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Links 2/7/13

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Dear patient readers,

I think I have a technology curse. I had wanted to switch to a webhost who could provide some WordPress-related support (most blogs can’t afford 24/7 software support so a 24/7 host that will do some WP troubleshooting is a partial solution to the problem). I thought I had one lined up and was ready to switch in November, when they disqualified themselves (a big communications screw-up and as Lambert points out, communications screw-ups are a symptom of other organizational failings).

I was so bold as to write yesterday that a move to a new host was imminent. Whoops! I had had three talks with the sales staff about features, support levels, performance issues, transfer procedures and timing, and service pricing. I was told the first two times that a particular package was clearly the one for me. In the third conversation, the sales person (a different one each call) waffled and said I might be on the edge of needing a more costly package. The problem is that the site didn’t show the pricing for plans more expensive than the one we had been discussing, and troublingly, the sales rep couldn’t tell me. He said someone would get back to me. More than 24 hours passes and no call. I call and get yet another rep, who says, “Yes, you need the more expensive plan”. The price was double what we had been discussing.

I don’t take well to bait and switch.

I know readers like to be helpful, but please DO NOT recommend a webhost unless you KNOW it had solid expertise in WP (as in it does WP-specific optimization and/or client handholding).

Does probability come from quantum physics R&D Magazine (furzy mouse)

Podcasting Community Faces Patent Troll Threat; EFF Wants to Help EFF (Philip Pilkington)

Fast-moving action on 787 in advance of NTSB briefing Thursday Leeham News

The Human Stew Chris Stringer, Project Syndicate

When the BMI is Not Enough Counterpunch. I sympathize up to a point but her fat and diet analysis is simplistic. Heretofore, poor people were small and scrawny. As we wrote:

Height is influenced by the quality of nutrition in childhood and as a result, in many societies, it has also been a class indicator. One example: Winston Churchill, who as a Liberal Party member and Home Secretary, was instrumental in the passage of minimum wages and the Liberal Reforms, which among other things, provided for free school meals for children and made it illegal to sell alcohol or tobacco to children (this in the 1906-1914 period). Churchill later said he could see the results of these programs. In the Great War, there was a visible difference between the puny, scrawny enlisted men, who came from the working classes, and the taller aristocratic officers. By World War II, you couldn’t tell a man’s class by his build.

Lighter Menus Appeal to Diners and Owners New York Times. IMHO, portion sizes are the reason Americans have gotten hefty. Pretty much anywhere else in the world they are 50% to 60% of normal portion sizes here. I often order appetizers as my main course to cope, which I know pisses off the restaurants, but they created this problem.

US must avoid shale boom turning to bust Financial Times. Dunno about “must avoid” part, but echoes a Dan Dicker post we featured a few days ago.

Documents: CEO Lupo directed illegal dump of brine Vindy (Lambert)

Commodity hedge funds lose 20% of assets Financial Times

Australia sport doping ‘widespread’ BBC

‘It’s just amazing how Libor fixing can make you that much money’: Traders gleefully admitted rate fixing was ‘cartel’ Independent

Obama considering MIT physicist Moniz for energy secretary – sources Reuters (Lambert)

Congress to See Memo Backing Drone Attacks on Americans New York Times

NRA Fights Legislation That Would Ban Gun Sales To Those Currently On Killing Sprees YouTube

Why We Must Rescue the U.S. Postal Service From the Brink of Death Alternet. I hate it when the left is conned by the machinations of the right. The Postal Service is not broke. It has been subject to bizarre and deliberately punitive pension accounting to make it look broke and allow for delivery services to be completely in the hands of UPS and Fedex. Imagine what’s they’d charge when price competition from the Postal Service is gone. The article does mention the accounting issue, but way too far along in the piece.

The Historical Failure of Black Leadership Pascal Robert

Evolving Views on Fiscal Multipliers Menzie Chinn

S&P Lawsuit Fails to Take On a Defective Business Model Bloomberg (furzy mouse)

S&P Lawsuit Portrays CDO Sellers as Duped Victims Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg (Richard Smith)

Rating agencies must beware of the law John Gapper

Geithner plans book on battling financial crisis Reuters. He’ll get a million dollar advance, at least.

So God made a banker MarketWatch

E-Mails Imply JPMorgan Knew Some Mortgage Deals Were Bad New York Times (Robert S)

Housing Market Already Shows Signs of a New Bubble Diana Olick

‘How a Nation Got Snookered by a Phony Narrative’ Mark Thoma

Investing in a Low-Growth World Jeremy Grantham. The problem with listening to Grantham, as craazyman has more or less said, that the market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.

The End of Low Hanging Fruit? Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson (Richard Smith via Mark Thoma)

401Ks are a disaster USA Today

Antidote du jour (Scott S):

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138 comments

    1. Susan the other

      The sweetness of dogs. The dog is not comfortable, he/she would much rather stretch out on that spacious bed. But it sleeps in a confined position because it doesn’t want to disturb the piglet. Very nice.

  1. brian t

    Hi,

    At the risk of stating the obvious – have you considered wordpress.com as a host? I think they have sufficient expertise in WordPress hosting, since they created it ..!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      1. I’m told WordPress VIP is really expensive

      2. WP is also terrible. If I had known how bad it was, I would not be using it. I don’t like the premise of rewarding the company that created such breakage-prone software that it needs specialized hosting (or lots of babying). It just reinforces their bad business model.

      1. brian t

        I hadn’t considered VIP – I agree it’s expensive (from $3,750 per month). The likes of CNN and NASA use it, probably overkill for NC. Their basic services are a fraction of that.

        I haven’t been an active WordPress user for a few years now, but I wasn’t aware that it was *particularly* bad. The kinds of things that can affect it (PHP vulnerabilities, database problems) are applicable to other CMS systems too. I just thought that if you’re going to use WordPress anyway, their hosting is solid and they’re the first to spot problems. (I have no connection with them.)

  2. craazyman

    Grantham has me under his spell too.

    I listen to them all – Grantham, Hussman, Shedlock, Martenson, Harrison – and they all hypnotize me into immobility. I’m too scared to do anything. The pressure in my mind is going to build and then it’s going explode into some unbelieveably stupid get-rich-quick gamble, like throwing it all into UVXY betting on a 200% gain in three days. And that will be the end of it. Somehow I have to avoid that at all costs.

    I went to the Post Office last week with a cardboard box full of papers and a tire pressure gage and a windshield de-icer from my dead car to send to Virginia. I sealed it with masking tape. I hauled it to the Post Office and the person behind the counter said they can’t accept it — because I used masking tape. I’d have to re-box everything and use clear plastic tape. Something about the X-ray machines. WTF? I couldn’t understand it. I was bewildered, but there was no discussion possible. I left utterly defeated, standing on the corner of the street with my box, sealed with masking tape. Then I saw a FedEx outlet and went in there. In 5 minutes the box was on its way to Virginia for $10. I’m not making this up. I like the idea of a good Post Office, but I also like reality.

    1. Bill the Psychologist

      The US Post Office today is like banks used to be before ATM machines: You never want to have to actually go into one to get anything done.

