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Links 2/19/13

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Food labelling underestimating calorie content of some foods, scientists say Guardian. Wow. And I like cooked veg in the winter. Will need to go to blanching instead.

Greek Heiress Sues After Chalet’s Picassos, Monets Vanish Bloomberg

Police Blotter Atherton Imgur (bob). Average home price over $4 million. See what that buys you in the way of service.

Modern diet helping bacteria to wreck our teeth The Age (John M)

Fracking the country side MacroBusiness. Good one stop shopping if you need to educate someone re the environmental issues.

Tax avoiders ‘should be named and shamed’ Telegraph

Facebook, Coolest Cutest Corporate Welfare Queen Of Them All Wolf Richter

Ecuador’s Correa enjoys re-election, seeks investment Reuters (Mark H)

Russian Legislator’s Body Is Found In a Barrel Filled With Concrete New York Times

Ugliest Danish Banks Find No Buyers in Toxic Asset Trap Bloomberg

European Car Sales Had Their Worst January Since 1990 Reuters

Exclusive Interview: Meet Alexis Tsipras, the Most Dangerous Man in Europe Alternet. Aside: one reader took note of a story that got picked up by Handelsblatt (it was a reprint of a story from a less well regarded media outlet) intimating that Tsipras appearing in the US at an event that INET helped sponsor was some sort of Soros political plot (it is true that Soros is meddling in German politics, since he thinks austerity is a bad idea, but he is doing it in a pretty visible way, particularly when he visits Germany). This is all pretty bizarre given that the event was part of the Money & Public Purpose series at Columbia (as in a venue that will have no impact on world or even US opinion) and was shambolic. I had planned to attend and when I called a buddy to ask what I had missed, I got an earful. Tsipras showed up prepared to speak only in Greek and the translation was pretty much a disaster. And he apparently had prepared his remarks, so his failure to get them translated so someone could read them in English was mighty peculiar. But I gather it was standing room only with a lot of Greek speakers in attendance, so some of the audience had a grand time.

Sweden shows Australia the way out MacroBusiness

Ben Zygier: The great Prisoner X conspiracy theory Telegraph. More facts emerging; now the claim is that he had been indicted, but that’s inconsistent with the Parliamentary defense panel not being briefed.

Obama Seeking to Boost Study of Human Brain New York Times (furzy mouse). For improved messaging, no doubt.

Congress’s committee chairmen push to reassert their power Washington Post (ab)

Obamacare watch:

It’s official: The feds will run most Obamacare exchanges Washington Post. This is not pretty, the feds weren’t expecting to have to do this

States worry about rate shock during shift to new health law Los Angeles Times

US business hits out at ‘Obamacare’ costs Financial Times. And notice one nasty possible side effect: a lot of low end-employers shifting full time workers to part time to slip out of having to provide coverage

The premises and purposes of American exceptionalismn Glenn Greenwald. Ah, and this is a pet peeve of mine…

Fears at Fed of rate payouts to banks Financial Times

Can the share market carry the economy? MacroBusiness. Framed in the Australian context, but clearly a point of view that has sway in US policy thinking

Jeremy Grantham: Managing Progress in a World of Finite Resources Barry Ritholtz

As spring approaches, will the corporate sector expansion peak once again? Sober Look

Bankrupt Churches Bob Lawless, Credit Slips :-(

Incoming SEC head faces early test Financial Times. You have to read this. Corporations insist that “free speech” = the right to anonymous free speech.

I also have a weird reader question. I am stuck with a zillion (well, over 150K) American miles I dutifully accumulated hoping to go somewhere overseas. Now horrible US Air is going to buy and utterly screw up American. I had wanted to go to Sydney again, but it is frightfully expensive even if I can snag a seat (thinking early 2014, just watch me get 50 degree heat to show me!), and I don’t see how I can manage a trip and blogging part of the time which also seems silly (why travel so far if you need to work a lot of the time?). Grr. I may have to go to England and hang out with Richard Smith and his accommodating wife and trek into London a few times instead. So what would you do if you were in my fix (miles rich and time constrained?)

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

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121 comments

  1. Arkansasangie

    Come to Arkansas … Save your miles … And go fishing with me! And while you might not believe it, we do have wifi

  2. Never to late

    Life is too short. Stop and smell the roses. If you don’t go to Sydney, someday you will look back and wonder why. Take a vacation, don’t be an American. Now get your bum on a plane to Sydney.

    1. jessica

      As a regular reader, I know maybe 5 facts about you. One is that you liked Australia and Sydney. The flight is effectively free. Go enjoy a city you love.
      You deserve a complete vacation but if you would choose to do some blogging from there, don’t let that keep you back from the trip. I combine travel and work all the time. Even if I am working, doing it at a beach restaurant in Thailand or a cafe in Vienna is much more pleasant than doing it at an office somewhere.
      That’s my take.

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      I agree with Never to late and Jessica.

