Links 6/28/14

Catch us talking on Harry Shearer about private equity and the Wikileaks TISA bombshell starting at 1 PM on Sunday. Stations which stream it all day Sunday are listed at Hope you can tune in!

Huge ‘whirlpools’ in the ocean are driving the weather New Scientist

Why are we so intolerant of the childless? Financial Times

The Dark Side Of The Italian Tomato Aljazeera

When simply walking outside can kill: Study reveals rising summer heat and humidity will make any outdoor activity across America DEADLY for tomorrow’s retirees Daily Mail (John B)

The Illusion of Chinese Power National Interest

Population decline seen hindering China’s growth potential Nikkei

Ruling Risks New Argentine Default as Monday Deadline Approaches Bloomberg

US vulture fund ruling pushes Argentina towards second bankruptcy Guardian

Argentine debt battle could pressure world food prices higher Reuters

Sound and Fury, Signifying… Contempt for Argentina? Credit Slips


Ukraine extends ceasefire for east BBCEU issues Ukraine ultimatum to Putin Financial Times

Ukraine Signs Trade Accord, Affirming Move Toward E.U. New York Times


Armed US drones flying over Iraq BBC

Fear and loathing at Hotel Babylon Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

Iraq makes awkward allies of US enemies Financial Times

Moderate Syrian Rebel Application Form New Yorker (Chuck L)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

‘Illegal Spying Below’: blimp flies over NSA data centre in surveillance protest Guardian (Nikki). But see: Why are Greenpeace and the EFF working with extremists who want to nullify welfare programs and the EPA? Pando

PRISM, Local Edition: NY DA Employs 381 Secret Orders to Gather Complete Digital Dossiers from Facebook Electronic Frontier Foundation (Nikki)

Meet Onionshare, the File Sharing App the Next Snowden Will Use Gizmodo

Bill Clinton once made $1.3 million in TWO DAYS from speaking gigs and has made $105m in twelve years Daily Mail. Lee: “Homme du peuple.”

10 Big Fat Lies and the Liars Who Told Them Bill Moyers

‘Prize-linked’ accounts offer cash prizes as incentive to save McClatchy

Six times Medicare caved Trudy Lieberman, Columbia Journalism Review

Corinthian Colleges Faltering as Flow of Federal Money Slows New York Times (Philip P)

Taking Systemic Risk Seriously Simon Johnson, Project Syndicate

Central Bank Stock Buying Binge Mike Whitney, CounterPunch

Stop Worrying About Whether That Company You Want To Buy Has Been Bribing Everything That Moves DealBreaker

Investors Who Bought Foreclosed Homes in Bulk Look to Sell New York Times

How to become super, super wealthy CNN (Doug S)

Inequality Is Not Inevitable Joseph Stiglitz, New York Times

Touched By The Tremendum (March 27, 1990) Edge (Chuck L). Republished earlier this week. Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (Nikki). See here for more pix.

Links calico cat butting head with lynx

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Ned Ludd

    From the Risky Business report:

    • By the middle of this century, the average American will likely see 27 to 50 days over 95°F each year—two to more than three times the average annual number of 95°F days we’ve seen over the past 30 years. By the end of this century, this number will likely reach 45 to 96 days over 95°F each year on average.


    • Over the longer term, during portions of the year, extreme heat could surpass the threshold at which the human body can no longer maintain a normal core temperature without air conditioning, which we measure using a “Humid Heat Stroke Index” (HHSI). During these periods, anyone whose job requires them to work outdoors, as well as anyone lacking access to air conditioning, will face severe health risks and potential death.

    Last year’s comment by Liz Hanna, an environmental-health scientist and epidemiologist at the Australian National University, looks increasingly on the mark:

    “Those of us who spend our days trawling – and contributing to – the scientific literature on climate change are becoming increasingly gloomy about the future of human civilisation.”

    1. Ned Ludd


      “Right now, the Northeast is actually rather temperate in the summer, with only 2.6 days over 95°F on average each year—a temperature we refer to throughout our research as ‘extremely hot.’ By mid-century, the average resident in the Northeast will likely see between 4.7 and 16 additional extremely hot days; by late century this range will likely jump to between 17 and 59 additional extremely hot days, or up to two additional months of extreme heat.”


      “On our current path, by the end of the century, the average Midwesterner can expect to experience 2 days in a typical year when the heat and humidity are so high that it will be unsafe to remain outdoors. […] [B]y the middle of the next century, she or he can expect to experience 20 full days in a typical year… during which it will be functionally impossible to be outdoors.”


      “[B]y the end of the century, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho could well have more days above 95°F each year than there are currently in Texas.”

      On page 30 of the report, maps show “Days per year when the heat and humidity could be so high that it will be unsafe for humans to remain outdoors”. It will be safer to spend time outside in West Texas than to spend time outside in Seattle or New England.

    2. craazyman

      what about all the people who won’t freeze to death when winter warms up? Do they count?

      I guess if you survive the winter, though, the summer will kill you — if you go outside.

      That’s one more reason to lay around inside, on the floor or couch, and waste time. Not that we’re short on reasons but sometimes you feel an urge to push yourself into action, and then it’s good to have a new tool for rationalizing. “It’s too hot !!!!”

    3. mark

      “The searing August heat claimed about 7000 lives in Germany, nearly 4200 lives in both Spain and Italy. Over 2000 people died in the UK, with the country recording is first ever temperature over 100° Fahrenheit on 10th August.”

      At least 35,000 people died as a result of the record heatwave that scorched Europe in August 2003, says an environmental think tank earth policy institute.”

      New Scientist, 2003.

    1. Roger Bigod

      I’m not going to bother taking any of those drugs McKenna talks about. They would just make me more the way I am anyway.

  2. abynormal

    re, Future Heat & Humidity: how about the Present. ive lived in Hotlanta off n on all my life and pretty much acclimated to humidity levels the same as the temperature, At Times. This year is the worst ive experienced except a few weeks 4 or 5yrs ago. i walk 3 to 5 miles daily and the humidity is so oppressive here i have to walk 3 or 4 times a day. when i return home i deal with something the author left out of the article…Mold. i smell it all the time wherever i go. our utility bills have gone up at least 22% yoy for the past 3yrs. recently our bills have risen qtrly. due to TWO new nuclear plants, thanks Obama for fast tracking. running dehumidifier’s & AC are not in many peoples budget! and one more ‘fallout’ from humidity levels higher than our temperatures…our Trees are yellowing. everyday i notice as many dead leaves on the ground as id see on an early fall day. looking out my window now, different types of trees are sporting yellow patches. ive had too many recent conversations with family members and neighbors about morning headaches, stronger than usual arthritis pains/old injuries, sleep deprivation and sinus infections. from boots on the ground, Climate Has Changed and with parse available Healthcare, rabid inflation/Austerity and Am. Industries gone wild…the human fallout won’t take 100 or so years to surface.

    “Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, weather, and their own content.”
    Paul Valéry (jeez where’s my head My Books My Books…to heck w/family n friends’)

    1. AllanW

      abynormal I’m trying not to sound too snarky with this but you need to put two of your own comments side-by-side and understand them a little better IMO.

      1. ” ive lived in Hotlanta off n on all my life”

      2. “Climate Has Changed”

      You are right with both of these comments but you now need to understand what adaptation can mean. If you can’t ameliorate your immediate environment (and it sounds like you’ve been trying really hard to do that) then you should consider changing where you live to somewhere more congenial.

      Maybe if enough people take these decisions the pressure for social leaders to address the problems will increase past the point at which ‘do nothing’ becomes untenable.

      1. abynormal

        1. Atlanta has been a transient city pre-civil war…no ones left but have they address the problems up north or west where the transients came from?

        2. Got Money. Cause that’s what it’ll take to ‘escape’.

          1. Bunk McNulty

            As a matter of fact, after 10 years in North Carolina, we’ve moved back to Massachusetts. We’d rather shovel snow than live in Art Pope Land. The North Carolina we knew 10 years ago is being destroyed, more quickly than we’d ever imagined.

