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Links 1/3/13

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US town bans small water bottles BBC

Fracking Activities Enter Urban Areas OilPrice

‘Hang my son, he deserves it’ Asian Age (Aquifer)

Poland bans cultivation of GM maize, potatoes France24 (Aquifer)

Eurozone data still poor Macrobusiness

Portugal warns EU-IMF troika to back off on austerity demands Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Euros discarded as impoverished Greeks resort to bartering Guardian (John L)

Squeezed Out: Rocketing Rents Become Election Issue in Germany Der Spiegel

As Chief Spence starves, Canadians awaken from idleness and remember their roots Globe and Mail (Aquifer)

U.S. Allies Ignore Washington’s Iran Sanctions OilPrice

Beancounters, having resolved not to resolve differences in derivatives netting, instead have cool new footnotes FTAlphaville (Richard Smith(

George W. Bush Returns To America After Spending 4 Years In The Himalayas Onion (Chuck L)

Catfood watch:

Fiscal fights threaten US policy goals Financial Times

Dr. Ruth: Obstinate members of Congress probably bad lovers The Hill. I don’t think they much care. I assume most of them pay for sex.

The President’s Leverage: He Can Go Platinum! Corrente

Debt in a Time of Zero Paul Krugman. Half a loaf, in that he salutes the platinum coin idea.

SCOTUS Chastises Congress and the Executive Branches Rdan (Angry Bear)

Connecticut Student Suspended For Writing In Poem That She “Understands” Why Adam Lanza “Pulled The Trigger” Jonathan Turley (Chuck L)

Congress Vacations While Sandy Victims Freeze Cynthia Kouril, Firedoglake

Brain drain or brain gain? Evidence from corporate boards VoxEU

ISM Manufacturing PMI Expands to 50.7% for December 2012 Economic Populist

Brad DeLong Has Me Worried Stephanie Kelton, New Economic Perspectives

The big issues in macroeconomics: unemployment John Quiggin

The four business gangs that run the US Sydney Morning Herald (psychohistorian)

The subtle secrets of charisma Financial Times. Remember when we posted the Julia Gillard misogny speech and Lambert told you about its use of rhetoric? And most of you didn’t get it??? Read this and reconsider.

Antidote du jour:

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134 comments

  1. David Lentini

    Don’t worry about DeLong; just write him off. Whether he changed into a VSP (Very Serious Person) after writing some good stuff back in the days of “W”, or he was a VSP all along is irrelevant. No only can’t he grasp reality, he can’t even find his butt with both hands.

    1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      Yeah, Steph makes great use of pictures in this post. More use of pictures in economics is great IMO.

      But I think she might be even more effective in driving home this profound point if she used animated smiley gifs.

      Here’s one depicting our government as a non-household:

      http://www.glitter-graphics.com/graphics/207246

      This is what it would look like if it were:

      http://www.glitter-graphics.com/graphics/383551

      And for comparison, here’s a household!

      http://www.glitter-graphics.com/graphics/244846

      But it’s great to watch PhDs arguing with each other. They can’t all be right, ya know.

      1. Aquifer

        HT – gotta admit that last one has promise – but as a rule I really don’t like those smiley things – for some reason they grate on me … These emoticon things are about as far as i will go – :). If i don’t have a choice on a site, i will right “smile” rather than have :) automatically turn into a smiley thing …

    1. fresno dan

      Damn, you beat me to it – I saw that and was going to link it – dare I give the money quote?
      “The Bank of International Settlements has produced a paper discussing the global shortage of safe assets and suggesting a solution. It’s a fascinating paper, not least because of the glimpse it affords into the looking-glass world of finance”

      for geeks:
      http://www.geek.com/articles/gadgets/10-objects-that-prove-3d-printing-will-change-the-world-20121231/

      Now all you criminals belong to us:
      http://www.volokh.com/2013/01/02/the-offenses-clause-universal-jurisdiction-over-terrorists/

      So when the Hague indicts Dubya, we will respect that because what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander?
      Nah…
      The question will be always:who we choose NOT to indict…

      1. Cujo359

        Anyone worried about the quality of his town’s tap water would do better to filter his water or boil it, I think. Which approach to use depends on what the worry is.

    1. Cujo359

      Yes, thank you. For some reason, whenever this site links to the BBC, it links to the main page for that kind of news, rather than to the article permalink.

  2. from Mexico

    @ “U.S. Allies Ignore Washington’s Iran Sanctions” OilPrice

    Dan Feng of the CNPC Research Institute of Economics and Technology did an enlightening paper a couple of years ago titled “Analysis on Natural Gas Geo-politics in Central Asia-Russia Region.”

    http://www.worldenergy.org/documents/congresspapers/140.pdf

    The real prize is who is going to control the natural gas flows into Europe, whether it will be Russia or the US-Nato alliance. So far, by every concrete measure, Russia is winning the competition, hands down.

