Links 10/12/09

Dying to make us happy: The bloody truth behind the dolphinarium Independent. This is sad but important. There is considerable evidence that dolphins are smarter than great apes, perhaps as intelligent as humans (and more altruistic to boot).

Masai warriors ‘protect’ lions BBC

A new route beyond the Last Frontier Los Angeles Times (hat tip reader DoctoRx)

Melting glaciers bring 1980s pollution revival New Scientist (hat tip reader John D)

Net Cemetery Jeffrey Rosen, The New Republic (hat tip reader David W).

Health care costs stymie hiring Times Union (hat tip reader John D)

WITN?: Yahoo didn’t sentence 200,000 Iranians to death, and other misadventures in online journalism Tech Crunch. A problem with this piece (and most commentary on blogging) is that it treats blogging as a unitary phenomenon, when blogging as journalism is a different activity than blogging as commentary (while some bloggers do both, most do one or the other).

Why Email No Longer Rules… Wall Street Journal. Sorry, I refuse to use mobile communications. I am at my computer most of the day and think short form intrusive communications are bad for one’s mental health. You can call me if you need to get my attention, otherwise it can wait until I am back at my desk. Moreover, the quality of these communication generally sucks (not that e-mail is great either, mind you, but this type is generally a notch or two worse). I know of one VC who refuses to use mobile communications devices (save a cell phone for calls) precisely because he finds quick burst communications lead to reactive decisions, and he chooses to make himself not-so-hyper available so he can reflect a tad before acting.

U.S. softens tone to improve China relations Reuters

China Nurtures Futures Markets in Bid to Sway Commodity Prices Wall Street Journal (hat tip DoctoRx)

Ditch the Directive: UK stands up for hedge funds Telegraph (hat tip reader Swedish Lex). Um, who said race to the bottom and regulatory arbitrage?

Cash machines were monitored every hour during banking crisis Guardian

The State of Monetary Chevelle. Despite the unprepossessing title, this is a mighty fine post.

A Second Great Depression Is Still Possible Thomas Palley.

Wall Street vs. Reform Bill Moyers. An interview of Simon Johnson and Marcy Kaptur, Congresswoman from Ohio.

Gore Vidal’s United States of fury Independent (hat tip reader Skippy). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:


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  1. fresno dan

    “Why Email No Longer Rules…”
    I read my e-mails at 6 am (the previous day’s). What I find are long strings due to some imaginary “crisis” that after about half a day peter out. Turns out the hooha was a big time suckhole.

    Most e-mails are unthought and unproductive

  2. Jane Rosen

    Ms. Smith:

    (Can’t quickly find a contact for you, so am posting this in the comments section.)

    You seem to be animal-friendly. I therefore ask that you reconsider posting in the Antidote du Jour section pictures of animals in awkward and unnatural positions and situations. Please do not use pictures from individuals who have clearly staged the picture.

    I noted this first a few weeks ago with regard to the photo of the cat with newborn hamsters(?) all over its head. Considering their eyes were not even open yet, I doubt they crawled up there by themselves. One swipe of the cat’s paw in response to the unaccustomed stimulus on its head would likely end several of these little lives.

    The picture yesterday prompted me to write this. The bird has its wing extended to cover the young rodent. In fact, of course, birds don’t do this. I surmise it would have been necessary to force the bird’s wing outward by pulling on the wing tip (against the bird’s resistnce, and natural tendency to retain the wing close to its body), shove the rodent underneath, and then quickly take the picture. While the rodent may not necessarily mind this, the bird would likely have been traumatized. I don’t know if other, even less palatable measures were taken to force the animals to remain in position, or how many attempts were necessary to get the shot. As a human who has been owned by a parrot for almost 11 years now, I do recognize that the bird’s wing is in an awkward and very likely painful position.

    I have never found animal entertainers particularly amusing. Not dolphins, not dancing bears with rings through their noses, and not animals posed with party hats tied to their heads. Inappropriate use of animals is sometimes subtle, and it can take a while for us to see the light.

    Otherwise, I do enjoy the A du J feature, and look forward, of course, to the intelligent and diverse articles and comments here.