      I value your blog very much, and have learned a great deal here from both you and other contributors and readers, Yves. But it is very important to take care of yourself, and doing something you deeply enjoy is one way to do that.

      Don’t know about your specific mileage plan, but I believe many of them have mileage expiration dates.

    3. aletheia33

      never too late has the right approach. take a tiny, COMPLETE sabbatical from your professorship here at nc. we will all cheer for this and patiently await your return. while you are gone, aspiring bloggers and link-wranglers could have a go at filling in. you’ll come back with a fresh mind.

      any literary writer worth her salt will tell you that her projects improve magically when she leaves them for a bit; parts of one’s mind go to work on it while one is thinking about other matters (the more engaging and enjoyable the better), and lo and behold when one returns to the keyboard, the project has progressed on its own and in the best possible way.

      daily journalists tend not to do this kind of thing, as their job is to stay on top of and discern the small daily items that will prove important in the long run. but i’m sure the benefit of breaking can only improve one’s journalistic work as well, plus you are doing far more than daily journalism.

      writing benefits aside, has this blog expressed appreciation of the importance of workers being entitled to vacation time, and that depriving them of standard benefits is counterproductive? does out-of-control capitalism relentlessly remove all balance and well-being from as many lives as it can, fostering a societal lifestyle in which work is all that people are able to do?

      (apologies for length)

    4. Matt

      Well said. We’ll all still be here when you get back :)

      The Atherton police blotter is funny… but note the stories all around it (which correspond to streets in San Jose).

      1. Lambert Strether

        Is there a way to stay in Sidney on the cheap, with WiFi, yet have decent (non-novel, non-Turkish loo) conditions?

        That’s one of the criteria.

        Also, East Asia’s the happening place, so there might actually be business justification for it….

        UPDATE Adding, I use Agoda, sorting for 1-star hotels first. There are comments, so the properties are “vetted.” I’ve had good luck booking Bangkok lodgings through this service, recommended by my travel writer friend.

  3. Cletus

    Obamacare has been wrong, on many levels, from the outset. It will blow up in our faces, and the insurance industry will reap a windfall. The right only opposes it because Obama got it passed. Single payer is the real ticket to price control and universal coverage, Too bad we’re too collectively stupid to understand it.

    1. alex

      The only hope (and I’m not saying it’s a great hope) is that the Leninesque approach will work: things have to get worse in order for them to get better.

      I notice a lot of people blaming their recently decreased net pay on Obamacare. I keep telling them that it’s due to the expiration of the payroll tax cuts, not Obamacare. I think they believe me, but I’m not sure. This shows what sort of opposition Obamacare has.

      1. jrs

        Unless their recently reduced pay is due to insurance premium increases this year, and it might be as employers seldom pay 100% of the preimums. Premiums have gone up again of course, although how much of that is attribute to Obamacare is hard to say, as they’ve been going up more than inflation for awhile. I adapted by switching to the cheaper insurance option, I’m tired of paying ridiculous amounts.

    2. Cynthia

      ObamaCare also does absolutely nothing to control health care costs. Health care costs are already increasing and projected to increase more. Private premiums are rising. The CBO estimates it will cost $1.7 trillion over the next decade (instead of the original estimate of $800 billion). Employers are dumping their employee plans. The Medicaid rolls are projected to increase substantially. Only about 60% of the uninsured are projected to get insurance. It’s a special interest group boondoggle. ObamaCare took a messy health care system and messed it up exponentially more. Congress should have just addressed specific issues like pre-existing conditions and specific cost constraint issues. That approach would have gained wide bipartisan support.

    1. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

      If you take a US Air flight to Sidney, there is a 30% chance you end up in London. Another 30% chance the plane doesn’t show and you get to stay in NYC. Perfect if you are having trouble making up your mind about where and whether to go on vacation or not.

      They used to offer a special USAir master card for only a $40 annual fee, so you can at least save a special trip to the bank and apply for a credit card at the airport. Convenience squared, and this gets you into some sort of US Air “club” and unlimited spam in your email.

      Go for it. Bring the laptop, and pack for Sidney thru London weather. Only $25 per bag. Peanuts still free.

      Frequent flyer miles won’t be good forever.

      Happy flying, and be sure to smile at the TSA people.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Do you know if one needs to go through the TSA people coming back from vacationing on Mars?

        1. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

          Earthlings do, but the TSA people haven’t figured out how to properly strip search a Martian yet.

          Plus, x-rays are fatal to Martians. This caused a flap when the first Martian diplomat arrived, said “Take me to your leader” once in the x-ray booth, and promptly dropped dead.

  4. Jack

    Yves, over the years, you’ve hinted at issues with chronic stress, anxiety, and insomnia. This might make you a dutiful blogger, but it continues to shorten your lifespan. Now that you are in the second half of life, you should consider making different choices like going to australia AND England.