    Most interesting was the difference in negotiating strategies of the two contestants. The US-Nato’s strategy is one of conquest and plunder and the threat of violence. Russia’s strategy, on the other hand, is to pay the central asian countries a greater price for their natural gas.

    Then the study takes a look at the new gas pipelines that link China to the vast natural gas reserves in central asia and Iran, as well as Russia. We’re talking natural gas reserves on the order of 100 times those of the much-touted US shale gas reserves, and all of it of the conventional type that can be produced for a small fraction of the cost required to produce shale gas.

    Oil since the 1930s has been the dominant energy commodity, and the US has controlled world oil markets since that time. Up until the 1970s, the US was the world’s swing oil producer. Then the baton was handed to Saudia Arabia. But through its client state relationship with the Saudi royal family, the US still maintained control.

    There are many new developments on the energy front. For chartalists, the question arises whether, should the US lose energy hegemony, will it also lose monetary hegemony? Maybe Humpty Dumpty will have a great fall, and not even the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank will be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

    1. Jim Haygood

      The US-Nato’s strategy is one of conquest and plunder and the threat of violence. Russia’s strategy, on the other hand, is to pay the central asian countries a greater price for their natural gas.

      … representing an almost mirror-image reversal from the Cold War era, when the USSR’s strategy was one of ‘conquest and plunder,’ while the U.S. offered mutually-beneficial trade.

      We [NATO] are the Warsaw Pact now, comrades. And as the ‘U.S. Allies Ignore Washington’s Iran Sanctions’ article details, some of our satellites are getting rather uppity. No worries, Obama’s constant rain of drone strikes oughta keep them in line.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Thanks for a realistic and hopeful perspective, from Mexico. The unsustainable must someday reach a decisive tipping point, some form of systemic collapse essential for real change. The sooner the better, to avert catastrophic collapse.

    3. different clue

      And I’m sure that all the peoples of Eurasia will buy all that gas and burn it. Thereby warming the global even faster and hotter.

  3. fresno dan

    “Connecticut Student Suspended For Writing In Poem That She “Understands” Why Adam Lanza “Pulled The Trigger” Jonathan Turley (Chuck L)”

    “The latest such case involves Courtni Webb, a seventeen-year-old student at California’s Life Learning Academy who was suspended for writing in a poem in a personal notebook that she “understand[s] the killings in Connecticut.”

    I used to understand what this girl meant, but I don’t understand anymore because I once said I understood the Palenstinians’ need to use violance to promote their cause, until the FBI renditioned me until I confessed I didn’t understand, and therefore now understand perfectly…
    Understand???

    1. AbyNormal

      why can’t you see i’m a kid’, said the kid.
      Why try to make me like you?
      Why are you hurt when I don’t cuddle?
      Why do you sigh when I splash through a puddle?
      Why do you scream when I do what I did?
      Im a kid.
      falling up, s.silverstein

    2. TK421

      Funny, I just started reading “Going Postal” by Mark Ames, and in the first chapter he talks about a workplace shooter who killed several of his coworkers and injured a dozen or so more, and most coworkers Ames talked to said they understood why he did it–even people he shot multiple times.

        1. Aquifer

          Impulse, yes – in this increasingly crazy world, there will be more and more “understandable” impulses that arise from the increasing number of absurdities our “civilization” confronts us with, but, ISTM, this is all the more reason to lock up guns and separate them from ammo – an “understandable” impulse is almost never a “justifiable” one ..

          The question is – to what extent was Lanza’s action “impulse”, “understandable” or not, and to what extent was it planned/premeditated. If the former, locking up those guns might have prevented his acting on “impulse”, if the latter, i suspect he would have figured out another way …

    3. Lidia

      Incredibly, in 1970s suburban RI, our public high-school class (English?) had, as an assignment, to collaboratively write and produce a film, acting in it ourselves. I don’t know where we got the background idea for this, whether there had been school shootings or not… I think this was more the “going postal” era… but anyway, our protagonist was the tallest kid in the class, whose character in the film was picked on for being stupid, falling asleep in class, etc. He then snaps and comes back to take revenge on the teachers and kids who tormented him. Our production took place over a period of weeks, and we used the hallways and cafeteria after hours to shoot our shooter doing his rampage thing. No teacher or administrator seemed to have objected to it to the extent that would have put a stop to it, and AFAIK no-one in the class became a serial killer subsequent to this state-sanctioned expressive exercise.

  4. Richard Kline

    On whether Congressional refuseniks are bad lovers as Dr. Ruth posits (and she should know wherefrom), my fantasy says that they don’t have sex at all: they pay for porn, so that way ‘they didn’t really sin’ but are guilty enough to have something to bewail of themselves in church so they know that they’re ‘normal.’ But in reality, those refusenik schmucks figure to be as psychologically abusive in their personal relationships as they are in their politicalones, so one can easily see them haranguing and demeaning their captive domestic servants into coerced, badly done, unsharing, sex where they feel guilty about their desires but righteous about their behaviors. I mean, who _would_ voluntarily hold still for those folks??