            1. Carolinian

              You left because of Art Pope and not Jesse Helms? But I guess he was before your time

              These days the western North Carolina mtns are full of northern retirees and Florida “bouncebacks.” Strangely that hasn’t made the state more liberal but it has raised the tone…golf courses rather than rusty cars and Nehi signs.

              Upstate SC is much the same: horse property and McMansions replacing peach orchards and cornfields. Some of those peach orchards were owned by my grandfather.

              Not that we are more liberal either…just the opposite. As SC native Steve Colbert says, the most fictional aspect of House of Cards is that Frank Underwood–supposedly from nearby Gaffney–would be a Democrat.

              However that giant peach water tower is real.

              1. MtnLife

                Gaffney? I spent 3 months in that area one summer doing an internship. Really beautiful area. Hot as hell and I couldn’t live there if you paid me. Nice to visit though. Lots of great history in the area.

      2. HotFlash

        Yes, there will be climate refugees, and it won’t be pretty. Because somebody is already there.

        1. diptherio

          Heck, I even saw a bumper sticker in my own little backwoods-burg the other day that said: “Montana is full, go home.”

          I’m pretty sure we would make room for aby and company though.

      3. Ned Ludd

        Apparently, even some members of the ruling class are getting a bit worried. These are the co-chairs of the project that released the report:

        Michael R. Bloomberg, founder, Bloomberg Philanthropies; 108th Mayor of the City of New York; founder, Bloomberg L.P.
        Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Chairman of the Paulson Institute; former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
        Thomas F. Steyer, retired founder, Farallon Capital Management LLC

        And Robert E. Rubin is one of the project’s committee members.

    2. Ned Ludd

      The full report talks about the Humid Heat Stroke Index, or HHSI.

      The human body’s capacity to cool down in the hottest weather depends on our ability to sweat, and to have that sweat evaporate on our skin. Sweat keeps the skin temperature below 95°F, which is required for our core temperature to stay around 98.6°F. But if the outside temperature is a combination of very hot and very humid—if it reaches a HHSI of about 95°F—our sweat cannot evaporate, and our core body temperature can rise until we actually collapse from heat stroke. Even at an HHSI of 92°F, core body temperatures can get close to 104°F, which is the body’s absolute limit. […]

      The only place in the world that has ever reached the unbearable HHSI of 95°F was Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 2003 (outside temperature of 108°F, dew point of 95°F). Our research shows that if we continue on our current path, the average Midwesterner could see an HHSI at the dangerous level of 95°F two days every year by late century, and that by the middle of the next century, she or he can expect to experience 20 full days in a typical year of HHSI over 95°F, during which it will be functionally impossible to be outdoors.

  3. David Lentini

    Today’s “Must Read”

    Sorry, but was I supposed to drop my tab before or after I started reading this piece? Or is that too much linear thinking? Otherwise, the whole article was just a bad trip for me. OH GOD! HERE COMES ANOTHER FLASH BACK! AHHHHH!


    1. diptherio

      “If you read the story of Genesis carefully, it is clearly the story of a drug bust.”

      That’s why I love Terrence. He’s way, waaaaay out there sometimes, but he will make you think, if you’re predisposed to that kind of thing. And there’s something so soothing about listening to him–his cadence and his nasally sing-song. Definitely one of my favorite speakers. Quite a shock to see him showing up on NC though, I have to say.

      1. MtnLife

        Only somewhat shocking to see a Terrence piece here. Shocking in that it doesn’t really fit into the general theme of articles here. Not shocking, in that, seeing the amount of free thinking around here I wouldn’t be surprised to see hallucinogen experimentation rates substantially higher than the average population. Hallucinogens do a fantastic job of removing your social programming and blinders to alternative avenues of thought. They can also reveal your true place in the world and how you are not some individual entity, but a small portion of a whole. You are no more individual and independent than cells in your body. Psychedelics are wonderful for shrinking the ego that restricts our intellectual and spiritual growth and restores our childlike sense of curiosity, wonder, and awe.

        1. diptherio

          Yup and yup. I’m only shocked because psychedelia hasn’t been a topic around here much. See my reply to Banger below for my thoughts on the benefits of psychedelics (and personal growth practices in general).

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Oh, psychedelics are the only drugs that strike me as interesting…but there are all those legal issues.

            Plus this is very much on topic for NC! Terrence argues that psychedelics are anti-narcissistic! So maybe rather than pitchforks, we just need to figure out how to get some LSD into the drinks of all of the Forbes 400. But then again, they didn’t seem to have a lasting impact on Steve Jobs.

      2. trish

        yes, he will make you think. for a while. I will grant him that. I’m still thinking about it, nodding to some parts, arguing with it, in my head, between patrons this morning…and I haven’t even had a chance to finished it.
        An odd must read…except except…it totally turns up the soil to look anew at issues we’re daily inundated with, the big picture. at least for me. and I love that.
        and the genesis story as drug bust. that is great.

      3. TimR

        Yes, very soothing… perhaps he’s a pied-piper? One must wonder about smooth-talking “counter-culture” icons and gurus.. Who pays the piper..

        Jan Irvin at has been doing a lot of research about the 60s counterculture and how so many of its heroes were manufactured by the CIA. I haven’t dug into the stuff far enough or thoroughly enough.. But I would not take a Terrence McKenna on face value. I would want to be mighty sure he isn’t just part of some elite agenda (maybe linked to the Huxleys and Fabian society, that sort of thing. I seem to recall soemthing along those lines from one of Irvin’s interviews.)

        Dave McGowan has just written a book about Laurel Canyon, the “scene” of the birth of most of the big 60s rock gods and goddesses and music acts.. that exposes how manipulated much of that was. Why? Well, look at the world we’re entering… Maybe “it” worked. In any event, McGowan raises a lot of questions. It’s a stranger world than many realize, and that is precisely why such mass manipulations are possible… It’s like the Big Lie, people don’t dream anyone would be capable of such Machiavellian schemes.

  4. diptherio

    Moyers’ headline writer manages to rip-off not one, but two, of Al Franken’s book titles:
    Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot (and other observations) and Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Quite the feat.

    1. scraping_by

      When you assume your audience knows the source, it’s called ‘referencing’ not ripping off. A word game for English majors, especially when done for humor. This one, not so funny.

      1. diptherio

        Oh, I’m not even sure that it’s not just a coincidence. I wouldn’t be surprised if whoever wrote the headline is young enough to not even remember Stuart Smalley…

    2. diptherio

      This statement from Richard Nixon sounds pretty factual to me:

      “For us to have intervened [in Chile] – intervened in a free election and to have turned it around – I think would have had repercussions all over Latin America…”

      We did and it did–no lie there.

    3. McMike

      I was curious about the Obama-ACA item.

      Was his statement actually a lie, a whopper in fact? Or, was it an assertion that there is nothing inherently in ACA that pushes you out of your policies, which turned out to be unfounded when the insurers used ACA as an excuse to throw a hand grenade into their old policy portfolio?

      It’s not like he was making this statement when there was some direct provision to the contrary in the law. THAT’S a whopper.

      I am not saying the line was truthful per se – he probably knew or should have known better – but I gotta believe there are better pants-on-fire rated lies than that.

      1. MtnLife

        Half truths everywhere. First, calling what those people lost “health insurance” is a bit of a misnomer. What they lost was more or less a medical/prescription discount plan (pay premiums to save roughly 15% – but off of whose cost structure?). Second, Obama’s researchers should have known these “plans” existed and would be nullified by mandates in coverage. Failure/ineptitude/lack of caring on PR/research team for team blue, knowing full well team red would harp on it. Or maybe that was the plan… either way, not really a “whopper” when compared to those others.

        1. roadrider

          First, calling what those people lost “health insurance” is a bit of a misnomer

          I had a perfectly good employer plan that was replaced specifically and only because of Obummercare rules and replaced with a policy that does not cover anything the old policy didn’t and has more, and in some cases higher co-pays.The real kicker, and most likely the reason this Obummer/Dem-facilitated switcheroo occurred is that under Obummercare regulations pertaining to small employers group rates can be replaced by individual age-based rates.