  5. john

    London to Iceland? Spend a night at the Blue Lagoon hotel then head to Reykjavik for a couple nights, back to the Blue Lagoon hotel the night before you head back to London. Can’t recommend it enough.

  6. Brindle

    Re: “Equador’s Correa…”

    A big reason he has much support is that he is not seen as a neo-liberal puppet.

    “Our Ecuador needs a president like Rafael Correa. He has been strong and has not allowed anyone to intimidate him,” said Julieta Moira, an unemployed 46-year-old as she celebrated outside the presidential palace on Sunday night. “I’m very excited, happy and thankful.”

    1. different clue

      Here is an article claiming to demonstrate how Correa is facilitating massive Chinese resource-extraction investments
      into Ecuadorean Amazonia in return for big Chinese loans which finance Correa’s populist social spending. If this article is a true description of events, there will be Indian Wars in southeast Ecuador. Also, parts of the Amazon River downstream from the targeted sacrifice zones will become too polluted to use or eat the fish from.
      http://www.salon.com/2013/02/10/to_get_the_gold_they_will_have_to_kill_every_one_of_us/

      1. Goat_farmers_of_the_CIA

        Thanks a lot for the Zaitchik article, haven’t finished reading it but so far it is pretty good – a critique of Correa’s policies from the left instead of the usual neo-Liberal propaganda from media such as CNN, the NYT or the Miami Herald.

        This is also worth reading: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/02/12/correa-and-ecuadors-indigenous-left/

        It shows that Correa is a demagogue, more interested in getting votes than in truly securing the future welfare of his people. Acosta and his social movement allies were probably a more than decent alternative, but unfortunately he doesn’t have one half the charisma of Correa, and the fact that’s he’s from Quito makes his appeal to voters in the coast an uphill struggle.

        Correa says he supports the industrializing import-replacement model, but I wonder how far his Chinese and Korean allies will let him go with that, given that it would go against their own economic (and political, when it comes to employment) interests.

        1. different clue

          Well, China is the new rising resource colonizer and hegemony-builder. China may be a better one than we were.
          Indigenous front-men for China may be better for their people than indigenous front-men for America were. The majority of Ecuadorean voters have voted to find out, and they will find out. So will everyone living downstream from
          the China Sacrifice Zones.

          1. ambrit

            Dear different clue;
            Why should greedy Chinese Capitalists be any different from Greedy Western Capitalists? Given that the Chinese have a (deserved or not) reputation for planning generations ahead, does the historically recent full Right turn of the Central Committee imply a severe shortening of their planning horizon? Some digging concerning the on the ground conduct of the Chinese “Overseas Development Cadres” is in order.

  7. Samuel Conner

    Re: the ObamaCare cost escalation problem: perhaps it’s a Democratic appropriation of the Republican “Starve the Beast” strategy, with the end state being a single payer system with monopsonist pricing power.

    1. alex

      11th, no 12th, now 13th dimensional chess! Look out Mr. Spock, Obama’s got everything except pointy ears.

      I actually have some slim hope that the Leninesque “make it get worse so it can get better” will work, but it won’t be by design. What the medical-industrial-congressional complex has yet to learn (and what anybody with medical/biological knowledge should realize) is that a successful parasite shouldn’t get too greedy about what it steals from its host, lest the host have great incentive to kill it.

      1. briansays

        can’t take credit for this saw the idea here–some House Democrat needs to propose repealing Obamacare (at least the mandate)and replace it with a single payer or at least a public option in 2014

        Republicans will oppose of course which puts them in a position to loose the House

        Obama will oppose but who cares we isn’t running again

        1. alex

          “Republicans will oppose of course which puts them in a position to loose the House”

          Assuming that Obamacare is popular, but it’s not. Already I hear people blaming Obamacare for the recent reduction in their net pay, not realizing that’s actually due to the expiration of the payroll tax cut. Right now people are willing to blame Obamacare for the financial loss if their car gets stolen.

          Yes, a public plan should reduce that opposition, but don’t bet on it.

          “Obama will oppose but who cares we isn’t running again”

          But he can still veto it. Also, Obama is hardly to the right of most Dems. Only a few on the far left are fellow travelers of Vladimir Lenin and Harry Truman.

        2. Carla

          @briansays: you know, if progressives had just stuck to single payer, they might have gotten the half-assed public option in the end, which probably wouldn’t have been the train wreck we’re going to get. Gutless Democrats.

          20 years ago, I was chatting with some young American insurance salesmen on a beach in the Caribbean. After professing horror at the idea of single payer, they ultimately admitted “Well, of course, that’s what we’ll wind up with, because health insurance just isn’t a money-making business.” Not done right, it isn’t.

          And we’re about to see just how WRONG it can be done. We thought we knew, but we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

          1. neorealist

            Single payer wouldn’t have gotten passed over the bought and paid for bodies of Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln and Max Baucus.

        3. different clue

          No House Democrat will do such a thing. Each and every one of them is an Obama servant.