    1. LucyLulu

      I heard a rumor that their female partners have been holding an aspirin between their knees for decades now.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Since their pay raise was just canceled, and one can hardly live in D.C. on a crappy $174K a year, it’s likely that more KongressKlowns will resort to pimping and white slavery, a la the Barney Frank model.

      After all, peddling their own asses to the highest bidder is what they do all day.

  5. Goin' South

    Re: Greeks bartering–

    This is a very interesting story. Greece is not falling apart; it is being ripped apart by Germany, the banks and its own elites. Some Greeks are responding by resorting to crime and anti-social acts, and that’s understandable. But other Greeks are responding with mutual aid and innovation.

    For those of us in this country who wonder what is to be done (other than despair on blog comment threads), these citizens setting up barter and alternative currency systems, all with the goal of aiding each other, provide a good example of what we should be doing here.

    1. diptherio

      It’s a great story, very hopeful. A monetary system run by women…whoddathunkit? Kinda sounds what

      What I found interesting was that the Guardian refers to the system as “barter,” when it’s obviously a credit system, virtual money. There’s kind of a big difference, imho. Maybe we should send the Guardian a copy of Graeber’s Debt.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Better than credit, they can ask their 0.01% to share their wealth with the rest of them.

        1. Synopticist

          The thing about greece is it’s not just the 0.1% that’s screwing the country, it’s more like the top 30%.

          Greece is run by patronage networks, oiled by massive corruption and industrial scale tax evasion. It’s the most corrupt country in Europe, and when you think that includes places like Italy and the gangster-state countries of the former Warsaw pact, that’s really sayng something.

          1. Accrued Disinterest

            Be careful around here implying that Greece may have something to do with its own fate.

    2. different clue

      People don’t have to despair on blog threads. They can exchange information on blog threads. They can then use that information in the meatspace realitysphere. They don’t have to. But they can.

    1. Klassy!

      “It’s a very good product delivered by very good people.”
      She probably used the same words when delivering “democracy”.

      Once a shill, always a shill I guess.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Albright is the Shill of Shills, no matter what scam she facilitates. The comments also are “priceless.”

      Capitalism Sucks. This is full frontal proof.

  6. TK421

    “U.S. now on pace for European levels of austerity in 2013″

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/02/the-u-s-is-now-planning-more-austerity-than-europe/

    Remember when the president had a reputation for intelligence?

    * * *

    That Krugman link is particularly frustrating to me, for he says “sure we could print money now with little downside, but someday the conditions that allow that will end so we shouldn’t do it now.” Well then let’s not do anything, because as Keynes said “in the long run we are all dead.”

    1. Aquifer

      And what sort of intelligence are you referring to – the kind between the ears or the kind between the pages of redacted files? – We get more and more of the latter as we promote less and less of the former, ISTM …

  7. lakewoebegoner

    The subtle secrets of charisma Financial Times

    I love the science behind cognitive science, social psychology. Just as it took Nixon to go to China, Reagan to negotiate with the heathen commies, we’re on the road to have a Democratic president nail the coffin on the New Deal.

    It really bugs me that since Obama as the world’s cutest family, is articulate and has a compelling life story, “liberals/progressives” are just happy to be thrown under the bus as long as the thrower is Obama.

    1. Aquifer

      I appreciate the power of charisma as well as anyone – but i do not understand why Obama is considered to have much. He always seemed to be a rather cold, methodical, detached fellow to me … look at the eyes ….

      It has continually seemed to me that, whether defender or detractor, folks refused to respond to MLK’s plea and persisted, instead, in judging him on the color of his skin and not on the content of his character ….

    2. different clue

      That is part of the problem about which I hope a post will be written. And a part of the reason for that proglib willingness to drink the Jonestown Punch for Obama is that the vast majority of the black community voted for Obama and still supports Obama for pure racial pride validation reasons. And the proglibs feel that black America is still some kind of repository for political morality and wisdom. So as long as the black community supports the BS Obama Catfood Plan because Obama is our first black President and that makes them all just so proud, then the proglibs will all support the BS Obama Catfood Plan because the black community will call the proglibs racist if the proglibs oppose the BS Obama Catfood Plan.

      And when I say “oppose”, I don’t mean “support with faint opposition”. I mean “sabotage and obstruct” every way possible, and plot open visible revenge upon any Democrat who supports the BS Obama Catfood Plan. But that would require the proglibs to dismiss the so-called “moral standing” posture of the black community. Otherwise, the proglibs will remain vulnerable to black blackmail and accusations of racism if the proglibs show any signs of eFFECtive sabotage and destruction of Our Very First Black President’s austerity agenda.