          Since I was participating through COBRA and had been paying the premiums myself my rates doubled to more than $850/month. Since I’m unemployed I had to drop the coverage. Yes, my COBRA coverage would have eventually expired but not for eight more months. Furthermore, I received only two weeks notice of this change (apparently Obummer and the Dems are fine with this too) . Why is this a big deal? I am currently receiving treatment for two serious illnesses and eight more months under the old plan would have been very useful. As it stands I had to go on Medicaid, my only option under Obummercare since open enrollment had already ended when this change took place and this change does not qualify as a “life event” under Obummercare regulations. Even if I could have been eligible to purchase one of the craptastic, junk insurance policies sold on my state’s dysfunctional and now abandoned exchange I would have been worse off financially than if I had paid the extortionate COBRA premiums because of the premiums, deductibles and co-insurance that goes along with the Obummercare plans and my current and real need for expensive treatments,

          I have also had to drop my PCP and one of the specialists I had been seeing because they do not accept any of the Medicaid plans in my state. In addition, I may have to obtain referrals for the specialists I can continue to keep seeing (and this is not guaranteed) and possibly substitute medications for ones I have been taking for years but are not included in the Medicaid formulary.

          So its not the case that all of the excluded policies were worthless and all the new policies are better. Having to change coverage, doctors and medications is an enormous deal for some of us and we have not been well served by the craptastic, Rube Goldberg piece of of corporatist shit that is Obummercare or the high-handed, clueless and insensitive policies of the lying Reaganite, corporate whore Obummer and his Dem acolytes.

          1. MtnLife

            I had a perfectly good employer plan that was replaced specifically and only because of Obummercare rules and replaced with a policy that does not cover anything the old policy didn’t and has more, and in some cases higher co-pays.

            So in other words, you have the exact same policy with different reimbursement rates. I am not trying to make light of your situation. I too sit without coverage due to ridiculous premiums and deductibles. However, these things change quite often and I’m sure you can expect more coming. There’s this little thing called “captive markets”. Think buying gas in Alaska: it is both extracted and refined there, transport costs are minimal due to pipeline, and yet the cost is still higher than anywhere else in the US except Hawaii. Why? Because they can.

  5. Frances

    Yves, thank you for including the link to this study of an EU subsidy and its consequences: “The Darkside of the Italian Tomato”

    “The invisible ones of the harvest” number in the thousands throughout southern Italy. Almost all of them have no papers, and they’ll do anything to work. “Not even in Africa have I seen people living in such conditions,” protests Yvan Sagnet, a Cameroonian student who in 2010 organised the first strike by seasonal workers in the fields of Puglia. He now works for CGIL, the main Italian union, defending the rights of these migrant seasonal workers.

    Italy, the third largest agricultural producer after France and Germany, vies with Spain for first place in the production of vegetables. In the past 10 years, Italy has produced an average of 6 million tonnes of tomatoes per year (FAOSTAT). According to FAO, the exportation of concentrated Italian tomatoes was facilitated in 2001 by a reimbursement by the EU of 45 euros ($61) for every tonne of product exported (FAO). But that’s not all. Overall, according to Oxfam, the EU subsidises tomato production to the tune of approximately 34.5 euros ($47) per tonne, a subsidy that covers 65% of the market price of the final product (Oxfam).

    But who in Brussels is aware of the paradox of subsidising an export product that dumps on local produce in Africa?

    1. McMike

      Hey, if we can crush the Latin American peasant farmers with our subsidized “free trade” products, why shouldn’t the EU crush African peasant farmers?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The only sane and sustainable solution to any immigration problem is to stop impoverishing vulnerable countries (too many to list).

        When they regain their independence and are again (or for the very first time) free from imperial/quasi-imperial/vicarious-imperial military/commercial/financial/monetary threats, the problem will resolve itself.

        1. McMike

          Your premise is that immigration is a problem.

          From the perspective of the elite, it is a goal.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            You have a valid point.

            Let me revise it to:

            The only sane and sustainable response to the elite’s immigration goal is…

  6. Banger

    I love T. McKenna and his work–I don’t agree with him in many ways but his is a gift that keeps on giving. I think he misreads human history and the critical nature of psychedelics but, by God, at least he has bothered to do the explorations that most of us have ignored and continue to ignore and he is discussing critical ideas that most intellectuals completely ignore:

    We have an absolute obsession with the alteration of consciousness. I believe it’s because we are in a state of … I don’t know … call it trauma, denial. We, as a species, are the victims of a dysfunctional childhood. We were torn from that which gave life meaning by climatological and cultural factors which forced us then into the nightmare of history. It is from that nightmare that we must awaken or the lethal momentum of egocentrism is going to shove us right over the edge.

    I don’t think McKenna is right about his general view of history–in fact “history” is a very small slice of the reality of what people actually lived like–it’s a thin slice of war and conflict that erupted from time to time and should not be taken too seriously–until we get to relatively modern times when all of mankind was forced into the uncomfortable shoe of history perhaps starting with the Enclosure movement and its equivalent throughout the world which entails the commodification of everything for the express purpose of control, control, control. Having said that there’s a strong element of truth in McKenna’s view of humanity we need to take hold of.

    Our current culture is one that features denial almost more than at any time in history. Never has conventional wisdom been as divorced from reality even that easily found using strict logic and laws of evidence let alone higher levels of reality. We are living unnatural where we use technology to make sure we live as isolated (within our own egos) lives as possible (brought to us by the corporate oligarchs we love to hate but support in every other way). Why? Because of our egos which are a result of radical distrust not only of others but our own being. We do physical exercise, usually, not for the joy of movement but to have a buff-body or “improve” our health as if health was something real–it isn’t really–the totality of who we are is real–what may be “health” for some is disease for others.

    Psychedelics are severely repressed by the State because the State knows they are highly dangerous to this regime that is strangling us. It isn’t just the oligarchy that is strangling us because they are being strangled by the mentality of this State which operates as a supreme anti-Christ–the rich are, in a sense, demon possessed by their own insatiable egos as representatives of the Big Ego. Most of them live lives that are deeply dishonorable and shameful if we lived in a society of real human beings who understood connection.The rich are poor souls wandering about like Jacob Marley gaining power and riches and accumulating more and more weight they have to drag about.

    Psychedelics are a way to explode the ego and the ego’s view of the world. Many of us but, in the end we must make those connections and, and here is the critical part, we need to be around people who want to make those connections so that after the drug has worn off something can continue other than “coming down” and business as usual. Most people that take psychedelics never get very far beyond the drug experience and/or are never around people who encourage that sense of connection. Despite many people taking these drugs since the 1950s we are still building monuments to egos and dissociating even more from reality and the connection that must exist before we can tackle the problems we face which, under the current ethic we operate under CANNOT be solved of effectively dealt with.

    Psychedelics can offer a hint and perhaps, as McKenna noted, in low doses we might be able to get somewhere. But these drugs are still, mainly, forbidden and the State is still taking active measures against using plants that contain DMT, at least in the state I live in. For me, the essence of the psychedelic experience is close and when my ego is distracted or I’m actively giving of myself something clicks that feels right–I’m connected and in the flow and I can see the state that psychedelics hint at. The State and the mentality behind it needs to be dissolved and it’s obsession with keeping us from creative visions is one very important reason why we should seek the demise of it’s regime–which is really kind of a mirror of our own ego isn’t it? Control, control, me, me, mine, mine, will drive us over the edge and is driving us over the edge as I write this.

      1. Banger

        Great article, thanks. I think it is the fear of pitchforks that is motivating the national security state to try and create the Orwellian state they are preparing for us.

    1. diptherio

      The benefit of psychedelics, if used with proper attention to dosage, set and setting, is, as Terrence says, to dissolve ego-boundries. In the dissolving of the boundry one becomes (or can become) aware, on an existential level (not merely intellectual or philosophical), of one’s unity with all things. But as you point out, Banger, eventually one comes down, and one’s ego-boundries reform and re-harden. The immediate feeling of unity goes away and only the memory of the feeling remains–a memory that all too often slips away like sand through fingers.

