Links 2/26/09

Posts will be thin Thursday and Friday (on the road, then at an econbloggers conference hosted by the Kauffman Foundation), so I am giving you extra goodies to keep you busy in the meantime.

Do chat among yourselves. No food fights, however.

Tiger attacks trigger expert plea BBC

Designer Babies – Like It Or Not, Here They Come Singularity Hub

DNA evidence is in, newly discovered species of fish dubbed H. psychedelica UWN News (hat tip reader Tim)

Three Fourths of the European Public Blames the Central Banks for the Financial Crisis Jesse

New U.Va. Study Sheds Light on Foreclosures in States and Metropolitan Areas UVA Today

Taxpayer to guarantee £600bn of toxic debt Times Online

Obama Showers Wall Street Fees With Muni Stimulus Bloomberg

Nationalize Failing Banks? GOP and Single-Payer 2.0 Thomas Ferguson and Robert Johnson, The Nation

‘There will be blood’ Globe and Mail

Did Sweden really nationalize its banks? Ed Harrison

TALF: A bailout if one reads the the fine print Ed Harrison

Charity warns of ‘lifetime debts‘ BBC

The Two Documents Everyone Should Read to Better Understand the Crisis William Black, Huffington Post

Insight: The flight of the long run Peter Bernstein, Financial Times

Markets are Anti-Inductive Eliezer Yudkowsky

The Inversion Of Corporate and Sovereign Risk, Or The Sovereign Basis Trade Tyler Durden

Antidote du jour:

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  1. john c. halasz

    “The Financial Crisis and the Systemic Failure of Academic Economics“ or the Dahlem report.

  2. Richard Smith

    Can’t find the Times Online story. But there is just one link to it.,2025,treasury-to-guarantee-banks-toxic-debt,75339

    I think this is ordinary UK mortgage debt they (hell, I mean ‘we’) are guaranteeing, not out and out subprime stuff. Mind you I’m not convinced that the quality of the debt will look all that great after a hearty UK house price crash and a deep recession.

    It is quite some liability for an economy the size of ours. Bailing out Barclays as well would be a stretch.

  3. Jojo

    I was fascinated by the link on designer babies. I hadn’t realized how far along they are with this technology.

    There are many science fiction books/movies that have covered this subject. In some, the technology has been banned (but of course is available for the right price). In others, anything goes, as long as you can afford it.

    We may be at the stage where we are the first biological organism no longer dependent on or constrained by evolution!

  4. Anonymous

    On designer babies …

    Here comes the stuporrace …

    Think of all the money the corporate fascist state can save in brainwashing expenses when they are able instead to preselect citizens for docility and gullibility. We will have a stuporrace. And the most effective politicians will be cloned and made to live forever. I wonder if they saved dna snippets of Ronnie Reagan? Rather than those boring video and audio clips of him that we are incessantly subjected to I am sure they would love to run puppet Ronnie again. Or clone Clintons.

    We are not constrained by evolution because we are evolution. The key question is who is the we that controls the selections? If it is the current crop of ruling gangsters we are in deep shit.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    i on the ball patriot

  5. jmd

    In contrast to Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, please consider humans who actually contribute to the well-being of our species:

    The lessons of a short life well lived
    The story of Ivan Cameron’s illness, and his family’s acceptance of it, should speak volumes

    Libby Purves

    I suspect we’ll be hunting doctors like Steinbergs and ‘families’ like the one featured in the video down in Argentina someday. It’s a slippery slope. As a practicing Catholic, it is hard for me to think about the embryos that were ‘disposed’ in the selection of the designer sons for a Los Angeles family. I’m sure a reality show is on the way.

  6. Anonymous

    TALF the fine print (via Credit Writedowns)

    “In short, the TALF is a way for any and all comers, domestic and foreign, with toxic U.S. asset-backed securities, to dump those assets on to the U.S. government at taxpayers expense. This is happening right now right under your noses and it smacks of crony capitalism. At least the Fed has the transparency to spell it out. But has anyone noticed?”

  7. Keenan

    RE: “Superbabies”
    Control of burgeoning medical costs, the supposed rational for computerized records, will likely also result in overt pressure to screen out such “defectives” to remove the burden of care for genetically linked illness.

    The 1997 film GATTACA ( the corporation at the center of the story, a clever play on the abbreviations of the DNA base pair components )was a thoughtful theatrical presentation of the subject.

    Sun Microsystems Bill Joy’s 2000 article Why The Future Dosn’t Need Us is worth re-reading in conjunction with this piece.