      That’s the sort of thing I hope someone would write a post about.

  8. rich

    Big Banks Are “Black Boxes,” Disclosure is “Woeful”

    The second is the heart of the article: How opaque, misleading, non-disclosing and — WTF, let’s just say it — fraudulent bank balance sheets are.

    Perhaps the most damning quote in the entire column comes from former Federal Reserve Board member Kevin Warsh. He suggested that the financial statements a big bank files with the SEC are worthless:

    “Investors can’t truly understand the nature and quality of the assets and liabilities. They can’t readily assess the reliability of the capital to offset real losses. They can’t assess the underlying sources of the firms’ profits. The disclosure obfuscates more than it informs, and the government is not just permitting it but seems to be encouraging it.”

    That is a damning statement.

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2013/01/big-banks-are-black-boxes-disclosure-is-woeful/

    1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      That is an incredibly stupid statement. It is not up to “investors” to determine if banks are solvent.

      What if they are wrong and we get some sort of financial crisis and the Fed and Treasury needed to backstop and bail out the banks at great cost to the economy and taxpayer?

      Hmm? Did they ever think about that possibility? Methinks not. A little more foresight would be appreciated. Thankyou.

      1. LucyLulu

        Well….. one can allegedly read financial statements and use them as a factor when making investments, e.g deciding whether to purchase stock in a company. The point of the article, and I agree, is that financial statements issued by the banks are so opaque and unreadable as to provide no information of any useful value. Even “experts” are unable to make heads or tails out of them, but the fact that their shares are selling for under book value points to the general market’s mistrust in the big banks’ solvency. While any company can “cook their books”, useful information can generally be gleaned from the statements of other types of businesses.

        Further up, I posted a link to the Atlantic article Ritholz was commenting on. It’s worth a read.

        1. different clue

          Assuming the financial statements are all “Enron” statements backed up by “Arthur Andersen” quality accounting. . . how could anyone possibly trust them? And what kind of informed investment decision could possibly be based upon investor-spoofing Enron statements composed completely of Arthur Anderson numbers? That is what government financial regulators are supposed to be for, in theory. That is what we pay them to do, in theory.

          The tiny little lumpen-investor is better off investing in personal and community survivalism, including the survivalising of legitimate state and local governments doing what we taxpay them to do for we who pay them to do those things.

  9. direction

    oops, I’m still reading yesterdays links. The copyright article had a nice link to a Duke paper on the current tragedy of disintigrating orphan films.

    “These facts, coupled to the sheer crying waste of allowing the filmic heritage of the twentieth century to rot for no good reason, all militate strongly in favor of the Copyright Office taking swift and decisive action here in order to provide practicable access to orphan works.”

    “For example, the Museum of Modern Art contains 13,000 films, more than half of which are orphan works unavailable to the public. To a public denied access to the films in the nation’s archives, a public whose tax-dollars are spent restoring movies they are forbidden even to view, archivists can look “as if they are perversely saving films for a posterity that never quite arrives.”

      1. different clue

        I don’t know, but I will guess that . . . it is because there was no such thing as “film” when legislation setting up the Library of Congress was written. And it is probably for that same reason that the Library of Congress does not collect and preserve blogs and websites either. The Internet Archive (Wayback Machine) claims to do that, but it offers no way for anyone to find anything there by remembered title, only by remembered URL. And how many people can remember the URL of a long-ago and much-missed website?

      2. direction

        Don’t worry, there are literally tons of films decaying in the library of congress as well

  10. DANNYBOY

    When John Boehner refused to allow the Sandy aid vote to come to the floor, my thought was: “He figures, why give away money to people that we can’t get anything back from.”

    Today’s quote from Pete King confirmed that was true: “These Republicans have no problem finding New York when they’re out raising millions of dollars. They’re in New York all the time filling pockets with money from New Yorkers.

    Now, if those wealthy NYers don’t get the point that trouble in the boroughs and LI is going to get them, after a while, then I believe that they are going to find out.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Greeks bartering.

    So it goes like this:

    Sharing —> Debt —–> Barter —–> Modern Money.

    And when it reverses:

    Modern Mondey —-> Barter —–> Borrowing???? and finally Sharing again?

    Will we share again as a species?

    Do we have 2 more stages to go?

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Frackers in urban areas.

    Is there not a place they will not invade?

    What if there’s oil under the White House?

    1. Aquifer

      Ho, ho – the oil in the WH has already been drilled – and our gov’t is well and truly fracked … The waste water is being pumped into the SC where it is mutating the Const. on a regular basis …

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The big issues in macroeconomics: unemployment

    The way we reduce unemployment by forgetting to count the jobless is like the Huns and the Brits declaring peace by forgetting to count the dead in the trenches.

