Links 8/13/09

US Government Stages Fake Coup to Wipe Out National Debt The Onion (hat tip reader Scott)

The Singularity (Summit) Is Near! h+ (hat tip reader David C). They are debating smarter than human IQs.

A Century-Old Principle: Keep Corporate Money Out of Elections Adam Cohen, New York Times (hat tip reader Lee). Kiss what little of American that is left goodbye if the ban is overturned.

Cap-and-Trade’s Unlikely Critics: Its Creators Wall Street Journal (hat tip reader DoctoRx)

Obama on Drugs: 98% Cheney? Greg Palast

NYSE Liffe shuts down CDS clearing service Risk (hat tip reader Joseph M).

The Federal Reserve is Immoral Tim Iacono. Although Iacono goes for polemics, the redistributive effects of a steep yield curve (on top of all the other other subsidies to banks) has not gotten the attention it deserves.

47 percent of South Florida homeowners underwater on mortgages Miami Herald (hat tip reader John D)

A Global Surge in Tiny Loans Spurs Credit Bubble in a Slum Wall Street Journal. Can anyone say, “Too much global liquidity?”

Books: A plan to scan Financial Times. On Google’s digital scanning initiative.

Food Firms Warn of Sugar Shortage Wall Street Journal. I dimly recall reading a Vanity Fair article a few years back that recounted in nauseating detail how well connected the sugar lobby is.

Pequot and chairman face possible SEC charges Financial Times

Elizabeth Warren “We Have A Real Problem Coming” Tyler Durden

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Ed M):

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Richard Kline

    A putative 'Singularity' is the ultimate in vaporware. I would, seriously, roll on the floor laughing at so many nominally intelligent folks getting caught up in this except for the fact that the need for religious experience is so evident in this faith-based enterprise the ridicule, however deserved, would seem faintly sacriligeous. Now, I like a good exercise in science fiction as much as the next bloke, but it must be noted that this idea is leveraged upon ideas from science fiction _writers_, not researchers of any caliber in fuzzy learning, neuroscience, education, or really any discipline that deals with, say, empirical evidence.

    I have heard the bloated exuberance which passes for AI for forty years; in that time, the actual results of their efforts in producing same have progressed a teensy step. We still, despite that, have nothing that compares with the learning capacity of an eight-year-old human child. A dolphin would wup ass on most AI. A principal reason for that, of course, is that AI makes no effort in the main to simulate the processes of vertebrate cognition, which be it said are only dimly understood though actual progress is being made in that regard. As one may note, a putative singularity is placed nicely in the middle distance of the future in the friendly flexibility of '20-40 year' timeframe, i.e. sometime before or after the expiration of the proponent of the moment. The timeframe is meaningless as it is not tied to any specific program or research enterprise: it's a blue-sky number. AI has to be the least generative Big Science nexus one could bloviate upon without having to do archival research. Not to pop anyone's bubble or anything . . .

  2. Richard Kline

    And the idea that the internet has led to 'an increase in human intelligence' is just too, too funny. Look, I like the internet, and I even do some significant research via the internet. That said, one can't find a tiny fraction of the ideational and factual content available to the genus homo on the internet that one can find in an average graduate university library. And the inability of those who *wow* over the 'Net to grasp this simply illustrates their _lack of exposure_ to said graduate libraries or comparable institutions. The internet is a Big Idea for small minds. (Oops, did I say something wrong?) Now, it is a very potent medium for real time communication. And the fluidity of such communication has some real uses. I wouldn't begin to say that I grasp all the implications of that. But an increase in 'intelligence?' Intelligence isn't about speed, it's about substantive association of two data points, and that requires context and comprehension. The latter two capacities and in no way inherent in the 'Net, be it said: they have to be supplied by the user, who has exactly as much intellectual capacity as they did be fore they logged on, neither more nor less.

    What we really have in AI and in the Singularity Conjecture, to me, is a fundamental misunderstanding of both intelligence and human cognition in the first instance, a misunderstanding which is papered over with fuzzy slogans in the absence of facts. One of the interesting things about the internet in fact is that one can actually get some exposure to some really, really intelligent folks, via their websites for instance, in ways one wouldn't normally get. Their thought processes are not necessarily as evident in published material, which has a structure of narrative and argument and thus of intent. Seminaring with such folks gives greater depth to the concept of 'intelligence.' Go dig around Ralph Abraham's sites, or Gerhart t'Hooft. Or pick your own. Now that's intelligence. And when or if I encounter an interactive potential which can keep up with that or come up with something comparable, why then that would be a singular experience. I fully expect that the grandchildren of my niece and nephew will still be without such an experience, and I don't put my personal intellectual time on this Earth into bruiting about the idea. Personal choice; yer welcome to yer own.