      The trick is hold onto that memory–to that knowledge–to know that despite the fact that one is not currently feeling the unity of all things, that that unity nonetheless still exists (just as one knows that radio transmissions are flying through the air all the time, even if one doesn’t have a radio handy to listen to them). That knowledge then, the knowledge of unity (which is only truly understandable existentially), must become an element in one’s behavior and interactions with the world. That knowledge must inform and guide one’s subsequent interactions with the world and its other inhabitants. If it does not, the trip has been wasted–the thread has been lost.

      Of course, psychedelics are not the only way to achieve an existential knowledge of unity, but they are quick and to the point. Other methods include ritual and extreme physical exertion, both of which have worked for me at various times. The existential flashes I have gotten from these other methods, while quite as powerful as psychedelic trips, are also rather short-lived and tend to happen at random times. Psychedelics have the benefits of lasting longer and being schedule-izable. However one achieves the knowledge of union, whether through biochemical or other means, the problem is always the same: incorporation. Plenty of people get a taste of samadhi doing vipasana or yoga, but just like with so many trippers they come back to their normal state and go, Wow, that was cool! Far-out man!, and then proceed with their lives in exactly the same way as before.

      If your knowledge–your philosophy, your religion, your personal experiences of a larger reality–do not have actual effects on how you live your life, they are worthless. They are worse than worthless because people think that holding an idea in their heads is the same thing as living it out in reality, and so their knowledge fails to change reality because they fail to act on their knowledge (which means they never really had it in the first place). If your philosophy doesn’t effect the way you live, it is merely mental masturbation. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but like physical masturbation, it’s not something a person should be doing in public.

      1. Banger

        When the culture is fundamentally hostile to a culture of connection assimilation of non-ordinary states of consciousness is almost impossible. Most of think that our failure in really living out the insights gained for these states is somehow “our fault.” No, it’s not–the fact we persist in it is heroic and, perhaps, the most revolutionary thing we can do even if we end up mumbling on a street corner somewhere or living in a chicken shack in Arkansas. We definitely don’t need more intelligent people coming out of school ready to “work” on what is, essentially, a chain gang.

        I have always thought that the first job we need to do is create a friendly social milieu wherever we can–but we have to work on the assumption that even the most well-meaning people we know are, deep down, frightened to death of living in such a society. They often prefer the security of coercion, defensiveness and ego. On the other hand, we also know that it is almost everyone’s heart desire to connect and to feel the feeling of being “high.” Paradox is a central aspect of all-that-is.

        1. diptherio

          I agree that creating a “friendly social milieu” is of utmost importance. Without such a milieu, where will solidarity have a chance to root itself? However, I don’t think it is this milieu or a more social society that people fear, so much as it is the unspoken assumption that creating such a society would entail the diminishment of their standard of living. Because most people assume (despite all evidence) that their happiness is intimately connected to their material conditions and disposable income, and because people assume that more equality equals less stuff for them, they fear what they imagine to be the prerequisites to achieving such as society. The reality is that our standards and modes of living in such a society would be different, but they needn’t be worse or objectively lower. But the fear remains, and so people go to their meditation retreats, or their Sunday services, and then return to their normal lives and act just like everybody else–unchanged, unredeemed (but now with the feeling that they’re being “spiritual”…ugh).

          It is true that our entire culture is set up to keep us separate, fearful, and constantly consuming, but counteracting these tendencies is possible and, while difficult, contingent upon all of us (well, at least on anyone who is actually concerned with these sorts of things). As I heard at a UU “sermon” once: it is not your duty to save the world, but neither are you relieved of your obligation to work towards that end. Too many people believe (wrongly) that working towards that end will either 1) require too much of them, so they do nothing, or; 2) not require all that much of them, so they do the minimum to feel good about themselves and otherwise continue in their American, consumerist lifestyle. That’s a blunt way of putting it, but that’s been my experience.

          Fear, I think, somehow lies at the bottom of all of it, and that is another notable effect of psychedelic experience: the removal of fear.

      2. MikeNY

        Great comment, Dip.

        There are forms of knowing that are dependent upon being; i.e., they are not antiseptic or purely instrumental, but involve the emotions, man’s heart or soul. They require you *to change the way you live*. This is the truth of the mystics.

        I’ve done pyschedelics, too, but I gotta say, reading the mystics sticks with me longer… I guess I can remember the trip better.

        1. diptherio

          Yeah, that is another way, and one that I’ve indulged in much more often than the entheogens. Martin Buber suggests the practice of reading some piece of ethical or moral-philosophical work every day, so that the ideas start to seep in and effect you subconsciously (that last part is my own take). It’s good practice. Idries Shah is good. Buber is good (the Hasidic stories), the Bhagavad Gita and the Sermon on the Mount are good. Shantideva and Lao Tzu are good. So much to choose from…

          The mystics try to wrap up in words what the experience means, and this is definitely useful. But I have found that there is no substitute for direct experience, and if, like Terrence, the more “right-hand path” methods of meditation and ritual aren’t doing it for you, I think you could do a lot worse than go to a comfortable place, do a little personally meaningful ritual and eat a couple grams of caps. If you set your intent on “inter-dimensional information smuggling” (as Dale Pendell calls it) from the get go, it makes it much easier to retain the relevant bits of knowledge after the trip is over. Pendell is the best reference (in my mind) for making effective use of “the poison path.” His Pharmako/Gnosis, Pharmako/Poeia, and Pharmako/Dynamis series is a must-have for any serious explorer in these domains (which I am not, really…just a past dabbler).

          To truly grok the mystics, I think, you need to have the experience, although that may just be my own bias. The author of Zen Flesh, Zen Bone, iirc, never had a satori experience, despite decades of dedicated meditation. He stressed in his book that the direct experience of unity was not necessary for a deep and transformative understanding of…well, of that thing they’re all writing about and trying to wrap up in words ;-)

          1. MtnLife

            I’m a huge fan of the Bhagavad Gita and Lao Tzu. I’ll have to look into the others. Thanks for the info!

          2. MikeNY

            ITA about needing to have the experience, otherwise I don’t think it makes sense. Beauty is a way, natural and the arts — Rumi was particularly fond of music. I find Bach sublime. There’s dancing (the Sufis). There’s meditation / contemplation. There’s fasting (I guess, I own I’ve not tried it!) Psychedelics. And of course there’s great love — and great loss.

            I think Whitman and Wittgenstein are firmly in this camp of thinkers. And of course, SK.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          For me, it’s about the journey to satori and not the destination of satori.

          An insight may come unannounced, not on the schedule; it may be of various lengths. When it comes, we accept it; when it doesn’t, we do no good to crave for it…only acceptance, no discrimination of having it or not having it.


      3. MtnLife

        I am in total concordance on the methods of reaching “IT” (call it God, the universal consciousness, the One, whatever). I don’t consider myself religious at all but very spiritual. Some people like ritual, church works wonderful for them. Drugs are, as you mentioned, the quick and easy route but often lack true depth do to the limited amount of time they allow your consciousness to expand. Yoga and meditation, not in some fitness club but in an alpine meadow 10,000 ft up and 30 miles from paved roads, has been the most effective way to tap in most directly. I view psychedelics almost as a phone call with It/God, you learn a lot of truths but rarely do you FEEL it. It’s like a teaser/trailer for the main event and good preparation for your journey forward. The yoga was like a mosquito going in for a small sip and hitting an artery. I can only liken it to someone’s imagination of being in the presence of “God”. The energy washed my soul to the very core. I am not ashamed to say I cried both during the experience and immediately after losing it. The Christians may have something when they say hell is just the absence of a connection to God. I do not know how people can be exposed to this feeling, whether through religion, drugs, exertion, meditation, or yoga, and NOT seek to incorporate it into their daily life. Unless it is just plain fear of that much power and truth which, given our society’s habit to bury its head in the face of unpleasantness, is probably the most correct answer.