      1. curlydan

        The Post Office has had to cut way back. It’s like general austerity. First, you cut services. Then the service stinks. Then they say, cut services more or privatize because the service stinks. And then, naturally, the services stink more.

        It’s odd how the Republicans who claim to love businessmen and “free enterprise” laid waste to the Post Office’s business by putting too many regulations and burdens on the Post Office with that dreadful 2006 law.

      2. lambert strether

        I disagree. I get excellent service from my local Post Office in a small town in Maine, and I got perfectly reasonable service from my Post Office when I lived in Philadelphia. Ditto Boston, where literally thousands of people came in with their income tax payments before midnight on April 14 — the TV stations would cover it — and the Post Office handled it all with aplomb.

        I mean, you bring your mail, maybe fill out a form, stand in line, pay, and away you go. Not hard!

        The only times I’ve had problems with the Post Office are when MBA types have wormed their way in and tarted up the facilities (and stressed out the workers), as with a hideous experience in South Station, Boston, when the suits were standing around watching their new “pick a number” machine while the workers were obviously working to rule.

        I view the Post Office bashing as another part of the “market state” project of gutting all state provision of public goods and farming them out to rentiers. It’s all of a piece, same as gutting Social Security or Medicare. Presumably the majority of the NC readership is astute enough to suss this out.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘They all hypnotize me into immobility.’

      I hear ya, c-man. Too much data, not enough insight.

      According to my spreadsheet, an equal mix of the S&P 500 stock index and ten-year T-notes returned a not-too-shabby 9.10% annually compounded over the last fifty years. There was a 22% end-of-month dip in Sep. 1974 and a 23% dip in Feb. 2009 — those were the only ones over 20%. (Whereas the S&P 500 alone dipped 51% in Feb. 2009.)

      The only rule of this system is that when stocks get more than five percent out of line from their 50% target weight (i.e. over 55% or under 45%), then the proportions are rebalanced to 50/50. There were thirty rebalancings in fifty years.

      At times like these, as Jeremy Grantham knows well, people abandon such low-risk systems out of envy. Stocks are booming (for now) and the plodding-tortoise approach furnishes no bragging rights. ‘Let’s get rich quick!‘ urges the little seducer who lives in your head.

      1. craazyman

        what I worry about is the 51st year.

        I worry it’s like being in a car for 50 miles going 60 miles/hour toward a brick wall.

        Somebody can say, “We have gained 1 mile ever minute with nothing but a few dips in the road! Onward men!”

        Even Pilkington today is trying to get me under his spell now with his anti-GLD harrangue. I can’t take him too! the one thing I have been able to do is buy GLD and SLV, and not just because of the Austrian wackos. It’s basic algebra, the more money there is out there, the higher these suckers should go.

        It wouldn’t be a problem if I was willing to accept the reality of a working life. But I keep thinking I can avoid that somehow and do nothing but lay around, with just a little luck in UVXY or GLD or some quick hit for 200% or even 300%. Is that too much to ask for? Why does everybody have to work? It makes no sense.

        1. Jim Haygood

          ‘What I worry about is the 51st year.’

          Flaky-ass markets can do anything. But the lack of co-movement between different assets (such as stocks and bonds) is a more stable attribute than the fluctuating returns of the markets themselves.

          For instance, consider a portfolio that holds 50% in 3year Tnotes, 30% in S&P 500 stocks, and 20% in gold (bullion post-1974; gold miners before then). Since the end of 1925, this three-asset portfolio returned a modest but respectable 8.47% compounded annually.

          Other than the three months of April-June 1932, when it experienced a dip that reached 27% (while the S&P 500 dipped 83%), there were no other dips over 20%. Feb. 2009 was a 12% dip.

          This portfolio has been backfilled to 1890 (hat tip Proquest!). Its long-term return never varied much from eight percent.

          So when it comes to the 123rd year, as Shania Twain might say, ‘That don’t worry me much.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Gold and silver represent anti-throwaway-consumerism.

          Compared to plastic or paper cups, for example, gold chalices/grails last forever.

          And so, that’s one thing we can notice about the 0.01% people – they are green.

          Three reasons (I can think of right now):

          1. the 0.01% people are green because they own a lot of green.

          2. the 0.01% recycle a lot. They like to buy second-hand, third-hand, or more, products. For example, they buy their Van Goghs, Manets, Rembrandts, never new if you notice and keep them forever, whereas the the un-green 99.99% buy brand-new, but throw-away-able imitation/copied paintings, only to send them to the landfills after a while. But the 0.01%, they keep their sterling silver, antique furniture and second-hand paintings forever. They are green.

          3. The 0.01% are easily green with envy if the 99.99% can be happy without a lot of money. Again, that’s why the 0.01% are green.

          Of the three, the second presents the most useful lesson for us the 99.99% – we should favor quality things that will last a long time. Who knows, they might even appreciate in value…

        3. different clue

          I am just a total layman to be sure, but it looks to me like the last two price-rises and then price-falls of gold that I have seen sure look like the playing out of a pump-dump-and flatline cycle to me.

          Pump, dump, and flatliiiiiine.
          Pump, dump, and flatliiiiiine.
          If gold falls again after this current high price, I will look to see if it spends the next few years after that falling all the way to yet another multi-year flatliiiiiine.

      2. The Heretic

        How does your model look if you let the proportion before re-balancing occur at a slightly higher threshold…say let the balance reach 60/40 before rebalancing to 50/50. And how many times do you look at the portfolio and rebalance? Every month?

        Thank you for any insights that you can share.

      3. scraping_by

        Is that the real S&P 500 or is it the number reported? Because a real index fund takes a loss when one of its stocks falls out from bankruptcy or merger, and has to spend money to replace it.

        Buying, say, 1000 shares in each of the 500 companies in the gives a far different result than just the published number.

        Does your spreadsheet take into account the stockbroker’s commissions, custodial fees, and bid/ask fails of really buying and selling stocks? Those pennies add up, and allowing your broker to churn to his heart’s delight will soon erode away a lot of what you thought was there.

        If an index fund, Random Walk Down Wall Street is way out of date. The costs of an index and pretty much the same as any other fund. Except the celebrity stock picker funds, which as we now know, do worse for higher costs.

        Rebalancing was thought up by the people who make money off buying and selling. Go figure.

        The latest market recovery is the inflation by Fed fiat money. Is that going to go on forever, or will one morning you wake up and this bubble, too, shall have passed? Trick question.

        The only people who get rich off rebalancing buy and hold are the insiders who work the system.

    3. docG

      “Then I saw a FedEx outlet and went in there. In 5 minutes the box was on its way to Virginia for $10.”

      Sorry, but my experience with FedEx was very different. To deliver a 6 pound package to Indonesia, they wanted — get this — almost $300.00!!!! I’m not kidding, folks.

      I took it to the US Post Office, which charged me 60 bucks. Also way too much if you ask me, but I found the FedEx charge to be outrageous. Why do they still bother to advertize?