    . . . I am far more comfortable in considering the Gaia Hypothesis than the Singularity Conjecture if I'm going to pick a Big Idea out of the Idea Bin to cogitate upon. I don't know that it's anymore valid, but I'll put my money on the Earth evolving a functional intelligence potential well before I'll put it on the genus homo collectively assembling one instead. We're too fond of fantasies and children's stories of the universe whereas the Earth but abides.

  3. Dikaios Logos

    Re: WSJ on microfinance in India. That article discusses conditions in a town near Bangalore where "Sholay", perhaps the greatest India movie ever was filmed. If you enjoyed the article, do check out the film.

    And re: the sugar lobby. Something a lot of people need to consider is that resource producers, including ag. and petroleum, are about as sickly connected as it gets. Outside of medical care, no markets are more distorted.

  4. DownSouth

    What a quaint, outdated and hopelessly pedestrian morality Tim Iacono has. Doesn't he realize that our nation's most celebrated elites–people like Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and Ben Bernanke–have already moved on to a totally new and innovative value system?

    The common man is still living in the mental world of Dickens, but nearly every modern intellecutal has gone over to some or other form of totalitarianism. From the Marxist or Fascist point of view, nearly all that Dickens stands for can be written off as "bourgeois morality."… The ordinary people in Western countries have never entered, mentally, into the world of "realism" and power-politics. They may do so before long, in which case Dickens will be as out of date as the cab-horse. But in his own age and ours he has been popular chiefly because he was able to express in comic, simplified and therefore memorable form the native decency of the common man… The most atrocious injustices, cruelties, lies, snobberies exist everywhere, but there are not many people who can regard these things with the same indifference as, say, a Roman slaveowner… Dickens voiced a code which was and on the whole still is believed in…

    –George Orwell, "Charles Dickens"

  5. Dave Raithel

    RE Corporations in campaigns: Another loose idea – political candidates may accept contributions only from people eligible to vote for the office of the political jurisdiction….

    Sure, that'll happen ….

  6. albert

    Onion's "Our long nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is over", article at the start of the Bush Administration, was all too prophetic. Begin to worry!

  7. Gman

    This comment is about the zebra picture. They're not being friendly. What they're doing is working together to keep an eye out for lions. The field of vision for each zebra is limited, but if they stand together like they are doing a lion can't sneak up behind them.

  8. Anonymous

    r.e. South Florida mortgages.

    Anything primarily quoting Zillow, as that AP article does, is automatically suspect.

    In SW Florida areas I'm personally familiar with Zillow often reports sales that never occurred at completely fictitious prices. In this particular area Zillow's estimates are lowballing the real time market by at least 10% to 15%.

    This is not from lack of digital data. It's lack of proper analysis.

    Zillow still has too much fuzz to be an authoritative source.

  9. Hugh

    Richard Kline, I think you are only talking about certain kinds of research. Legal briefs and opinions, government studies and reports, text of legislation, economic data, all of these things are much more accessible online than they are at "graduate" libraries. This access could be better and more complete, but it allows people like me to do real time analysis without waiting 2 years to see something comparable in a scholarly journal.

    I have fond memories of rooting around in a particularly good graduate library. But the fact is that about 95% of the research to be found in such a library is crap produced to satisfy the publish or perish culture of university promotion and tenure systems. Also most scholarly journals restrict access to their online material. It seems unfair to criticize the internet for lacking such "scholarly" material when the providers of such content refuse to make it available, especially since so much of that content either originates from a public university or is tied into some other kind of government funding. Another factor that keeps material off the internet is our insane copyright laws. Who does a copyright of author's death plus 70years (it was changed from 50 years in 1998) benefit, except a few family estates and large media corporations? Personally, I think a limit of author's death plus 20 is more than generous. I would require the copyright holder if a corporation to post an etext to a central online repository at the expiration of that term. For scholarly journals, I would require the same for all articles 3 years or older. As it is, corporations, various journals, and a few individuals have a stranglehold on material which the public as a legitimate interest in and which should be in the public domain.

    In this regard, google is providing a useful service although there is still a world of difference between a scanned text and an etext.

  10. emca

    On the Onion piece:

    Personally I'm partial to the idea idea of torching America to solve foreign indebtedness. The government can 'hedge' its physical assets, then (secretly or maybe allow angry citizens to do it) burn them down to collect its insurance money.
    A zero-sum accounting solution… or something like that.

Comments are closed.