        1. MikeNY

          I like what you say. It reminds me of this from Whitman, who clearly had the experience you write of:

          “What behaved well in the past or behaves well today, is not such a wonder / The wonder is always and always how there can be a mean man or an infidel.”

        2. diptherio

          It is written in the Upanishads that “the experience of yoga comes…and then it goes…and then the seeker must remain watchful.”

          One pitfall to be avoided however, and I would be remiss not to mention it in this context, is the chasing after experience, the desire to feel that “high” over and over again, that can be just as damaging as any other type of addiction. Even if it doesn’t lead to you abandoning your life to seek the eternal high like some kind of spiritual junkie, it will keep a person from developing in more important ways. The thought process goes something like: this yoga class/meditation retreat/whatever really makes me feel connected and blissful, it must really be working! I’m becoming more spiritual! The same person will then turn around and spend $20,000 on a personal vehicle while telling you how they’ve been meditating on easing the suffering of all sentient beings. It’s little more than spiritual materialism, for many. I see it all the time.

          Charlatans of all types have preyed on this tendency in people for millennia (at least). Create the situation for people to have a powerful emotional/psychic release and then tell them: “that’s God! and he wants you to give me money!” And people do, because they want that feeling again, and they’ll pay dearly for it if necessary. Scientology has got this down to a science…

          1. MtnLife

            I don’t think I could function at that full volume experience. I try to work small levels into daily life. The best part was NOT paying for the experience. I was uhm…. Home…. at a Family Gathering. ;-) I don’t think money, in any way, is a path to spirituality. You can’t pay gurus to teach you what you aren’t willing to learn, understand, and accept. Chasing highs of all types tend to end badly for most people. They tend to minimize the risk involved. Although in the range of things, I’d rather see people chase a spiritual high than say, a heroin one.

        3. TimR

          As I said recently here, Morris Berman’s book _Wandering God_ puts a lot in perspective.. Examining Hunter-Gatherers, shows us clearly all the neuroses that Civilization creates.. He claims that HGs mostly were not “religious” in our sense.. They were non-hierarchical, and did not seek after ecstatic religious experience.. Experience of daily life, the forest, nature, ordinary things, was “religion” for them….

  7. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: ‘Prize-linked’ accounts offer cash prizes as incentive to save McClatchy

    Since this idea checks all the requisite stupidity boxes, I’d say it definitely achieves the holy grail of “innovative” status as currently defined. (In the same way that the the $100 plus monthly fee dog heart rate monitor/pedometer does.)

    Call me a Luddite if you must, but I still think that compounding INTEREST, which used to be a key component of the “savings” concept, represents an adequate and even compelling “incentive” to “save.” Come to think of it, the idea of banks actually EARNING the money they play with by paying INTEREST on deposits is currently so revolutionary that it too might be considered “innovative.” In a Luddite sort of way.

    And since when are CDs considered “liquid?” I guess they can be, if the penalty part is in fine enough print and buried deep in the paperwork that everybody pretends to have read when they sign the “contract.”

    But, but….who thinks about “interest” when you could win a “prize?”

    1. Howard Beale IV

      CD’s can be liquidated fairly easily-you’ll just have to take the hit on the early withdrawal penalty. But at least you can walk out of the bank with your cash should you decide to close your CD’s out and not keep it in the bank.

  8. Jim Haygood

    From the Reuters article linking a probable Argentine default to rising food prices:

    “The peso is not stable, it does not make sense to sell much of what we produce because you cannot buy anything worthwhile with the money,” farmer Carlos Novecourt said. “If we can trade grain for fertilizer or agro-chemicals or whatever, that’s what we do.”

    Argentine growers are paid in local currency for their crops, and are kept from converting their pesos into U.S. dollars by government-imposed currency controls.

    A sovereign default could increase interest rates, pressuring farmers already ailing from 30 percent annual inflation and interventionist government trade policies that make doing business difficult.


    With Argentine inflation currently pegged at 40.8% by, farmers have no incentive to sell crops for cash that will lose 30% of its value by next spring, when instead they can hold beans to preserve their purchasing power. The farmers would happily hold dollars, but the government won’t let them.

    Thus one of the world’s great breadbaskets limps along at partial capacity owing to ‘interventionist government trade policies that make doing business difficult,’ as Reuters drily puts it.

    Not just any idiot could make growing grain in the pampas into a losing proposition. You need a PhD Econ from UBA (University of Buenos Aires), like Marxist economic minister Axel Kicillof has, to create such a monstrous swath of destruction.

    And let’s not overlook the destabilizing role of former Argentine central bank governor Mercedes Marcó del Pont, who hit a double with econ degrees from both UBA and Yale. Under an ironic NC headline of ‘World’s Worst Central Banker,’ our Randy Wray memorably excogitated on 5 Oct 2012 that:

    ‘Inflation will come down quickly. Prices are up mostly due to global speculation in commodities. Presto-Change-O, Governor Marco del Pont’s main thorn in the side disappears.’

    In fact, it was governor Marcó del Pont who disappeared, and inflation has accelerated dramatically. But who knows — a fresh default is a clean slate.

  9. Garrett Pace

    The “don’t judge me for being childless” article starts off with a whopper: “There are some hardy dissidents in this, the Age of the Child.”

    What makes this the age of the child? Certainly not having children, which people don’t actually do in the western world anymore. Is it parents’ smugness? Lack of legislation fobidding discrimination against the childless? (any woman brave enough to tell a job interviewer she has kids gets the opposite reaction) Author mentions welfare benefits for children. These should be done away with, then? Let the kids get jobs like the rest of us?

    From this unsupported premise, things go downhill:
    “If elective childlessness were inherently anti-social – and if it kept attracting more and more adherents as a lifestyle – then by definition our civic culture would be doomed. Society would become, to use the English title of Houellebecq’s most famous novel, atomised.”

    Author reflexively assumes that isn’t exactly what’s happening right now. Goes on:

    “But what if this malign judgment of childlessness is not just mistaken but the outright opposite of the truth? Stewart’s provocative case for a less child-centred society is that it may actually allow for more, not less, commitment to the public realm. “People who might once have been public figures, deeply invested in their work, are instead busy serving their children”

    As opposed to what? What period of history did ordinary people set aside the monotonous burdens of childrearing to focus on their civic duty? If this actually happened, we’d have the most civic-oriented, vibrant, well-managed polity in the history of the world right now.

    In my observations and experience, modern life is fundamentally hostile to children.

    And this:
    “The ancient Greeks had the same worry, that reproduction dangerously narrowed a man’s obligations from serving the demos to serving only his family. It is why they saw a kind of civic virtue in homosexuality.”

    SOURCES PLEASE. From everything I’ve ever learned, “homosexuality” is not a term the Greeks would have known or approved.

    1. Garrett Pace

      This deserves comment too:

      “In fact, those who disavow the nuclear family expose themselves to the world in all its sumptuous pleasures – and its harshest vicissitudes. It is a kind of enhanced reality. Going childfree is not a frigid denial of life, it is the ultimate immersion in life.”

      Let me just point out that most every person with children knows what it’s like to not have and raise children, particularly since (these days at least) they typically go a long period of adulthood before having children. They know this “ultimate immersion in life” too, whatever that is.

      1. Inverness

        Both those with and without children often come off as quite solipsistic in these kind of stories. As someone without children, I have felt uncomfortable at times confronted with very enthusiastic parents who try to convince me that I’m missing out. However, I’ve also met at least as many who understand my choice, and defend it.

        I don’t see the child-free as facing much discrimination, outside of those who hope to have careers in politics. Frankly, I’ll never be governor of New York, so the question of discrimination is irrelevant to me. Certainly, I would never claim to have faced discrimination.

        1. Garrett Pace

          The “you have no idea how great it is to have kids” conversation is about the same as “you have no idea how great drugs are”. The scenario is presumptive of inequal experience between the conversants.