      1. rjs

        i have always used USPS to mail books (which i’ve done a lot of) and have never had a problem…& USPS book rate, or “media mail”, has always been much cheaper than UPS or FedEx…

    4. lambert strether

      Whenever I see a statement like “I like reality” (a.k.a, “I live in the real world”) a little alarm bell goes off in my mind that says “No, they really like their picture of the world.”

      UPS will not pay claims if the package is wrapped in masking tape:

      Do not use masking tape, cellophane tape, duct tape, water-activated paper tapes, string, or paper over-wrap because they will not provide a strong enough seal.

      FedEx directs that masking tape not be used:

      Apply at least three strips of packing tape (no duct or masking tape) to the top and bottom sides of the container using the H taping method.

      So, the private companies would happily take your money for a package whose contents might get wrecked en route due to your poor wrapping (and then deny your claim). The public company would not. Advantage to the public company, so far as I’m concerned.

      Now, a glibertarian could yammer about the nanny state, and argue for a future where we put our shippables in green plastic garbage bags tied with string and the shippers have to take them, but to me — back to “reality” here — the USPS was perfectly reasonable in its standards (which are apparently shared by the private companies, except that they’re not living up to them).

      1. craazyman

        Holy Smokes I had no idea masking tape was banned in the delivery business! Wow. That blows my mind. How can masking tape be so bad? this is amazing to me. I never ever once ever thought you can’t seal packages or shipping with masking tape.

        I didn’t even know there were official instructions! Holy Cow.

        How are we supposed to know these things? Does somebody have to have an advanced degree in package wrapping and shipping? Or is it just some sort of intuition that only the best and the brightest package shippers among us possess?

        Whoa. I got lucky then. It makes me nervous just to think what would have happened if FedEx had given me a hard time too.

        That shows you how many packages I send around the country. :) I think it’s been two in the past 4 years

        Just for your information, Mr. Strether, I was informed by the recipient that my package arrived at its destination in the same sturdy and well-packed, well-wrapped condition in which it began its journey. I may not be a package shipping genius, obviously, but at least I know how to handle tape and cardboard when it matters. That should count for something, at least.

  3. rjs

    i have a “technology issue” with wordpress too…i have been unable to post comments here, at my own wordpress blog, at Time, at the WSJ, and at AEI for over a week…i suspect AEI (american enterprise institute) might have marked me as spam, as i often ridicule their positions in comments…can that affect me here?

    i signed out of wordpress & cleared my cache, and am testing comments here again..

        1. rjs

          here’s what ive learned; i can comment when using my wordpress url and my live.com email address; however, when i switch back to my gmail adrress and by blogger url, i cannot comment; it just jumps to the top of the page without posting what i’ve written…

  4. TJ

    Yves, portion sizes don’t well explain weight gain – disruption of the human body’s metabolism (hormonal regulation of insulin/leptin etc.) and the consequential failure of satiety mechanisms better explain why people gain weight. Consider that the *quantity* of calories is not the primary determinant of growth, but that the *quality* of calories is, and that the distrubed growth mechanisms (ie. grow fatter as opposed to maintain weight) then propels higher caloric consumption. Refined carbohydrates, liquid sugars, and other foods that the human species has not had time to properly adapt to for the majority of its evolution are, IMHO, most likely at fault.

    Are people gaining weight in response to portion sizes being big? Or are portion sizes big in response to people gaining weight?

    1. Bridget

      Once upon a time it took decades for human beings to so abuse their bodies to the point that insulin resistance and diabetes set in.That’s why they called it adult onset diabetes. It is now becoming epidemic in young children. Sugared liquids are wreaking havoc with their metabolism. Not to mention the expense and utter lack of nutritional value.

      How about turning schools into soft drink free zones and barring soft drinks from purchase with SNAP cards for a start?

    2. another

      “Are people gaining weight in response to portion sizes being big? Or are portion sizes big in response to people gaining weight?”

      Yes.

      1. Brian

        If we leave out the chemical composition of the additives designed to seem like food, the story won’t be complete. Force feed a goose, voila, pate. Feed non food elements to that which becomes food, voila, McRib.

          1. subgenius

            A calorie is a pre-standardisation unit of heat. It is provably of no value in interpreting biological values of food. It is, however, very easy for charlatans to measure objectively and they thus like to claim all kinds of value for these measurements.

          2. subgenius

            Calorific value is determined by burning a quantity of food and seeing how much it raises the temperature of a volume of water. There is no relation between the burning of food and it’s value to a biological system….

        1. different clue

          Empty Calories means sugar-starch without any fellow-traveling protein or vitamins or minerals or phytonutrients (flavonoids etc.) or anything. It has meant that for decades and people have understood that meaning. (Some people may “pretend” they don’t understand that in order to advance some sinister underhanded agenda.)

          1. Klassy!

            And to clarify: I meant I don’t understand why people use the term “empty calories”. I know what the term has come to mean, I just don’t think it is correct (except maybe when talking about alcohol or soda)

        2. different clue

          Yes, that’s what the term was first invented for. Pure sugar/alcohol. Metabolic energy with zero anything else provided. So something super-high sugar/starch and near zero anything else is mainly empty calories.

          The body will sense a nutrient-deficit and drive the person living inside that body to keep eating eating eating until vitamin/mineral/protein/fat-within-reason/etc. needs are met. If that body is fed mainly nutrient-defficient hi-starch/sugar shitfood, that body will keep eating eating eating in a near-vain quest for genuine nutrients. That body will then get fat from storing all the excess carbo-sugar which is transformed into fat for in-body storage.

    3. craazyman

      whyy not just eat half and take the rest home and put it in the fridge?

      that’s 2 for the price of 1. Why complain about that?

      You can eat it the next night! And not have to cook. This is a lazy person’s dream.

      I guess Yves must go to swank, high end New York restaurants where lots of rich financial and media personality types dine out in style. Walking out with a little white leftover bag sort of thing would be embarrasing. Kind of like wearing a Madras tuxedo to a black tie event (if you don’t have enough charisma, that is, to pull it off).

      this doesn’t look so bad to me.

      http://sartoriallyinclined.blogspot.com/2010/05/lusting-after-rugby-madras-tuxedo.html

      1. evodevo

        You ever been in one a them Noo York gormet restaurants? You get a little dab of this and a dab of that with color-coordinated items of unknown etiology, for which you are charged the equivalent of a car payment or two. You’d have a hard time getting fat off that.
        Anecdotal evidence: My husband had an obese co-worker who, when the group would eat lunch out, seemed to eat a normal or smaller amount of food, and always said it was her “metabolism” or “glands” or whatever that made her fat. Then, by chance he went back into the office one day when no one was around, and caught her at her desk shovelling in candy and potato chips by the handful. Moral: they’re fat because they eat like elephants, and often have since childhood. You just need to know what goes on when no one is looking.

        1. Wendy

          Gotta love “anecdotes,” they are great for propagating ignorant stereotypes.

          Would that there were a bottom 10% filter to weed out such attention-wasting ignorant nonsense. Would this commenter have the gall to her (not his, only her) husband had a gay co-worker who *really did* have a thing for kids, or a black co-worker, who *really was* lazy? Maybe, actually, on the right website.