    They call that the ‘Amnesia Solution.’

    It’s quite effective, really. Instantaneous too.

  14. Garrett Pace

    This magnificent op-ed piece in the NYT seeks to justify executive disregard of the Constitution. It really sounds like an Onion piece

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/12/31/opinion/lets-give-up-on-the-constitution.xml

    I’ve thought of the Constitution as more or less a dead letter for some time now. The provisions that still get observed are the ones that buffer the rivalries between the red and blue teams of our duopoly government.

    Favorite quote:

    “Our sometimes flagrant disregard of the Constitution has not produced chaos or totalitarianism; on the contrary, it has helped us to grow and prosper.”

    Wow. Isn’t disregarding the legal framework and fully expressing one’s arrogated powers by definition totalitarian?

    And helped WHO grow and prosper? And at the cost of whom?

    1. DANNYBOY

      I have begged, pleaded, wished and prayed for the end of NYT links,

      BUT THEY CAN’T BE STOPPED!

    2. citalopram

      Read The Constitution of No Authority by Lysander Spooner.

      Power all boils down to whether or not you can enforce it. Sad, but true.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    This is a day late but I couldn’t sleep a wink with this scary thought last night so I have to let it out and share it with the world.

    If you think corpoate personhood is bad, then you should worry about robot personhood too

    That’s right – robots are people too; god-fearing robots or not god-fearing robots, it doesn’t matter.

    1. DANNYBOY

      and the difference between robots and corporate bankers is…?

      something to do with god-fearing v not, i suspect.

        1. Antifa

          And robots have the Four Laws, per Asimov:

          * A robot may not injure humanity, or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

          * A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm, unless this would violate a higher order law.

          * A robot must obey orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with a higher order law.

          * A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with a higher order law.

          Anybody care to tell me the Four Laws of Bankers?

          1. Aquifer

            Of course then there are the “outlaw” robots that don’t obey those laws – as in drones ….

            Or are you suggesting that we would be better off completely untethering robots from people, so they will be “free” to obey those “laws” …

            Of course then there’s HAL of “2001″ fame …

          2. diane

            Oh my, that is truly disturbing. I hope you’re being sarcastic.

            If Asimov (whover he is) actually implied, or stated that for a fact, he’s either a dangerous ass, …. or a criminal.

            Human beings with distinct ideologies create robots and impart what they want to into them.

    2. Garrett Pace

      Robot personhood got settled some time ago:

      http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/sep/29/predators-and-robots-war/

      “If an unmanned plane flying near the border of another nation is fired on, does it have the right to fire back at that nation’s missile sites and the humans behind them, even in peacetime?
      ….the US Air Force currently operates according to the principle that a pilotless aircraft, as an entity representing the people who sent it on its mission, “has the same rights as if a person were inside it,” and that this “interpretation of robot rights is official policy for unmanned reconnaissance flights over the Persian Gulf.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Editorial update.

          So now robots can buy elections too?

          And there are some humans who say robots are not dangerous?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        No, is it good – good in the sense that it’s the evil version of Daneel Olivaw, and instead of saving the galactic empire, this evil robot buys elections for his googolaire human master?

        1. Aquifer

          It’s rather more thought provoking than that, methinks – you seem to be rather pre-occupied with robots so i thought this might interest you ….

  16. diptherio

    FRAUD ALERT!

    So yesterday I found out, much to my chagrin, that my debit card number had been pilfered and had been used to make several purchases over the last couple of days. Apparently I was dating in Texas while sending flowers in Florida and Michigan, all the while watching college sports in California.

    Fortunately, my trusty Credit Union had flagged most of the transactions and suspended my debit card (which is how I found out about this in the first place). I spent most of yesterday evening and this morning tracking down and contacting the various merchants involved, with a surprising amount of success. Match.com and Yahoo Small Business had both red-flagged the transactions before I called and quickly made things right (on a side note, when you call Yahoo, you first have to listen to a rather long recorded message informing you that “we are experiencing longer than normal hold times” and encouraging you to visit their website; after which you are immediately connected with a real, live human being who will inform you, if you ask, that him and thirty other guys have been sitting around for the last ten minutes waiting for the phone to ring).

    There were a few exceptions. One, College Sports Network, is apparently a privately held company with 25-100 employees headquartered at 2035 Corte del Nogal, Ste 200, Carlsbad CA, according to data.com

    http://www.jigsaw.com/id1168063/offiicial_college_sports_network_company.xhtml

    The phone number, however, is out of service and they are not listed with the CA Sec. of State or in the white pages. Apparently, lots of people end up finding mysterious charges from this College Sports Network CA on their credit card bills, and none of them can get any further than I (I’m lucky, only $120 stolen, others report losing over $1,000).

    http://www.afullcup.com/forums/gripes-groans-rants/234453-please-help-me-find-company-college-sports-network.html

    http://www.tigerdroppings.com/rant/display.aspx?p=14212401

    The other charges I haven’t been able to recover yet are from two flower joints, one in Florida and on in Michigan. They both show up on my statement as TLF Flowers Unlimited, although the MI one adds “Wesley Berry.” The folks in MI assured me yesterday that there would be no charge, but then they went and charged me anyway this morning. Still waiting to see if an offsetting refund shows up.

