of the crowd I noticed, and I may be indulging in a bit of projection here, was the lack of ‘holiday cheer’ in the shoppers. There was a palpable undercurrent of, for lack of a better word, depression in the crowd. Very few smiles. Almost no laughter. Indeed, the only bright spots were the little kids. They are always fun to play ‘peek a boo’ with, or get in ‘bye bye’ waving contests with. (The littlest kids give you that uncertain look at first and then usually go all in. The kids always win that game.)
    The days after the Black Friday have been ho hum. Sales have fallen off much faster than last year. Meanwhile, the corporate CEO just sold several tens of thousands of his ‘bonus’ shares into the market. Building up a nest egg?
    Happy Holidays folks.

    1. Klassy!

      Thanks for the report. I can’t imagine taking part in Black Friday sales so it is interesting to hear the view from someone who isn’t hyping it.
      How many tvs does one person need? Well, on the news they spoke to someone that bought 6 last year. She has yet to open some boxes. Interviewer and subject thought this was hilarious.

      1. mk

        for many, black friday is buy nothing day. i prefer to buy nothing, to be a saver, to toss the label “consumer”, to be human instead.

        i don’t even participate in christmas anymore and i love losing the stress, no more christmas shopping.

        i do love having the holiday time off though!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Buy nothing

          Be a savor.

          Or buy second hand, antique stuff – that is not counted in computing the GDP.

          I think a lot of the things we would like to do, that are good for the soul, will cost jobs – to buy nothig, to be s savor, to buy used things.

          Still, what you are doing is the right thing, if it costs jobs.

          1. Aquifer

            If we can sever the connection between having a “job” and being able to feed ourselves and our families – that would be a huge step in the right direction, methinks …

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            There was that ‘apple’ that tempted our ancestors – why all the hard work if you can just exchange for what you need, said the serpent seductively?

            Thus we got ensnared into the ponzi growth scheme – consuming more you are helping the economy and showing compassion for your fellow human workers.

            Yestereday (Or maybe 2 days ago), there was a quote from Lawrence of Arabia, I think, about a neighbor is welcome to the spring for his own use, but not for commerical purposes.

            When we hunt, gather, produce, grow for our own consumption, we don’t overtax nature or our own bodies either.

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            You are right Lambert; I have been too pre-occupied with our savior lately and so saver came out savor.

      2. different clue

        You need a TV for every room in the house, obviously. A room without a TV is like a fireplace without a fire . . . cold and cheerless. A room without a TV is too scary to enter.

        Granted, people are driven to enter the bathroom. But they merely tolerate their own presence there, and leave as soon as they can. If there were a TV “opposite” the toilet, people might actually enJOY using it. And if there were a waterproof TV installed in the shower stall, people might take more longer showers and be cleaner all the time.

        And why not a TV installed into the ceiling directly over every bed . . . facing down . . . so people could get their horizontal rest while watching TV?

  8. AR

    The intent is to induce PTSD. US internment policy, whether in military confinement or civilian prisons, is to traumatize. All US policy would seem to be following suit. It is a characteristic of neoliberalism. Makes it easier to crush dissent or resistance., by producing despair and helplessness.

    Re Arthur Silber’s linked post of a few days ago, about liberal bloggers. Silber quoted Chris Floyd’s response to David Atkin’s Hullabaloo response, calling the veal pen “afraid, childish, and helpless.” Characteristics of PTSD.

  9. citalopram

    HAHA. Yes, adding sugar to food all kinds of food raises the occurances of diabetes. Eating too much sugar can give you diabetes.


    Props to whoever got funding for this study.

  10. fruit of the poisoned jarhead torturers

    Convention Against Torture Article 15: Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made.

    UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Ernesto Mendez, “I believe Bradley Manning was subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the excessive and prolonged isolation he was put in during the eight months he was in Quantico,”

    Convention Against Torture Article 1: For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

    Detainee Manning, You’re free to go.

  11. jsmith

    Syrian Internet down, “rebels” attack Damascus airport.

    As some of the linked commentary makes clear, these actions – completely aided, abetted and militarily supported by the US and other war criminal nations – are to make it seem as if the “rebels” actually have the abilities to carry out such levels of attacks on their own and thus further persuade other nations that they are not simply supporting a rag-tag bunch of mercenary jihadist psychopaths imported from Libya and elsewhere in yet another Western war against a sovereign nation.

