Links 7/23/09 Plus Reader Notice

Dear readers,

I am going to try my best, but posts from me are pretty certain to be thin through August 3. The book manuscript is due in August 1, which since that is a Saturday, the due date is really August 3. I have one more chapter to write, one chapter that needs a heavy duty redo, and an intro that some rewriting. There will probably be month of serous editing after that (the chapters are mainly in good shape, but there is a ton of detail work, and I need to look at the whole thing and see what threads of the argument are most crucial and how to make them more prominent.)

I have quite a few people providing helpful comments on text and a team of volunteer researchers who seem quickly able to pull odd factoids (they also found a lot of very good research early on). This would be impossible without their input. But I only turned to posting at 5 AM, when my normal schedule is to start posts no later than 11. I need to turn in, so you get just a very quick and dirty version tonight, well, now this morning. Thanks for your patience.

Why raindrops come in many sizes BBC

Southwest Airlines Passenger Stung by Stowaway Scorpion KTLA News (hat tip reader John D)

Scientists turn used LCDs into medicine ITNews

Swiss banks running out of storage space for gold bullion Mine Web (hat tip reader Michael)

Artificial brain ’10 years away’ BBC. Is this a good aim? Human processing capacity is limited. Read Herbert Simon, among others, on this.

Obama Approval 49% Among U.S. Investors, 87% Overseas Bloomberg

Obama: Taking the profit motive out of health care will incentivize the private sector Lambert Strether

Goldman sheds bail-out legacy Financial Tines. Have the investment banks bribed all the headline writers? Goldman most assuredly has NOT paid back the FDIC borrowings, nor reimbursed the AIG collateral postings, And that’s before we get to the hard-to-calculate but very real benefit of super-low funding costs and low credit spreads engineered by the Fed.

Job Cuts Outpace GDP Fall Wall Street Journal. Subtext seems to be that experts keep looking to recessions for guidance, rather than looking at crisis comparisons, like Reinhart/Rogoff work.

CRA and Ritholtz Cactus, Angry Bear

China orders internet purge Financial Times (hat tip reader Michael)

Unions’ Selective Solidarity J. Lester Feder, The Big Money

Intel Cites Human Rights In EU Fight On Antitrust Wall Street Journal (hat tip reader DoctoRx). Well, it sure is a novel claim.

Morgan Stanley Pays for Caution Wall Street Journal. Morgan Stanley treats taxpayer money with respect and the Journal yells at them.

Swine flu: intensive care beds will be swamped experts warn Telegraph. Experts saw what happened in the southern hemisphere winter as key to how bad this would get. Intensive care units in Australia and New Zealand are overtaxed now.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. attempter

    Re Intel: If people are willing to believe in the philosophical absurdity and moral obscenity of the corporation as a "person", then it follows that it must have human rights.

    I fail to see how any corporatist liberal can coherently argue against it.

    Re union solidarity: It's unfortunate how the old labor class consciousness has broken down in recent decades.

    (I was just reading the chapter in Fred Goldstein's e-book Low Wage Capitalism, which Yves linked here a few days ago, on how since the early 80s the union leadership has provided little coordinated strategy and effort, and how most strikes have been bottom-up, ad hoc, and left on their own.)

    I guess by now there's no established entity in America which isn't out purely for itself and just looking to get over.

    I hate using the term "kulak", but sometimes it seems to apply.

    Yves, thanks for all you do on this blog, and good luck with the book.

  2. Karthic

    Best luck with the book Yves.
    We're perfectly happy to be temporarily underdosed at the blog, when a concentrated dose, in the form of a book, awaits.

  3. Wendell


    Much as we appreciate your efforts here, FIRST THINGS FIRST!

    A lot has happened in Iran lately, and we got by without Andrew Sullivan. If that is true–and it is–we can manage to survive (for a short period) without your linkfests, and even your commentary. Stick to the knitting that must be gotten out the door.

    We'll anticipate your return, but, in the meantime, umm, have you gotten the message yet?

  4. DownSouth

    The chant the Wall Street Journal seems to have taken up, and being repeated here by Aaron Lucchetti, is that banks must, and should, take big risks in order to make big profits.

    Which of course makes perfect sense. After all, isn't the race car driver who drives the fastest the one who's going to reach the finish line first? That is unless he crashes first.

    And don't get me wrong. I enjoy a good competition as much as anyone. The thing the Wall Street Journal won't see, refuses to see, is that this race is taking place on the public thoroughfare. If Goldman Sach's souped-up Ferrari, careening down a neighborhood street at 100 MPH, happens to crash into a family van, killing and maiming all on board, the Wall Street Journal is oblivious to that. Furthermore, the Wall Street Journal seems to think it's the taxpayer's duty to pick up the tab to buy Goldman Sachs a shiny new Ferrari, replacing the one it just got through totalling.