          Go away evodevo.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            There are some heavy people who (gasp) are heavy because they eat lots of fattening food and don’t care (or don’t care much) about the results. One of my brothers, who is pushing 400 lbs. fits the pattern described above to a T, except he doesn’t make a show of eating modestly at mealtime.

            So don’t make all obesity out to prejudiced people not understanding how little overweight people eat. That may be true for some, but don’t try pretending it’s universal, or even widespread.

          2. kareninca

            I don’t know why people aren’t more sympathetic. NO female wants to be overweight. The prejudice is terrible. Especially when there are nasty people like Evodevo, who would rather say something cruel, than something helpful.

            Here is my attempt to say something helpful. It’s this: EVERYONE in my family is very overweight. Except me. The difference is that I’m an ethical vegan, except for occasional bits of cheese (a weakness; too low a cholesterol level causes depression). So it is possible, even if your genes would otherwise doom you. And I don’t have to watch calories.

          3. Wendy

            I am not claiming that heavy people eat little, only that the stereotype that they gorge themselves is wrong, and ignorant. People who are fat-prejudiced have never struggled with weight themselves. If you had you would know better. You would know this gorging myth is a lie, true for some but not many very few heavy people. You would know that plenty of thinner people really do eat more, and really do still weigh less.

            I recall an article I read on a superfat man (500 lbs?) confined to his house due to his weight, and a nutritionist pointed out it actually takes a surprisingly small amount of excess calories per day to sustain the weight. I am not going to find a link, though, because I know I won’t change minds here.

            I will point out, though, that it keeps coming out again and again that people who are moderately so-called “overweight” and “obesity” (NOT including the mobility-impairing obesity, which is dangerous), actually have better health outcomes and longevity. A very recent finding of this: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/778220?src=wnl_edit_specol%3Fsrc%3Dstfb

            Fat-haters never point out, and maybe you don’t even know, that being underweight is even more deadly as extreme overweight, when overweight impairs mobility. I can provide links, but really, what’s the point. It won’t change minds on this blog. I am not justifying or advocating obesity, just compassion, and opposing ignorance of the myths.

          4. kareninca

            Yes, the huge study that was just done by a Harvard researcher found no increase in death risk for any given year except for the “level three” obese. Being merely “overweight” or “obese” led to a small DECREASE in death risk. And “level three” obese people were only 29 percent more likely to die in a given year than “normal” weight people, which is a trivial increase. I’m relieved, because my brother (like Yves’) is pushing 400 pounds.

            The age 70+ skinny women I know all have osteoporosis and are taking Fosamax, ugh. The pudgy ones dont; my mom has fantastic bone density.

            There has been a huge change. I see people in their early 20s who are really, really very heavy. In my generation (I’m 49) you had to build up to it. If I had to point to something, I’d say bisphenol-A (which alters metabolism) and changes in gut bacteria. Given that young people may be heavy for different reasons than older people, maybe they will have more health issues due to weight. But if it’s chemical, I don’t think losing weight will help them. It seems that toxins build up in body fat, and when you lose weight they go back into the bloodstream, to bad effect.

            Some people just want to hate and despise. Evendevo said elsewhere that she is by profession, a mail carrier. I think I’ll start despising mail carriers.

        2. different clue

          Gary Taubes addresses this problem in his books and on his website. I have offered links and/or a name before in comments on this and prior threads. Right now I am at a public library computer of near-zero capabilities or I would offer a link yet again.

          I will offer a tantalizing teaser extracted from Taubes’s book Why We Get Fat and What We Can Do About It (correctly remembered?) going to this effect . . . foodtype intake and metabolism studies in Europe have indicated that we don’t get fat because we overeat. We overeat because we get fat. That is not a mere wordgame. It is a little nugget which it worth panning for by reading the whole book, word by word by word.

    4. different clue

      TJ,

      I have been trying to leave a link, and I think the link itself is prang-choking the comments function. I will have to try spelling it out.

      Google up the name Gary Taubes and find his very own link to his very own name. That is the best that this comments function program will let me do.

    1. Derry hood goes straight

      The Covert Service is going to go to the mat for Brennan the way the kleptocrats went to the mat for Clarence Thomas. The way international criminal law is evolving, any chink in NCS criminal impunity is an existential threat to senior officials. They hope to secure de facto impunity by taking one of their high-profile criminals and making an honest man of him by brute force. To do this NCS has to steamroll all opposition in defiance of the merits. al-Saud bumboy Brennan would cripple CIA relationships with non-satellite states, but effectiveness is not an NCS objective. Nothing matters for them but Getting Away With It. NCS can suppress domestic opposition but foreign opposition is a different story. So the place to look for smoke signals is anywhere but our vestigial legislature.

  5. Mr Anonymous

    Concerning the Post Office: If any other CEO of a company found out they were being screwed out of billions of dollars – they’d be screaming non-stop on TV, Radio, Internet and on the street corner.

    So, the interesting question is: Why is the Postmaster General silent, and why does it look like he’s *trying* to destroy the Post Office? If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, etc.

    1. Expat

      Not saying that this bit of trivia is relevant, but Postmaster General was a plum patronage position under many presidents. If we are not hearing shouts and screams, perhaps its because the destruction of the service is a feature of the Obama administration. A giant country without mail service. How savage.

    2. AnotherAnonymous

      Here’s an idea for USPS. Either STOP delivering bulk rate crap altogether, or raise the rates on it to reflect the true costs to the public for disposing of it all. At our condo-plex we have a large basket right next to the mailboxes to dispose of the offensive crap post haste right out of the box. Of course from there someone still has to cart it all off to the recycling center. What a waste. I sometimes think the only reason for checking the mail at all these days is to perpetuate this decidedly unvirtuous cycle – all without even a cut in the proceeds for my trouble. Or, maybe the USPS should just cut out the middleman and go into the recycling business directly itself? Now there’s a public service worth paying for, as long as the waste generators themselves foot the lion’s share of the bill of course!

      1. evodevo

        I’m a mail carrier – that “junk mail” pays for itself and then some. It’s one of the only money makers for the PO. And evidently it’s effective for businesses to advertise this way because they keep doing it. Direct mail advertising is a favorite with them, and costs less than ads on the teevee. If we didn’t exist, it wouldn’t be cost-effective to deliver it privately (like all those telephone books that end up moldering in the gutter).

      2. different clue

        If “junk”mail helps the USPS harvest enough revenue streams
        to delay the extermination/privatisation planned by the Government Conspiracy to Yeltsinize the USPS, then “junk”mail is a survival lifeline for the USPS and everyone who needs it . . . including the country itself from a geographically united coherency point of view . . . until enough “save the USPS” minded people can reconquer the government and “exterminate” the current conspirators who currently occupy the government.

  6. dearieme

    Grantham: his chum writes “John Keynes gave an explanation to this in 1930″. Keynes was always known by his middle name Maynard – I know because thirty years ago I met some of his ancient College colleagues and that was how they all referred to him. Similarly they referred to E M Forster as Morgan.