          While perhaps someone with the mental acuity of Mr. Ganesh can “get” parenthood just by holding a friend’s newborn, most parents would probably agree with me that you really don’t know what kids are all about until after you’ve made a very expensive, time intensive and emotionally draining decades-long commitment to another human being. And then absent extraordinary measures it’s too late to second guess.

          (this is in contrast to drugs, though of course many people don’t truly appreciate the tobacco experience until they find themselves in a lifelong relationship with it)

          In an era of family planning, evaporating moral imperatives, and relentless economic pressure, no wonder many people are hesitant to do it.

          1. kareninca

            Many, many years ago, my father (a now retired social psych prof)(who was not pushing parenthood) told me that people who have children, grow up in ways that childless people never do. I am now age 50, and I think he was utterly right, and his information was one of the (many) reasons I decided not to have kids, and I have no regrets whatsoever.

            You may be right that someone without kids cannot picture the joys of parenthood (they haven’t had the parental hormonal surge, for one thing). But I am certain that I can picture the fear and horror and guilt of having a kid and having something go wrong – at least well enough to realize that I don’t want to risk it. So some aspects of parenthood are at least partly accessible to the childless.

            I have felt virtually no pressure to have kids, from anyone. My grandmother’s sister (born just after her parents got off the boat) once said to me, “you should hurry up and have kids.” I said to her, “why should hurry up to do something I don’t want to do?” She seemed to accept that. I am good to her grandkids, anyway.

            My husband and I have babysat twice. Both times it was exceedingly boring and exhausting, even though the kids were nice kids. When the parents came back, they said to us, “doesn’t this make you want to have kids?” I’m afraid that our responses were honest. Teenagers are okay; I like hanging out with teenagers well enough; the appeal of little kids eludes me.

            And the disapproval part? Years ago (another vivid memory) my husband told me, “Disapproval is usually envy.” That precept made a lot of things suddenly make sense, and got rid of a lot of my own disapproval, haha. I know a woman who has four kids; she had for years given every sign of thinking that people envied her for this (she is highly competitive). But then I guess she saw that wasn’t so. In great irritation, she told me that she thought that all people should be FORCED to have several kids. I gave her a quick kindly hug, and went home and giggled immaturely.

        2. McMike

          I have children and honor people’s choices on this matter. (After all, some people who decide TO have children are not exactly making an informed or wise choice, so it’s not like that earns an automatic halo). In fact I honor most any thoughtful and deliberate choice people make for themselves.

          I can also imagine that choosing to be childless can, in certain social/cultural settings, leave one feeling like a cigarette smokers standing outside an office building alley in the rain.

          That said (and offered merely as a data point), some close childless-by-choice friends (“CBC” is their word), recently confided to me after a few drinks a bit of longing, regret perhaps. Not sure exactly. But it eventually took the form of an expressed desire to be more actively and deliberately involved in the lives of their friends’ kids.

          Which I think is great.

          1. Tim Mason

            The author of the article probably lives in a bubble. Inside this bubble, he meets a lot of a very small, but highly vocal, parental sub-culture, members of which believe that they are saving the world through child-rearing. Much as Leninists – of whom they are in some convoluted way the descendants – would hold that one must dedicate one’s life to the Revolution, so these young people dedicate their existence to the construction of the New Man and the New Woman. They believe in co-sleeping, in what they call ‘unconditional parenting,’ in alternative schooling or home-schooling. They also tend to be anti-vaccination, anti-allopathy, highly sensitive to allergens, and to spend much of their time attempting to proselytize and self-confirm. I suspect that they are one of the items that are left upon the beach once the forms and modes of collective action have seeped away.

  10. Andrew Watts

    RE: Iraq makes awkward allies of US enemies

    Allying with Iran/Syria/Hezbollah probably represents the best American option of stopping ISIS from threatening neighboring Jordan and Saudi Arabia. With a base of support in Jordan they’ll be able to threaten Israel. Ironically this action could alienate those client-states it’s trying to protect in the region.

    What kind of Islamic Caliphate wouldn’t include the Muslim holy sites of Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem anyway?

    RE: Fear and loathing at Hotel Babylon

    Not worth reading. The interview that is linked to with a member of ISIS is worth a look though. The answers to the questions provide insight into issues such as how US intelligence could miss the mass movement of ISIS forces from Syria to Iraq. It’s easy to when it never really took place. According to this individual the Syrian cell of ISIS is mostly self-sufficient and independent of the Iraqi branch. Given the wide variation in public estimates of how many ISIS there currently are in Iraq I’m inclined to believe the anonymous ISIS member who’s probably a cell commander.

    It can also be inferred from the interview that ISIS is preparing an assault on Baghdad. Before they advance on the capital it would be wise to clear their rear and flanks of enemy forces…

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘Allying with Iran/Syria/Hezbollah probably represents the best American option of stopping ISIS from threatening neighboring Jordan and Saudi Arabia.’

      Yes, it would be terrible if these brutal dictatorships were threatened.

      They may be bastards … but they’re OUR bastards!

      1. Andrew Watts

        We can kiss the petrodollar and all of it’s privileges goodbye if Saudi Arabia doesn’t stay under the influence of the United States. Oh sadness! How will we ever fund our blossoming empire then?

        “Beijing. Riyadh is on telephone line number one.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We have a duty to protect our Global Fort Knox, in case some people want to cash in their dollars for oil.

    2. Banger

      The US is not interested in stopping ISIL or not stopping them. Washington is divided but mainly it seems to be on ISIL’s side , both in accord with its general policy of chaos in the region to make sure that the international arms trade and employment opportunities for mercenaries continues to prosper. The goal of policy-makers is directly to create an anti-convivial world order filled with violence, distrust, ethnic and religious rivalries and so on and so on. Unless this is grasped none of the stuff going in the ME, Central Asia, or Eastern Europe makes much sense.

      1. Andrew Watts

        No, they are quite uniformly interested in controlling Eurasia. Under no circumstances would Washington consider the potential destabilization of our client-states an ideal outcome. This is contrary to their overall goal.

        Washington was not eager to embrace ISIS/ISIL when it was operating in Syria against Assad. They favored the Free Syrian Army over the other Jihadis groups. The US intelligence community worried that if they supplied the FSA with anti-air/tank weaponry it would fall into the hands of the ISIS/ISIL forces. At least they don’t have to worry about that now. ISIS/ISIL has all kinds of heavy weaponry it needs from the bases/armories it looted in Northern Iraq.

        1. MtnLife

          One of the easiest ways to control Eurasia is to keep things destabilized while being the first person everyone in the conflict runs to for guns, money, food, medicine, etc. Should things there actually begin to have a positive outlook and real democracy (or should I say the real feelings/intentions of the people) takes hold there might be a concerted effort to throw the US out for all of our “help” in liberating their resources. Very similar to how the elite keep the US divided by playing the red/blue divide yet hold up the illusion that they are our saviors.

          AW: ” ISIS/ISIL has all kinds of heavy weaponry it needs from the bases/armories it looted in Northern Iraq”

          Should read: ” ISIS/ISIL has all kinds of heavy weaponry it needs from the ^CIA, having received delivery at^ bases/armories it looted ^they visited while^ in Northern Iraq”
          Fixed that for you. Those hummers and helicopters were FAR too large to smuggle through the Benghazi arms pipeline. This was a much easier route.

        2. susan the other

          Washingtonsblog had a post on the real reasons we are doing this. Basically to create an instability we can control and take advantage of, and no, we don’t want Maliki any more, we want AlQaeda. Pretty nutty. Apparently Al Qaeda will be more inclusive! As if that ever worked in the Middle East. Anybody remember the movie from 2000 by the Russians entitled Papa Luna. About how lunatic the ME oil fiefdoms and would-be fiefdoms are, all zooming around the Caspian crowded up in their jeeps with machine guns and bandoleers and nobody is in control? Great movie. I think they all want to be the soup nazi. And supposedly this reality (Washingtonsblog) was the brain child of the Undead, aka the Neocons? It has been going on forever. The neocons are just pretending they planned it. They’ll just play it like the professional opportunists they are.

