Links 11/14/09

The deep-sea crab that eats trees BBC

Enemies need not be insane Christopher Caldwell, Financial Times. This piece makes a more important point.

Good news for slimmers as scientists rethink calorie counting Times. Huh? The UK has just about as bad an epidemic of overweight and obesity as the US, and the officialdom is saying it’s OK to eat….more? And one thing not well known in the US: the “healthy” ranges of weight for men and women (based on height) were shifted to heavier ranges in the 1980s (I believe). The current ranges are markedly higher than those considered healthy in the 1960s.

Britain the economic ‘sick man of Europe’ Independent. So much for all of the Euro-bashing during the crisis….but their banks hold a ton of toxic dreck relative to their capital bases.

Bair calls U.S. bank bailout “not a good thing” Reuters

Discretion and financial regulation Steve Waldman. A very smart post, but he underplays a key point, raised in his headline. Regulators were NOT very easily cowed pre 1980. Banks were both given more rope (a LOT more) and the environment changed. Before, the regime was “banks stay within their cage, they need to ask for waivers to get out.” The new assumption is “banks can wander freely on the savannah, maybe we’ll need to put electrical fences around a few watering holes filled with poison, but not much else.” We’ve seen what happens when we let them wander, the government has to fly in Medivacs as huge public expense to rescue them from their own excessive venturesomenesss. I would submit the big default is the “regulate as an exceptional event” default, which makes regulators timid about decision-making and makes them disinclined and slow to act.

The Tippling Point Josh Reviews Everything

Study: 2,266 Veterans Died Last Year Because Of Lack Of Health Care Boom2Bust

Employment Policy Robert Waldmann, Angry Bear

Sinking Dem polls force Stimulus 2.0 James Pethokoukis

Job Losses Mount, Enduring and Deep Floyd Norris, New York Times.

It’s the stupidity economy Paul Krugman.

Goldman To Private Insurers: No Health Care Reform At All Is Best Huffington Post (hat tip reader John D)

SP 500 Volumes and Cash Flows Fading Jesse

Morgan Stanley’s Roach Says Yuan Concern ‘Seriously Overblown’ Bloomberg. Hhm, everyone gives lip service to rebalancing but no one is willing to take the pain. See Death by Renminbi Thomas Palley for a contrasting take.

Superstar CEOs Suck Paul Kedrosky. One of my favorite early bear calls on a CEO was Michael Armstrong (and I told everyone I knew to sell AT&T in May 1999. No one listened, of course…).

Investigating Iceland’s financiers Financial Times. Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Tim C). I may have featured the first picture, but lacked the whole story.

Black bears typically have two cubs; rarely, one or three. In 2007, in northern New Hampshire, a black bear Sow gave birth to five healthy young. There were two or three reports of sows with as many as 4 cubs, but five was, and is, very extraordinary. I learned of them shortly after they emerged from their den and set myself a goal of photographing all five cubs with their mom – no matter how much time and effort was involved. I knew the trail they followed on a fairly regular basis, usually shortly before dark. After spending nearly four hours a day, seven days a week, for more than six weeks, I had that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and photographed them. I used the equivalent of a very fast film speed on my digital camera. The print is properly focused and well exposed, with all six bears posing as if they were in a studio for a family portrait.


I stayed in touch with other people who saw the bears during the summer and into the fall hunting season. All six bears continued to thrive. As time for hibernation approached, I found still more folks who had seen them, and everything remained OK. I stayed away from the bears as I was concerned that they might become habituated to me, or to people in general, and treat them as `approachable friends’. This could easily become dangerous for both man and animal.

After Halloween, I received no further reports and could only hope the bears survived until they hibernated.

This spring, just before the snow disappeared, all six bears came out of their den and wandered all over the same familiar territory they trekked in the spring of 2007.

I saw them before mid-April and dreamed nightly of taking another family portrait, a highly improbable second once-in-a-lifetime photograph.

On 25 April 2008, I achieved my dream.


When something as magical as this happens between man and animal, Native Americans say, “We have walked together in the shadow of a rainbow”. And so it is with humility and great pleasure that I share these exhilarating photos with you. Do pass them on!

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  1. attempter

    That bear story’s cool. I’ve had quite a few bear encounters myself this past year, while hiking and in my own yard. (Luckily they seem to have kept away from my garden, or more likely the fence thwarted them.)

    Good news for slimmers as scientists rethink calorie counting Times. Huh? The UK has just about as bad an epidemic of overweight and obesity as the US, and the officialdom is saying it’s OK to eat….more? And one thing not well known in the US: the “healthy” ranges of weight for men and women (based on height) were shifted to heavier ranges in the 1980s (I believe). The current ranges are markedly higher than those considered healthy in the 1960s.