    There’s little in Economics that’s clearly right so we might as well be accurate about names, eh?

  7. PQS

    The LRB had an article in 2011 on the privatization schemes of the post in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe:

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n09/james-meek/in-the-sorting-office

    It is the worst of all worlds, even under a progressive government: overwhelmed, underpaid piece workers barely scraping by, and a ruthless system that cares little for service or the employees.

    This will be the future of the mail in America if the RW succeeds in getting rid of the Post Office. Funny how all the Constituionalists in the Republican Party seem utterly unaware that one of the only government offices mentioned in the Constitution is, you guessed it, the Post Office.

    And the pension poison pill almost never gets mentioned in the articles about how the Post Office is going broke.

    1. lambert strether

      By “RW,” you mean both legacy parties, I assume.

      * * *

      Though it sure is great to see Obama out front defending our Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 rights with the same fervor he defends our Second Amendment rights.

      * * *

      BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!! Who am I kidding? I crack myself up, sometimes….

      1. PQS

        No, for true hilarity, you have to go to Obama’s use of “state’s rights” to declare that DOMA et. al. are constitutional….that was before his “change of heart” about the LGBT community. (Of course, there are no state’s rights when it comes to maryjane or any other drug policy, dontcha know.)

        I’m sure somewhere in the otherworld MLK is gnashing his teeth.

        1. different clue

          MLK’s ghost can gnash his teeth as loud as he likes . . . no one will ever hear it over the happy-clappy chanty-cheery noise of Obama’s “R@ce Card” Amen Corner.

          ” We! Are! The Ninety Three Per Cent!”
          ” We! Are! The Ninety Three Per Cent!”

          (That refers to the ninety three percent of all black voters voting who voted for Obama. Somewhere Glen Ford weeps in helpless rage.)

  8. Chauncey Gardiner

    Libor rate fixing, although damaging, was and remains the tip of the racketeering iceberg IMO.

    IMO so long as the racketeers retain control of the “3 M’s” (Money, Markets and Media); the Citizens United decision remains the law of the land together with their deep capture of the DoJ and regulatory agencies, we’ll never even know until it’s too late.

    Several interrelated links today that touch on this core issue. Thank you.

    1. Bill the Psychologist

      “…with their deep capture of the DoJ and regulatory agencies…”

      I agree, but you forgot to mention Congress and the WH.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Thanks, Bill. Should have tumbled to the truth during the Clinton and Dubya administrations that both legacy political parties are bought and paid for. Some of us are slow learners, and I am embarrassed to say I would include myself in this category.

        However, there is also a big component of intimidation of our lawmakers involved through all three of the “3 M’s” IMO.

        1. Bill the Psychologist

          I’m also a slow learner, I voted for Obama, even sent him money for his first campaign. I feel violated :-)…seriously though……

        2. Nathanael

          It’s worth noting that not all members of the legacy political parties are bought and paid for.

          Just *enough* members.

          There’s no point in bothering to buy *all* the members of the US House — makes it look better if there are a couple dozen principled House members who never win a vote, y’know.

          The same applies to most legislatures.

          Usually nobody bothers to buy local officials unless there’s a local issue which they care about a lot, too.

      1. rjs

        Congress failed to include either a criminal or civil statute of limitations when it passed the RICO Act. Congress’ oversight was easily remedied with regard to the criminal statute of limitations. Title 18, section 3282 of the U.S. Code is the “catch-all” statute of limitation for federal crimes. It states that “no person shall be prosecuted . . . unless the indictment is found or the information is instituted within five years next after such offense shall have been committed.” With regard to criminal prosecutions, it is generally held that a prosecution is timely so long as the defendant has committed one predicate act (that forms part of the pattern for which he is being prosecuted) within five years or less of the indictment. See United States v. Darden, 70 F.3d 1507, 1525 (8th Cir. 1995).

        RICO’s missing statute of limitations was more problematic with regard to civil claims. First, there is no “catch-all” limitations period applicable to civil claims established by Congress. Second, assuming civil RICO claims are subject to a statute of limitations, when does the statute of limitations begin to run? Does it run with the first predicate act or the last predicate act? Does it re-start with each new predicate act committed by the defendant? Does it run when the plaintiff is injured? What if the plaintiff is unaware of its injury? Is the running of the statute of limitations then postponed until after the plaintiff discovered its injury? Until the United States Supreme Court provided direction, all of these questions presented tremendous problems for the courts confronting statute of limitations defenses under the RICO Act.

        http://ricoact.com/?page_id=91

        1. lambert strether

          So, in other words, the Bad Guys won either last year (2007 + 5 = 2012) or this year (2008 + 5 = 2013)? At least for criminal charges? (Seems funny to be reasoning like this, when the rule of law doesn’t exist any more, but heck, why not play along…)

  9. Mark

    “BMI is not enough”

    The more interesting question is why does the myth of BMI as a predictor of premature death persist?

    BMI between 19 and 35 is not associated with an increase in all-cause mortality (see “Association of all-cause mortality with overweight and obesity using standard body mass index categories: a systematic review and meta-analysis”, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23280227)

    The above JAMA study is precisely what one would expect from Sir Michaal Marmot’s famous Whitehall studies on the relationship between socioeconomic status and all-cause mortality (see his book “The Status Syndrome” for a full explanation – by the way, bad eating and health habits by the poor or poorly educated are ruled out as explanations by the data)

    The JAMA study is also consistent with every study on treatment of the diseases associated with obesity (as defined by BMI). Whether it’s statins for high cholesterol, drugs for type-2 diabetes, interventional cardiology like stents and bypass surgery the result is the same – NO association with a change in all-cause mortality (put simply the treatments MAY effect the cause of death listed on your death certificate but there is NO evidence for a change in the date listed on your death certificate). For a more thorough explanation of this see anything written by Dr. Nortin Hadler.

    1. Klassy!

      Thanks for the book recommendation, it looks great and probably expands upon much that is touched upon in the Counterpuch article.

  10. SubjectivObject

    My opinion is that (US)restuarant portion sizes are a substitue for quality preparation. Healthy food requires more vegetable content, but vegetables are both of poor source quality (SyscoStandard) and preparation quality. It is much easier to produce meat, dairy, grain, sugar centric dishes than well seasoned and textured vegetable centric dishes. We’ve about given up on restuarant food for the lack of reason to pay for it. Good Thai is a hold out for us, and during cross country travel we search for hole-in-the-wall independents, or go hungry. In this day and age, a little hunger is a therapeutic thing.

    1. Mark

      It’s actually more about the economics of the restaurant business. Food is one of the smallest fixed costs that a restaurant owner has. The owner needs a certain amount of revenue per customer to be profitable pretty much regardless of how much food you are served. That revenue per customer is typically high enough that a more modest portion would be seen as skimpy by most customers hence regardless of the owner’s inclination a large portion will be served so that the customer will feel like she is getting her money’s worth and maybe come back again or better yet tell her friends what a great deal it is.