  8. Anonymous

    I know that cat! His 1400 square foot condo in Tempe, AZ was foreclosed upon late last year. I warned him about the mortgage when he bought it in 2006, but it was a cash-out no-doc neg-am liar loan and his cash reserves ran out once the job market turned.

    So I guess he got the boot, but he doesn’t look too upset about it. Hopefully his current rent isn’t too arduous.

  9. Don

    An excellent post that is my position as well ( That’s why I’m calling it excellent ):

    The case for and against bank nationalisation

    Matthew Richardson
    26 February 2009

    Sometimes the best way to repair a severely dilapidated house is to knock it down and rebuild it. This column argues for bank nationalisation as the best hope for maintaining a private banking system. Risky, and it could go wrong, but it is the surest path to avoid a “lost decade” like Japan”

    Don the libertarian Democrat

  10. artichoke

    Re: an econ bloggers’ conference, hosted by a big foundation.

    Why the offline communication? If Kauffman wants to contribute intellectually to these blogs they can post comments here too. Hope they will.

    Yves, could you give us a detailed blow-by-blow when you return?

  11. Anonymous


    This story is on Bloomberg terminals, not on their website at this time.

    “AIG may bet a backstop from the U.S. to protect against further losses on credit-default swaps, according to a person familiar with the matter. …”

    Those bastards.

  12. Anonymous

    Whose snow this is I think I know,
    It hides his walk and driveway though.
    He will not see me stopping here,
    To watch him clear and curse his snow.

    My little horse must think it queer,
    To stop with someone shoveling near.
    But words of pity I must make,
    Requested by this shovelier.

    He gives his harness bells a shake,
    To ask if there is some mistake.
    The only other sound’s the scrape,
    Of shovel on pavement and downy flake.

    The streets are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    Oh pity you in snow so deep,
    Oh pity you in snow so deep,

    — i on the ball patriot

  13. Keenan

    doc holiday:

    In the words of Billy Jeff Clinton: “I feel your pain”.
    Take heart for the calendar page is about to turn and my wish is that your spot in the PNW is something like Camelot, where winter “ends on March the 2nd, on the dot”

  14. doc holiday

    anon and Keenan,

    I have had the great fortune to be able sit in the sun, wearing as little as was permissible, while the sun embraced our area with great warmth, almost breaking 62 degrees. It was a great storm and reminded me of the metaphorical events which often play out before us, i.e, the tsunami that washes in, then washes out, the snow that covers, which melts away and the very nature of seasonal changes that are cyclical patterns which often bring hope for the future.

    I’m sorry to get all positive and optimistic there, but between the sunshine and sounds of melting snow (a few limbs cracking) I did feel as if change is a natural even which people tend to fight. This un-natural event related to our current financial storm is perplexing, because it is difficult to contemplate that this cycle will at some point, trigger a change of direction, back to the days we all enjoy, where appraisers knock on our doors to tell us our homes are worth 30% more and the upgrades of stocks that suddenly are worth 25% more and that our life expectancies have increased, which will allow us to live longer, fuller lives.

    Oh well, the appraising gurus are all part of a magical period of euphoric hallucination, but someday, the spirit of easy money and prosperity will tap us on the shoulder, even though many of us will be six feet under (that was a joke, kind of).

    This song reminded me of TARP:

    SONG: BLACK CORAL (sorry no video or link, damn it):

    Have you ever been down deep?
    I mean ‘way down under the ocean
    Just inside Odin’s reach
    Better beware of this potion
    And remember you don’t belong
    It’s always seemed so unfair
    The fishes around will always remind you
    Got to go slow, take it easy down there
    You’ve only so much air

    When you get a little deeper, if you slow down you might keep her
    The sea, unforgiving and she’s hard
    But she’ll make love to you, show you glimpses of the stars
    At about two hundred feet
    You realize the peril
    But seductive is the deep
    That shark over there holds no terror
    For a while you really belong
    The ocean will always share
    You become one, like friends and lovers
    But remember take care
    She’ll try to keep you there

    The deeper you go ’cause of the pressure of the air
    The nitrogen comes and goes (gets you high)
    It’s an alien atmosphere
    They call it rapture of the deep
    Be you not afraid
    You’re too far down now to be scared
    Two hundred and eighty-seven feet
    I saw Jesus and it made sense he was there
    So belong but don’t be long
    There’s plenty of ocean to share
    Please take heed there’s mouths to feed
    The ocean, she’ll provide
    Don’t take more than you need
    ‘Cause heaven just might be the sea.

