Links 12/18/09

Saving Earth From an Asteroid Will Take Diplomats, Not Heroes Wired

Archaeologists Claim They’ve Found Lost City Of Atlantis Huffington Post (hat tip reader John D)

For suicidal Japanese, help is finally at hand Associated Press (hat tip reader Nick)

Arise, Web Users! The Big Money

Study Shows High Fructose Corn Syrup May Cause Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease Consumerist (hat tip reader John D). It took this long to figure that out?

Harvard ‘Swaps’ So Toxic Even Larry Summers Won’t Explain Them Bloomberg

Obama’s mortgage mod plan lets bankers reject borrowers and auction their houses without any written notification McClatchy (hat tip Lambert Strether)

New ice age for bankers Robert Peston, BBC. Peston thinks some noises being made by the the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision could have major ramifications. But it takes a bloody long time for those rules to be negotiated and implemented. I need to read the report ASAP myself…which is not happening till well into next week at the earliest, sadly.

Antidote du jour:


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  1. Richard Smith

    An Atlantis story!

    Mankind must think up a use for gullible journalists. It seems to be a limitless resource.

    Loved the pics.

    1. Moopheus

      HuffPo seems to be trying to be the left-wing answer to Fox News. Deepak Chopra, RFK Jr’s anti-vaxxers, nothing is too woo for them.

  2. Elephant swims

    After trod-ing on a factual land mine here (huffo) earlier (still looking for my legs, but have taken the precaution of removing any dentistry and applied tourniquet) today. I must remind myself of Yves links on some peoples need to believe in all things that go bump in the night. If I don’t pull though fly my body around the blog as a warning ok.

    Archaeological derivatives, if you give me money, I’ll tell you a secret.

  3. Francois T

    About high fructose corn syrup: similar results to the ones linked to, have been known for a long time.

    But, in this country known as the United Corporations of America, trade groups are allowed by an ultra-lenient judicial system to sue anyone (most especially the scientists) that has data contrary to the interests of the industry.

  4. dearieme

    “Over 10 weeks, 16 volunteers …”: oh for heaven’s sake. Tell us, Yves, in what way HFCS differs from sucrose to explain its lethality. If the key difference is that HFCS is 55% fructose whereas sucrose is effectively 50% fructose, does that imply that fructose is so deadly that we should all stop eating fruit?

    Or is it just that Americans guzzle down hugely excessive quantities of sugars and it scarcely matters in what form? In which case all might be well if Americans started drinking like adults i.e. replace coke and suchlike by water, beer, wine, tea and so on.

    1. nowhereman

      The problem as I see it, is one of choice. That is, we don’t have a choice, it’s in everything. As an informed consumer, reading labels has become a habit. You’d be surprised what you’ll find.
      The highest trans fats occur in “tropical” oils, like palm oil, check the labels, palm oil is in practically all baked goods because it’s cheap. The same with HFCS. Try to avoid it.
      By the way fructose is not the same as High fructose corn syrup.
      It’s been a long time since the FDA represented the consumer.

  5. Doug Terpstra

    From what I can tell, McClatchy’s article on HAMP-enabled preemptive auctions is FALSE

    It states: “borrowers must waive important notification rights…This clause allows banks to reject borrowers without any written notification and move straight to auctioning off their homes without any warning.”

    Scandalous, hideous, but according to Fannie’s HAMP Servicing Guide, it is FALSE

    “The servicer may not require a borrower to waive legal rights as a condition of the HAMP”

    I could not find independent confirmation of McClatchy’s article, but if true, it is a fatal indictment of the Obama maladministration. That is not unthinkable given its proven deference to banksters, but such an egregious and treacherous form of terrorism should be painstakingly fact-checked before broadcasting it.

    1. attempter

      Why are you inclined to think if there’s a discrepancy between guidelines and reported practice that the report is probably false?

      On the contrary, all the evidence is that there’s no law, rule, or guideline these criminals won’t violate if they think they can get away with it, and that they usually do get away with it.

      That’s of course primarily Obama’s fault since he took office, and I agree that any report like this is absolutely damning of him, whether any particular report is “true” or not (since it certainly could be true and sounds true, given Obama’s willful practice).

      1. Doug Terpstra

        It just seems such an intolerable outrage, and in my own (admittedly brief) search, I couldn’t find any other confirmation. I suppose I just don’t want to believe in such determined cruelty.

        The other point is that if true and contrary to written law, then a victim would at least have legal recourse; thankfully judges have not yet been turned en masse and cpatured by the dark side. Failing that, it
        would constitute unequivocal moral license to take the law into one’s own hands. Since Obama’s DOJ seems to be brain-dead, we may well be nearing that tipping point of vigilante justice.

  6. dearieme

    “By the way fructose is not the same as High fructose corn syrup.” Quite: HFCS is 55% fructose, 45% glucose. But sucrose is effectively 50% fructose, 50% glucose (connected by a weak bridge that opens at acid pH e.g. in your stomach).
    Given that, why is HFCS so super-dreadful? Or is the problem simply overconsumption of sugars? Or, for all I know, overconsumption of carbohydrates in total? But whatever it is, 10 weeks and 16 volunteers…. I ask you!

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    That Associated Press story about help for suicidal Japanese…I haven’t read it, but let me guess, is it, ‘Don’t watch any samurai movies?’

  8. sherparick

    Arnold Kling has interesting post today on a matter that is an on-going discussion on this blog. My politics differ from Klings, and I think the Keynsians describe reality better then the neo-classicals, but I think he has a point here about the difference between a “conspiracy” and “groupthink.” However, I do admit that the results are pretty much the same.

    Arnold Kling: The Goldman-Harvard Filter

    “My position on breaking up banks generates questions from two groups. Libertarians ask, how can I justify breaking up private sector institutions? Naive liberals ask, why is this policy not embraced by our political leaders?

    My answer to both relates to what I call the Harvard-Goldman filter.

    The Harvard-Goldman filter works like this.

    1. To get into a position of power, you have to pass through a filter. The easiest way to show that you can pass through the filter is to go to Harvard and then work for Goldman.

    2. If you do not go to Harvard and work for Goldman, then you have to show that you can get along with people who did.

    3. The best way to show that you can get along with people who pass the Harvard-Goldman filter is to show that you believe in applying the Harvard-Goldman filter.

    Why was Tim Geithner regarded as such an obvious, in fact necessary, choice to be Treasury Secretary? Because he satisfies the Harvard-Goldman filter, particularly point (3). He is not going to bring people from the wrong social caste into the policymaking arena.

    So that answers the question from naive liberals.

    As to libertarians, certainly in a world with no deposit insurance or government guarantees I could argue against government interference in the structure of private banks. But banks are not private in this country. They are quasi-public institutions (and if you read Niall Ferguson you might conclude that large banks have always been quasi-public institutions). There is a synergy between big banks and big government. Jefferson and Jackson were right. So breaking up big banks fits in with breaking up big government. Which is why we won’t see the Progressive elite breaking up big banks.

    The best book to read on the topic of the Harvard-Goldman filter is David Halberstam’s Vietnam era opus, The Best and the Brightest. Goldman was not such a big deal then, but Harvard was, and so was Wall Street. What Halberstam shows is that investment bankers certified who was reliable or not–to serve in foreign policy positions.

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