          1. Andrew Watts

            Through the Al Nusra/ISIS alliance Al Qaeda is on the same side as ISIS/ISIL. Here’s the chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass on the matter:

            “11 years, 2 administrations, 4500 US lives, & $2Trillion later, #Iraq dominated by #Iran & a terrorist haven. a policy fiasco by any measure” – @RichardHaass

          2. Banger

            If you look at the history since WWII, the U.S. has tended to support Islam-based political movements that are as conservative as possible–this was the case in Egypt to counter Nasserism and has continued to this day, via the Russain/Afghan War out of which Al-qaida grew with deep roots in Saudi and Pakistani intel for sure and, I believe, the CIA as well or at least a part of the CIA. I know they like to keep their hand in everywhere much in the way the FBI sort of colluded with Whitey Bolger which is an amazing story in itself.

            It puzzles me that the fact the Gulf states and Turkey (key U.S. allies in the region) are deeply involved with these groups in the Levant is little noted in the American media. It’s as if ISIL just leapt out of the ground–they never bother to find out who these fighters are or where they come from or how they got in the country or where they get their money and arms–just like they never asked the same thing about the insurgency in Iraq earlier–how do they get away with such nonsense? Well, I know but I like rhetorical questions.

            1. Andrew Watts

              Banger, it’s an epic case of blowback. Turkey just recently cut ties with Al-Nusra designating them a terrorist organization. I have to wonder if Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states didn’t similarly cut whatever covert ties it had with ISIS/ISIL when Prince Bandar was forced out of Saudi intelligence.

              Unfortunately this is an area where all we have is idle speculation. The idea that this is all the product of a CIA operation is ridiculous.

              1. Banger

                Not all a product of CIA machinations but they are and have been deeply involved in the area since the CIA was established. I’m sorry the notion that the CIA does not have major influence in events there is, in fact, absurd. Just trace the history of the Agency and its involvements and its institutional power not just within gov’t but its influence on the media Narrative beginning with Operation Mockingbird and continuing today in a somewhat different form.

        3. Andrew Watts


          The empire doesn’t really benefit from this chaos for reasons I have already expounded on. I’ve read too much about the CIA to consider them first-rate masterminds. Though their level of involvement makes them accomplices at the very least. By the way, a lot of the weaponry they captured was Russian-made.


          Not entirely true. The Free Syrian Army was never going to be more than a minor group when compared to ISIS/ISIL and the Al-Nusra Front. They recently launched joint attacks alongside Al-Nusra on the Syrian-Iraq border in support of ISIS. After this operation Al-Nusra pledged allegiance to ISIS despite their previous animosity. Which really begs the question of how independent FSA is of ISIS among other things.

          1. MtnLife

            First, I’m not saying the CIA is on the ground, giving direct orders to all the players. Think of it more like Stephen King’s book (def not the movie) Needful Things. All you have to do is tweak longstanding tensions with a bit of subtle guidance here and there, wait for the keg to explode, and sell weapons to everybody because no one believes you’ve played them (bonus points for them not coming for you). Which rolls into my second point, I think what you are viewing as “good for the Empire” is only good for the PR face of it. The MIC makes out like bandit with any destabilization and they’ve been pretty much in charge of foreign policy for over half a century. Any destabilization of Jordan would be seen as a threat to Israel, as you mentioned. AIPAC’s power would probably be able to push for boots on the ground, something that is politically unfeasible right now, along with boatloads of weapons. Maybe do another friendly puppet regime change or some more “nation building”. Ditto with Saudi Arabia, any threat there will be felt at the pumps here and there will be a demand for action. Or any of these threats might motivate these countries to “invite our forces in” (with blanket immunity of course) where that would have been politically untenable before as well. If ISIS merely fades away or leaves a half-hearted Sunni rebellion that is easily crushed it is a victory for the previous status quo. We’ve hedged our bets and bet on everybody, sort of like Wall St during presidential campaigns. It isn’t just win/win. It’s like win/win/win/win/win just with different margins on each option. They play a long, deep game.

  11. flora

    re: Why are we so intolerant of the childless?
    Leaving aside any tendencies to resentment, conformity or jealousy of another person’s life:
    It is economically much harder to raise a family now than 20 or 40 years ago. Real wages are falling and prices for medical care, education and housing keep rising. Families, especially young families, are in a terrible pinch. Politicians know this, but instead of enacting decent economic policies they simply offer condescending sound bites and empty promises; they talk about the heroic struggles of hardworking parents to raise their kids (“put food on your families”) and in the next moment enact austerity policies. Quite a bait-and-switch.

  12. Banger

    I barely monitor the mainstream these days–but I happened to take a few minutes if CNN talking heads talking about Iraq. It was nauseating. Almost everyone that appears on those shows is at least a virtual employee or contractor of the national security state or a some a-hole primed by a corporate PR firm.

    The Iraq war was fought chiefly to enrich contractors and serve as a convenient way to pay off a hundred Stars Wars cafe full of mercenaries and gangsters. The official narrative of recent events in Iraq is akin to describing a UFC match by analyzing the meaning of the tats and hairstyles of the combatants.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Watched Bill Maher, Neolibcon O’pologist last night and I don’t know why but I was dumbfounded at the belligerence, the thirst for blood (via we broke it thus we must ‘help’ forever with the exact same policy two Bushes and Clinton Obama did with disastrous results for decades). The refusal of Bill and the liberals on the panel to see their own politics as much of a failure, as violent as any wingnut they constantly harp on, and the ignorance of Bill and his so-called liberal guests on all matters related to US/Iraq was astonishing.

      The very least they could have all said is we don’t know what we are talking about, but go team neolibcon! Drone somebody! We need more red mist. And, quick, somebody punch a Republican.

      I had to imagine them all as mad monkeys in a zoo in order to watch the whole show.

      1. Banger

        Maher is a guy who is very clever, witty, and writes great stuff. But he knows next to nothing about anything that demands a look beneath the surface. He doesn’t understand history and, like many Americans believes that clever quips are a sign of intellectual heft–this how Chris Hitchens became so beloved in the States–all smoke, no fire.

    2. Jackrabbit

      Then why didn’t they go to Baghdad in the first Gulf War? Contractors would have made out well back then too. What changed? The neocons ‘won’ and then consolidated their power.

      Also, in an earlier comment today (see above), you write: “Washington is divided”. Once again, you are being misleading. We have been through this time and time again. There is no evidence that those with real power are divided.

      H O P

      1. Banger

        Bush senior’s staff at that time were of the realist school-Brent Scowcroft, Colin Powell and so on. They sought balance and stability in the region and merely wanted to wound Iraq and encourage Saddam to go along with the Imperial policy. But hubris infected US policy makers particularly after the successful looting of the Soviet Union and the neocons believed that chaos and general war would force complete domination of the world and give purpose to American society.

        Now, to me it’s all confused but it appears that this administration wants to combine the policies of Bush the Elder and Bush the Younger. Of course I might be missing the boat because the whole ISIL makes me feel dizzy.

        1. Synopticist

          Obama didn’t purge the neo-cons when he had the chance, and mistook the human rights fundamentalists which he himself introduced for pacifists. Instead, they’re as delusional and interventionist as the neo-cons. So he ended up with a far less balanced team than he thought he was getting.

          1. gordon

            I seem to remember reading in Halberstam’s “The Best and the Brightest” how Kennedy went around conciliating the old Republican policy elite and giving some of them jobs. Maybe nothing new there, except I have never thought Obama cared that much. Policy isn’t really what he is about. He’s the First Black President. That’s it, basically. He’s waiting for the chance now to emulate Bill Clinton on the lucrative post-Presidential round of speaking engagements and books. For a black man with a very average social background he’s done remarkably well, career-wise, and I think as far as he’s concerned that’s quite enough.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Population decline seen hindering Chinese growth potential.

    I don’t quite know where to begin…all the underlying assumptions of a great propaganda campaign.

    ‘We need more people!’