    TARP is very much like The Bends … and we are about to test the strength of our submarine

    Have a good day!

  15. doc holiday


    I’m sitting here half baked and blogging and wondering what’s going on here

    On February 27, 2009, the Kauffman Foundation is hosting the first ever physical conference for economics bloggers at the Foundation headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. Participants include famous independent bloggers such as Matthew Yglesias, Tyler Cowen, Mike “Mish” Shedlock, Robert X. Cringely, and Mark Thoma as well as distinguished economics journalists such as Amity Shlaes, Steve Malanga, Michael Mandel, Brian Carney, and keynote speaker David Warsh.
    Some of the topics to be discussed there include “Is Journalism Dead,” “The 2009 Recession and Entrepreneurship,” and “Internet Impact on Academic Scholarship: What is the Impact of a Wired World on Publishing and Research?”
    In regard to the first topic, the WSJ reported today:
    Denver’s Rocky Mountain News will publish its final edition on Friday, E.W. Scripps said, illustrating the accelerating decline of the newspaper industry. Scripps said it was unable to find a buyer to preserve the 150-year-old daily.

    >> Q: Is journalism dead?

    A: Yes

  16. doc in control holiday


    Yves is gone, so I'm taking over damn it, so let's get down to brass tacks and separate the teats from the cream: 213,600 RANK 191,230 RANK EQUIVALENT 43,572 RANK 44,540
    RANK EQUIVALENT Sorry, we don't have enough data to profile 16,092
    RANK 7,855

    This has been a public service of The Doc Holiday Reality Foundation & our sponsor:

    ** Disclaimer disclosure: Ranks are from 1 being as # 1 and stuff that doesn’t matter with higher ranks (like 213,600+).

    Disclaimer #2: This is not intended to piss anyone off.

    Disclaimer #3: I don’t care.

  17. Anonymous

    The 2009 Recession and Entrepreneurship
    In this economy, even sex doesn’t sell

    Amy, 58, once bought a $32,000 Toyota Tacoma in cash; now her $1,200 mortgage saps her dwindling pay. Some weeks, she could make more flipping burgers than flirting under a made-up name. Marisol’s daughters think she works at a resort; she struggles to keep up the ruse. It now takes months, not weeks, to bring $5,000 back to Southern California.

    “Marisol,” one of her regulars tells her, “it costs me in gas what it takes for me to spend a half-hour with you.”

  18. Anonymous

    AUDIENCE MEMBER: You’re talking about
    collaboration and learning from each other. I’d like to hear something you’ve learned this morning, listening to each other.

    MR. KERN: What I learned today is that I’m not alone. As other people have mentioned, you do feel very alone when you’re out there. And it’s always great to connect with other people who’ve been through this before and know exactly all the pains that you’re going through. And it’s another key reason why you’ve got to keep that small-business channel open, because the challenges are so different and people need to connect. That helps you keep going. That really does.

    MR. DEMOS: I think it’s reassuring to know that we’re not nuts; that we actually are all talking about the same thing, from different sides, or facets of a jewel. And it’s encouraging to realize it doesn’t matter whether you use the same verbiage as I do, or not. The same drive, the same underlying themes, the same ways of doing things. Those things are reassuring because as entrepreneurs you really are out flapping in the breeze. You’re trying to take an idea from your brain and manifest it in front of you so you can see it, touch it, kick it, whatever you want to do to it. And I think that there is a reassurance in realizing that there’s many, many different paths, but we’re in the right current.

  19. Keenan

    doc holiday:

    I'm thinking that the restart of the LHC will be triggering event for the return of good times.

    Hmmm…no mention of Yves in the conference notice despite her various cable TV appearances. Maybe Coast-to-Coast pulls a bigger audience & more recognition.

  20. Anonymous

    Howard Rheingold’s talk at TED ended up here:

    This is why we want to punish bankers and wall street CEO’s:

    Recent neuroscientific evidence supports the notion that subjects punishthose who are unfair to them simply because this gives them pleasure. de-Quervain et. al (2004) used positron emission tomography to examine theneural basis the for altruistic punishment of defectors in an economic ex-change. The experimenters scanned the subjects’ brains while they learnedabout the defector’s abuse of trust and determined the punishment. Punish-ment activated the dorsal striatum, which has been implicated in the pro-cessing of rewards that accrue as a result of goal-directed actions. More-over, subjects with stronger activations in the dorsal striatum were willingto incur greater costs in order to punish. This finding supports the hypothe-sis that people derive satisfaction from punishing norm violations and thatthe activation in the dorsal striatum reflects the anticipated satisfaction frompunishing defectors.