          If Obamacare is to be repealed, that repeal will have to come from Republicans. And it will be a “back to the past” repeal.

    1. alex

      Makes sense that Boeing would be worried about it – we’re going to need those horses to tow 787′s.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        One conspiracy theory I am hearing is that those horses are caged inside 787 batteries and they are the ones who do all the work.

    2. David Lentini

      Borrowing from Bob’s Burgers:

      I know the enzyme test–

      If it’s yella, it’s salmonella;

      If it’s chartreuse, it’s a deuce;

      If it’s blue, it’s Aunt Sue; and

      If it’s red, it’s Mr. Ed!

      1. Glenn Condell

        Somneone sent me these the other day:

        Waitress in Tesco asked if I wanted anything on my Burger. So I had £5 each way!

        Tesco Quarter Pounders: The affordable way to buy your daughter the pony that she’s always wanted!

        Had some burgers from Tesco for my tea last night…. I still have a bit between my teeth…

        Anyone want a burger from Tesco? yay or neigh?

        A cow walks into a bar. Barman says ‘why the long face?’ Cow says ‘Illegal ingredients, coming over here stealing our jobs!’

  8. David Mills

    Being a wine drinker, I would make the following suggestions for your airmiles. First, take a more than well deserved week off from your admirable efforts. Destination wise as follows. Australia, try Adelaide a short 45 minute(ish) drive to the Barossa Valley. South America – Chile / Argentina, Mendoza or Colchuaga Valley. Europe, England not so much (unless you like beer): Italy – Tuscany, Spain – Rioja (Logrono for tapas), France – Bordeaux. Enjoy some well deserved rest.

    1. Cliche

      The name says it all.

      Yves: Go to Australia as you do seem to have enjoyed your time there. Your readers will be more than happy to feel you are happy.

  9. The Heretic

    You should definitely book time-off for Australia. You deserve some good rest and relaxation. And you should not work while on the vacation.

    I will miss your insights while you are gone, but between Lambert, Phillip Piklington and Richard Kline, the blog could be adequately covered for a while.

    Regards

    The Heretic

    1. ohmyheck

      Yes, Yves, what The Heretic said. I say visit BOTH places, what the hell, life’s too short.

      Get Lambert to be in charge of the daily Links, and then make some of the best commenters—Hugh, Richard Kline, From Mexico, etc., to write articles.

      Put a big banner at the top of the blog, for the entire time you are on vacation, that reads, “Yves On Vacation–Get Over It and No Whinging”. That way new people who might visit will understand that NC has taken a break from its regular programming.

      Then go have fun and don’t worry about us!

      1. Lambert Strether

        I love the banner concept.

        Caveat that if Yves must blog — and bloggers got to blog — that she restrict her subject to local color and daily experiences in Oz, and not political economy of any sort. (She can save all that for later.)

        UPDATE Adding… With photos.

  10. Paul Niemi

    Thanks for the link to Greenwald on American exceptionalism. We hear that we are the greatest nation from the rostrums of the political parties all the time. It is rhetoric, but what strikes me is that it resembles the thinking common in the Roaring ‘20s. People then assumed that science and technology would quickly solve all of society’s problems, and America would show the way for the world. Ninety years later, we still promote people who think like this, but perhaps some doubts are setting in.

    1. bmeisen

      As Greenwald notes, the American exceptionalism meme is for domestic consumption. All those uninsured waiting in line for charity dentists need to be bucked up somehow.

        1. Paul Niemi

          It makes sense, when Americans are persuaded that those countries which sell their goods to us do, in fact, work for us.

    2. Cynthia

      There is nothing exceptional about the USA. It’s a nation, like any other nation. It rises as an empire, and kills millions of innocent people in its quest for world domination of its “principles.” All other nations which have done this have declined, and become non entities. USA is no different. It only uses “human rights” and “freedom” as excuses to fulfill its imperialist agenda. USA has never supported freedom in another nation. It has always overthrown democracies elected by the nation’s people, in favor of a fascist dictatorship that supports US interests. There is nothing exceptional about the USA. That is all an illusion taught to little American boys and girls so that they grow up brainwashed into thinking that the USA can do no wrong. The USA is a murderous empire like any other murderous empire that came before it.

  11. Furzy Mouse

    Thailand awaits you dear Yves….and, as you will be on the opposite side of the world, with a 12 hour lead over
    EST, you could return to a regular sleep cycle!

  12. Preston

    I recommend using some of your miles to fly to Guatemala (Guatemala City), then take a bus to and spend a week in the city of Antiqua. Perpetual springtime weather, WIFI in the city square is better than most US cities, wonderful selection of South American wines, take an Elizabeth Bell walking tour, and find some cool jade figurines for gifts. You can also book tours of Mayan ruins from Antiqua.

  13. wunsacon

    It seems few people use hyphens anymore. But, I think we improve readability by using them, liberally.