  5. DownSouth

    Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities provides great insight into the way the editorial writers at the Wall Street Journal think:

    It appeared, under the circumstances, rather agreeable to him to see the common people dispersed before his horses, and often barely escaping from being run down. His man drove as if he were charging an enemy, and the furious recklessness of the man brought no check into the face, or to the lips, of the master. The complaint had sometimes made itself audible, even in that deaf city and dumb age, that, in the narrow streets without footways, the fierce patrician custom of hard driving endangered and maimed the mere vulgar in a barbarous manner. But, few cared enough for that to think of it a second time, and, in this manner, as in all others, the common wretches were left to get out of their difficulties as they could.

    With a wild rattle and clatter, and an inhuman abandonment of consideration not easy to be understood in these days, the carriage dashed through streets and swept round corners, with women screaming before it, and men clutching each other and clutching children out of its way. At last, swooping at a street corner by a fountain, one of its wheels came to a sickening little jolt, and there was a loud cry from a number of voices, and the horses reared and plunged.

    But for the latter inconvenience, the carriage probably would not have stopped; carriages were often known to drive on, and leave their wounded behind, and why not? But, the frightened valet had got down in a hurry, and there were twenty hands at the horses' bridles.

    "What has gone wrong?" said Monsieur, calmly looking out.

    A tall man in a nightcap had caught up a bundle from among the feet of the horses, and had laid it on the basement of the fountain, and was down in the mud and wet, howling over it like a wild animal.

    "Pardon, Monsieur the Marquis!" said a ragged and submissive man, "it is a child."

    "Why does he make that abominable noise? Is it his child?"

    "Excuse me, Monsieur the Marquis–it is a pity–yes."

    The fountain was a little removed; for the street opened, where it was, into a space some ten or twelve yards square. As the tall man suddenly got up from the ground, and came running at the carriage, Monsieur the Marquis clapped his hand for an instant on his swordhilt.

    "Killed!" shrieked the man, in wild desperation, extending both arms at their length above his head, and staring at him. "Dead!"

    The people closed round, and looked at Monsieur the Marquis. There was nothing revealed by the many eyes that looked at him but watchfulness and eagerness; there was no vivible menacing or anger. Neither did the people say anything; after the first cry, they had been silent, and the remained so. The voice of the submissive man who had spoken, was flat and tame in its extreme submission. Monsieur the Marquis ran his eyes over them all, as if they had been mere rats come out of their holes.

    He took out his purse.

    "It is extraordinary to me," said he, "that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your children. One or the other of you is for ever in the way. How do I know what injury you have done my horses. See! Give him that."

  6. DownSouth


    He threw out a gold coin for the valet to pick up, and all the heads craned forward that all the eyes might look down at it as it fell. The tall man called out again with a most unearthly cry, "Dead!"

    He was arrested by the quick arrival of another man, for whom the rest made way. On seeing him, the miserable creature fell upon his shoulder, sobbing and crying, and pointing to the fountain, where some women were stooping over the motionless bundle, and moving gently about it. They were as silent, however, as the men.

    "I know all, I know all," said the last comer. "Be a brave man, my Gaspard! It is better for the poor little plaything to die so, than to live. It has died in a moment without pain. Could it have live an hour as happily?"

    "You are a philosopher, you there," said the Marquis, smiling. "How do they call you?"

    "They call me Defarge."

    "Of what trade?"

    "Monsieur the Marquis, vendor of wine."

    "Pick up that, philosopher and vendor of wine," said the Marquis, throwing him another gold coin, "and spend it as you will. The horses there; are they right?"

    Without deigning to look at the assemblage a second time, Monsieur the Marquis leaned back in his seat, and was just being driven away with the air of a gentleman who had accidently broken some common thing, and had paid for it, and could afford to pay for it; when his ease was suddenly disturbed by a coin flying into his carriage and ringing on the floor.

    "Hold!" said Monsieur the Marquis. "Hold the horses! Who threw that?"

    He looked to the spot where Defarge the vendor of wine had stood, a moment before; but the wretched father was grovelling on his face on the pavement in that spot, and the figure that stood beside him was the figure of a dark stout woman, knitting.

    "You dogs!" said the Marquis, but smoothly, and with an unchanged front, except as to the spots on his nose: "I would ride over any of you very willingly, and exterminate you from the earth. If I knew which rascal threw at the carriage, and if that brigand were sufficiently near it, he should be crushed under the wheels."

    So cowed was their condition, and so long and so hard their experience of what such a man could do to them, within the law and beyond it, that not a voice, or a hand, or even an eye, was raised.

  7. kackermann

    An artificial brain in 10 years?

    And it is to communicate at a TED conference in 10 years.

    They must be basing their estimate on the incredible advances in AI over the last 30 years. Ever since Thinking Machines built their Connection Machine, the field has just taken off.

    I bet if they had an algorithm for generating symbols of new concepts, that would help alot.

  8. anewc2

    Artificial brain '10 years away'

    God's in His heaven, all's right with the world, artificial intelligence is 10 years away, just like it has been for more than 50 years. And will still be, in another 50.

    When they start saying 5 years away, maybe then I'll start to believe.


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