    That was ripped off from: Game Theory and Human Behavior

  21. doc holiday


    It sort of shocked me to see someone else in here, so, like yah, The LHC will either close that mini Black Hole or expand the one that was opened initially, and either way, The LHC is trouble!

    Just when you thought all was well, along comes this stuff: CERN strangelets – a different scenario

    Warren B would just open his mouth and then try to utter, gads, but, shit, I’ll say what he really means, which is WTF is that music there and why wreck my LHC experience with that ________________?

    Nonetheless, you have me looking at that topic and it needs to interface with mutiny, mutations and innovation, etc……..

  22. Jeremy R. Shown

    I’ve been reading about the possible increased stake by the USG in Citi.

    Is it possible that Citi sees a large common share position by the government as an insurance policy against being forced into liquidation?

    Would the government ever convert its preferred shares into common and then tell Citi to close its doors, wiping out the value of the common shares, just because of the results of a stress test?

    Just curious.

  23. Anonymous

    Re: no mention of Yves in the conference notice despite her various cable TV appearances.

    Yes, that was my point, i.e, Yves is the Queen Bee

    I can understand that she may want to be involved with these other drones and study colony collapse disorder first hand and check out the nectar, but the Royal Bee Jello

    I mean, get real, the list of top bee’s has CCD written in fluorescent pollen and yah don’t need a friggn LSM 700 to see this stuff … am I wrong here?

    Also see: Digital Porno

    >> I'm burning out my mutiny, but then again, it was never official …

  24. doc holiday

    Jeremy R. Shown,

    By God, since I’m at The Helm I’ll take a crack at that, WTF?

    I went over here for some random reason: BASE PROSPECTUS SUPPLEMENT

    Under the guarantee, Citi will assume any losses on the portfolio up to $29 billion on a pre-tax basis, in addition to Citi’s existing reserves; the government entities will assume 90% of any losses above that level and Citi will assume the balance. Citi will retain these
    assets on its balance sheet and realize the associated cash flow.

    Any losses in portfolioin excess of that amount are shared USG (90%)and institution (10%).
    USG share will be allocated as follows:
    UST (via TARP) second loss up to $5 bn;
    FDIC takes the third loss up to $10 bn;

    > So, you ask: Is it possible that Citi sees a large common share position by the government as an insurance policy against being forced into liquidation?

    Would the government ever convert its preferred shares into common and then tell Citi to close its doors, wiping out the value of the common shares, just because of the results of a stress test?

    > Damn, I'd have to think on that??

    1. The U.S. Treasury will invest $20 billion in Citi preferred stock

    2. The December 31, 2008 report on the Program notes the unique guarantee accounting mandated by the Act and outlines Treasury’s considerations when evaluating a guarantee structure. The guaranteed portion of the troubled asset reduces, on a dollar for dollar basis, the funds available for use under the Act, offset by the value of any cash premium received by Treasury. Non-cash premiums, such as preferred stock, will not offset the reduction of available resources under the Act. As a result, Treasury will evaluate on a case-by-case basis the troubled assets to be covered by the Program to minimize the impact on available funds.

    3. On January 15, 2009, Treasury extended the Program to Bank of America (BofA), protecting against the possibility of losses on an asset pool of approximately $118 billion of loans and securities. The majority of these assets were assumed by Bank of America in its acquisition of Merrill Lynch. The assets will remain on BofA’sbalance sheet. As a fee for this arrangement, Bank of America will issue preferred shares to Treasury and the FDIC. The agreement provides that after additional pool losses of $10 billion, Treasury and the FDIC will guarantee against 90% of the next $10 billion of loss. At any time after the loss on the asset pool reaches $18 billion, the Federal Reserve will make a loan available to BofA for 90% of any subsequent loss.

    I know that doesn't help, but I'm not in charge and I'm still thinking …OK?

  25. doc holiday


    That is interesting:

    As a fee for this arrangement, Bank of America will issue preferred shares to Treasury and the FDIC. The agreement provides that after additional pool losses of $10 billion, Treasury and the FDIC will guarantee against 90% of the next $10 billion of loss. At any time after the loss on the asset pool reaches $18 billion, the Federal Reserve will make a loan available to BofA for 90% of any subsequent loss.

