Links 11/18/09

Plastic chemicals ‘feminise boys’ BBC. I can buy the theory that plastics have a health impact, but I am immediately suspicious of a study that defines a propensity to play with toy cars as an indicator of masculine behavior (this from someone whose favorite toy at age 3 was a crash car. My youthful fascination with machinery that comes apart spectacularly seems to have found an adult outlet).

The Coming Nuclear Crisis MIT Technology Review. How come no one is talking about Peak Uranium?

Ripe for the Plucking, but Fewer Dare to Try New York Times

Have Home Prices Only Fallen 1/4 of the Way to Trend? Jesse

What Stinkin’ Inflation? PPI Edition EconomPic Data

Print Email Share Add to My Stories

Scientology a ‘criminal organisation’ ABC News

Leveraging Big-Time by Local Development Companies Victor Shih (hat tip reader Michael)

Mummy Scans Show Clogged Arteries as ‘Old as Moses’ in Study Bloomberg (hat tip reader DoctoRx

Climate Rage Naomi Klein, Rolling Stone (hat tip reader John D)

KDB’s Min Rues ‘Very Good Opportunity’ Missed in Lehman Failure Bloomberg. Further support for my pet theory that Lehman could have found an investor and Fuld himself blew the deal

Chance of Great Depression Now 5%… Brad DeLong

How do we pay for all this? The Monthly (video of Steve Keen, hat tip reader Skippy)

Balderdash (n) – fiddle-faddle, piffle (trivial nonsense), hokum Cassandra. I do enjoy Bernanke bashing.

Robert Reich: Obama, China, and Wishful Thinking About American Jobs Huffington Post

Antidote du jour:

Picture 52

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. charles

    Regarding the “coming nuclear crisis” article, it stems from a series of articles from Michael Dittmar that he published on the oil drum.
    The nuclear industry knew for a long time that uranium resources are limited. This is why breeder development has been going on since the 70’s, with operational reactors running in France, Japan and Russia. Industrial usage and R&D has stopped for purely political and economical reasons in the 90’s, not technical.
    What politics has killed, politics will resuscitate when resource constraints become more acute.
    As far as economics is concerned, it is merely the effect of myopia : when people talk about energy prices, they talk about the price that they are going to pay in 1 or 5 years time. Nuclear and Large hydro are the only technologies where you can quote a fixed price for power in 20 years time. As in a yield curve, long forward prices are higher than short term prices, but as in a yield curve, it is foolhardy to base a long term energy strategy on short term resources like Natgas.

    1. pmr9

      The peak uranium argument has been repeatedly demolished, in comments on the oildrum site and elsewhere: see for instance Mackay’s book at Even if uranium mines were to run out, there is enough uranium in seawater to supply all the world’s energy needs for thousands of years (especially with breeders that reduce uranium requirements 60-fold).

      The technology for seawater extraction of uranium (using ion-exchange mesh hanging in ocean currents) has been demonstrated, but is not used at present because mined uranium is cheaper. The higher cost of uranium from seawater (~ $400 per kg against $50/kg for mined uranium) wouldn’t noticeably alter the economics of nuclear power, as raw uranium costs are only a very small proportion of nuclear energy costs.

  2. rjs

    Electricity for Americans From Russia’s Old Nuclear Weapons – NYTimes – What’s powering your home appliances? For about 10 percent of electricity in the United States, it’s fuel from dismantled nuclear bombs, including Russian ones. But if more diluted weapons-grade uranium isn’t secured soon, the pipeline could run dry, with ramifications for consumers, as well as some American utilities and their Russian suppliers. In the last two decades, nuclear disarmament has become an integral part of the electricity industry

  3. CKMichaelson

    I recall discussions of ‘peak uranium’ being popular a year or more ago at The Oil Drum. Pretty much it comes down to yet another religious argument with the cornucopians being true believers in techonogy (or God) providing, and the pessimists usually being better informed. Much like peak oil, overpopulation and global climate change, this threat to continuing the status quo is met with fear, an unreasonble faith in technology, and greed. Hubbert’s curve fits this resource, too; it’s just a matter of where we are on the curve now.