    As to U.S. claims that the Syrian government is responsible for killing the Internet and phone services, color me sceptical as this has been the MO for US invasions for decades in addition to being denied by the Syrian communications minister here.

    The charges for these war criminals will take 6 months to read.

    1. hunkerdown

      Well, now I know what my Air Force acquaintance is *really* doing in Doha. At least she’s (presumably) not there to monkeywrench the UNFCCC meeting or fly drones…

    2. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

      I read that the Syrian Government is secularist, and has been in a battle with Muslism Brotherhood men and jihadists for many years. So, I was guessing that a secularist Syria wouldn’t have sharia law. Does anybody know?

      1. Synopticist

        That so called “plan” was never something intentioned by Churchill, it was a theorietical study made by war chiefs, a war game or military/academic study.

        Neither the US or (especially) Britian was in a position to go to war with the Soviets in ’45, and they knew it.
        That Isreal Shamir is a bit of a fruitcake actually.

        1. jsmith

          Let’s see some links, please.

          Every source I’ve read on it including the wikipedia link provided usually starts with something along the lines of this:

          Operation Unthinkable was a code-name of two related plans of a conflict between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. Both were ordered by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1945 and developed by the British Armed Forces’ Joint Planning Staff at the end of World War II in Europe.

          Here’s a Daily Mail piece by knighted historian Max Hastings which states:

          “Truman agreed that urgent talks were needed. Yet what if talking to Stalin got nowhere? Was there anything the Western Allies could do? Churchill thought there was. They could go to war again.

          Within days of Germany’s surrender, he had astounded his chiefs of staff by inquiring whether Anglo-American forces might launch an offensive to drive back the Soviets. He requested the military planners to consider means to ‘impose upon Russia the will of the United States and British Empire’ to secure ‘a square deal for Poland’.

          The authors of the original Unthinkable documents which can be seen here sure go through a lot of trouble making sure to cover their assess w/ hypothesis this and contigency that almost as if they themselves couldn’t believe they were being forced to write it up.

          Having read potential battle plans before, this one has the smell of being specifically requested.

          But that’s just my opinion.

          Lastly, Shamir was at the forefront of exposing to the West what a complete and utter fraud the entire P@ssy Riot debacle was here, he’s consistently been a defender of Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks and he provides needed non-NED approved political commentary from inside Russia that is regularly featured on Counterpunch which is a respected left website.

          If you want to drag his rabid anti-Z******m (oops, anti-Semitism) into the conversation, I ain’t playin’.

          1. jsmith

            Then there’s this which basically states that the only thing that really stopped Churchill was Truman and his defeat at the polls.

            Within days of the war in Europe ending, Churchill surprised his Chiefs-of-Staff by enquiring whether an Anglo-American force could force back the Red Army from the River Elbe. He requested that military planners come up with a plan that could also include using German personnel and what was left of Germany’s economic might. He even thought of a date for such an assault – July 1st 1945. The Chief of the Army, General Sir Alan Brooke, was appalled at the plan and likened the Prime Minister to a warmonger. Brooke noted in his diary that Churchill was “longing for another war”.

            One of the reasons that made Churchill so bellicose was the fact that he knew about the Manhattan Project and how close America was to developing atomic bombs passed the test phase. He even told Brooke that if Stalin failed to listen to the West’s wishes, the US could target Moscow, Stalingrad and then Kiev.

            Churchill received a draft copy of the plan on June 8th. The plan made it clear that the USA would have to give full support to Britain and that this could not be guaranteed. This seems to have brought Churchill to his senses and he wrote in the margin of the draft that an attack on the Red Army “was a highly improbable event.” He later changed these words to “purely hypothetical contingency”. Shortly afterwards, he received news from President Truman that made it clear that America wanted no part in Operation Unthinkable. The file was closed.

            He was intentioned all right even if every one thought he was nuts.

          2. Synopticist

            It calls it a “feasability study”, which is what it was. All armies and leaders do them.
            And as for the fr*cking loooooper Isreal Shamirs “takedown” of Pussy Riot, wtf? They deserved to go to a penal colony in Siberia because they insulted the church and filmed an orgy.
            He’s a fiercelly authoritarian pro-Russian nationalist, conspiracist and holocaust denier, who also hates the west. Despite his multiple sex charges I have a lingering admiration for Julian Assange, and the less I know about Isreal Shamir the better.