    The woman in FL, while unable to authorize a refund for flowers that had already been delivered, did give me some interesting information. Apparently, the guy who used my card number has done quite a bit of business with this St. Petersburg business. His name is Paco and he apparently has a thick oriental accent. She gave his phone number. I haven’t done anything with it yet, but it sure is tempting…

    So, I’ve been thinking, how did they get my card number (and, apparently, my mailing address, though not my DOB)? The Yahoo guy, the fraud lady at the CU and myself are all inclined to think it all happened on-line. I don’t buy a lot of things on-line, but I did end up typing in my card number a few times within the last month or so. As Linda (the CU fraud expert) pointed out, it could have happened at any number of junctures in the credit-processing system: the merchants, the merchant’s processing service, even my wi-fi connection (although it is password protected) could have been the “leak point.” Also, there is no sure way to tell when, exactly, my number was stolen; i.e. it could have sat around unused for six months first.

    So, just in the interests of curiosity, and definitely trying to imply anything about those listed below, here is the list of on-line merchants/causes that I’ve patronized in the last few months:

    Amazon
    Beardo http://www.beardowear.ca/
    Democracy Now
    Make Stickers http://www.makestickers.com/Stickers_Default.aspx
    NC
    Occupy Sandy Relief
    Has anybody else experienced any New Year’s fraud? If so, did you also purchase/donate anything at any of the on-line places listed above? And, most importantly, does anyone know Paco? Together, maybe we can solve this.

    (I have to say, I’m like a kid in a candy store right now. I can’t help feeling giddy…ooh, ooh, fraud to investigate…yeah, but you’re the victim, moron…whatever, I get to play detective! Weee!!!)

    1. diptherio

      aarrggh, “…definitely NOT trying to imply anything…” Sorry.

      Really, the conspiracy theorist in me just wants to know if other people who financially support “radical” causes are being targeted…not that I actually believe that could happen.

    2. Luther

      Shame on you for not supporting your local merchants with cash and checks. That being said, you should use one dedicated credit card for online and phone purchases
      only. It’s easier to keep track of one credit card which has more protections than a debit card.

      1. diptherio

        Yeah, well, I have my reasons. 80% of my gifts were homemade, and the remainder were special items not available in my little burg. Nice try on the guilt trip, though ;)

        I actually got rid of my credit cards because I didn’t want to be tempted to support Chase. I think the take-away for me is no more on-line purchases period. Next year I’ll just ask Yves to send me a SASE.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Homemade gifts are great!

          We have substituted meaning for superficial beauty (oh, that’s so pretty/cute/neat/cool/etc. Let’s buy it!).

          The fact that you take time to make them makes it special, meaningful.

          But no, we are brain-washed into wanting/desiring charisma, charm and what’s new this year…what, the solution to that problem is something that worked a thousand years ago?

          1. diptherio

            Did I mention that I also have Homemade Gifts for sale?

            Next Christmas, let them know you really care: give Homemade Gifts. Available on-line or at your local retailer.

            Seriously, there might be a market for that sorta thing ;)

  17. Ned

    Sanctions?

    A longshoreman friend of mine reports that they just loaded thousands of tons of grain onto a ship with an ultimate destination of Iran.
    Our entire foreign policy is horeshit to appease AIPAC and the arms industry.

      1. Maximilien

        Blog-commenting is a profession?! This is the best news I’ve heard in a long time. I’m not unemployed after all! I am a professional! A professional blog-commenter! This of course will make me irresistibly attractive to women when I let them know. Something like this:

        ATTRACTIVE WOMAN: So what do you do, Max?
        MAXIMILIEN: Well, my profession is blog-commenting.
        ATTRACTIVE WOMAN: (Suddenly interested. Reaches over and places her hand gently on mine.). Ooooh…..that must be s-o-o-o interesting!

        Thanks for cheering me up, DANNYBOY! (And to think that it only took me sixty years to find my true calling.)

    1. diptherio

      The Clergy comes in at number 8 on the psychopath-friendly professions list. Hmmm…I wonder if they controlled for denomination on that…

      Most of the [low-psycopathy] professions…require human connection, dealing with feelings and most of them don’t offer much power. Psychopaths, by their very nature, would not be drawn to or very good at these things.