    More green shoots, eh? More numbers manipulation to make things look rosy when that pesky reality refuses to cooperate.

    “The healthy ranges of weight were shifted” – the same manipulative process as for unemployment, inflation, GDP….

  2. Swedish Lex

    On Eva Joly.

    I recommend reading her books on the ELF affair. I was already living in France at the time of the prosecution and the trials. A real-life David vs. Goliath story.

    More recent French corruption trials concern e.g. the former Minister of the Interior, Charles Pasqua, who a few weeks ago was sentenced by a court (first instance) on grounds of corruption. Pasqua, 82 years old and headed for prison is now doing his best to take as many of his fellow criminals with him, including former President Chirac:

    What Elf and “Angolagate” have in common is that they both ultimately concern France’s need to secure access to raw materials and, above all, to oil. Hence, take away the dependence on crude and the “strategic” need for France to engage openly and covertly with criminal regimes on other continents will decrease.Sarkozy has made noises about a strategic shift on the policy on Africa, with a decrease in military presence over time, breaking with the policies of his predecessors:

    As regards the FT story on Joly and Iceland, it omits to put Joly’s involvement in Icelandic affairs in the light of the country’s bid to join the EU through a fast-track procedure. Iceland, which until very recently was opposed to EU membership, has changed course 180 and earlier this year asked to join. Besides the difficult issue of adapting Iceland’s policy on fisheries with that of the EU, Iceland has to prove its credentials and using Joly is a step to demonstrate good will. The Icelanders hope that the country will be able to join the EU in record time.

    From the perspective of regulatory reform in the EU, it is a pity that Joly chairs the EU Parliament’s Development Committee and is not instead a prominent member of other committees that deals with financial regulation and white collar crime.

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      They are correct, in the e-mail they were “mime attachment” and I have a zillion of those. I labeled them myself in downloading them, and the fact that in the “save” feature they put them in the wrong order, hence my labeling them differently, should not matter.

    1. fresno dan

      Thanks to the link to the article – pretty much what I believe after years of trying to control my cholesterol and now blood sugar

      “The crucial example of how the low-fat recommendations were oversimplified is shown by the impact — potentially lethal, in fact — of low-fat diets on triglycerides, which are the component molecules of fat.”

      I remember going all carb about 10 or 15 years ago, except for tuna fish and chicken, and catching hell from my cardiologist about my cholesterol. Ever more drugs in ever higher dosages. When the blood sugar got out of control, I went back to my physiology textbook and had a D’oh moment – of course excess carbs get turned into triglycerides – fat precursors.

      1. rtalcott

        I am an experimentalist by training….been doing high tech start-ups all my career and when I started reading diet stuff I was amazed…most of it seemed like really bad science…experimental work done by people who knew nothing of even basic experimental design and certainly not good enough as scientist to question their own theories…what I read was a lot of “change the universe to fit your equation” stuff.

        Low carb made sense to me so I decided to perform the experiment and it was clear that for me it worked quite well…took all of maybe a month for me to “dry out” and after that the results were stunning….and that was 7 years ago…the weight is still gone.

        There is a HUGE amount of diet/health bs out there and from the NYT piece you can see some of the bad science and the politics. people need to be able to see through the bs themselves but unfortunately…generally speaking…we appear to be way to stupid for that.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          It isn’t even science, I had to get to the guys who consult to sports teams (by happenstance) to find people who know what is and isn’t bunk in what purports to be nutrition science. And similarly, the vast majority of trainers in gyms don’t know the basics of exercise physiology, so most of what goes on there is not very productive to downright dangerous (I have a chronic knee injury thanks to bad training).

        2. jean

          Gary Taubes ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’: an excellent and extensive review of the terrible history of food science. It’s a long and somewhat tough read due to the detailed descriptions of both the bad science and the good, but highly worth it. We need fat to live. We need protein. Carbs…not so much, if at all.

  3. Ed

    I didn’t read the calorie piece, but there is considerable evidence that the main culprit in the obesity epidemic is simply industrial agriculture. I’ve had success in keeping my weight down simply by reading lists of ingredients in what I buy and not buying anything listing more than a few ingredients (with high fructose corn syrup right out). This seems more important than counting calories. Restaurants are more difficult, but I’ve learned over time to eat out less often, and somewhat more expensive restaurants with higher quality ingredients.

    I live in the US, and the situation is not as bad in other countries. I’d hate to be poor in the US, its really hard to get cheap food that won’t poison you.

  4. rtalcott

    My “secret” to dropping 60+ pounds in late 2002 early 2003 was learning to avoid carbs…I don’t even think about calories. I am very carb sensitive and I have learned that if I control carb intake everything stays in control. I also walk every day and hike on the weekends.

    I too try to avoid any prepared food and eat less but better. My guess is that each individual needs to discover what works for them.