    >> Good one stop shopping if you need to educate someone re the environmental issues.

    vs

    >> Good one-stop shopping if you need to educate someone re the environmental issues.

    1. alex

      Why not German style?

      >> Good onestopshopping if you need to educate someone re the environmentalissues.

      I think there’s some sort of serious penalty in that country for the use of the space key, but heck, it beats scriptio continua (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scripta_continua):

      >> GOODONESTOPSHOPPINGIFYOUNEEDTOEDUCATESOMEONERETHEENVIRONMENTALISSUES

      1. wunsacon

        CamelCase — maybe. But, you want runon words, rather than run-on words? That’s like saying you can read “MyLessThanPrimeBeef”‘s handle as easily if it were “mylessthanprimebeef”. I say: Puh-lease. ;-)

        1. Maximilien

          I agree with you about the hyphens, wunsacon. Anything that increases readability is good. And (my pet peeve) there is no excuse for typos in two-sentence comments. None.

  14. petridish

    Re: Obamacare Watch

    If you haven’t seen this early analysis of Obamacare, you should.

    http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/02/03/obamacare-a-primer/

    There is nothing remotely affordable about this. By my calculation, the first $5000 of medical care for the individual in the example should cost around $7000 with all but around $1500 paid by the patient and the remainder paid by taxpayers. (This includes the premium.)

    For the individual in the example, that amount is about $1300 shy of THREE MONTHS GROSS PAY.

    Insanity.

    1. BondsOfSteel

      I tend to think of Obamacare more about changing the way we pay for health care than changing the care provided. Sure, there are some changes in preventive care… and yes, insurance companies will take their 18%. Still, the taxpayers already pay for the bulk of the uninsured:

      http://www.kplu.org/post/washington-pays-more-half-births-half-those-pregnancies-unintended

      The big change is that many (lower) middle class families will now have to pay for the care they once recieve from the taxpayer, and this care may not be affordiable.

      Obamacare is really a (lower) middle class tax hike.

  15. ex-PFC Chuck

    re your travel plans, Yves, if Charlie Pierce’s concerns about the potential impact of sequestration on air travel prove to be valid, perhaps it would be best not to plan on any flying trips unless and until that bullet has been safely dodged.

    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/The_Sequester_Mess?src=rss
    From personal experience I can tell you it’s not a good feeling to look out your passenger window and read the numbers on the tail of the business jet your pilot just took evasive action to avoid.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I would like to visit the Ituri forest. I like the Baka Pygmy music there.

      Someone even suspects that we are descended from the pygmy.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The share market…economy…

    I don’t know if it will carry the economy, but I believe the sharing market will.

    Sharing, as in GDP sharing.

    Let’s remember, at least I think so, that the word ‘shares’(as in corporate shares) came from the word ‘to share.’

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Human Exceptionalism, the way I see it, is the biggest problem.

    We are…special.

    Hmmmmm….

    One would have to be exceptional, I feel, to think we are not exceptional.

  18. jsmith

    Funny how no one in the MSM ever seems to put the pieces together that all of the bombings in Pakistan, Iraq etc are against Shia Muslims and perpetrated by Sunni extremists groups which get most of their funding from the United States and the Saudis et al.?

    Easier just to think that it’s just crazy Muslims – aren’t they all, though? – just killing each other, right, America?

    Disgusting.

    http://www.landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2013/02/us-saudi-funded-terrorists-sowing-chaos.html#more

    1. Synopticist

      Most of the extremist groups in Pakistan get their funding, and ideological convictions, from the pakistani state itself.

      The Pakistani military leadership, especially the intelligence service the ISI, has agency. They make their own decisions, they’re not tools of anyones foreign policy, not Saudi, not the States, not qatar, not NATO, not China.

      The’ve been funding militant groups for decades, with the main focus on India and Kashmir, rather than, say, Afghanistan. This is a deliberate policy, by their policy forming elites.

      These guys also happen to be completelly f*cking MENTAAAAAAL, which is why they fund groups which openly espouse genocidal intentions towards pakistani citizens.

  19. Look South

    AA has lousy connections, but you could spend your miles on a nonstop on partner LAN. Use those miles on business class, take an overnight, and get decent sleep on the plane without jet lag to deal with in either direction (or fitful sleep in refugee class). Party in Bogota, eat well in Lima, or just enjoy Rio now that the crowds have dissipated. If you are truly concerned about maximizing your time, this will work. Mexico has great food and sights, but unfortunately it also has a war. Peru and Mexico both have distinctive and excellent cuisine, in Bogota your can find good restaurants with non-native cuisine. They say Medellin in a great place to visit also, but I cannot speak to that. Lima is pleasant with a fantastic climate but a bit boring; there are sights elsewhere in the country that will drive your budget upward, of course.