      Which explains why they end up as clergy, apparently. I have to say, I wasn’t expecting to see either clergy or civil servants on the psycho list. Probably more of an issue at the higher levels, I would think.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        All I know is there are more psychopath humans than say, psychopath cats (just my intuition so those of you who have scientific data to show otherwise, I don’t want to hear from you) or psychopath carrots.

        1. diptherio

          Most cats are neurotic, not psychotic, in my experience, so I must agree…I’ve only run into one psychotic carrot in my life, and that was right after bumping into a psychedelic mushroom, so….

          1. Antifa

            Is it the cat that’s neurotic?

            I believe cats live by the grudge, live to feud with everything and everyone. Because they’re always watching, they know what’s right and wrong about you and your whole sorry household, in their opinion. And like the Hatfields or McCoys, they do something about it.

            When the cat throws up on the carpet it’s payback for some failing of yours. You earned it, so you clean it up. And you do, don’t you?

            When the cat uses the kitchen floor instead of the litter box it means that you should strive to be a better person.

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        You don’t comprehend “clergy” – for centuries the default “profession” for sons who can’t (or won’t) cut it as “kings/princes and “barons” or as “knights”/warriors. Where the Right of Primogeniture prevails, “clergy” is all that’s left as a “profession” for second/third/fourth sons if they want to eat, drink, and get laid some how or other.

        Traditionally, the Roman Catholic Institution has been a haven for non-martial homosexuals and other men who just hate women except as slaves or breeders.

        “THE THREE ORDERS: Feudal Society Imagined” by George Duby – Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. This is the Ideal of the Global Reich again today.

    2. Aquifer

      Interesting – Surgeons come in at #5 on the ‘+” side and Doctors come in at #9 on the “-” side re psychopathy. So seeing as how (most) surgeons are docs – it gets a little tricky, doesn’t it? :)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s a defensive categorization as the victims, sorry, patients didn’t start this refined system, where you pay to visit the doctor in his office, who then refers you to the hospital where you pay him separately for the surgery he will perform.

        Our modern restaurant kitchen is also arranged like that, I beieve, where you have the vegetable dicers and the executive cooks who are, or at least have shown to be capable of in the past, vegetable dicers as well.

        1. Aquifer

          MLPB – confess i do not see how different payment set-ups, per se, translate to different levels of psychopathy ….

          But it does raise an interesting issue – is this why there is a higher rate of suicides among docs than in the general public? The “+” psychopathy of running a business clashes with the “-” psychopathy of caring about their patients? In the case of surgeons there is even a more complex level, methinks – one has to be quite “detached” from a human side to open folks up, cut off limbs, etc.

          I remember in residency – a tour in pediatric surgery, having to put needles in and do cutdowns on babies – even with local anesthesia, they cried and squirmed – i hated giving them pain, hated not being able to explain why this had to be done … I could feel high anxiety levels. More “detachment” would have been better for me and them …

          There is a very fine line in medicine between being “detached” enough to do a good job and “attached” enough to do a good job when what you must do a “good job” with is another human being ….

          There are 3 kinds of surgeons, in my experience 1) good with their hands/heads AND with their hearts 2) good with their hands/heads but SOBs 3) ham handed/lousy judgment but good bedside manner (they often need it to convince their patients they saved their lives when they screwed them up ..). (Of course there is #4 ham handed AND SOBs, but they run out of patients quick) Of course there are various levels of each … If you can get #1, great, but, IME, they are few and far between – it is very hard to get that combo. So, given a more likely choice between 2 and 3, pick 2; you can put off the touch feely until after your guts heal properly :)

          But this whole issue, ISTM, brings into focus the necessity of being a bit more nuanced when it comes to rating “psychopathy” characteristics as “good” or “bad” – IME they need to be placed in context … “cold detachment” may be quite necessary when the task requires calm, cool, action in order to be truly helpful …

          Just a thought ….

          Oh yeah – you might want a doc with a touch of OCD, as well … LOL

      2. diptherio

        Makes sense to me. Surgeons only have to deal with patients after the anesthesiologist has had their way with ‘em, so bedside manner isn’t too important. Psychopaths like to manipulate people and surgeons do just that (but then why aren’t Chiropractors listed?). Also, it might help to be a little detached as a human while you’re replacing some poor schlub’s vital organs. But, otoh, if someone self-idenifies as simply a “doctor,” they’re probably a GP, not a specialist or a surgeon (maybe…idk)

        At any rate, I’m sure their methodology is flawless (at least as good as, say, the BLS).

        1. Aquifer

          I was typing my reply to MLPB before your’s appeared – i learned to operate better than i learned to type (good Lord, i hope so … LOL}

  18. Brent Musburger Jr. (news anchor)

    Breaking News! This Just In!

    A nuclear armed drone General Atomics MQ-9 (aka Predator B or the Grim Reaper) has wiped out the port city of Al Hudaydah (fourth largest city in Yemen) with the number of dead estimated at 400,000.