    Hmmm: BofA generally will manage the financial instruments in the BofA Pool in accordance with its ordinary business practices, but will be required to comply with an asset management template as provided by USG. This template will require that BofA, among other things, obtain USG approval (not to be unreasonably withheld) before any Material Disposition. A Material Disposition is a disposition of financial instruments in the BofA Pool that creates a loss that, combined with other dispositions of BofA Pool instruments in the same year, exceeds 1% of the size of the BofA Pool at the beginning of the year. This template also will include, among other things, a foreclosure mitigation policy acceptable to USG.

    I wish I could look at this with a LSM 700 or maybe turn the HLC around (is that possible you ask and the obvious question is how about no!

    Did anyone see this thing? I gave up a long time ago on this crap — but it does look like everyone is still having fun! Treasury’s Asset Guarantee Program

  26. Jeremy R. Shown


    I thought you had taken over this thread.

    Anyway, thanks for the reminder on some of the details. I had all but forgotten the first $29b and then the 90/10 split (heckuva deal we got there).

    I don’t know, it just seems like if the USG becomes the major shareholder there will be no way forward (liquidation) and no way back (a private, profitable Citi). So we’re stuck in limbo.

    By the way, I clicked on the youtube video. Quiet house + unexpected pulsating music = me jumping out of my seat! Thanks for the wakeup call.

  27. doc holiday all night vigil

    Government Guarantee of Certain Assets of the Registrant
    Also on January 15, 2009, the Registrant reached an agreement on a summary of terms with the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board (the “Federal Reserve”) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (the “FDIC,” and together with the Treasury and the Federal Reserve, the “USG”) under which the USG will provide loss sharing on approximately $118 billion of the Registrant’s assets.
    Under the terms of this arrangement, the Registrant will be responsible for the first $10 billion of eligible losses on the guaranteed assets. Any additional eligible losses will be borne 90% by the USG and 10% by the Registrant. As a result of the USG loss sharing, the covered asset portfolio will have a new risk weighting of 20%.
    As a fee for this arrangement, the Registrant will issue preferred stock and warrants to Treasury and the FDIC. In addition, with respect to the non-recourse loan facility provided by the Federal Reserve, the Registrant will pay a fee of 20 basis points per year on the undrawn portion of the lending commitment and will pay interest at a rate equal to the overnight indexed swap rate plus 300 basis points on drawn amounts.
    The summary of terms of the USG arrangement is attached as Exhibit 10.2 hereto and is incorporated herein by reference.

    Here is that stuff: Summary of Terms

    Institution will issue to USG (UST/FDIC) (i) $4 billion of preferred stock with an 8% dividend rate (under terms described below); and (ii) warrants with an aggregate exercise value of 10% of the total amount of preferred issued. The fee may be adjusted, as necessary, based on the results of an actuarial analysis of the final composition of the Pool, as required under section 102(c) of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

    >> That seems to be this: Section 102 – Insurance of Troubled Assets. If the Secretary exercises authority to create the TARP program, the Secretary is required to also establish an insurance program to guarantee troubled assets including any mortgage backed securities issued prior to March 18, 2008. Section 102(a)(1). Upon the request of a financial institution, the Secretary may guarantee the timely payment of principal and interest to the financial institution up to 100 percent of such payments. Section 102(a)(3). In order to cover the claims, the Secretary is required to collect premiums from participating financial institutions which are both risk-based and actuarially-based. Section 102(c)(2) and (3).

    Cookie break? Why is this happening?

  28. Anonymous

    TARP Special Purpose Vehicle Insurance

    If the Secretary exercises authority to purchase troubled assets, then the Secretary must “establish a program to guarantee troubled assets originated or issued prior to March 14, 2008.” (§ 102(a)(1)). Any financial institution is eligible for a federal guarantee (§ 102(a)(3)); the Secretary is to charge participating financial institutions premiums for the insurance program (§ 102(c)(1)). , Premiums “shall be set by the Secretary at a level necessary to create reserves sufficient to meet anticipated claims, based on an actuarial analysis, and to ensure that taxpayers are fully protected.” (§ 102(c)(3)). Payouts under the insurance program are to be made from a fund into which premiums are deposited. (§102(d)). Authority to purchase is reduced by the difference between “the total of the outstanding guaranteed obligations and the balance in the Troubled Assets Insurance Financing Fund.” (§ 102(c)(4)). It is unclear what happens if payout obligations under the insurance program exceed the premiums that have been collected at any given point. Given the current state of distress, it seems that premiums might have to be set at very high levels to accumulate sufficient reserves tofund payouts in the near term. In light of this issue, the fact that purchase authority is reduced by the amount of assets insured, and the fact that the Secretary’s original proposal provided only for sale and not insurance, it does not appear that the insurance program is expected to be an important part of the federal effort.