    Personally I love Asia, but the roughly full-day trek there and the jet lag can really cut into limited vacation time. Adjusting your stomach to the excellent local cuisine (and its accompanying biome) available in HK, Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore could take a toll as well.

  20. down2long

    Yves, speaking as someone who worked like a dog on my many projects and had to be forced by my friends to follow through on vacation/adventure plans (i.e. not renege on trip to Guatemala to study Spanish because I was suddenly in escrow on a bldg. and the internet and skype hadn’t been invented yet)etc. Thank god my friend’s prevailed. The studies are true: You remember and cherish your experiences more than anything else in life. While every day I value your insights, I know that for you as a person you will be so enriched by a vaca. We can wait for your great post when you get back. And Lambert is quite capable of holding down the fort while you are off having adventures. Bon Voyage

    Re: Atherton blo
    In my salad days in the early 80′s I catered on the S.F. Peninsula. We loved working in Atherton: old money and great tippers. And we did all the young upstart companies on the S.F. peninsula (Apple rented a theatre and had a catered opening of “E.T.” with open bar, hor d’oeuvres, buffets.

    Woz was there all smiles.) That night Apple gave us $150 tip (real money in the early ’80s) and let us watch the movie on the clock.

    In those days all Apple manufacturing was on the peninsula – they treated their employees so well from the factory folks up. Hewlett Packard too. (Catered many great parties for their employees too. Founder David Packard was still alive. Treated his employees like gold.)

    What we have now in corporate Amerikkka is, to put it politely, shit. It makes me sad and so pissed off. In those days no S.F. peninsula tech company would starve its employees while it socked away $100 billion in the bank.

    Look at how the corporations and people have shifted in their willingness to share the fruit of their labors.

  21. diptherio

    Re: Atherton Police Blotter

    This reminds me of a girl who I once had the misfortune to share an apartment building with, of which I was the live-in manager. I’m a Montana red-neck hippie anarchist and she’s a Marin County liberal princess…bad combo.

    What really disoriented me (and rubbed me the wrong way) was that she treated me, and everyone else from what I could tell, like they were her employees. Whereas everyone else in the building treated me, if anything, as a superior (being the guy “in charge” and all), she treated me like a servant. She had obviously been led to believe that the world existed for her benefit.

    The thing is, I don’t think she was ill-intentioned (she volunteered at an Indian orphanage for several months) or even aware of her attitude. It just seemed natural to her that other people would be happy to go out of their way to make her life marginally easier, or to provide her with some whim. She really does want to improve the world, I think, it’s just that her silver-spoon upbringing has made her incorrigibly narcissistic. It’s sad, really.

    Apparently, there are whole villas filled with her sort…I actually feel sorry for the cops, for a change.

    1. Nathanael

      The manager of an apartment building IS pretty much working for the renters. The renters are the customers of the owner and the manager is the employee of the owner.

    2. Nathanael

      It’s hard to explain this point of philosophy which I have: basically, I think more people should feel entitled (to basic rights, decent treatment, etc), not fewer. A lot of people seem to have a servant mentality and treat anyone and everyone as their masters.

      I’d rather have people feel *more* entitled rather than less.

  22. grass mud horse covering the middle

    Lately, links to Business Insider stories such as today’s “European Car Sales Had Their Worst January Since 1990″ have led to a nearly blank page with a “continue to Business Insider” linked text that when clicked on takes me to the home page rather than the article cited. Oddly if I navigate “back” in my browser from there I am then taken to the correct page.

  23. different clue

    About Obamacare leading companies to demote full time employees to part time to avoid having to cover them . . . the only reason that was in the Obamacare law is because it was written into it on purpose. So it isn’t a side effect. It is one of the deliberate goals of the law.

  24. DWelker

    Go to my cousin’s place west of Dingle, Co. Kerry. Visit the farthest Western edge of Europe. A mile to the Atlantic from her door. Tigh an Phost – The Postman’s House. The Irish countryside B+B’s need everyone to visit. Although you’d probably end up documenting the suffering.

  25. kevinearick

    Facebook, Apple…2 points on a line…parabola…circuit…circuit of circuits…peer pressure groups…sunk cost….

    Government is a bank…surprise, surprise. Now, raise your children to withdraw from the bank, to build whatever private sector they want, while the majority busies itself trying to save the Titanic, sinking it faster. The Fed can choose Boeing or Microsoft…choose, and take responsibility, while the majority attempts to avoid choice, equaly, as it implodes.

    And the green curtain is a …?

    So, we discussed all the fundamentals of the last military manuever to end the sh..show, the atomic bomb, and reboot. Given what you have learned since, how would you like to generate heat with this gravity, called earth / what do you want to do?

    You don’t have to escape from the prisoners dilemma of time. You are going to change space itself. The only plan is to adapt, accordingly.

    If you have a priority list on a stack, and the weather changes, what happens to your heap? What happens to the heap of heaps?

    The majority is a critter, which is fine, competing to act on a stage.