  4. DownSouth

    The Steve Keen lecture is outstanding.

    I don’t know that Keen has all the answers, but his critique of the one true religion embraced by 95% of Anglo economists is certainly a welcome breath of fresh air.

    Hannah Arendt wrote this in regards to McNamara et al, but it certainly applies to Bernanke, Geithner, Summers and the rest of Team Obama:

    No reality and no common sense could penetrate the minds of the problem-solvers, who indefatigably prepared their scenarios for “relevant audiences” in order to change their states of mind…

    The bureaucratic model had completely replaced reality: the hard and stubborn facts which so many intelligence analysts were paid to collect, were ignored. I am not sure that the evils of bureaucracy suffice as an explanation, though they certainly facilitated this defactualization. At any rate, the relation, or, rather, nonrelation, between facts and decision, between the intelligence community and the civilian and military services, is perhaps the most momentous, and certainly the best-guarded, secret that the Pentagon papers revealed.
    –Hannah Arendt, Crises of the Republic, from the chapter “Lying in Politics”

  5. DownSouth

    The Robert Reich piece is also quite good, far superior to the line of bosh Niall Ferguson—another died-in-the wool neoliberal/neoimperialist type who has allowed ideology to completely blinker reality—fed us in yesterday’s links.

    The thing is that while the Niall Ferguson types, whose way of “thinking” dominates US leadership, are out tilting windmills, the Chinese have a well thought out, pragmatic plan. Perhaps no one said it better than Robert D. Steele in his book review of John W. Garver’s China and Iran: Ancient Partners in a Post-Imperial World:

    China Core Concept. The strategic core concept that China pursues is “Unified Front.” The author elaborates. I note the contrast with US core concept of “American exceptionalism” and unilateralism (Obama is Empire as usual, I have sponsored a new meme, “Free Obama.” Between the two corrupt parties working for Wall Street, and the persistent special interests and Versailles bureaucracy, nothing has changed). At the operational level, the author discusses Chinese “Realistic Prudence.”

    Team Obama, informed by quixotic ideologies articulated by the likes of Niall Ferguson, is just a repeat of Team McNamara, as described here by Hannah Arendt:

    The ultimate aim was neither power nor profit. Nor was it even influence in the world in order to serve particular, tangible interests for the sake of which prestige, an image of the “greatest power in the world,” was needed and purposefully used. The goal was now the image itself, as is manifest in the very language of the problem-solvers, with their “scenarios” and “audiences,” borrowed from the theater.

  6. mangy cat

    guess my best bet is to plead clemency on grounds that sucked too much chrome yellow paint off my lead soldiers as a kid caused irreversible brain damage

  7. chad

    The slashdot crowd thinks thorium reactors are the answer to a uranium shortage. But they admit that it would take years to build the infrastructure for thorium and the NIMBY crowd will never let it happen anyway.

  8. john

    What this article is talking about has been in the scientific literature for a decade or two as “estrogen mimicking compounds”. It is a real problem. As a congenital Luddite and penny pincher I’ve not been able to access the web site for Nature to which I have a paper subscription, but I’ve read several articles there on the subject. The Science section in the Economist also tracks this. I did however find this recently:

  9. Frt21

    Post of the week – Our Economy is on Steroids

    Birds are singing, the sun is shining, and life is beautiful again. On the surface, the vital signs of our economy are improving with every economic report. In some areas, like unemployment, the rate of decline is decelerating. In others, like GDP, decline is turning into growth.

    The stock market is behaving as if the history of the last 20 years is about to repeat itself. Recession will turn into a robust expansion. Stock prices are discounting an expectation of robust earnings recovery to a level only slightly below the pre-financial crisis level, and risk-taking is in vogue again as the performance of junky stocks trumps quality.