          3. jsmith

            Thanks for the links that showed that Churchill wasn’t “intentioned”.

            From your other statements, I see that we don’t have much further to talk about.

            You seem to enjoy the NED-approved version of events in Russia.

            Don’t believe in conspiracies.

            Think the West is sweet.

            And actually believe the charges against Assange carry some legitimacy.

            As concerns charges of holocaust denial as have also branded Finkelstein, Atmon and many other honest opponents of Z******t propaganda, your statement smacks of echo.

            And I had such hopes for you.


          4. different clue

            Wouldn’t all that indicate that it was an Anglo-Churchill plan in particular and not an Anglo-American plan in general? If Roosevelt had lived, wouldn’t he have been just as against such a plan?

            But I am hardly even a history “buff”, let alone a real amateur, so I can only wonder.

          1. Jack Parsons

            And, a WW2 reprise of this would have been profoundly ungrateful, since the Soviets beat the Germans with a lot of help from the West. Yes, really, it wasn’t us what did the deed.

  12. rich

    Kroft: Why Have No Banking Executives Been Prosecuted?

    Video is a web-exclusive and was not broadcast on 60 Minutes.

    Steve Kroft gives up hope.

    At the 5:18 mark, Kroft’s epitaph is utterly sickening in its hopelessness:

    “I think this is the last story I’ll do about nobody being held accountable because I really have sort of given up. I don’t think that the federal government—either the S.E.C. or the Justice Department—are going to believe in bringing cases against individuals. I just don’t think that they’re going to.”

    (4) Tell us exactly what evidence you’d need to see in order to prosecute everyone at MF Global between Jon Corzine and the person who authorized the illegal transfer of $1.6 billion in customer funds? What additional evidence–if you can even think of any–do you need to bring Corzine up on a violation of Sarbannes-Oxley?

  13. Optimader

    Astounding: Miss America contestant will have both breasts removed, and she doesn’t have cancer

    Um… Can i have them?.. Hmm.. Err..maybe just give them a loing squeeze before they depart from this mortal coil?

    1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      I guess I’ll be disappointed if she wins. Especially so, if we find out that she’s still dumb anyway.

    2. Jack Parsons

      When I first read this I assumed she had the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. This combo is so lethal that pre-emptive mastectomy is a medically accepted option.

      But she’s got some wacky blood disease that only affects boys?

  14. Bill Frank

    HFCS has been linked to diabetes! Shocking! Amazing! What an incredible discovery. Who would have guessed!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps this is another impractical idea of mine, but I think we should outlaw anyting not organic in our schools to protect our children.

      After that, we should use the same energy we spend on tobacco to ban public cosumption of anything not organic in public places, for both kids and adults.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Good. Before we can make something happen, we must be able to imagine it first.

          Eventually, the default is organic.

          You won’t have to study the labels.

          1. different clue

            Well . . . for now at least . . . the “other” default is also still those crops which have no GMO versions. All kinds of “minor” beans and seeds and fruits which have not yet attracted the attention of the GMOers. And perennial tree/shrub/bush based nuts and fruits and so forth.

            A pecan or a walnut can be conventional and still be guaranteed GMO-free, because no GMO pecans or walnuts have yet been released.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Late yesterday, someone posted a link about the European court not wanting to look into how Greece got into the Euro in the first place.

    I think that’s what they need – we Greeks got in illegally, so the Euro should be void in our country (Greec) and we can just exit, perhaps treating the whole thing like an annulled marriage. It never happened.

    1. Aquifer

      Hey – the Pope should be able to do that – in the RC church one can get an annulment even after “consummation” – and several kids …

    2. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      That would drag Goldman Sachs back into the limelight for faking Greek books. Not allowed.

      1. Synopticist

        They’ve won. Despite the fraud, the anger, Occupy, trhe rise in political extremism, the slashed welfare, they still won. Id like to say I cant believe it, but I was expecting it actually.
        However, my 2007 persona can’t believe it. He was the guy who thought he understood global politics, who thought the financial class was just one very powerful political lobby amongst others, who thought politicians would act in their own interpretations of their nations’ best interest, and who naivelly beleived the US, at least, was capable of prosecuting high-end financial crimes.
        What a f*cking idiot I was.