    Life is about raising children, but no matter how you try, you will never convince the majority, because it hinges on lying otherwise.

    “Watch me watch myself on MSNBC, or I will disappear you.”

  26. Seal

    Re:So what would you do if you were in my fix (miles rich and time constrained?)

    Life is short – eat dessert first. Go to Darwin from Sydney and drive to Broome thru the backcounrty – NOW

    John Prine covers a Blake Foley song Clay Pigeons that has a line in it – “Well, I could build me a castle of memories just so I have somewhere to go.” Personally, I stopped working at 39 and have done nothing but travel and goof off since including camping in Death Valley at some natural hot springs for January and Feb. 2010 because I had nowhere else to live.

    ps. you’re looking this answer anyway.

  27. LillithMc

    The airlines have been in merger mode for several years. They say they honor all mileage. In a merger the airlines fly the same routes only you will get access to both airlines. I fly United as a parent on space available mileage. Soon I will have access to Continental routes as well as United. Best to call them.

      1. JohnL

        Agreed. Awful airline. Once flew Delta with a change of plane rather than give them my money.

        Local airline is now Alaska. Wonderful airline.

      2. Nathanael

        Even when US Air is honest, they’re terrible. They were the monopoly airline in my area for a very long time.

        Before I stopped flying entirely (which was due to the Homeland Security BS), I had started going out of my way (as in, driving 60 miles to another airport) to avoid US Air.

        Here’s a question: can you transfer your American Airlines miles to another airline? Maybe a European airline or a Canadian or an Australian one?

        1. Nathanael

          For what it’s worth, the first time I flew a foreign airline it was like night and day. I’d been flying only US flag carriers and they are ALL unpleasant. The European and East Asian airlines actually try to make the travel experience nice.

      3. caseyOR

        Go, Yves. Go to Sydney. It is the place you most want to visit. As so many others have said, we will survive your absence. We will miss you, of course, but we will survive.

        You can always zip over to London. It is a quicker and less expensive trip than Sydney. Use the miles to buy the Sydney ticket.

        Go.

  28. christofay

    Caribbean as often and as long as possible. Weren’t a lot of early James Bond scenes filmed there so it is English?

    England itself, dreary, depressed and expensive.

  29. Hugh

    The article on future Fed interest payouts to banks makes a good point, that when the Fed raises interest rates, it will produce a windfall for banks in terms of increased interest on their reserves at the Fed. But the larger point is that all the money on all sides of this: ZIRP money, money from QE “asset” buying, present and future interest paid on bank reserves at the Fed has been part of a long ongoing bailout of the banks.

    Re Sober Look’s look at a spring peak in business expansion, note the second graph with the national data from Markit’s US PMI. The tenor of the article is that there have been similar spring peaks in business expansion in each of the last 3 years. But the seasonally unadjusted data for this year is considerably worse this year than the the previous 3. As I keep pointing out, the unadjusted data is where we and the economy actually are at any given point in time. The adjusted data is a trendline. So it is not surprising that the trend is going up in 2013 because that’s what happened in 2010-2012. That is the adjusted (trend) line is going up in 2013 precisely because that’s what it did in spring 2010-2012. In 2010-2012 the trend was being driven and supported by a spike in the unadjusted numbers. The difference this time is that it isn’t. That is there is no support from the unadjusted data (where the economy is) for the spike in the adjusted trendline. I would consider this quite worrisome.

    As for Obamacare, it was always an ungodly Rube Goldberg con whose only true purpose was to mediate the transfer of wealth away from the 99% to Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Medical, and the rich who own all three. It is already coming apart on a series of fronts. Insurance companies have been jacking up their rates in anticipation of its going into effect. So costs have gone up, and unsurprisingly usage has gone down as healthcare becomes too expensive to use. The expanded Medicaid portion has largely blown up. And the exchanges look to be a total mess. We knew from the beginning that healthcare insurance did not equal actual delivery of healthcare, but even the Potemkin facades like coverage, exchanges, Medicaid, etc. are so flimsy that they are falling apart even before they come into effect.

    1. different clue

      I had thought its purpose was more narrow . . . to mediate the transfer of wealth to Big Insura strictly and only . . . in a sort of Rolling Stealth Tarp. I suspect the long range attitude of BORomneycare is “support Big Insura and let the Devil take Big Medica, Big Pharma , and all the other hindmost”.

      1. different clue

        Oh,and . . . the Forced Electronification of Medical Records is a forced subsidy to the Digital Creatives to keep them supporting BORomneycare.

        1. AbyNormal

          i was catching up on the subject the other day…who can forget the fallout in the blog world

          “Considering the theoretical benefits of health IT, it is remarkable how few fans it has among health care professionals. The lack of enthusiasm might be attributed, in part, to the sobering results of studies showing that in many cases health IT has failed to deliver promised gains in productivity and patient safety. An even more plausible cause is that few IT vendors make products that are easy to use. As a result, many doctors and nurses complain that health IT systems slow them down.”
          http://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2013/02/why-has-health-information-technology.html

          another lottery for corporate welfare

  30. diptherio

    I would use the miles to go anywhere in the third world. Even Nepal as decent internet nowadays, and if you know somebody who can hook you up with some locals to stay with, it will be your best vacation ever, guaranteed*.