    The global economy reminds me of a marathon runner who runs too hard and hurts himself. But now he has another race to run. So he’s injected with some serious, industrial-quality steroids, and away he goes.

    As the steroids kick in, his pace accelerates, as if the injury never happened. He’s up and running, so he must be okay — at least this is the impression we get, judging from his speed and his progress. What we don’t see is what’s behind this athlete’s terrific performance — the steroids.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    No one is talking about Peak Uranium because Peak Brain arrived some time ago.

    But you don’t see people talk about Peak Brain, do you?

    As for stinkin’ inflation, I have a question for our honorable and esteemed dismal-scientiests. Is inflation a hidden tax or an attempted robbery?

  11. i on the ball patriot

    I don’t think ‘peak uranium’ would be a problem if we didn’t have ‘peak rich people’ and ‘peak corporations’.

    Warren Buffet, or a major corporation, is like a voracious fifteen mile high giant parasitic rat whose greed glands compel him/it to consume too much of all the wrong shit. Do we really need personal high speed jets, 10,000 square foot mansions, mega yachts, etc.?

    Do we really need rich people and corporations so big that they can buy the government and make unfair laws that exploit, exclude and impoverish the rest of us?

    Whatever you love most is your god.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Talk about mega yatchs. That reminds me of the truism that we have been experiencing a rising that lifts all yatches.

      But what happens to those without yatches?

      A rising tide drowns all those without yatches!!!

      Be wary of what you wish for.

  12. Hugh

    chad is right about thorium as an alternative to uranium. In general, all of these are subsumed by what is called “peak energy”. The last estimates I saw on this placed it at around 2030.

    The Naomi Klein piece was disappointing. She is talking about large wealth transfers to developing countries as “reparations” for global warming which affects them disproportionately and which they did little to contribute to. While calls for reparations are a great way to antagonize a target group, I have never seen them as persuasive. While funding to the developing world is sensible to help them cope with global warming, Klein says not one word about how such funds would be dispersed. In particular, I am thinking about the problem of corruption. Without strict controls I don’t see this so much as a transfer of wealth to poorer countries but rather to their corrupt elites.

    I don’t follow DeLong. His 5% chance of a Great Depression seems like CYA. He should look at the numbers, look at our ineffective, captured elites, think about the consequences of all this, and compare this to what there is out there that will keep us from going into another Great Depression. I’m betting on this last, he would come up empty.

    1. gordon

      It’s fun, nowadays, to watch Americans worrying about corruption in other countries. I suppose there are Indonesians, Ghanaians, even Afghans who worry about corruption in America.

    2. none

      I found the more I read into ‘climate change’ the weaker the case was for man-made causes and the more evidence I found that the theories were largely and successfully promoted by very well-funded groups. is an excellent non-partisan site that covers many issues.

      I’ve always thought Naomi Klein was over-rated. When she goes beyond saying the exact same thing that dozens of others who are less publicity-savvy have covered already, her intellectual limitations are exposed.

      She’s a clear, articulate writer, but at the bottom, just another simplistic ideologue.

      The problem isn’t ‘the West’ per se, but the grossly excessive lifestyles of the super-rich. ‘Poor’, ‘non-western’ countries have more than their share of jet set billionaires too and who do you think would likely benefit from these ‘reparations’ were they ever enacted?

      I find the ‘left’ often do as poor a job as the ‘right’ in terms of fundamentally challenging elitist hegemony in any pragmatic sense anymore (anything to stick it to the middle-class). Give me a cloth-capped dirty-coal loving Arthur Scargill over her any day.

  13. i on the ball patriot

    I don’t worry about those without yatches. I worry more about those who have been retraded buy thee umpire.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  14. Mr. Do

    “The Disappearing Male.” Just to emphasize vv111y’s link, this is an excellent documentary investigating the “man-killers.”

Comments are closed.