      2. Up

        That would drag Goldman Sachs back into the limelight for faking Greek books. Not allowed.

        On occasion I move in Cosmic circles; Beelzebub wanted me to let you know that when Machiavelli’s tenure as Permissible Reality Tzar is up he has you on the short list of top candidates to take this esteemed role. He knows you’ve got what it takes to ‘keep it real’ for centuries to come!

        (Seriously HT, what you said was awesome!)

      3. Fíréan

        Goldman Sachs were doing “God’s work” remember. To which entity they were alluding by way of the use of the word “god” you may well ask yourself a second time, and arrive at a far different conclusion than when the reference as first made.

  16. Jim Haygood

    Moody’s downgrades Europe’s state-sponsored CDOs:

    The European Stability Mechanism and European Financial Stability Facility were downgraded by Moody’s Investors Service, which cited a high correlation in credit risk present among the entities’ largest financial supporters.

    The ESM was cut to Aa1 from Aaa, while the EFSF provisional rating was lowered to (P)Aa1 from (P)Aaa. Moody’s said in a statement today that would maintain a negative outlook on each.

    The moves follows downgrades of the EFSF’s second-biggest contributor after France lost its top grade at Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s this year. Investors often ignore such ratings actions, evidenced by the drop in France’s 10-year bond yields since last week’s Moody’s downgrade and a rally in Treasuries after the U.S. lost its AAA at S&P in 2011.

    *shakes fist in frustration*

    Doesn’t anyone want this beautiful silk purse made from sow’s ears?

  17. Hugh

    On the supersymmetry front, the main problem seems to be that physicists don’t understand the Higgs field which is to say they don’t understand gravity and space-time at the quantum level. I don’t think this is anything new. We have known about the contradictions between relativity and quantum theory for decades.

    Re Black Friday and Christmas sales in general, the media tends to cheerlead this materialist, consumerist binge using numbers supplied to them by the retailer trade organizations, hardly disinterested parties. It seems like for the last few years now when the dust clears the numbers don’t appear as good, though this is often followed by stories about the great business makeup sales after Christmas. In macro terms, I think there was some ginning up of the economy going into the election but overall most of the country has neither recovered from nor left the 2007 recession.

    Re the military, the suicide rates alone should tell you how eroded our forces have become. Unending, unwinnable wars fought in stupid places for stupid reasons will have that effect. Go figure.

    The UN vote is a big deal because it confers internationally recognized legitimacy on the Palestinians. But it is a double-edged sword. The two-state solution has been dead since the assassination of Rabin in 1995. The only viable, hard as that may appear now, solution is a single integrated Palestinian-Israeli state.

  18. scraping_by

    Let’s see. In the same week Obama’s frontman for offshoring American jobs announces a dinky increase at Kentucky, a NYPD cop gives a homeless bum a pair of boots.

    The NYPD publicity stunt has been given better legs than Immelt’s. Taking time out from beating up demonstrators and face-stomping teenaged girls, ticketing random nonwhites and spying on everyone and everything, just in time for the holidays. The plot and visuals from The Dark Knight Rises just weren’t obvious enough, so now it’s the classic soft-hearted pose for the camera and a victory tour.

    GE isn’t going to get that kind of full-bore media push, but it doesn’t need it. It’s the sort of thing Barry can mention in passing to make the truth go away. Flickering images of Green Shoots projected on a black wall. A cheap smoke screen, and after the Great Betrayal, it can go away, too.

    This used to be a nation where forthright realtionships would build the world. Now, paranoia and suspicion are survival-positive.

  19. LeonovaBalletRusse

    “Congress Absolves Corzine”
    November 29th, 2012
    in econ_news, syndication

    //Econintersect: A Congressional report has absolved Jon Corzine (pictured), former U.S. Senator and Governor of New Jersey, of any criminal wrong-doing in the collapse of MF Global. But the House Financial Services Committee did clearly state that Corzine failed to maintain controls that were needed to protect customers./
    . . .
    /Dan Reed dissects the Congressional report, written by a Republican-controlled committee. He was not too flattering of the Capitol Hill action (or, maybe better, inaction)://
    MORE AT:

    1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      “But the House Financial Services Committee did clearly state that Corzine failed to maintain controls that were needed to protect customers.

      Another great opportunity to see if SabOx is good for anything besides having some extra accountants push around useless paper in the backroom of all US corporations, then file it.

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