      You may feel differently but if you do you are not typical. And by the way, I agree with you about traveling. I look for family run mexican places.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I wonder if you can trick the customer’s brain by serving hem (i.e him and her or you can use another neologism ‘hir’) a smaller portion but in many, smaller plates…it’s like the diner-version of a false-flag operation where diversion is essential.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      When I lived in London for four months in 1984, the food sucked. It was really hard to get decent vegetables, plus the cooking in restaurants generally was terrible. Reflected 20 years of living with rations. If you wanted tasty food, you needed to eat ethnic (Indian or Chinese).

      I’d have to work late in the office pretty much all the time, and the only thing you could order in was McDonalds. I don’t do McDonalds. So I’d get home at 10:30 or 11:00, drink a swig of juice and fall into bed.

      I lost 15 pounds and I wasn’t heavy when I went over.

      1. kareninca

        I was in London for 4 months in 1982.

        The food was DISGUSTING.

        Pink sausages that were made of something indescribable! British Railway sandwiches made of white bread, margarine and mayo, and wilted lettuce. Even the chocolate bars at the train stations were horrible. The toast and jam were okay tasting, but they didn’t really seem like *food*.

        I ended up living on fish and chips, giant eggrolls, and digestive biscuits. The former two were really expensive so It was mostly the biscuits. In retrospect I’m amazed I didn’t get scurvy.

        When I went back in 1991 for a month, it was a different world. Sainsbury’s had decent food, at decent prices.

    3. different clue

      Also, one is free to eat half the meal in the restaurant and take the other half home. Many people do that.

  11. Chauncey Gardiner

    Read an interesting proposal elsewhere some time ago regarding the US Postal Service that I feel merits broader consideration and discussion.

    The proposal was to add a public banking utility option to the Post Office. The points presented in favor of the proposal were that in addition to a modest but positive step toward disintermediating the crooks from control of the financial markets, it would provide a source of government funding, be convenient for most Americans, and that it would it serve to reduce taxpayers’ exposure to private sector losses.

    I don’t recall where I read it, or would give attribution. But I do feel it represents a constructive proposal.

      1. Ms G

        YESSSSSSS!

        Savings Accounts for the 99.9% at USPS. 4% interest. No fees.

        Time to join/support/encourage the letter-carriers!

        1. Ms G

          I forgot another important feature: tax-exempt.

          (Not tax “deferred” (scam); just “exempt.”)

          Obama and IRS should have no objections to this because it would further the policy of helping Americans save enough to supplement SSI.

          (As opposed to continuing to force Americans into the jaws of 401(k)s. Dr. Black apparently didn’t get it that 401(k)s are inherently predatory and can’t be “tweaked” to do good.)

  12. Brian

    The “dealbook” story about JP Morgan sounds like it was written by JP Morgan. There is so little truth to the allegations that it might as well be fiction. By now, the admission by JPM that they did not so much “receiving” of Wamu as continuing a criminal enterprise is laughable. They have testified in actions before federal court that they have no responsibility for those loans, that they are the property of the FDIC. Which is risible due to Wamu having sold them all long before their demise to any party foolish enough to purchase them. The terrible fine of a couple hundred million must keep them awake at night since it is a small part of what they receive from the treasury each month to continue the pretense of solvency.
    When RICO charges are laid at their feet for operating a business based on moral and financial malfeasance, perhaps things will change. As pigs fly.

  13. McWatt

    Is that Lord Grantham? I love him on Downton Abbey. Why does he work when he’s getting all those residuals?

    “Catch-22 says they can do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”

  14. petridish

    Re: BMI

    The money quote, though slightly tortured at the end, is

    “What I have learned is that there are limits to what can be done on an individual basis when we live in a system that produces nutritionally poor food (sometimes toxic food) industrially to be sold for profit to underpaid consumers who are then blamed people for eating it.”

    It’s kind of funny when you think about it. The poor used to be referred to as “scrawny.” The rich were well-fed or even “portly.” Now one can’t be “too rich or too thin.” (Or did I mean “scrawny?”)

  15. jsmith

    Nice op-ed on America’s descent into dictatorship.

    The Obama administration’s recently-leaked “white paper” on the assassination of US citizens, and the actions carried out on the basis of the arguments it advances, must be taken as a dire warning to the working class in the United States and around the world. The democratic rights of the people are in grave peril. The American ruling class, steeped in lawlessness and violence, is moving toward dictatorship.

    The administration’s frontal assault on democratic rights and constitutional protections—asserting the “right” of the president to unilaterally and secretly order the state murder of American citizens—is undeniably grounds for impeachment. The crimes of Richard Nixon, who nearly 40 years ago resigned the presidency rather than face impeachment and removal from office, pale in comparison to Obama’s assertion of unconstrained executive powers.

    snip

    The entire document is an exercise in doubletalk and sophistry. While it asserts, for example, that those selected for elimination have to pose an “imminent threat of violent attack,” it proceeds to define “imminent” to mean its opposite. The government needs no proof that any specific action is planned or that something is to take place in the immediate future.

    In the end, nothing remains of core democratic rights. The principle of due process—with roots going back to the 13th Century and enshrined in the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution’s assertion that no individual can be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”—is dispensed with.

    The justifications for this assertion of dictatorial powers—national security and the requirements of war (in this case, the global “war on terror”)—are the same as those invoked by every military and fascist regime, from Hitler to Pinochet.

    Yet these developments have provoked no significant opposition from within the political or media establishment.

    The response of the New York Times, the main newspaper of American liberalism, is particularly significant. In an editorial published Wednesday, the Times regrets the undisguised character of the administration’s contempt for constitutional restraints and proposes measures to give the killing operation, including of American citizens, a legalistic gloss. It suggests the creation of a “special [i.e., secret] court to handle this sort of sensitive discussion, like the one it created to review wiretapping.” In other words, a star chamber to rubber-stamp state murders in similar fashion as the secret FISA court sanctions unlimited domestic spying.

    The Times does not call for a halt to program of extra-judicial assassinations, nor does it suggest that Obama and his accomplices be held to account.

    1. Nathanael

      Yeah. FWIW, I predict that the US police state dictatorship won’t last long.

      Why? Because it’s proving completely incompetent to provide people’s basic needs, and the catastrophes induced by global warming will make it even *less* effective.

      Food riots will generally bring down absolutely any government whatsoever, but riots over theft of housing are nearly as effective.

      This is not the government of general competence, which people tolerate whether or not it’s democratic; this is a government which is failing to address the major problems of the day.

      1. Nathanael

        I’ve been trying to work out how it’s going to collapse, but it’s very hard to predict.

        Someone I respect greatly predicts that it will go pretty much like the USSR — break into individual states.

      2. wunsacon

        The entire country does not have to hold up or together. For the 1%, automatons will harvest food, extract fuel, and deliver finished goods to the 1% living in ecodomes like Manhattan. A “fabric” of drones will watch over and protect their possessions, their resources, their supply chain, and their automatons.

        All watched over by machines of loving grace?