    >> Remember, don't drink and drive…

    Some may see a correlation here: AIG Rescue May Include Credit-Default Swap Backstop

    American International Group Inc. may get a backstop from the U.S. to protect against further losses on credit-default swaps, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    The federal guarantees may be included in New York-based AIG’s restructured bailout, which the company plans to disclose next week with fourth-quarter results, according to the person, who declined to be identified because the talks are private.

    Regulators who saved AIG in September feared that a collapse of the insurer, which sold swaps to banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., would spread losses throughout the global financial system. In November the U.S. committed $30 billion to retire some of the contracts tied to subprime mortgages, while not addressing other swaps tied to corporate loans and European debt.

    “Counterparties around the world continue to have significant exposure to AIG, and market conditions continue to be fragile and sensitive to the potential disorderly failure of AIG,” the Federal Reserve said in a report in November.

  29. Anonymous

    Ok, enough, time to switch gears and go here: Steve Hanke, Professor – Applied Economics, John Hopkins University, and an economist with the Cato Institute:

    Prof Hanke said the fiscal stimulus packages would not be able to turn around the economy fiscal packages have no history of working, he said. The economy, even without the stimulus package, will probably start recovering by the middle of this year simply due to the monetary stimulation by the Federal Reserve.

    He added that the current recession does not have anything in common with the Great Depression. There has never been a case in history where we had deflation and a slumping economy when the central bank is increasing the money supply at enormous rates like the Fed is doing, he said.

    Prof Hanke, however, said he foresees another recession raising its head after the economy turns around this time due to the Fed stretching the size of its balance sheet.

    There will be danger right around the corner [after things stabilize] because the Fed has had this huge expansion of its balance sheet and then fine-tuning and shrinking it again will be difficult and we could be back into a recession again.

    Oh dear…

  30. Anonymous

    Easter candy anyone?

    I like the story Yves pointed to: The Two Documents Everyone Should Read to Better Understand the Crisis

    > It is impossible to detect fraud without reviewing a sample of the loan files. Paper loan files are bulky, so they are photographed and the images are stored on computer tapes. Unfortunately, "most investors" (the large commercial and investment banks that purchased nonprime loans and pooled them to create financial derivatives) did not review the loan files before purchasing nonprime loans and did not even require the lender to provide loan tapes.

    > That means that neither they nor the Treasury know their asset quality. It also means that Geithner's "stress tests" can't "test" assets when they don't have the essential information to "stress." No files means the vital data are unavailable, which means no meaningful stress tests are possible of the nonprime assets that are causing the greatest losses.

  31. Keenan

    doc holiday:

    Easter candy ? Gee, lent just started on Wednesday.

    RE: CERN Strangelets: I’d read something about that conjecture but hadn’t seen such an interesting depiction of the remote possibility. I imagine it’s no more probable than, say, the current global financial dislocation.

    You may be interested in physicist Frank Wilczek’s book “The Lightness of Being”

  32. doc holiday


    Re: Gee, lent just started on Wednesday.

    I like to get an early start on things; I even bought a Godiva chocolate bunny, who is begging me everyday to eat its ears.

    I’ll look into Wilczek, sounds good!

    So much for the mutiny, but I think that exercise above helped me ponder the next leg of this adventure …. where we are going from a shipwreck paradise to the salvation of a pox which could become a plague, depending on what loot is brought aboard our sinking vessel

    It’s been a few decades since I heard this song, but it popped into my clouded vision….

  33. Anonymous

    Could the LHC destroy the world? No. There’ve been some scary-sounding speculations about producing mini-black holesor strangelets or alternative vacuums that gobble up Earth or even the whole Universe. But Nature has been experimenting with LHC-type collisions throughout the Universe for a verylong time, using very, very energetic cosmic rays. As for those speculations, I got involved backin 1999 with a different but equally fake earth-destruction scenario. As penance I’ve had to serveon official panels assessing all possible dangers. Not just once, but a bunch of times. The thing is safe. So if the LHC destroys the world I’ll be not just surprised, but very embarrassed.How did you learn you’d won the Nobel Prize?I was in the shower at 5:11 AM when my wife brought me our mobile phone and said “There’s a lady with a beautiful Swedish accent that wants to talk to you.”What did you get the prize for?There are four basic forces of Nature. I figured out the equations for one of them.What was it like to get the prize?They sure know how to throw a party

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