    ‘Growth ueber alles!’

    ‘Go, GDP!’

    1. susan the other

      The bigger the population, the bigger the problem. Scary. There is a faction of neoliberal Indians who think the best way to attract business is to advertise their big-family policy, always a fresh supply of consumers.

  14. MtnLife

    Two items I found interesting:
    Didn’t see anything on the links on this (doesn’t mean it wasn’t there). National implications but they are still ignoring agri-runoff and limiting their efforts to “voluntary”.

    Not exactly a new development but even being in state I hear little about it.
    “Last year, activists pushing for the legal cultivation of hemp scored a big victory in Vermont: In June, Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law a bill that legalizes the cultivation of cannabis sativa, a relative of marijuana that proponents say could be a lucrative value-added crop for Vermont farmers.

    The only trouble? State law doesn’t match up with federal regulations, which still classify hemp as an illegal, controlled substance — despite the fact that industrial hemp lacks tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in the concentrations necessary to produce a high. The disconnect between state and federal rules isn’t scaring off many farmers, who say the feds have bigger fish to fry, but it is making it difficult to legally obtain seeds for cultivation.”

    1. Kurt Sperry

      The feds rely on the unavailability of viable hemp seed within the US as their primary tool against those who would grow hemp in states that have legalized doing so. Hemp produces seed extremely prolifically, each female can produce thousands of viable seed, the smart thing for nascent hemp farmers would be to focus on producing viable seed rather than fiber–even if producing fiber was the putative goal. As a single acre of hemp can produce enough seed to plant hundreds of acres, once seed is out there in the tons in private hands the costs (economic and political) of maintaining the prohibition in defiance of state wishes skyrockets. A single small ten acre planting of hemp can yield literally tons of viable seed. A few dozen small farmers growing that quantity of stable seed and making it available through informal networks in combination with states with no interest in being prohibition agents and hemp prohibition becomes at the least problematic and probably practically impossible. Seldom do small scale farmers have that sort of substantial potential political influence, and especially when it only involves them farming and nothing more.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Bill Clinton, $105 million in 12 years.

    These are his peak earing years.

    My money is on his reaching $1 billion before he officially retires.

    I am also confident there will be some non-profit charitable foundation to come to use that money to better serve the world.

    1. pat

      I’m sure you are right there will be a non-profit charitable foundation. How else will he secure a profitable future for Chelsea, now that NBC realizes she can’t do diddly. So Chelsea can take home the equivalent of today’s half a million a year for attending a board meeting a year, supposedly running an organization with a spending record along the lines of what Susan G. Komen’s turned out to be. Only doing even less good then they do.

  16. hunkerdown

    Anecdote from just now: housemate called Chase Bank for support for their c2c payment service. Phone rep said “You’re welcome for your inconvenience” at the end of the call. They’re not even pretending anymore, are they?

  17. John

    I like reading Joseph Stiglitz’s posts….. it is just his recommendations are too far fetched and unrealistic. America has a long history of treating its minorities with unabashed disdain. For instance, Obama watches Detroit, a mostly black city, go down in flames, but he is quick to raise armies, backed with millions of dollars to squander in the Middle East. By design minorities have been kept at the fringe of the economic ladder without any sympathy from government or by the majority — for centuries. Dog whistling, to rouse the majority, has always been a winning strategy and continues to this day. When minorities raise grievances there is no empathy. None. What you get in response are tiresome, stovepipe talking points from the likes of screechy voice Ann Coulter.

    Because Americans have tolerated racist practices for so long inequality has pushed deep into the population at large. Many of these entrants into the underclass have more in common with minorities than they realize, but because race trumps so many aspects of American society. the two (race and underclass) are rarely connected. Kind of what Mr Stiglitz has managed to do in his nicely written piece. He knows of the problem but can’t write about it.

    Without reconciling race, America has a very, very long road ahead in attempting to address inequality.

    1. FederalismForever

      And, yet, in America, Jews and Asians are richer, better educated, and arrested and imprisoned less often then the white majority. Not exactly an intuitive result, given your description of how “inequality has pushed deep into the population” “by design.”

      1. Banger

        Exactly! Race has always been used by the ruling elites to distract us from class struggle which is a constant in all imperialist societies.

  18. Jake Mudrosti

    Regarding T. McKenna “Touched by the Tremendum”:

    There’s a flicker of insight there but way too much unsupported stuff about human origins, etc. I’m not familiar with the guy, so I can’t judge whether he genuinely believes that each of his historical/anthropological claims is evidence-based, or whether he sees his claims as some sort of revealed knowledge. The result, at any rate, is a super duper sketchy treatment of anthropology.

    Which is not to say that the underlying idea of the “numinous” is off track. A more careful approach covering the same territory is found in physicist/philosopher Max Jammer’s “Einstein and Religion.” (Apparently, quite a lot of it is viewable through Google Books.) There, where philosophical theologian P. Tillich is quoted (p 110), defining the “experience of the numinous”, we profit in one key way: it shows Einstein’s framework of thought meshing there with a different (theological) framework. Not meshing with either framework: self-congratulating drug-user Bill Maher, and his public comments in praise of prisoner torture.

    1. Banger

      I’m not to sure about his view of the past either. However, I do know that altered states of consciousness were critical ingredients of all human cultures until modern times when attacks by both the Church, the martinets, and the intellectuals caused the old magical traditions to largely die out except in parts of the Mediterranean basin.

  19. Kurt Sperry
    This page works as an interesting essay on math/logic and at the same time on a purely visual level is equally interesting. Graphically communicative at a high level, this is really an exceptional example of effective authoring for an html format.

  20. Jack Parsons

    A friend had a pet bobcat in her family. It was a great pet.

    They once accidentally locked it indoors for 2 days. When they got home and opened the door, it exploded out & ran off to void. It had held it for all that time.

    1. NancyinStL

      Cats are very smart. They’ll put up with a lot, so long as they are fed and sheltered.

  21. Paul Tioxon

    Mr Stiglitz continues to blame Piketty for bad academic work, absolves economists and the economy of providing the specific mechanism for producing enduring, structural income inequality over decades, across nations and blames the state for bad policies. The corollary to Clinton’s it’s the economy stupid in Mr Stiglitz up is down, night is day piece of prestidigitation is “its the policies of the state stupid”, not the iron law of economics that no one is proposing other than people like Mr Stiglitz who are projecting this onto Mr Piketty. The only thing inevitable is the ongoing condemnation of a witless community of economists of one of their own that shows up their useless and pointless knowledge.

  22. Roland

    @ Andrew Watts,

    The most logical choice for Saudi Arabia is for them to develop their own independent nuclear deterrent. Then they wouldn’t need to be anybody’s client. Then they could simply trade their oil for hard currency and thus help the entire world get onto a more stable and more sustainable economic basis.

    The inability of major oil-producing regions to defend themselves has had a grossly distorting effect not only global power-politics, but indeed on the entire course of global economic development. The sooner that countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran develop nuclear deterrent arsenals, the better.

    By the way, Beijing can’t fill Washington’s shoes. They don’t really have a blue-water navy. They lack a proper satellite surveillance and communications network. Their nuclear deterrent forces are only minimally adequate to backstop their own national sovereignty. They don’t have a general staff and cadres experienced in a wide variety of operations abroad. They lack a network of global alliances, clients and bases developed over the course of many decades of overseas hegemony.

    The lead times required to develop such things are long, and the required investments are large. It’s very hard to develop a “credible brand” in the global enforcement services market. Moreover, the incumbent monopolists in that global enforcement services market might react irrationally or unpredictably.

  23. different clue

    Free Trade engineering the dumping of subsidized and slave-wage tomatos on Africa sounds like NAFTA dumping of subsidized corn on Mexico. The purpose was to exterminate the targeted country’s domestic market agricultural sector/society and drive the targetted farmers into the city slums or into illegal immigration.

  24. Jeff N

    re: “walking outside can kill” – Just this morning, during my commute, I saw some older woman collapsed. There were three millenials standing with her, and one was calling 911

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