    2. LucyLulu

      Another side of a culture that prefers mass-killings to giving up their “right” to own assault weapons:

      “Overall 83 percent of Americans approve of the use of “unmanned, ‘drone’ aircraft against terrorist suspects overseas,” 59 percent strongly and 26 percent “somewhat.” Of those who approve, 79 percent think the use of targeted killing against American citizens abroad who are suspected of terrorism is justified. “

      http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/poll-americans-approve-targeted-killing-terror-suspects-americans

  16. j.s.nightingale

    Probability and Quantum Theory

    (1) Quantum Theory is a, well, Theory whose predictions work.
    (2) The multiverse is a Hypothesis that is totally untestable. Any putative application of probability to the multiverse is consequentially untestable.
    (3) The Map is Not the Country: the “probability of occurrence of an event” is not the event, just a way for us to reason about the abstract outcomes of a hypothesized event.
    Probability is a tool developed by mathematicians for analysing a large set of problems, one of which is Quantum Theory. It applies wherever the set of possible outcomes exceeds the number of actual outcomes. Just because probability is unusable with respect to the multiverse, it doesn’t become useless for all its ongoing real world applications.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s possible that we use probabillity because we don’t comprehend the situation.

    2. The Heretic

      Our universe has many key physical constants, which according to contemporary theory (I believe it is called the Standard Model), if they were set in any other way, our universe could not form in the manner that it did. A plausible question to ask is why and how did our Universe come to have these physical constants? The multi-universe theory and the much of superstring theory allows atheist scientist to answer that question; to posit that our universe came about due to random chance, or out of the formation of many other alternate universes. Another possbile answer is that the Standard model is incomplete, that we have yet to discover a more complete and accurate model universe. The third logical answer, which makes atheist scientist very uncomfortable (and is perhaps the reason why some of them fervently latch onto the multi-universe theory), is to allow for the possiblity that some Thing or some Being has set those variables as desired by Him (or Her or It or Them if you would prefer).

      As a Christian, I am comfortable with answer number 2 or answer number 3 (a Him who created all of us, each unique, to reflect some aspect of His Image… since He is infinite no one person could reflect His entire image).

      1. Keenan

        The multi-universe theory and the much of superstring theory allows atheist scientist to answer that question; to posit that our universe came about due to random chance, or out of the formation of many other alternate universes.

        Not necessarily, The Heretic. This topic was the subject of several comments on an NC thread awhile ago. Go here to read a series of essays which synopsize the work by Tulane’s professor of physics and mathematics, Frank Tipler:
        http://accurmudgeon.blogspot.com/search?q=Tipler

      2. reslez

        Postulating an invisible omniscient superbeing of complexity sufficient to spawn the entire universe is in no way a “logical answer”. It is begging the question (where did the superbeing come from?).

  17. F. Beard

    Earth-Size Planets May Be Next Door, Kepler Data Suggest

    “Our Sun is surrounded by a swarm of red dwarf stars. About 75 percent of the closest stars are red dwarfs. Since 6 percent of those should host habitable planets, the closest Earth-like world is likely to be just 13 light-years away.”

    But where be dey aliens?

    Moreover, red dwarfs live much, much longer than our sun so dem aliens have had plenty of time to evolve, if they exist.

    1. wunsacon

      >> Moreover, red dwarfs live much, much longer than our sun so dem aliens have had plenty of time to evolve, if they exist.

      That observation makes a Star-Trek-like “United Federation of Planets” organization very unlikely.

      There will be little “parity” between us and whomever we meet. Species on most planets will be either millions (or billions) of years ahead of us or millions (or billions of years behind.

      We won’t find a “Spock” out there. But, maybe a “Trelane” or space goo.

    2. Maximilien

      F. Beard: “But where be dey aliens?”

      They’re almost certainly out there. The laws of probability say so.

      And they’ve almost certainly paid us a visit or two and found us so supremely uninteresting as to be unworthy of further contact.

      To them, we’re sort of like a primitive Amazon tribe that throws spears at the plane as the anthropologists pass overhead on their way to something better to study.

      1. Nathanael

        One of the nastiest, yet most likely, explanations for the fact that we haven’t heard from aliens is this:

        Perhaps most intelligent civilizations last about 200 years after discovering radio, before they fry themselves with global warming.

        If you plug that number into the Drake Equation, along with the known “habitable band” for the galaxy and “habitable band” for solar systems, you wouldn’t expect us to hear any intelligent civilizations. They’d all be flashes in the pan, and there would be very little chance that we’d happen to be around at the same time as any of the others.

        This is almost certainly true, horrible though it sounds.

  18. ScottA

    Yves –

    I just wanted to say, WordPress is very easy to use, I’ve installed WP several times, and your blog doesn’t seem to be all that complicated.

    It should be straightforward to find a hosting provider offering good service with minimal hassle, for very little cost.

    Being a sometime webmaster myself, I simply use Amazon Web Services for hosting (14 USD per month for a micro instance), and either install PHP and MySQL and WordPress plus a theme and a few plugins myself – or sometimes I just install a pre-configured Amazon Machine Image (AMI).

    Also, I avoid Apache and use nginx as the webserver, along with PHP-FPM – this gives the best performance and uses less RAM.

    I’ve tried many many other CMSs (content management systems) and WordPress plus a theme and some plugins has turned out to be the most practical solution, due to ease of use.

    Best of luck!

    1. alex

      Good point on nginx.

      However, t1.micro is definitely not going to pull the weight of NC system. The bottlenecks for NC are primarily around I/O for which AWS is generally more expensive then bare metal hardware. The other bottleneck is concurrency, which AWS can solve better, but again generally costs extra.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Scott,

      With all due respect. unless you’ve worked with a site that gets over 1 million page view a month and has the database update hundreds of times a day (due to comments volume) your experience is not relevant.

      WP is widely known for having very serious scaling issues. The 99% of blogs that don’t run at my sort of traffic level don’t experience it. You get all sorts of breakage at high traffic levels.

  19. Hugh

    Re Moniz for energy, sounds like Obama is looking for a pro-natural gas and so I would assume pro-fracking successor to Chu.

    “Moniz is director of MIT’s Energy Initiative, a research group that gets funding from industry heavyweights including BP, Chevron, and Saudi Aramco for academic work on projects aimed at reducing climate-changing greenhouse gases.”

    It’s actually a lot worse than that paragraph suggests. Look at the full list of “members”:

    http://mitei.mit.edu/about/members

    or the external board:

    http://mitei.mit.edu/about/external-advisory-board

    George Schultz chairs the external board. Looking at the membership, this looks like a corporate enterprise with the thinnest of “environmental” veneers.

    Re commodity hedge funds, oil spiked in both 2011 and 2012. Did these guys get burned trying to short the spike and then going long when prices fell off at the end of each year? Are they getting their lunch handed to them by the big non-commercial players like Goldman, MS, and Barclays?

    As for Marcy Wheeler’s 5 questions for John Brennan (Brindle at 8:02), people should google Richard Helms. He was the model for CIA directors and considered lying to Congress to be a completely normal, ordinary part of the job.