    1. fresno dan

      When I was in my physiology class, my professor stated that (due to such things as the citric acid cycle – a chemical pathway that your body uses in energy production)you could eat noting but butter and it wouldn’t make a difference.
      Well, now that I have pre-diabetes and a long standing cholesterol problem, I have drastically reduced my carbs.
      Results are that I am about 20 pounds lighter and my cholesterol (undoubtedly make higher because of my extremely high triglyceride levels…due to all the carbs)levels have come down a great deal while simultaneously reducing medication.

      I love noodles, rice, bread, pasta – but they are high calorie delivery devices that deliver vast quantities of simple sugars to your system that it was never designed to handle.

      1. rtalcott

        I do know some people who have not been able to make the low carb diet work for them. I don’t expect anything to work for everyone but I do believe that most people can either control or at least modify their weight if they actually make a serious attempt. I too love carbs but the choice is either carry around a lot of extra weight or eat much less of them and feel a LOT better. I am fortunate because for me it’s a HUGE difference which makes it a no-brainer trade.

        Six months after I started on this diet my Mother went to the Doc (she lives with me so we “share” the diet). The Doc had been doing blood work every six months and he was stunned by the change in her blood chemistry over the last 6 months….everything had gotten MUCH better…he could not explain it but it made sense to me….we cut out the carbs…


  5. bob goodwin

    re: Enemies need not be insane

    This article was written by the weekly standard. We know those guys are crazy, because they do not believe in diversity.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Clever, but Caldwell is often surprisingly sensible for someone who writes for the Weekly Standard.

      1. ComparedToWhat?

        The problem I had with the piece is that it ignored the Oklahoma City bombing, which did quite a bit of killing and arguably more “terrorism”. (How much has been spent to fortify federal facilities in its wake? The local joint BLM/Forest Service building is way, way more locked down than was the Canadian embassy in Tunis when I visited in 2000.)

        Depending on which side of the bed I wake up on, I’m a deist, agnostic or atheist. I view all three branches of Middle Eastern monotheism as dangerous death cults.

        From the Beeb today: “Yaakov Teitel, an American immigrant who lives in the West Bank, faces 14 charges, including two counts of murder and three of attempted murder. ‘God is proud of what I have done,’ Mr Teitel said in court.”

        I’ve done solo budget travel off the beaten track in something like 50 countries including the Islam-majority countries of Malaysia, Morocco and Tunisia (total of about four months in those). Based on that experience and reading the news, I see no reason to conflate Islam or political Islamism with mass murder.

        Speaking of which, “A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company… claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince ‘views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,’ and that Prince’s companies ‘encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.'”

        Have the actions of contractor cowboys who view themselves as Christian crusaders eventually resulted in grievous harm and loss of life to American men and women serving in our armed forces? I’m afraid so, and the toll is likely much more than forty.

        The tragedy at Fort Hood is all too reminiscent of September 11, 2001. In both cases there is evidence that various authorities could and should have acted to head it off, but they did not. Just as cockpit doors should’ve been secured years before 9/11 (as El-Al did), there should’ve been quick, easy, painless and effective ways to concentrate attention on the likes of Major Nidal. That goes for the crusader types, too.

      2. Bob Goodwin

        You missed that I was making fun of the left, not the right. But there is plenty of fodder on both sides.

  6. john bougearel


    Good find on Eva Joly, I vaguely remember her name. May take Swedish Lex up on his book recommendation, well in fact I will.

    Always appreciate your “today’s must reads.” From the FT article:

    she [Joly] is at the epicentre of one of the most dramatic cases spawned by the global credit crunch. If there was any wrongdoing by financiers that propelled Iceland into virtual bankruptcy – and Joly is certain there was – she will help to unearth it. And nothing from past experience suggests she will keep quiet if she finds evidence of unlawful behaviour beyond Iceland’s shores – as she is certain she will.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    For a moment, I thought Krugman wrote ‘It’s them stupid economists!’

    I think it’s time for the annual cleaning of my glasses.

  8. Glen

    It’s just appalling that so many veterans are needlessly dieing through a lack of government support yet there’s an endless government sponsored printing press running to support the banking industry who reward themselves with billions in bonuses on the back of tax payer support. True scum of the earth.

  9. joebek

    In “It’s the stupidity economy”, PK despairs of the Fed ever adopting his preferred solution to the nation’s quandry.
    “The first-best answer … would be to credibly commit to higher inflation, so as to reduce real interest rates.” It’s possible that the recent action in gold suggests that the Fed has already succeed in in that. Just because a lot of the blogs bloviate against inflation and Fed itself says it still is anti-inflation matters not a wit. What counts are the actions. The action in gold suggests that the market is very convinced the Fed will consistently and over the long haul promote substantial inflation.

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