  3. sux2bme

    It is just a sign of the times where way too many people confuse activity with productivity … they are not the same.

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Just so that people don’t say I only bash humans, this monkey here apparently carries a deadly congenital disease knowns as celebrity-wannabee sickness.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Regarding Vidal’s United States of fury, when Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were still around, amateur citiznens could deal effectively with all levels of government, but today, we need professional citizens to run our democrazy, sorry, democracy. That’s how complex the world has become.

    No more hordes of amateur citizens exercising their citizenship for fun, love and patriotism, but a small yet highly trained (advanced degrees required) corps of professional citizens paid to exercise their citizenship.

    Just remember, you heard it first here – we need professional citizens.

    If this republic degenerates into an empire, it’s because of those amateur citizens who could be regularly swayed by a 15 second commercial that turns a 54-45 poll into a 47-53 poll.

    1. DownSouth

      MyLessThanPrimeBeef said: “Just remember, you heard it first here – we need professional citizens.”

      Not hardly. It was Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just, over two hundred years ago, who is credited with first verbalizing the “realism” you speak of–the despair of the people’s political capabilities.

      And the US has never been a democracy. It’s always been a republic as distinguished from a democracy, where a small number of citizens assemble and administer the government in person. But representative government, according to the men of the revolution, was much more than a technical device for government among large populations: limitation to a small and chosen body of citizens was to serve as the great purifier of both interest and opinion, to guard “against the confusion of the multitude.” (The Federalist, number 51)

      One result of this form of government was the evolvement of the party system. “[N]either the people in general nor the political scientists in particular have left much doubt that the parties, because of their monopoly of nominations, cannot be regarded as popular organs, but that they are, on the contrary, the very efficient instruments through which the power of the people is curtailed and controlled,” Hannah Arendt observes in On Revolution.

      And, as she goes on to conclude, your pessimistic and rather cynical view derives from the fact that you “take for granted that there is not, and never has been, any alternative to the present system.”

      The fruit of your pessimism is the current miserable state of political affairs in which we currently find ourselves, which Arendt predicted some 45 years ago:

      [F]rom the very beginning, the party as an institution presupposed either that the citizen’s participation was not necessary and that the newly admitted strata of the population should be content with representation, or, finally, that all political questions in the welfare state are ultimately problems of administration, to be handled and decided by experts, in which case even the representatives of the people hardly possess an authentic area of action but are administrative officers, whose business, though in the public interest, is not essentially different from the business of private management.

      This has resulted in a silent coup by the “scientist-kings” (Niebuhr) or “problem-solvers” (Arendt) like Robert McNamara et al or Greenspan/Geithner/Bernanke/Summers, and we all know how those movies ended.

      1. DownSouth

        The notion that the masses are incapable of prudent self-government actually goes back much further than Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just, coming down to us from the Greeks. It was Plato who coined the phrase “philosopher-kings,” the forerunner to our modern “scientist-kings.”

    2. Skippy

      I was quite horrified at your suggestion that anyone could be considered an amateur citizen (DOB not withstanding) or that one must have an *advanced degree required*, your statement smacks of the worst kind of elitism.

      Above said whilst in complete agreement with the level of information/attention span you suggest, one needs to participate in the discussion at any length.

      I say go after the identity’s that corrupted our republic, the moneyed interest’s that infiltrated the very fabric of our society and perverted the discussion. Don’t protest on the White house lawn move it to Wall st., go to the source, if some one or industry is funneling bribes *cough campaign contributions* take the fight to their door. The Polly’s will move if they think its in their best interests. Which can be accomplished by drying up the well of cash from out side interests.

      Skippy…as Ben said “if you can hold it” and history tells us we did not put up much of a fight or for very long.

  6. pmorrisonfl

    vis > I am at my computer most of the day and think short form intrusive communications are bad for one’s mental health.

    Donald Knuth is as revered among computer scientists as, say, Keynes, Friedman or perhaps even Smith are revered among their economist devotees. He gave up on email in 1990, saying “Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things.”. Google for the link if you wish, I don’t want to spam you or him.

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