    Situated on the Red Sea, Al Hudaydah was an important port, exporting coffee, cotton, dates and hides. It was developed as a seaport in the mid-19th century by the Ottoman Turks.

    Washington has issued the following official proclamation: “Al Hudaydah was a terrorist nest. We don’t go after people in dwellings where we don’t know who everyone is. We work very hard to minimize the collateral damage.”

    Following the attack on Al Hudaydah the entire population of Yemen has pledged to join their local al-Qaeda franchise as the best way to take revenge and to kill Americans.

    Story developing…

    1. Brent Musburger Jr. (news anchor)

      Breaking news! This just in!

      Authorities are investigating reports that the destruction of Al Hudaydah was not in fact related to a real event but rather to the promotion of information itself as event. They’re looking into the possibility that terrorists were using this simulated event in an effort to de-stabilize objective reality.

      The digital images coming out of Al Hudaydah were thought to be genuine. They seemed to bear witness with a fine resemblance and a touching fidelity to the city’s total destruction and so members of the legitimate media (i.e., the Western media) had spontaneous confidence in their realism.

      But we were wrong. It was all an illusion. The destruction of Al Hudaydah appears to have been a clever media simulation. For a moment the principle of representation itself was under attack as it seemed to disappear beneath a series of fake digital operations.

      Authorities are investigating how this illusion of reality took place and are looking for a motive. They suspect terrorism is responsible.

      It now appears that nothing happened to Al Hudaydah, the city is still situated on the Red Sea, and remains an important port, exporting coffee, cotton, dates and hides.

      Story developing…

  19. Hugh

    Krugman gives me a headache. He mentions but doesn’t get the trillion dollar platinum coin:

    “In reality, to pursue the thought further, the coin really would be as much a Federal debt as the T-bills the Fed owns, since eventually Treasury would want to buy it back.”

    NO, the idea is that the Treasury under its Constitutional power of coin seignorage and 31 USC 5112(k):

    “(k) The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.”

    can create a specifically platinum coin of any denomination, say $50 trillion. It then deposits that coin at the Fed. The Fed credits the Treasury’s account with $50 trillion. And the Treasury can then draw on that account to cover current and future deficits as well as retire outstanding Treasury notes as they come due.

    Krugman gets it critically and fundamentally wrong. This coin would not be debt. The Treasury would never buy it back or have a reason to do so. Krugman simply can not think beyond a gold standard that ended 40 years ago. This would be issuance of a debt free coin deposited at the Fed in exchange for debt free credits from the Fed, period, that’s it.

    Krugman also gets it wrong here:

    “It’s true that printing money isn’t at all inflationary under current conditions — that is, with the economy depressed and interest rates up against the zero lower bound. But eventually these conditions will end. At that point, to prevent a sharp rise in inflation the Fed will want to pull back much of the monetary base it created in response to the crisis, which means selling off the Federal debt it bought.”

    First off, four years on from the crash of 2008, I don’t see anything being done to bring the economy out of depression and it looks like ZIRP for as far as the eye can see. But selling Treasuries is hardly the only thing that the Fed can do. It can raise interest rates and reserve requirements. The government can also raise taxes on those, the rich, who have large amounts of excess money sloshing around. Nor is it likely that any turnaround would happen quickly so both the Fed and the government would have time to address inflation, if it became a problem. Would they though? Well, this is where the whole analysis falls apart. Krugman is an Establishmentarian. He believes in the soundness of the system of which he is a part. For him, we are just in a bad part of a particularly bad business cycle but that it will somehow all come out right in the end and all of the standard prescriptions will then apply. The concept of kleptocracy is as foreign to him as debt free money. The result is that, once again, Krugman is giving us well reasoned musings about a world which does not exist.

    1. Aquifer

      Ah – so the Sec of the Treasury, purely at his/her discretion, can “mint” such a coin ….

      Hmm, now how would we get such a Sec.? Hmmm, methinks we would have to vote for a Pres. who would appoint such a Sec..

      But, sigh, i guess its still “too soon” to do that, isn’t it?

      1. Eureka Springs

        Not absolutely sure, but if irc, the President has the discretion. He may order the Sec. of Treasury to do so.

    2. TK421

      ” Krugman is an Establishmentarian. He believes in the soundness of the system of which he is a part.”

      Indeed. The system is good (to him). The bad people, the Republicans, don’t think the system is good, or they say they don’t anyway, so the system must be good. Therefore, anyone who questions any part of the system is bad. MMT questions the system, so MMT is bad and wrong.

  20. Aquifer

    Monkey – “Rats, is this another one of those child proof containers? How the heck do you get this thing open?”

    1. different clue

      And why must they use those artificial manmade centigrade degrees? Why can’t they use natural organic fahrenheit degrees, like we do?

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