    Brennan has lied. He will lie, period. Lying is an essential part of his job, as he sees it. He reminds me of a less mercurial Colonel Jessup: we can not handle the truth, but more than this, I doubt that he believes there is such a thing as the truth, just various gradations of lies, and that even if there were such a thing as the truth, it would be far too important to waste on ordinary Americans.

    1. jfleni

      RE: “Obama is considering naming nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, …. as the next energy secretary”:

      Problem is that this guy is super “plutocrat-friendly” regardless of his scientific and academic expertise. He could easily be just another “mad scientist” fixated on nukes as the solution (and like most nuclear physics types never thinking outside that particular box).

      Thinking outside the box is what we need, not just another “safe” establishment boffin!

      His belief in natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to lower carbon pollution while new innovative forms of energy are being developed” is the same old saw we have seen for a quarter-century; but even the steps to the bridge never seem to get built.

      Bad choice, but not surprising from Barry!

    2. wunsacon

      >> even if there were such a thing as the truth, it would be far too important to waste on ordinary Americans

      I’ve come to conclude that it is, because they lack the interest, ability, compassion, and courage to understand it.

      Look at the general public’s response to OWS or Assange. Ready to accept vilification stories on a moment’s notice. For the public’s benefit, why ask to be nailed to a cross? Jesus, the “personal savior” for many of them, died in vain.

      1. Nathanael

        The general public pays no attention to politics until they find one of the following happen:
        (1) they’re hungry, not enough food
        (2) they’re homeless, nowhere to live
        (3) they can’t get clothing
        (4) they or their families are being beaten up repeatedly

        If one of these things happen, some people will blame themselves. Others will blame the government. If it starts happening to a lot of people in the same area, most will blame the government.

        At that point these people will look around for some intellectuals or charismatic leaders to tell them what part of the government needs to change, and how. They’ll follow whoever seems most sensible to them.

        In short, it’s important for us to have a coherent, accurate understanding of what parts of the government need to change, and how — but nobody’s really going to listen *until they’re hungry and desperate*. Then they will listen.

          1. different clue

            If enough “right” people are ready to flood the information-zone “when the time comes”, they may well drown out the “wrong” people. But those “right” people have to be ready ahead-of-time. Ready with credible explanations, and ready with personal reputations for personal credibility visibly established in the meantime.

            For example, someone preaching “energy conservation” will have some personal visible credibility if he/she is visibly living an “okay” lifestyle on seriously and provably less energy usage than the average of all his/her neighbors. So personal credibility through personally displayable “walking of the talk” is something that some wannabe “right” people might get busy working on building.

  20. Mark Gisleson

    Out of the blogging game now, but it seems to me that many high traffic bloggers cut deals with WordPress or Blogger. I know when I started I kept my own databases, etc., and it was a royal pain.

    Your traffic might get you more respect from a “free” platform than you might have thought. Atrios would know more about this, I think.

  21. ScottS

    IRS nabs identity thieves in nationwide crackdown:
    http://money.cnn.com/2013/02/07/pf/taxes/irs-identity-theft/

    The “massive national sweep” nabbed 389 identity theft suspects in 32 states, and resulted in 734 enforcement actions — including 109 arrests and 189 indictments, the IRS announced Thursday.

    Check cashers are also being investigated. The IRS said it is visiting 197 of these businesses to ensure they’re not helping people get away with identity theft or refund fraud.

    So, you know, there’s no more fraud now. Problem solved.

  22. jfleni

    RE: Rescue the U.S. Postal Service.

    This is really just a part of the “high treason” wing of the fanatical Republican movement and their machinations to turn a large part of the country into their vision of a separate “redneck republic”. The fact that only a minority (sometimes a fairly substantial one) wants that only makes them more deranged. Then too, when they look at the personnel of the the Postal service they see a large number of Black and Hispanic and female faces, which unhinges them totally.

    Looking at night-time satellite photos of the USA, should give them pause; it’ll never happen the way they want, but if it should, their eight or so states will turn into “Tobacco Road” in an instant, and they’ll need a great deal of “Good Luck” after that when we say goodbye to these clowns. The rest of us can then stop heavily subsidizing “Plutocrat Freebies” junk mail, “nut-boy” Congress creeps and lots of other foolishness.

      1. Carla

        If you’ve read “Slavery by Another Name” by Douglas Blackmon, you won’t doubt it.

        Here’s a short piece by Blackmon: http://www.alternet.org/print/civil-liberties/souths-shocking-hidden-history-thousands-blacks-forced-slavery-until-ww2

        ….which I thought I saw on NC links but now can’t find it here. Oh well, here it is again.

        It’s important to remember that while these crimes against humanity took place in the South, the North resolutely turned its back on the suffering victims.

    1. different clue

      Yeltsinizing the USPS will turn low population density parts of all Fifty States into Tobacco Road Areas. Big rich cities or parts of cities in all Fifty States will be Walled Garden Lily Pads with Dark Ages 2.0 Howling Wilderness beyond the Walls. In all Fifty States alike.

      People who think it would only be 8 or 9 “bad boy states” are flattering themselves. They will learn differently if it actually happens.

  23. Kathy

    Message for Yves: technology

    Yves- as they say long time reader first time commentor.

    RE: site issues- I have a great contact here in California He is a real expert in word press/ hosting/seo. John at the Watermark group:ww.thewatermarkgroup.org/author/john-muldoon/

    I strongly suggest you or your web master contact him -he has built/tweaked literally hundred of websites and is well versed in the mechanizations of word press etc.
    Best of luck, Kathy

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The experience I described above was with WPEngine. Their front line staff isn’t consistent or honest in what they tell customers.

      I’m loath to use WordPress VIP. I don’t like rewarding WordPress for designing such crappy software. And they are targeting mainly sites much bigger than me. I don’t like being a customer so small as to be unimportant.

  24. Nathanael

    Things — by which I mean the precursors to civil war — are going faster than I expected.

    First, the LAPD is up to its old abuses and one of their own got sick of it and went a little nuts:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/07/1185308/-Letting-the-police-police-themselves-created-this-problem

    (Here’s the unedited manifesto:

    http://hiphopandpolitics.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/uncensored-manifesto-from-retired-lapd-officer-christopher-dorner/

    Thanks to Anonymous for releasing it… and letting us know the names of the people whose crimes the LAPD is covering up…
    )

    Then, in response, the LAPD starts shooting random civilians:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/07/1185397/-LAPD-Goes-on-Shooting-Rampage-of-Innocent-People

    Of course, the LAPD is covering up the names of the criminals this time too….

    The public mood seems to feature a certain amount of mindless conformity (“surely the LAPD must know what they are doing!”) but it’s not the majority response, which is “Of course those LAPD thugs are killing innocent people, what do you expect from those thugs?”

    1. different clue

      Now . . . given all that . . . how will the non-police civilian majority of LA come to feel about gun control for civilians but NOT for members of the LAPD? Today? In two years time? In five years time?

      1. Skippy

        FYI the LAPD is an inter city socio economic para military boarder patrol. Once viewed from this prospective… its acts are rational.

        Skippy… if things went pop wrt your time line… Rwanda comes to mind.

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