    *guarantee not legally binding.

    1. ambrit

      Skippy;
      You Fiend! It reminds me of Nassau! (Lived there for a couple of years when I were a tiddler. End of the Colonial Era. Then the American Mob moved in with their casinos. One of the very good things Uncle Fidel did was to throw those b——s out of Cuba. Don’t let anything like that happen to your neck of the woods.)

  31. dearieme

    Sydney shmydney – go to Adelaide and tour the Barossa, Mclaren Vale and the Clare Valley. Go to Kangaroo Island. Drive into the outback – Wilpena Pound and the northern Flinders Ranges.

  32. Ed

    Use your miles. Go where you truly want. And give the blog a vacation. I think most of your readers would understand that.

  33. tongorad

    Germany and Austria. The network of hiking and biking trails, + wonderful train/public transportation tops my list. The Harz mountains, simply fantastic. Black forest as well. Austrian wine country. Bavaria. Sigh…

  34. different clue

    If the “miles” are set to decay at a certain point, why not take a long roundabout-the-world vacation till they are all burned up? If the economy is collapsing the way Tainter, Orlov, Greer, etc. think it is; air travel will become unaffordable enough soon enough that normal people won’t be flying anywhere anymore, “airmiles” or not.

    So why not see all the places that are so far away that you will not be able to afford the ticket there once jet fuel becomes a rich person’s luxury? Burn all those airmiles to see all those places for as long a vacation as it takes while those airmiles still exist.

  35. sd

    Yves,
    The largest population of Greeks outside of Greece is in Queens (Ditmars/Astoria/Steinway). In fact, there may be more people of Greek ancestry in Queens than in Greece proper today.

  36. tiebie66

    Some of the antidotes lately seem to have a certain bias…

    Namibia/Botswana via London & Cape Town. Jet lag no more severe than heading to the UK. London-Cape Town in similar time zones and most flights are overnight: e.g. leave London 20h00 arrive CT 07h00.

    Might have limited internet access in Namibia/Botswana but lots to discover about really ancient worlds and cultures, great wildlife. Best time for wildlife viewing is possibly their winter (dry season).

  37. ambrit

    Maam;
    Regarding your “miles” quandry, why not apply the Principle of Parsimony? What would give you the most enjoyment with the least discomfort? I’ll bet the answer is waiting in your pre-consciousness at the moment you wake up tomorrow.
    Whatever it is, do it now. Your act of asking the question is itself a significant sign. (Travel now before the Gestapo, uh, freedom loving guardians, bars all “Dissidents” from leaving the country.)

  38. diane

    Ugh, I can’t help but to wonder what the change from family to investor owned residences has been in the past 5 years:

    But it’s precisely because prices fell so far here that Sepe can’t buy a house now. In a sharp irony, many would-be homeowners in hard-hit markets can’t compete with a flood of all-cash offers from investors, some backed by Wall Street war chests.

    ….

    Now that housing is finally affordable, it’s unavailable.

    source

  39. diane

    Take the break if able Yves, too much work and being tethered to ‘puters 24/7 without a break is bad for the health, especially when it’s dealing with the ugly issues going on now.

  40. Jim in MN

    Yves,

    Go to Buenos Aires, eat well, and blog about their fascinating escapades in finance and macroeconomics. Or, Iceland, ditto (but that might not use enough miles).

  41. Bridget

    It wont’ help you burn through your AAdvantage miles, but may I suggest Cuba.

    Their health care system is right up your alley, and as an added bonus, the United States can be blamed for any shortcomings you might observe. http://library.thinkquest.org/18355/culture.html

    The 1% will definitely not offend you with their presence:
    http://library.thinkquest.org/18355/culture.html

    There’s even a Karl Marx Theater in Havana!
    http://library.thinkquest.org/18355/culture.html
    (Apparently not too many televisions and radios, though. I’m guessing blogging would be out of the question)

    Public transportation and walking are very popular, as you would expect. So, apparently are old American cars. (Hopefully not the leaded gas burning kind.)
    http://library.thinkquest.org/18355/culture.html

    Oh, and in case you want to share your miles with Lambert, they have Permaculture Internship. It’s for Canadians, but most likely he could pass, just needs a little work on his “ehs”
    http://theurbanfarmer.ca/cuba-programs/permaculture-cuba-internship/

  42. Joan

    Regarding Alexis Tsipras, he was probably speaking to his Greek audience back home. Greek correspondents in New York would have been invited to the event at Columbia and would have written about the splash he made at the famous New York university for the Greeks still left in Greece.

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